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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: July ::
Re: Horatio
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1282  Friday, 16 July 1999.

[1]     From:   Syd Kasten <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 22:49:28 +0300
        Subj:   Horatio et al.

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 23:23:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1251 Re: Horatio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Syd Kasten <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 22:49:28 +0300
Subject:        Horatio et al.

Brian Haylett  wrote

>This is the play that
>happily mixes Germanic Hamlet and Gertrude with Latinate Claudius,
>Polonius, Laertes and Greek Ophelia. If Horatio is indeed Reason, then
>he is Hamlet's Reason - which is an answer to those who ask why Claudius
>did not use him to spy on Hamlet.

Germanic Gertrude and Latinate Claudius are OK. As for the others-the
Lithuanians of today use the the "ius" endings in names.  Lithuania is
across the Baltic from Denmark.  The states that lie between them on
land include Poland, which has been seen as a source of Polonius' name,
making him a Polish born gentleman who picked up a nickname in Lithuania
before coming into the service of Denmark.

To my eye Laertes seems more Greek than Roman - Heracles, Hippocrates
etc.

Ophelia, the name, indeed looks Greek.  Opheleo means "I aid, help,
benefit".  I'm not sure how this would would fit into the text context
or subtext.  Until I looked up      the word today in the limited
vocabulary of "Easy Selecions from Xenophon", a book that I've had
kicking  around since highschool, my association would be to the
Hebrew.  Hebrew has two ways of spelling the word "ophel", each spelling
with its own meaning. Spelt with an aleph the word implies darkness;
with an ayin it is a "high, fortified place".  In this sense, it refers
to the ridge in Jerusalem south of Temple Mount which became David's
capital.  Each of these meanings adds a poignancy to the character for
anyone who has Hebrew. This, of course, is stretching things, since how
could a glovemaker's son develop such a depth and breadth, not to
mention a working knowledge of Hebrew. Still, Shakespeare was not
unaware of emotions which were evoked by Jerusalem, and used them to
effect in the death of Henry IV.

As for wordplay on names, has anyone noticed that the actor playing
Claudius in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, was Claudius in the TV epic "I,
Claudius"?  Cool!

Best wishes,
Syd Kasten

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 1999 23:23:04 -0400
Subject: 10.1251 Re: Horatio
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1251 Re: Horatio

It must be remembered that the name Horatio was already familiar from
the smash hit held over for the nth straight week Kyd's "Spanish
Tragedy."  This fact, combined with the possible attribution of the
Ur-Hamlet make Shakespeare's Horatio a nod to Kyd recognizable by the
Elizabethan audience.  1601, the proposed staging date, was, by the way,
also the year of Kyd's imprisonment, torture, illness and death.

There is little in the sources to justify a Horatio in the Hamlet story:
Saxo and others have a brother to the more or less Ophelia character who
hips Hamlet to the plots being laid on him, but he seems to me more akin
to Laertes.

The short answer is that Claudius would not enlist Horatio because he
knows he wouldn't do it and would probably hip Hamlet to the plots being
laid on him.

For me, Horatio is Kyd whom Shakespeare has brought on stage as personal
tribute and as symbol of the nobler aspirations of Elizabethan tragedy.
Perhaps his role has more to do with "oratio" than with "ratio?"

Clifford Stetner
www.columbia.edu/~fs10/cds.htm
 

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