Shakespeare wasn’t just a master dramatist, he was a master too of the Ancient Art of Insults—a Fine Art now all but dead.
To mark the fabulous Pop-Up Globe’s extended season, here’s a selection of his bellicose wit form his finest plays
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
I'll beat thee, but I should infect my hands.
I must tell you friendly in your ear, sell when you can, you are not for all markets.
Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit, for I am sick when I do look on thee.
She hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults.
Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
Thine face is not worth sunburning.
Your virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese.
Thou are pigeon-liver’d and lack gall.
You speak an infinite deal of nothing.
Away, you three-inch fool.
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are toss’d with.
Thou art a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy worsted-stocking knave; a lily-liver'd, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, superserviceable, finical rogue; one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a bawd in way of good service, and art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mungril bitch.
I do wish thou were a dog, that I might love thee something.
You are now sailed into the north of my ladies opinion, where you will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman's beard.
A most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise breaker, the owner of no one good quality.
No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip, she is spherical, like a globe, I could find out countries in her.
Drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine drunk, and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bedclothes about him.
That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years?
Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nile.
There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.
Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.
If thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them.
Thine forward voice, now, is to speak well of thine friend; thine backward voice is to utter foul speeches and to detract.
I do desire we may be better strangers.
Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.
Thou art like a toad; ugly and venomous.
You should be women and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.
Thou art unfit for any place but hell.
You are as a candle, the better burnt out.