The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0744 Monday, 10 April 2000.
Date: Sunday, 9 Apr 2000 08:22:21 -0400
Subject: Eh, whaddyous tingk aboud dis, ah?
THE TIMES, LONDON
April 8 2000
FROM RICHARD OWEN IN ROME
THE mystery of how and why William Shakespeare knew so much about Italy
and gave so many of his plays an Italian setting has been "solved" by a
retired Sicilian academic: it was because he was not English at all, but
Biographies of the Bard admit that there are gaps in his life, but they
all attest without question that he was born at Stratford-upon-Avon in
April 1564, the son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, and was buried
there in April 1616.
However, Professor Martino Iuvara, 71, a retired teacher of literature,
claims that he was Sicilian, born in Messina as Michelangelo Florio
Crollalanza, and fled to London because of the Holy Inquisition,
changing his name to its English equivalent. Crollalanza or
Crollalancia literally translates as Shakespeare.
In an interview with the magazine Oggi yesterday, Professor Iuvara said
that the key to the mystery was 1564, the year John Calvin died in
Geneva. It was the year that Michelangelo was born in Messina of a
doctor, Giovanni Florio, and a noblewoman named Guglielma Crollalanza,
both of whom had Calvinist sympathies.
The Inquisition was on the trail of Dr Florio because of his heretical
ideas, and the family fled to Treviso, near Venice, buying Casa Otello,
built by a retired Venetian mercenary called Otello (Othello) who, to
local legend, killed his wife out of misplaced jealousy.
Michelangelo studied in Venice, Padua, and Mantua, and travelled in
Denmark, Greece, Spain, and Austria. He was befriended by the
philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was to be burnt at the stake for heresy
in 1600. Bruno, Professor Iuvara says, had strong links with William
Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke, and the Earl of Southampton.
In 1588, aged 24, Michelangelo went to England under their patronage.
His mother, Signora Crollalanza, had an English cousin at Stratford, who
took the boy in. The Stratford branch had already translated their name
as Shakespeare, and had a son called William, who died prematurely.
Michelangelo, the professor says, simply took over the name for himself,
becoming William Shakespeare.
Fifteen of the Bard's 37 plays have an Italian background.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0742 Monday, 10 April 2000.
Date: Thursday, 06 Apr 2000 13:14:47 -0400
Subject: Cuckolds, Horns, Horner, and Horny
Let me start by saying that DC's Shakespeare Theater is doing
Wycherley's The Country Wife. It is performed in period, has a cool set
and is very funny; I don't think I give away too much, if I say it is
about trying to get another man's wife into bed. But this is SHAKSPER
not WYCHERLY and much more would be off topic. However, after an
evening full of questionable fidelity, a couple of questions popped into
First, we know that jokes about horns were just buckets of laughs back
in Shakespeare's time, but do we have any explanation, or guesses as to
why this was?
I also wonder if we can even guess at how much real cuckoldry was going
on. Does this fixation on the topic suggest that it happened all the
time, or that the fear of it happening was overwhelming?
And about those horns; what's up with that? Did they really believe
that invisible horns grew on your head, or was that a fairy tale now
taken as part of the joke, and where did the fairy tale start? The
chief seducer in the play is named Mr. Horner and I spent sometime
wondering if "horny" had the same connotations for Wycherly that it does
in our time. It wasn't till midway through the play that I realized he
is actually a "horner," one who places horns on other's heads by
cuckolding them. So I assume that somewhere in our linguistic past
"horny" relates to horns and cuckoldry, although in this age it has
taken on a more generic "lusty" meaning.
I've also been trying to figure out in my head if anyone ever actually
gets cuckolded in Shakespeare. Oh, they talk about it all the time (16
different plays according to the MIT search engine), but I don't
remember it actually happening (Cressida was as close as I came.) Is
this the difference (okay, a difference) between Shakespeare's time,
where it's just talk and restoration comedy, where its happening almost
constantly? and why that difference?
Any thoughts on this intriguing topic?
The Washington Post review of the production is at: