Sunday, March 14, 2021

Fulke Greville and the Making of a Stratford Clown

 The Hereditary Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon

The Bumpkinification of Oxford

The act of turning into a pumpkin; usually in jocular opposition to deification.

Greville, __A Dedication to Sir Philip Sidney_

“I conceived an Historian was bound to tell nothing but the truth, but to tell all truths were both justly to wrong, and offend not only princes and States, but to blemish, and stir up himself, the frailty and tenderness, not only of particular men, but of many Families, with the spirit of an Athenian Timon.”

Fulke 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.


Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke

Fulke Greville and Sir John Coke: An Exchange of Letters on a History Lecture and Certain Latin Vers... more
Norman Farmer, Jr.

…(F)or four years beginning in 1624, Greville was deeply involved in an effort to establish what would ultimately be the first professorship of HISTORY at CAMBRIDGE. His initial choice of a scholar to fill that post was the famous Dutch historian, Gerard J. Vossius. When, however, Vossius decided after considerable correspondence to remain at Leiden, Greville selected the young Dutch lawyer Isaac Dorislaus to be the first professor of history at Cambridge, a post not unlike that previously established by William Camden at Oxford in 1622.
…As recent scholarship has shown, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the evolution in England of an increasingly sophisticated historiography. Oriented more toward the concepts of process and progress than toward adherence to mere custom, history was rapidly coming to be distinguished from simple antiquarianism at a time when many of the patriotic and theological assumptions of the Tudors were coming to be qualified by a new scepticism. As one recent writer explains it, by the seventeenth century “the crisis in intellectual life had penetrated the writing of history.” This new awareness of the past naturally manifested itself in a wide variety of ways, a remarkable number of which are clearly represented in the pattern of Greville’s own interests. For example, the foregoing chronology of events shows him to have had considerable interest in the historical aspects of genealogy and heraldry, or cartography and surveys, or divinity, of architectural restoration, of the building and presumably the stocking of libraries appropriate for research, and the provision of lecturers competent to discuss history in all of its uses and ramifications. His commitment to such a range of projects indicates a sensitivity to the developing historiography of his time as well as an activist’s dedication to the practical exploitation of theory. And if we will consider certain relevant statements that Greville makes in The Life of Sir Philip Sidney, we can obtain a useful perspective on his developing response to the intellectual change going on about him.

Although it often seems to confuse the various functions of dedication, biography, autobiography, and history, the one dominant motif in the Life that is obvious to most readers is Greville’s desire to praise an exemplary man. As an ideal seldom encountered in real life, Sir Philip Sidney had come to be regarded as a personification of public virtue and service to the state. And it was of course quite proper that the man who considered himself Sidney’s best friend (an opinion in which it would appear there was a general concurrence) should write his biography. But Greville’s praise is in fact a vehicle for moral and political instruction. He states, for example, ‘that although with SOCRATES, I professe to know nothing for the present; yet with NESTOR I am delighted in repeating old newes of the ages past; and will therefore stir my drooping memory touching this mans worth, power, wayes, and designs: to the end that in the tribute I owe him, our nation may see a Sea-mark, rais’d upon their native coast, above the levell of any private Pharos abroad: and so by a right Meridian line of their own, learn to sayl through the straits of true virtue, into a calm, and spacious Ocean of humane honour.”

Such a statement of purpose is clearly founded on the premise that “story” or history is obligated to do more than present facts. It must also supply, in accord with the accepted values of the times, a commentary on the moral implications of facts. As a prominent man of action Sidney offered an example which, it could be expected, would inspire others to strive for like eminence in virtue. And so far as Greville is concerned, his public responsibility as a biographer would be to persuade others, through examples drawn from the facts of Sidney’s life, to adopt virtuous ideals and live by them. Greville’s practice of this kind of history writing follows the pattern established in classical literature by Polybius, Livy, Tacitus, and Seneca. And it is indicative of at least part of his intention in writing the Life to see how closely he does so. First, Sidney was a man of action, a man deeply involved in the affairs of state and personally committed to the attitudes and values that shaped the state. Second, his was a personality and character guaranteed to impress and possibly inspire others; he had the charisma and attractiveness around which a popular myth could flourish. Third, Greville’s treatment of Sidney, while it appears only to extol the man, is in fact a reminder to Greville himself and an assertion to his readers that Sidney’s deeds provide a guide to life (the concept of magistra vitae is clearly apparent here). Finally, while Greville’s treatment of episodes in Sidney’s life shows a scrupulous concern for truthfulness, they are recounted with a keen appreciation of the persuasive force of proper example. In broad terms, Greville apparently considered it his responsibility as a historian to confirm, through examples drawn from the life of Sidney, the precepts of morality established by religion and philosophy.

Greville, Fulke, Baron Brooke, 1554-1628.

Title: Certaine learned and elegant vvorkes of the Right Honorable
Fulke Lord Brooke written in his youth, and familiar exercise with
Sir Philip Sidney. The seuerall names of which workes the following page
doth declare.

Date: 1633
An Inquisition vpon Fame and Honour.

Then make the summe of our Idea's this,
Who loue the world, giue latitude to Fame,
And this Man-pleasing, Gods displeasing is,
Who loue their God, haue glory by his name:
But fixe on Truth, who can, that know it not?
Who fixe on ERROR, doe but write to blot.

"Who worship Fame, commit Idolatry,
"Make Men their God, Fortune and Time their worth,
"Forme, but reforme not, meer hypocrisie,
"By shadowes, onely shadowes bringing forth, (springs,
"Which must, as blossomes, fade ere true fruit
"(Like voice, and eccho) ioyn'd; yet diuers things.

