The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0817 Tuesday, 29 April 2003
From: Jim Carroll <
Date: Tuesday, 29 Apr 2003 00:59:56 EDT
Subject: 14.0776 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
Comment: Re: SHK 14.0776 Re: King John, Titus, Peele
>I'm glad that Jim Carroll has done some homework on the classical
>element in Titus, although he hasn't answered my point, that H. T.
>Price, attempting to dismiss the case for Peele's co-authorship,
>asserted that 'Shakespeare is often mistaken about custom and ritual',
>whereas the three 'blunders' were in fact Price's own. Price asserted
>that 'holywater was not used at Roman marriages': I didn't trouble to
>dispute this, since I supposed that most readers would be acquainted
>with rites of passage and would know that water (with fire) was widely
>used for purification rituals of birth, marriage, and death, as in the
>Roman lustratio. (See, e.g., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd edn.,
>1996, s.vv. 'lustration', 'water'.)
That's strange, because in your book you say (p191):
"True, Peele erred in introducing holy water at Roman weddings, but the
rest of his Latin background is authentic."
>Price claimed that 'panthers were
>not hunted in Italy':
But Price claimed that in the context of the play. In the play, Titus
invites Saturninus to hunt "the panther and the hart". Where are they
going to hunt these animals? Did they participate in the games? Clearly
not, as 1.2 specifies. Titus, Saturninus and Marcus go hunting where
"the fields are fragrant and the woods are green." You're simply
playing games here with Price's words, because Price was not specific
enough. He should have written, "One did not go into one's backyard and
hunt panthers in Rome", and that is clearly what he meant, because later
in his essay he writes "It will be noticed that the panther here [in the
Iliad] is hunted in a deep-grown wood, just as in Titus."
>I have shown that they were, despite the trouble
>and expense importing them. Beast fights were a frequent entertainment
>in the ever-popular Roman games from 186 BC onwards. As the OCD records,
>the slaughter of fierce animals formed a major spectacle, which
>'displayed the ingenuity and generosity of the sponsoring politician,
>and the reach of Rome, and its power over nature, in procuring exotic
>species (lions, panthers, bears, bulls, crocodiles, hippopotamuses,
>rhinoceroses, elephants): they admitted a privileged city-audience to
>the glories of traditional aristocratic hunting. Along with gladiatorial
>fights, they were a principal reason for building amphitheatres. The
>emperors gave especially sumptuous displays: 5,000 wild and 4, 000 tame
>animals died at the inauguration of Titus' Colosseum in 80 (AD), and
>11,000 at Trajan's Dacian triumph' (s.v. 'venationes').
Yes, but one did not go into one's backyard and hunt panthers in Rome.
Likewise Aaron, when he entices Quintus and Martius to the trap hole,
says "Straight will I bring you to the loathsome pit/ Where I espied the
panther fast asleep" (2.3.193-4). At the time they are in a "barren,
detested vale", not at the games.
>As for human sacrifices at Rome, whoever consults the secondary source I
>cited will find that some classical scholars have claimed that it took
>place, others have disputed it. See further Walter Burkert, Home Necans
>(U. Cal. Press 1983). Price attributed this 'blunder' to Shakespeare's
>'trying to create atmospere by bringing in what he remembers of
>classical customs ... . A University poet would have acted in a
>different way'. But in fact Peele's presentation of the mutilation and
>sacrifice of Alarbus is quite true to the ethos of victory in Rome.
>Roman treatment of defeated enemies was often brutal (by our standards):
>those caught attempting to flee had their hamstrings cut.
But human sacrifice to appease ghosts and gods is an entirely different
>Mr. Carroll has unearthed a valuable piece of evidence for the use of a
>Roman medallion in another book printed by the Marsh family in 1584,
>although he cannot say whether it precedes or follows Peele's
>Arraignment of Paris. But Peele's choice of the inscription 'Imp Opilius
But it was almost surely not chosen by Peele, but by the printer.
>demonstrates a knowledge of later Roman history which
>would be beyond Shakespeare's ken, and it is hardly a coincidence that
>the sources for this period (Dio Cassius, Herodian, Sextus Aurelius
>Victor) provided names of characters and plot-elements in Act 1 of
It almost surely is a coincidence, because Peele certainly knew much
more than those sources, and they don't have anything to do with the
Arraignment of Paris, so why would he indicate that he knew the sources
of Titus 10 years before it was published, on a completely different
play? And in any case, those sources were available to Shakespeare
filtered through Holinshed and others in English.
>Concerning the 'classical echoes', Price claimed that 'none in
>Titus is from an obscure or recondite author', but in 1.1. Demetrius
>quotes from Seneca's Hippolytus ('Per Stygia, per manes vehor'), and in
>4.1 Titus conflates another verse from the Hippolytus with an analogous
>expression from Seneca's Epistulae Morales (see Jonathan Bate's Arden 3
>edn., pp. 33, 166, 216). These are not commonplace tags, more like a
>Latinist quoting from memory and running together two similar passages.
