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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Caesar's Will
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0805  Monday, 7 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Sunday, 6 Sep 1998 08:41:30 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will

[2]     From:   Markus Marti <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 Sep 1998 03:08:45 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 6 Sep 1998 08:41:30 EDT
Subject: 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will

Dear Laura Graser,

Shakespeare found the beat about the drachmas in North's Plutarch:

Page 977: ... bicaufe Caefar had by will bequeathed vnto the people of
ROME, three fcore and fifteene filuer Drachmas to be giuen to euery man
...

Intriguingly, Shakespeare figured his math here correctly. Which
somewhat puts the lie to those who think his "three and thirty" simply a
misread of "three and twenty" and its marginal gloss "Caesar slaine and
had 23 wounds upon him" (794).

Hope this helps.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 07 Sep 1998 03:08:45 +0000
Subject: 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0800  Q: Caesar's Will

> In his will, Julius Caesar left "every several man, seventy-five
> drachmas."  Does anybody on the list know how much that is, a day's
> labor, a week's?
>
> I found a reference to a drachma in Aristotle's Economics (in peacetime,
> 3 drachmae for 6 pints of cooking oil), would Shakespeare have read
> that?   Thanks.

Translating and editing Shakespeare I had problems-and I still have them
-- with currencies. How much is a "talent"? How much is a "drachma"?
Where should I look that up? Which previous edition will give me a true
account? An example:

In an earlier edition of "Timon of Athens" I am told that a talent was
worth so and so many pounds. What shall I do with this information? When
was that footnote written? Does it mean that a talent had this worth at
the time the footnote was written - some  time in this century - between
1900 and  1980? Or does it mean that this was the value a talent was
considered to have at the time Shakespeare (or somebody else) wrote that
particular line?

How  much is any non-English or English  "Shakespearean currency" worth
today? And what  is "today's worth" of pounds or dollars mentioned  in a
footnote of an edition of. 25, 47, 97 or 98? Where and when  did the
editor of that particular edition get his exchange rate from? Was the
exchange rate changed in the 2nd, 3rd or umtpieht edition?

As an editor myself, should I consider today's or yesterday's exchange
rate? Last year's, this,  or  next year's likely average?

For some time "the price of a cow" was a reasonable thing to start
from.  But nowadays cows could be either extremely valuable if Japanese
and tickled all their life, or quite expensive if genuinely American and
not BSE-affected, or without any value if Swiss or British.

A friend of mine told me that the only reasonable way to compare
currencies throughout the centuries was the price of eggs: so far, an
egg seems to be and to have been  worth  what it is.

How many eggs are there in one Dramcha? How many in a Talent? And where
can we find a list of egg  prices throughout the last two or three
millenia?

Full of fowl thoughts: Markus Marti
 

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