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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Tyrant's Bed 2
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0282  Thursday, 31 January 2002

[1]     From:   Nancy Charlton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 10:22:13 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[2]     From:   Alison Taufer <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 13:37:00 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[3]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 20:12:18 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[4]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 17:18:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[5]     From:   H. R. Greenberg <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 19:34:04 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[6]     From:   Brother Anthony <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 10:00:15 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[7]     From:   Michael McClintock <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 22:10:50 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Be

[8]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 14:50:08 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

[9]     From:   Helen Vella-Bonavita <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 09:29:50 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nancy Charlton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 10:22:13 -0800
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

>William Drummond of Hawthornden wrote that Ben Jonson, "cursed Petrarch
>for redacting verses to sonnets, which he said were like that tyrant's
>bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut
>short." What exactly is the "tyrant's bed" and whence does the phrase
>come?

Procrustes, hence "Procrustean bed." I don't know any source, but I
would guess it's in Ovid somewhere. This "tyrant" made guests fit the
bed by the method described above. One way for a "tyrannos" to evolve
from being simply "king" to "tyrant."  A drastic metaphor to prove
Drummond's point.

Nancy Charlton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alison Taufer
 <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 13:37:00 -0800
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

Jonson's comment sounds like it may be an allusion to the Greek myth of
Procrustes.  Procrustes offers unwary travelers a bed for the night. If
the traveler is too tall, Procrustes cuts off the guest's legs until he
fits the bed.  If the traveler is too short, Procrustes stretches his
guest (as upon a rack) until he fits. Procrustes is a robber, not a
ruler, so I don't know if this is the story to which Jonson is
referring, although it seems like a possibility.

Alison Taufer

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 20:12:18 +1100
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

Does this perhaps refer to the myth of Procrustes?

Sophie Masson
Author site: http://www.northnet.com.au/~smasson

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 17:18:52 -0500
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

Check your handbook or dictionary of mythology under Procrustes.

David Evett

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           H. R. Greenberg <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 19:34:04 EST
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

In case this hasn't been answered, I believe we are talking about the
Bed of Procrustes -- but I don't recall that he was a tyrant. I may have
him confused with someone else, but I seem to recall something about a
toll, which if one couldn't pay, you were forced onto the bed and   chop
chop or stretch stretch. The phrase has long since entered the
vernacular. I like it a lot.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brother Anthony <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 10:00:15 +0900
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

Try looking up Procrustean in a dictionary or Procrustes (aka Damastes)
in a dictionary of mythology.

Brother Anthony
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael McClintock <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jan 2002 22:10:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

Jonson is thinking of Procrustes, who was, according to my Oxford
Companion to Classical Lit., "a legendary brigand of Eleusis, who used
to lay travellers on a bed, and if they were too long for it, cut short
their limbs; but if the bed was longer, stretch them to make their
length equal to it. He was killed by Theseus."

Michael McClintock
Trent University

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 14:50:08 +1100
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

> William Drummond of Hawthornden wrote that Ben Jonson, "cursed Petrarch
> for redacting verses to sonnets, which he said were like that tyrant's
> bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut
> short." What exactly is the "tyrant's bed" and whence does the phrase
> come?

You'll get a thousand replies to this, but it's the bed of Procrustes, a
bandit who stretched out his victims if they were too short for his bed
and lopped off extremities if they were too tall clearly a case of OCD).

Peter Groves

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Vella-Bonavita <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Jan 2002 09:29:50 +0000
Subject: 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0263 Tyrant's Bed

The reference is to an extreme example of addressing body image issues
through plastic surgery...The bed belonged to Procrustes, who boasted
that his bed fitted all who lay upon it. He neglected to mention that
this was brought about either by stretching his victims on a rack or
alternatively pruning them to reach the correct length. He was
eventually killed on his own bed by Theseus on his way to Athens.

Helen Vella Bonavita
University of Wales, Lampeter

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