Thursday, September 27, 2012

Furious Fancies - Inspiration and Imitation

Inspiration/Invention (novelty, variation, 'romanticism') - Oxford, Shakespeare
Imitation - (repetition, reproduction of model (copy)) Sidney Circle, Jonson

DL Clark, Imitation

Most of what we call literary criticism in Greece and Rome was produced in an endeavor to discover the best models for imitation..


Neither Safe Nor Dull

Rhodri Lewis

In the first chapter of his Arte of English Poesie (1589), George Puttenham distinguishes between the characteristics of the poet and those of the translator, to the disadvantage of the latter. The ‘poet makes and contrives out of his own brain both the verse and the matter of his poem, and not by any foreign copy or example, as doth the translator, who therefore may well be said a versifier, but not a poet’.1 The translator, in other words, may have the linguistic and technical skills required to make poetry, but he lacks the furor poeticus that endows true poetry with its prophetic, quasi-divine, qualities. While the poet is a vates with the ability to see beyond the realm of his own experiences and to transform this vision accordingly, the translator is a slave to the literary materials in front of him. Yet, as Puttenham’s Arte makes quite clear, the dividing lines between the tasks of the poet and the translator were, in reality, a good deal more opaque than Neoplatonic grandstanding about ‘inspiration’ would suggest. After all, the rhetorical mode of education espoused by humanist pedagogues favoured imitatio above all else: one became an early modern English orator or poet by studying the examples of Demosthenes, Cicero, Homer, and Virgil. Such imitation connoted virtue, and this virtue bore the stamp both of style and subject matter, verba and res. On this model, modern writers carried over to their own times the best of ancient Athens and Rome. Take the Greek metaphora, so called because it denotes the literary technique in which one term carries the meaning of another; the Latin equivalent is translatio and rests on the same etymological root. For the early moderns, the practices of imitation fashioned a kind of cultural translation, in which ancient literary forms and topics became a metaphor through which to dignify Elizabethan England, the France of the Pléiade, and many other national or cultural traditions.

These two models of poetic endeavour – one based on inspiration, the other on imitation – sat in uneasy though generally fruitful symbiosis. Yet by the middle of the English seventeenth century they had been pulled apart, a separation that would be confirmed decisively in the years after the Restoration in 1660. This was because the visionary quality of the furor poeticus was by definition irrational, and easily contaminated by the threat of ‘enthusiasm’; as there was Restoration consensus that the civil wars had been the product of enthusiastic speech and writing, this contamination was fatal. Consequently, the imitative model of poetics – and with it, translation – came to have a new prestige and cultural importance as an antidote to such anxieties: in constraining the poet’s freedom to err, it was seen as doing important meta-literary work, and conferred an intrinsic mutuality on the literary enterprise. (By definition, the translator could not produce his work alone.) A good marker of this shift is that, as early as 1680, Dryden could rank imitation as one of the three subdivisions of translation, rather than as a discrete and often extra-poetic set of intellectual practices. One generation later, an even more vivid index of the cultural capital that had accrued to translating is that Pope was able to make himself a name and a fortune ‘translating’ works whose original language he could not read. Richard Bentley’s famous jibe that ‘It is a pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer’ captures something both of Pope’s technical shortcomings in construing ancient Greek, and of why Pope did not have to be greatly troubled by them.

Shakespeare - first heir of my INVENTION
If imitation is in some way concerned with copying or reproducing, and artistic practice that emphasizes self-expression does not discard these concerns, but attempts to copy or reproduce the self: "the romantic creates in his own image, thereby imitating himself and God". In this sense, contrary to the frequent claims of composition scholars, it may be that expressivist pedagogies do not so much abandon imitation as direct it inwards. Muckelbauer, Imitation and Invention in Antiquity, Rhetorica

Male impersonators: men performing masculinity
By Mark Simpson

According to the Greek myth Narcissus was told by the blind seer Teiresias when he was a child that he should live to a great age if he never knew himself. Narcissus grew up to be a beautiful young man but proud and haughty. An embittered youth, unrequited in his love for Narcissus, cursed him to love that which could not be obtained. One day on Mount Helicon Narcissus caught sight of his own reflection 'endowed with all the beauty that man could desire and unawares he began to love the image of himself which, although itself perfect beauty, could not return his love.' Narcissus, worn out by the futility of his love, turned into the yellow-centred flower with white petals named after him.

The myth tells us something about the relation of modern man to his own image. Narcissus is not seduced by his reflection in any common pool - he glimpses and falls in love with his reflection on Mount Helicon, the sacred mountain where Apollo, Artemis and the Muses danced: the symbolic centre of the arts. His reflection is not one of nature but an idealized image refracted through man's art. Thus his image is 'endowed with all the beauty that man could desire' and he falls in love with it. And like nineties Western man, Narcissus finds that it is a love that 'could not be obtained'.

Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 69


Because your figure pleased you too much, Narcissus, it was changed into a flower, a plant of known senselessness. Self-love is the withering and destruction of natural power which brings and has brought ruin to many learned men, who having thrown away the method of the ancients seek new doctrines and pass on nothing but their own fantasies.

