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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Origin of Horatio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0898  Friday, 25 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Roy Flannagan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 10:25:31 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio

[2]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:04:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio

[3]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:54:33 -0500
        Subj:   HORATIO

[4]     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 13:33:51 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 10:25:31 -0400
Subject: 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio

>On another e-mail discussion list that I am on, we were discussing the
>Origin of the character Horatio in Hamlet, that is, whether he is Danish
>or not.  Does anyone have any insight of this that would like to share
>with me?  I haven't not been able to find any hard evidence in the play
>that would give me his origin.  Thank you in advance.

One obvious point about his moral stance is made by Horatio himself,
that he is more the antique Roman than the Dane (in context, this means
that he is more suicidal).  He seems to embody a Roman ideal of
friendship, as well as something like a Roman Stoicism embodied in what
Hamlet calls "that man who is not passion's slave." Aside from that, he
has an evocative Roman name.

Roy Flannagan

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:04:16 -0500
Subject: 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio

One antecedent has to be the youthful male lead Horatio of The Spanish
Tragedy, so out of his depth in royal/sexual politics.

Frank Whigham

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 11:54:33 -0500
Subject:        HORATIO

"Lee" inquires about Horatio:

Sh. borrowed the name from *The Spanish Tragedy*, where the son of
Hieronimo is so named and from which play Sh. also borrowed assumed/real
madness, the play within the play as serving revenge and other elements
of *Hamlet.*  It is hard to say what Kyd meant by the name but it would
maybe chime of ancient Roman heroism, as Horatius was a legendary hero
of early Rome, who with two companions held a bridge over the Tiber
against an invading army.  Horatius also evokes Quintus Horatius Flaccus
(Horace), whose detachment and wisdom might have been Shakespeare's
model for Horatio.  Horatio says late in Ham. that he is  "more an
antique Roman than a Dane" meaning in context that he can turn to
suicide as some of the Roman heroes did.  I am tempted to think of the
ancient Roman temperament as stoic/Stoic, a dimension of Horatio that is
described by Hamlet as not being "passion's slave".

So Horatio is by his own profession a Dane, but he has roots in *The
Spanish Tragedy* and in ancient Roman heroism.

Cheers
John Velz

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Sep 1998 13:33:51 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0889  Q: Origin of Horatio

The Saxo Grammaticus text, which is the original written version of the
legend, has no such comrade.  The Belleforest translation in French
doesn't either.

That leaves us with the idea that Horatio is a theatrical construct,
used to reveal more of the plot and his friend's mind than a simpler
staging of the Hamlet legend might allow.  The name crops up in Kyd's
Spanish Tragedy, a virtuous character, but that show was an old bore by
the time Hamlet was staged, or so I've always thought (corrections
welcome).  So I'm not sure if he is a) borrowed from Kyd, or the
'pseudo-Kyd' who wrote the script Shakespeare was working from, or b)
borrowed from elsewhere, or c) something they dreamed up on the spot.

Andy White
Arlington, VA
 

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