The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0191  Friday, 5 August 2011

From:         Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:         August 3, 2011 3:12:16 PM EDT
Subject:     Re: Questions on Things Said by Jaques

On Philip Weller's query re Jaques' (II.5) threat, "I'll go sleep, if I can; if I cannot, I'll rail against all the first-born of Egypt", I suspect this is yet one more attack on baleful primogeniture conflating the high-born with the first-born, thus breeding resentment, conflict, usurpation, etc-- all leading to Jaques' restless night in the wild. Like his God of Wrath, he's prepared to smite them all. Remember Orlando's opening plaint to Oliver? "The courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you are the first-born; but the same tradition takes not away my blood, were there twenty brothers betwixt us:" Edmond couldn't have said it better. Even the Cynic Jaques may be confused with another Jaques, like Orlando, a younger son of Sir Rowland de Boys. Certain sages believed the Hebrew for the Tenth Plague victims should be translated as the "elite" or "chosen" rather than the "first-born" of Egypt. Others argued Pharaoh may himself have been first-born, deliberately left alive to suffer his humiliating defeat for the rest of his days, a witness to the power of Israel's God.
Joe Egert

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