The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0120 Friday, 9 February 2007
Date: Thursday, 08 Feb 2007 14:40:54 -0500
I have long been struck by Shakespeare's use of the word "atone", which
strikes me as pun on "make one" and "propitiate" in a religious sense.
The OED lists the earliest ("obsolete") uses of "attone" as meaning "to
set at one, bring into concord", with Shakespeare as first citation for
the verb, 1593, RII; also 1607 AYLI. (More had used "atonement" in this
sense much earlier). The OED claims that "atone" in the sense of make
propitiation a later usage, ie. by Glanville 1665. Yet in the Chadwyck
Bible data base, I find the following: Tyndale, Bible, 2 Cor 5 (1530-34):
"praye we you in Christes stede / that ye be atone with God." This seems
to have some evocation of the later "atone"; should the OED list it as a
Historical linguists to the rescue, please!
(The subject interests me because the dramatic uniting--at-oneing--of
warring parties, seems to evoke in S. some sense of "atoning" for the
terrible religious divisions in S.'s England)
Professor of English
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