Saturday Seminar – Diseases, Medicines in Shakespeare’s plays

Tutor/Facilitator Louis Roller

Date: on/from Sat 16 Sep 2023 to Sat 16 Sep 2023
Frequency: Single Event
Class time: 2:30-3:30

Delivered ZOOM

Other information

To watch the seminar return here and click, on the day at 2:20pm for a 2:30 start.

For more than 400 years people have responded to Shakespeare’s plays, poems and sonnets.

It is amazing how much light Shakespeare’s plays throw on the social history of his time. Even more interesting in the light of this talk, are his references to medical and scientific matters.

In his 37 plays, Shakespeare mentions practically all the diseases and medicines that were known in the Elizabethan and Jacobean times. In one single scene, Troilus and Cressida (Act V, Scene i), there is a long list of diseases that people were subject to in Elizabethan England.

“Now the rotten diseases of the south, the guts-griping ruptures, catarrhs, loads o’ gravel  i’ the back lethargies, cold palsies, , raw eyes, , dirt-rotten livers, wheezing lungs, bladders full of imposthume,  (abscess), sciaticas, limekilns i’ th’ palm (arthritis), incurable bone-ache, and the rivelled  fee-simple (permanent ownership) of the tetter (eruption)”.

Shakespeare’s plays bear witness to a profound knowledge of contemporary physiology and psychology and he employed medical terms in a manner which would have been beyond the powers of any ordinary playwright or physician.

The world rightly pays him homage.

Associate Professor Louis Roller AM, PhC, BPharm, BSc, MSc, PhD, DipEd, FPS, FACPP has been an academic at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Monash University for over 55 years. He was on the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for 22 years, has significantly contributed to many editions of various pharmaceutical compendia including the Therapeutic Guidelines, particularly the Antibiotic Guidelines. He is the author of hundreds of scientific and professional articles and has a passion for evidence-based knowledge.

He lectures to pharmacists, medical practitioners, nurses, podiatrists, optometrists and dentists on a variety of therapeutic topics, particularly antibiotics as well as giving talks to the University of the Third Age on various medication-related issues.

In 1995, he was made a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

In 2014, he was awarded the life-long achievement award of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

In 2023, he was awarded an AM in the King’s birthday awards.

The facilitator for the seminar is Helen Vorrath, who has conducted various Shakespeare courses at U3A Port Phillip, and who is a confessed Bardolator. She also comes from a family of medicos, making this seminar of particular interest to her.
See the flyer created by Margaret Byron HERE.

This seminar is open to all U3A Port Phillip members and subscribers and to the general public.

As there are limited numbers, please book in below.

This is an online live seminar, presented as a webinar on Zoom.

If you have not yet used Zoom, you will need to download Zoom onto your device in advance- click here for instructions.

Enrolments / Bookings

U3APP members must log in, and members of the public must register, to make a booking.
U3APP Members, please login.

Login with your email address and password. If you haven't used the system before, your password is also set to your email address. If you've changed it but forgotten what you changed it to, send an email to and we will reset your password for you.

Members of the public, please register to attend a Public Event open to non-members (listed on our Public Events page).

To enrol in a course, you must be a financial member of U3A Port Phillip. If you are financial and still unable to book, it means bookings have not yet opened.


How to Enrol

On-line: after bookings have opened

On-line enrolments are preferred as this significantly reduces the amount of back-office work for our volunteers.

  • Login to the website.
  • Go to the Courses & Enrolling page.
  • Scroll down to find the course that you are interested in.
  • Does the course have spaces available?
    • Click on the course name to go to the booking page.
    • Click on “Book for this course or event”.
    • You will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.
  • OR is the course shown as FULL?
    • Click on WAITLIST.

Paper Enrolment Form: before bookings open for First Semester

  • Obtain a paper Enrolment Form either from the Office or by printing an online copy available here.
  • Complete the paper Enrolment Form and submit it to the Office.

The start date for acceptance of paper Enrolment Forms for first semester is published on the U3APP website and in the e-Bulletin. Enrolment Forms received before this date are treated as though they had been received on the start date (ie there is no advantage to be gained by submitting early). On the start date and thereafter, paper Enrolment Forms are numbered in order of receipt.  Paper Enrolment forms are processed by U3APP volunteers on the same day as on-line bookings.

If your enrolment is successful, you will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.

If your enrolment is unsuccessful,  you will receive an email telling you that you have been waitlisted.

Via the Office: after bookings have opened

  • Contact the office in person, or by email or phone.