The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0529  Tuesday, 18 March 2003

From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 17 Mar 2003 23:14:09 -0500
Subject: 14.0515 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0515 Re: Questions

At the risk of seeming obvious to those not riding a runaway horse, my
point about early modern rhetoric was that when he wrote the ending of
*Rom*,Shakespeare was engaged in poetry, not diplomacy (what practical
interest could he or his audience have had in the relationships of a
couple of dead Veronese?  what practical effect could his play have had
on the relationships of those Veroneses' descendants, or on
relationships between the Veronese and the English?) or heraldry.
Poetry (I use the term here in the broad, Aristotelian sense, Sidney's
sense in *The Defense of Poesie*), along with other kinds of highly
self-conscious uses of language, has its rules and customs: we call
these rhetoric, and the study of rhetoric was the primary activity of
early modern students in what we would now call secondary schools.
Shakespeare seems to have engaged in this study (he makes fun of it in
*LLL* and elsewhere), to remarkably good purpose; Sr.  Miriam Joseph, in
her altogether admirable *Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language*,
surveys his mastery.  Rhetorical concerns seem to me far more likely
than diplomatic or heraldic concerns to have dominated his attention at
this point.

David Evett

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