Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Outlandish Checkered Daffodil

Snake Head Fritillary: Symbolic language of flowers - Persecution

Michael Caines – Times Literary Supplement May 19 2015
…Yet I admit I'm taken with one detail, the presence of a certain flower in "Shakespeare"'s hand: it's a snake-head fritillary, apparently, not seen in the wild in Britain until 1796, but known to Gerard in 1597: "They are greately esteemed for the beautifieng of our gardens and the bosomes of the beautifull", he wrote. To Shakespeare, they mattered, too: in Venus and Adonis, published a few years before The Herball, he has the blood of that "rose-cheek'd" victim of Venus fall to the ground and give rise to a "purple flower . . . chequer'd with white".
That would seem to be a deliberate diversion from Ovidian tradition, in which it is the anemone that springs from Adonis's blood – a slight adjustment, perhaps, since anemones can be purple, too. But variegated, "chequer'd with white"? As Miriam Jackson recently argued in Barbarous Antiquity, here is one way in which Shakespeare perhaps shows he wishes to transform the myth into "something entirely new" – by turning Adonis into an "exotic bulb, whether a fritillary or a variegated tulip", he wishes to "generate literary currency" much as exotic new bulbs did in the same period.

(bulb - self-generating)


Language of Flowers – Snake Head Frittilary - persecution

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O! how shall summer's honey breath hold out,
Against the wrackful siege of battering days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
   O! none, unless this miracle have might,
   That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

verb (transitive)
to oppress, harass, or maltreat, esp because of race, religion, etc
to bother persistently

Word Origin
C15: from Old French persecuter, back formation from persecuteur, from Late Latin persecūtor pursuer, from persequī to take vengeance upon

Miriam Jackson - Barbarous Antiquity

...Only two types of flower were described as “checkered” or speckled in early modern English botanical writing, and both were Turkish bulbs. As Burrow notes, a purple or “snake’s head” fritillary is the most likely candidate for a checkered flower, its drooping petals most closely resembling a checkerboard of dark and pale violet. This peculiarly marked flower has an equally peculiar and unfixed collection of early names. Just as botanists began hybridizing flowers in this period (like Perdita’s “pied…gillyvor”), so did they hybridize the names of newly imported flowers. Early modern botanists create composites out of two names in naming the fritillary. Henry Lyte’s translation of Dodoens calls the fritillary a “lily-narcissus,” and Gerard and John Parkinson both call it a “checquered daffodil” as well as labelling it the “Turkie or Ginny-Hen Floure” because of its speckled appearance. Gerard describes the blossom as if it were a painting itself:

Six small leaves checquered most strangely: wherein Nature, or rather the Creator of all things, hath kept a very wonderful order, surpassing (as in all other things) the curiousest painting that Art can set downe. One square is of a greenish yellow colour, the other purple, keeping the same order as well on the backside of the floure, as on the inside, although they are blackish in one square, and of a Violet colour in an other; insomuch that every leafe seemeth to be the feather of a Ginny hen, whereof it tooke his name.

Like Shakespeare’s Adonis flower, this is a “purple” flower whose petals bear a strange checkerboard pattern…
The purple fritillary is like a work of craftsmanship or a decorative object, “the curiousest painting that Art can set downe,” in other words a curiousity in nature’s cabinet, one that upsets the distinction between art and nature. As late sixteenth-century bulb propagation itself involved playing around with nature – producing more and more vibrant, painterly displays from tulips through “breaking” bulbs (actually introducing a virus into the bulb, a technique first attributed to Clusius) and cross-breeding carnations or gillyflowers – even naturally occurring patterns on bulbs themselves might have seemed like a strange mixture of natural and artificial. The tromp l’oeil Arabian courser’s formal perfection makes it more like an idealized painting than a living horse, and it makes sense that Shakespeare would choose a natural flower that looks like a painting for Adonis’s metamorphosis: the fritillary appears artificial in its natural state, just like Adonis, who is “the curious workmanship of nature”.

Author: Dodoens, Rembert, 1517-1585.
Title: A nievve herball, or historie of plantes wherin is contayned the vvhole discourse and perfect description of all sortes of herbes and plantes: their diuers [and] sundry kindes: their straunge figures, fashions, and shapes: their names, natures, operations, and vertues: and that not onely of those whiche are here growyng in this our countrie of Englande, but of all others also of forrayne realmes, commonly vsed in physicke. First set foorth in the Doutche or Almaigne tongue, by that learned D. Rembert Dodoens, physition to the Emperour: and nowe first translated out of French into English, by Henry Lyte Esquyer.
Date: 1578 

Of Tulpia / or Tulipa / Lilionarcissus sanguineus poene. Chap. lij.
¶ The Kyndes.
There be two sortes of Tulpia, a great and a small.
{flower} The Description.
[ 1] THE great Tulpia, or rather Tulipa, hath two or three leaues, which are long, thicke, and broade, and somewhat redde at their first sprin|ging vp, but after when they waxe elder they are of a whitishe greene colour, with them riseth vp a stalke, whereby the sayde leaues are somewhat aduaunced. It hath at the top a faire large & pleasant flower, of co|lour very diuers and variable, sometimes yellowe, sometimes white, or of a bright purple, sometimes of a light red, and sometimes of a very deepe red: and purised about the edges or brimmes with yellowe, white, or red, but yellow in the middle and bottome of the flower, and oftentimes blacke or speckled with blacke spottes, or mixt with white and red: most commonly without smell or sauour. The Bulbus roote is lyke the roote of Narcissus.
[ 2] The lesse Tulpia is smaller, and hath narrower leaues, and a shorter stem, the flower also is smaller, and more openly disclosed, or spread abroade. The Bulbus roote is also smaller, and may be diuided and parted in twayne or
more: when the stemme groweth vp, that which springeth in the neather part of the stalke is lyke to the stem of the great Tulpia, growing next the roote.
Tulpia maior. Great Tulpia.

Tulpia minor. Smal Tulpia.

[ 3] There is also placed with the Tulpia, a certayne strange flower, whiche is called of some  Fritillaria, whose tender stalkes are of a spanne long, with fiue or sixe litle narrowe leaues growing at the same. There groweth also a flower at the toppe of the stalke with sixe leaues, like to the leaues of Tulpia, but ben|ding or hanging downewardes, of a purple violet colour, garnished and trim|med with certayne whitishe violet markes or SPOTTES on the outside, and with blacke spottes in the inside. It hath also a bulbus or rounde roote.

{flower} The Place.
[ 1] The greater Tulpia is brought from Grece, and the Countrie about Con|stantinople.
[ 2] The lesse is founde about Mounte-pelier in Fraunce.
[ 3] Fritillaria is also founde about Aurelia in Fraunce.

 {flower} The Tyme.
They flower bytimes with the Narcissis, or a litle after.
[leaf motif] The Names.
[ 1] The greater is called both Tulpia, and Tulpian, and of some Tulipa, whiche is a Turkie name or worde, we may call it Lillynarcissus.
[ 2] The smal is called Tulipa, or Tulpia minor, that is the small Tulpian: and it is neither Hermodactylus, nor Pseudohermodactylus.

