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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Why isn't one a number
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1361  Tuesday 3 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Joe Conlon <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Aug 1999 08:42:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

[2]     From:   Marti Markus <
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        Date:   Monday, 02 Aug 1999 15:46:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

[3]     From:   Charles C. Nickerson <
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        Date:   Monday, 2 Aug 1999 10:57:42 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Conlon <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Aug 1999 08:42:10 -0500
Subject: 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

I don't believe Capulet is referring or punning on the number "1" as he
speaks to Paris, but rather is simply saying, "When you see Juliet at
the party, she is simply one girl among many.  But, if you compare her
beauty to those other girls, she is incomparable and stands alone."  BTW
this is very similar to Romeo's comments on her beauty to his cousin
Benvolio.  Benvolio's reply about going to the party uses a similar
"bird" comparison when he says he'll show a "swan" to be a "crow" when
stood next to the other beauties at the party.

Joe Conlon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marti Markus <
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Date:           Monday, 02 Aug 1999 15:46:11 +0100
Subject: 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

> In Rom 1.2.29, Capulet says:
>
>         Hear all, all see,
>         And like her most whose merit most shall be;
>         Which on more view of many, mine, being one,
>         May stand in number, though in reckoning none.
>
> where he is talking about his coming party and where, he says, Juliet
> ("mine") may be ranked first ("stand in number") by the onlookers.  Then
> comes the odd phrase, "in reckoning none."
>
> The various editors I have consulted all say this is a reference to the
> saying, "one isn't a number"-but what does that mean?  Perhaps someone
> can enlighten me.

There are two sayings:

"One is as good as none" (Tilley O52) and "One is no number" (O 54); a
similar pun can be also be found in Sonn. 136.8f - where it seems to
refer to large sums in accounting (one would not say "I have got ten
thousand and three sheep" or "You owe me one million and three pounds")
or it could just be a pun on several meanings of "number", something
like "one person is not a crowd", "one is not many".

But there is also a German proverb, "einmal ist keinmal" ("once does not
count"). This has got something to do with Law (maybe the Roman Law,
even?): "doing something once only does not make it a customary right".
The German proverb is still nowadays very common and it gets applied to
all sorts of circumstances, especially though for occasional moral or
social slips or misdemeanours.

I hope that one of these explanations may help, although I fear that
every one is just as good as none.

Markus Marti

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles C. Nickerson <
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Date:           Monday, 2 Aug 1999 10:57:42 -0700
Subject: 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1355 Why isn't one a number?

Without any textual or scholarly support, for "in reckoning none." I
offer the following.

Juliet may be the nicest-looking and most pleasant woman/girl at the
party, but since she is not yet married, she has brought nothing of
social value to the family. This interpretation seems so obvious, I'm
guessing the editors didn't miss it. Hopefully someone on the list will
point out its flaw.
 

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