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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: May ::
Re: Polonius's Name
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0401.  Friday, 6 May 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Ronan Clifford <
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        Date:   Thursday, 5 May 94 10:55:44 EST
        Subj:   Polonius' name
 
(2)     From:   Roger A Stritmatter <
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        Date:   Thursday, 05 May 1994 17:31:54 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Polonius, Corambis and other names
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronan Clifford <
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Date:           Thursday, 5 May 94 10:55:44 EST
Subject:        Polonius' name
 
To: E. L. Epstein--
 
My fellow Shakespearean in Cracow, Professor Teresa Baluk, who teaches here at
the Jagiellonian University, holds that Polonius is so named because of the
popularity of a treatise on the ideal senator (legislator), translated into
English from the Latin of a noted sixteenth century Pole.  I cannot provide,
let alone pronounce, the name, but she tells me that the theory is not original
with her.
 
Cliff Ronan, Southwest Texas SU/U of Silesia
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger A Stritmatter <
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Date:           Thursday, 05 May 1994 17:31:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Polonius, Corambis and other names
 
E.L. Epstein asks, "why the names Polonius and Corambis"  -- and the only
aspect of Stephen Orgel's reply which I think plausible is his observation that
"Corambis" is not in a source.  Orgel thinks that Polonius is the Latin version
of the name of the founder of Oxford University, where Q1 seems to have been
played.  But he says nothing about Corambis, which was presumably the name used
in such performance. I don't know why Orgel refers to an obscure claim by
Hibbard that Polonius refers to the founder of Oxford College when an
impressive tradition, including luminaries such as Dover Wilson and E.K.
Chambers, associates both the name and the character with William Cecil.
 
"Corambis," of course, is a satirical version of the Latin motto of Cecil, "Cor
unum, via una" -- and hence *very emphatically* to be avoided in any official
publication of the play, which Q1, whatever else one thinks about it, was not.
Hence *both* names have plausibly been associated, beginning in 1860 by George
Russel French, and most recently by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in
his "Shakespeare Canon of Statutory Construction"  (UPenn Law Review, Spring
1992), with the most powerful politican of Edward de Vere....ere, I mean
"Shakespeare's," lifetime, both by "orthodox" and "heretical" scholars of
Shakespeare.
 
I like the question.  This is only the tip of the iceberg of my answer.
 
                                        Sincerely,
                                        Roger Stritmatter
                                        
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