[ 3] The third is called of the Grekes and Latines, Flos Meleagris, and Meleagris flos, as a difference from a kinde of birde called also Meleagris, whose feathers be speckled lyke vnto these flowers, but not with Violet speckes, but with white & blacke spots, lyke to the feathers of the Turkie or Ginny hen, which is called Meleagris auis: some do also cal this flower  Fritillaria.

{flower} The Nature and Vertues.
The nature and vertues of these flowers, are yet vnknowen, neuerthelesse they are pleasant and beautifull to looke on.
Meleagris Flos, Fritillaria quorundam.


Author: Gerard, John, 1545-1612.
Title: The herball or Generall historie of plantes. Gathered by Iohn Gerarde of London Master in Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Iohnson citizen and apothecarye of London
Date: 1633 
THE FIRST BOOKE OF THE HISTORIE OF PLANTS: Containing Grasses, Rushes, Reeds, Corne, Flags, and Bulbous, or Onion-rooted Plants. 643Kb

 CHAP. 89. Of Turkie or Ginny-hen Floure.
[...]. Checquered Daffodill.
Frittillaria variegata. Changeable Checquered Daffodil.

¶ The Description.
1 THe Checquered Daffodill, or Ginny-hen Floure, hath small narrow grassie leaues; a|mong which there riseth vp a stalke three hands high, hauing at the top one or two floures, and sometimes three, which consisteth of six small leaues checquered most strangely: wherein Nature, or rather the Creator of all things, hath kept a very wonderfull order, surpassing (as in all other things) the curiousest painting that Art can set downe. One square is of a greenish yellow colour, the other purple, keeping the same order as well on the backside of the floure, as on the inside, although they are blackish in one square, and of a Violet colour in an other; insomuch that euery leafe seemeth to be the feather of a Ginny hen, whereof it tooke his name. The root is small, white, and of the bignesse of halfe a garden beane.
2 The second kinde of Checquered Daffodill is like vnto the former in each respect, sauing that this hath his floure dasht ouer with a light purple, and is somewhat greater than the other, wherein consisteth the difference.
†† 3 Frittillaria Aquitanica minor flore luteo obsoleto. The lesser darke yellow Fritillarie.
] [Figure:

†† 9 Frittillaria alba praecox. The early white Fritillarie.
†† There are sundry differences and varieties of this floure, taken from the colour, largenes, dou|blenesse, earlinesse and latenes of flouring, as also from the many or few branches bearing floures. We will onely specifie their varieties by their names, seeing their forme differs little from those you haue here described.
 Fritillaria maxima ramosapurpurea. The greatest branched purple checquered Daffodill.
 Fritillaria flore purpureo pleno. The double purple floured checquered Daffodill.
 Fritillaria polyanthos flauoviridis. The yellowish greene many floured checquered Daffo|dill.
 Fritillaria lutea Someri. Somers his yellow Checquered Daffodill.
 Fritillaria alba purpureo tessulata. The white Fritillarie checquered with purple.
 Fritillaria albapraecox. The early white Fritillarie or Checquered Daffodill.
10  Fritillaria minor [...] luteo absoleto. The lesser darke yellow Fritillarie.
11  Fritillaria angustifolia lutea variegata paruo flore, & altera flore majore. Narrow leaued yellow [...] Fritillarie with small floures; and another with a larger floure.
12  Fritillaria [...] pluribus floribus. The least Fritillarie with many floure Fritillaria Hispanica vmbellifera. The Spanish Fritillarie with the floures standing as it were in an vmbell.

¶ The Names.
The Ginny hen floure is called of [...], Flos Melcagris: of Lobelius, Lilio-narcissus variegata, for that it hath the floure of a Lilly, and the root of Narcissus: it hath beene called  Fritillaria, of the table or boord vpon which men play at Chesse, which square checkers the floure doth very much resemble; some thinking that it was named Fritillus:whereof there is no [...]; for Marti|alis seemeth to call Fritillus, Abacus, or the Tables whereat men play at Dice, in the fifth Booke of his Epigrams, writing to Galla.

Iam tristis, nucibus puer relictis,
Clamoso reuocatur à magistro:
Et blando malè [...] Fritillo
Arcanamodò raptus è popina
Aedilem rogat vdus aleator. &c.

The sad Boy now his nuts cast by,
Call'd vnto Schole by Masters cry:
And the drunke Dicer now betray'd
By flattring Tables as he play'd,
Is from his secret tipling house drawne out,
Although the Officer he much besought. &c.

In English we may call it Turky-hen or Ginny-hen Floure, and also Checquered Daffodill, and Fritillarie, according to the Latine.

The Temperature and Vertues.
Of the facultie of these pleasant floures there is nothing set downe in the antient or later Wri|ter, but are greatly esteemed for the beautifying of our gardens, and the *bosoms of the beautifull*.

Bosoms of the Beautiful:

Venus and Adonis - Shakespeare

By this, the boy that by her side lay kill'd
Was melted like a vapour from her sight,
And in his blood that on the ground lay spill'd,
A purple flower sprung up, chequer'd with white,
Resembling well his pale cheeks and the blood
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood.
She bows her head, the new-sprung flower to smell,
Comparing it to her Adonis' breath,
And says, within her bosom it shall dwell,
Since he himself is reft from her by death:
She crops the stalk, and in the breach appears
Green dropping sap, which she compares to tears.
'Poor flower,' quoth she, 'this was thy fathers guise--
Sweet issue of a more sweet-smelling sire--
For every little grief to wet his eyes:
To grow unto himself was his desire,
And so 'tis thine; but know, it is as good
To wither in my breast as in his blood.
'Here was thy father's bed, here in my breast;
Thou art the next of blood, and 'tis thy right:
Lo, in this hollow cradle take thy rest,
My throbbing heart shall rock thee day and night:
There shall not be one minute in an hour
Wherein I will not kiss my sweet love's flower.'
Thus weary of the world, away she hies,
And yokes her silver doves; by whose swift aid
Their mistress mounted through the empty skies
In her light chariot quickly is convey'd;
Holding their course to Paphos, where their queen
Means to immure herself and not be seen.

Author: Lovell, Robert, 1630?-1690.
Title: Pambotanologia. Sive Enchiridion botanicum. Or A compleat herball containing the summe of what hath hitherto been published either by ancient or moderne authors both Galenicall and chymicall, touching trees, shrubs, plants, fruits, flowers, &c. In an alphabeticall order: wherein all that are not in the physick garden in Oxford are noted with asterisks. Shewing their place, time, names, kindes, temperature, vertues, use, dose, danger and antidotes. Together with an [brace] introduction to herbarisme, &c. appendix of exoticks. Universall index of plants: shewing what grow wild in England. / By Robert Lovell St. C.C. Ox.
Date: 1659 
Fritillarie.  Fritillaria.
  • P. It groweth in gardens and meadowes.
  • T. It flowreth in March and Aprill.
  • N. Lilium variegatum. Flos meleagris Dod.
Fritillarie. Ger. J. K. as the lesser darke yellow, and early white, with the checquered, and CHANGEABLE checquered daffodill. T. V. serve onely to adorne and beautify the garden, and are not yet used in medicine. Bauh. The smell of the black Fritillarie is unpleasant and stinking, and neere unto that of stinking Glad|don. The white is not yet written of, as to any physicall use: so Clusius, and Bauhinus.