Fulke Greville. The life of the renowned Sr Philip Sidney.

THus stood the state of things then: And if any judicious Reader shall ask, Whether it were not an error, and a dangerous one, for Sir Philip being neither Magistrate nor Counsellor, to oppose himself against his Soveraigns pleasure in things indifferent? I must answer, That his worth, truth, favour, and sincerity of heart, together with his reall manner of proceeding in it, were his privileges. Because this Gentlemans course in this great business was, not by murmur among equals, or inferiours, to detract from Princes; or by a mutinous kind of bemoaning error, to stir up ill affections in their minds, whose best thoughts could do him no good; but by a due address of his humble reasons to the Queen her self, to whom the appeal was proper. So that although he found a sweet stream of Soveraign humors in that well-tempered Lady, to run against him, yet found he safety in her self, against that selfness which appeared to threaten him in her: For this happily born and bred Princess was not (subject-like) apt to construe things reverently done in the worst sense; but rather with the spirit of annointed Greatness (as created to reign equally over frail and strong) more desirous to find waies to fashion her people, than colours, or causes to punish them.

Lastly, to prove nothing can be wise, that is not really honest; every man of that time, and consequently of all times may know, that if he should have used the same freedome among the Grandees of Court (their profession being not commonly to dispute Princes purposes for truths sake, but second their humours to govern their Kingdomes by them) he must infallibly have found Worth, Justice, and Duty lookt upon with no other eyes but Lamia's; and so have been stained by that reigning faction, which in all Courts allows no faith currant to a Soveraign, that hath not past the seal of their practising corporation.

Thus stood the Court at that time; and thus stood this ingenuous spirit in it. If dangerously in mens opinions who are curious of the present, and in it rather to doe craftily, than well: Yet, I say, that Princely heart of hers was a Sanctuary unto him; And as for the people, in whom many times the lasting images of Worth are preferred before the temporary visions of art, or favour, he could not fear to suffer any thing there, which would not prove a kind of Trophy to him. So that howsoever he seemed to stand alone, yet he stood upright; kept his access to her Majesty as before; a liberall conversation with the French, reverenced amongst the worthiest of them for himselfe, and born in too strong a fortification of nature for the less worthy to abbord, either with question, familiarity, or scorn.

In this freedome, even while the greatest spirits, and Estates seemed hood-winkt, or blind; and the inferior sort of men made captive by hope, fear, ignorance; did he enjoy the freedome of his thoughts, with all recreations worthy of them.

And in this freedome of heart being one day at Tennis, a Peer of this Realm, 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 French Commissioners unfortunately had that day audience, in those private Galleries, whose windows looked into the Tennis-Court. They instantly drew all to this tumult: every sort of quarrels sorting well with their humors, especially this. Which Sir Philip perceiving, and rising with inward strength, by the prospect of a mighty faction against him; asked my Lord, with a loud voice, that which he heard clearly enough before. Who ( LIKE AN ECHO, that still multiplies by REFLEXIONS) repeated this Epithet of Puppy the second time. Sir Philip resolving in one answer to conclude both the attentive hearers, and PASSIONATE ACTOR, gave my Lord a Lie, impossible (as he averred) to be retorted; in respect all the world knows, Puppies are gotten by Dogs, and Children by men.

Hereupon those GLORIOUS INEQUALITIES of FORTUNE in his Lordship were put to a kinde of pause, by a precious INEQUALITY of NATURE in this Gentleman. So that they both stood silent a while, like a DUMB SHEW in a TRAGEDY; till Sir Philip sensible of his own wrong, the forrain, and factious spirits that attended; and yet, even in this question between him, and his superior, tender to his Countries honour; with some words of sharp accent, led the way abruptly out of the Tennis-Court; as if so unexpected an accident were not fit to be decided any farther in that place. Whereof the great Lord making another sense, continues his play, WITHOUT any ADVANTAGE of reputation; as by the standard of humours in those times it was conceived.

A day Sr Philip remains in suspense, when hearing nothing of, or from the Lord, he sends a Gentleman of worth to awake him out of his TRANCE; wherein the French would assuredly think any pause, if not death, yet a lethargy of true honour in both. This stirred a resolution in his Lordship to send Sir Philip a Challenge. Notwithstanding, these thoughts in the great Lord WANDRED so long between GLORY, ANGER, and INEQUALITY of state, as the Lords of her Majesties Counsell took notice of the differences, commanded peace, and laboured a reconciliation between them. But needlesly in one respect, and bootlesly in another. The great Lord being (as it should SEEM) either not hasty *to adventure many inequalities against one*, or inwardly satisfied with the progress of his own Acts: Sir Philip on the other side confident, he neither had nor would lose, or let fall any thing of his right. Which her Majesties Counsell quickly perceiving, recommended this work to her self.

The Queen, who saw that by the loss, or disgrace of either, she could gain nothing, presently undertakes Sir Philip; and (like an excellent Monarch) lays before him the difference in degree between Earls, and Gentlemen; the respect inferiors ought to their superiors; and the necessity in Princes to maintain their own creations, as degrees descending between the peoples licentiousness, and the anoynted Soveraignty of Crowns: how the Gentlemans neglect of the Nobility taught the Peasant to insult upon both.

