The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0373 Thursday 4 March 1999.
Date: Thursday, 4 Mar 1999 03:30:43 -0800 (PST)
Subject: A fool question
I found in a note to A Midsummer Night's Dream (World's Classics 1994,
edited by Peter Holland, p. 227):
>' a patched fool' - a fool wearing motley or parti-coloured coat.
>Cardinal Wolsey's fool was named Patch. The Italian word 'pazzo' is
>definited by Florio as 'a fool, a patch, a mad-man' in Queen Anna's
>New World of Words (1611)
I am an Italian and this note is very interesting to me, because the
etymology of our word 'pazzo' is defined by scholars as uncertain. Some
say it comes from Latin word 'patiens' (patient), but it is not too much
convincing, because with 'pazzo' we intend a furious or very queer
fellow, not a patient or sick one. I think that Florio's suggestion is
very keen, because we in some dialects (and Neapolitan among others)
have the word 'pacce' (that is pronounced just 'patch') that means
'pazzo'(i.e. fool), and besides there is the word 'pacciariello' that
means a particular figure of Naples' old days: a sort of popular fool,
all dressed with a patched dress and many little harness-bells, who
would go through all the city telling news in a comic and satiric way. I
am told that therty years ago it was possible to find still one or two
of them through Naples' streets.
The word 'pazziare' is a Neapolitan verb that means 'to play' (but not
'to recite') and to 'joke' or 'to make fun'.
But the word 'pazzo' appears in literary documents since late XIII cent.
Dante too uses it .
I wonder if any of you on the list knows if in continental Europe of
XII-XIII cent. there was a name for popular or courtier jesters that
may be linked to 'patch' or 'pazzo'.
Might it be a word carried through Medieval Europe by wandering jesters?
Thank you for your *patience*