Author: Parkinson, John, 1567-1650.
Title: Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris. or A garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permitt to be noursed vp with a kitchen garden of all manner of herbes, rootes, & fruites, for meate or sause vsed with vs, and an orchard of all sorte of fruitbearing trees and shrubbes fit for our land together with the right orderinge planting & preseruing of them and their vses & vertues collected by Iohn Parkinson apothecary of London 1629.
Date: 1629 
Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris. or A garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers which our English ayre will permitt to be noursed vp 2181Kb
CHAP. IV. The nature and names of diners Out-landish flowers, that for their pride, beauty, and earlinesse, are to be planted in Gardens of pleasure for delight. 15Kb

CHAP. IV. The nature and names of diners OUT-LANDISH FLOWERS, that for their pride, beauty, and earlinesse, are to be planted in Gardens of pleasure for delight.
HAuing thus formed out a Garden, and diuided it into his fit and due proporti|on, with all the gracefull knots, arbours, walkes, &c. likewise what is fit to keepe it in the same comely order, is appointed vnto it, both for the borders of the squares, and for the knots and beds themselues; let vs now come and furnish the inward parts, and beds with those fine flowers that (being strangers vnto vs, and giuing the beauty and brauery of their colours so early before many of our owne bred flowers, the more to entice vs to their delight) are most beseeming it: and namely, with Daffo|dils, FRITILLARIAS, Iacinthes, Saffron-flowers, Lillies, Flowerdeluces, Tulipas, Anemo|nes, French Cowslips, or Beares eares, and a number of such other flowers, very beau|tifull, delightfull, and pleasant, hereafter described at full, whereof although many haue little sweete sent to commend them, yet their earlinesse and exceeding great beau|tie and varietie doth so farre counteruaile that defect (and yet I must tell you with all, that there is among the many sorts of them some, and that not a few, that doe excell in sweetnesse, being so strong and heady, that they rather offend by too much than by too little sent, and some againe are of so milde and moderate temper, that they scarce come short of your most delicate and dantiest flowers) that they are almost in all places with all persons, especially with the better sort of the Gentry of the Land, as greatly desired and accepted as any other the most choisest, and the rather, for that the most part of these Out-landish flowers, do shew forth their beauty and colours so early in the yeare, that they seeme to make a Garden of delight euen in the Winter time, and doe so giue their flowers one after another, that all their brauery is not fully spent, vntil that Gilliflowers, the pride of our English Gardens, do shew themselues: So that whosoeuer would haue of euery sort of these flowers, may haue for euery moneth seuerall colours and varieties, euen from Christmas vntill Midsommer, or after; and then, after some little respite, vn|till Christmas againe, and that in some plenty, with great content and without forcing; so that euery man may haue them in euery place, if they will take any care of them. And because there bee many Gentlewomen and others, that would gladly haue some fine flowers to furnish their Gardens, but know not what the names of those things are that they desire, nor what are the times of their flowring, nor the skill and knowledge of their right ordering, planting, displanting, transplanting, and replanting; I haue here for their sakes set downe the nature, names, times, and manner of ordering in a briefe manner, referring the more ample declaration of them to the worke following. And first of their names and natures: Of Daffodils there are almost an hundred sorts, as they are seuerally described hereafter, euery one to be distinguished from other, both in their times, formes, and colours, some being eyther white, or yellow, or mixt, or else being small or great, single or double, and some hauing but one flower vpon a stalke, others many, whereof many are so exceeding sweete, that a very few are sufficient to perfume a whole chamber, and besides, many of them be so faire and double, eyther one vpon a stalke, or many vpon a stalke, that one or two stalkes of flowers are in stead of a whole nose-gay, or bundell of flowers tyed together. This I doe affirme vpon good knowledge and certaine experience, and not as a great many others doe, tell of the wonders of an|other world, which themselues neuer saw nor euer heard of, except some superficiall relation, which themselues haue augmented according to their owne fansie and con|ceit. Againe, let me here also by the way tell you, that many idle and ignorant Gardi|ners and others, who get names by stealth, as they doe many other things, doe call some of these Daffodils Narcisses, when as all know that know any Latine, that Nar|cissus is the Latine name, and Daffodill the English of one and the same thing; and therefore alone without any other Epithite cannot properly distinguish seuerall things. I would willingly therefore that all would grow iudicious, and call euery thing by his proper English name in speaking English, or else by such Latine name as euery thing hath that hath not a proper English name, that thereby they may distinguish the seue|rall varieties of things and not confound them, as also to take away all excuses of mista|king; as for example: The single English bastard Daffodill (which groweth wilde in many Woods, Groues, and Orchards in England.) The double English bastard Daffo|dill. The French single white Daffodill many vpon a stalke. The French double yel|low Daffodill. The great, or the little, or the least Spanish yellow bastard Daffodill, or the great or little Spanish white Daffodill. The Turkie single white Daffodill, or, The Turkie single or double white Daffodill many vpon a stalke, &c. Of  Fritillaria, or the checkerd Daffodill, there are halfe a score seuerall sorts, both white and red, both yel|low and blacke, which are a wonderfull grace and ornament to a Garden in regard of the CHECKER LIKE SPOTS are in the flowers.

Author: Ogilby, John, 1600-1676.
Title: Africa being an accurate description of the regions of AEgypt, Barbary, Lybia, and Billedulgerid, the land of Negroes, Guinee, AEthiopia and the Abyssines : with all the adjacent islands, either in the Mediterranean, Atlantick, Southern or Oriental Sea, belonging thereunto : with the several denominations fo their coasts, harbors, creeks, rivers, lakes, cities, towns, castles, and villages, their customs, modes and manners, languages, religions and inexhaustible treasure : with their governments and policy, variety of trade and barter : and also of their wonderful plants, beasts, birds and serpents : collected and translated from most authentick authors and augmented with later observations : illustrated with notes and adorn'd with peculiar maps and proper sculptures / by John Ogilby, Esq. ...
Date: 1670 
Close by the Fort of Good-Hope, on a Mountain call'd, The Vineyard, the Ne|therlanders have Planted forty thousand Vine-stocks, which all at this day send forth lusty Sprouts and Leaves, and bear Grapes in such abundance, that some|times they press Wine of them: They have there also Peaches, Apricocks, Ches|nuts, Olive-Trees, and such like Fruits.
There grow wild upon the Mountains, and in the Valleys, and on the banks of the Rivers, manyother sorts of Plants; as among the rest a peculiar sort of Tulips, Sempervive,  Fritillaria, or Speckled Lillies, Penny-Wort, or Dragon-Wort with sharp pointed Leaves, Sorrel with knotted Roots, and white Blossoms.
The Tulip bears a bole bigger than ones fist, having thick Shells,  but of a faint smell. The Blossom that shoots out before the Leaves in April, of a very high red colour, appearing very gloriously, and hath five broad, long, and thick Leaves; within having whitish red Stripes, and at the end a round Stalk of a span long, streak'd and speckled with purple upon a white ground. It grows upon the Mountains.
The Sempervive or House-Leek, hath Leaves almost a finger thick, whitish green, and as big almost as the Palm of ones Hand. The  Fritillaria, or the SPECKLED NARCISSUS, which some reckon as a sort of Denti|laria, or Eminie; hath in stead of Leaves, Sprouts of a fingers length, thick and juicy, with sharp and round broken edges like Teeth, of a pale purple above, and underneath green: At the Leaves comes a flower that hath five limber Leaves, sharp at the ends, with a high Crown or Tuft in the middle, hollow within, inclosing another flower, which hath also five Leaves, all yellow, but of a dark-brown at the ends, with some very red standards in the middle: this Plant hath no smell, and grows upon barren and Sandy Mountains.

