No writer is more celebrated than William Shakespeare. His plays and poems transformed literature, culture, and even the English language itself.
Such a man should leave this life by writing his own epitaph. When he died in 1616, the renowned author was buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon. The tomb promises a blessing or a curse for those who visit his final resting place.
Mindful of the threat of grave robbers, Shakespeare directed that these words be placed on his burial site:
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTe BE Ye MAN Yt SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE Yt MOVES MY BONES.
Translated for modern English, it says, “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear / To dig the dust enclosed here / Blessed be the man that spares these stones / And cursed be he that moves my bones.”
Curiously, the warning may not have been properly heeded. In 2016, an archeological team used ground-penetrating radar to explore the grave. It concluded that someone may have stolen the Bard’s skull. If true, it would conform to an 18-century rumor that trophy hunters snatched part of Shakespeare’s mortal remains.
There are no reports as to what, if any, curses befell those who disregarded the warnings or if the ill tidings resembled those who ignored the warnings on Tamerlane’s tomb.
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