The Tempest, (9)
3.4 Dating The Tempest cont.
Another point that must not be neglected is that the first known performance of The Tempest was before King James. Since the King had a strong commitment to the Virginia Colony any allusions to it in the play would have ensured his attention when he attended the 1611 performance at Whitehall. To illustrate this point about topical allusions, there was a rumour circulating King James’s court in December 1609, that Arabella Stuart, a first cousin of the King’s and a member of the Queen’s household, was secretly planning to wed Stephano Janiculo, a man of dubious character who was posing as the Prince of Moldavia. Two years later, The Tempest was performed before King James with two characters Stephano and Trinculo who form a double-act as servants to Alonso, the King of Naples. Joined together, these two names exhibit a remarkable similarity to Stephano Janiculo. One dramatist who certainly made use of the incident was Ben Jonson:
“... the Prince of Moldovia, and of his mistris, mistris Epicoene”.
(1610 Epicoene, 5.1)
There are several circumstances that conspire to make this a reasonable Shake-speare allusion. Stephano evidently sees himself as an aristocrat:
Stephano: “Monster, I will kill this man [Prospero]: his daughter and I will be king and queen ...” (3.2.102-3)
Caliban addresses Stephano as such with “Prithee, my King, be quiet” (4.1.214), and Prospero engages Stephano with:
Prospero: “You'ld be King o' the isle, sirrah”?
Stephano: “I should have been a sore one, then”. (5.1.287-8)
It is clear that Trinculo believes that Stephano does not deserve such a title:
Trinculo: “... They say there's but five upon this island: we are three of them; if th'other two be brained like us, the state totters”. (3.2.5-6)
Like Stephano Janiculo, Stephano has awarded himself an aristocratic title above his rank. The connection between Stephano Janiculo and Stephano and Trinculo might only register with an audience if the two names were mentioned in dialogue together and this actually occurs:
Trinculo: “Stephano! If thou beest Stephano, touch me, and speak to me; for I am Trinculo ...” (2.2.93-5)