Shakespeare's Sonnets - The Sonnets of Narcissus/Amorphus

Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
And all my soul and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart.
Methinks no face so gracious is as mine,
No shape so true, no truth of such account;
And for myself mine own worth do define,
As I all other in all worths surmount.
But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
Beated and chopp'd with tann'd antiquity,
Mine own self-love quite contrary I read;
Self so self-loving were iniquity.
'Tis thee, myself, that for myself I praise,
Painting my age with beauty of thy days.

Cynthia's Revels,



The Court.

THou art a Bountiful and Brave Spring, and waterest all the Noble Plants of this Island. In thee the whole Kingdom dresseth it self, and is ambitious to use thee as her Glass. Beware then thou render Mens Figures truly, and teach them no less to hate their Deformities, than to love their Forms: For, to Grace, there should come Reverence; and no Man can call that Lovely, which is not also Venerable. It is not Powd'ring, Perfuming, and every day smelling of the Taylor, that converteth to a Beautiful Object: but a Mind shining through any Sute, which needs no False Light, either of Riches or Honours, to help it. Such shalt thou find some here, even in the Reign of C Y N T H I A, (a C R I T E S and an A R E T E.) Now, under thy P H œ B U S, it will be thy Province to make more: Except thou desirest to have thy Source mix with the Spring of Self-love, and so wilt draw upon thee as welcom a Discovery of thy Days, as was then made of her Nights. Thy Servant, but not Slave,



Because your beauty gave you too much satisfaction, Narcissus, it wasturned both into a flower and into a plant of acknowledged insensibility. Self-satisfaction is the rot and destruction of the mind. Learned men in plenty it has ruined, and ruins still, men who cast off the method of teachers of old and aim to pass on new doctrines, nothing more than their own imaginings.

Timber, Jonson

{{Topic 67}} {{Subject: affected language}}

De verè Argutis.

I doe heare them say often: Some men are not witty; because they are not every where witty; then which nothing is more foolish. If an eye or a nose bee an excellent part in the face, therefore be all eye or nose? I thinke the eye-brow, the fore-head, the cheeke, chyn, lip, or any part else, are as necessary, and naturall in the place. But now no- thing is good that is naturall: Right and naturall language seeme{{s}} to have least of the wit in it; that which is writh'd and tortur'd, is counted the more exquisite. Cloath of Bodkin, or Tissue, must be imbrodered; as if no face were faire, that were not pouldred, or painted? No beauty to be had, but in wresting, and writhing our owne tongue? Nothing is fashionable, till it bee *deform'd*; and this is to write like a Gentleman All must bee as affected, and preposterous as our Gallants cloathes, sweet bags, and night dressings: in which you would think our men lay in, like Ladies: it is so curious.


‘Male deformities’: Narcissus and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels
in Ovid & the Renaissance Body

By Goran V Stanivukovic

Mario Digangi \


...In this essay I want to pursue such an analysis by focusing on Ben Jonson’s early comedy Cynthia’s Revels (1600), which offers particular insight into the social and political implications of the Narcissus myth for early modern English culture. Originally entered in the Stationer’s Register as Narcissus, or the fountain of self-love, this quirky satire of courtly manners represents Jonson’s ‘only extended use of Ovidian material.: Jonson’s uncharacteristic recourse to Ovidian subjects in Cynthia’s Revels suggests his recognition of the Narcissus myth’s theatrical viability as a vehicle for satire. While Narcissus never appears as a character in the play, the Narcissus myth provides Jonson with vivid material for exposing the transgressive bodily practices of unauthorized courtiers, especially through the character of Amorphous (“the deformed”), whose affected manners violate orthodox prescriptions for male aristocratic comportment. The play’s ridicule of courtly affectation thus accords with early modern interpretations of the Narcissus myth that primarily associate self-love not with homoerotic desire but with effeminate manners: a clear sign of social, economic and political transgression. By contrast, the virtuously ‘masculine’ comportment of the true gentleman, according to a particular strain of early modern political ideology, justifies his status and exercise of power. Exposing illegitimate courtiers as effeminate narcissists, Cynthia’s Revels reveals the importance of an ideology of ‘civilized’ masculinity to early-seventeenth-century constructions of political legitimacy.


Upon Ben: Johnson, the most excellent of Comick Poets.

Mirror of Poets! Mirror of our Age!
Which her wholE Face beholding on thy stage,
Pleas'd and displeas'd with her owne faults endures,
A remedy, like Those whom Musicke cures,
Thou not alone those various inclinations,
Which Nature gives to Ages, Sexes, Nations,
Hast traced with thy All-resembling Pen,
But all that custome hath impos'd on Men,
Or ill-got Habits, which distort them so,
That scarce the Brother can the Brother know,
Is represented to the wondring Eyes,
Of all that see or read thy Comedies.
Whoever in those Glasses lookes may finde,
The spots return'd, or graces of his minde;
And by the helpe of so divine an Art,
At leisure view, and dresse his nobler part.
*NARCISSUS conzen'd by that flattering Well,
Which nothing could but of his beauty tell,
Had here discovering the DEFORM'D ESTATE
Of his fond minde, preserv'd himselfe with hate*,
E Waller
O tempora o mores! - Cicero

Spenser, Faerie Queene

To Oxford:

To the right Honourable the Earle
of Oxenford, Lord high Chamberlayne of
England. &c.

