The Flight Of The White Eagles: Overture – Act 1, Scene 1

OVERTURE

ACT 1, SCENE 1: Above The Chernishini River

Enter Murat & Miroladovitch. Murat is dress’d as a Spanish general, sporting a sable hat & silk brocades. Miroladovitch is wearing three shawls of different cloth.

Miroladovitch
I am happy you attended in peace
My petit pourparler, as Frenchmen say

Murat
We say so many things but never quite
As well as what leaps brightly from your tongue

Miroladovitch
One tries, for after all, the French possess
The first of all cultures, bursting finesse
Far from the wolfish wildness of my world

Murat
So good of you to say so – the silence
Of this strange, tacit armistice of sorts,
A miracle beyond thematic woes,
Allures a certain sense of the tourist,
On which I state your country might be wild
But beauties of your women quite refined.

Miroladovitch
High praise indeed from a Latinist king
With all of Naples bevvy to admire
But what are fair women without fine wine,
This bottle imported from Aquitaine
Would you share?

Murat
Why certainly, I admire
Your taste for French vines

Miroladovitch
Of course, the world’s best

Miroladovitch pours out the wine, which is used in a toast

Miroladovitch
To both our Emperors

Murat
The Emperors

Murat2

Joachim Murat: King of Naples

Miroladovitch
May they return soon to fraternity
An amity which made great nations friends
Injurious wasps we swarm no more
At Taurantino eighty-five thousand
Are waiting, daily, Petersburg’s reply
To messengers urging the Tsar to peace
Leave days of blood & battle in the past

Murat
Napoleon wants peace, for him enough
To come to Moscow, not to burn it down,
The governor uncaged its criminals,
Vile worms who wert oerlook’d even in birth
& gave them flames & powder, what a waste
of wond’rous worksmanship centuries old

Miroladovitch
The hour of conciliation transpires
There are many Muscovites in the army
Who boot-by-boot are stepping from the mist
Wishing to see the campaign’s termini
Them eager more for peace than Bounaparte
Believe me, King Murat, if you attack’d
The Cossacks will not answer & may join
With France in common cause

Murat
How say you so?

Miroladovitch
The surly peasant scrapes with discontent
No better now than when the Golden Horde
Enslaved them, they crave emancipation

Murat
I credit you for honesty, my friend
If I may call you so

Miroladovitch
Of course, we are

Murat
Then please accept this watch, with my jewels
But, as gifts are seldom altruistic
Plesae visit me in Paris in return
Next summer, in our peacetime, as I hope

Miroladovitch
Your overkindness wrings adoring tears
With all my heart accepted – I worship
Your opera, the Comedie Francaise
I long to see, there hear cantatas sung

Murat
A good song is to the woes, elixir

Miroladovitch
I know a very good song, will you hear

Murat
Why yes, what is its name?

Miroladovitch
It is The Sable Raven, an old tune

 

 

THE SABLE RAVEN
To the tune of Chornyy Voran

O Sable raven, black guest of our homestead
So unexpected are your wings,
Why bring this white hand to my bedside
Raven, what message from the kings

I recognized the white hand oer my bedside
Dropp’d by the raven in my own
It was the white hand of my precious brother
Raven, tell me why you here are flown

He said, ‘your brother, slain in the battle,
Naked, unburied on the strand;
He is now lying with a thousand horsemen
Dead in that far-off foreign land

***

Murat
A splendid song sung splendidly, there is
Parnassus in the pitch, Orpehus
Might have penn’d it, perhaps you’ll send the score

Miroladovitch
On one condition – you sing me a song

Murat
A song?

Miroladovitch
Why yes!

Murat
A song… ah yes… but first

Murat takes a drink of wine to clear his throat

 

 

MARLBROUGH IS GOING TO WAR

Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Don’t know when he’ll come back
Don’t know when he’ll come back

Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre
Mironton mironton mirontaine,
Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre
Ne sait quand reviendra
Ne sait quand reviendra.

Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war
Marlbrough’s going to war…
Don’t know when he’s coming back

***

Miroladovitch
That wins the brilliancy prize my friend
To think but yesterday we might have met
As soldiers in the field, with sabres drawn,
Slashing life from lives, bereft of hearing
Sweetnesses sweeping thro’ each others’ souls

Murat
Thank fate such awful bloodshed ne’er befell
& hope to God & Emporers ne’er will

Miroladovitch
I concur, now come, a village nearby
Stands home to some particular beauties
Like nosegays to smell & sweetmeats to taste
All their talk is of some handsome monarch
& how they are dreaming silky pleasure
He never could have tasted in Paris

Murat
If they would desire the meeting so much
One must respect all customs when abroad

Miroladovitch
Good man – Captain Akhlestyshev, bring up
King Murat’s horse & mine… your majesty
Please step this way

Murat
Tho’ very far from home
I feel at home with unremitting joy

Exit Murat & Miroladovitch


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The Young Shakespeare (10): Tasso & the Alchemist, John Dee


Discovering the fascinating truth

Of Shakespeare’s missing years


September 1586: Shakespeare Meets Tasso

On leaving Algeria, Stanley & Shakespeare sailed into the Tyrranean Sea, passing Sardinia & entering Italy at either Livorno or Genoa. From here they re-entered Lombardy, and in September reached Mantua. Its ruler, Duke William, father of Prince Vincenzo, was in a receptive mood to the arts. Analyzing the letters of Striggio, we learn that Duke William was looking for young instrumentalists, &  gives a lovely flavour of the age;

I have received from Messer Flavio Riccio Your Illustrious Lordship’s note and I have informed him that in Florence there are two lads, aged 16 or 17, but they are poor and brought up by Franzosino of the Abandonati. They play cornett, transverse flute, viola and trombone. Franzosino has them play constantly, every day on the Grand Duke’s balcony [on the Palazzo Vecchio; or the Loggia de’ Lanzi] and at table. They also performed at the comedy which the Grand Duke put on for the Ferrara wedding (Florence, 1586). They do not have a regular salary from His Highness, although they are constantly in service. But they go about playing in churches, accompanied by the organ, wherever necessary, in Lucca and Pistoia and elsewhere, as requested. One of them would be suitable for His Highness {Duke William}, and although they are not altogether excellent they are at least more than passable. Because they are dependent and obligated to Franzosino, who has taught them, it is necessary to refer to and come to an agreement with him; also to clothe and provide shoes for them, for they are still supplied with clothes from the Ospedale, and they still eat and sleep there, unless things have changed since I left Florence.

There are several pointers which suggest that Shakespeare encountered Tasso while visiting Mantua. Tasso’s sister was called Cornelia, the same name as Titus Andronicus, which I suspect Shakespeare was comping at the time. The birth of the bard’s version of Hamlet may have also been born from this prodigious meeting. There are clear connections between Hamlet’s madness & that of Tasso’s – both occasionaly feigned – & we can trace a connection between Hamlet’s drawing of his sword in his stepmother’s chamber, where he killed the chief counseller Polinus, & Tasso’s drawing of a knife on a servant in the Duchess of Urbino’s apartment in 1577. There is also the famous play-within-a-play embedded within Hamlet, which concerns the very family into which Tasso had been released. It appears in Act 3 scene 2 as a play called The Murder of Gonzago (or The Mousetrap), during which we hear;

He poisons him i’ th’ garden for ’s estate. His name’s Gonzago. The story is extant, and writ in choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.

It is a delightful thought to imagine the Italian poet reciting some of his magnificent poem, Jerusalem Delivered, to Shakespeare in Mantua. One character in the epic that may have stuck was the Saracen sorceress, Armida, who in the strongest moments of emotion forgets her spellcraft & resorts to tears & prayers & persuasions. A few years later, when Shakespeare was writing Anthony & Cleopatra, he has the latter do just the same;

CLEOPATRA
O my lord, my lord,
Forgive my fearful sails! I little thought
You would have follow’d.

MARK ANTONY
Egypt, thou knew’st too well
My heart was to thy rudder tied by the strings,
And thou shouldst tow me after: o’er my spirit
Thy full supremacy thou knew’st, and that
Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods
Command me.

CLEOPATRA
O, my pardon!

MARK ANTONY
Now I must
To the young man send humble treaties, dodge
And palter in the shifts of lowness; who
With half the bulk o’ the world play’d as I pleased,
Making and marring fortunes. You did know
How much you were my conqueror; and that
My sword, made weak by my affection, would
Obey it on all cause.

CLEOPATRA
Pardon, pardon!

MARK ANTONY
Fall not a tear, I say; one of them rates
All that is won and lost: give me a kiss;
Even this repays me. We sent our schoolmaster;
Is he come back? Love, I am full of lead.
Some wine, within there, and our viands! Fortune knows
We scorn her most when most she offers blows.

Hamlet also seems to have been inspired by Tasso’s work on the Torrismondo, created in the very moment & the very city where I am placing the William Shakespeare of 1586. Louise George Clubb describes both plays possess, ‘a preoccupation with genre, with experimentation with hybrids & structure is made manifest by conducting a critical action simultaneously with a dramtic fable, underlaid with a paradigmatic myth calling attention to genre. In both, the choice of Scandinavian medieval chronicle is the sign of the sequence to come: from history to myth to genre to critical contemplation of structure. In short, Shakespeare & Tasso were upping their game with some pretty innovative drama, whose familial offerings in the history of theatre are with each other & each other only.‘ The materials of Torrismondo & Hamlet, adds Club, ‘allowed for a confrontation of ostensible history with undeclared myth in plots which silently claimed kinship with the very arguments cited by Aristotle.


1586: Shakespeare Encounters Tasso’s ‘Aminta’

Following its quiet debut in Ferrara in 1573, & more public performance at the 1574 Pesaro Carneveal, Tasso’s Aminta became a highly influential success, with Lisa Sampson observing how the play, ‘was rapidly seized upon for scenarios, episodes & characterisation by a wide range of writers from all over the peninsular.’ A 5-act play, it seems that Shakespeare witness’d the play at first hand. Love’s Labours Lost borrows from the Intermedio II chorus of Aminta, first printed in 1665, while As You Like It contains direct translations & numeorus echoes. Shakespeare was heavily influenced by Tasso’s mythology-steeped Renaissance Pastoralism, described by Cody as, ‘the Platonic theory of a good inner life, accomodated to the literary myth of the courtier as lover & poet. In the Italian Renaissance… pastoralism becomes the temper of the aristocratic mind: the reconciling of discors & contradictions in the medium of the work of art, that shadow of the ideal.’ Cody also describes Shakespeare as integrating Love’s Labours Lost into the, ‘Elizabethan aesthetic Platonism under its pastoral-comical aspect,’ adding, ‘the advantage of recognizing that the orthodox, elegaic Italians & the festive English comedian speak a common language of pastoral Neo-Platonism is considerable.’

Other plays to possess a strong streak of this consciously artificial, highly allegorical, hyper-mythomemed Pastoralism are Twelfth Night & the Two Gentleman of Verona, the latter worldscape described by Cody as ‘clearly the Italianate courtier-lover’s world, translated,’ adding, ‘the series of groups into which the play resolve sitself is pastoral & kinetic in the  manner of the Aminta.’ As in Aminta, the heroine is called Sylvia; & just as in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, Silvia is pursued & threatened with rape by Proteus, so in Aminta a satyr kidnaps & nearly rapes Sylvia. Cody also compares the Two Gentlemen of Verona’s Silvia scene to Tasso’s work, stating, ‘it is the one scene in which Shaksepeare successfully invokes the ‘magic potency of the theatre,’ seeking as Tasso does in his third intermedio in the Aminta to gather up his audience into the art of his play by reminding them of  a reality beyond their own.’ Perhaps the most pastoral of the plays, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream was created in 1595 – for William Stanleys wedding – & includes a passage heady in the language of pastoral myth, which also seems to nod at the early death of Tasso, also in 1595,

The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.”
We’ll none of that: that have I told my love
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
“The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.”
That is an old device, and it was played
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
“The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.”

The passage above makes reference to Hercules, allusions to whom crop up in the other two early Pastoral comedies, Loves Labours Lost & the Two Gentlemen of Verona. ‘Not that the comedies are the earliest of his plays,’ writes Cody, ‘in which pastoralism appears. In the histories there is at least one important pastoral theme among the cluster of commonplaces concerning Fortune, Nature, & the Prince: it has been termed ‘the rejection of the aspiring mind.’ It is central to the Henry VI trilogy, as witness the scene on Towton Field (2.5); & Shakespeare continues to develop it, more satisfyingly than anywhere perhaps in Henry IV.’ Cody also connects the garden scene of Richard II to the Renaissance habit of observing nature on a divine plane, stating, ‘It is to this aspect of the tradition – a Neo-Platonic landscape of the mind, mythopoeically conceived, as by Tasso in his Aminta – that appears to have been the model for Shakespeare’s orginiative experiments in romantic comedy.’


1586: Tasso Inspires Hamlet

Hamlet is a play supposedly from Shakespeare’s middle period. The story initially burst into literary life with Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century, but could it be that during Shakespeare’s time with Tasso that he began to court the same affection for Scandinavian royal dramas of the Middle Ages as the Italian poet. Perhaps, in France, Shakespeare had picked up a copy of François de Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques (published in 1574) while in France, in which Saxo’s story was given great embellishment. Was meeting Tasso the catalyst for Shakespeare to create what is called the ‘Ur-Hamlet’ (the German prefix means primordial). No copy of this has survived, but its existence must date to before 1589, when Thomas Nashe in his preface to Greene’s prose work Menaphon, entitled To The Gentlemen Students of Both Universities, referred to the ‘English Seneca read by candlelight yields many good sentences, as ‘Blood is a beggar,’ and so forth; and if you entreat him fair in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say handfuls, of tragical speeches.’

Back in Italy, let us imagine Shakespeare’s hamlet being inspired by Tasso’s work on the Torrismondo. Louise George Clubb describes in both plays, ‘a preoccupation with genre, with experimentation with hybrids & structure is made manifest by conducting a critical action simultaneously with a dramtic fable, underlaid with a paradigmatic myth calling attention to genre. In both, the choice of Scandinavian medieval chronicle is the sign of the sequence to come: from history to myth to genre to critical contemplation of structure. In short, Shakespeare & Tasso were upping their game with some pretty innovative drama, whose familial offerings in the history of theatre are with each other & each other only.’

The materials of Torrismondo & Hamlet,’ adds Club, ‘allowed for a confrontation of ostensible history with undeclared myth in plots which silently claimed kinship with the very arguments cited by Aristotle.’ It certainly feels as if Shakespeare was inspired by Tasso’s Torrismondo, which was being created in the very moment & the very city where I am placing William Shakespeare of 1586.

It is also distinctly possible perhaps that Shakespeare’s knowledge of sail-making at Bergamo given in The Taming of the Shrew came from a visit there with Tasso, for it was the Italian poet’s paternal town.


OCTOBER 1586
Shakespeare Visits John Dee

lee_1485716c

On leaving Mantua,Stanley & Shakespeare embark’d on a tough, overland, Brokeback Mountain ride up & over the Alps, during which time our budding bard may have etched the opening to sonnet 33;

Full many a glorious morning have I seen,
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye

There is also this passage from Anthony & Cleopatra which seems to invoke the Alpine crossing;

Sometimes we see a cloud that’s dragonish,
A vapor sometime like a bear or lion,
A towered citadel, a pendant rock,
A forkèd mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon ’t that nod unto the world

According to the Garland of William Stanley, our young Lancastrian nobleman – & Shakespeare – had made a great geographical leap from Algeria to Russia (via Mantua) in order to spend some time with John Dee. It reads;

Within the Court of Barbary,
When two full years Sir William had been,
Into Russia he needs must go,
To visit the Emperor and his Queen,

One Doctor Dee he met with there,
Which Doctor was born at Manchester ;
Who knew Sir William Stanley well,
Tho’ he had not seen him for many a year.

Pray what’s the Cause, the Doctor said,
Brings you, Sir William, into this Country
I’m come to travel, Sir William replied,
And I pray thee, Doctor, what brought thee!

I came to do a cure, the Doctor said,
Which was of the Emperor’s feet to be done,
And I have perform’d it effectually,
Which none could do but an Englishman.

Then he brought him before the Emperor,
Who entertained him with Princely cheer,
And gave him Gold and Silver store,
Desiring his company for seven year.

But one three years Sir William would stay,
Within the Emperor’s court so freely,
And then Sir William he would go,
To Bethlehem right speedily

The Chispologist here identifies two chispers, the first being the exageration of the dates, & the other being the wrong Tsar. In the mid-1580s, John Dee, that famous Elizabethan alchemist & academic from Manchester, & his mate Edward Kelley were in Bohemia, at the court of another ‘Tsar,’ the Holy Roman Emporere, Rudolf II. His title was in fact ‘Ceasar, to the harking back to pagan Roman emporers whose authority he inherited. But of course the word Tsar is the Russian deviation of Ceasar. It was Dee’s eldest son, Arthur who was in Russia c.1600, who heal’d the the Tsar’s foot before returning to Norwich, & was subsequently confused with his father in the Garland.

Both Dee & Kelly were known to the group. Dee was from Manchester, near the Stanley lands, & indeed the Garland says, ‘knew Sir William Stanley well / Tho’ he had not seen him for many a year,‘ while Edward Kelley was the same man who created the woodcut images for Spenser’s Shepheard’s Calendar. Dee records a number of meetings with Derby in hi sdiaries, & other nuggets such as the date and time of William’s daughter’s birth. Derby would eventually swing Dee into being a director of Christ’s College, Manchester.

In late 1586 Dee & Kelly were in residence at Trebona in Bohemia (in the modern-day Czech Republic), during which time Dee was making contact with the court of the Russian Tsar, but from hundreds of miles away. On reaching Dee, the arch-magus would have filled them in on recent developments, of how at first he had been a valued guest of the court of Rudolf II, an intellectual hotbed centered on Prague. PJ French states, ‘Dee’s world view was thoroughly of the Renaissance, though it was one which is unfamiliar today, one of a line of philosopher-magicians that stemmed from Ficino & Pico della Mirandola & included, among others, Trithemius, Abbot of Sondheim, Henry Cornelius Agrippa Paracelsus. etc…. Like Dee, these philosophers lived in a world that was half magical, half scientific.’

Dee eventually fell upon the wrong side of Rudolf, & after being banished from Prague was given shelter at in the household of Vilém of Rožmberk, Bohemia’s most powerful nobleman, in the town of Trebona. Equidistant between Prague & Vienna, Trebon welcomed Dee & Kelley on the 14th September, 1586, along with Kelley’s wife Joanna, Dee’s wife Jane & their four children, including an infant boy called Michael.

Dulwich_Picture_Gallery’s_Venus_and_Adonis

Also in Prague at that time was a copy of Titian’s Venus & Adonis – or perhaps even the original – commissioned by the Holy Roman Emporer, Charles V (d.1558), as discerned through a letter written by F. Mueller, the correspondent in Italy for the court of Bavaria. Now held in the Galleria Nazionale of Palazzo Barberini in Rome, it is mark’d out from all the other V&As painted by Titian (there were many copies made, usually completed by his students) by the hat worn by Adonis. In Shakespeare’s poem we actually have various mentions of such a hat, as in, ‘with one fair hand she heaveth up his hat,’ & ‘therefore would he put his bonnet on.’ It is possible that Stanley & Shakespeare were living the swancy-fancy life of art connoisseurs at this point & making an effort to study the work of evidently their favorite painter & painting. Indeed, on their Italian itinerary they may have seen copies of the V&A at the Palazzo Mariscotti in Rome, or in the possession of the Barbarigo-Guistiniani family in Padua.


SHAKESPEARE & MAGIC

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Shakespeare’s knowledge of esoteric tradition is a highly sophisticated one, one that weaves through his sonnets and plays to a surprising degree. In The Winter’s Tale the statue of Hermione (from from Hermes) springs to life in the same way that the Hermetic Asclepius is described as being effected by Egyptian magic. Elsewhere, Sonnet 33 is full of alchemical references & also of the earth-heaven phenomena called ‘correspondancdes’ – surreptiously placed in a mountainous landscape such as Bohemia.

Full many a glorious morning have I seen,
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green;
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy:
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride,
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow,
But out alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath masked him from me now.
Yet him for this, my love no whit disdaineth,
Suns of the world may stain, when heaven’s sun staineth.

Shake-speare is using the idea of “correspondences”, in which earthly phenomena are related to the heavens, as the logical structure of this sonnet. In particular, macrocosmic heavenly phenomena are paralleled by microcosmic human ones. There are also numerous astrological references in Shake-speare’s plays, while Sonnet 15 is laden with astrology & the ‘secret influences’ of celestial bodies.

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment.
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment.
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky:
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory.
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay,
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.


November 1586
Shakespeare sketches the Tempest

At this point in the Stanleyan Grand Tour, the first outlines of the plot & structure of a play called the Tempest appeared in Shakespeare’s notebooks. It was first performed in public in 1611, yet a proto-version could have been one of the earliest creations of his blossoming mind – you can’t rush genius like – especially when the Tempest is the first play one comes to when entering the First Folio. A clue might be found in five consecutive lines of the Garland, where we observe quite succinctly the setting of the Tempest (Barbary is North Africa) & its principle subject Prospero, a dead-ringer for John Dee.

Within the Court of Barbary,
When two full years Sir William had been,
Into Russia he needs must go,
To visit the Emperor and his Queen,
One Doctor Dee he met with there

Where Prospero had his Ariel, Dee declared he possessed a benevolent angel called, ‘Uriel, the angel of light.’ Such an early date for the proto-Tempest is unwittingly hinted at by Sydney Lee’s; ‘the influence of Ovid, especially the Metamorphoses, was apparent throughout his earliest literary work, both poetic & dramatic, & is discernible in the ‘Tempest.’ This play reflects the early experiences Shakespeare enjoy’d with Commedia dell’Arte; which sometimes featured a magician, his daughter & supernatural attendants. CDA also contained archetypical clowns known as Arlecchino and Brighella, on which the Tempest’s Stephano and Trinculo are clearly based, while its lecherous Neapolitan hunchback has a perfect correspondence in Caliban. The Tempest is also one of only two of his plays that utilise the Classical Unities – a dramaturgical tradition of setting a play in a single place & time, with the other being the very early Comedy of Errors. Coincidence or not, CoE is set in the eastern Mediterranean, the same part of the world where Stanley & Shakespeare would be moving to next…


December 1586
The Trebona Familists

Many of the Shakespeare’s esoteric themes and sources lead the chispologist to the library of John Dee. Also using the library at that time was Edward Kelley, who seems to have dedicated a poem in the Venus & Adonis stanza form to his ‘especiall’ friend, GS. The reference appears in Elias Ashmole’ 1652 anthology, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum, when we must remember that the name Gulielmus Shaksper appears on the Bard’s baptism recodr. As already postulated, Shakespeare could well have been working on Venus & Adonis during the Grand Tour, perhaps even reading a few stanzas out to his compatriots in Trebona. This could later have inspired Kelly to try out the poetic form for himself, of which I’ll give a few of my favorites stanzas;

S.E.K. concerning the Philosophers Stone, written to his especiall good friend, G.S. Gent.

The heauenlie Cope hath in him natures fower,
Two hidden, but the rest to sight appeare:
Wherein the Spermes of all the bodies lower
Most secret are, yet spring forth once a yeare:
And as the earth with water Authors are,
So of his part is drines end of care.

If this my Doctrine bend not with thy braine,
Then say I nothing, though I sayd too much:
Of truth tis good, will mooued me, not gaine,
To write these lines: yet write I not to such
As catch at crabs, when better frutes appeare,
And want to chuse at fittest time of yeare.

Thou maist (my friend) say, What is this for lore?
I aunswere, Such as auncient Phisicke taught:
And though thou red a thousand bookes before,
Yet in respect of this, they teach thee naught:
Thou maist likewise be blinde, and call me foole,
Yet shall these Rules for euer praise their Schoole.

The same collection of poems also has a commentary which tells how Kelley performed an alchemical tansmutation to, “gratifie Master Edward Garland and his Brother Francis.”These brothers also turn up in Dee’s diary, along with two other ‘Garlands’, Robert & Henry, & none of the four of have ever turned up anywhere else in the Elizabethen world, suggesting the true names were incognito. The ‘Brothers’ element more than hints at the Familist connection. But this is rabbit-hole’s worth of a tangent, so its only a maybe for me, but adding a note of the going’s on with the Garland brothers as given in Dee’s diary – note its connection to the actual Russian Tsar.

8 Dec: Monday, about noon, Mr Edward Garland came to Trebona to me from the Emperor of Muscovia, according to the articles before sent unto me by Thomas Simkinson

9 Dec: On the 19 day (by the new calendar), to please Master Edward Garland (who had been sent as a messenger from the Emperor of Muscovy to ask me to come to him, etc, and his brother Francis, E.K. made a public demonstration of the philosophers’ stone in the proportion of one grain (no bigger than the least grain of sand) to 1 oz and a ¼ of common and almost 1 oz of the best gold was produced. When we had weighed the gold, we divided it up and gave the crucible to Edward at the same time.

 

Dee’s connection to the Familists is more assured, such as;

1: He was associated with many Continental Familists, including Christopher Plantin, the Antwerp printer who published the works of Niclaes) & the Antewerp bookseller Arnold Birckmann,

2: In 1577 Dee suggested to the cartographer Abraham Ortelius, another Familist, that correspondence could reach him via Birckmann’s servants.

3: Familists married within the group, & if widowed would quickly remarry, with age having no bearing on the choice. John Dee married three times, with little space between them, his third wife, Jane Fromond, being 28 years younger than him.

4: Dee & Kelley were friends with the Familist Francesco Pucci, spending time together in Krakow in 1585, & Prague the following year.

5: Dee & Kelley were also on excellent terms with Prince Albert Laski of Poland, whose relation, Johannes Alasko, lived in the Familst ‘capital’ of Emden.

6: Dee was a big favorite of Queen Elizabeth, whose own personal Yeomen Gaurd were Familists. In the anonymous Supplication of the Family of Love (1606) we read, “It appeareth that she [Elizabeth] had alwayes about her some Familistes, or favourers of that Sect, who alwaies related, or bare tidinges what was donne, or intended against them.”


Shakespeare in Bohemia

Shakespeare’s own brief stay in the region can be traced via three separate plays;

(i) Measure for Measure is set in Vienna.
(ii) The Winter’s Tale is set in ‘Bohemia’.
(iii) ‘The old hermit of Prague,’ is mentioned in Twelfth Night.

As the old hermit of 
Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very wittily 
Said to a niece of King Gorboduc, ‘That that is is;

A slender hint indeed, but when attached to Stanley’s recorded visit to Dee, we can trace the thought roots to seeds physically planted. Although no firm evidence has as yet been unearthed of their visit, we do know a little of what the skryrer’s Kelley & Dee were up to. Rudolf had given them a lab to practice their alchemy, including experiments on a mysterious red powder Kelly had found buried at Northwick Hill. Kelley was also dabbling with Catholcoism, even fasting for a whole month before a visit to a Jesuit priest.

Throughout January, a suddenly very wealthy Kelley made several visits to Prague, & let us for a whimsical moment conject that Shakespeare went with them. I normally have evidence to back my statements, but for once I’d like to just imagine Shakespeare going with Kelley to see Prague – I’ve been there myself, & thoroughly enjoyed the experience, including a rather ridiculous  encounter with some Mancunian drug-dealers back in 2001, which you can read all about in my Epistles to Posterity.

The Beaches of St. Valery


Oran Mor, Glasgow
March 16 – 21, 2020

Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: five-stars
Performance: five-stars S.O.D.:five-stars


This week’s wickedly lovely play, the Beaches of St.Valery, came from the pen of the excellent Stuart Hepburn. The show was making a welcome return to Oran Mor, with the original cast (James Rottger, Ron Donachie and Ashley Smith) reprising their roles. We were introduced to young Callum (Rottger) all dressed up in his smart army uniform, and soon caught up in the horrors of WW2. We watched as he and other Scottish soldiers of the 51 st Highland Division dealt with the reality of wartime.

The play effectively dealt with themes of duty and loyalty, as depicted in the character of Sergeant McGregor (Donachie), an old soldier with a lifetime of army and war experience. We also saw how the youngsters grew from being reluctant conscripts to embracing the idea of duty and service, no matter what it took. And it took a lot, especially for the Sergeant who had to give the terrible orders. The action took us right to the battlefield, using effects such as a castle backdrop, lights, explosions, the sound of planes flying overhead, radio reports, recollections. We followed them through well-choreographed manoeuvres as they fought, then retreated on the beach. We joined them as they huddled together in a bunker for warmth and Calum found love with Catriona (Smith) in the midst of all the turmoil. Somehow the fact that there was a smaller audience for today’s play (we are in Coronavirus territory after all), only made it all the more poignant. In the slightly eerie atmosphere no-one really wanted to laugh at the one small joke.

The author has thrown a light on the less well known fact that while thousands of British soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, this Scottish division was left to defend St Valery to the last man. Many died, many surrendered. The play wasn’t about anger at this apparently desperate situation, only the touching sense that though they were more than willing soldiers all they wanted really was to go home to their loved ones. An impressively well put together drama, with writing and craft that directly touched the heart and sent you home with a huge sense of compassion for those who had lived through it. It seems a fitting tribute to them and is well worth a visit.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly

Coronavirus & the Responsible Dundee Rep

Following the UK Government announcement on Monday 16 March 2020 to step up measures to fight the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, reinforced by guidance from both the Scottish Government and UK Theatre/the Society of London Theatre, we have taken the decision to temporarily close Dundee Rep Theatre. This decision was taken on the evening of Monday 16 March 2020 and is effective immediately. We take the health and safety of our audiences, staff, freelance colleagues and partners very seriously and as part of the temporary closure, we have suspended all our public activities as an Organisation including producing and presenting work, Engage classes and Scottish Dance Theatre touring.

At this stage, we do not know how long the closure and suspension of our activities will last. However, we anticipate that the rest of our published season will now not take place. We will continue to follow Government advice as it is issued.

This is an incredibly complex and fast-moving situation and it is with a heavy heart that we have taken this decision but the safety of all the people we work with is our number one priority. We would like to thank our audiences and supporters for all the messages of support we have received during these uncertain times. As an arts charity, we depend on this support.

