The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0883 Friday, 29 March 2002
Date: Friday, 29 Mar 2002 07:12:09 +0100
Subject: Antic Disposition: Question
It is a recurrent motif in revenge tragedies that revengers feign
madness before they start their revenge. Could this just be to escape
capital punishment after the deed?
Titus Andronicus, IV.4. 21ff "But if I live, his feigned ecstasies /
Shall be no shelter to these outrages, / But he and his shall know that
justice lives / In Saturninus' health..." seems to indicate this.
(feigned ecstasies / madness = legal shelter)
Does anybody know more about the punishment for murder committed in a
state of madness in Elizabethan England, ancient Rome (cf. Seneca's
tragedies) or Greece (Medea, Hercules etc.)?
I know that even today my mental health and/or my low IQ would not be
taken into consideration in many states of the US, and having read
Salgado's "Elizabethan Underworld" I am not sure whether I would have
preferred Bedlam to Newgate in Shakespeare's time, but maybe the Roman
Law was more human in this respect?
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