REceiue most Noble Lord in gentle gree,
The vnripe fruit of an vnready wit:
Which by thy countenaunce doth craue to bee
Defended from foule Enuies poisnous bit.
Which so to doe may thee right well befit,
Sith th'antique glory of thine auncestry
Vnder a shady vele is therein writ,
And eke thine owne long liuing memory,
Succeeding them in true nobility:
And also for the LOVE, which thou doest beare
To th'HELICONIAN YMPS, and they to thee,
They vnto thee, and thou to them most deare:
That LOVES & honours thee, *as doth behoue*.


Rhodri Lewis:

 ...the visionary quality of the furor poeticus was by definition irrational, and easily contaminated by the threat of ‘enthusiasm’; as there was Restoration consensus that the civil wars had been the product of enthusiastic speech and writing, this contamination was fatal.Consequently, the imitative model of poetics – and with it, translation – came to have a new prestige and cultural importance as an antidote to such anxieties: in CONSTRAINING the poet’s FREEDOM to ERR, it was seen as doing important meta-literary work, and conferred an intrinsic mutuality on the literary enterprise:

Jonson, on 'constraining' Shakespeare:

He was (indeed) honest, and of an open, and free nature: had an excellent
fancy; brave notions, and gentle expressions: wherein he flowed with that facility, that
sometime it was necessary he should be STOP'D: sufflaminandus erat; as Augustus said
of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too."
From To the Deceased Author of these Poems (William Cartwright)

Jasper Mayne
For thou to Nature had'st joyn'd Art, and skill.

In Thee Ben Johnson still HELD SHAKESPEARE'S QUILL:
A QUILL, RUL'D by sharp Judgement, and such Laws,
As a well studied Mind, and Reason draws.
Thy Lamp was cherish'd with suppolied of Oyle,
Fetch'd from the Romane and the Graecian soyle. (snip)

Jonson, _Timber_

3. Imitatio. - Horatius. - Virgil. - Statius. - Homer. - Horat. -Archil. - Alcæus, &c. - The third requisite in our poet or maker is imitation, to be able to convert the substance or riches of another poet to his own use. To make choice of one excellent man above the rest, and so to follow him till he grow very he, or so like him as the copy may be mistaken for the principal. Not as a creature that swallows what it takes in crude, raw, or undigested, but that feeds with an appetite, and hath a stomach to concoct, divide, and turn all into nourishment. Not to imitate servilely, as Horace saith, and catch at vices for virtue, but to draw forth out of the best and choicest flowers, with the bee, and turn all into honey, work it into one relish and savour; make our imitation sweet; observe how the best writers have imitated, and follow them. How Virgil and Statius have imitated Homer; how Horace, Archilochus; how Alcæus, and the other lyrics; and so of the rest.


 Title: Q. Horatius Flaccus: his Art of poetry. Englished by Ben:
Jonson. With other workes of the author, never printed before Date:

...Those that are wise, a FURIOUS POET feare,
And flye to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the Leprosie, or had
The yellow jaundis, or were truely mad,
Under the angry Moon: but then the boyes
They vexe, and careless follow him with noise.
This, while he belcheth lofty Verses out,
And stalketh, like a Fowler, round about,
Busie to catch a Black-bird; if he fall
Into a pit, or hole, although he call
And crye aloud, help gentle Country-men;
There's none will take the care to help him, then, For if one should,
and with a rope make hast
To let it downe, who knowes, if he did cast
Himselfe there purposely or no; and would Not thence be sav'd,
although indeed he could;
Ile tell you but the death, and the disease
Of the Sysilian Poet, Empedocles'
He, while he labour'd to be thought a god,
Immortall, took a melancholick, odd
Conceipt, and into burning Aetna leap't.Let Poets perish that will not
be kept.

He that preserves a man against his will,
Doth the same thing with him that would him kill.
Nor did he doe this, once; if yet you can
Now, bring him back, he'le be no more a man,
Or love of this his famous death lay by.
Here's one makes verses, but there's none knows why;
Whether he hath pissed upon his Fathers grave:
Or the sad thunder-strucken thing he have,
Polluted, touch't: but certainly he's mad;
And as a Beare, if he the strength but had
To force the Grates that hold him in, would fright
All; so this grievous writer puts to flight
Learn'd, and unlearn'd; holdeth whom once he takes;
And there an end of him with reading makes:
Not letting goe the skin, where he drawes food,
Till, horse-leech like, he drop off, full of blood.


Davies, Scourge of Folly
Epig. 114

Fucus the FURIOUS POET writes but Plaies;
So, playing, writes: that’s, idly writeth all:

Yet, idle Plaies, and Players are his Staies;
Which stay him that he can no lower fall:

For, he is fall’n into the deep’st decay,
Where Playes and Players keepe him at a stay.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and FURY,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5


Shine forth, thou Star of Poets, and with RAGE
Or influence, chide or cheer the drooping stage,
Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volume's light.

