Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Wearing Swords at Home
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1828  Monday, 23 July 2001

[1]     From:   John Ramsay <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 16:33:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1823 Size Matters with Sharp Pointy Things

[2]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 20 Jul 2001 11:09:11 EDT
        Subj:   Re: to be or not . . . wearing swords at home


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 16:33:48 -0400
Subject: 12.1823 Size Matters with Sharp Pointy Things.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1823 Size Matters with Sharp Pointy Things.

> I must indeed, as counseled, get around to reading JC. Someone told me
> that the weapon sequence from assassination to suicides according to the
> text is sword - dagger - sword. I blame the confusing length of those
> Roman thingies myself. Antony and Brutus can surely be excused on
> account of stress.

Not to put too fine a point on it -:)

The Romans wore a long and a short sword into battle. The short sword
was a little too wide to be called a dagger. The 1954 MGM production of
JC featured the Roman short sword in the assassination of Caesar. Makes
sense as the assassins were all soldiers and would have these weapons.
The long swords would not be as easily concealed.

When it came to killing themselves, however, the long sword was more
suitable for falling on. Shakespeare may have had that in mind early on
but threw the contemporary dagger into the mix. Shakespeare was never
one for strict historical accuracy. Why let the facts interfere with a
good story?

I heard a strict historical version of the assassination that claimed
the weapon actually used was the stylus, a sharp pointy tool used to
make notes on a clay tablet, daggerlike in length but edgeless. Probably
the true version but there's something too pedestrian about striking
down the foremost man in all the world with a writing implement, though
it does perhaps go to show the pen is mightier than the sword -:)

> Ditto with reading how Hamlet settles the hash of Claudius. That "Hurts
> the King" s.d. Q1/Folio discrepancy mentioned to me by someone in the
> Windmill at Stratford sounds worth the peruse when I find my spectacles.
> Possibly the Folio intention is that he hits him with the goblet...I
> must get a hold of a copy of the play and attempt to resolve this
> conundrum.
>
> Last night's costume mix during JC (Hitler Youth/Fascists/Cosacks/Sumai
> Wrestlers/Romans) at the RST distracted my attention from all the
> stabbing I fear, so I was not able to note what our premier theatre
> takes to be the weapon of choice be it for purposes of suicide or
> homicide. Doing a Duce with Cinna the poet was a pleasing diversion from
> the norm however. But at least there were no revolvers as was the case
> for disposing of Polonius not so long ago in one of the Hamlets I saw.

I take it you mean Cinna was hanged upside down like Mussolini. That is
an interesting variation. A University of Buffalo production in the 50's
employed modern dress throughout and Cinna was stabbed to death by a mob
of leatherjacketed hoodlums with switchblades. Also an interesting
variation - the mob aping its betters??

Not that far off historically as well. The ancient Roman political
parties actually did get down to the level of streetgang warfare,
including a notable rumble on the Appian Way just outside of town that
was the end of Clodius Pulcher.

John Ramsay

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 20 Jul 2001 11:09:11 EDT
Subject:        Re: to be or not . . . wearing swords at home

With wearing weapons at home or castle as with most things, there must
have been a lot of variety of usages, a social semiotics of  domestic
armament.

In the Alexander Iden/Jack Cade scene in 2 Henry VI, in the 1595 text
Iden comes onstage, imagined as his hedged garden, accompanied by some
of his men.  He sees Cade, is challenged by him, and has to send one of
his men out to "fetch weapons."  The 1623 text instead has Iden enter
alone, there is no command to anyone to bring in an offstage sword, so
in this version he has to be entering earlier bearing arms.  One oddity
is that the imagined hedged garden in the 1595 version becomes in 1623 a
walled garden.  Maybe this signals a bunkerizing of rustic life (if, as
I believe, the version underlying 1595 text preceded the version
underlying the 1623 text -- )  like those jolly walled retirement
communities sprouted in Florida citrus plantations, armed and dangerous
and driving SUVs.

Ever,
Steve Urquartowitz

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.