Palace intrigue. Fratricide. Regicide. Coups d’état (several actually). Vaulting ambition. Sexual seduction. Esquire-worthy masculine pulchritude. Incest. Incompetent royals. Corrupt royals. Bromance, just the subtlest soupçon of same-sex attraction. Infidelity.
A season subscription to Chicago Shakespeare Theater? Actually, I was talking about the Bible, specifically the David Saga which sprawls across three books of the Old Testament.
Surely the neon colors and boisterous drama of Shakespeare’s history plays and tragedies were inspired by David’s fierce attack on existence.
When David became King around 1000 BC, Israel was a loose confederacy of bickering tribes pinched into a geographic footprint the size of Vermont. When he died 40 years later, Israel was one of the world’s dominant superpowers.
He was so successful and so beloved and so charming that his memory cast a shadow over subsequent Jewish history for a thousand years and more. Most Jews are still waiting for another like him, for a David Redux. Other Jews stopped looking for his facsimile when one of his distant descendants, born in David’s city of Bethlehem, was crowned King on a Cross at Calvary in 30 A.D.
Renowned Yale scholar Harold Bloom says that David is the most compelling protagonist in all of western literature; even Achilles, Odysseus, Hamlet, and Lear fail to rival his stature.
It’s one of the most rollicking stories ever told. It deserves a look.