Furious Medeas:
George Marcelline, 1609

Who as he (James) went to Padan-baran, or towards Denmarke, to take a wife in the Royal house of the King, how cruelly was he assayled by FURIOUS MEDEAS, and his owne chiefe Ship foulded up in stearne Tempests? Contrary Windes did afflict it, beat and drive it every where, they excited and blew the Waves, which swelled, foamed, roared, and gaped with open mouths to swallow him. And as the winds wrastled on either side, against the Mast, the sayles, and the maine yard, behold, even in labouring (with al their might) to devoure him, they proved the cause of his happy escape, and with full sayles (through all the stormes) brought him to Port Loetus, in which place, al Scotland at his return, welcommed him with singular joyfulness.

From - Les trophees du roi Iacques I. de la Grande Bretaigne, France, et Irlande. Defenseur de la foy Dressés sur l'inscription seulement, de son aduertissement, à tous les rois, princes, & potentats de la Chrestienté; confirmés par les marueilleuses actions de Dieu en sa vie. Vouez, dediez, et consacrez au tres-illustre Prince de Galles. , A Eleutheres [i.e., printed abroad] : Anée embolismale, pour la Papauté, 1609.

Date: 1609

Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 17310 Physical description: [7], 42 leaves Copy from: British Library

The triumphs of King Iames the First, of Great Brittaine, France, and Ireland, King; defender of the faith Published vpon his Maiesties aduertisement to all the kings, princes, and potentates of Christendome, and confirmed by the wonderfull workes of God, declared in his life. Deuoted, dedicated, and consecrated to the most excellent prince Henry Prince of Wales. , [London] : Printed at Brittaines Bursse, [by *William Jaggard*] for Iohn Budge, and are there to be solde,
Date: 1610


Shakespeare and the origins of English

By Neil Rhodes

The poetry of singing cannibals can always be dismissed as worthless, a barbaric inversion of the real thing, like the poetry of the bards, or Irish vulgar Latin, but I don't think this is how we are supposed to respond to Caliban's verse in The Tempest. For one, Prospero's own eloquence is deeply compromised. In the famous speech modelled on Ovid's Medea, where he demonstrates the range of his so potent art, he also demonstrates his affinities with the uncivil. Medea is not only a witch, like Sycorax, but also a barbarian. In the passage from the Metamorphoses which precedes the speech imitated by Prospero Medea decides to leave behind her father's 'barbarous land' and 'become acquainted with all the art and culture of (Greek) cities'. (p. 146)


Tom O'Bedlam - Anonymous

From the hagg and hungrie goblin
That into raggs would rend ye,
And the spirit that stands by the naked man
In the Book of Moones - defend ye!
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from your selves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon.

(Chorus; sung after every verse)

While I doe sing "any foode, any feeding,
Feedinge, drinke or clothing,"
Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
Poor Tom will injure nothing.
The Gipsie Snap and Pedro

Are none of Tom's companions.
The punk I skorne and the cut purse sworne
And the roaring boyes bravadoe.
The meek, the white, the gentle,
Me handle touch and spare not
But those that crosse Tom Rynosseros
Do what the panther dare not.

With a host of FURIOUS FANCIES
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghostes and shadowes
I summon'd am to tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wild world's end.
Methinks it is no journey.

Horace, Art of Poetry, Jonson translation

...Those that are wise, a FURIOUS POET feare,

And flye to touch him, as a man that were
Infected with the Leprosie, or had
The yellow jaundis, or were truely mad,
Under the angry Moon: but then the boyes
They vexe, and careless follow him with noise.
This, while he belcheth lofty Verses out,
And stalketh, like a Fowler, round about,
Busie to catch a Black-bird; if he fall
Into a pit, or hole, although he call
And crye aloud, help gentle Country-men;


Swift, J. A Tale of a Tub and Other Works.

When a man's fancy gets astride his reason:

Having therefore so narrowly passed through this intricate difficulty, the reader will I am sure agree with me in the conclusion, that if the moderns mean by madness, only a disturbance or transposition of the brain of certain vapours issuing up from the lower faculties, then has this madness been the parent of all those mighty revolutions that have happened in empire, in philosophy, and in religion. For the brain, in its natural position and state of security, disposeth its owner to pass his life in the common forms without any thoughts of subduing multitudes to his own power, his reasons, or his visions; and the more he shapes his understanding by the pattern of human learning, the less he is inclined to form parties after his own particular notions, because that instructs him in his private infirmities, as well as in the stubborn ignorance of the people. But when a man's fancy gets astride his reason, when imagination is at cuffs with the senses, and common understanding as well as common sense, is kicked out of doors; the first proselyte he makes is himself, and when that is once compassed the difficulty is not so great in bringing over others, a strong delusion always operating from without as vigorously as from within.





...In short, whenever you

notice that a DEGENERATE STYLE pleases the critics, you may be sure that character also has deviated from the right standard. Just as luxurious banquets and elaborate dress are indications of disease in the state, similarly a lax style, if it be popular, shows that the mind (which is the source of the word) has lost its balance. Indeed you ought not to wonder that corrupt speech is welcomed not merely by the more squalid mob but also by our more cultured throng; for it is only in their dress and not in their judgments that they differ. You may rather wonder that not only the effects of vices, but even vices themselves, meet with approval. For it has ever been thus: no man's ability has ever been approved without something being pardoned. Show me any man, however famous; I can tell you what it was that his age forgave in him, and what it was that his age purposely overlooked. * I can show you many men whose vices have caused them no harm, and not a few who have been even helped by these vices. Yes, I will show you persons of the highest reputation, set up as models for our admiration; and yet if you seek to correct their errors, you destroy them; for vices are so intertwined with virtues that they drag the virtues along with them.* (SNIP)

Some individual makes these vices fashionable - some person who controls the eloquence of the day; the rest follow his lead and communicate the habit to each other.

