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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: Our cold maids
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0242  Friday, 2 February 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Feb 2001 09:11:13 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 1 Feb 2001 17:14:26 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 14:07:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Feb 2001 09:11:13 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0240 Our cold maids
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids

Peter Groves asked,

>Does anyone recall a reference in Shakespeare (or
>possibly one of his
>colleagues) to the (possibly Aristotelian) notion
>that men were
>naturally "hotter" than women (presumably in terms
>of their humoral
>complexion)?

I'm currently working with a cluster of concepts, in which this
Aristotelian, and Galenic, idea is entangled.  Explicit references in
Shakespeare proper?  I have yet discovered any, although I would be very
surprised if there were none.

There is a very extensive discussion of the question of male heat and
female cold in Book III of Castiglione's Courtier, and in the Hoby
translation this would have been available to Shakespeare and his
contemporaries.  Interestingly, in this text, one speaker argues
forcefully for the superiority of males by virtue of their heat.  He is
then answered by the Magnifico (identified by Hoby as "Lord Julian" de
Medici), who defends women by arguing that they are not "cold," but
rather "temperate." (page and edition references available if anyone
wants them; write me off-list).

I find this interesting in light of Sonnet 18.2: "Thou art more lovely
and more temperate..."  Far be it from me to make the politically
incorrect suggestion that this sonnet might, in fact, have been
addressed to someone of the female persuasion (although Katherine
Duncan-Jones does do this, ever so gently, in her introductory essay to
the Arden edition).  But it does make you wonder.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson-Kranz

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Thursday, 1 Feb 2001 17:14:26 -0000
Subject: 12.0240 Our cold maids
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids

How about Ferdinand's 'the white cold virgin snow upon my heart abates
the ardour of my liver', together with the masque dance in The Tempest
of fiery sicklemen and watery nymphs?

David Lindley
Professor of Renaissance Literature
University of Leeds

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 01 Feb 2001 14:07:12 -0500
Subject: 12.0240 Our cold maids
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0240 Our cold maids

>Does anyone recall a reference in Shakespeare (or possibly one of his
>colleagues) to the (possibly Aristotelian) notion that men were
>naturally "hotter" than women (presumably in terms of their humoral
>complexion)?

It isn't exactly in point, but cf. Orsino's observations "There is no
woman's sides / Can bear the beating of so strong a passion ..." in
TN,II.iv and "Our fancies are more giddy and infirm ..." earlier in the
same scene.
 

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