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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: November ::
Quiz Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2178  Thursday, 13 November 2003

From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Thursday, November 13, 2003
Subject: 14.2168 Quiz Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2168 Quiz Question

John Savage asks,

>Over at the Savage Shakespeare website our weekly quiz question seems to
>have stumped the membership.  I thought SHAKSPER-type people might like
>to take a crack at it.  Here 'tis:
>
>The dangers of a high-cholesterol diet seem to have been understood,
>even centuries ago.  As Shakespeare has one of his characters point out,
>if you eat a lot of red meat it could be harmful.
>
>In what way?

[1]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Himadri Chatterjee <
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I do not have the text currently to hand, but Sir Andrew Aguecheek, I
think, at one point says something like: "I am a great eater of beef,
and I believe that does harm to my wit."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Sir Andrew Aguecheek is a great eater of beef, but fears that it does
harm to his wit, only for show however, as when Toby tells him that it
certainly does do just such harm, Andrew says that if he believed such a
thing he would give up eating beef immediately.

Not a difficult question to answer, but I suppose that having acted Toby
Belch in "Twelfth Night" (my only Shakespearean role in my amateur
theatrical career) makes this a bit easier.  I am not sure why it should
have stumped your website audience, however.

Presumably Andrew's fear is yet another side-effect of the Atkins diet.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Conlon <
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Well, if it was from Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew, he would say
eating too much red meat would engender "choler".  It makes us rash and
angry.

Taming of the Shrew Act 4, Scene 1

PETRUCHIO       I tell thee, Kate, 'twas burnt and dried away;
        And I expressly am forbid to touch it,
        For it engenders choler, planteth anger;
        And better 'twere that both of us did fast,
        Since, of ourselves, ourselves are choleric,
        Than feed it with such over-roasted flesh.
        Be patient; to-morrow 't shall be mended,
        And, for this night, we'll fast for company:
        Come, I will bring thee to thy bridal chamber.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kurt Shoemaker <
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Sir Aguecheek claims too much beef has destroyed his wit.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Spiller <
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Is it something to do with beef diseasing the wits?  I seem to remember
Sir  Toby or Andrew saying something along those lines in Twelfth
Night....?

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Walter Cannon <
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Well, Aguecheek says that he is a great eater of beef and believes that
it does harm to his wit. On the other hand, since it was probably not
the corn-fed, chemically laden stuff we have today, he got his supply of
omega 3s. Don't know the link between that and wit though.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan J. Sanders <
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This is easy, (I hope) as it comes from the play "Twelfth Night."  Sir
Andrew Aguecheek comments, "But, I am a great eater of beef, and I
believe that does harm to my wit."  Sir Toby Belch responds, "No
question," affirming this fact to Sir Andrew.

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carl Fortunato <
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"I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." -
Andrew Aguecheek, Twelfth Night

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristen McDermott <
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Of course, that's Andrew Aguecheek, noting (1.3.74), "...but I am a
great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit."  Beef's
property according to the doctrine of humors was dry -- Maria had
already observed that Aguecheek's jests were dry, so he's probably right
that too much beef has resulted in a withered brain (eerily prescient of
the Mad Cow scare).  Sir Toby's soggy humor ("he's in the third degree
of drink; he's drowned") apparently complements Andrew's dry one.

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Nathan <
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Andrew Aguecheek says that eating too much beef is bad for the brain.

[11]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Margaret Hopkins <
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Shakespeare has one of his character - Sir Andrew Aguecheek announce to
Sir Toby Belch;   " I am great eater of beef,  and I believe that does
harm my wits"!

[12]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Egan <
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It depends on the recipient of the harm.

In Henry V, III.vii, the Constable says that English get 'great meals of
beef and iron and steel, they will eat like wolves and fight like
devils.' That sounds pretty harmful and so it turned out for the French.

But the real answer must be Sir Andrew Aguecheek: 'I am a great eater of
beef and I believe that does harm to my wit (12N, I.iii).

Do I get a trip to Vegas?

[13]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laurie Richards <
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Well, I found a couple references to meat and health, but the one that
seems to fit best is from the Taming of the Shrew. In Act 4 Scene 3
Grumio tempts Katharine with various types of meat, but refuses to give
it to her because it is "too choleric." Naturally, an imbalance in the
humours would make one ill. I pulled this from a copy of Culpeper's
Complete Herbal, granted it was written in 1652, but the information
regarding the four humours was widely known to Shakespeare's
contemporaries:

Blood is made of meat perfectly concocted, in quality hot and moist,
governed by Jupiter It is by a third concoction transmuted into flesh,
the superfluity of it into seed, and its receptacle is the veins, by
which it is dispersed through the body.

Choler is made of meat more than perfectly concocted; and it is the
spume or froth of blood: it clarifies all the humours, heats the body,
nourishes the apprehension, as blood doth the judgment. It is in quality
hot and dry; fortifies the attractive faculty, as blood doth the
digestive; moves man to activity and valour: its receptacle is the gall,
and it is under the influence of Mars.

