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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Apes and Monkeys
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2004  Wednesday, 31 October 2000.

[1]     From:   Tom Bishop <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 12:05:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 18:06:24 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

[3]     From:   Jim Lake <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 12:08:58 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

[4]     From:   Werner Broennimann <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 18:42:58 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 11.1992: Apes and Monkeys

[5]     From:   John Jowett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 1 Nov 2000 12:53:45 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 12:05:44 -0500
Subject: 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

>Some time back we had a fine discussion of Shylock's daughter Jessica
>and Renaissance monkeys. Working on a related matter, I find myself
>wondering if early moderns distinguished at all between apes and
>monkeys. Part of the issue is construing the mysterious proverb that old
>maids must "lead apes in hell." Can anyone help?

It looks at first glance through OED as though "monkey" might have
tended to be used for smaller, livelier animals, like marmosets (often
linked with monkey for alliterative effect). The word was a comparative
newcomer (about 1500?) to the lexicon of primates. There may have been
some consciousness of it grammatically diminutive character, as there is
also for "marmoset" (which predates it).  Mandeville refers to
"Babewynes, Apes, Marmesettes, and othere dyverse bestes". By 1699
however, a distinction among "monkey, ape and man" is clearly implied by
the title of Tyson's "Orang-Outang, sive Homo Sylvestris: or, the
Anatomy of a Pygmie, Compared with that of a Monkey, an Ape, and a
Man."  Whether England earlier than that would ever have seen what we
now call a "great ape" I do not know.  London Magazine in 1738 expresses
surprise at a recently arrived "Chimpanze" (the word is apparently
Angolan) as though the animal was unknown before, and a writer in 1799
is clearly unfamiliar with the word "Gorilla".  In 1770 a magazine
writer is still describing a gibbon as a monkey.

There would surely be illustrations of the proverb about that might
help.

Tom

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 18:06:24 GMT
Subject: 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

On apes and monkeys - my memory is that Topsell, History of Four-Footed
Beasts, goes into some detail about different varieties of monkey - but
I can't remember if the 'ape-monkey' distinction is important.

David Lindley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jim Lake <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 12:08:58 -0600
Subject: 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1992 Apes and Monkeys

H. W. Janson's Apes and Ape Lore in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
deals with this sort of thing.

Jim Lake

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Werner Broennimann <
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Date:           Tuesday, 31 Oct 2000 18:42:58 +0000
Subject: Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        SHK 11.1992: Apes and Monkeys

Both MND 2.1.181 ("On meddling monkey or on busy ape") and Cymb. 1.6.39
where ape and monkey co-occur do not really seem to differentiate
between the two.  Marvin Spevack (A Shakespeare Thesaurus) lists these
synonyms: ape, apish, babion, baboon, dog-ape, jackanapes, John ape,
marmoset, monkey.  Somehow it feels good to sound out these words.
Shakespeare's England (which I still find a real treasure trove), vol.
1, p. 486 has this information: "What is loosely called the simian group
of animals is represented by the ape, the monkey, the baboon, and the
marmoset.  'Ape' was still the generic name; 'monkey' was a word of
comparatively recent introduction; the first is about twice as frequent
as the second in Shakespeare's works, but they are employed without any
discernible difference of meaning.  In a few passages there seems to be
some sort of implication that the monkey was simply a degraded form of
man; as [in Timon 1.1.260]."

Werner Br

 

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