We are currently in the process of informing all customers and would like to assure all those who are affected that you will receive a full refund or exchange for your tickets. Due to the large number of inquiries we are asking customers not to contact Box Office unless your query is urgent. Please bear with us as we do our best to answer a large volume of calls as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

We recognise this is an incredibly worrying time for our audiences and that you will be concerned about your family and friends as well as having very real considerations about your income in the days and weeks ahead. If you feel able to do so, we are asking audiences who have purchased tickets with us to consider opting for the ticket value to be credited to your account, rather than refunded.

Some of our patrons have already taken the kind decision to donate the value of their tickets to us. As with many areas of our economy, there are real viability issues for the arts as a result of the Coronavirus and we want to ensure we can continue to create and present the work you love when we open to the public again.

To repeat, we understand the challenges facing you all and our society more generally, and so refunds will, of course, be available without question.

Your support means everything to us. We looking forward to welcoming you all back to our work, in happier times, once this is behind us all. In the meantime, stay safe.

Andrew Panton, Artistic Director, Dundee Rep, Joint Chief Executive
Liam Sinclair, Executive Director, Joint Chief Executive
Joan Clevillé, Artistic Director, Scottish Dance Theatre

Viriathus: Scenes 14-17


Scene 14: The Tent of Viriathus

Viriathus is sleeping / Audax, Minurus & Ditalco enter quietly / at a given signal Minurus holds Virathus down, Audax yanks back his head & Ditalco stabs him through the throat

Audax
{whispering}
It is passed, Viriathus, he is dead

Minurus
What have we done

Ditalco
We have stilled the slaughter

Audax
His body is a sacrifice to peace

Ditalco
Washing the blood away enables time
Before discovery, by when we shall
Be far-off & safe from this fatal thrust

Audax
But Caepio first, our promise fulfill’d

Minurus
Our murder done, you mean

Ditalco
Please, Minurus
Let it go, the gnawing rat of conscience
Replace with hopes of happier futures
For all of us & all our families

Audax
Tongina’s grief awaits a tender friend

Exit Minurus, Audax & Ditalco – the sun rises – enter Gulucia

Gulucia
Good morming my lord, time to face the day
Such an unusually long repose
Your lovely wife attendance shall make soon
Let me bathe you in fragrant rosewater
Tongina loves her husband to be clean
If you do so permit… Viriathus
Are you awake, master, are you alive?

Gulucia takes off the helmet of Viriathus – he rushes out of the tent & returns a few moments later with Camalo & Arantonio

Gulucia
Awake Viriathus , awake,

Arantonio
Shake him

Camalo
{checking pulse}
He is dead

Arantonio
Dead!?

Camalo
But how

Gulucia
It cannot be

Arantonio
What pungent hail of woes rain upon us
With painful jolts, then melting drench in tears

Camalo
Could this be murder, instinct wrangles thus
At point of greatest danger made bereft
Of our general & his genius

Arantonio
A timely happenstance make no mistake
A poisoning perhaps

Gulucia
Impossible
Each liquid drop, each morsel I prepare

Camalo
Then you our chief focus of suspicion

Enter Arco & Cabruno

Arco
It was not him

Arantonio
Soothsayer, what you say?

Arco
Who else had access to this tent last night

Camalo
Minurus, Audax, Ditalco, yes them
{Cabruno goes to inspect the body}
But

Arco
But what

Camalo
But it could not have been them
Why would they…

Cabruno
Look, here, daggertip punctures
Point deeply where the chinskin folds o’er throat

Gulucia
O day of grief, of weeping of despair
Of Lusitanian lamentations
Whose like shall ne’er be heard

Arantonio
Men, we must try
To hold as noble bearing as befits
The virtuousness of Viriathus
Prepare the pyre, send messengers abroad
The funeral begins tomorrow dusk

Cabruno
We must down hunt these treacherous jcackals

Arco
The gods will find a better fate for them
Than instant death before their guilt consumes
Their living fibres like a wasting plague

Enter Tongina

What is happening, what is the matter
With Viriathus, stand aside at once

Gulucia
Tongina – he is – he is

Arantonio
He is dead

Tongina
{wailing}
No————– But how

Arco
Murder

Camalo
By murderers foul

Cabruno
By Minurus, Audax & Ditalco

Tongina
How do you know

Arco
We know

Tongina
Why would they so

Arantonio
Roman gold?

Gulucia
They met with Caepio on the behalf
Of Viriathus hours before his death

Tongina
Too much, too much! Too little have I loved
This man enough, I shared him far too long,
Go, all of you go, leave us,
I wish to be alone with my husband

Exit all apart from Tongina

Tongina
When I met you I caught a falling star,
Your heart it was, that whisper’d unto me,
‘I love you,’ with a sigh-tempest of breath,
This breath gone now, & like a melt of snow
That make no noise, your silence ends our joys,
For we are ever absent from the sphere
That is the intersuredness of love,
Knock upon its memorial entrance,
I’ll never get back in, my own profess
Of love, like gold to airy thinness beat;
What sadness has descended on my soul!
The firmness of my being now in thrall
To some dark watcher, ever thro’ my days
That stands & haunts me ’till I weep once more!


Scene 15: The Roman Camp

Caepio is reading a scroll / enter Sempronius with Audax, Ditalco & Minurus

Sempronius
Enter, Caepio has been awaiting

Audax
It is done

Caepio
What is done

Ditalco
We have killed him

Caepio
O you have have you

Audax
We did as you asked

Caepio
Did I, O yes I did, but as men might
Change their own minds I seem to have changed mine

Ditalco
You have what

Caepio
Weeelll – I thought about it more
& realised it never pleases Rome
When Generals are slain by her soldiers
No, not at all, as such I cannot deal
with such dishonorable men as you

Audax
But our rewards

Caepio
Will not be forthcoming

Sempronius
We must set an example for the world
Traitors who bounty chiefs shall not be paid

Caepio
But I am not a man who lets distaste
Oertake decision-making, you may keep
Whatever you were given yester-e’en,
Safely, of course

Minurus
This is dark remission
You gave us your word, sworn on your Senate
In the eyes of your gods you must stand true

Caepio
My gods! stand true! this is quite a pickle


YE EAGLES OF ROME

Brothers in arms stick together
In the face of stormy weather
But the clever ones find shelter from the gales
& families of warriors
That shake a spear & roar at us
Are falling side by side in wild travails

Because Rome, Rome!
Rome is the greatest of them all
As we up rise the rest downfall
Because were Rome

Because Rome, Rome!
Rome is the greatest of them all
As we up rise the rest downfall
Because were Rome

Fly fly, ye legions of Rome
Go find a new home, fly, fly

Fly fly, ye eagles of Rome
Go find a new home, fly, fly

Brothers in arms stick together
In the face of all whatever
& we’ll never leave our honour to the crows
& families of warriors
That shake a spear & roar at us
Are falling side by side in crimson rows

Because Rome, Rome!
Rome is the greatest of them all
As we up rise the rest downfall
Because were Rome

Because Rome, Rome!
Rome is the greatest of them all
As we up rise the rest downfall
Because were Rome

Fly fly, ye legions of Rome
Go find a new home, fly, fly

Fly fly, ye eagles of Rome
Go find a new home, fly, fly


Caepio
I tell you what – why don’t you go to Rome
& bring it up with them, yes, they might pay
But me, I’m busy working on the war
Yes, better, that you go to Rome, & soon
Your countrymen will think the case severe
Diminuating names to shame’s disgrace

Audax
Your mind serpentine has mischief’d us

Caepio
No, not at all, your damage wrought by greed
Now leave me, I would not suffer the air
Of traitors creeping into honest lungs.

Ditalco
You scandalous scoundrel,

Caepio
Yes, goodbye… guards!
These murderous rascals throw from the camp

Minurus
This is outrageousness

Caepio
You are dismiss’d

Gaurds excort Audax, Minurus & Ditalco from the tent

Caepio
There is never honour, Sempronius,
In betraying one’s own for money mere


Scene 16:  A Mountain Valley

The body of Viriathus, clad in splendid garments & holding a falcata sword, is lain on a funerary pyre – troops of ssoldiers in armour form a circle around it – Can=bruno is sacrificing an animal

Cabruno
Ye gods of heaven, gods of underground,
What righteous sort has severed from the coil
That binds the universe to its bodies
We offer you this tender sacrifice
To carry Viriathus to the stars
Where he may gaze upon hour lives once more
{Tongina wails}
Our sun of finest magnitude has set
His life an inspiration to the song
Of those his spirit moves thro,’ we who mourn
His name’s elated immortality
To Viriathus

All
Viriathus, huh!

***

RECITATIVO TO THE DEAD

All
Viriathus (Viriathus, Viriathus)
You were glorious (glorius, glorious)
We ask you special spirit to watch over us

Repeat in a series of key changes until reaching the orginal key


Scene 17:  The Roman Senate

The Closing of the Viriathic War

Magistrate
Senators, the war of Viriathus
Is over, we have word from Saguntum
The same city Hannibal overthrew
& named New Carthage, just as Roman arms
Ensured to it Saguntum soon return’d,
So have the Lusitani surrender’d
To Caepio on favour’d conditions
They shall be simply subjects under Rome
Not friends, nor allies, as our former pact,
We vote today upon two positions;
The first – do we honour Caepio’s change
To the status of Lusitania
& if so, do we honour his return
With a glorious triumph into Rome,
Senators, your balls, let reason speak

The vote

Magistrate
How go the counts

Magistrate’s assistant
On the matter of law
Caepio’s conquest has been ratified
But there shall be no triumph for the coup

Magistrate
Very well, let these be struck on record
But there is one last appertanation
In reccomendation to your judgement,
The death of Viriathus wholly caus’d
By three of his own chieftans, they here seek
Renumeration, one of them shall speak
His name Ditalco, fetch him to the floor

Magistrate’s assistant brings in Ditalco

Magistrate
Well, you are here, what wish you to impart

Servilianus
Do not let him speak

Labaecus
He’s a murderer

Popilius
Barbarian

Senator 1
Regicide

Senator 2
Assassin

Ditalco
Let me speak

Servilianus
Rome will never pay traitors,
Who slay their chiefs

Ditalco
But we cannot go home
Caepio’s promise

Labaceus
Is not the senates’
Your leader was a noble man & you
Slew him for enrichment – you, the most vile

Magistrate
It seems the Senate does not wish to hear
Your case, this is a brain’d predicament,
Which we shall solve hen best course sprung to mind –
You are welcome to stay in the city
& work for your living – or better still
Join with the legions, their ranks depleted
Since Viriathus rose among your kind,
We need good soldiers, yes, this course is best,
Your case dismissed, please leave the Senate floor,

Enter Romans singing, Fly, Fly, Ye eagles of Rome……..’ / The Roman soldiers change the clothes of Ditalco to that of a Roman legionary


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The Young Shakespeare (9): Shakespeare At Sea

Capture


Discovering the fascinating truth

Of Shakespeare’s missing years


APRIL 1586
Shakespeare crosses the Adriatic

800px-Adriatic_Sea_-_Venice0448

images3That Shakespeare took to the whale-roads is reflected by an extremely accurate knowledge of both the sea & its sailing terms. Most scholars presume he acquired this knowledge thro’ book-reading, but with Sir Henry Mainwaring releasing the first nautical dictionary only in 1644, this avenue may be precluded. Instead, of Shakespeare’s sealore, AF Falconer declares he, ‘must have learned it first hand for there was no other way,’ adding that the Bard possess’d, ‘an understanding of naval ceremony, naval strategy & the duties & characteristic ways of officers & men.’ One passage in particular contains a highly obscure sailing term;

Believe me, sir, she is the goodliest woman
That ever lay by man: which when the people
Had the full view of, such a noise arose
As the shrouds make at sea in a stiff tempest

‘It is a puzzle,’ writes WB Whall, ‘how Shakespeare, unless he had been a sailor, could have known enough of sea life to write such a magnificently apt simile as this. It could not have occurred to anyone who had not been at sea. The shrouds are the heavy ropes of the rigging which supports the masts of a ship on neither side so that they can carry sail.’ Another naval accuracy comes in Hamlet’s, ‘methought I lay worse than the mutinies in the bilboes,’ with the latter word being sea-slang for leg-shackles. One also gets the feeling that Shakespeare even personally experienced a ship-wreck, his plays are simply littered with them, including;

After our ship did split,
When you and those poor number saved with you
Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,
Most provident in peril, bind himself,
Courage and hope both teaching him the practise,
To a strong mast that lived upon the sea;
Twelfth Night 1:2

Across the Adriatic from Italy lie the thousand-islands of Croatia, or Illyria as it was known in more antique times. In 1553, an English gentleman called John Locke recorded his own pilgrimage to Jerusalem, & withit being only three decades before Shakespeare, its pretty close to how it woudl have been for our party.

We sayled all the day long by the bowline alongst the coast of Ragusa {Dubrovnik}, and towardes night we were within 7 or 8 miles of Ragusa , that we might see the white walles, but because it was night, we cast about to the sea, minding at the second watch, to beare it againe to Ragusa… This citie of Ragusa paieth tribute to the Turke yerely fourteene thousand Sechinos, and every Sechino is of venetian money eight livers and two soldes, besides other presents which they give to the Turkes Bassas when they come thither. The Venetians have a rocke or cragge within a mile of the said towne, for the which the Raguseos would give them much money, but they doe keepe it more for the namesake, then for profite. This rocke lieth on the Southside of the towne, and is called Il cromo, there is nothing on it but onely a Monasterie called Sant Jeronimo. The maine of the Turkes countrie is bordering on it within one mile, for the which cause they are in great subjection.

In 1586 Illyria was the only independent city-state on the eastern littoral of the Adriatic in the sixteenth century. It is mentioned ten times by Shakespeare, who sets his Twelfth Night there, which we may now conject was after he had experienced for himself the port of Ragusa. As one hears references to Illyria’s coasts, sailors, the ‘Uskok’ pirates, tall population & robust wines, one senses the snatch of time Shakespeare had with the country as he sailed south through the Adriatic. Elsewhere in the canon, the term for Ragusa’s ships, Argosies (after Ragosies), was used by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Henry VI, Part III and The Taming of the Shrew, while in Measure for Measure a plot turn in the last act depended on the substitution of the severed head of a “Rhagozin” pirate for Claudio’s. A Croatian on ths pot, Josip Torbarina, in his “The Setting of Shakespeare’s Plays,” (Studia Romanica et Anglica Zagrabiensia 17 (1964) & Shakespeare & Dubrovnik (1977) amasses compelling evidence for Shakespeare’s use of contemporary Dalmatia and the city of Ragusa as the setting for Twelfth Night.


MAY 1586
Stanley in Egypt

041f523d83def9448eb465e12008427a.jpg

Leaving ‘Illyria,’ our party sailed on to Egypt, & the sweaty flesh-pots of its capital, Cairo. In, ‘The Travels of John Sanderson in the Levant,’ we may read a contemporary English account of a visit to Cairo & its surrounds, including the place where the baby Jesus had fled to from Herod.

Cairo is mutch bigger then Constantinople. Many thinges noteable ar in and about this citie, which others no doubt reporteth and ar not beleved; as ar the twelve storehouses wheare they say Josiph kept the come the seven deere years (some say the same was reserved in the vaults of the Peramidis). I went twise to aplacetenn miles frome Cairo, cauled the Mataria, beinge yet solemlie visited by Christians ; it is wheare Josiph and Mary remained with our Saviour. Ther is a springe of water which, as they report, have bine ever since; and alike a plott in a garden wher groweth spriggs that yealdeth balsamo. The Papists come often to this house a massinge in great devotion, and observe a place like a cubberd, wher they say our Saviour was laid ; and alike a great crossebodied wild figge tree in the gardin, with also the water wherein our Ladie washed our Saviours clouts.

At Cairo I was shewed howe and of what sorts of serpents the
Moors do make thier treacle. I did ther also see both wild and tame gattie pardie^ (cats of mountayne, as we caule them), little and great monkies, dragons, muske cats, gasells (which ar a kind of roebucke), bodies of momia [see p. 44], and live cocadrills 5 , both of land and water ; which have bine offered at my gate to be sold. Some I have bought at some tim[e]s for my recreation, of most of thes sorts; for ther I remained 18 monethes. Onse I caused a villaine to ripp a cocadrill, which was of some 2J yeards longe ; the same beinge a female, which had in hir paunch above
100 eggs, yealowe like youlks of eggs and just of sutch bignes.

On arriving in Cairo would have sought out the principle headquarters of the Levant Company, from which office emanated tendrils of pre-imperial trade into the ports & courts of the eastern Mediterranean. Powerful cities such as Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Jerusalem, Damascus & Aleppo had all become secure stopping-stations for the Levant Company, as was Constantinople, where Company man William Harborne had become the de facto English ambassador to the Ottomans. Within two decades the East Indies Company would be formed, the majority of its nucleus members being Levant Company men, & one could say that British India has its true roots in these Elizabethan mercantile expeditions to the east.

The connection between William Stanley & the Levant Company begins with Barry Coward, author of a book on the history of the Stanley family, who states, ‘from 1584 to 1593 Earl Henry borrowed as he had never done before… the loans raised by Earl Henry & his son, Ferdinando, were all raised by bonds pledging a cash surety, made with important London merchant financiers, like John lacy, Richard Martin, Peter Vanlore, Michael Cornleius, William Cuslowe, Nicholas Mosley, & Sir Rowland Hayward.’ A key link here is Richard Martin, a two-time mayor of London & one of the founding members of the Levant Company in 1581. The Stanley’s financial embroilment with such a fellow would have led to William Stanley being sent to check up on the family’s investments in the new markets.

nile-crocodile-16th-century-artwork-middle-temple-libraryStanley’s journey to Egypt is given more details by Thomas Aspen, who records; ‘afterwards he proceeded to Egypt, and with the assistance of a native guide, went to reconnoitre the River Nile. Whilst on their journey, a large male tiger suddenly appeared from behind a thicket, and with a hideous howl came rushing towards them. Sir William had two pistols, and discharged one as the tiger was making a spring at them. Unfortunately he missed his aim, and it was only by dexterously stepping aside that he eluded the grasp of the ferocious brute. Before the animal had time to take another spring, Sir William drew a second pistol, discharged the contents into the tiger’s breast, and as it reeled drew his sword and killed it.’ That our party visited the River Nile allows us to look deeper into one of Donne’s sonnets.

See, sir, how, as the sun’s hot masculine flame
Begets strange creatures on Nile’s dirty slime,
In me your fatherly yet lusty rhyme
For these songs are their fruits—have wrought the same.
But though th’ engend’ring force from which they came
Be strong enough, and Nature doth admit
Seven to be born at once; I send as yet
But six; they say the seventh hath still some maim.
I choose your judgment, which the same degree
Doth with her sister, your invention, hold,
As fire these drossy rhymes to purify,
Or as elixir, to change them to gold.
You are that alchemist, which always had
Wit, whose one spark could make good things of bad.

This sonnet’s opening lines invoke a definite sense of witnessing the Nile at first hand. The decisive evidence comes with the sonnet being placed among a sequence dedicated by Donne to a certain ‘E of D,’ implying his Grand Tour patron, William Stanley, the 6th Earl of Derby


MAY 1586
Shakespeare’s Sonnets to Stanley

Gay men in Egypt- it actually illegal in the country these days
Gay men in Egypt-  manlove is actually illegal in the country these days

Shakespeare’s own time in Egypt is reflected by two unusual eye-witness accounts found in two of his earliest plays;

Thou art more puzzled than the Egyptians in their fog
Twelfth Night

An Egyptian that had nine hours lien dead who was by good appliance recovered
Pericles

Just as Donne was writing deliciously sensuous sonnets to & for Stanley, so was Shakespeare. What happens on the Grand Tour stays on the Grand Tour, & here was our bard in Egypt, where the demands of a young family had been replaced by poetical yearnings to see pyramids & sail the love-barges of Cleopatra. He was also traveling with a prominent member of his country’s royal family, & as we have discerned from the secret back story behind Venus & Adonis, Stanley actually fancied him. Sleeping your way to the top has always been a good way to get ahead, & in Shakespeare’s case he didn’t mind if it was with a member of the opposite sex. Read what you will of it as you may, but on his return to England Shakespeare never sired another child, implying perhaps he became fully LGBTQ on the Grand Tour.

It is Shakespeare’s love for Stanley that provides an important keystone in the dissemination of the many mysteries behind Shakespeare’s famous sonnet sequence. The form chosen for these poetical lovegasms is the short, 14-line photo-poem – the sonnet –  a poetical form capable of storing some of the most refined & musical expressions of human thought. That Shakespeare was writing sonnets at such an early stage in his career was opined by his greatest biographer, & most ardent analyticist, Sydney Lee, who proclaim’d; ‘in both their excellences & their defects Shakespeare’s sonnets betray their kinship to his early dramatic work,’ compating their, ‘unimpressive displays of verbal jugglery,’ with similar instances in the early plays.

Eventually published in 1609, Shakespeare’s sequence seems to be a collection of individual sonnet-clusters. The exact order in which these sequences of creative pulses, eternally crystalized & unified by gorgeous iambic pentameter, were written is beyond the remit of this book. One of these mini-sequences reflects Shakespeare’s homosexual love for a young aristocratic man & in 1586, there were no love sonnet sequences from one man to another except for one – Michaelangelo’s impassioned sonnets to Tommasso dei Cavalieri which Shakespeare may even have come across in Italy.

So who was Shakespeare’s muse? That the fellow is a member of the uppermost echelons of the aristocracy is suggested by sonnet 125, which begins, ‘were it ought to me I bore the canopy.’ The ceremonial material in question is that carried over the head of the incumbent monarch by England’s leading noblemen, in procession to Westminster Abbey & the coronation. On becoming the Earl of Derby himself, William Stanley himself would conduct this very act at the 1603 coronation of James I.

Over the past two centuries, the Bard’s corpse has been argued over & dissected so much, that hardly anything remains of the man: his flesh & bones have been shredded, flung & scattered across the ever-expanding wastelands of Shakespearean criticism. The one bonus of all these efforts is that the Elizabethan Age has been scrutinized to a near infinite degree by scholars hoping to turn up some precious new nugget of biographical detail concerning the Bard. There have been successes & among this vast sea of uncertainty one may find the following island of logical thinking;

A few years down the road, & increasingly mindful of Haines’ caution to Buck Milligan that Shakespeare’s sonnets are, ‘the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance,’ I nonetheless came to conclude from the evidence I accumulated that not only was Barnfield’s Ganymede the sixth Earl of Derby, William Stanley, but also that Barnfield published poems from 1594 (including over twenty homoerotic love sonnets) were in dialogue with some of Shakespeare’s own homoerotic sonnets to his Fair Youth... we hardly have reason to be very surprised if, after all, Shakespeare’s beloved & revered male addressee might turn out to be William Stanley

This passage was written by Leo Daugherty whom, after surviving such a process of intense academic endeavour with his wits intact, stated in his brilliant book, ‘William Shakespeare, Richard Barnfield & the Sixth Earl of Derby’ that he had made, ‘conclusions of some enormity.’ The crux of his excited proclamation was that the identity of the Handsome Youth was a certain Elizabethan nobleman called William Stanley. Yes, our William Stanley! It makes sense, for there are positive analogies in language between Venus and this set of sonnets.

There is one sonnet in particular that reflects the logistical relationship between Shakespeare & Stanley, with our young poet highlighting his role as a retainer ;

Being your slave what should I do but tend
Upon the hours, and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend;
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world without end hour,
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But, like a sad slave, stay and think ofnought
Save, where you are, how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love, that in your will,
Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.


JUNE 1586
Shakespeare joins the Levant Company fleet

We have now placed Shakespeare firmly among the buccaneering world of corsairs that constituted the Elizabethan navy, where men like Drake, Hawkins & Raleigh were the idols of the day. Our young bard is about to board one of the Levant Company ships in Egypt with all five vessels of the mini-fleet having made successful trading operations in Turkey, Egypt & Syria. Three of the ships had met up in the Egyptian port of Alexandria: The Toby, the Susan & the Edward Bonaventure; & by the June of 1586 they had combined with the remaining two Company ships off the Greek island of Zante.

All five ships, & four other non-Company vessels from England, had fused together for security reasons – the journey through the Straits of Gibraltar, a cannon’s shot from hostile Spain, would be treacherous for one or two vessels traveling on their own. It was a prudent move, as a very real danger was imminent; two separate squadrons of Spanish & Maltese galleys had left the Straits of Gibraltar & were hunting down the English like hungry, prowling wolves.


JULY 1586
The Battle of Pantelleria

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Deep in the middle of a sultry summer, Shakespeare found himself sailing west through the Mediterranean as a passenger of the Levant Company fleet. After safely bypassing Malta, they were suddenly intercepted by a squadron of eleven Spanish and Maltese galleys under Don Pedro de Leyva. The engagement took place off the island of Pantelleria on the 13th July, a five-hour running battle which saw the massive devastation of Spanish ships like some prophetic glimmer of the Armada. A Venetian ambassador to Rome, Giovanni Gritti, recorded;

Between Sicily & the island of Pantalara the galleys of Naples & of Sicily fell in with nine English galleys returning form Constantinople, full of merchandise, & although they attacked the English ships they failed to take them. The galleys have returned to Naples for reinforcement & will sail again to search for the English. They have sent news of these English to Genoa, so that they may be on the look out for them in the waters of Corsica & Sardinia

After five hours of fighting the Spanish galleys had been battered into submission. On the English side only two sailors had died, & a handful more being wounded. The tough English sailors had simply outmaneuvered, & more importantly, outgunned the Spanish. Remembrances of Shakespeare witnessing such a brutal sea-battle lies scatter’d throughout this plays. AF Falconer writes how he, ‘distinguishes between various types of ordnance & gun, understands how they work & are managed, & is familiar with gunnery terms & words of command.’ We can see for ourselves in examples, such as

The nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish cannon touches
Henry V

Like an overcharged gun, recoil
And turn the force of them upon thyself
2 Henry VI

What’s this? a sleeve? ’tis like a demi-cannon
What, up and down, carved like an apple-tart?
Taming of the Shrew


JULY 1586
Shakespeare visits Linosa

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While stopping for provisions & water round about the time of the Battle of Pantelleria, Shakespeare took a wander of the island of Linosa – anciently ‘Aethusa.’ In a great moment of creative fusion, the island became embedded in his mnemonic vaults, & probably sketch & reported on in his notebooks, ready for the right moment to become the setting of one of his poems or plays. This eventually occurred when Shakespeare was writing the Tempest, the last to be performed publicaly in his lifetime.

Linosa is an extremely pretty island, its three lofty cones being the spiky remnants of ancient volcanoes. In Shakespeare’s time Linosa was deserted, like the other islands of the Pelagian archipelago in which it lies. Of a possible Tempestesque shipwreck on the island, GD Gussone wrote; ‘before 1828 some travelers going to Linosa found three human skeletons on those mountains which, in his opinion, where the remains of men who were perhaps thrown by a storm on to the island and that miserably perished for lack of food.’

imgresLinosa’s position between Sicily & Tunisia fits neatly with the geography of the Tempest, in which Alonso, King of Naples, washes up on a deserted island on his way to see the King of Tunis. The island also plays host to the witch Syrocrax, banished there from Tunisia’s neighbor, Algiers. The true Syrocrax is mentioned in John Ogilby’s ‘Accurate Description of Africa,’ in which she advises, soothsayer fashion, the commander of Algiers not to surrender the city to Emperor Charles V in 1541. The citizens did as they were bidden, & the fleet of Charles V was destroyed in a ‘terrible Tempest.’ Unfortunately for Syrocrax, ‘to palliate the shame and the reproaches that are thrown upon them for making use of a witch,’ she was exiled in a pregnant state on Linosa, & was perhaps even one of the skeletons found on the island. According to the Tempest, she was dead by the events of the play, but her son Caliban was still alive. His character, then, may have been based on a real meeting with Shakespeare, whose bones were laid to rest beside his mother’s on the mountains.


330px-Torquato_TassoJuly 6th 1586: Tasso released from the Asylum

While Shakespeare was fighting the Battle of Pantelleria, after seven years of poor mental health Torquato Tasso was released from Hospital of St. Anna at Ferrara, at the request of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Prince of Mantua. Gonzago was a major patron of the arts and sciences, and had turn’d Mantua into a vibrant cultural center. Tasso, Italy’s finest renaissance poet, was given a beautiful apartment in the royal palace, furnished with comforts he could need. Perfect conditions for poetic composition, which climate soon inspired Tasso to rework his 1573 tragedy Galealto Re di Norvegia into a new drama, Torrismondo.


AUGUST 1586
Shakespeare in Algiers

After the battle of Pantelleria, the Company fleet headed for Algiers in order to restock supplies & make any necessary battle-repairs. These movements fit neatly into the itinerary of William Stanley, who according to the Garland visited ‘the King of Morocco and his nobles all / Then went to the King of Barbary.’ A connection between Stanley & North Africa comes through the Barbary Company, formed in 1585. The Queen herself had invested in the project, alongside Stanley’s father. The Levant Company connection is tentative, but the presence of William Stanley at this particular emporium further supports the notion he may have been working for his father – details on contracts needed to be fine-tuned, perhaps, or accounts checked.

Despite suffering little in losses & damage, the battle of Pantelleria would have shredded the nerves of our young party, & at this point Stanley would have ordered his youngest charge, John Donne, to make his way back to England in the relative safety of the armed merchantmen. With the help of a thick sea-mist, this little fleet avoided the waiting Spanish at Gibraltar, & was soon unloading their wares at the London docks. John Donne would eventually return once more to the service of the Earl of Derby, where on the 13th May 1587 the Derby Household Books included a ‘Mr John Downes’ alongside the same six waiters who appeared on the 1585 retinue list with a certain ‘Mr John Donnes.


 

Pairing Off

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Oran Mor, Glasgow
Mar 9 – 16, 2020

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Paring Off, by Alma Cullen, is this week’s Play, Pie and Pint offering, and opened with pals Murdo (Tom McGovern) and Kenny (Steven Duffy), sharing a pint and enthusiastically discussing their team, St Mirren. Turned out that Kenny was the manager, and Murdo, a butcher by trade, had a vested interest in the shape of the club pie contract.