(note - communicate/infection - 'see thee in our waters yet appear')

Jonson, Discoveries

Censura de poetis. - Nothing in our AGE, I have observed, is more PREPOSTEROUS than the running judgments upon poetry and poets; when we shall hear those things commended and cried up for the best writings which a man would scarce vouchsafe to wrap any wholesome drug in; he would never light his tobacco with them. And those men almost named for MIRACLES, who yet are so VILE that if a man should go about to examine and correct them, he must make all they have done but one BLOT. Their good is so entangled with their bad as forcibly one must draw on the other’s death with it. A sponge dipped in ink will do all:-

“ - Comitetur Punica librum
Spongia. - ” {44a}

Et paulò post,

“Non possunt . . . multæ . . . lituræ

. . . una litura potest.”

Cestius - Cicero - Heath - Taylor - Spenser. - Yet their vices have not hurt them; nay, a great many they have profited, for they have been loved for nothing else. And this false opinion grows strong against the best men, if once it take root with the IGNORANT.


Every Man Out - Jonson

COB. Humour? mack, I think it be so indeed: what is this humour? it's some RARE thing, I warrant.

PIS. Marry, I'll tell thee what it is (as 'tis generally received in
these days): it is a MONSTER bred in a man by SELF-LOVE and affectation, and fed by folly.


Every Man Out - Revised version
Cob. Humour? mack, I think it be so indeed: what
is that Humour? some rare thing I warrant.
Cash. Mary I'll tell thee Cob: It is a Gentleman-like
Monster, bred in the special gallantry of our Time, by
Affectation; and fed by Folly.
Cob. How? must it be fed?
Cash. Oh I, Humour is nothing if it be not fed.
Didst thou never hear that? it's a common Phrase, Feed
my Humour.
Cob. I'll none on it: Humour, avant, I know you
not, be gone. Let who will make hungry Meals for
your MONSTER-SHIP, it shall not be I.


The word MONSTER derives from Latin monstrum, meaning "omen", from the
root of monere ("to warn") and also meaning "prodigy" or "MIRACLE".

Ambisinister (wrong-handed) Droeshout - Monster - Warning for the discerning at the front of First Folio. Shakespeare for Benjamin Jonson was the idol of Ignorance and Folly.

Benjamin (Hebrew) - Son of my RIGHT HAND




25 decipimur specie recti : brevis esse laboro,
obscurus fio ; sectantem levia nervi
deficiunt animique ; professus grandia target ;
serpit humi tutus nimium timidusque procellae;
qui variare cupit rem prodigialiter unam,

30 delphinum silvis appingit, fluctibus aprum.
In vitium ducit culpae fuga, si caret arte.
Aemilium circa ludum f aber imus et ungues
exprimet et molles imitabitur acre capillos,

the result of a desire for variety,
as other faults are the result of the
desire to attain to some particular
virtue of style.'

' So it is, in seeking va-
riety of ornament, that one falls
into the absurdities of which I was
speaking above.' cupit: is anx-
ious, as the desires are expressed
above by strong words, laboro,
sectantem, professus. PRODIGIA-
LITER : a rare word, perhaps coined
by Horace (cf. Epist. 2, 2, 119) ;
to be taken with variare ; ' to in-
troduce such variety as to be LIKE
A MIRACLE,' 'to be wonderfully
varied.' unam: with emphasis,
at the end of the verse and in con-
trast to prodigialiter. The in-
stances in vs. 30 are merely vivid
expressions of the thought of vss.
1 6- 1 8 and especially vs. 20 f.

De Vere Argutis - Affected language (Jonson, Timber)
Shakespeare wanted Art - Jonson

Horace Of the Art of Poetry - transl. Ben Jonson

...Most writers, noble sire and either son,
Are, with the LIKENESS OF THE TRUTH, undone.
Myself for shortness labour, and I grow
Obscure. This, striving to run smooth, and flow,
Hath neither soul nor sinews. Lofty he
Professing greatness, swells; that, low by lee,
Creeps on the ground; too safe, afraid of storm.
This seeking, in a various kind, to form
One thing PRODIGIOUSLY, paints in the woods
A dolphin, and a boar amid the floods.
So shunning faults to greater fault doth lead,

But these WAYS were not the paths I meant unto thy praise - Jonson to Shakespeare on praising the 'wrong way'.
Some men, of Bookes or Freinds NOT SPEAKING RIGHT,
May hurt them more with praise, then Foes with spight. -- Jonson

Two Magian Comedies: ‘The Tempest’ and ‘The Alchemist’

