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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Origin of Horatio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0907  Monday, 28 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 27 Sep 1998 23:23:23 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Origin of Horatio

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 27 Sep 1998 23:53:55 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0905  Re: Origin of Horatio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Sunday, 27 Sep 1998 23:23:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Origin of Horatio

In reply to Andy White: There is a character in Saxo who warns Amleth
that his sister is being used to entrap him.  The girl's relation to
Amleth may have inspired the character of Ophelia in which case her
brother might parallel Laertes. However the confidence between the two
bears some resemblance to the oath of secrecy imposed on Horatio.

    So men were commissioned to draw the young man [Amleth] in his rides
    into a remote part of the forest, and there assail him with a
    temptation of this nature.

    Among these chanced to be a foster-brother of Amleth, who had not
    ceased to have regard to their common nurture; and who esteemed his
    present orders less than the memory of their past fellowship. He
    attended Amleth among his appointed train, being anxious not to
    entrap, but to warn him; and was persuaded that he would suffer the
    worst if he showed the slightest glimpse of sound reason, and above
    all if he did the act of love openly.

Horatio is sometimes used to demonstrate the influence on Sh of Greek
drama as the close friendship of the two Wittenberg students resembles
that between Orestes and Pylades in the former's madness and matricidal
revenge.

  ORESTES
    Ah Pylades, I put thee first 'mongst men for thy love, thy loyalty
and friendliness to me; for thou alone of all my friends wouldst still
honour poor Orestes, in spite of the grievous plight whereto I am
reduced by Aegisthus, who with my accursed mother's aid slew my
sire

In my opinion, the name 'Horatio' is meant to recall The Spanish Tragedy
(extremely popular throughout the Elizabethan period) as well as the
alleged Kyd Hamlet play and implies an acknowledgement by Sh of some
artistic principles shared with his friend and mentor.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Sunday, 27 Sep 1998 23:53:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.0905  Re: Origin of Horatio
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0905  Re: Origin of Horatio

In reply to John Ramsay: We should keep in mind that the eastern part of
England probably still retained a great deal more of its Danish
character in the seventeenth century than it does today.  The Hamlet
myth in England calls attention to the historical relationships between
these two cultures as its oldest forms involve trips back and forth
between England and Denmark.  Perhaps the indeterminateness of Horatio's
nationality is intentional, referring to the origin of the play (in its
association with Kyd), to the origins of the myth and of English culture
itself.  After all, when he refers to 'our state,' Horatio may be
addressing Danes, but the player is addressing an English audience.

>Since the original question was about 'hard evidence in the play' as to
>whether Horatio was a Dane or not, a close look at Act I Sc 1 has him
>saying 'our last king', 'our valiant Hamlet', 'our state', etc.
>
>He also knows more about the political situation in Denmark than the
>sentries, even though it's later revealed he's been away at university.
>
>Why would a non-Dane speak like that and have such knowledge?
 

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