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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0410  Thursday, 12 February 2004

[1]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 11:32:25 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question

[2]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:05:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 11:32:25 EST
Subject: 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question

 >The textual problem begins with the previous line.  The Quarto reads:
 >
 >And Lauinia thou shalt be imployde in these Armes,
 >Beare thou my hand sweet wench betweene thy teeth.
 >
 >The first line here does not make sense, and the Folio modifies the
 >first line to end 'in these things'.
[snip]
 >The hypothesis then is that the Folio
 >editors, believing 'Armes' to be nonsense, as indeed it is...

I'd like to defend the Q1 reading of "Armes".  It seems to me the lines
could be taken as inviting Lavinia to join in the [quasi-military]
action against Titus's enemies. One might compare the line from the More
Addition:

   To kneel to be forgiven is safer wars than ever you can make...

Kneeling is not *really* making war, but it's an action directed at the
King and his government. If the Titus lines are parallel they could be
paraphrased

  And Lavinia thou shalt be imployed in this campaign...

And the fact that her employment in 'these arms' is bearing a severed
hand is the sort of grim quibble we might expect a compulsive punster
like Shakespeare to make.

Bill Lloyd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:05:47 -0500
Subject: 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0395 Teeth or Arms? A Titus Question

David Lindley quotes Titus Q and comments:

 >And Lauinia thou shalt be imployde in these Armes,
 >Beare thou my hand sweet wench betweene thy teeth.
 >
 >The first line here does not make sense, and the Folio modifies the
 >first line to end 'in these things'.

Perhaps it's best to assume that the compositor and the proofreader of Q
thought that "in these Armes" makes sense.  Titus may be ironically
alluding to the severed heads and hand as "heraldic insignia or devices"
(OED s. v. Arms. IV.14) of the Andronici.  Lavinia is invited to help
bear these "heraldic arms." Darkly comic?  You bet.

Bill Godshalk

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