Jonson, Pans Anniversary 

Shepherd: Well done, my pretty ones; rain roses still,
Until the last be dropped. Then hence, and fill
Your fragrant prickles for a second shower;
Bring corn-flag, tulips and Adonis’ flower,
Fair ox-eye, goldilocks and columbine,
Pinks, goulands, king-cups and sweet sops-in-wine,
Blue harebells, paigles, pansies, calaminth,
Flower-gentle, and the fair-haired hyacinth;
Bring rich carnations, flower-de-luces, litlies,
The CHECKED and purple-ringed DAFFODILLIES…


Echo’s Lament of Narcissus:

  • Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears:
    Yet, slower, yet; O faintly, gentle springs:
    List to the heavy part the music bears,
    Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
    Droop herbs, and flowers,
    Fall grief in showers,
    Our beauties are not ours;
    O, I could still,
    Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
    Drop, drop, drop, drop,
    Since nature's pride is now, a WITHERED DAFFODIL.
    • Cynthia's Revels (1600), Act I, scene i.

  • *********************************
 Jonson, Discoveries

De vere argutis. - I do hear them say often some men are not witty,
because they are not everywhere witty; than which nothing is more
foolish.  If an eye or a nose be an excellent part in the face,
therefore be all eye or nose!  I think the eyebrow, the forehead, the
cheek, chin, lip, or any part else are as necessary and natural in the
place.  But now nothing is good that is natural; RIGHT and NATURAL
LANGUAGE seems to have least of the WIT in it; that which is writhed
and tortured is counted the more exquisite.  Cloth of bodkin or tissue
must be embroidered; as if no face were fair that were not powdered or
painted! no beauty to be had but in wresting and writhing our own
tongue!  Nothing is fashionable till it be DEFORMED; and this is to
write like a gentleman.  All must be affected and preposterous as our
gallants' clothes, sweet-bags, and night-dressings, in which you would
think our men lay in, like ladies, it is so CURIOUS. 

Speckled/Spotted Narcissus:

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
But Vertue too, as well as Vice is clad,
In flesh and blood so well, that Plato had
Beheld what his high Fancie once embrac'd,
Vertue with colour, speech and motion grac'd.
The sundry Postures of Thy copious Muse,
Who would expresse a thousand tongues must use,
Whose Fates no lesse peculiar then thy Art,
For as thou couldst all characters impart,
So none can render thine, who still escapes,
Like Proteus in variety of shapes,
Who was nor this nor that, but all we finde,
And all we can imagine in mankind.
E. Waller 

‘Male deformities’: Narcissus and the Reformation of Courtly Manners in Cynthia’s Revels
in Ovid & the Renaissance Body
 By Goran V Stanivukovic
Mario Digangi
...N 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*.



'TIs growne almost a danger to speake true
Of any good minde, now: There are so few.
The bad, by number, are so fortified,
As what th'haue lost t'expect, they dare deride.
So both the prais'd, and praisers suffer: Yet,
For others ill, ought none their good forget.
I, therefore, who professe my selfe in loue
With euery vertue, wheresoere it moue,
And howsoeuer; as I am at fewd
With sinne and vice, though with a throne endew'd;
And, in this name, am giuen out dangerous
By arts, and practise of the vicious,
Such as suspect them-selues, and thinke it fit
For their owne cap'tall crimes, t'indite my wit;
I, that haue suffer'd this; and, though forsooke
Of Fortune, haue not alter'd yet my looke, 
Or so my selfe abandon'd, as because 
Men are not iust, or keepe no holy lawes
Of nature, and societie, I should faint;
Or feare to draw true lines, 'cause others paint·
I, Madame, am become your praiser. Where,
If it may stand with your soft blush to heare,
Your selfe but told vnto your selfe, and see
In my character, what your features bee,
You will not from the paper slightly passe:
No lady, but, at some time, loues her glasse.
And this shall be no false one, but as much
Remou'd, as you from need to haue it such.
Looke then, and see your selfe. I will not say
Your beautie; for you see that euery day:
And so doe many more. All which can call
It perfect, proper, pure, and naturall·
Not taken vp o'th'doctors, but as well
As I, can say, and see it doth excell.
That askes but to be censur'd by the eyes:
And, in those outward formes, all fooles are wise.
Nor that your beautie wanted not a dower,
Doe I reflect. Some alderman has power,
Or cos'ning farmer of the customes so,
T'aduance his doubtfull issue, and ore-flow
A Princes fortune: These are gifts of chance,
And raise not vertue; they may vice enhance.
MY MIRROR is more subtile, cleere, refin'd,
And takes, and giues the BEAUTIES OF THE MIND.
Though it reiect not those of FORTVNE: such
As bloud, and match. Wherein, how more then much
Are you engaged to your happy fate,
For such a lot! that mixt you with a state
Of so great title, birth, but vertue most,
Without which, all the rest were sounds, or lost.
'Tis onely that can time, and chance defeat:
For he, that once is good, is euer great.
Wherewith, then, Madame, can you better pay
This blessing of your starres, then by that way
Of vertue, which you tread? what if alone?
Without companions? 'Tis safe to haue none.
In single paths, dangers with ease are watch'd:
Contagion in the prease is soonest catch'd.
This makes, that wisely you decline your life,
Farre from the maze of custome, error, strife,
And keepe an euen, and vnalter'd gaite;
Not looking by, or backe (like those, that waite
Times, and occasions, to start forth, and seeme)
Which though the turning world may dis-esteeme,
Because that studies spectacles, and showes,
And after varyed, as fresh obiects goes,
Giddie with change, and therefore cannot see
Right, the right way: yet must your comfort bee
Your conscience, and not wonder, if none askes
For truthes complexion, where they all weare maskes.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Tempestuous Grandlings and the Levity of Greeklings

Posted to hlas May 7 2015

Jonson - Speech According to Horace: 

In Politick, and Militar Affairs; 
But he that should perswade, to have this done 
For Education of our LORDLINGS; Soon 
Should he hear of Billow, Wind, and Storm, 
From the TEMPESTUOUS GRANDLINGS, who'll inform 
Us, in our bearing, that are thus, and thus, 
Born, bred, allied? what's he dare tutor us? 
Are we by Book-worms to be aw'd? must we 
Live by their Scale, that dare do nothing free? 