Harry Levin

If another confrontation between Shakespeare and Jonson is still allowable, then the challenger should be allowed to arm himself with one of his Latin epigraphs. So, on the title-page of Sejanus, the author warns the reader not to look for centaurs or gorgons or harpies; these particular pages will savour of man. The distich is quoted from Martial, an acknowledged kindred spirit ofJonson's, and it seems a curious point of departure for a tragedy, since Martial's epigram (x, iv) had excluded from his life-like pages such monstrous figures as Oedipus and Thyestes. Jonson cut the quotation conveniently short, yet it hints at the limitations that might emerge from a critical comparison of Sejanus or Catiline with Coriolanus or Antony and Cleopatra. For the younger playwright, always more interested in human machinations than in the workings of destiny, tragedy could be reduced to conspiracy. Hence it differed from comedy only to the extent that, in the words of the Prologue to Every Man in His Humour, crimes may differ from follies. That prologue, introducing a revision which shifted the setting from Italy to England, heralds a more realistic drama by condemning the extravagances and ineptitudes of the popular theatre. After casting an invidious glance at such rivals, and appealing for the more judicious laughter of the audience, it concludes by hoping: 'You, that haue so grae'd MONSTERS, may like men'.


Socrates - Experience of Inspiration is akin to that of 'possession'.

Southern, Pandora (1584)

SUMMARY: Ode to Oxford in John Southern’s Pandora
To the right honourable the Earl of Oxenford etc.


No, no, the high singer is he
Alone that in the end must be
Made proud with a garland like this,
And not every riming novice
That writes with small wit and much pain,
And the (God’s know) idiot in vain,
For it’s not the way to Parnasse,
Nor it will neither come to pass
If it be not in some wise fiction
And of an ingenious INVENTION,
For it alone must win the laurel,
And only the poet WELL BORN
Must be he that goes to Parnassus,
And not these companies of asses
That have brought verse almost to scorn.


1616 Folio, Jonson

Act IV, Sc V
And there’s her minion Crites! Why his advice more then Amorphus? Have
not I invention, afore him? Learning, to better that invention, above
him? And infanted, with pleasant travaile ----

(see below for Puttenham's critique of Southern's phrase 'infanted with pleasant travail.)

 2nd Folio of Shakespeare's Works (1632)
On worthy Master Shakespeare and his Poems.


...To steere th' affections; and by heavenly Fire
Mould us anew. Stolen from ourselves-
This, and much more which cannot be express`d
But by himselfe, his tongue, and his own brest,
Was Shakespeare`s freehold; which his cunning braine
Improv`d by favour of the nine-fold traine,
The buskind Muse, the Commicke Queene, the grand
And lowder tone of Clio; nimble hand,
And nimbler foote of the melodious paire,
The silver-voyced Lady the most faire
Calliope, whose speaking silence daunts,
And she whose prayse the heavenly body chants.

These gently woo`d him, envying one another,
(Obey`d by all as Spouse, but lov`d as brother),
And wrought a curious robe of sable grave,
Fresh greene, and pleasant yellow, red most brave,
And constant blew, rich purple, guiltlesse white,
The lowly Russet, and the Scarlet bright;
Branch`d and embroidred like the painted Spring,
Each leafe match`d with a flower, and each string
Of golden wire, each line of silke; there run
Italian workes whose thred the Sisters spun;
And there did sing, or seeme to sing, the choyce
Birdes of a forraine note and various voyce.


Oxford, the best at Comedy, was full of the Comic Spirit - but his critics (Jonson, Sidney circle, neo-classicists)  thought that he degraded himself by imitating 'unworthy' actions:

Drama Principles of the Poetics

It is clear that the Poetics is written by someone who takes great delight in drama, but a playwright Aristotle is not. He knows, though, what it takes to write convincingly – the poet must have as much of it as possible “before his own eyes,” in his own vivid imagination. To persuade the spectators of the play, it needs to be both written and enacted “under the influence of passion,” since one needs to be agitated oneself, to agitate others, and so forth. Thereby Aristotle concludes in the Poetics that “poetry is the province either of one who is naturally clever, or of one who is insane.”

The very basis of Aristotle’s definitions of the drama and “how fables must be composed,” is what he regards as its root: imitation (mimesis in Greek). Any kind of poetry, actually any art, is a form of imitation – what sets the art forms apart is merely with what means the imitations are made. Mankind imitates from childhood and on, Aristotle states in his Poetics, and takes delight in it – contrary to the animals. This is done primarily as a way of learning, of acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary. And we learn according to our individual stature: “men of a more venerable character imitated beautiful actions, and the actions of such men; but the more ignoble imitated the actions of depraved characters.” This driving force of imitation is mighty, since learning “is not only most delightful to philosophers, but in like manner to other persons, though they partake of it but in a small degree.” Even things upsetting or painful, “such as the forms of the most contemptible animals, and dead bodies,” men enjoy imitating – in pictures or other ways – thereby learning about them.

Aristotle does not spell out the conclusion very clearly in th Poetics, but the latter, disturbing form of imitation, gives good reason for why no poetry suffices, if only dealing with delightful things.

De Vere's 'Silver Pen' - literature of Latin Silver Age - Decadence?


