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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: July ::
An Allusion or a Coincidence
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0311  Monday, 26 July 2010

From:         Jack Heller <
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Date:         July 26, 2010 11:08:24 AM EDT
Subject:      An Allusion or a Coincidence

I beg that replies can be kept on-topic to this question. Much has been written 
about the nature of the friendship between Bassanio and Antonio, and Elizabethan 
discussions of friendship would certainly include the relationship between Jonathan 
and David. Consider Bassanio's lines from 1.1:
 
In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft, 
I shot his fellow of the self-same flight 
The self-same way with more advised watch, 
To find the other forth, and by adventuring both 
I oft found both: I urge this childhood proof, 
Because what follows is pure innocence. 
I owe you much, and, like a wilful youth, 
That which I owe is lost; but if you please 
To shoot another arrow that self way 
Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt, 
As I will watch the aim, or to find both 
Or bring your latter hazard back again 
And thankfully rest debtor for the first.
 
Now consider this passage from 1 Samuel 20, verses 35-42:
 
And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the 
time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, 
find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond 
him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, 
Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan 
cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the 
arrows, and came to his master. But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and 
David knew the matter. And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto 
him, Go, carry them to the city. And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of 
a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself 
three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David 
exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both 
of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between 
my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the 
city.
 
The situations are not parallel in both passages, and Bassanio's lines seem to 
reflect a common method for retrieving lost arrows. (I am rather sure I've seen the 
method mentioned in other non-Shakespearean plays.) On the other hand, I suspect 
that the play passage may be intended to recall the Jonathan and David friendship. 
What are listmembers thoughts on this? Has this been developed or discussed in any 
peer-reviewed research?
 
Jack Heller

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