Lordlings/Tempestuous Grandlings/Greeklings/Graeculus: 

Slavery and Social Death 
Orlando Patterson 

…The Roman attitude towards the Greeks changed in just the opposite direction.  By the start of the second century BC, “no Greek could help being distressed by the almost universal contempt shown, at least in public utterances, toward his nation. In stark contrast to the identification of the Roman name with good faith among the Greeks, the term Graeca fides among the Romans came to mean uncreditworthiness. The Greek classicist Nicholas Petrochitos has made a special study of Roman attitudes toward the Greeks, and his findings fully support my argument. The Romans, he shows, soon developed a set of stereotypes about the Greeks, which centered on what they considered to be the six main failings of the Greek character: (1) volubitas, a tendency to prefer formal facility in speech to substance: (2) ineptia, a proclivity for inappropriate or excessive behaviour, a readiness to elaborate on subjects of which they knew nothing; (3) arrogantia and impudentia, related according to Cicero to “irresponsibility, deceitfulness and an aptitude for flattery”; (4) deceitfulness, singled out as a particularly unpleasant trait; (5) a weakness for excessive luxury and ostentation. But it was the sixth quality that the Romans most despised: LEVITAS.  Embracing “aspects of instability, rashness and irresponsibility,” it connoted “absence of good faith, honour and trustworthiness” and was a “prominent element in the popular conception of Greek character. Cicero, in a celebrated case, tried to win support for his plea by impugning the credibility of the Greek witnesses on this basis, and Petrochitos comments that LEVITAS here is that lack of credibility which is the consequence of subordinating standards of honour and duty to personal and unworthy motives, and it is attributed by Cicero to the Greeks as a people.” The Romans made a point of contrasting the traditional Roman qualities of GRAVITAS and dignitas with the Greek LEVITAS. 
Finally, it was from the relationship between Roman master and Greek slave that the diminutive graeculus came, especially from the household context in which the Greek slave performed the role of tutor. The tutor may have been admired for his intellectual excellence, but the affection was always tinged with contempt. The term graeculus seems to have suggested “Greek unmanliness” and also “general WORTHLESSNESS.” Petrochitos concludes: “Graeculus is thus a word of unique type, a diminutive formed from an ethnic name; it reflects the special quality of the relationship of Roman and Greek; by nature of being a diminutive it can express a variety of attributes from the mildly patronizing to the openly contemptuous. 

(you in me can nothing WORTHY prove) 


Cynthia's Revels, Jonson 

Amorphus/Grandling/Maniera. ... 

For, let your Soul be as- sur'd of this (in any rank, or profession whatever) the more general, or major part of *OPINION* goes with the 
Face, and (simply) respects nothing else. Therefore 
if that can be made exactly, curiously, exquisitely, 
thorowly, it is enough. 



Amy Richlin -- 

 Effeminate actio repels him (Quintilian) Inst. 4.2.390: 'They bend their voices and incline their necks and flail their arms against their sides and act sext (lasciviunt) in their whole style of subject matter, words and composition; finally, what is like a monstrosity (monstro), the actio pleases, while the case is not intelligible.' 
 In an extended passage (2.5.10-12), he [Quintilian] complains that 'corrupt and vice-filled ways of speaking' (corruptas et vitiosas orationes) find popular favour out of the moral degradation of their audience; they are full of what is 'improper, obscure, swollen, vulgar, dirty, sext, effeminate' (impropria, obscura, tumida, huilis, sordida, lasciva, effeminate). And they are praised precisely because they are 'perverse' (prava). Instead of speech that is 'straight' (rectus) and 'natural' (secundum naturam), people like what is 'bent' (deflexa). He concludes with a lengthy analogy between the taste for such speech and admiration for bodies that are 'twisted' (distortis) and 'monstrous' (prodigiosis) - even those that have been 'depilated and smoothed', adorned with curled hair and cosmetic, rather than deriving their beauty from 'uncorrupted nature' (incorrupta natura).'The result is that is seems that beauty of the body comes from bad morals.' 
  The bad body, in Quintilian's book, is that elsewhere associated with the cinaedus [catamite]; bad speech is effeminata, good speech is 'straight' and natural, tallying with the common assertion that the actions of the cinaedus are 'against nature'. The effeminate body stands both by metonymy and synecdoche for the kind of speech that Quintilian rejects; bad speech is both like such bodies and produced by such bodies. 


'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed, 
When not to be receives reproach of being; 
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed 
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing: 
For why should others' false adulterate eyes 
Give salutation to my sportive blood? 
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies, 
Which in their wills count bad what I think good? 
No, I am that I am, and they that level 
At my abuses reckon up their own: 
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel; 
By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown; 
   Unless this general evil they maintain, 
   All men are bad and in their badness reign. 


Greeklings - arrogantia and impudentia 

or, when thy socks were on, 
Leave thee alone for the comparison 
Of all that *insolent* Greece or *haughty* Rome 
Sent forth, or since did from their ashes come. 


From late 17th century French effronterie, from effronté (“shameless, insolent”), from Old French esfronté, fromVulgar Latin *exfrontātus. Compare Latin effrons (“barefaced”), from the prefix ex- (“from”) + frōns (“forehead”). 

Antony and Cleopatra 
You are too indulgent. Let us grant, it is not 
Amiss to tumble on the bed of Ptolemy; 
To give a kingdom for a mirth; to sit 
And keep the turn of tippling with a slave; 
To reel the streets at noon, and stand the buffet 
With knaves that smell of sweat: say this 
becomes him,— 
As his composure must be rare indeed 
Whom these things cannot blemish,—yet must Antony 
No way excuse his soils, when we do bear 
So great weight in his LIGHTNESS. If he fill'd 
His vacancy with his voluptuousness, 
Full surfeits, and the dryness of his bones, 
Call on him for't: but to confound such time, 
That drums him from his sport, and speaks as loud 
As his own state and ours,—'tis to be chid 
As we rate boys, who, being mature in knowledge, 
Pawn their experience to their present pleasure, 
And so rebel to judgment. 


To our English Terence, Mr. Will. Shake-speare. 

Some say (good Will) which I, in sport, do sing, 
Had'st thou not plaid some Kingly parts in sport, 
Thou hadst bin a companion for a King; 
And, beene a King among the meaner sort. 
Some others raile; but, raile as they thinke fit, 
Thou hast no railing, but a raigning Wit: 
And honesty thou sow'st, which they do reape; 
So, to increase their Stocke which they do keepe. 

Count (male) or countess (female) is a title in European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey an approximate rank intermediate between the highest and lowest titles of nobility.[1] The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning “companion”, and later “companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor”. The adjective form of the word is "comital". The British and Irish equivalent is an earl (whose wife is a "countess", for lack of an English term). 


