Sunday, January 6, 2019

Oxford, Shakespeare and the Crime of Hypocrisy

Merriam Webster

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.
The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others. (Hypocrite gained its initial h- by the 16th century.)
It took a surprisingly long time for hypocrite to gain its more general meaning that we use today: “a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.” Our first citations for this use are from the early 1700s, nearly 500 years after hypocrite first stepped onto English’s stage.


Literary Mirrors of Aristocratic Performance: Readers and Audiences of The Faerie Queene and The Winter's Tale. 
In The Winter's Tale, moments of recognition—here Leontes's new tragic understanding, and later the realization that Perdita and Hermione are alive—make the literariness of the play overt, both connecting the play to literary tradition and suggesting a correspondence between watching the play and reading a book. With its very title, The Winter's Tale points to its own fictionality, encouraging in its audience a "consciousness of artifice" especially in its recognition scenes. The recognition of Perdita in particular not only prompts the audience to become aware of its own participation in the drama, but also, as this essay will demonstrate, reproduces the literary self-consciousness of a parallel moment in The Faerie Queene. While the self-referential nature of Spenser's insistently fictional poem has been frequently explored, it has not yet been appreciated how the metapoetic treatment of Pastorella's recognition encourages readers to see the relationship between the author's fashioning of the text *and the fictions at work in aristocratic identity*. In so doing, I suggest, it serves as an important example for Shakespeare. Though Robert Greene's 1588 Pandosto more closely anticipates the plot of The Winter's Tale, The Faerie Queene shares with Shakespeare's play a preoccupation with simultaneously making and debunking the case for the superiority of inherited nobility, making it a more fundamental source than has been previously acknowledged. Especially in the book of Courtesy, which has clear textual connections to The Winter's Tale, the readers' interrelated tasks of decoding courteous self-presentation, recognizing nobility, and teasing out the relationship between natural gentility and literary artfulness come to the fore. As Spenser's narrator depicts the recognition of Pastorella at the end of book 6, he too acknowledges the conventionally literary nature of his plot, drawing attention to the fictions at work in contemporary courtiership as well as anticipating Shakespeare's own socially aware recourse to outrageous artfulness in Perdita's reported recognition in The Winter's Tale. The recognitions of Pastorella and Perdita are, I argue, opportunities for both Spenser and Shakespeare to show the difficulty of establishing noble identity by pointing toward their own authorial roles as fiction makers. In self-consciously presenting fictions about the obviousness of gentle blood, they evoke the English elite's awareness of how supposedly natural noble identity may problematically depend on artifice. And just as Spenser and Shakespeare point toward their own artistry in metapoetic and metatheatrical moments, their texts spur readers and audiences to question their own relationship to the story and to recognize how their responses render the work meaningful. Even as recognition scenes emphasize the fictional nature of the text, they also denaturalize gentle identity by prompting readers and audiences to make a connection between the texts' literary performances and aristocratic role playing.
Spenser and Shakespeare addressed audiences who were very attuned to the tensions in courtesy, and their works both show the symptoms of these tensions and contribute to an ongoing Renaissance discussion about how nature, especially family bloodline, and individual actions, which might include varying degrees of feigning, determine nobility. While most writers of courtesy manuals accepted the value of noble blood to a greater or lesser degree, precisely in debating the relative value of a gentle lineage they suggest a growing cultural doubt even when the importance of noble ancestry is defended. In so doing they speak to a readership that included, as Frank Whigham has argued, both aristocrats who sought to "maintain their preeminence" and others who sought to challenge that preeminence through the new possibilities of "social mobility." In depicting the recognition of nobly born characters, The Faerie Queene and The Winter's Tale prompt readers and audiences of various social stations to consider the relationship between the literary text and contemporary discussions of aristocratic identity.