Enter Kenny’s girlfriend Mimi (Gail Watson) looking professional in a white dress. Mimi owned Happy Feet Chiropody and had come to treat Murdo who had terrible trouble with his feet (hence the “paring” of the title). It didn’t take us long to realise that Mimi and Kenny’s relationship involved a lot of high voltage quarrelling. However, she spread a towel on her lap settled down to her task of massaging Murdo’s feet while he lay back in utter bliss in a gorgeous looking leather and wood chair.

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The men were feeling optimistic and excited about the future of their team as they chatted about the various signings and prospective victories that were coming up. Then the mood abruptly changed when it was mentioned that one of the new signings was gay. Kenny immediately showed his revulsion, saying that it was wrong and against the law. Mimi denounces Kenny for being uptight just as she was drawn to Murdo’s more relaxed reaction.

An attraction that grew as Murdo and Mimi become more than enamoured with each other and ended up sleeping together. Mimi confided that she sometimes needed sex to sleep well and that she had a wonderful night with Murdo, enjoying his cavalier attitude towards the whole thing. So when Mimi discovered Murdo’s own secret – given away by the state of his feet – in the shape of his very own pair of women’s dancing shoes, it was all part of a highly charged romantic exchange that ended in Mimi appearing in a sexy red dress and a long dance sequence that left the clumsy Kenny standing on the sidelines.

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The music was lush, the action endearing and highly charged, catching you up in an intricate dance between the three characters. Funny and intense, it nearly set the place on fire…

Daniel Donnelly

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Viriathus: Scenes 11-13


Scene 11:  Sierra Morena

A meeting of all the Lusitanian chiefs – Viriathus is passing out bread & meat

Viriathus
My generals, my warriors, my friends
You are to me as if another self
Take this meat & bread, tear them into stars
Consume them all before me, while you do,
Mine eyes ensparkling with the brotherhood,
I’ll feed off your warfare’s ferocity
Your loyalty my only nourishment
I trust you all implicitly, whom here
Shall aim straight truth out of rambunctious war

Audax
It is not easy on the ear, my lord

Viriathus
Be frank, tell me…

Audax
We are bruising sorely
My own brother deadslain in train’d battles
The Romans are the strongest I have seen
Reinforced with unheard of frequency
From Africa – it seems they shall not rest
Until we are choken on our own gore

Viriathus
How goes important scorchings of the earth

Camalo
It is as you wish’d, but much suffering
Afflicts the people while Ostia sends
Succorful ships that just keep on coming

Minurus
The sun sets weeping in the seagirt west
Us watching with a wearier espy
Caepio is ruthless, Viriathus,
While country folk down lay their arms all sides
He waters his horses in the Tagus,
& plunders Turdetania for stores

Arantonio
Where all was joy now langour & distress
& anger – our allies’ fields lay wasted
The Vettones, Gallacaeci reluctant
To fight –

Ditalco
Caepio makes war without a conscience
He has turn’d the tide against us harshly

Viriathus
That may be so, but it will turn again
By Hannibal the Romans were themselves
Invaded & their capital besieged
Without those walls they would be Africans
We have walls too, not those of piled up stone
But knowledge of the land, our will to fight
& bonds between us, indestructable
Immovable, like the dog of a house

Astolpas
The heads of all our villages & towns
Are slaughter’d at the point them recogonis’d
Left wild to monster carrion & worms
& any Roman subjects thay they find
Among us, see hands sliced off at the wrist
The rest to living slavery then sold
Beholding daily dwindling meagreness
We are exhausted – we must sue for peace
I am no tyrant listening to pleas
Of reason, no, this is noit the season
For open warfare over such a foes
Audax, Ditalco, Minurs, shall go
As friends & chosen confidantes, einto
The enemy camp, Caepio seek out
& communicate to him my message
I am prepeared to end the war today
On terems yet undecided, but assured
In favour of Rome’s strengthening status
Do you accept the envoy

Audax
Aye

Minurus
Aye

Ditalco
Aye

Arantonio
This is a mistake, do you not sense it

Viriathus
Our women are dying, what can I do
Without them, the Lusitani wither
They must be saved to shelter our seedlings
No, Ditalco, Audax & Minurus
Each one of you I choose for possessing
Indispensible, ambassadorial
Attributes – balance, loyalty, wisdom
Worldly speech – most clever in consulship
Amid foes bellicose, with flawless words
Each of ye three present an olive branch
To Caepio, while echoing my voice.

Ditalco
Together we lay a firm foundation
Of peace on which shall flourish liberty

Viriathus
The future of all Lusitania
Invested in your pivotal success
Go well my friends, the vital hour has come.

Exit Minurus, Audax & Ditalco

Virathus
They will be back tomorrow, until then
We all are still at war – remain alert


Scene 12:
A Mountain Top

Cabruno is railing at a wild & musical storm

Cabruno
O what a storm it is that shakes my soul
The roaring winds aslant old skygates roll
Trees toss their branches, leaves for freedom lurch
At scudding white clouds, in these future lies
In divinations I shall analyze
The reasons in each skysculpt swept in search.

Enter Arco

Arco
Hullo Cabruno, quite the serpent gale
I too was summon’d hither with the wail
The voices of the bird host, the very
Syllables they utter, summon’d by storm;
The wren, listen, twitters ominously
Its notes like diamond lights in daemon form

Cabruno
While you the croakings & the calls compute
I too will draw my augurs from the root
Of crooked tree, the skeletons of sheep
Portent naked & murderous mischief
Mine inner ear has heard a widow weep
Her tears are welling deep without relief

Arco
Out to the moonrise run your ruby gaze
Perceive the limits of its waning phase
Follow tight flock of eagles as they fly
Across its face, now blotting out its light,
When life eclipses life one life shall die
Down stricken in the darkness of the night

Cabruno
Who is the one that like that silver sphere
Did brighten our black tapestry of fear
Whom is the one who rose into the stars
The one we looked to for our strength sky-sent
Who is the one who brighter shone than mars
Our one & only true luminescent

Arco
The birds are busy fretting at the earth
The kite is set to claim its talon’s worth
Of flesh, grey-coated scallycrows sighted,
The famish’d falcon screams, the scop owls bark,
While far off & aloofly affrighted
Raven sails across this tremulous dark

Cabruno
Is it Viriathus

Arco
Aye, it is him,
The long light of his star-days growing dim
We still have time for warning if we speed
Down to the valley, steal a pretty steed

Cabruno
Aye, if we hurry we might save him yet

Arco
So let us run & dash & pant & sweat

Exit Arco & Cabruno


Scene 13: The Roman Camp

Caepio & Sempronius are being entertained by belly dancers

Herald
Sir

Caepio
What is it, can’t you see I’m busy

Herald
Three of the savage captains are in camp

Caepio
Were they captured

Herald
No, of their own accord
Weaponless & wielding olive branches

Virathus
I knew they would come, this phalanx of peace
Send them in & fetch my treasury
Silver, spices, furs & silks, let us see
If savages can yet be civilised

Herald
Yes sir

Exit Herald / Caepio dismisses the dancing girls with a wave of his hand

Sempronius
Quintus, you calculating cad
How did you do it

Caepio
I have done nothing yet
But if I know Humanity at all
By love of lucre loyalty lacks weight
& each man has his price,

Enter Herald

Herald
Sir, they are here

Caepio
Bring them

Herald makes a gesture to the tents door – enter gaurds with Audax, Ditalco & Minurus

Herald
Audax, Ditalco, Minurus

Caepio
Welcome brave opponents, are you hungry
There’s meat & wine aplenty, help yourself

Audax
We do not come to dine, but to entreat
A peace negotiated, end this war
This jagged, manifest predicament
That has a decade laid two nations waste
The canker-sorrow eating at the buds
Of handsome youth

Caepio
Two nations, what you say
I’d hardly call them that – one a motley
Collection of tribes, half-starved & bleeding,
Who push against the other, whose bare hands
Grab the blades of my nation of nations,
Whose strong heart pulses blood to every point
Relentlessly, we have much youth to spare…
But… where is the style in such attrition
Where is the honour in guerilla wars
I too would rather end the war today
But on my terms & only those, do you
Understand

Ditalco
There will be no surrender

Caepio
Rememeber, noble chieftans, your houses
& as you mind recalls once rich repose
Look all around you, lands lost, farmers slain,
Your towns deserted – would you not prefer
To be a wealthy landowner of Rome
The choice you possess, as far as I see,
Is that, or some landless desperado
Become, come, glance about this tent, its style
Let slip into your soul with acceptance

Audax
What do you mean

Minurus
What does he want, you mean

Caepio
I shall speak plainly of the occasion
Kill Viriathius

Audax
What

Minurus
It cannot be

Caepio
It is so, I wish you three to conduct
Assassination, amply rewarded
Shall you be – with lands, jewels & respect

Audax
How dare you dare to ask us such a blight

Sempronius
Each day he lives a hundred more are slain
Both sides are bleeding but yours bleeds the most

Minurus
This is outrageous

Ditalco
& quite difficult
On account of his excessive labours
He little sleeps & when he does he wears
Impressive armour, so when him arous’d
Emergencies are tackled instant pois’d

Audax
Ditalco, brother, what

Ditalco
Relax Audax
As the foremost earsmen of his counsel
The gaurds shall be no trouble if at night
We wish’d, with Vitriathus, to converse

Minurus
What is this?

Audax
What madness overwhelms you

Ditalco
Old friends, we must think of our families
Rome is irrepressible, better we
Live under them than die the death futile

Audax
You really would betray Viriathus

Ditalco
I’m ready, yes, to save lives of thousands

Audax
Must it be so

Ditalco
There is not other way

Caepio
Viriathus must die & die tonight
If what I know of him is half a truth
He will see deception in an eyelash

Audax
It seems I cling unto a flimsy branch
With an oak tree below me being fell’d

Minurus
I cannot stand it

Ditalco
There is Tongina

Minurus
Tongina?

Ditalco
Yes, Minurus, made widow, in the grief
You could offer her shoulders to catch salt-tears

Audax
I will do it, I love him, but his life
Endangers all we know

Ditalco
Will you join us

Minurus nods silently in agreement

Caepio
I see
Audax, take these diamonds as a token
Of friendly intent, for Minurus gold
& for you, Ditalco, pure emeralds

Ditalco
How shall you be informed when all is done

Viriathus
Oh, I shall know, there will be an uproar,
But noise to settle soon enough, of course,
Blood flows then dries then dissapears in winds
These matters are forgotten in mere months
& Viriathus’ name a buried bone
Go to it, do not dally in the deed

Exit Ditalco, Minurus & Aulax

Sempronius
They will never carry

Caepio
My thought differs
I saw the twitch for riches, caught the gasp,
Feint to us, but blowing storm within,
For money, men would sacrifice the skins
Of dead grandmothers, no, the act will pass


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

 

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen

The Young Shakespeare (8): Shakespeare in Italy


Discovering the fascinating truth

Of Shakespeare’s missing years


November 1585: Shakespeare Reaches Italy

Like all art, poetry grows naturally out of accumulated materielle, to which is added an individual poet’s personality & technique. Their creations should be seen as the fragrant flowers of a bush, the roots of which are buried deep under the earth. By following these roots to their sources of nourishment, we can slowly create a picture of the poet’s unseen life, the one that lives beneath the surface of the page. If Shakespeare had accompanied Stanley, the sheer wealth of scenery & culture that Europe contains should have found an eventual memorial among his plays. When the English poet Lord Byron visited the Continent in the early 19th century, his composition of a long poem called Childe Harolde’s Pilgrimage is more or less a record of his travels. In the same fashion, it is through the Chisper Effect that we can see how the plays of Shakespeare are a metacreative journal of his travels with Stanley. Doctor AW Titherly concurs with such a notion by stating,

Shakespeare’s geography, being ubiquitous in its range, is evidentially inconclusive, except in so far as its abiding realism manifestly betrays extensive travel experience as distinct from mere book-learning.’

It is time, then, to proceed with the upmost joy unto the Italian peninsular, the greatest of all the Shakespearean hauntlands. It is in the famous Shelleyan  ‘Paradise of Exiles,’ that Shakespeare would set more than a quarter of his plays, such as the seminal classic, Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare & Italy are like pasta & wine – they go together so darned well. A great deal of their connections were unearthed by an amiable Californian, Richard Paul Roe, who sadly departed this world in 2010. The last twenty-five years of his life were spent wandering about Italy with a well-thumbed copy of Shakespeare in his hands, hunting down clues as to whether the Bard had visited the country or not. To say his efforts were a success are a clear understatement, the Indiana Jones of Shakespearean studies, he dug out & polished many prime artefacts, concluding;

The ‘imaginary’ settings for the ten Italian plays of Shakespeare have presented both specific, and strikingly accurate, details about that country, as a result of dedicated sojourns within it by the playwright. The author’s journeys took him from its Alpine slopes to the toe of its peninsula, across the length and breadth of its great island of Sicily, and included sailing trips on both the adjoining Adriatic and Tyrrhenian Seas. For the last four hundred years, nearly all of the playwright’s descriptions of Italy’s places and treasures have either gone unrecognized as being true, or have been dismissed as mistaken.

Italy burned an indelible mark into Shakespeare’s creative consciousness, & throughout his works we find over a hundred scenes set in that country, alongside 800 general other references. A great study of these was made by another Bard-in-Italy aficionado, Ernesto Grillo, a 20th century teacher & lecturer of Italian studies at Glasgow University, & absolute Shakespeare nut. After a lifetime of lectures, one of his students assembled Grillo’s copious notes into a book entitled Shakespeare and Italy. Published in 1949, it quotes Grillo in conclusion:

Italy with its public and private life, its laws and customs, its ceremonial and other characteristics, pulsates in every line of our dramatist, while the atmosphere of many scenes is Italian in the truest sense of the word. We cannot but wonder how Shakespeare obtained such accurate information, and we have no hesitation in affirming that on at least one occasion he must have visited Italy

This ‘one occasion’ was in the company of William Stanley. ‘Open my heart and you will see / Graved inside of it, ‘Italy!’’ sang Robert Browning, & it makes perfect sense that our budding Bard would have visited the land of Virgil, Dante, Petrach & Tasso, for it is felt & known by the English poets the Italian influence that raises their art to its highest pitch.


NOVEMBER 1585
The Levant Company Launch Five Ships from London

As Shakespeare was having his first frothy coffees in Italy, to promote the trade of Elizabethan England the Company of Merchants of the Levant was formed to take advantage of the declining international trade of both the Portuguese & the Venetian empires. The Company would establish ‘factories’ in the Syrian city of Aleppo (its headquarters), Constantinople, Alexandria and Smyrna. They also commissioned a small fleet of five ships to trade in the Near East, but at the very moment they were set to embark, in November 1585 Phillip II of Spain declared war on England. This forced the Company to heavily arm the fleet; the 300-ton galleon Merchant Royal, the William and John (one ship), the Toby, the Susan and the 300-ton armed merchant galleon Edward Bonaventure. They sailed later in the month, & we shall see in a short while how important this little fleet is to the unwritten history of William Shakespeare.


