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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Syphilis
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1571  Tuesday, 20 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Peter Bridgman <
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	Date: 	Monday, 19 Sep 2005 14:18:54 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1559 Syphilis

[2] 	From: 	Arnie Perlstein <
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 >
	Date: 	Monday, 19 Sep 2005 19:25:43 -0400
	Subj: 	Re Syphilis


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Monday, 19 Sep 2005 14:18:54 +0100
Subject: 16.1559 Syphilis
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1559 Syphilis

Arnie Perlstein writes ...

 >Are your two interpretations of Sonnets 153 and 154 (both that
 >they allude to syphilis and also that they are derived from that
 >epigram) original to you?

Good heavens, no.  I got it from the Arden Sonnets 3rd Series (ed. 
Katherine Duncan Jones).

 >Can you quote in full the epigram in the 'Greek Anthology' that you 
refer to?

See the above for both a literal translation and a modern poetic 
translation by Emily Wilson (1996).

Peter Bridgman

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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 >
Date: 		Monday, 19 Sep 2005 19:25:43 -0400
Subject: 	Re Syphilis

"That is very interesting as well! Are your two interpretations of 
Sonnets 153 and 154 (both that they allude to syphilis and also that 
they are derived from that epigram) original to you? Can you quote in 
full the epigram in the 'Greek Anthology' that you refer to?"

I subsequently did quickly locate the hoary article by James Hutton 
mentioned in the old Shaksper post, which contained a translation of the 
original Greek epigram, by Marianus Scholasticus, which goes as follows:

"Beneath these plane trees, detained by gentle slumber, Love slept, 
having put his torch in the care of the Nymphs; but the Nymphs said one 
to another:

'Why wait? Would that together with this we could quench the fire in the 
hearts of men.' But the torch set fire even to the water, and with hot 
water thenceforth the Love-Nymphs fill the bath."

I also had a long look at those Sonnets, and some commentaries about it, 
in addition to Hutton's. I see I am hardly the first to find them 
extremely curious, for being so different from all the others, for being 
the last two, and for being "twins" of each other, alternative riffs on 
the same theme.

An unmistakable parallel I see to the Sonnets, which I was surprised not 
to find any prior critical commentary about (maybe I didn't search well 
enough?), is to All's Well That Ends Well, i.e., Helena (who discusses 
the pros and cons of virginity with Parolles shortly before) and her 
miraculous cure of the King's fistula.

Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

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