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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Caliban's Island
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1437  Thursday, 1 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Peter Farey <
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 >
	Date: 	Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 19:15:37 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1425 Caliban's Island

[2] 	From: 	Thomas Hunter <
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 >
	Date: 	Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 19:32:38 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1425 Caliban's Island


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Farey <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 19:15:37 +0100
Subject: 16.1425 Caliban's Island
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1425 Caliban's Island

Bill Arnold wrote:

 >A number of authors have shown Homer's The Odyssey was just such a
 >shipwrecked trip round the Mediterranean and from my reading of them
 >and The Tempest, it does seem that Will Shakespeare could have
 >borrowed from The Odyssey. Any takers of this classic linkage?

Certainly. We have had the island Stromboli mentioned a couple of times, 
and this is something I wrote to the humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare 
newsgroup a while back:

<quote>

I doubt whether Shakespeare had any specific island in mind, but I think 
he would have assumed it to be somewhere in the Tyrrhenian or 
Mediterranean Sea at least. I would suggest, however, that Greek myths 
were never far from his mind, and that this would be no exception.

Alonso was returning to Naples from Tunis, and the remote island nearest 
the mid-point between these two places is Ustica, some forty miles north 
of Palermo, Sicily.

However. also north of Sicily - but some 100 miles east of Ustica - are 
the Aeolian Islands, legendary home of Aeolus, son of Poseidon, who was 
(quoting Britannica) "controller of the winds and ruler of the floating 
island of Aeolia. In the Odyssey he gave Odysseus a favourable wind and 
a bag in which the unfavourable winds were confined. Odysseus's 
companions opened the bag; the winds escaped and drove them back to the 
island".

Robert Graves also reminds us that the Aeolian Islands bore Aeolus's 
name "being situated in a region notorious for the violence and 
diversity of its winds". They are also volcanic, two of them being 
Stromboli and Vulcano.

Now hear Prospero:

    I haue bedymn'd
    The Noone-tide Sunday, call'd forth the mutenous windes,
    And twixt the greene Sea, and the azur'd vault
    Set roaring warre: To the dread ratling Thunder
    Haue I giuen fire, and rifted Ioues stowt Oke
    With his owne Bolt: The strong bass'd promontorie
    Haue I made shake, and by the spurs pluckt vp
    The Pyne, and Cedar.

and, perhaps a memory of the 'halcyon days' created by Aeolus 
(Metamorphoses Bk XI:710-748) following 'The Tempest' (Bk XI:474-572):

    I'le deliuer all,
    And promise you calme Seas, auspicious gales,
    And saile, so expeditious, that shall catch
    Your Royall fleete farre off:

<unquote>

Peter Farey

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Thomas Hunter <
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 >
Date: 		Tuesday, 30 Aug 2005 19:32:38 EDT
Subject: 16.1425 Caliban's Island
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1425 Caliban's Island

Bill Arnold <
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 >

 >David Lindley quotes, 'Of course the Bermudas remain central to The 
Tempest'.
 >
 >Then David Lindley writes, "Sorry, no, they don't. The Bermoothes are
 >mentioned in one comment by Ariel as a place from which he was sent
 >to 'fetch dew' during a speech which refers to the ships of Alonso's
 >retinue as 'upon the Mediterranean  float'. The play is clearly set
 >somewhere between Naples and Tunis."

Yes, the text eliminates the Bermoothes (read as Bermudas).  Here is Ariel:

"...once / Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew / From the 
still-vex'd Bermoothes..."

This line cannot possibly refer to a tempest-vexed Bermoothes, for even 
Ariel would find it difficult to fetch dew in a violent storm.  The 
image here is of a Bermoothes vexed by stillness, quite opposite to an 
island amid a tempest tossed sea.  No shipwrecks here, but an absolutely 
calm sea, the dew gathering overnight on the island in the stillness.

Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

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