Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 June 2021
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare fashions the dramatic role of his early tragic heroine in relationship to Ovid’s Metamorphoses and especially in relationship to his erotic elegies as they are mediated by the charismatic figure of Christopher Marlowe. This chapter explores the difference to the 1597 and 1599 quartos of the play that Ovid makes. There is no particular relationship between the part of Juliet to Ovid in the first quarto, whereas there is an intense and transformative relationship between Shakespeare’s Juliet and the version of Ovid that Marlowe brought to the Elizabethan stage. The final argument of this chapter is that Shakespeare remembers, honors, and radically adapts Marlowe by transferring the bold speech of the Ovidian erotic elegist from the tragic hero to the part of girl, performed by a boy.