DECEMBER 1585
Shakespeare in Florence

Piazza Ognissanti

Like any poet of substance, Shakespeare’s soul would have been fired up for his first visit to Florence; the home of Dante and a true diamond among the many jeweled delights of Tuscany. Florence is a veritable beauty to behold, especially when observed from its heights, when the weighty Duomo rises out of a sea of orange rooves like some volcanic, Polynesian island. Shakespeare would set several scenes of Alls Well that Ends Well in the city, while an accurate knowledge of Florence & the Florentines is heavily evident in other plays. In Alls Well (3-5) we hear, ‘if they do approach the City, We shall lose all the sight,’ a statement elucidated by Roe’s, ‘the ‘City’ in question is an area to north of the Arno, where stood the walled Roman colony of Florentia.’ Roe also pinpointed the description of a religious hostelry situated ‘at the Saint Francis here beside the port.’ On investigation, Roe discovered that the ‘Saint Francis’ in question was, ‘the ancient name of Piazza Ognissanti, where the Chiesa di Ognissanti (Church of All Saints), belonged to the Franciscans since 1561.’ To this we may add the findings of Ernesto Grillo who describes how Shakespeare knew, ‘the Florentines were notable merchants and mathematicians, making frequent use in their commerce of letters of credit and counting their money by ducats; and he was also aware that they were constantly in conflict with the Sienese. And here the poet uses a phrase which is pure Italian–The Florentines and the Sienese are by the ear (si pigliano per gli orecchi).’

At the time the city would have been abuzz with anticipation for the upcoming dynatsic marriage between Virginia de’ Medici, daughter of Cosimo I de’ Medici, to Cesara D’Este, on of Alfonso, Marquis of Montecchio, in turn the illegitimate (but later legitimized) son of Alfonso I, Duke of Ferrara. They would be married in Florence on the 6th February 1586, & it is possible that Shakespeare & Sytanley were in attendance. To celebrate the event the artists of Italy were in ferment; a comedy ‘l’Amico Fido’,  by Giovanni de’ Bardi, was comissioned  with the lyrics of Alessandro Striggio, who had been been ‘continually involved in some intermedi and musical compositions for the Grand Duke‘ for months. Meanwhile, in Ferrara the poet Torquato Tasso was dedicating a cantata to the newlyweds.

While in ever-flourishing Florence, Shakespeare connected on a spiritual & artistic level with the great Italian poet, Dante Alighieri, visiting his natal house which still stands to this day. It would have been a grand transferance of the Parnassian baton, for Dante’s contribution to world literature is the brilliant Divine Comedy, a most beautiful epic poem through which the poet explored Hell, Purgatory & Heaven, embroidered by some of the most sublimely beautiful language. So gorgeous were his words, in fact, that when the fragmented Italian principalities were searching for a national language; out of the many dialects on offer it was Dante’s Tuscan that won the day. In the same fashion, Shakespeare’s influence over the English language has been equally meritorious, for there is something about a song sung on the highest slopes of Parnassus that reverberates along the tongues of a poet’s fellow countrymen for forever & a day. John W. Draper, in his Shakespeare and Florence and the Florentines (Italica: December 1946) elucidates excellently the Shakespeare-Florence connection;

What did Shakespeare know of Florence? That it bred great men, and also great gentlemen, as appears in Claudio and Cassio; that it sometimes depended on France in wars against its neighbors, apparent in All’s Well; that it was a leader in the new theories of warfare and in the mathematics that they required, for otherwise Othello’s appointment of Cassio is absurd and perhaps Claudio’s success in war owed something to such knowledge; that it was a great financial center, is evidenced in the Pedant’s bill of exchange and in lago’s slurs against his rival; and perhaps Shakespeare thought of Lucentio’s “philosophy” as distinctively Florentine. These are all cultural or intellecutal things; of the physical aspects of the city and its peculiar customs, he offers nothing: for Venetian local color, he uses the Rialto, the special police, the gondoliers; but Shakespeare’s Florence, though he thought of it no less than Venice as a center of commerce and culture, has no Ponte Vecchio, no churches, no palaces, no markets; it is a mere ghost city. In All’s Well, he lays eight scenes in or near the city, yet never refers to the Arno; and the “Duke” who gives Bertram the command of horse is not mentioned as a Medici. Surely young roistering nobles would have given him a much more vivid picture of the city; and even a single book on Florence, like Contareno’s Venice, would have supplied a fuller and more balanced view. One is led to the conclusion that such local color as was not in his sources


JANUARY 1586
Shakespeare visits Rome

Braun_Roma_HAAB

In 1586, the Eternal City was a shadow of the epic metropolis of the Ceasars, but still held the same charm & fascination as it does to the tourist of today. ‘Of the ground contained within the walls,’ remarked Shakespeare’s contemporary, William Thomas, ‘scarcely the third part is now inhabited, and that not where the beauty of Rome hath been but for the most part on the plain to the waterside and in the Vatican, because that since the Bishops began to reign every man hath coveted to build as near the court as might be. Nevertheless, those streets and buildings that are there at this time are so fair that I think no city doth excel it.’ The digs were also of a high quality & were remembered by Montaigne on his tour of the continent, 1581-82; ‘the lodgings in Rome are generally furnished a little better than at Paris, as they have great abundance of gilt leather, with which the lodgings of any pretence are upholstered.’

For Stanley, a visit to the Italian capital was truly relish’d, where the Vatican City especially would have been a most soulful draw for our pro-papal party. In the England of 1585 it was a treasonous offence to be, or even harbor, a Catholic priest; while £20 fines were handed out to anybody who failed to attend a protestant service. What a relief for our party who would have been overjoyed to step into any Roman church they liked, to worship their version of Jesus in the open. Shakespeare might even have taken the opportunity to examine the Vatican library, as Montaigne did & recorded a few years previously.

I saw the {Vatican} library without any difficulty: anybody sees it this, & makes what extracts he pleases; & it is open almost evetry morning. I wa shown over the whole & invited by a gentleman to make use of it whenere I wishe. I saw here, too, a Virgil written by hand, in exceedingly big letters, & in those long & narrow characters which we see in the inscriptions of the time of the Emperors – for instance, about the period of Constantine – which have something of the Gothic form, & have lost that square proportion which we see in the old Latin handwritings. This Virgil confirmed the opinion I have always held, that the first four lines they put in the Aeneid are borrowed: this book has them not. (from) Montaigne’s Trip to Italy, 1580-1581

There was also the Jesuit connection, who had built another ‘English College’ in Rome itself. What is fascinating is that in 1585, a leather parchment kept by the college names a certain in ‘Arthurus Stratfordus Wigomniensis.’ In 1587 we then see a “Shfordus Cestriensis” while 1589 saw the residence of a certain “Gulielmus Clerkue Stratfordiensis.” Are any of these Shakespeaere? Possibly, probably not, but the Stratford = Catholicism -Rome connection is here assured. At the college in late 1585 was Robert Southwell, a young & talented Jesuit with a tendency for the pen & the creation of excllenet poetry. That he & Shakespeare connected at some point i sreflected by a small notice in Southwell’s Saint Peter’s Complaint (1595), published on the Continent after the martyr had suffered. The significant passage read: “to My Worthy Good Cosen Master W.S.” and the conjecture that the W.S. is indeed William Shakespeare. Southwell remonstrates with his good cousin about the abuse of poetry: “Worthy cosen, Poets, by abusing their talent, and making the follies, and faygnings of love the customary subject of their base endeavours, have so discredited this facultie, that a Poet, a Lover and a Lyar, are by many reckoned but three words of one signification.”


JANUARY 1586
Shakespeare Begins Titus Andronicus

Stanley & Shakespeare delighted in seeing the ruins of the ancient city, which according to the Brief Account reflected Stanley’s, ‘credit on his taste.’ It was upon these walks that Shakespeare’s creative connection to Rome was forged, as reflected by his four Roman Plays; Julius Ceasar, Anthony & Cleopatra, Coriolanus & Titus Andronicus. While wandering the remains of the Forum & the Colosseum, already 15 centuries old, Shakespeare’s innate enthusiasm was fired into tackling themes of grand antiquity. Of these, it is the play Titus Andronicus that was begun in earnest on the spot, a brutally violent revenge play in the style of the Roman dramatist Seneca. Most poets have several pieces going on at any one time, & when the epic Shakespearean scholar Walter Raleigh relates, ‘his early play of Titus Andronicus, which is like the poems,‘ we obtain a feeling that Shakespeare was writing a proto-Titus at the same time as he was penning Venus & Adonis. Philip C Koln observed in them a ‘close kinship’ where ‘both Titus & Venus contain rape (or attempted rape), Ovidian in origin, transformations, heavily embellished poetry to express the deepest physical & psychic wounds, the curse of doomed love, & the powerlessness of gods & goddesses to protect.’  A 1585-86 date for Titus also fits well with Ben Jonson who, writing in 1614, describes Titus as being, ‘these twenty five or thirty years,‘ old; i.e. 1584-89.

It had not been so long since Shakespeare had stood in the Alcazar gazing deeply at the brushwork of Titian’s Rape of Lucrece. As he combobulated his new play, Lucrece’s enforced ravishment became the inspiration for a similar rape. Indeed, in Titus, as the sexually molested and mutilated Lavinia reveals the identity of her rapists, her uncle Marcus invokes the story of Lucrece in order to invoke an oath of vengeance;

And swear with me—as, with the woeful fere
And father of that chaste dishonoured dame,
Lord Junius Brutus swore for Lucrece’ rape
That we will prosecute by good advice
Mortal revenge upon these traitorous Goths,
And see their blood, or die with this reproach

On an allegorical level, in her excellent book, Shadowplay, Clare Asquith notes how the rape of Lavinia seems to represent English Catholocism in the early 1580s. This wasan appropriate choice of metaphor, reinforced by Lavinia’s lopped off hands, reflecting the Catholic inability to worship freely in Elizabethan England. In the wake of the Tudor Reformation, Asquith reminds us, ‘the faces, arms & attributes of thousands of images of the Madonna & the saints were still being mutilated in exactly this way all over England; some of them, faces slashed & hands removed, still remain in parish churches.’ Such hidden, pro-Catholic layers would have resonated powerfully with a sympathetic 16th century audience. ‘A related similarity between Tamora & Elizabeth is inescapable,’ writes Asquith, & it is through Titus’s hidden Catholic layer that she finds an allusion to events of the year directly preceding that in which Shakespeare began writing the play. ‘In 1585,’ states Asquith, ‘Richard Shelley… was imprisoned for presenting a petition for toleration, dying later in jail without trial. The demented Titus accosts a simple countryman & asks him to deliver a letter that… also contains a weapon… a knife – a hint at the barbed attacks contained in the appeals. The message is twice called a ‘supplicatio.’ For running this errand, the poor clown, who delivers the letter with a cheerful invocation to God & the martyr St Stephen, is hanged on the spot.’

That Titus was Shakespeare’s first dramatic production is also cryptically embedded in the play itself. The plot has no historical basis, but the name of its chief character seems based upon Livius Andronicus, a Roman poet & dramatist of the third century BC, also known as Titus. The Roman writer Livy describes how Livius Andronicus had been an inspired dramaturgical innovator, who ‘was the first, some years later, to abandon saturae and compose a play with a plot. Like everyone else in those days, he acted his own pieces; and the story goes that when his voice, owing to the frequent demands made upon it, had lost its freshness, he asked and obtained the indulgence to let a boy stand before the flautist to sing the monody, while he acted it himself, with a vivacity of gesture that gained considerably from his not having to use his voice. From that time on actors began to use singers to accompany their gesticulation, reserving only the dialogue parts for their own delivery.’ It would have been apt for a forward-thinking playwright to name his first play after a similar-minded dramatist of the past, & a nod to the Roman may be seen in the cutting off of Lavinia’s tongue, mirroring the mute dramaturgy as utilised & made famous by Livius Andronicus.

In 1687 Edward Ravenscroft was the first to question Shakespeare’s authorship in the introduction his own adaptation of the play, stating; ‘I have been told by some anciently conversant with the Stage, that it was not Originally his, but brought by a private Author to be Acted and he only gave some Master-touches to one or two of the Principal Parts or Characters; this I am apt to believe, because ’tis the most incorrect and indigested piece in all his Works, It seems rather a heap of Rubbish then a Structure.‘ In the modern age the academic community agrees that Titus Andronicus was only co-authored by Shakespeare – whether actually agreeing, or massively polarized in the ‘he wrote it/he did’nt write it’ camps. There are clear discrepancies in style & vocabulary rippling all throughout the text; the blank verse especially doesn’t feel like Shakespeare’s. The earliest commentary on the play’s origins, made by Edward Ravenscroft in 1687, describes Titus as, ‘the most incorrect and indigested piece in all his Works; It seems rather a heap of Rubbish then a Structure.’ This creative jumbling forwards Stanley as a candidate for co-authorship, that Titus was the product of a collaboration between our erstwhile, literary-minded travelers. Stanley, of course, was a good old Lancashire lad, who would have spoken in that broad, Elysium-dripping accent of the North, & his presence during the penning of Titus which would account for its numerous dialectical idoms, such as; blowse, brabble, brat, caterwauling, chaps, codding, egall, faire-fast, gald, leere, luls, ruffle, slonke, tawnt, trull & welkin. That Stanley was involved in the creation of Titus would also help to explain why his family’s private troupe of players were the first to perform the play. When it was printed in 1594 – the year Stanley became the Earl of Derby – the title page of the first quarto edition reads; ‘as it was Plaide by the Right Honourable the Earle of Darbie, Earle of Pembrooke, and Earle of Suffox their Seruants.’

There is one more angle to the composition of Titus, & that is a leaning by certain scholars towards George Peele’s co-authorship of the play J. Dover Wilson writes of the repetition of phrases and sentiments in Act 1 that “most of the clichés and tricks are indubitably Peele’s. No dramatist of the age is so apt to repeat himself or so much given to odd or strained phrases,” WHILE Robertson identified 133 words and phrases in Titus which he felt strongly indicated Peele. Many of these concern Peele’s poem The Honour of the Garter (1593). One word in particular has advanced the Peele argument; “palliament” , meaning robe and possibly derived from the Latin “pallium” and/or “palludamentum.” If Peele & Shakespeare were collaborating, there are two possibilities as to the why. The first is that he helped with the play on Shakespeare’s return to England, just as they had worked on the Arraignment together. The second possibility is the most intriguing – Peele disappears from the annals for three years; in 1585 he was employed to write the Device of the Pageant borne before Woolston Dixie on his becoming Lord Mayor of London (October 1585), & in 1588 he writes a play on the Spanish Armada. It is possible that Peele joined our tourists at some point, & may have been invited along by Stanley, who had been studying at Oxford in the exact same period as Peele.

 


JANUARY 1586
Shakespeare Travels Through Italy

Leaving the Eternal City, let us now head north once more in the company of Shakespeare, Stanley & perhaps the 12-year-old John Donne. It was on this journey that Stanley, according to Thomas Aspen, ‘assumed the garb of a mendicant friar for the purpose of gaining information and the more readily getting through the country.’ This circumstance would one day found its place in Measure for Measure, where Vincentio also disguises himself as a friar. Meanwhile, Shakespeare was skimming through through the openly homoerotic sonnets of Michaelangelo. In that great painters’ old age he addressed a series of the most passionate sonnets unti two handsome young noblemen of his intimacy; Tommaso dei Cavalieri & Vittoria Colonna. ‘A great theme,’ Shakespeare thought as he looked up from the pages to idolize his dear Stanley.

