Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Apes and Monkeys
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2044  Wednesday, 8 November 2000.

[1]     From:   John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Nov 2000 19:11:58 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

[2]     From:   Charlotte Pressler <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Nov 2000 16:27:50 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

[3]     From:   David Nicol <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Nov 2000 08:10:34 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

[4]     From:   David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 8 Nov 2000 10:03:30 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 7 Nov 2000 19:11:58 -0000
Subject: 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

One of the reasons why apes may be linked to Hell might have to do with
the reference in Isaiah 13 to the fate of Babylon being over-run by
apes.  The Geneva Bible (1560) keeps the Hebrew terms that Topsell
glosses, but the Bishops Bible (1595) simply refers to houses being
overrun with 'Apes'.

There's also a reference to this in Topsell's Historie of Foure Footed
Beastes (London 1607) where he makes the connection between apes and
Babel.  Topsell also mentions a monkey (a marmoset I think) whose
testicles are 'blue' like the "Turkey stone".  When in MV Shylock links
Jessica's exchange of Leah's ring for a monkey, there may be a bawdy
play on the exchange. The bawdy reference might also point to another
facet of Hell which is concupiscence. At a time when the whole of the
USA is obsessed with Bush and Gore, need I say more.

Cheers,
John Drakakis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charlotte Pressler <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 7 Nov 2000 16:27:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

I can add one other reference concerning the "proverbial fate of old
maids": in volume 1 of Francis James Child's _English and Scottish
Popular Ballads_, there is a ballad called "The Maid and the Palmer,"
based on the legend of Mary Magdalene. The Palmer, who is Jesus in
disguise, appears to the supposed Maid, who has in fact borne nine
children, all of whom she killed at birth and secretly buried. She
breaks down and begs to be assigned penance. In version A, which Child
took from the Percy MS, faux-antique spelling and all, the Palmer
replies:

        Penance I can giue thee none,
        But 7 yeere to be a stepping-stone.

        Other seaven a clapper in a bell,
        Other 7 to lead an ape in hell.

Child comments that the "penance" assigned here and in the related
ballad "The Cruel Mother" consists "not in exaggerated austerities, but
partly, at least, in transmigration: ...seven years to be a fish ...a
bird ... a stone ... an eel ...a bell or bellclapper. Seven years in
hell seems to have been part of the penance or penalty in any case:
seven years a porter in hell ... seven years down in hell ... 'to ring
the bell and see sic sights as ye darna tell'." The version I've quoted
here Child calls a "burlesque" of this penalty.

Neither the Maid nor the Magdalene is an "old maid" in the accepted
sense, however. The punishment the Maid undergoes is not consequent on
her refusal to become sexually experienced or fertile, but on her
refusal to confine her sexuality within marriage, and her repeated
resort to infanticide to keep secret her sexual relationships with men.
She is closer to being a "singlewoman," then, and her punishment might
be understood as a punishment for her refusal to relinquish that status
and marry when she becomes sexually active with men and/or pregnant by
them.

I hope all this does not simply muddy the waters further!

Bests --
Charlotte Pressler

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Nicol <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 08 Nov 2000 08:10:34 GMT
Subject: 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

Ann Carrigan writes,

>I looked through books of quotations once and could only find one other
>contemporary reference to maidens and apes. I have no idea where that
>note is, but if memory serves at all, it was printed in a newspaper of
>sorts, a gazette, in 1600 and went something like this:
>
>"For 'tis a saying old,
>And you know it well,
>That women dying maids
>Lead apes in hell."

These lines are spoken by a character in 'The London Prodigal' (one of
the apocryphal Shakespeare plays). But it's possible that the character
is simply repeating a commonly-used homily. Does anyone know?

David Nicol

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 8 Nov 2000 10:03:30 GMT
Subject: 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2033 Re: Apes and Monkeys

Another reference to maids leading apes in hell is the concluding stanza
of Thomas Campion's 'Harke, al you ladies', which runs:

All you that love, or lov'd before
        the Fairie Queene Proserpina
Bids you encrease that loving humour more:
        they that yet have not fed
On delight amorous,
        she vowes that they shall lead
                Apes in Avernus.

Walter R. Davies, Campion's editor simply says that this was 'a
proverbial punishment for old maids, perhaps in revenge for their
unwillingness to choose a mate in life', and cites Samuel Rowlands, Tis
Merry When Gossips Meete, (1602):

        There's an old grave Proverbe tell's us that
        Such as die Maydes doe all lead Apes in hell.

It doesn't help with the explanation, perhaps, but does add a couple
more instances.

David Lindley
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.