A Speech according to Horace. --Jonson 


And could (if our great Men would let their Sons 
Come to their Schools,) show 'em the use of Guns. 
And there instruct the noble English Heirs 
In Politick, and Militar Affairs; 
But he that should perswade, to have this done 
For Education of our LORDLINGS; Soon 
Should he hear of Billow, Wind, and Storm, 
From the TEMPESTUOUS GRANDLINGS, who'll inform 
Us, in our bearing, that are thus, and thus, 
Born, bred, allied? what's he dare tutor us? 
Are we by Book-worms to be aw'd? must we 
Live by their Scale, that dare do nothing free? 
Why are we Rich, or Great, except to show 
All licence in our Lives? What need we know? 
More then to praise a Dog? or Horse? or speak 
The Hawking Language? or our Day to break 
With Citizens? let Clowns, and Tradesmen breed 
Their Sons to study Arts, the Laws, the Creed: 
We will believe like Men of our own Rank, 
In so much Land a year, or such a Bank, 
That turns us so much Monies, at which rate 
Our Ancestors impos'd on Prince and State. 
Let poor Nobility be vertuous: We, 
Descended in a Rope of Titles, be 
From Guy, or Bevis, Arthur, or from whom 
The Herald will. Our Blood is now become, 
Past any need of Vertue. Let them care, 
That in the Cradle of their Gentry are; 
To serve the State by Councels, and by Arms: 
We neither love the Troubles, nor the harms. 
What love you then? your Whore? what study? Gate, 
Carriage, and Dressing. There is up of late 
The ACADEMY, where the Gallants meet —— 
What to make Legs? yes, and to smell most sweet, 
All that they do at Plays. O, but first here 
They learn and study; and then practise there. 
But why are all these Irons i' the Fire 
Of several makings? helps, helps, t' attire 
His Lordship. That is for his Band, his Hair 
This, and that Box his Beauty to repair; 
This other for his Eye-brows; hence, away, 
I may no longer on these PICTURES stay, 
These Carkasses of Honour; Taylors blocks, 
Cover'd with Tissue, whose prosperity mocks 
The fate of things: whilst totter'd Vertue holds 
Her broken Arms up, to their EMPTY MOULDS. 


Jonson, Discoveries 

Aristotle. - Plato. - Homer. - Nor is the moving of laughter always the end of comedy; that is rather a fowling for the people' s delight, or their fooling. For, as Aristotle says rightly, the moving of laughter is a fault in comedy, a kind of turpitude that depraves some part of a man's nature without a disease. As a wry face without pain moves laughter, or a deformed vizard, or a rude clown dressed in a lady' s habit and using her actions; we dislike and scorn such representations which made the ancient philosophers ever think laughter unfitting in a wise man. And this induced Plato to esteem of Homer as a sacrilegious person, because he presented the gods sometimes laughing. As also it is divinely said of Aristotle, that to seen ridiculous is a part of DISHONESTY, and foolish. 

The wit of the old comedy. - So that what either in the words or sense of an author, or in the language or actions of men, is awry or depraved does strangely stir mean affections, and provoke for the most part to laughter. And therefore it was clear that all *insolent and obscene* speeches, jests upon the best men, injuries to particular persons, perverse and sinister sayings (and the rather unexpected) in the old comedy did move laughter, especially where it did imitate any DISHONESTY, and SCURRILITY came forth in the place of wit, which, who understands the nature and genius of laughter cannot but perfectly know. 

Aristophanes. - Plautus. - Of which Aristophanes affords an ample harvest, having not only outgone Plautus or any other in that kind, but expressed all the moods and figures of what is ridiculous oddly. In short, as vinegar is not accounted good until the wine be corrupted, so jests that are true and natural seldom raise laughter with the beast the multitude. *They love nothing that is right and proper. The farther it runs from reason or possibility with them the better it is*. 

Socrates. - Theatrical wit. - What could have made them laugh, like to see Socrates presented, that example of all good life, honesty, and virtue, to have him hoisted up with a pulley, and there play the philosopher in a basket; measure how many foot a flea could skip geometrically, by a just scale, and edify the people from the engine. This was theatrical wit, right stage jesting, and relishing a playhouse, invented for scorn and laughter; whereas, if it had savoured of equity, truth, perspicuity, and candour, to have tasted a wise or a learned palate, - spit it out presently! this is bitter and profitable: this instructs and would inform us: *what need we know any thing, that are nobly born, more than a horse-race, or a hunting- match, our day to break with citizens, and such innate mysteries? * 

The cart. - This is truly leaping from the stage to the tumbril again, reducing all wit to the original dung-cart. 

The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes, 
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please, 
But antiquated and deserted lie, 
As they were not of Nature's family. 


_Mirth Making_, Chris Holcomb 

In his Ethics, Aristotle suggests that changes in stylistic and substantive predilections indicate advances in civilization. While enumerating the differences between the jesting of a buffoon and a witty gentleman, Aristotle compares each character type to Old and New Comedy, respectively: "The difference (between a buffoon and a gentleman) may be seen by comparing the old and modern comedies; the earlier dramatists found their fun in obscenity, the modern prefer innuendo, which marks a great advance in decorum; (4.8.6). This comparison suggest that smutty humor is less civilized than the more refined humor delivered through innuendo. (footnote pp. 199-200) 

William Cartwright 

...Shakespeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lyes 
I'th Ladies questions, and the Fooles replyes; [70] 
OLD FASHION'D WIT, which walkt from town to town 
In turn'd Hose, which our fathers call'd the CLOWN; 
Whose wit our nice times would OBSCEANNESS call, 
And which made BAWDRY passe for Comicall: 
Nature was all his Art, thy veine was FREE 
As his, but without his SCURILITY; 

morally pure, unpolluted, spotless, guiltless, virtuous 

E  P  I  G  R  A  M  S .  Jonson 

PLAYWRIGHT me reads, and still my verses damns, 
He says I want the tongue of epigrams ; 
I have no salt, no bawdry he doth mean ; 
For witty, in his language, is obscene. 
Playwright, I loath to have thy MANNERS known 
In my CHASTE book ; profess them in thine own. 


Ascham, The Scholemaster

Some ignorant, vnlearned, and idle student, or some busie looker vpon this litle poore booke, that hath neither will to do good him selfe, nor skill to iudge right of others, but can lustelie contemne, by pride and ignorance, all painfull diligence and right order in study, will perchance say that I am to precise, to curious, in marking and piteling thus about the imitation of others; and that the olde worthie Authors did neuer busie their heades and wittes in folowyng so preciselie, either the matter what other men wrote, or els the maner how other men wrote. They will say it were a plaine slauerie, and iniurie to, to shakkle and tye a good witte, and hinder the course of a mans good nature, with such bondes of seruitude, in folowyng other.



Mirth Making. The Rhetorical Discourse on Jesting in Early Modern England 

Chris Holcomb 

...Associations between social status and certain forms of jesting appear as early as the Nicomachean Ethics, where Aristotle classifies different modes of jesting according to three social types: the boor, the buffoon, and the witty man of tact. Aristotle has little to say about boorish men except that they never say "anything funny themselves and take offense at those who do" (4.8.3) Instead, Aristotle dwells on differences between the buffoon and man of wit, and in differentiating these two social types, he associates indecorous jests with those of the lower-class buffoon and decorous ones with those of a gentleman. 'Those who go to excess in ridicule are thought to be buffoons or VULGAR FELLOWS, who itch to have their joke at all costs, and are more concerned to raise a laugh than to keep within the bounds of decorum' (4.8.3). The buffoon often jests in a 'servile' and often obscene fashion (4.8.5-6), he 'cannot resist a joke,' he will 'not keep his tongue off himself or anyone else, if he can raise a laugh,' and he 'will say things which a man of refinement would never say' (4.8.10). Those 'who jest with good taste,' by contrast, will say 'only the sort of things that are suitable to a virtuous man and a gentleman; (4.8.5). They prefer to jest by way of 'innuendo, which marks a great advance in decorum,' and they will never stoop so low in their jesting as to say anything 'unbecoming to a gentleman' (4.8.6-7). The line Aristotle draws here is not simply one between the indecorous and decorous; it is also one between the lower and upper classes. And while Aristotle couches his distinctions in more or less descriptive (although elitist) terms, they do have prescriptive force. If a speaker is to show himself as a 'man of refinement,' he must limit his jesting behaviours and avoid the excesses of the buffoon. 