Between Terni and Rome, according to Smollett, the inns were `abominally nasty’, generally destitute of provisions; and when provisions were found the guests were ‘almost poisoned by the cookery’. Samuel Sharp (The Horrors of an Italian Journey) confirmed this verdict:

Give what scope you please to your fancy, you will never imagine half the disagreeableness that Italian beds, Italian cooks, Italian post-houses, Italian postilions, and Italian nastiness offer to an Englishman in an Italian journey; much more to an English woman. At Turin, Milan, Venice, Rome, and, perhaps, two or three other towns, you meet with good accommodation; but no words can express the wretchedness of the other inns. No other bed but one of straw, and next to that a dirty sheet, sprinkled with water, and, consequently, damp; for a covering you have another sheet, as coarse as the first, and as coarse as one of your kitchen jack-towels, with a dirty coverlet. The bedsted consists of four wooden forms, or benches; and English Peer and Peeress must lye in this manner, unless they carry an upholsterer’s shop with them, which is very troublesome. There are, by the bye, no such things as curtains, and hardly, from Venice to Rome, that cleanly and most useful invention, a privy; so that what should be collected and buried in oblivion, is forever under your nose and eyes


FEBRUARY 1586
Shakespeare in Padua

In 1545 a troupe of communally-funded traveling performers of the new-fangl’d, definitely not medieval ‘commedia erudite’ went to a notary office in Padua to make their existence official. The theatrical traditon was about to explode into Europe & by the end of the century permanent playhouses were springing up all across the continent. Shakespeare’s knowledge of the fair city of Padua, perched upon those perfect plains of north Italy, transcends anything he could have acquired through bookish lore. In the Taming of the Shrew, where Biondello says, ‘my master hath appointed me to go to Saint Luke’s, to bid the priest be ready to come against you come with your appendix,’ Paul Roe tracked down the actual church, declaring it to be the Saint Luke’s Church of via Venti Settembre 22. Only a stone’s throw away, Roe was delighted to pass through the arched Porta Barbarigo & straight into Act I, Scene I of the Taming of the Shrew; with its waterway, landing place and wide open space with clustering buildings. That Shakespeare stayed in the city just feels right; Padua was home to one of the greatest universities of the Renaissance, & a trip to such an academic environment fits in with Stanley’s intellectual itinerary. At the time of their visit, the majority of Europe’s greatest medical doctors & teachers were based in Padua, & a period of erudition in the city by the young Shakespeare helps account for the high level of medical knowledge in his plays. An example comes in Love’s Labours Lost, when Holferness states;

This is a gift that I have, simple, simple; a foolish, extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions: these are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion

This passage shows a remarkable insight into the obscure biological material known as the ‘pia mater,’ a Latin term for the inner lining or membrane of the brain and spinal cord, along with its neurological connections to the brain’s activities. The key to the conundrum comes with an English physician known as William Harvey (1578-1657), the first man to describe to the English the processes of the circulation of the blood about the body. His book, De Motu Cordis, was published in 1628, yet Shakespeare was hinting at this very process decades before, where in Julius Ceasar we read, ‘you are my true and honourable wife, as dear to me as are those ruddy drops that visit my sad heart.’ How on earth could Shakespeare & Harvey both have obtained this select & secret knowledge? The answer can only be at Padua, whose university Harvey entered in 1592. While there he developed a relationship with Hieronymus Fabricius of Acquapendente, who had held the chair of Medicine and Anatomy at the time of Stanley’s visit. Back in the 1570s, Fabricius had discovered that veins possessed valves which kept the blood flowing in the direction of the heart, & one expects that is was in his private lectures that men like Shakespeare would have first heard of the pia mater & the circulation of the blood.  Shakespeare would have enjoyed his stay in Padua, in part down to the  ‘pensions of the highest class’ recorded by Montaigne a few year’s previously;

There is … a house boy or some women who wait upon them. Each one has a very neat bedrooom, for in their rooms & candles they provide for themelves. The catering, as we saw, very good; one lives there very reasonably, which is the reason, I think why many foreigners, even when they are no longer students, settle there

FEBRUARY 1586
Shakespeare in Lombardy

images2Being now at the beating heart of the Veneto Plain we find ourselves within striking distance of several more of Shakespeare’s Italian plays. Of these productions, his most famous is Romeo & Juliet, which sees the Montagues & Capulets playing out their tragic feud in Verona & Mantua, while The Two Gentlemen of Verona, is set in, well, Verona. These two cities, along with Milan, are sited in what Shakespeare accurately describes as ‘fruitful Lombardy, the pleasant garden of great Italy.’ That Shakespeare spent time in Mantua is hinted at in The Winter’s Tale, where he describes Queen Hermione’s statue as; ‘a piece many years in doing and now newly perform’d by that rare Italian master, Julio Romano, who, had he himself eternity and could put breath into his work, would beguile Nature of her custom.‘ Julio Romano was actually famous for being a painter, not a sculptor, but in Vasari’s Lives of Seventy of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, we are given two (now-lost) Latin epitaphs on Romano which confirm his status as both sculptor & a painter! Such obscure & minute details like these only serve to reinforce Shakespeare’s personal observations of his time in Italy.

We have previously seen through Shakespeare’s creation of Venus & Adonis how the great art of Europe inspired our impressionable young poet. Likewise, we may also assume that he saw a famous painting by Correggio while visiting Milan. From 1585, the Jupiter and Io was exhibited in the palace of the sculptor, Leoni, of which viewing experience Shakespeare writes, ‘we’ll show thee Io as she was a maid / And how she was beguiled and surpris’d / As lively painted as the deed was done.’ While in Milan, Shakespeare certainly discovered the city’s Well of St Gregory, for he understood that it was a burial pit for plague victims, rather than a water-storage unit. To these Milanese connections we can add another observation, this time made by Grillo, who writes; ‘despite being 100 miles from the coast, the city of Bergamo, near Milan, produced sails. In the Taming of the Shrew, Vincentio says to Tranio,Thy father! O villain! He is a sailmaker in Bergamo.’

By placing the young Shakespeare in Verona provide the thoughtseeds which would blossom into the plays of Romeo & Juliet & The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Of these, the latter is thought by many scholars to be the first of Shakespeare’s fully written plays. Two Gentlemen is an immature play whose “dramatic structure,” declares Stanley Wells, ‘is comparatively unambitious, and while some of its scenes are expertly constructed, those involving more than, at the most, four characters betray an uncertainty of technique suggestive of inexperience.” The play oens with the love-obsessed Valentine talking to Proteus, with Valentine preparing to leave Verona for Milan so as to broaden his horizons.

Proteus
Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus:
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits.
Were’t not affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honour’d love,
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad,
Than, living dully sluggardized at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.
But since thou lovest, love still and thrive therein,
Even as I would when I to love begin.

Valentine
Stop trying to convince me, enamored Proteus!
Young people who always stay at home are very dull.
If love didn’t keep you here—chaining you to your beloved’s sweet looks—
I would ask you to join me, so you can see the wonders of the world abroad.
That’s better than to live in a dull way,
being lazy at home and wasting your youth by doing nothing.
But since you’re in love, continue to love and let your love grow.
I’ll do the same when I fall in love.

The legacy of Romeo & Juliet has had, in Verona, a most profound effect. Every day sees a new set of star-crossed lovers arrive in the city to take a bubble-bath in its lake of wistful romanticism. Close to the imagined site of Juliet’s Balcony, explosions of graffiti & notes cover the walls on a daily basis, leading to the irate & rather staid Veronese authorities instigating 500 euro fines to anyone who stick notes up with chewing gum! Another Shakespeare-induced visitor to Verona, Paul Roe, was not looking for love, however, but was drawn there by the a singular passage in Romeo & Juliet, which contained a very distinctive topographical clue;

Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun
Peered forth the golden window of the East,
A troubled mind drove me to walk abroad,
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore
That westward rooteth from the city’s side,
So early walking did I see your son

roes-verona-sycamores

To this day, there stands a grove of Sycamores outside the western walls of the city, which were joyously observed by Roe; ‘in the first act, in the very first scene, of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the trees are described; and no one has ever thought that the English genius who wrote the play could have been telling the truth: that there were such trees, growing exactly where he said in Verona.‘ Roe also points out that Verona’s Chiesa di San Pietro Incarnario is mentioned by Juliet’s, ‘now, by Saint Peter’s church, and Peter too. He shall not make me there a joyful bride.’ Shakespeare also understood the etymology of a minor place very much off the normal radar, ten miles from Verona on the banks of the Tartaro River. Called Villafranca, its name translates as ‘Freetown,’ & in Romeo & Juliet we hear, ‘you Capulet, shall go along with me; And Montague, come you this afternoon, To know our father pleasure in this case, To old Freetown our common judgment place.’ As details like these are absent from both the 1562 Arthur Brooke poem, The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet, & the Italian originals by da Porta and Bandello, once again we must place Shakespeare in person at the scene-setting of one of his plays.

Before we leave Lombardy, let us put to bed an Anti-Shakespearean factochisp of his time there, as told by Sydney Lee; ‘the fact that he represents Valentine in the ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’ as travelling from Verona to Milan by sea, & Prospero in the ‘Tempest’ as embarking on a ship at the gates of Milan, renders it impossible that he could have gathered his knowledge of Northern Italy from personal observation.’ To counter this assumption Roe rummaged ferret-like through the Verona State Archives & finally found a map dated to 1713 which show how the Adige, Tartaro, and Po rivers were once connected by a system of canals. These would have allowed the water-borne journey along the fossi as undertaken by Valentine in the Two Gentlemen. As for the aquatic ‘gates of Milan,’ the fact that a sea-going ‘bark’ such as was described in the Tempest as leaving Milan finds confirmation through the pen of Michel de Montaigne, who in 1581 wrote; ‘we crossed the river Naviglio, which was narrow, but still deep enough to carry great barks to Milan.’ Shakespeare’s select knowledge of those unexpectedly navigable north Italian river ways bolsters our touring Bard yet further.


1586: SHAKESPEARE’S ITALIAN STUDIES

The Decameron

The chief purpose of their visit to Italy, in fact the whole trip to Europe, was to further the party’s education. JC Collins writes of another poet’s trip to the same country a decade earlier, stating of Sydney’s twelve-month stay that, ‘before he left Italy he was master of Latin, Italian & French, & anxious also to begin a study of Greek.’ Of his travels in 1574, Sidney’s travelling companion, Lodowick Bryskett remembers the same Italy through which our Grand Tourists would have travelled;

Through many a hill & dale,
Through pleasant woods & many an unknown way,
Along the banks of many silver streams,
He with him went; & with him he did scale
The craggy rocks of th’ Alp & Appenine
Still with the Muses sportin

There are many traces of Shakespeare’s reading of Italian literature, whether at leisure or in scholarship, reading matter for the long journeys id the 16th century; on foor, horseback or even carriage. Among the many plays & prose pieces are names & the plots of which would eventually find their way into the Shakesepeareean ouvre. Many of these were untranslated into English before the plays were composed, such as those five stories by the Italian Renaissance poet, Matteo Bandello, which were later adapted by Shakespeare into Cymbeline, Othello, the Claudio subplot of Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo & Juliet & Twelfth Night, Edward III (part 2, story 29). Bandello also inspires certain motifs in Shakespeare’s Lucrece poem. Away from the enthiusiastic Bandelllo, nuggets include;

1 : Hamlet’s ‘what a piece of work is man,’ is suggesed by the ms of Leon Battista Alberti’s Delle Tranquilita dell Animo – not printed til 1843
2: Andrea da Darnerino’s ‘Reali di Francia’ is similar to Cymbeline
3: Ser Giovanni Fiorentino’s Il Pecorone – in which we find the debtor Antonio – inspired the Merchant of Venice
4: There are flashes of Berni in Othello
5: Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso inspired Othello, the Tempest, a Midsummer Nights Dream & Much Ado About Nothing
6: Othello’s story was taken from Cinthio’s El Capitano Moro, of which there was then no translation.
7: The Clever Wench tale found the in the 9th story of Boccaccio’s Decameron inspired Alls Well that Ends Well
8: The Hecatomiti of Cinthio would also inspire the Isabella adventures in Measure for Measure
9: The 15th century Novellino of Masuccio Salernitani influenced both the Merchant of Venice & Romeo & Juliet
10:  Taming of the Shrew is inspired by the Notti piacevoli of Straparola, published in Venice in 1550

We should at this point recognise the influence on Shakespeare of John Florio’s Engish manual for learning Italian, Folio’s First Frutes (1578), which contains the sentence, “we need not speak so much of love, all books are full of love, with so many authors, that it were labour lost to speak of Love.”

FEBRUARY 1586
Shakespeare experiences Commeddia Dell Arte

Four_Commedia_dell’Arte_Figures_claude-gillot

The history of Elizabethan theater is a curious hybrid, an amalgam of continental trends & the medieval folk traditions of the English provinces. By the Elizabethan age, her playwrights had developed an uninhibited secular drama, inspired by a burgeoning humanist world-view & fueled by a constant stream of renaissance minds forged in grammar-schools & varnished in the land’s universities. It is in Shakespeare’s visit to Italy, then, that these forces were truly emblazoned upon a single individual spirit. To the Elizabethan mind, Italy was poetry, & Italian theatre the most innovative on the planet. In 1586, from the fertile fields of the Veneto Plain, directly to the east of Lombardy, a new kind of improvised comical theatre called Commeddia Dell Arte began to spring up. The full name of the form is commedia dell’arte all’improvviso, or ‘comedy of the very creative ability of improvisatio,’ & were rather like the romantic comedies of today, & were typically acted out by masked ‘archetypes’ trained to give out improvised performances. These stock characters included foolish old men, mischievous servants, brash military officers, & miserly merchants. In Act II Scene II of Hamlet, Hamlet seems to be describing a performance as he speaks to an actor;

I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; ’twas caviare to the general: but it was–as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine–an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine.

Most of Shakespeare’s early plays – The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night & Much Ado About Nothing – were inspired by the tradition. Of Love’s Labours Lost, where Geoffrey Bullough writes, ‘there may have been an earlier play, continental in origin & affected by the commedia dell’arte tradition,‘ he is referring to the use of CDA’s archetypical characters; foolish old men, mischievous servants, brash military officers & miserly merchants such as the braggart (Armado) & ostentatious pedant (Holofernes). Another early play, Twelfth Night, utilises many of CDA’s ‘lazzi,’ a stock comic element, as when the ‘Pantalone’ is tricked by other characters into doing those daft things they have convinced him will impress the woman he admires.

That Shakespeare witnessed a performance at some point seems likely, for Verona, alongside sities such as Mantua, wasfirmly  on the circuit of traveling CDELA troupes. Grillo writes that English theatre, ‘borrowed from Italian drama much of its technique–chorus, echo, play within a play, dumb show, ghosts of great men, mechanical stage apparatus and all the physical horrors which aroused in the audience feelings of awe and terror,‘ & with Shakespeare’s trip to the Continent beinf in all essence an academic pursuit, it seems that the study of Italian theater was on the curriculum.


