TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR SHAKESPEARE
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
Shakespeare's fullest expression of Renaissance comes from Troilus and Cressida, a play set during the Trojan War. Study it very carefully. Setting: The Greeks have quite unsuccessfully been laying siege to Troy for almost 10 years. Their greatest general, Achilles, has withdrawn from the fighting due to a quarrel with Agamemnon When the Greek general staff meets to determine how to successfully prosecute the war, Ulysses offers the following explanation for the Greek defeat. [NOTE: Although set in Greek times, the doctrines discussed are Renaissance in nature].
CLICK HERE for an excellent WEB Site that explores Renaissance science, religion, culture etc. Several plays are referenced.
The argument from analogy [macrocosm/microcosm] is especially forceful:
The specialty of rule has been neglected,
And look how many Grecian tents to stand
Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.
When the general is not like the hive
To whom the foragers shall all repair,
What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded. (vizarded = masked)
The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
The heavens themselves, the planets and this center,
Observe degree, priority and place...
And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
Amidst the other, whose med'cinable eye
Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
And posts like the commandment of a king,
Sans check to good and bad. But when the planets
In evil mixture to discord wonder,
What plagues and what portents, what mutiny
What raging of the sea, shaking of earth,
Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors,
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate,
The unity and married calm of states
Quite from their fixture. Oh. when degree is shaked,
Which is the ladder to all high designs,
The enterprise is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogative of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,
But by degree, stand in authentic place?
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark, what discord follows! Each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe.
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead.
Force should be right, or rather right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And at last eat up himself.
ASSIGNMENT: FOR THE SHAKESPEARE PLAYS YOU WILL BE READING IN THIS COURSE, BE PREPARED TO FIND EXAMPLES THAT ILLUSTRATE THE IDEAS MENTIONED IN THIS PASSAGE.
GENERAL GUIDES TO LITERATURE, CHRONOLOGIES, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHIES, AND SCRIPTURAL/THEOLOGICAL REFERENCES CURRICULUM LINKS
RENAISSANCE HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY AND COSMOLOGY, PSYCHOLOGY [BURTON] AND SHAKESPEARE CURRICULUM LINKS
TABLE OF CONTENTS