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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: April ::
Q: Volpone's Bastards
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 258.  Saturday, 24 April 1993.
 
From:           James P. Saeger <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Apr 93 10:25:17 EDT
Subject:        Volpone's bastards?
 
I am hoping someone out there can help me to clarify an exchange
that comes early in _Volpone_ between Mosca and Corvino:
 
                          *  *  *
 
    MOS                 He knows no man,
        No face of friend, nor name of any servant,
        Who 'twas that fed him last, or gave him drink:
        Not those he hath begotten, or brought up
        Can he remember.
    COR                  Has he children?
    MOS                                   Bastards
        Some dozen, or more, that he begot on beggars,
        Gipsies, and Jews, and black-moors, when he was drunk.
        Knew you not that, sir? 'Tis the common fable,
        The dwarf, the fool, the eunuch are all his;
        He's the true father of his family. (1.5.39-48)
 
                           *  *  *
 
Although I am predisposed to take these lines as simply another of
the lies that Mosca weaves in the course of his con, I have recently
seen a few references to them that suggest they might be taken at
face value--ie, that we ARE supposed to understand Volpone as the father
of Nano, Castrone, and Androgyno.  Does anyone have suggestions for
interpretation here?
 
 
James P. Saeger
University of Pennsylvania
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