As they staged the debate about the relative importance of noble blood, Renaissance authors depicted the proper relationship between inherited titles and individual achievement in a variety of ways. In Annibale Romei's dialogue Courtiers Academie (published in English translation in 1598), Signor Varrani insists that nobility depends on "the vertue of our progenitors" (196), but he also presents the opposing view, championed by "philosophers," that nobility of birth is irrelevant (187–89).[19] In John Ferne's 1586 dialogue The Blazon of Gentrie, Paradin the Herald privileges a combination of gentle lineage and earned merit (15) while criticizing those who would prefer a wicked man with noble blood to an upstart virtuous man. He refers dismissively to the sole reliance on "bare and rude title of noblenesse" as he asserts that individual worth should take precedence over those who "can but onely shew vs a long succession of their name" (19). Even as Paradin emphasizes the value of an aristocratic bloodline, he denigrates the sufficiency of bloodline alone, with other characters, such as Columell the Plowman, going further in saying that aristocratic blood is unimportant. In TheWinter's Tale, Polixenes expresses a view similar to Ferne's Paradin when he tells Camillo, "As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto / Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns / Our gentry than our parents' noble names, / In whose success we are gentle" (1.2.387–90).[21] In his commendatory sonnet to the 1595 English translation of Giovanni Battista Nenna's Nennio, or a Treatise on Nobility, a text that still more strongly disputes the importance of gentle blood, Spenser sharply rejects the relevance of "painted shewes & titles vaine" to "true Nobility." To varying degrees, all of these writers bring into question the relationship between inherited family gentility and individual virtue; ancient family histories do not have a definitive correspondence to current identities.
The most frequently reprinted courtesy book of the English Renaissance, and a touchstone for Spenser and Shakespeare, Castiglione's Book of the Courtier underscores the value of hidden artfulness, emphasizing the effect that the courtier's self-fashioning will have on those around him. In his now-famous definition of sprezzatura, Count Ludovico describes the need to "conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it. And I believe much grace comes of this: because everyone knows the difficulty of things that are rare and well done; wherefore facility in such things causes the greatest wonder [maraviglia]" (1.26). The courtier creates "wonder" in his social audience by disguising his efforts in virtuoso displays of courtesy; Ludovico goes on to assert the need for concealment, declaring, "Therefore we may call that art true art which does not seem to be art; nor must one be more careful of anything than of concealing it," and "So you see how art, or any intent effort, if it is disclosed, deprives everything of grace" (1.26). Wayne Rebhorn has linked the courtier's self-presentation to a whole culture of performance. I would emphasize here that Castiglione's use of the term maraviglia is especially resonant for the stage as well as literature, both of which may inspire wonder. While Castiglione's text counsels the aspiring courtier to avoid "affectation" (1.27), however, "affectation" was also a common feature of the Renaissance stage. Indeed, the theatrical genre most concerned with wonder—romance—is also the genre in which artfulness is made most explicit. At the same time that The Book of the Courtier suggests that social art should be hidden, the imaginative texts of Spenser and Shakespeare make a point of calling attention to their artistry in their explorations of courtesy. Book 6 of The Faerie Queene foregrounds the narrator's vexed relationship with his readers, while The Winter's Tale has an abundance of metatheatrical moments in which characters make direct reference to the stage as a place of fictional art. Rejecting the techniques of sprezzatura, both Spenser and Shakespeare create metapoetic moments in which their own literary creation is the primary focus, yet they do so with some difference in tone and effect.


