Internet Shakespeare Editions


An orderly progression?

In this table, you can see one of the ways that the world might be seen as an ordered progression in the process of creation.

Stone passive existence*
Flame existence and movement
Plant existence, movement, and growth
Beast existence, movement, growth, and will (desire)
Human* existence, movement, growth, will, and reason
Angel existence, movement, growth, will, reason, and understanding (i.e. a full understanding of God*)


  1. Breeding gold?

    Just to complicate things, some precious metals were thought to breed actively within the earth -- much as we use the term for "breeding" radioactive materials in nuclear reactors.

  2. Social order

    Within human society, there was an intricate and detailed sense of order--at least theoretically.

    More on the social hierarchy.

  3. On God's creation

    Whereas God created three sorts of living natures, to wit, angelical, rational, and brutal, giving to angels an intellectual and to beasts a sensual nature, he vouchsafed unto Man both the intellectual of angels, the sensitive of beasts, and the proper rational belonging unto man; and because in the little frame of man's body there is a representation of the universal. . . therefore was man called Microcosmos, or Little World.
    (Timothy Bright, A Treatise of Melancholie, 1586.)