Cicero and Quintilian adopt Aristotle's method of classifying decorous and indecorous jests along class lines, and they both use the buffoon and well-bred man of tact to define forms of jesting befitting an orator (the boor, as often happens in everyday life, is left out of their discussions of jesting). But they add to the ranks of the buffoon (or SCURRA, in Latin) a cast of characters familiar from the Roman stage, street performances, and entertainments provided at a gentleman's dinner party - characters including the mime (mimus), pantomime (ethologus), and clown (sannio). Cicero says that 'an orator must avoid each of two dangers: he must not let his jesting become buffoonery or mere mimicking (scurrilis...aut mimicus)' (2.58.239). Like Aristotle's buffoon, the Latin scurra violates proprieties of time. Cicero says he jests "from morning to night, and without any reason at all" (2.60.245). He also shows no restraint in his selection of objects of ridicule, and his jests, like a scattergun, will often strike 'unintended victims' (2.60.245). He will even turn himself into an object of ridicule if he thinks he can raise a laugh (Quintilian, 6.3.82). Most important, the scurra is a member of the lower classes, a parasite who would often perform at a gentleman's dinner party for table scraps, and his antics almost always bespoke his lowly position. For all of these reasons, especially the last, Cicero and Quintilian repeatedly insist that orators avoid all likeness to buffoons, and toward this end, they offer a set of strictures limiting the jesting practices of orators so that those practices accord with the orator's gentlemanly status. With respect to proprieties of time, Cicero says, "Regard then to occasions, control and restraint of our actual raillery, and economy in bon-mots, will distinguish an orator from a buffoon (oratorem a scurra)" (2.60.247). As we have seen, orators should also be careful in their selection of comic butts and avoid targeting the excessively wretched or wicked and the well-beloved. Moreover, they must never turn themselves into objects of laughter for, as Quintilian says, "To make jokes against oneself is scarcely fit for any save professed buffoons and is strongly to be disapproved in an orator" (6.3.82). Presumable, orators should keep the audience's laughter off themselves and direct it only at their opponents. Above all, the orator should only jest in ways that befit a gentleman or liberalis. He should avoid obscenities in his jesting, which are 'not only degrading to a pubic speaker, but also hardly sufferable at a gentleman's dinner party (convivio liberorum)' (De oratore, 2.61.252), and 'scurrilous or brutal jests, although they may raise a laugh, are quite unworthy of a gentlman (liberali)' (Quintilian, 6.3.83). In an allusion to his famous formulation or the orator as a GOOD MAN, or vir bonus, skilled in speaking, Quintilian sums up his attitudes toward buffoonery, a summation that will serve for Cicero's views on the subject as well: 'A good man (vir bonus) will see that everything he says is consistent with his dignity and the respectability of his character (dignitate ac verecundia); for we pay too dear for the laugh we raise if it is at the cost of our own integrity (probitatis)' (6.3.35). (Holcomb,pp.39-40) 



Latin probitas HONESTY, probity, uprightness. 


"To My Book" by Ben Jonson 

It will be looked for, book, when some but see 
Thy title, Epigrams, and named of me, 
Thou should'st be bold, licentious, full of gall, 
Wormwood, and sulphur, sharp, and toothed withal; 
Become a petulant thing, hurl ink, and wit, 
As madmen stones: not caring whom they hit. 
Deceive their malice, who could wish it so. 
And by thy wiser temper, let men know 
Thou are not covetous of least self-fame. 
Made from the hazard of another's shame: 
Much less with lewd, profane, and beastly phrase, 
To catch the world's loose laughter, or VAIN gaze. 
*He that DEPARTS with his own HONESTY 
For VULGAR PRAISE, doth it too dearly buy.* 

The Ways of Vulgar Praise: 

To draw no envy, Shakespeare, on thy name, 
Am I thus ample to thy book and fame; 
While I confess thy writings to be such 
As neither man nor muse can praise too much; 
'Tis true, and all men's suffrage. BUT THESE WAYS 
WERE NOT the paths I meant unto thy praise; 
For seeliest ignorance on these may light, 
Which, when it sounds at best, but echoes right; 
Or blind affection, which doth ne'er advance 
The truth, but gropes, and urgeth all by chance; 
Or crafty malice might pretend this praise, 
And think to ruin, where it seem'd to raise. 
These are, as some infamous bawd or whore 
Should praise a matron; what could hurt her more? 
But thou art proof against them, and indeed, 
Above th' ill fortune of them, or the need. 
I therefore will begin. Soul of the age! 
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage! 
My Shakespeare, rise! 

Sweet Swan of Avon: 

The idea of ancient literary criticism 

By Yun Lee 

...In his treatise On Style, Demetrius declares that figured language must be employed if somebody wishes to address and to criticize either a tyrant or a powerful individual, and he advocates this as a middle course between flattery, which is base, and direct criticism, which is dangerous. Ahl notes, in an essay entitled 'The Art of Safe Criticism', that Quintilian, Vespasian's imperial rhetorician, subsequently elaborates Demetrius' account of the political use of figured language at Institutio oratoria 9.2.66. Quintilian sets out three different occasions on which figured language, which he defines as language that is changed from its most obvious and uncomplicated usage by poetic or oratorical usage (9.1.13), may be employed. The first of these concerns when it is dangerous to speak openly; the second concerns propriety - where the Latin 'it is not fitting/suitable ('non decet' ) perhaps renders the Greek 'improper' (aprepes); while the third advocates the use of figured language where the novelty of such structures may produce delight and pleasure. Of these three occasions, the first is the most obviously political, and what Quintilian proposes is a need for the author inquestion to tread warily around authority, particularly as author and political leader may be at odds. The following section of the works suggests that the rhetorician has in mind the empire, figured as tyranny: he cites the use of rhetorical figures in school exercises which require pupils to produce speeches to instigate rebellion against despots without speaking too plainly to tyrants. (9.2.67). 

