Seven Ages of Man by William Shakespeare

Its Astrological Meaning and Shakespeare’s Horoscope

Seven Ages of Man

Many people know that Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” refers to the seven classical planets. But few know that the poem refers to the planets as specifically placed in William Shakespeare’s horoscope. Shakespeare was born between April 22 and April 26, 1564, at Stratford-upon-Avon. This means that the only real question about the placement of Shakespeare’s natal planets was the location of his natal Moon, which was either Virgo or Libra. Based on his description of the Moon in “The Seven Ages of Man,” it was most likely in Virgo.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The mewling, puking infant can only be the Moon. His nurse’s arms would be Venus in Gemini (ruling the arms and hands), so Moon in Virgo square Venus would be an apt description of the infant crying in the nurse’s arms.

Mercury rules all students and scholars, so we have oriental Mercury with his shining face. But this Mercury is relatively fast, moving a bit over a degree per day. In Aries, too, there is not much creeping, so much as charging! But Mercury separates from Venus, ruler of the 3rd house of basic education, so our schoolboy is quite eager to move away from school, not toward it.

The lover sighing is the lover as poet, Venus in Gemini. In Mercury’s sign and swift in motion, Venus is going to have an eye for detail, so we can expect volumes of poetry on ephemera…like the beloved’s eyebrows.

Mars in Cancer is the soldier. Cancer is the sign of Mars’s fall, so he will possess the worst Martial qualities – quick temper, foul mouth, and foolhardiness. The soldier also has some characteristics of the Sun, the planet preceding Mars in the Chaldean order of the planets. His seeking of reputation is a major characteristic. Unfortunately, his search for honor harms him, as we see the Sun in Taurus in the detriment of Mars.

The justice is law-giving Jupiter, lately having entered Leo from its exaltation in Cancer. As Cancer rules the stomach, we see that the justice has been given quite a resplendent feast! The reference to a capon intimates corruption (as in the bribes given to him by litigants), and Jupiter would be peregrine in Leo, without any essential dignity or virtue to steer him straight.

Saturn is the old man, as Saturn rules old age. Saturn is in its detriment in Cancer, and it is slow in motion. He is shrunk and withered, a good example of Saturn in the planet where it is weak. The old man’s voice turning to a childish treble is an indication of the sign of Cancer (it is a mute sign, ruled by the Moon), and finally the ultimate oblivion in the second childhood of the Moon.