The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1059 Thursday, 24 June 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 22 Jun 1999 09:28:46 -0700
Subject: 10.1042 Naming the King and Queen of Fairies
Comment: Re: SHK 10.1042 Naming the King and Queen of Fairies
Huon of Bordeaux is not the only source for Shakespeare's Oberon.
Spenser's Faerie Queene describes Oberon (sometimes taken as the
allegorical representation of Henry VIII) as heir to Elfin, who "all
India obayd / And all that now America men call" (II.x.72.5-6). If
nothing else, this establishes Oberon's connection with the Indian boy.
"Titania" appears as an alias for Diana and Circe alike in Ovid's
Metamorphoses (III 173; XIV 382; 438). In these allusions, an
interesting contrast occurs: woman as dangerous enchantress (Circe) or
as chaste goddess (Diana). In addition, the allusion to Circe relates
to the metamorphosis-motif of the play. Perhaps this is why Shakespeare
chose Titania rather than Queen Mab (although Queen Mab would have tied
in nicely with the dream imagery of the play).