Author: Boccalini, Traiano, 1556-1613.
Title: I ragguagli di Parnasso, or, Advertisements from Parnassus in two centuries : with the politick touch-stone / written originally in Italian by that famous Roman Trajano Bocalini ; and now put into English by the Right Honourable Henry, Earl of Monmouth.
Date: 1656

The Censors of Parnassus, having by order from Apollo, published a rigorous Edict against Hypocrites, are forced to moderate it, by reason of a weighty particuler discovered unto them by Plato.
THe publike Censors of this Court, having learnt for certain, that a kind of goodness which is lately discovered in some of the Litterati of Parnassus, is but a composure of artificial appearances, and real falshood, and that hellish hypocrisie gets every day more footing in mens minds, to the end that all Parnassus may not be infected with so contagious a disease, published by order from his Majesty, a severe Edict six days ago against Hypocrites. And is it not a great wonder that Plato himself who is held by all the Vertuosi of Parnassus to be the true Idea of all purity and sincerity, and the very pattern of goodness, should presently appear before the Censors Tribunal, and openly opposing himself to the Edict which was so generally well received, saying with his wonted freedom, that through the manifest ignorance of modern men, in judging upon the true condition of mens manners, it was a very pernitious resolution which was tane in Parnassus, to extirpate all that Hypocrisie, by which in these unfortunate times, even good men were forced to keep up their reputation; for plain-dealing men, people of open hearts and cleer mindes, enemies to cunning and double dealing, who in former times were honored and admired like so many Demi-gods, were so far from being well esteemed of in this present Age; as to speak the naked truth, and to proceed in all a mans actions with sincerity, were nor esteemed good nor vertuous things, but rather scurrility, a relaxed life, a licentious way of proceeding, an unpolisht behaviour; wherefore even the best men, and those that formerly walked
in the approved way of bene vivere, & Latari, and who appeared to be capital Enemies to Hypocrisie, yet that they might by so wicked a vice maintain that credit and reputation, which they saw they lost by living honestly, were much against their will inforc'd to use Hypocrisie. The Censors did so much approve of this Counsel given by Plato; as they soon embraced it, and by a new Edict which they published, complained, that in this so depraved Age, to the calamity of good men, and great good fortune of knaves and varlets, words freely, and merily spoken in publike by jovial people, were more censured, then all the wickedness done in Privat by modern Hypocrites; wherefore Apollo, (though much against his will) granted leave to all gallant people of whatsoe|ver sex to use, without incurring any punishment, the four-scoreth part of one grain of fine Hypocrisie.