Oxford as Greville and Sidney's Intemperate 'Tyrant':

Greville’s _A Dedication to Sir Philip Sidney_(originally published as _Life of Sidney_)

...And in this freedome of heart [Sidney] being one day at Tennis, a Peer of this Realm [Earl of Oxford], born great, greater by alliance, and superlative in the Princes favour, abruptly came into the Tennis- Court; and speaking out of these three paramount authorities, he forgot to entreat that, which he could not legally command. When by the encounter of a steady object, finding unrespectiveness in himself (though a great Lord) not respected by this Princely spirit, he grew to expostulate more ROUGHLY. The returns of which stile comming still from an understanding heart, that knew what was due to it self, and what it ought to others, seemed (through the MISTS of my Lords PASSIONS, SWOLN with the WINDE of his FACTION then reigning) to provoke in yeelding. Whereby, the lesse amazement, or confusion of thoughts he stirred up in Sir Philip, the more SHADOWES this great Lords own mind was POSSESSED with: till at last with RAGE (which is ever ILL-DISCIPLINED) he commands them to depart the Court. To this Sir Philip temperately answers; that if his Lordship had been pleased to express desire in milder Characters, perchance he might have led out those, that he should now find would not be driven out with any scourge of FURY. This answer (like a BELLOWS) blowing up the sparks of EXCESS already kindled, made my Lord scornfully call Sir Philip by the name of Puppy. In which progress of HEAT, as the TEMPEST grew more and more vehement within, so did their hearts breath out their perturbations in a more loud and shrill accent.

The mind is a metaphor of the world of objects - Pierre Bourdieu

Jonson - On Education and Style

For a man to write well, there are required three necessaries. To read the best authors, observe the best speakers: and much exercise of his own style. In style to consider, what ought to be written; and after what manner. He must first think and excogitate his matter; then choose his words, and examine the weight of either. Then take care in placing, and ranking both matter, and words, that the composition be comely; and to do this with diligence, and often. No matter how slow the style be at first, so it be laboured, and accurate; seek the best, and be not glad of the forward conceits, or first words that offer themselves to us, but judge of what we invent, and order what we approve. Repeat often what we have formerly written; which beside that it helps the consequence, and makes the juncture better, it quickens the heat of imagination, that often cools in the time of setting down, and gives it new strength, as if it grew lustier by the going back.


Shakespeare and the Poet's War - James Bednarz

Referring to _Every Man Out of His Humour_, James Bednarz writes:

"Thus perhaps only in the First Quarto Jonson applied personal topicality to a play whose structure was from the start anti-Shakespearean, as he added to formal innovation a parody of the man and his work. It is through this set of allusions (in what became the defining style of the Poets' War) that he *conjoined in anecdotal form the body of the poet with the body of his work*.

The Contested Body of the Earl of Oxford - 'Relation of Likeness Between Model and Copy':

First Folio continues to criticize 'deformed' Shakespeare in the style of the Poet's War, 'conjoin(ing) in anecdotal form the body of the poet with the body of his work'. Authorship problem can be solved by scrutinizing Jonson's manner of critiquing Shakespeare and viewing the First Folio matter in that light.

Not on his Picture, but his Book.

Oxford was the 'great noble man' of England that had been praised by Southern in 1584. The discussion of invention and the phrase 'infanted with pleasant travel' also appeared to be spoken by Jonson's affected courtier Amorphus in Cynthia's Revels:

 Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie (1589)


Some vices in speaches and {w}riting are always intollerable, some others now and then borne {w}ithall by licence of approued authors and custome. (snip)

Another of your intollerable vices is that which the Greekes call Soraismus, & we may call the [mingle mangle] as when we make our speach or writinges of sundry languages vsing some Italian word, or French, or Spanish, or Dutch, or Scottish, not for the nonce or for any purpose (which were in part excusable) but ignorantly and affectedly as one that said vsing this French word Roy, to make ryme with another verse, thus.

O mightie Lord or ioue, dame Venus onely ioy,

Whose Princely power exceedes ech other heauenly roy.

The verse is good but the terme peeuishly affected. Another of reasonable good facilitie in translation finding certaine of the hymnes of Pyndarus and of Anacreons odes, and other Lirickes among the Greekes very well translated by Rounsard the French Poet,
applied to the honour of a great Prince in France, comes our minion and translates the same out of French into English, and applieth them to the honour of a GREAT NOBLE MAN in ENGLAND (wherein I commend his reuerent minde and duetie) but doth so impudently robbe the French Poet both of his prayse and also of his French termes, that I cannot so much pitie him as be angry with him for his iniurious dealing (our sayd maker not being ashamed to vse these French wordes freddon, egar, superbous, filanding, celest, calabrois, thebanois and a number of others, for English wordes, which haue no maner of conformitie with our language either by custome or deriuation which may make them tollerable. And in the end (which is worst of all) makes his vaunt that neuer English finger but his hath toucht Pindars string which was neuerthelesse word by word as Rounsard had said before by like braggery. These be his verses.


¶3.22.7 Whereas the French word is enfante as much to say borne as a child, in another verse he saith.

I {w}ill freddon in thine honour.

¶3.22.8 For I will shake or quiuer my fingers, for so in French is freddon, and in another verse.

But if I {w}ill thus like pindar, In many discourses egar.

¶3.22.9 This word egar is as much to say as to wander or stray out of the way, which in our English is not receiued, not these wordes calabrois, thebanois, but rather calabrian, theban [filanding sisters] for the spinning sisters: this man deserues to be endited of pety larceny for pilfring other mens deuises from them
&  conuerting them to his owne vse, for in deede as I would wish euery inuentour which is the very Poet to receaue the prayses of his inuention, so would I not haue a translatour be ashamed to be acknowen of his translation.


