The Shakespearean Poetic Rosary: The ‘Sacred Numbers’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets

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Dr. Jamal M. Al-Sayed Alawi


In human culture there are certain numbers of special importance. They are mostly used in old and modern writings as “sacred numbers” of religious and literary significance. They are present in the Greek myths, in Egyptian Pharaonic culture, in ancient Persian, in the Indian culture, and in Arab traditions; then (Islamic) culture as well as in the Biblical Western culture. These numbers are of two kinds: even and uneven or odd. The odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7and 9 play a far more important part than the even numbers. One is Deity, three the Trinity, five the chief division, seven is the sacred number, and nine is three times three. These numbers have good function and been looked at as ‘Sacred’ or ‘Perfect’ numbers either of good omen or evil. There is another forth number, which is “10”, it comes mainly in Jewish and Islamic education in very few cases having similar religious suggestion. Shakespeare has used the number Ten in Sonnet 6 Then let not winter's ragged hand deface. “Sacred Numbers” have become a part of religion and even of modern belief, and mostly represented in the popular rituals. Shakespeare has used the “Sacred Numbers” in his works either prose or poetry, and this article is restricted to deal only with three Shakespearean sonnets where I imagine Shakespeare reciting his Latin Rosary in a poetic religious tone and drawing the cross sign on his chest and on the forehead of his sonnets in order to invoke divine protection. It seems that Shakespeare’s date of birth and death (1564 -1616) carries a certain secret of his fondness for sacred numbers; thus: The sum of the date of his birth (1564=16) is doubled in the date of his death (1616).


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How to Cite
Dr. Jamal M. Al-Sayed Alawi. “The Shakespearean Poetic Rosary: The ‘Sacred Numbers’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 7, no. 4, Aug. 2022, pp. 27-33, doi:10.53032/tcl.2022.7.4.04.
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