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. Cestius, in his time, was preferred to Cicero, so far as the ignorant durst.  They learned him without book, and had him often in their mouths; but a man cannot imagine that thing so foolish or rude but will find and enjoy an admirer; at least a reader or spectator.  The puppets are seen now in despite of the players; Heath' s epigrams and the Sculler' s poems have their applause.  There are never wanting that dare prefer the worst preachers, the worst pleaders, the worst poets; not that the better have left to write or speak better, but that they that hear them judge worse; Non illi pejus dicunt, sed hi corruptius judicant.  Nay, if it were put to the question of the water- rhymer' s works, against Spenser' s, *I doubt not but they would find more suffrages; because the most favour common vices, out of a prerogative the VULGAR have to lose their judgments and like that which is naught.* 
Poetry, in this latter age, hath proved but a mean mistress to such as have wholly addicted themselves to her, or given their names up to her family.  They who have but saluted her on the by, and now and then tendered their visits, she hath done much for, and advanced in the way of their own professions (both the law and the gospel) beyond all they could have hoped or done for themselves without her favour.  Wherein she doth emulate the judicious but preposterous bounty of the time' s grandees, who accumulate all they can upon the parasite or fresh-man in their friendship; but think an old client or honest servant bound by his place to write and starve. 
Indeed, the multitude commend writers as they do fencers or wrestlers, who if they come in robustiously and put for it with a deal of violence are received for the braver fellows; when many times their own rudeness is a cause of their disgrace, and a slight touch of their adversary gives all that boisterous force the foil.  But in these things the unskilful are naturally deceived, and judging wholly by the bulk, think rude things greater than polished, and scattered more numerous than composed; nor think this only to be true in the sordid multitude, but the neater sort of our gallants; for all are the multitude, only they differ in clothes, not in judgment or understanding. 


Horace, of the Art of Poetrie 

transl. Ben Jonson 

If to Quintilius, you recited ought: 
Hee'd say, Mend this, good friend, and this; "Tis naught. 
If you denied, you had no better straine, 
And twice, or thrice had 'ssayd it, still in vaine: 
Hee'd bid, blot all: and to the anvile bring 
Those ill-turn'd Verses, to new hammering. 
Then: If your fault you rather had defend 
Then change. No word, or worke, more would he spend 
Alone, without a rivall, by his will. 

A wise, and honest man will cry out shame 
On artlesse Verse; the hard ones he will blame; 
Blot out the careless, with his turned pen; 
Cut off superfluous ornaments; and when 
They're darke, bid cleare this: all that's doubtfull wrote 
Reprove; and, what is to be changed, not: 
Become an Aristarchus. And, not say, 
Why should I grieve my friend, this TRIFLING WAY? 
These trifles into serious mischiefs lead 
The man once mock'd, and suffered WRONG TO TREAD. 

Jonson to ‘Shakespeare’ 

For though the poet's matter nature be, 
His art doth give the fashion; and, that he 
Who casts to write a living line, must sweat, 
(Such as thine are) and strike the second heat 
Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the same 
(And himself with it) that he thinks to frame, 
Or, for the laurel, he may gain a scorn; 
For a good poet's made, as well as born; 
And such wert thou. 


Amanda Bailey, Flaunting: Style and the Subversive Male Body in Renaissance England 

Scribbled in Inigo Jones's sketchbook are his dismissive comments about the continental trend in art and architecture that promoted artifizioso over sprezzatura. Disapproving of the hyperbole of maniera, he argues that just as 'outwardly every wyse man carrieth a GRAVITI  in Publicke in architecture, ye outward ornaments oft [ought] to be sollid, proporsionable according to the rules, masculine and unaffected. Aiming to create visual forms that would inculcate in their onlookers 'virtues of sobriety' and the desire to lead a 'well-ordered life,' Jones strove to produce forms 'purged of all the licentious ornament of Michelangelo and his mannerist followers.' Not surprisingly, he devoted his energies to reining in the court masque, which as a theatrical genre served as the 'most comprehensive manifestation of mannerism' on the continent. Even though intermedio were in high fashion at the Medici court, where grand spectacles offered audiences a smorgasbord of visual marvels through the presentation of opulent stage costumes and elaborate scenery, Jonson and Jones collaborated to tame the disruptive elements of this 'audacious' art form. In the 1611 masque Oberon, The Faery Prince, for instance, Jonson transforms the satyr Silenus, and obese older man with a penchant for young boys, into a harmless pedagogue and master of the revels. Along similar lines, the young boys, who are described as bejewelled with fairy bracelets, pearls, garlands, ribbons, and posies, do not stand out as objects of decadent desire but become seamlessl y absorbed into the conventional symbolism of the masque. (p.85) 
Oxford appears as Sidney's unnamed 'mighty opposite' in Greville's 'Life of Sidney' (Greville was hereditary Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon') - 

Greville - Life of Sidney 
Neither am I (for my part) so much in love with this life, nor believe so little in a better to come, as to complain of God for taking him [Sidney], and such like exorbitant WORTHYness from us: fit (as it were by an Ostracisme) to be divided, and not incorporated with our corruptions: yet for the sincere affection I bear to my Prince, and Country, my prayer to God is, that this WORTH, and Way may not fatally be buried with him; in respect, that both before his time, and since,experience hath published the usuall discipline of greatnes to have been tender of it self onely; making honour a triumph, or rather trophy of desire, set up in the eyes of Mankind, either to be worshiped as IDOLS, or else as Rebels to perish under her glorious oppressions. Notwithstanding, when the PRIDE of FLESH, and power of favour shall cease in these by death, or disgrace; what then hath time to register, or FAME to publish in these great mens names, that will not be offensive, or infectious to others? What Pen without BLOTTING can write the story of their deeds? Or what Herald blaze their Arms without a blemish? And as for their counsels and projects, when they come once to light, shall they not live as noysome, and loathsomely above ground, as their Authors carkasses lie in the grave? So as the return of such greatnes to the world, and themselves, can be but private reproach, publique ill example, and a fatall scorn to the Government they live in. Sir Philip Sidney is none of this number; for the greatness which he affected was built upon true WORTH; esteeming Fame more than Riches, and Noble actions far above Nobility it self. 


Trophies and Monuments- Philip a borderline 'grandling'? 
Written to Philip Herbert after the death of his brother William: 

Chaffinge, Thomas, ca. 1581-1646. 

Title: The iust mans memoriall Date: 1630 

My Lord, let me take the boldnesse to tell you, that the eyes of the world are fastned on you; you cannot bee hid, your actions are not done in a corner, notice will be taken of all your counsels, and your counsellors, men are big with the expectation of you, and blame them not that they should be so, especially of you, who (besides others of your Illustrious Stocke and Linage well known) have had so pious and religious an Aeneas to your brother, and so famous and valiant a Hector to your Unckle. 
Et Frater Aeneas, & Avunculus excitet: 

Let the piety and goodnes of the one, and the valour and Chevalry of the other, serve as so many silver Watch-bels in your eares, to awaken you to all Honourable and Noble atchievements. Miltiades Trophees would not let Themistocles sleepe. Neither let the matchless Trophees and Monuments of their glory, suffer your eyes to sleepe, or your eye-lids to slumber: but bee rather as spurres to set you forward in the couragious prosecution of all good causes for Gods Glory andthe Church. O bee not idle in the Imitation of them, whose image you not onely beare, but whose part also you are; so shall not After-ages in the storying of their glorious Annals, shut up yours, with a *Degeneremq: Neoptolemum*.(note - Burton, Melancholy - degeneres Neoptolemi) 

To live in the face of a glorious Court, where your eyes are daily fill'd, as with Magnificence, so with Vanity; yet you shall doe well, otherwise, to cast them aside from such Gorgeous Spectacles, and sticke them in the shrowds and winding-sheetes of the dead. Nothing shall more humble you then this, and so nothing lift you neerer Heaven then this!