Friday, June 12, 2015

Flat Earth: The History of the Ball Part III - Shakespeare's Globe

I've been wondering when people started believing the earth was a ball, and if our general view of the history surrounding it is correct. Essentially I've been asking; When did the ball come into fashion?

My first thought was Shakespeare's Globe - the London theatre where many of Shakespeare's plays where performed. Built in 1599, the name generally comes from the idea that the whole world is a stage and we its actors. But why globe and not world or earth or some other name for this place we find ourselves in.


I'm thinking this: fashionable trend-setters and clever artists generally have their finger on the pulse and succeed in reflecting the culture of their day. I'm guessing that the name the Globe was quite edgy and cool at the time, and that it probably reflected the changing world it was built in. In particular the fact that Europeans, us English especially, were out pirating our way around the globe, generally trying to rock the party. Of course, over the previous century or so science had also started to rocket into existence as well - Galileo, a contemporary of Shakespeare, would be brought to heel by the inquisition not long after the building of the Globe. Astronomers were therefore essentially rebels. So the whole earth's-a-ball thing would have been very much in fashion - something that cool people believed ..and the Globe name therefore very much of the Zeitgeist.

We can see how science gets reflected in culture by looking at things today. Take a TV show like The Big Bang Theory for example - the name only makes sense in a post-big bang theory world. It reflects what we believe now. It couldn't have been created before we had this idea. It no doubt will sound out of date in a few centuries time too. Likewise I'm guessing the same for the Globe. So for the time being I'm going to choose 1599, the year of Shakespeare's Globe, as the high water mark of the ball hysteria. I'm going to suggest that the global model was new enough and hip enough at that time to have been considered very much à la mode. I'll take it as a marker for further investigation.

1599 - the year of the ball.

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