The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0504  Thursday, 6 December 2012


From:        Ian Steere <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         December 6, 2012 3:48:45 AM EST

Subject:     The Venus and Adonis Dedication


I have some respondents. Thank you.


Let me recap on the key points from my primary post.

  1. The overtly obsequious Dedication contains a pervasive theme of insult and rebuke. It is invisible to anyone who (quite reasonably) is expecting a eulogy.
  2. It is extremely unlikely that this occurred by chance. That WS was also a master word-player brings the probability of deliberate punning to near 100%.
  3. The existence and content of the hidden theme point to an intimate relationship by WS with Wriothesley, which had turned sour.

My respondents have not tackled the reasoning behind any of the above points. However, they have raised other issues.


Gabriel Egan criticizes some of the descriptions in my second post for being inappropriate. I apologize, Sir, for my baiting. Your analysis of Elizabethan sexual identity is, as you point out, debatable. However, that debate belongs in a separate thread. 


You go on to say that you just don’t see the theme in 1 above. A rendition of that theme is provided in the primary post and it would be more helpful if you would identify where any of that rendition is unreasonable and why.


Larry Weiss asks why would WS incorporate a hidden message which only he would understand? I thought I had provided a reasonable scenario. He was evidently angry and frustrated with Wriothesley (see 3 above) and this was a uniquely satisfactory way of sticking up a finger at the cause of his distress (a person whom he could not take to task within the public eye). Like a disgruntled waiter spitting into the hamburger of his objectionable customer, who then proceeds to consume the mixture without anyone (but the waiter) being the wiser.


As for remaining on good terms with Wriothesley, presumably the main cause of Shakespeare's angst disappeared between the dedications of V & A and Lucrece


William Sutton asks whether a distant family relationship between Shakespeare and HW might have triggered the patronage. I suppose so, but I have no informed views on this aspect.  


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