Whereunto Sir Philip, with such reverence as became him, replyed: First, that place was never intended for privilege to WRONG: witness her self, who how Soveraign soever she were by Throne, Birth, Education, and Nature; yet was she content to cast her own affections into the same moulds her Subjects did, and govern all her rights by their Laws. Again, he besought her Majesty to consider, that although he were a great Lord by birth, alliance, and grace; yet hee was no Lord over him: and therfore the difference of degrees between free men, could not challenge any other homage than precedency. And by her Fathers Act (to make a Princely wisdom become the more familiar) he did instance the Government of K. Henry the eighth, who gave the Gentry free, and safe appeal to his feet, against the oppression of the Grandees; and found it wisdome, by the stronger corporation in number, to keep down the greater in power: inferring else, that if they should unite, the OVER-GROWN might be tempted, by still coveting more, to fall (as the Angels did) by affecting equality with their Maker.

This constant tenor of truth he took upon him; which as a chief duty in all creatures, both to themselves, & the soveraignty above them, protected this Gentleman (though he obeyed not) from the displeasure of his Soveraign. Wherein he left an authentical president to after ages, that howsoever TYRANTS allow of no scope, stamp, or standard, but their own WILL; yet with Princes there is a latitude for subjects to reserve native, and legall freedom, by paying humble tribute in MANNER, though not in MATTER, to them.


THe little Hearts, where light-wing'd PASSION raignes,
More easily vpward, as all frailties doe;
Like Strawes to Ieat, these follow Princes veines,
And so, by pleasing, doe corrupt them too.
Whence as their raising proues Kings can create;
So States proue sicke, where toyes beare Staple-rates.

Like Atomi they neither rest, nor stand,
Nor can erect; because they NOTHING be
But baby-thoughts, fed with time-presents hand,
Slaues, and yet darlings of Authority;
ECCHO'S of wrong; SHADOWES of Princes might;
Which glow-worme-like, by shining, show 'tis night.

Curious of fame, as foule is to be faire;
Caring to seeme that which they would not be;
Wherein CHANCE helpes, since Praise is powers heyre,
Honor the creature of Authoritie:
So as borne high, in giddie Orbes of grace,
These Pictures are, which are indeed but Place.

And as the Bird in hand, with freedome lost,
Serues for a stale, his fellowes to betray:
So doe these Darlings rays'd at Princes cost
Tempt man to throw his libertie away;
And sacrifice Law, Church, all reall things
To soare, not in his owne, but Eagles wings.

Whereby, like AEsops dogge, men lose their meat,
To bite at GLORIOUS SHADOWES, which they see;
And let fall those strengths which make all States great
By free Truths chang'd to seruile flatterie.
Whence, while men gaze vpon this blazing starre,
Made slaues, not subiects, they to Tyrants are.

Blair Worden, _The Sound of Virtue -Philip Sidney's Arcadia and Elizabethan Politics_

For Greville, TYRANNY is characterised by 'WILL, which nothing but
itself endures', and which overrides 'law'. His golden retrospection
contrasts the readiness of Queen Elizabeth to harmonise her 'own
affections' with 'her subjects' , and to govern by 'laws', with the
ways of 'TYRANTS' who allow of no scope....but their own will'. Yet in
Sidney's lifetime Greville, and Sidney too, would have been more
likely to concur with the view of Sir Francis Knollys that she
preferred 'her own will and her own affections' to 'the sound advice
of open counsel'.

'WILL' in Renaissance minds, is the enemy not only of law but of
reason, which law invokes. Languet's and Mornay's Vindiciae, Contra
Tyrannos cites Juvenal's condemnation of kings who resolve to rule by
'WILL' rather than by 'reason'. The friends of WILL are passion and
lust, when men, instead of 'reason, follow WILL, and instead of law,
use their own lust'. (p.212)

Greville - Hereditary Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon:

Rewards of Earth -Greville

REWARDS of earth, Nobility and Fame,
To senses glory and to conscience woe,
How little be you for so great a name?
Yet less is he with men what thinks you so.
For EARTHLY power, that stands by FLESHLY WIT,
Hath banished that truth which should govern it.
Nobility, power's golden fetter is,
Wherewith wise kings subjection do adorn,
To make man think her heavy yoke a bliss
Because it makes him more than he was born.
Yet still a slave, dimm'd by mists of a crown,
Let he should see what riseth, what pulls down.
Fame, that is but good words of evil deeds,
Begotten by the harm we have, or do,
Greatest far off, least ever where it breeds,
We both with dangers and disquiet woo;
And in our flesh, the vanities' false glass,
We thus deceiv'd adore these calves of brass.

Our Stratford Suffenus

 Suffenus - Catullus' Bad Poet

A Tale of a Tub - A Cock and Bull Story

A Tale of a Tub
A Comedy
Composed by Ben. Johnson.

*Inficeto est inficetior rure*. Catullus

P R O L O G U E.

No State-affairs, nor any politick Club,
Pretend we in our Tale, here, of a Tub:
But acts of Clowns and Constables, to day
Stuff out the Scenes of our ridiculous Play.
A Coopers wit, or some such busie Spark,
Illumining the high Constable, and his Clerk.
And all the Neighbour-hood, from old Records,
Of antick Proverbs, drawn from Whitson-Lords.
And their Authorities, at Wakes and Ales,
With Country precedents, and old Wives Tales;
We bring you now, to shew what different things
The Cotes of Clowns, are from the Courts of Kings.

Jonson's motto for Tale of a Tub:

Inficeto est inficetior rure. Catullus 22

Catullus 22 (Wickisource translation)

That Suffenus of yours, Varus, whom you have known well,
is attractive and well-spoken and sophisticated,
and the same man makes the most verses by far.
I think that either ten thousand or more have been written
by him, nor have they, as it is custom, been written
on palimpsests: [but] royal papers, new books,
new scroll-knobs, red leather-straps, skins,
aligned with lead and all things having been smoothed with pumice.
When you read these, that handsome and sophisticated
Suffenus is seen as a goat-milker or a digger
again: he shrinks back and changes by so much.
We think, why is this? He who just now was
seen as a jester by manner or somebody rather knowing about this thing,
the same one is *duller than a dull countryside*,
as soon as he touched poems, the same one is not ever as
equally happy as when he writes poetry:
he rejoices about himself and admires himself so much.
Evidently we all are deceived the same way, nor is there anyone
whom you are not able to see Suffenus in some way.
To each their own error has been assigned;
but we do not see the knapsack which is on our back.