Apollo finding that his having allowed the use of the 80 part of one grain of hypocrisie to his Vertuosi, had wrought very bad effects, does not only recall that his favour by publick Edict, but thunders out exceeding severe punishments against hypocrites.
YOu heard by our former expresses, That the gallant men of this Court, who follow the noble Rule of Bene Vivere & Laetari, not being sufficiently informed of the malice and wickedness of those false hypocrites, who by way of loose life, and corrupted customs, have the li|berty of speaking from their hearts, were by Plato's means perswaded to desire leave of the Censors, that they might make use of a little hypocrisie; which they obtained with very bad consequence; for they soon were aware that hypocrisie is like a contagious disease, never so little whereof spreads soon over the whole body: A disorder which those gallant men which have been spoken of, found to be very true: Who though they did strangely abhor so lewd a vice, and consequently bore a mortal hatred to hypocrites, yet that eightieth part of one grain of hypocrisie which they took, was sufficient to infect, in a few daies, all their sincere and plain dealing. For they grew so in love with the credit and reputation which they got by that seeming modesty, and counterfeit devotion and charity, as they gave themselves wholly over, both in soul and body, in prey to that horrid vice, which but a little before they did so much detest: And all this with such disorder to the affairs of this State, as in a short time whole Parnassus was nothing but hypocrisie. As soon as Apollo found this inconvenience, he resolved by all means possi|ble, to extirpate so venemous a plant by the very root from out his State. And knowing that cankers, and fistulated wounds must be c|red by fire and razor, he forthwith fell upon an extraordinary piece of rigor; for on Tuesday morning he caused an Edict to be published in the place appointed for such purposes, whereby he strictly commanded eve|ry one that was subject to his Jurisdiction, That within three daies he should cleanse his soul from that wicked filth of hypocrisie; declaring, That from that time forward, he did annul and make void that permission which a little before was by his Censors granted to gallant men, of the use of the eightieth part of one grain of hypocrisie: And that those three daies being over, which he peremptorily prescribed as the utmost limit of time to all men; all such as should be found guilty of so infamous a fault, should not only be declared open enemies to all vertue, uncapable or any fame or glory, or of ever acquiring any honour, but he declared them to the whole world, to be viperous creatures, shamelesly infamous; and that by all the Plenipotentiary power which he had over his Vertuosi, he declared them from that time forward to be grosly ignorant. Moreover, that so horrid a monster should for the time to come, be for ever banished from out his Vertuosi, and be by them detested and abhorred; he commanded that those who should be known to be guilty of so fowle a fault, might without any punishment to the inflicters, be shamed, vituperated, and rendred infamous; as putrified members, fit to be amputated from the body of the Literati, by Satyrical Poets with their biting Verses, by Orators with their stinging invectives, and by all the Vertuosi, with all sorts of weapons apt to derogate from the same of any man: And that not only all Section of illegible textnds and sorts of testimony, how weak soever, should serve for full proof against any one that was impeached of so wicked a fact, but that it should be lawfull for any man to bastenado, or stone one who was noted for an hypocrite, though it were but by suspition, or any other remote cause: And that to be much scandalized at matters of small moment; to speak much of charity, without ever giving any alms; to wear a threadbare Cloke, and yet be very rich; to appear poor in publick, and yet live plentifully at home; to be damnably avaricious, and yet boast of Angelical devoutness: to speak slow, and with a weak voice, and under colour of finding fault with publick vices, to speak bitterly against particular men; to bow the head with much humility, and yet to have a proud mind; and to preach that to others, which it was plainly seen that they themselves did not practice; should be esteemed and reputed sufficient proofs to condemn any one of such a vice.
The better sort of the Literati of this State, thought this his Majesties Edict too severe; who to secure their lives and reputations from the ignorance of the meaner sort of people, who are not wise enough to discern between true and counterfeit goodness, presented themselves be|fore Apollo, whom they desired that wicked hypocrites might be severe|ly punished, but so as that good and honest men might not incur the danger of being hardly dealt with; and they said that Judicial Astrologers, and hypocrites, were a certain race of men, who were alwaies banisht, and yet every place abounded with them; not for that Princes wanted Authority to extirpate them out of their Countries, but for that those very Princes who did prohibit them, did nourish and foment them; and that the only cure for hypocrisie was, That Princes should love, cherish, inrich, and exalt such as being ambitious of glory, thirsting after riches, and desirous of their good will, who affected those things out of meer worth and merit; and that they should suffer great hypocrites, who covered their devilish pride with the cloke of humility, an unquenchable thirst after gold, with a vail of poverty, and execrable ambition of dominiering over the whole world, by seeming to despise the world; to live in their condition of appearing humility, of feigned poverty, counterfeit solitariness, and retired life: A Councel whereby Princes would be sure to keep from erring; for if piety, humility, contempt of worldly vanities, which some do so much boast of, were realities, and things done from the heart, they would by this way of proceeding, give men their own delights, when they should be justly punished by their own false weapons, it being very true, that Princes could not better discover hypocrites, then by suffering them (like Oysters) to stew in their own water.

 Ben Jonson

T  H  E     F  O  R  E  S  T .           

'Tis grown almost a danger to speak true
Of any good mind, now ; there are so few.
The bad, by number, are so fortified,
As what they have 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 profess myself in love
With every virtue, wheresoe'er it move,
And howsoever ;  as I am at feud