This use of "Invention" lasted long after Shakespeare's day. Here is part of Alexander Pope's preface to his translation of The Iliad (1715):

HOMER is universally allow'd to have had the greatest Invention of any Writer whatever. The Praise of Judgment Virgil has justly contested with him, and others may have their Pretensions as to particular excellencies; but his Invention remains yet unrival'd. Nor is it a Wonder if he has ever been acknowledg'd the greatest of Poets, who most excell'd in That which is the very Foundation of Poetry. It is the Invention that in different degrees distinguishes all great Genius's: The utmost Stretch of human Study, Learning, and Industry, which masters every thing besides, can never attain to this. It furnishes Art with all her Materials, and without it Judgment itself can at best but steal wisely: For Art is only like a prudent Steward that lives on managing the Riches of Nature. Whatever Praises may be given to Works of Judgment, there is not even a single Beauty in them but is owing to the Invention: As in the most regular Gardens, however Art may carry the greatest Appearance, there is not a Plant or Flower but is the Gift of Nature. The first can only reduce the Beauties of the latter into a more obvious Figure, which the common Eye may better take in, and is therefore more entertain'd with. And perhaps the reason why most Criticks are inclin'd to prefer a judicious and methodical Genius to a great and fruitful one, is, because they find it easier for themselves to pursue their Observations through an uniform and bounded Walk of Art, than to comprehend the vast and various Extent of Nature.


Students were strongly encouraged to perfomr what Quintilian describes as "a thorough investigation of [an author's] good qualities" before attempting to imitate him. The importance of this thorough investigation lay not only in discerninf the writer's good qualities, but also in helping to prevent inadvertent imitation of the lesser, surface qualities. So the first danger of reproductive imitation, and one with direct links to Plato's "philosophical" concerns in the Republic, is that one might accidentally imitate only surface characteristics or ignoble qualities of one's chosen model. In order to avoid this possibility, one must scrutinize the possible model before undertaking to imitate him. Thus, the extraordinarily complex interpretive apparatus of literary criticism emerged to provide the necessary tools for undertaking such evaluation.

(Literary critic Jonson proponent of imitation pedagogy - but how could he communicate Oxford's flaws without endangering himself - speaking truth to power? used humanist method of criticizing power (figured language).

Putting the rein on Oxford:

De Oratore, Antonius relates that Isocrates applied the spur to Ephorus, but put the rein on Theompompus; for the one, who overleaped all bounds of boldness in his expression, he restrained; the other, who hesitated and was bashful, as it were, he stimulated.

'Muckelbauer writes ' scholars and teachers who have focused on stylistic, moral or process imitation are [not] uninterested in invention and novelty. Nor do they necessarily want to reproduce traditional practices and values. It is simply the case that the reproductive dynamics of imtiation are viewed as external to the creative movement of invention. Even the classical imitative system, which might so far appear to be a hermetically sealed, mechanically reproductive enterprise, was perfectly capable of accounting for and even encouraging invention.

In his Ethics, Aristotle suggests that *changes in stylistic and substantive predilections indicate advances in civilization*. --Chris Holcomb


Cicero on DECORUM
“it is inseparable from moral goodness; for what is proper is morally
right and what is morally right is proper.” (De Officiis)


In 1743, the 9th Earl of Pembroke was Henry Herbert, a fine scholar noted for his artistic and literary tastes. His father was also the grandson of Philip Herbert, husband of Susan de Vere, one of the Incomparable Brethren to whom Shakespeare's first folio was dedicated. It was Henry Herbert who commissioned an exact replica of Peter Scheemakers' statue of Shakespeare, which only two years before had been acquired for Westminster Abbey. This replicated statue is precise in every detail except one. The one exception is that the Abbey's Shakespeare is pointing to a scroll on which has been written lines taken from The Tempest (Act iv: sc 1) –

The Cloud-capp'd Towers, / The Gorgeous Palaces / The Solemn

Temples, / The Great Globe itself / Yea, all which it inherit / Shall

Dissolve; / And like the baseless Fabric of a Vision / Leave not a

rack behind. It may, perhaps, be mentioned that a change of text has taken place within the penultimate line. This should read - And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, but the sense remains unaltered.

The Wilton Shakespeare, although identical in all other respects, has the poet's finger pointing to the same scroll, but upon which appears…the immortal lines taken from Macbeth:

Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more:


Signifying NIHIL:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and FURY,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5



Empty sound, dead letter, vox et praeterea nihil; "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"; "sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal."


Nothing, naught, nil, nullity, zero, cipher, no one, nobody; never a one, ne'er a one; no such thing, none in the world; nothing whatever, nothing at all, nothing on earth; not a particle; (smallness); all talk, moonshine, stuff and nonsense; matter of no importance, matter of no consequence. thing of naught, man of straw, John Doe and Richard Roe, faggot voter; nominis umbra, nonentity; flash in the pan, vox etpraeterea nihil.

vox et praeterea nihil: A voice and nothing more; a mere sound; hence, fine words without weight or meaning.