Catullus 22
Hoc quid putemus esse? Qui modo scurra
aut si quid hac re scitius videbatur,
idem infaceto est infacetior rure,
simul poemata attigit, neque idem umquam
aeque est beatus ac poema cum scribit:
tam gaudet in se tamque se ipse miratur.

Catullus 22
We think, why is this? He who just now was
seen as a jester by manner or somebody rather knowing about this thing,
the same one is duller than a dull countryside,
as soon as he touched poems, the same one is not ever as
equally happy as when he writes poetry:
he rejoices about himself and admires himself so much.

The Connoisseur - Thursday, July 4, 1754
.....................QUI MODO SCURRA




DEAR Varus, you know Suffenus well, a man
who is amiable, chatty, and urbane; and this
same man turns out an enormous quantity of
verse. I believe he has written ten thousand or
more, nor are they copied out on palimpsest,
which is good enough for others, but on costly
paper, each volume new, new bosses, red ribands,
wrappers ruled with lead and all rubbed smooth
by the pumice stone. But when you read these
verses, that Suffenus, so charming and urbane,
seems transformed into a goatherd or a ditcher,
so great is the change and alteration. How does
this come to pass? He who but now seemed a
pleasant fellow or even something more accom-
plished, as soon as he takes to writing poetry
becomes *more clownish than a country clown*,
and is never so happy as when he is scribbling
verse ; for then he fancies himself and is all self-
complaisance. After all, every man of us is
deceived in the same way, nor is there any one
in whom, in some trait or other, you cannot
recognize a Suffenus. Every one has his weak
point, but we do not see what lies in that part
of our wallet which is behind our backs.

Catullus 22

That Suffenus, Varus, whom you know to be good,
Is a lovely man, and witty, urbane,
And notwithstanding, makes many long verses.
I think he has written our ten thousand or
More, nor thus, as it is done, are they set
In common parchment: new books of kingly
Paper, new rods, bindings, a ruddy cover,
All ruled with lead, and smoothed evenly with pumice.
When you read these, that beautiful and urbane
Suffenus at once seems a rural goatherd and
Ditch-digger: so much he changes and shocks.
Is this what we should think him to be? Who seemed
Just now a gentleman, or anything more polished than this,
Himself is *more witless than a witless countryman*
As soon as he goes about poetry, nor ever equally
Is he content as when he will write verses:
For he rejoices in himself, and marvels at himself.
Doubtless, we all are deceived, for there is none
Whom you are in their work, unable to see
Suffenus. To each is attributed his own error,
But we are unable to see what is in the bag on our back.

făcētus , a, um, adj. root fa- of fari; Sanscr. bhā-, shine, appear; Gr. φα- in φημί, φαίνω; strengthened făc, as in fax, facies,
I.well-made, choice, elegant, fine.
I. Lit. (very rare): nae illi sunt pedes faceti ac deliciis ingredienti molles, Brutus ap. Quint. 6, 3, 20: “facetis victibus vivere,” Plaut. Most. 1, 1, 43.—
II. Trop.
A. Of behavior, fine, courteous, polite, gentle (very rare): “vir facetus atque magnificus,” Plaut. Most. 2, 2, 84: “mulier commoda et faceta,” Ter. Heaut. 3, 2, 11: “ut cuique est aetas, ita quemque facetus adopta,” Hor. Ep. 1, 6, 55: “est qui (ambulet tunicis) subductis usque facetus,” i. e. who thinks to be very fine, id. S. 1, 2, 26.—
B. Of speech. *
1. Elegant, fine: “molle atque facetum Vergilio annuerunt gaudentes rure Camenae,” Hor. S. 1, 10, 44; cf.: decoris hanc et excultae cujusdam elegantiae appellationem (faceti) puto, Quint. 6, 3, 20.—
2. Merry, witty, jocose, humorous, facetious (the predominant signif. of the word).

From in- + facētus.
coarse, blunt, rude, unmannerly
īn-facētus (infic-) adj. with comp, without wit, dull, stupid: nec infacetus: non inficetum mendacium: Idem infaceto est infacetior rure, Ct.

William Cartwright:

...Shakespeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lyes
I'th Ladies questions, and the Fooles replyes;
Old fashion'd wit, which walkt from town to town
In turn'd Hose, which our fathers call'd the clowne;
Whose wit our nice times would OBSCEANNESSE call,
And which made Bawdry passe for Comicall:
Nature was all his Art, thy veine was free
As his, but without his SCURILITY;

Obscene - Adj.
1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth." Meaning "offensive to modesty or decency" is attested from 1590s.

Chapman, Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois


They are the breathing sepulchres of noblesse:
No trulier noble men, then lions pictures
Hung up for signs are lions. (2.1. l.154-156)


A man may well
compare them to those foolish great-spleened camels
That, to their high heads, begged of Jove horns higher;
Whose most uncomely and ridiculous pride
When he had satisfied, they could not use,
But where they went upright before, they stooped,
And bore their heads much lower for their horns;
As these high men do, low in all true grace,
Their height being privilege to all things base.
And as the foolish poet that still writ
All his most self-loved verse in paper royal
Or parchment ruled with lead, smoothed with the pumice,
Bound richly up, and strung with crimson strings;
Never so blest as when he writ and read
The ape-loved issue of his brain, and never
But joying in himself, ADMIRING EVER,
Yet in his works behold him, and he showed
Like to a ditcher: so these painted men
All set on outside, look upon within
And not a peasants entrails you shall find
More foul and measled, nor more starved of mind.


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,

Footnotes to Horace _Art of Poetry_

A Monstrous Figure:

"The word PRODIGIALITER apparently refers to that fictitious monster, under which the poet allusively shadows out the idea of absurd and inconsistent composition. The application, however, differs in this, that, whereas the monster, there painted, was intended to expose the extravagance of putting together incongruous parts, without any reference to a whole, this prodigy is designed to characterize a whole, but deformed by the ill-judged position of its parts. The former is like a monster, whose several members as of right belonging to different animals, could by no disposition be made to constitute one consistent animal. The other, like a landscape which hath no objects absolutely irrelative, or irreducible to a whole, but which a wrong position of the parts only renders prodigious. Send the boar to the woods, and the dolphin to the waves; and the painter might show them both on the same canvas.

Each is a violation of the law of unity, and a real monster: the one, because it contains an assemblage of natural incoherent parts; the other, because its parts, though in themselves coherent, are misplaced and disjointed."

[Droeshout Engraving]

William Cartwright, Jonsonus Virbius

.No rotten talke brokes for a laugh; no page
Commenc'd man by th'instructions of thy stage;
No bargaining line there; no provoc'tive verse;
Nothing but what Lucretia might rehearse;
No need to make good count'nance ill, and use
The plea of strict life for a looser Muse:
No Woman rul'd thy quill: we can descry
No verse borne under any Cynthia's eye:
Thy Starre was Judgement onely, and right sense,
Thy selfe being to thy selfe an influence.
Stout beauty is thy grace: Sterne pleasures do
Present delights, but mingle horrours too:
thy Muse doth thus like Joves fierce girle appeare,
With a faire hand, but GRASPING of a SPEARE...

Virtues obscured: George Chapman's social strategy

by John Huntington (con't.)

...Chapman's favorite image to explain how such ambiguity works is the "perspective picture," an optical illusion for which a different angle of vision reveals a different image.(28) Thus:

[Religion's] lookes were like the pictures that are made,
To th'optike reason; one way like a shade,
Another monster like, and every way
To passers by, and such as made no stay,
To view her in a right line, face to face,
She seem'd a serious trifle.

(Poems, 276: 173-78)

Here is a picture of how Chapman's poetry itself operates; it depicts a truth that to the casual and untrained observer seems a monster. The hasty reader, "such as made no stay," sees "a serious trifle."(29) Religion serves more than one function, and the genius of the perspective picture in this case is to depict both. At other times, as in Chabot, one image is true and the other false:

As of a picture wrought to optic reason,
That to all passersby seems, as they move,
Now woman, now a monster, now a devil,
And till you stand and in a right line view it,
You cannot well judge what the main form is.(30)

Here the "main form" must be distinguished from the false forms by what he calls later in this passage "the right laid line/ Of truth" (7879). It takes the "judicial perspective" to understand aright.

But more confusing still is the false image that is identical with the true. We see such identity/difference at the end of Chapman's translation of Virgil's epigram of a "sleight man" whose

imperfections yet are hid in sleight,
Of the felt darknesse, breath'd out by deceipt,
The truly learn'd, is likewise hid, and failes
To pierce eyes vulgar, but with other vailes.
And they are the divine beames, truth cast round
About his beauties, that do quite confound
Sensual beholders.
(Poems 231-32: 59-65, emphasis added)

The sleight man and the learned man are similarly hidden, one by cunning, the other by brilliance. Yet, as is typical of Chapman, the absolutely central distinction between the basest and the most valued is confused and is impenetrable to those "Sensual beholders" without inspiration.

For Chapman poetry itself partakes of such doubleness at its very core, for authentic inspiration and its parody, insania, appear identical. As he puts it in his introduction to The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple:

This Hill of the Muses (which all men must clime in the regular
way, to Truth) is said of ould, to be forcked. And the two
points of it, parting at the Top; are Insania, and divinus furor.
Insania, is that which every Ranck-brainde writer; and judge of
Poeticall writing, is rapt withal; when tree presumes either to
write or censure the height of Poesie; and that transports him
with humor, vaine-glory and pride, most prophane and
sacrilegious: when divinus furor, makes gentle, and noble, the
never so truly-inspired writer. . . .(31)

This paraphrase of Ficino's "Epitome" of Ion expresses a central figure of Chapman's poetics: divine furor is the only genuine source of poetry, but it is shadowed by an insania that is entirely without spiritual value, but is at times indistinguishable from divine furor. One state can always be read as another, divine furor as insania, or vice versa.(32) This identity/difference represents a deep habit of Chapman's thought; the true and valued is veiled by appearing as its opposite and will be overlooked and misjudged by the ignorant. Like charismatic aesthetics, such obscurity distinguishes between social groups by appealing to deep structures of understanding that those who are excluded do not comprehend or may not even know to exist.


Virtues obscured: George Chapman's social strategy

by John Huntington

...For Chapman conventional terms from the lexicon of moral education, "nobility" and "virtue" in particular, take on a special meaning. The letter to Roydon before The Shadow of Night singles out three noblemen for special praise:

But I stay this spleene when I remember my good Mat[thew]
how joyfully oftentimes you reported unto me, that most ingenious
Darbie, deepe searching Northumberland, and skill-imbracing
heire of Hunsdon had most profitably entertained
learning in themselves to the vitall warmth of freezing science,
& to the admirable luster of their true Nobilitie, whose
high deserving vertues may cause me hereafter strike that fire
out of darknesse, which the brightest Day shall envie for
beautie" (Poems 19, emphasis added).

