Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 64. Saturday, 23 Feb 1991.
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 91 11:39 EST
Subject: Sidon's flowers
Although I've nosed around in all sorts of emblem and herbal sources, and
although I've had various friends on the lookout for years, I've yet to
come up with the definitive gloss for the following moment in Middleton's
*Ghost of Lucrece*. Maybe it will ring a bell with someone on SHAKSPER.
I reproduce the edited stanza from *Ghost*, and my current annotation.
Lucrece is speaking:
O hell-eyed lust, when I behold thy face
Prefigured in my ghost, drawn in my mind,
I think of Sidon's flowers that grow apace
And favour thee by quality and kind.
They look like faith before, and fame behind,
But if thou savour these well-favoured evils,
They have the sight of gods, the scent of devils.
381. Sidon's flowers] ADAMS compares *Ciceronis Amor*, p. 123: "the
flowers in *Sydon* as they are pretious in the sight so they are
pestilent in savour." In another context, Greene later refers to
withered lilies as "faire and unsavourie"(165), and in *Greene's
Vision* (1592?) he speaks of "flowers of *Egipt* [which] please the
eye, but infect the stomack"(12.203). LARSON considers the trope to
be of Greene's inventing; but Middleton's version goes beyond Greene,
perhaps through dependence on an unknown source.
The content of the figure is a commonplace, of course: all the way from
Dead Sea Apples to Hector's hapless victim, "Most putrefied core, so
fair without" (*T&C* 5.8.1). But if anyone out there has ever heard it
located in flowers in Sidon, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks.