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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Slings and arrows
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0093.  Tuesday, 21 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Ian Lancashire <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Jan 1997 10:51:57 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

(2)     From:   Don Foster <
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        Date:   Monday, 20 Jan 1997 22:59:42 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

(3)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 21 Jan 1997 00:57:51 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0087 Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ian Lancashire <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Jan 1997 10:51:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Randle Cotgrave's wonderful French-English dictionary (London, 1611) explains

        * "Catapulte" as "A sling, or warlike engine, whereout great
           arrowes, or darts were shot"

        * "Mangonneau" as "An old-fashioned Sling, or Engine,
           whereout stones, old yron, and great arrowes were
           violently darted"

Hamlet's phrase makes good sense in this context as referring to military
catapults that shot metal or stone arrows. (It is difficult to imagine someone,
even as capable as Lady Fortune, managing personally to operate two weapons, a
sling and a bow-and-arrow, at the same time.) The OED does not document this
sense.

I reported this finding in an article on early dictionaries in the collection
"English Language Corpora: Design, Analysis, and Exploitation", ed. Jan Aarts,
Pieter de Haan, and Nelleke Oostdijk (Rodopi, 1993). Half my early modern
English dictionary database--not Cotgrave, so far-- can be searched from a link
on my Web page. The current Web EMEDD database includes about 128,000 word
entries and is in-progress.

Ian Lancashire
University of Toronto

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Foster <
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Date:           Monday, 20 Jan 1997 22:59:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0087  Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Re: Bill Godshalk's query:

The emendation of *slings* to *stings* is, I think, wholly unjustified. The
collocation of Fortune and slings is exampled elsewhere in the period. A few
examples:

The "To be or not to be" soliloquy is one of several passages in *Hamlet* that
may owe something to Marlowe's translation of *Lucan* (pub. 1600).

For example:

        "Fortune thee I follow,
War and the destinies shall try my cause."
This said, the restless general through the dark,
Swifter than bullets thrown from Spanish slings
Or darts which Parthians backward shoot, marched on...
                                        (228-32)

See also Thomas Middleton, *The Wisdom of Solomon Paraphrased* (1597):

And what of this vain world, vain hope, vain show,
Vain glory seated in a shade of praise,
Mortality's descent and folly's flow,
The badge of vanity, the hour of days?
What glory is it for to be a king
When care is crown, and crown is Fortune's sling? (verse 12.1-6)

And cf. William Browne's lament for "Doridon," loved by "Marine" (from
*Britain's Pastorals*: [1613])

Marine about to speak, forth of a sling
(Fortune to all misfortunes plies her wing
More quick and speedy) came a sharpened flint,
Which in the faire boy's neck made such a dint
That crimson blood came streaming from the wound,
And he fell down into a deadly swound.
The blood ran all along where it did fall,
And could not find a place of burial...

Don Foster

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <
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Date:           Tuesday, 21 Jan 1997 00:57:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0087 Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0087 Q: Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Bill--do references to "arrows of fortune" have to be explicit? Wouldn't
Bassanio's "shaft" anecdote be an example of the "arrow of fortune" motif? Or
would this only be true if paper can "issue life blood" thus proving that Lady
Macbeth does NOT faint and that Portia in MV is as "dead" as Portia in JC?--

Chris Stroffolino
 

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