We are at one of those points about which Bourdieu has alerted us when social distinctions are being signaled in what might appear as a typical and unproblematic locution. In declaring these men's learning, rather than their wealth, lineage, or power, as the source of their "vertue" and "true Nobility," Chapman is echoing Nenna of Bari's Nennio or a Treatise of Nobility (William Jones's translation appeared in the following year with a commendatory sonnet by Chapman) which defines "true nobility" as "the virtues of the mind," in opposition to the claims of "nobility of blood."(25) These may be noblemen in the common sense, but they are more importantly men of "light bearing intellect" who will, along with Roydon, make an appropriate audience for the difficult poems that follow.(26) Chapman's conventional sounding praise has a social barb. While the theme of noblesse that he invokes is a commonplace in which the aristocracy can easily find a flattering reflection of its own moral worth, the logic behind it, that "the virtues of the mind" constitute the "true nobility," can be read as a challenge to arbitrary privileges, whether of wealth or of family. It is this more resentful and disruptive idea that inspires Chapman's work, yet Chapman is always careful to speak it in such an ambiguous way that its social implications can be denied if need be.(27) This ambiguity has meant that, as Bourdieu warns us, the social meaning, which would be so delicately obvious to Chapman's contemporaries, has been invisible to us, and we have read him as simply an aristocratic moralist.

Chapman, Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois - Bringing the Earl of Oxford on stage

Clermont solus.

Cler. I had an aversation to this voyage,
When first my brother mov'd it, and have found
That native power in me was never vaine;10
Yet now neglected it. I wonder much
At my inconstancie in these decrees
I every houre set downe to guide my life.
When Homer made Achilles passionate,
Wrathfull, revengefull, and insatiate15
In his affections, what man will denie
He did compose it all of industrie
To let men see that men of most renowne,
Strong'st, noblest, fairest, if they set not downe
within them, for disposing these,20
Of judgement, resolution, uprightnesse,
And certaine knowledge of their use and ends,
Mishap and miserie no lesse extends
To their destruction, with all that they pris'd,
Then to the poorest and the most despis'd?25

Enter Renel.

Renel. Why, how now, friend, retir'd! take heede you prove not
Dismaid with this strange fortune. All observe you:
Your government's as much markt as the Kings.
What said a friend to Pompey?

Cler. What?

Ren. The people
Will never know, unlesse in death thou trie,30
That thou know'st how to beare adversitie.

Cler. I shall approve how vile I value feare
Of death at all times; but to be too rash,
Without both will and care to shunne the worst,
(It being in power to doe well and with cheere)35
Is stupid negligence and worse then feare.

Ren. Suppose this true now.

Cler. No, I cannot doo't.
My sister truely said, there hung a taile
Of circumstance so blacke on that supposure,
That to sustaine it thus abhorr'd our mettall.40
And I can shunne it too, in spight of all,
Not going to field; and there to, being so mounted
As I will, since I goe.

Ren. You will then goe?

Cler. I am engag'd both in my word and hand.
But this is it that makes me thus retir'd,45
To call my selfe t'account, how this affaire
Is to be manag'd, if the worst should chance:
With which I note, how dangerous it is
For any man to prease beyond the place
To which his birth, or meanes, or knowledge ties him.50
For my part, though of noble birth, my birthright
Had little left it, and I know tis better
To live with little, and to keepe within
A mans owne strength still, and in mans true end,
*Then runne a mixt course*. Good and bad hold never55
Any thing common; you can never finde
Things outward care, but you neglect your minde.
God hath the whole world perfect made and free;
His parts to th'use of th'All. Men, then, that are
Parts of that All, must, as the generall sway60
Of that importeth, willingly obay
In every thing without their power to change.
Hee that, unpleas'd to hold his place, will range,
Can in no other be contain'd that's fit,
And so resisting th'All is crusht with it:65
But he that knowing how divine a frame
The whole world is, and of it all can name
(Without selfe-flatterie) no part so divine
As hee himselfe; and therefore will confine
Freely his whole powers in his proper part,70
Goes on most God-like. *Hee that strives t'invert
The Universals course with his poore way,
Not onely dust-like shivers with the sway,
But crossing God in his great worke, all earth
Beares not so cursed and so damn'd a birth*.75

Ren. Goe on; Ile take no care what comes of you;
Heaven will not see it ill, how ere it show.
But the pretext to see these battailes rang'd
Is much your honour.

Cler. As the world esteemes it.

But to decide that, you make me remember80
An accident of high and noble note,
And fits the subject of my late discourse
Of holding on our free and proper way.
I over-tooke, comming from Italie,
In Germanie a great and famous Earle85
Of England, the most goodly fashion'd man
I ever saw; from head to foote in forme
Rare and most absolute; hee had a face
Like one of the most ancient honour'd Romanes
From whence his noblest familie was deriv'd;90
He was beside of spirit passing great,
Valiant, and learn'd, and liberall as the sunne,
Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
Or of the discipline of publike weales;
And t'was the Earle of Oxford: and being offer'd95
At that time, by Duke Cassimere, the view
Of his right royall armie then in field,
Refus'd it, and no foote was mov'd to stirre
Out of his owne free fore-determin'd course.
I, wondring at it, askt for it his reason,100
It being an offer so much for his honour.
Hee, all acknowledging, said t'was not fit
To take those honours that one cannot quit.

Ren. Twas answer'd like the man you have describ'd.

Cler. And yet he cast it onely in the way,105
To stay and serve the world. Nor did it fit
His owne true estimate how much it waigh'd;
For hee despis'd it, and esteem'd it freer
To keepe his owne way straight, and swore that hee
Had rather make away his whole estate110
In things that crost the vulgar then he would
Be frozen up stiffe (like a Sir John Smith,
His countrey-man) in common Nobles fashions;
Affecting, as't the end of noblesse were,
Those servile observations.

Ren. It was strange.115

Cler. O tis a vexing sight to see a man,
Out of his way, stalke proud as hee were in;
Out of his way, to be officious,
Observant, wary, serious, and grave,
Fearefull, and passionate, insulting, raging,120
Labour with iron flailes to thresh downe feathers
Flitting in ayre.

Ren. What one considers this,
Of all that are thus out? or once endevours,
Erring, to enter on mans right-hand path?

Cler. These are too grave for brave wits; give them toyes;125
Labour bestow'd on these is harsh and thriftlesse.
If you would Consull be (sayes one) of Rome,
You must be watching, starting out of sleepes;
Every way whisking; gloryfying Plebeians;
Kissing Patricians hands, rot at their dores;130
Speake and doe basely; every day bestow
Gifts and observance upon one or other:
And what's th'event of all? Twelve rods before thee;
Three or foure times sit for the whole tribunall;
Exhibite Circean games; make publike feasts;135
And for these idle outward things (sayes he)
Would'st thou lay on such cost, toile, spend thy spirits?
And to be voide of perturbation,
For constancie, sleepe when thou would'st have sleepe,
Wake when thou would'st wake, feare nought, vexe for nought,140
No paines wilt thou bestow? no cost? no thought?

Ren. What should I say? As good consort with you
As with an angell; I could heare you ever.

Harvey, Pierces Supererogation

Howbeit, his friends could have wished he had not shewn himself to the world such a ridiculous Suffenus or Shakerley to himself, by advancing the triumphal garland on his own head before the least skirmish for the victory, which if he ever obtain by any valiancy or bravery, (as he weeneth himself the valiantest and bravest actor that ever managed pen), I am his bondsman in fetters, and refuse not the humblest vassalage of the sole of his boot.

Greene's Groats-worth of Wit:

Base-minded men, all three of you, if by my misery you be not warned, for unto none of you (like me) sought those burrs to cleave, those puppets (I mean) that spake from our mouths, those antics garnished in our colours. Is it not strange, that I, to whom they all have been beholding, is it not like that you, to whom they all have been beholding, shall (were ye in that case as I am now) be both at once of them forsaken? Yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide *supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you, and being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country*. O that I might entreat your rare wits to be employed in more profitable courses, and let those apes imitate your past excellence and nevermore acquaint them with your admired inventions. I know the best husband of you all will never prove an usurer, and the kindest of them all will never prove a kind nurse; yet, whilst you may, seek you better masters, for it is pity men of such rare wits should be subject to the pleasure of such rude grooms. 

In this I might insert two more that both have writ against these buckram gentlemen, but let their own works serve to witness against their own wickedness if they persevere to maintain any more such peasants. For other newcomers, I leave them to the mercy of these *painted monsters* who (I doubt not) will drive the best-minded to despise them. For the rest, it skills not though they make a jest at them.


SONS OF EUTAXIA - ‘arrangement’, ‘order’, ‘regularity’ (eutaxy)

ataxy - disorder
ataktos; to be (i.e. act) irregular:--behave self disorderly.


Cynthia's Revels -- Jonson

Act V. Scene IX.

The Second Masque.

Mercury, as a Page.

Sister of Phœbus, to whose bright Orb we owe, that
we not complain of his absence; These four Brethren
(for they are Brethren, and SONS OF EUTAXIA, a Lady
known, and highly belov'd of your resplendent Deity)
not able to be absent, when Cynthia held a Solemnity,
officiously insinuate themselves into thy presence: For,
as there are four Cardinal Vertues, upon which the
whole Frame of the Court doth move, so are these
the four Cardinal properties, without which, the body
of Complement moveth not. With these four Silver
Javelins (which they bear in their Hands) they sup-
port in Princes Courts the state of the Presence, as by
office they are obliged; which, though here they may
seem superfluous, yet for honours sake, they thus pre-
sume to visit thee, having also been employ'd in the
Palace of Queen Perfection. And though to them that
would make themselves gracious to a Goddess, Sacrifices
were fitter than Presents, or Impresses, yet they both
hope thy Favour, and (in place of either) use several Sym-
bols, containing the Titles of thy Imperial Dignity.
First, the hithermost, in the changeable blue and
green Robe, is the commendably-fashion'd Gallant,
Eucosmos [note- Amorphus masked]; whose Courtly Habit is the grace of the Pre-
sence, and delight of the surveying Eye: whom La-
dies understand by the names of NEAT and ELEGANT. His
Symbol is Divæ Virgini, in which he would express thy
Deities principal Glory, which hath ever been Vir-