Flegm is made of meat not perfectly digested; it fortifies the virtue
expulsive, makes the body slippery, fit for ejection; it fortifies the
brain by its consimilitude with it; yet it spoils apprehension by its
antipathy to it. It qualifies choler, cools and moistens the heart
thereby sustaining it, and the whole body, from the fiery effects which
continual motion would produce. Its receptacle is the lungs, and is
governed by Venus, some say by the Moon, perhaps it may be governed by
them both, it is cold and moist in quality.From Culpeper's Complete
Herbal  written in 1652.

Another interesting allusion to red meat and bad health comes from the
Epilogue of Henry IV part 2 when the speaker of the epilogue says, "If
you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will
continue the story." Whether or not the Elizabethans knew about
cholesterol is up for debate, but they clearly knew that too much meat
could kill you, or at the very least make you ill.

[14]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Friedberg <
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As a cardiologist who remains adamantly unconvinced of the dangers of a
high cholesterol diet, and aware of the dangers of Archbishops, I think
John Savage is thinking of Henry IV Part 2 where the Archbishop  of York
says

To diet rank minds sick of happiness
 And purge the obstructions which begin to stop
 Our very veins of life.

[15]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Grumio refuses to give Kate a neat's foot for dinner, as it is too
choleric (=cholesterolic?) a dish for her whose complexion already
smacks too much of this humor. But I think the question probably refers
to Aguecheek to whose wit the great eating of beef does much harm. Uncle
Toby agrees that Sir Andrew's wit has suffered much from cholesterol.

[16]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Babula <
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Sir Andrew Aguecheek: "I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that
does harm to my wit. TN 1.3. 84-85

[17]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kimberly Ellerthorpe <
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I'm going from memory here, but Petrucchio (in Taming of the Shrew)
tells Katherina that he is expressly forbidden to eat meat, as it gives
him a terrible temper.  Would that be the character you mean?

[18]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alex Went <
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SIR ANDREW

Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary
put me down. Methinks sometimes I have no more wit
than a Christian or an ordinary man has: but I am a
great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit.

Twelfth Night Act I Scene iii

[19]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Katy Stavreva <
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It increases your choler (I guess we'd call it cholesterol these days),
says Petruchio to Katherina once they arrive at his household.

[20]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Henerson <
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Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch in Act I, scene iii of "Twelfth
Night."

Andr: ...Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an
ordinary man has.  But I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that
does harm to my wit.

Toby:  No question.

C'mon, give us a hard one.

[21]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Greg McNamara <
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Sir Andrew Aguecheek speaks to John Savage's weekly quiz question in TN
1.3 when, "put down" by Maria, he apologizes to Sir Toby, "I am a great
eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit."

[22]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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"Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary
man has: but I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to
my wit"  (Sir Andrew Aguecheek, <Twelfth Night>, 1.3)

[23]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Kranz <
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I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does
harm to my wit.

           _Twelfth-Night_
       Act I, Scene iii, line 92

[24]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Swanson <
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My guess: Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, who tells us that "I am a
great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit" (1.3.84)

[25]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Taylor <
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"I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit"
TN I.iii.84

"...thou mongrel beef-witted lord!"
TC II.i.14

[26]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Brown <
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"I am a great eater of beef, and I
believe that does harm to my wit. "

--Sir Andrew in Twelfth Night 1.3.85-6

[27]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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By upsetting the balance of the humours, presumably.  Of course, much
eating of beef was associated with dullness, as even Andrew Aguecheek is
aware.

[28]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ira Zinman <
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Well I see there is interest in the red meat issue......but did you know
that Ovid, who we know had an influence on Shakespeare, was something of
the first vegetarian.  Ovid was strongly opposed to eating the flesh of
any animal.  Perhaps the "red meat" subject really began with Ovid.

This is not quite the topic on the table, but something to savor along
the same vein.

[29]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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In the theory or doctrine of bodily humo[u]rs, imbalances among the four
primary humo[us]rs - blood, phlegm, black bile, yellow bile - produced
the four distinctive types of personality - sanguine, phlegmatic,
melancholic, choleric.  Innate dispositions toward one of the four were
enhanced by some kinds of food and drink.  Red meat and red wine could
enhance the hot humors, the sanguine and the choleric, to the point of
excess--inane confidence and irresponsibility in those of sanguine
temperament, uncontrollable anger in cholerics.  The judicious approach
for those diagnosed with these dispositions was to counteract the
dominant humor - fish and white wine instead of beef and Burgundy.

[30]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lea Luecking Frost <
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According to no less an authority than Sir Andrew Aguecheek, being a
great eater of beef does harm to one's wit...

[31]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Sir Andrew Aguecheek in 12th Night:  "I am a great eater of beef, and, I
believe, that does harm to my wit."

[32]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Smith <
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I am not sure about cholesterol, but both Thersites and Sir Andrew
believe that eating too much beef is bad for the brains:

Thersites - (Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene I, line 10)
The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!

Sir Andrew (Twelfth-Night; or, What You Will, Act I, Scene III, line 45)
Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary
man has; but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to
my wit.

Arden regards this as a "proverbial idea" citing as an authority
R.W.Dent, Shakespeare's Proverbial Language: An Index (Berkley 1981).
Nowadays, rather than than high cholestrol, it sounds as though
Shakespeare might be prophetically warning of the dangers of mad cow
disease (Shakesperdamus perhaps?).

[33]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Klinkhardt <
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I would answer but the beef has quite tainted my wit.

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