Saturday, March 12, 2011

Parallels - Troilus and Cressida 2 of 4

Troilus and Cressida (a subgroup of four parallels)   (2 of 4)

(Hector favours the return of Helen to the Greeks to secure peace, and says:)

"Though no man lesser fears the Greeks than I
As far as toucheth my particular,
Yet, dread Priam,
There is no lady of more softer bowels,
More spongy to suck in the sense of fear,
More ready to cry out "Who knows what follows?"
Than Hector is. The wound of peace is surety,
Surety secure [over-confidence]; but modest doubt [fear] is called
The beacon of the wise."
  Troilus And Cressida 2.2.8-16

"A young man's bowels are soft and succulent" [from the Latin Juveni viscere mollier et succulenta]
   History of Life and Death (1623)

"Doubt [fears] are so many suckers or sponges to draw use of knowledge."
  The Advancement of Learning (1605)

"Distrust is the sinews of wisdom"
  De Augmentis (1623)

Comment: Hector was a young man. And Shake-Speare associates "softer" and "suck" and "spongy" with bowels and with fear, as Bacon associates "soft" and "succulent" with bowels and "spongy" with "doubts" [fears]. The folly of over-confidence and the wisdom of modest fear were commonplaces, but this parallel derives its force from their combination in both authors with the striking verbal similarities noted.

(Sidenote: I've read also that in Elizabethan times the word "beacon" could be pronounced like "Bacon" - for what it's worth)

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