The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0282 Thursday, 27 October 2011
Date: October 25, 2011 9:28:12 PM EDT
Subject: New Drug: Quietus!
In every episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, someone is bound to wrap his car around a tree or telephone pole. Well, that almost happened to me today upon listening to an ad for a drug called Quietus, which is supposed to help people who suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears) sleep better. I thought that’s what I’d heard, “Quietus.” I paid further attention till the word was said again, and sure enough it was “Quietus.”
This, of course, is a word that Hamlet uses in his famous "To be or not to be" speech in Act III.1. The line goes:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time...
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
The word quietus means "clearing of accounts," but Hamlet basically uses the word as a euphemism for "death blow" by bare bodkin, or unbloodied dagger, that will no longer be bare, but rather well bloodied, after the, eh hem, "clearing of accounts" with Uncle King Claudius.
I wonder if the pharmaceutical company had any idea. This nearly made me wreck my car . . .