>Peele's (lost) English translation of Euripides' Iphigeneia (from the
>Latin, I believe) was praised by the leading Neo-Latin dramatist William
Shakespeare, I believe, would have had a considerable education in Latin
from his grammar school education. Seneca's influence on Shakespeare is
well known, so I'm not sure that you are making your point with those
>Still, although we can now dismiss H. T. Price's citation of these
>'mistakes' as proof of Shakespeare's hand,
Only if you ignore everything that I've said.
>the classical element is only
>a confirming argument for Peele's authorship. The main evidence is
>linguistic, involving 20 independent tests, carried out by 12 scholars
>over an 80 year period.
Surely by now there must be many more tests? By this time you should be
able to pick and choose from at least a hundred, faulty or not.
For example, 3 of the 21 tests you mention in your book are your own.
For your "polysyllabic words" test, you compare Titus to Peele's The
Battle of Alcazar. Then you compare "alliteration" in Titus again to
The Battle of Alcazar. But then when you want to compare "vocatives",
you compare Titus to Peele's Edward I. This is clearly picking and
choosing. It would make much more sense to compare Titus to all of
Peele's plays, or at least compare all 3 tests to the same play by
Peele. It's also curious that you use The Battle of Alcazar at all,
since earlier in your chapter (p189), you write "...Mincoff could not
accept the possibility of Peele's co-authorship. He compared the opening
speech by Saturninus with the beginning of The Battle of Alcazar,
finding the Titus passage to have more symmetry pp.129-130). But of
course Alcazar is an abridgement, the text having suffered serious
damage, and if Mincoff had compared this passage in Titus with Peele's
poems he might have reached a different conclusion."
Also, in your table of data for your "polysyllabic words" test, for
Titus you give occurrences for each scene, total lines for each scene,
and lines per x occurrences. But in the table for The Battle of Alcazar
you leave out lines per x occurrences, thus obscuring how alike the two
writers were in that there is considerable variance from scene to scene
in both, and also obscuring the fact that one scene in Titus that you
assign to Peele (4.1) has a high value of lines per x occurrences. For
the record, the frequencies for Shakespeare that you report are, in
scene order, 2.4, 3.0, 3.7, 2.9, 5.2, 4.3, 3.3, 5.4, 3.8, 3.6, 2.2, 3.2,
4.0, 2.7. You believe that the scenes with values 2.4, 3.0, 3.7 and 5.4
are by Peele (1.1, 2.1, 2.2 and 4.1). For Peele, the values I calculate
from the raw data in your table are 2.5, 2.6, 4.5, 2.4, 3.2, 1.8, 2.7,
2.5, 3.7, 1.9, 3.0, 2.4, 2.5, 3.3, 2.1, 2.3, 4.1, 4.0. None of the
values for Peele are above 4.5, yet you assign one scene in Titus with a
value of 5.4 to Peele. I should point out that for neither writer is it
possible to exclude any of the values with a statistical measure such as
the Q test.
Based on the dramaturgy of Peele's known plays, if Act 1 of Titus had
been written by him it would have been an entirely different thing.
Peele's characters stand around making speeches. Only rarely are two
characters brought together in the same scene to have an argument. As
far as dramatic action is concerned, his plays are boring because of
their static nature. For example, comparing the first act of Titus (495
lines) with the first 495 lines of Alcazar, an outline of Alcazar to
that point would be:
1.1 A presenter gives some background info, and a dumb show is
Next, Abdelmelec and his entourage talk about the coming war.
1.2. Switch to the Moor's side, where he talks about how he is
not afraid of the coming war, despite warnings from his son.
2. (intro) Another dumb show showing the Moor losing the battle.
2.1 Abdelmec and his friends congratulate themselves on winning the
2.2 Switch to Lisbon where the finally the first conflict on stage
Stukely and his entourage have a brief exchange of words with the
Bishop of Ireland.
Likewise, the first 495 lines in Peele's Edward I (this plays does not
have acts, just scenes):
1. The queen mother and Edward talk about how great they are, how
great England is, and all the great things they are going to do,
provide for the veterans of the war, and have a really great
for Edward. This occupys 267 lines.
2. Switch to Lluellen's camp. Lluellen and his friends talk about how
are and how great Wales is, and how they are going to defeat the
Then they run into the Friar and his group, and there is a switch
tetrameter couplets, and the singing of songs, then Lluellen and
tease the Friar about taking his wench, but Lluellen interrupts
before a fight
breaks out and they shake hands and the Friar agrees to join with
Note that in Titus, right off the bat we have the conflict between
Saturninus and Bassianus on the same stage. Then Titus shows up, he
threatens Tamora with the death of her son, she pleads, then he carries
out the ritual execution.
All of this in the first 150 or so lines!
If Peele had written the first act of Titus, it probably would have gone
bit like this:
1.1 Bassianus and his entourage, by themselves on stage, talk about how
great they are, how great Rome is, and what a good job they'll do
1.2 Switch to Saturninus camp. Saturninus and his entourage will talk
how great they are, how powerful they are and how much fun
1.3 Dumb show showing Titus fighting and losing his sons.
1.4 Titus and his remaining family (no others on stage) talk about how
the war was, how tired they are and how they must execute one of
1.5 Another dumb show showing the execution of Alarbus.
1.6 The Moor alone talks about how great he is, how powerful and evil he
is and how he's going to fool them all, ha ha!
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