MARCH 1586
Shakespeare in Venice

Of all the cities in adorable Italy, Shakespeare seems to know the most about the floating pleasure-palace that is Venice. When, in the Merchant of Venice, he writes, ‘what news on the Rialto?’ he was well aware of the rumor-laden tittle-tattle that flock still to that famously beautiful bridge. Elsewhere in the pantheon, just after  Shakespeare introduces Cassio as a ‘Florentine’ in Othello, he has the Venetian lago become all prickly & slurry,  reflecting the provincial Italian animosty our bard must have observed at first hand. In the MOV in particular, Grillo finds, ‘an inimitable Italian atmosphere… the topography is so precise & accurate that it must convince even the most superficial reader that the poet visited the country, acutely observant of all its characteristics as he traveled through its mountains & valleys. One instance is the gift of a dish of pigeons which Gobbo takes to his son’s master. Gobbo is a purely Venetian name, which must certainly have been suggested to Shakespeare by the statue of the kneeling hunchback of the Rialto, which forms the base of the pillar upon which in ancient days were affixed the decrees of the Republic.’

shylocks-penthouse3The inimitable Paul Roe found the very house where MOV’s Shylock lived: a ‘penthouse’ on the Campo del Ghetto Nuovo, where Jewish Banks once leant the Christians money. That it was, & still is, supported by three columns, just as Shakespeare describes, is yet another incredible accuracy from our poet in Italy. The MOV gives the following directions to the house; ‘turn upon your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand; but turn down indirectly to the Jew’s house,’ which is an uncanny way of describing the mazy lanes of Venice. ‘Other Shakespearean Venetian references,’ says John Hudson, ‘are to the characteristic gondolas & chopins – a kind of platform shoe – as well as to the Venetian calendar & judicial procedures.’

Titian Sacred Profane - Copy (15)

There is also a very subtle time-clue  that Shakespeare was visiting Venice before 1589.  In the MOV, we hear Portia say, ‘Tarry, Jew. The law hath yet another hold on you. It is enacted in the laws of Venice, if it be proved against an alien that by direct or indirect attempts he seek the life of any citizen.‘ This ‘law’ cannot be applicable to tha 1589 ruling made by the venetian Senate which declared the city’s Jewish  residents were now full citizens of the Republic.

Another Elizabethan traveler to Venice, Fynnes Moryson, offers an accurate insight into the city which Shakespeare would have encountered. Notice how he observes the Traghetti ferries, which in the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare calls, ‘trajects,’ as in, ‘unto the traject, to the common ferry. Which trades to Venice.’

This stately City built in the bottome of the gulfe of the Adriatique sea… is eight miles in circuit, and hath seventy parishes, wherein each Church hath a little market place, for the most part foure square, and a publike Well. For the common sort use well water, and raine water kept in cesternes; but the Gentlemen fetch their water by boat from the land. It hath thirty one cloysters of Monkes, and twenty eight of Nunnes, besides chappels and alines-houses. Channels of water passe through this City (consisting of many Ilands joyned with Bridges) as the bloud passeth through the veines of mans body; so that a man may passe to what place he will both by land and water. The great channell is in length about one thousand three hundred paces, and in breadth forty paces, and hath onely one bridge called Rialto, and the passage is very pleasant by this channell; being adorned on both sides with stately Pallaces. And that men may passe speedily, besides this bridge, therebe thirteene places called Traghetti, where boats attend Gondole. called Gondole; which being of incredible number give ready passage to all men.

Through Moryson, we can really get a feel for Shakespeare’s stay in Venice; absorbing all the vibrant life & colour of the market-places, or perhaps studying in the city’s library. Here are a couple more Venetian passages from his ‘Itinerary.’

Right over against the Dukes Pallace, in the… second market place of the pallace, is the library, whose building is remarkable, and the architecture of the corner next the market place of the Bakers, is held by great Artists a rare worke, and divers carved Images of Heathen Gods, and Goddesses in the old habit, are no lesse praised, as done by the hands of most skilfull workemen. On the inside, the arched roofes curiously painted, and the little study of ivory, with pillars of Allablaster, and rare stones, and carved Images (in which an old breviary of written hand, and much esteemed, is kept) are things very remarkeable. The inner chamber is called the study ; in which many statuaes and halle statuaes, twelve heads of Emperors, and other things given to the State by Cardinall Dominicke Grimani, are esteemed precious by all antiquaries. And in this Library are laid up the Bookes, which the Patriarke and Cardinall Bessarione gave to Saint Marke (that is to the State) by his last will, and the most rare books brought from Constantinople at the taking thereof, and otherwise gathered from all parts of Greece.

This City aboundeth with good fish, which are twice each day to be sold in two markets of Saint Marke & Rialto, & that it spendeth weekly five hundred Oxen, & two hundred & fifty Calves, besides great numbers of young Goates, Hens, and many kinds of birds, besides that it aboundeth with sea birds, whereof the Venetian writers make two hundred kinds, and likewise aboundeth with savoury fruits, and many salted and dried dainties, and with all manner of victuals, in such sort as they impart them to other Cities. I will also adde that here is great concourse of all nations, as well for the pleasure the City yeeldeth, as for the free conversation ; and especially for the commodity of trafficke. That in no place is to be found in one market place such variety of apparell, languages, and manners.

While in Venice, Shakespeare would have pictorially seen the next stage in the development of his Venus & Adonis. The above painting is by Titian, his amazing ‘Sacred & Profane Love,’ in which the coat of arms of a leading Venetian politician – Niccolo Aurelio – can be seen. In the sculptural relief below the two women – one of whom is Venus – there is a man on the ground that invokes the image of a chastised Adonis. The rampant horse & the woman being checked by the hair in the relief seem to represent the halting of the passions, with the horse being the Platonic symbol of libido. This pictorial motif then turns up in the poem as;

But, lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by,
A breeding jennet, lusty, young and proud,
Adonis’ trampling courser doth espy,
And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud:
The strong-neck’d steed, being tied unto a tree,
Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.
Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
And now his woven girths he breaks asunder.

The Venice that is portrayed in Othello shows a personal appreciation by the bard. Grillo summoned up concisely much of the true Venetian atmosphere that he could see in the play, being, ‘the darkness of morning, the narrow and mysterious “calli,” Brabantio’s house with its heavy iron-barred doors, the Sagittary, the official residence of the commanders of the galleys, the hired gondolier witness of gallant intrigues… the galleys sent on a multitude of errands, the armaments, the attendants with torches, the special night guards, the council chamber, the senators, the Doge —the beloved Signor Magnifico— the discussions about the war… the history of Othello with all the sacrifices made in defence of the republic, the appearance of the divine Desdemona, fair & beautiful as a Titian portrait – all give the impression of a vivid portrayal of scenes enacted in the very heart of the Queen of the Adriatic.’ This wonderful passage brings us to the end of our search for Shakespeare’s secret Italy. He surely visited the country, for where else would he have picked up such a native phrase such as, ‘sano come un pesce / sound as a fish,’ an expression Grillo states was, even in his time, ‘still in common use in certain parts of Italy.’

Viriathus: Scenes 9-10


Scene 9: The Roman Senate

The Senate is discussing the treaty of Viriathus

Magistrate
Senators, the order of the day
Discussion on the Viriathic war
Of how it was concluded, then shall we
Elect by vote appropriate response
First to the floor Popilius…

Popilius
Senate!
Praise Viriathus, that sinewy Prince,
With great sagacity he broke the spears
Namore of our brave soldiers need to die,
Lunging at the Lusitanian lynx
Who wins our gratitudinal respect
For letting us depart him uninjur’d
Upon one point of honour, Rome permits
Hiis peoples an undisturb’d possession
Of native territories, as our friends
& even allies, Servilianus
Was with me, there, when surrender was sign’d
& wishes to speak

Popilius
Popilius
Thank you proconsul
Upon the same terms already mention’d
A treaty was concluded on all sides –
The termination of tedious wars
Such troublesome & tribulating trials
That might have brought a second turgid Troy
But lacking sheer battlements to besiege
For in this age of prosaic spirits
It seems as if Achilles reappears
With Venus weaving godcraft thro’ his deads
A lover & a master of the wars
Fought only for love of gore & glory
Since Viriathus chose to oppose us
Since word of his brutalities return’d
Enrollment in the legions plummets low
Are we to funnel blood & flesh inside
His maw of murder, ’till we bleed no more,
Senators, please greet this treaty fairly,
& vote for Viriathus as a friend.

Magistrate
Galba, stand, you wish to make a statement,

Galba
Senators of our majestic city
& many other cities in the stride,
This treaty is, in the highest degree,
Dishonorable to all we stand for
Staining Servilianus’s career
In short, Viriathus is barbaric
Beheading, disembowels as he please,
A bandit on an unsubsistive soil
For them a border is a line to cross
At will, to empty innocents of blood
While toppling pillars, pillaging purile,
His existence a spider in my mind
For since my childhood games I doted on
Destroying dark daemonicals like him

Popilius
Objection, you paint him as a monster
No, he is human to the high ascent
Owning a unifying spiritus
That never in the axle of this war
Spinning spokes of tribal variety
Was ever sewn sedition; all obey’d,
Render’d fearless in presence of dangers,
Distendent of the pleasures of the world,
As statesman he was neither knelt humble,
Nor leaping overbearing into leagues;
Faithful, exact, aequis, veritable
Vir Duzque Magnus, ancient ideals
Penetrate each atom of his system
& as the adsertor of Hispania
Let us assert our honour to his will
Make good his claims in the eyes of the world
Too many lost already in that place
We owe him our respect

Galba
We owe him death
& retribution for our youthbloom lost

Magistrate
Tranquility & silence! Opposing
Hills where Romulus & Remus quarrell’d,
Or like headlands of the Massillian
Harbours art thou, choose your moor, drop your ball,
The vote is open, senators, the floor

The Vote Begins & ends

Magistrate
What is the vote this day, for war or peace

Magistrate’s assistant
Peace

Lucius
Peace is beautiful

Popilius
Beautiful peace

Magistrate
Then all is settl’d here, & Rome accepts
Completion of the Viriathic war
For like each thing that in its season grows
Peace blossoms to a universal praise
& all may leave these halls more dignified.

Exit all but Quintus Servilius Caepio & Servilianus

Caepio
Brother, what have you done this torrid hour

Servilianus
What do you mean?

Caepio
This terrible treaty
Unworthy of the populace of Rome

Servilianus
What can be done

Caepio
A spot of ruthlessness ne’er goes amiss
I want to lead a legion against him
This Viriathius, who all think a god
If he is human he can be got at

Servilianus
As all men might, but brother pray beware
This human is the rarest specimen,
The legend who has never known defeat,
Unwielding to the starkest privations
Excels he in mind’s powers, & is swift
In planning, accomplishes what’s needful
Does only what he reckons must be done,
While over hills & rough, uneven ways
His men prowl like sleek leopards on the verge,
Observing every movement, skins suntann’d,
Weather’d by wind, harder than ox leather,
Toughest of all their mighty leader sleeps
In armour, every night, ready to prance
To combat a second after waking

Caepio
In warfare, when seeking best success
To know one’s foe the vital pivot forms

Servilianus
Wise Caepio
You have my blessing, you are strong & young
Defeats are defeats, however noble
Come let us dine & talk of my campaign
Learn from its errors, induce fresh insights.

Caepio & Servilianus begin to leave the hall

Caepio
To abandon the war too dangerous
I shall write letter after long letter
Make points like falcons snapping into voles
To lead a legion personally there
In order to procure a treaty-break
Secretly of course, from this we’ll provoke
Viriathus to retributive war
My blame will be buried in the uproar

Exit Caepio & Servilianus


Scene 10: The Temple of Melqart, Gades

Caepio is addressing his legion with Sempronius

Caepio
Sense, soldiers, tutelary spirits
Made welcome at the the temple of Melqart,
We arrive in Hispania at purpose
To render Lusitania servile
As we have tried before, but treaties fail’d,
Dispersing us for we did not present
The destiny-commission’d face of Rome
Distaste instead swept thro’ such enterprise,
& we are here to rectify the shame
Combined together in this famous space
The very spot where Heracles once slew
The snow white bull, before he flash’d beyond
The Pillars – observing familiar rites
We shall emulate him in sacrifice,
As man immortal paragon became
Leap upwards into clouds of Heaven’s vaults,
By brave endeavors of our very own,
The wandering eyes of the goddesses
Make focus on our deeds… men, let us sing
A paean to Heracles, he shall hear
Our voices as we praise his holy tasks.


TWELVE LABOURS

Herakles, Herakles,
Step out of your plaster frieze
Sunder mountain, rip up trees
Herocial Herakles!

Herakles, Herakles,
Come & bless us if you please
Sunder mountain, rip up trees
Herocial Herakles!

Slay, slay the Nemean lion
Hippolyta’s girdle find
Slay, slay, the birds Stymphalian
Capture the Ceryneian hind

The Nine heads of Hydra each decapitate
& Augean Stables decontaminate
& the boar Erymanthian was captured in thick woven snow

Herakles, Herakles,
Step out of your plaster frieze
Sunder mountain, rip up trees
Herocial Herakles!

Herakles, Herakles,
Come & bless us if you please
Sunder mountain, rip up trees
Herocial Herakles!

Steal, steal the golden apples
Of the luscious Hespiredes
Steal, steal the horses dappl’d
Kept by Thracian Diomedes

The Nine heads of Hydra each decapitate
& Augean Stables decontaminate
& the boar Erymanthian was captured in thick woven snow


Caepio
In dangerous times things change in the dirt
Today they bask in a moment of sun,
Like the warm afternoon atween the frosts
But dungeon-days of such a shameful peace
Never writ to exist indefinite,
From unnatural disinheritance
Rome’s progress was always meant to resume,
With one last push Hispania must fall
Our wines of victory fermenting yet
Our enemies are slaver-beasts at best,
Crude, uneducated frugality
No match shall be for well-fed legionnaires
Soldiers, are you with me, are you ready,
For names to be etched in books of fame

The Legion
Aye-Aye-Aye

Caepio
Then let us march together,

The legion cheers – Centurians give commands – trumpets blow – soldiers begin to march past Caepio & Sempronius

Sempronius
Inspiring words, Quintus Servilius,
The men are certainly ready to fight
But how exactly do you mean to win
Upon the heels of deadly disasters
As birds observe & learn each others calls
When danger nears, alarum in the skies,
I urge your upmost caution on campaign

Caepio
This confederation feverish fluke
Or Viriathus conjurer of sorts
The peoples of Iberia possess
No innate inclination to resolve
Their tribal grudges for the greater good,
Maintaining into factions every breath,
But being born backlegged into life
These are mere sheep to be scatter’d at once
When shepherd slain, in timid ones & twos.
{Saluting troops}
I have a plan, Sempronius, we’ll see
If all the Lusitani share the will
To dress the sparse harshness of Spartan lives
Across their naked skins while seeing silks,
Let us isolate mercenary minds,
Find in their greed our triumph was enshrined


THE CONCHORDIA FOLIO

“Its worth a pop, right, to try & knock that Shakespeare
Off his feffin’ perch!”

Interview: Damian Beeson Bullen