The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0965 Monday, 23 May 2005
Date: Friday, 20 May 2005 12:57:31 -0400
Subject: Dating Hamlet
I am happy, once more, to clear up Don's puzzlement. Friendship was not
unknown in Medieval times, of course, but it became a cardinal virtue
for the English with the publication of Spenser's Book 4 of the FQ.
Moreover, if you look closely, the kind of friendship that Hamlet
embodies early on in the play is a real advance: he crosses the
boundaries of rank and class, as with his greeting to the players or,
earlier, at the end of 1.5 with the famous line, "Nay, come, let's go
together" (199). Erasmus posits the new Renaissance notions of kingship
with his "fable of the bees," which illustrates that a good king stays
at home and takes care of the kingdom instead of constantly waging war.
It's notable that the bishops in H5 pervert this fable completely and
use it as a spurious justification for war.
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