“In my stars I am above thee, but be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
from Shakespeare's quotes
While the last sentence may be familiar, the origins of the quote are less known. If you’ve been wondering where it came from, it was penned by old William Shakespeare himself
. Somewhere around 1601, Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night
. It was written for the holiday season supposedly, performed in February 1602 at the end of Candlemas.
A comedy about Viola, a cross-dressing, poetry-loving girl caught in a love triangle, Twelfth Night was one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays at the time, even though critics called its themes wicked, scandalous and sinful. Though thought quite tame by today’s standards, Twelfth Night is still one of Shakespeare’s most beloved works.
It’s thought that the scene in which this Shakespeare quote appears ? Act II, Scene 5 ? was inspired by real life events the year before. It seems there was a landowner in the region who had sued his neighbors for inviting themselves into his home, drinking, playing cards and mocking his religion. Sir Thomas Hoby was awarded damages in the case. In the play, the steward in the house interrupts sir Toby’s own drunken revelry to read a letter from one of the household’s ladies in waiting, Maria. This is the source of this famous Shakespeare quote.