Once more, we cast the slumber of our thanks
On your ta'n toil, which here let take an end.
And that we not mistake your several worths,
Nor you our favour, from your selves remove
What makes you not your selves, those Clouds of Mask:
[They unmask.]
"Particular Pains, particular Thanks do ask.
How! let me view you. Ha! are we contemn'd?
Is there so little awe of our Disdain,
That any (under trust of their Disguise)
Should mix themselves with others of the Court,
And (without Forehead) boldly press so far,
As farther none? How apt is Lenity
To be abus'd? Severity to be loath'd?
And yet, how much more doth the seeming Face
Of Neighbour-Vertues, and their borrowed Names,
Add of lewd Boldness to loose Vanities?
Who would have thought that Philautia durst
Or have usurped Noble Storges Name,
Or with that Theft have ventur'd on our Eyes?
Who would have thought, that all of them should hope
So much of our Continence, as to come
To grace themselves with Titles not their own?
In stead of Med'cins, have we Maladies?
And such Imposthumes as Phantaste is,
Grow in our Palace? We must lance these Sores,
Or all will putrifie. Nor are these all,
For we suspect a farther Fraud than this:
Take off our Vail, that Shadows may depart,
And Shapes appear: Beloved Arete! —— So,
Another Face of Things presents it self,
Than did of late. What! feather'd Cupid mask'd,
And mask'd like Anteros? And stay! more strange!
Dear Mercury, our Brother, like a Page,
To countenance the Ambush of the Boy?
Nor endeth our Discovery as yet:
Gelaia, like a Nymph, that but e're-while
(In male Attire) did serve Anaides?
Cupid came hither to find Sport and Game,
Who heretofore hath been to conversant
Among our Train, but never felt Revenge;
And Mercury bare Cupid company.
Cupid, we must confess, this time of Mirth
(Proclaim'd by us) gave opportunity
To thy Attempts, although no Privilege;
Tempt us no farther; we cannot endure
Thy Presence longer; vanish hence, away.
You, Mercury, we must entreat to stay,
And hear what we determine of the rest;
For in this Plot we well perceive your Hand.
But (for we mean not a Censorian Task,
And yet to lance these Ulcers grown so ripe)
Dear Arete, and Crites, to you two
We give the Charge; impose what Pains you please:
Th' incurable cut off, the rest reform,
Remembring ever what we first decreed,
Since Revels were proclaim'd, let now none bleed.
Are. How well Diana can distinguish Times,
And sort her Censures, keeping to her self
The Doom of Gods, leaving the rest to us?
Come, cite them, Crites, first, and then proceed.
Cri. First, Philautia, (for she was the first)
Then light Gelaia, in Aglaias Name;
Thirdly, Phantaste, and Moria next,
Main Follies all, and of the Female Crew:
Voluptuous Hedon, ta'ne for Eupathes,
Brazen Anaides, and Asotus last,
With his two Pages, Morus and Prosaites;
And thou, the Traveller's Evil, Cos, approach,
Impostors all, and Male DEFORMITIES ——
Are. Nay, forward, for I delegate my Power,
And will that at thy Mercy they do stand,
Whom they so oft, so plainly scorn'd before.
"'Tis VERTUE which they want, and wanting it,
"Honour no Garment to their Backs can fit.
Then, Crites, practise thy Discretion.

Michael J. Putnam
Catullus 22,13

...Suffenus appears to be tritus, 'rubbed down' and 'polished' like his book. In reality he is not.
The question could well be asked whether scurra itself is capable of receiving an attribute like tritus, at least with the meaning suggested for it in Catullus 22,13. According to Walde-Hoffman, the pejorative cognates of scurra are Ciceronian or post-Cicero. Scurrilis and scurrilitas do not appear before Cicero. Scurror is unexampled before Horace and scurrula before Apuleius. Scurra here, however, does not have the meaning of jester or parasite which it usually bears in Cicero and regularly bears in Horace. Its sense is strictly in the Plautine tradition - an elegant, sometimes over-elegant, man-about-town.


According to the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, the verb tero is never actually used of the 'polishing' of a book, as we might expect if the initial link of Suffenus and his book is strengthened by the word tritius. Yet once by itself (Ovid A.A.I,506) and once in compound (Juv. 8,16:attero), the verb is used literally of 'smoothing' parts of the body with a pumice stone.

The Juvenal passage is of some bearing on Catullus 22. The satirist is speaking of an effeminate creature, tenerum attritus Catinensi pumice lumbum, who shames his squalentis avos, his shaggy-haired ancestors, by rubbing all the hair off his loins. At sat.ii,80, he speaks of a squalidus fossor, a long-haired digger. If you are a scurra, a citified wit like Suffenus seems to be, you are 'polished', rubbed down like a good-looking manuscript and a handsome man-about-town. But - at least in the case of Suffenus - touch poetry and you become a fossor, a man infacetus, ILL-MADE, as lacking in external grace as inner charm.

Euphues - Greek - Graceful, Elegant, Witty

Ridiculous Shakespeare

De Shakespeare Nostrat[1]

I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, “Would he had blotted a thousand,” which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candor, for I loved the man, and do honor his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. 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 stopped. “Sufflaminandus erat,” as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Cæsar, one speaking to him: “Cæsar, thou dost me wrong.” He replied: “Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause; and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.

footnote 1 - Nostrat - 'Of our *country*man


_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)


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 gentleman (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

Pope, Preface to Shakespeare

...the images of Life were to be drawn from those of their [the audience’s] own rank: accordingly we find, that not our Author’s only but almost all the old Comedies have their Scene among Tradesmen and Mechaniks: and even their Historical Plays strictly follow the common Old Stories or Vulgar Traditions of that kind of people. In Tragedy, nothing was so sure to Surprize and cause Admiration, as the most strange, unexpected, and consequently most unnatural, Events and Incidents; the most exaggerated Thoughts; the most verbose and bombast Expression; the most pompous Rhymes, and thundering Versification. In Comedy, nothing was so sure to please, as mean bufoonery, vile ribaldry, and unmannerly jests of fools and clowns. (Preface to edition, p. v)


"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.*


O, lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death, dear love, forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O, lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
And so should you, to love things nothing worth.