With sin and vice, though with a throne endued,
And, in this name, am given out dangerous
By arts, and practice of the vicious,
Such as suspect themselves, and think it fit,
For their own capital crimes, to indict my wit ;
I that have suffer'd this ;  and though forsook
Of fortune, have not alter'd yet my look,
Or so myself abandon'd, as because
Men are not just, or keep no holy laws
Of nature and society, I should faint ;
Or fear to draw true lines, 'cause others paint :
I, madam, am become your praiser ;  where,
If it may stand with your soft blush, to hear
Yourself but told unto yourself, and see
In my character what your features be,
You will not from the paper slightly pass :
No lady, but at some time loves her glass.
And this shall be no false one, but as much
Remov'd, as you from need to have it such.
Look then, and see your self — I will not say
Your beauty, for you see that every day ;
And so do many more :  all which can call
It perfect, proper, pure, and natural,
Not taken up o' the doctors, but as well
As I, can say and see it doth excel ;
That asks but to be censured by the eyes :
And in those outward forms, all fools are wise.
Nor that your beauty wanted not a dower,
Do I reflect.   Some alderman has power,
Or cozening farmer of the customs, so
To advance his doubtful issue, and o'erflow
A prince's fortune :  these are gifts of chance,
And raise not virtue ;  they may vice enhance.
My mirror is more subtle, clear, refined,
And.takes and gives the beauties of the mind ;
Though it reject not those of fortune :  such
As blood, and match.  Wherein, how more than much
Are you engaged to your happy fate,
For such a lot !  that mixt you with a state
Of so great title, birth, but virtue most,
Without which all the rest were sounds, or lost.
'Tis only that can time and chance defeat :
For he that once is good, is ever great.
Wherewith then, madam, can you better pay
This blessing of your stars, than by that way
Of virtue, which you tread ?   What if alone,
Without companions ?  'tis safe to have none.
In single paths dangers with ease are watch'd ;
Contagion in the press is soonest catch'd.
This makes, that wisely you decline your life
Far from the maze of custom, error, strife,
And keep an even, and unalter'd gait ;
Not looking by, or back, like those that wait
Times and occasions, to start forth, and seem.
Which though the turning world may disesteem,
Because that studies spectacles and shows,
And after varied, as fresh objects, goes,
Giddy with change, and therefore cannot see
Right, the right way ;  yet must your comfort be
Your conscience, and not wonder if none asks
For truth's complexion, *where they all wear masks*.
Let who will follow fashions and attires,
Maintain their liegers forth for foreign wires,
Melt down their husbands land, to pour away
On the close groom and page, on new-year's day,
And almost all days after, while they live ;
They find it both so witty, and safe to give.
Let them on powders, oils, and paintings spend,
Till that no usurer, nor his bawds dare lend
Them or their officers ;  and no man know,
Whether it be a face they wear or no.
Let them waste body and state ;  and after all,
When their own parasites laugh at their fall,
May they have nothing left, whereof they can
Boast, but how oft they have gone wrong to man,
And call it their brave sin : for such there be
That do sin only for the infamy ;
And never think, how vice doth every hour
Eat on her clients, and some one devour.
You, madam, young have learn'd to shun these shelves,
Whereon the most of mankind wreck themselves,
And keeping a just course, have early put
Into your harbor, and all passage shut
'Gainst storms or pirates, that might charge your peace ; 
For which you worthy are the glad increase
Of your blest womb, made fruitful from above,
To pay your lord the pledges of chaste love ;
And raise a noble stem, to give the fame
To Clifton's blood, that is denied their name.
Grow, grow, fair tree !  and as thy branches shoot,
Hear what the Muses sing about thy root,
By me, their priest, if they can aught divine :
Before the moons have fill'd their triple trine,
To crown the burden which you go withal,
It shall a ripe and timely issue fall,
T' expect the honors of great AUBIGNY ;
And greater rites, yet writ in mystery,
But which the fates forbid me to reveal.
Only thus much out of a ravish'd zeal
Unto your name, and goodness of your life,
They speak ;  since you are truly that rare wife,
Other great wives may blush at, when they see
What your tried manners are, what theirs should be ;
How you love one, and him you should, how still
You are depending on his word and will ;
Not fashion'd for the court, or strangers' eyes ;
But to please him, who is the dearer prize
Unto himself, by being so dear to you.
This makes, that your affections still be new,
And that your souls conspire, as they were gone
Each into other, and had now made one.
Live that one still !  and as long years do pass,
Madam, be bold to use this truest glass ;
Wherein your form you still the same shall find ;
Because nor it can change, nor such a mind.