Character Names: Montanus?
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 121. Tuesday, 27 Nov 1990.
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 90 17:46:56 EST
From: Ken Steele <
Subject: Montano/Montanus and Reynaldo/Silvius?
Today I was rereading Thomas Lodge's *Rosalynde* (the novella which
served as Shakespeare's source for *As You Like It*) and I was struck
by the fact that Shakespeare seems to have changed the name of the
lovestruck shepherd from "Montanus" to "Silvius." Now, obviously it's
not unusual for him to change character names -- after all, he also
changed "Sir John of Bourdeaux" to "Sir Rowland de Boys", "Saladyne"
to "Oliver", "Rosader" to "Orlando", "Torismond" to "Frederick",
"King Gerismond" to "Duke Senior", and "Alinda" to "Celia" -- but
that Shakespeare should wish to avoid "Montanus" struck me as curious.
"Montano", you may recall, is the name given to Reynoldo by the first
quarto of *Hamlet*. A number of explanations have suggested that, for a
University performance, it was considered wise to eliminate potentially
offensive references in Reynoldo and Polonius (who is renamed "Corambis"
in this first quarto). (You will remember that Montano is also
governor of Cyprus in *Othello* -- but "to th' purpose...")
Could there be any connection between Shakespeare's apparent aversion
to "Montanus" in *Rosalynde* and the First Quarto's apparent preference
for it to "Reynaldo"? How many other such tangles in character names
do we get in Shakespeare?
(If you think this is an unanswerable question, please feel free to
answer the previous one, on Shakespearean spinoffs, which has proven
so overwhelmingly answerable...)
University of Toronto