Another in our series of annotated articles looking this time at the long standing and popular claim that Oxford can be connected to Shakespeare through hendiadys, Ovid, Metamorphoses and De Vere's Uncle Golding. Once again we have not reproduced the entire article, only those parts we take issue with. Waugaman's article can be read in its entirety here. Allow the annotations time to load. There are lots.
Did Edward de Vere Translate Ovid’s Metamorphoses?
by Richard M. Waugaman, M.D.
Richard M. Waugaman is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and 2012–2016 Faculty Expert on Shakespeare for Media Contacts at Georgetown University. His 175 publications include some 75 works on Shake-speare. His two ebooks are Newly Discovered Works by “William Shake-Speare,” a.k.a. Edward de Vere and It’s Time to Re-Vere the Works of “William Shake-Speare”: A Psychoanalyst Reads the Works of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. He is indebted to Roger Stritmatter’s research on de Vere’s Geneva Bible for interesting him in Oxfordian research.
Skeptical scholars of the authorship issue sometimes ask, rhetorically, “What difference does it make who wrote Shakespeare? It makes no difference to me.” Readers of the present essay may likewise wonder, “What difference does it make if de Vere translated Ovid?” So let me begin by addressing that question. First, the “Golding” translation is widely acknowledged to be one of the four most important literary sources for Shakespeare. If de Vere was the translator, it strengthens his claim to have written the works of Shakespeare. Secondly, those who love Shakespeare want to know what else he wrote. Thirdly, Shakespeare is a prime exemplar of genius, and everything we can learn about his creative development will enhance our understanding of the nature of creative genius. Among the most implausible features of the traditional authorship theory is the assumption that Shakespeare began writing at the height of his creative powers, with no developmental trajectory. If de Vere translated Ovid as an adolescent, we have a more realistic picture of the maturation of his literary genius from precocious child to author of Shakespeare’s mature works. In the process, this more realistic picture of his creative development helps refute the foundationally flawed misconception as to how Shakespeare’s literary genius developed.
The term hendiadys refers to a particular sort of word pair, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as “a figure of speech in which a single complex idea is expressed by two words connected by a conjunction.”
Hendiadys is “not a very common figure in Ovid” (S.G. Owen in Ovid, 1903, 83; emphasis added)—but it abounds in the English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding, which several researchers attribute to the young de Vere, Golding’s nephew.1 In it, 390 word pairs were introduced that are not found earlier in Early English Books Online (EEBO).2
The first two uses of the word given by the OED are in the 1589 Arte of English Poesie,3 which I have attributed to de Vere (Waugaman, 2010a and 2010b); and the 1592 The English Secretary by Angel Day, who served as one of de Vere’s literary secretaries (Anderson 230).4 Hendiadys is found more often in Shakespeare than in any other Elizabethan writer, so its profusion in the Golding translation of Ovid is very convincing evidence of de Vere’s hand in the work and shows that de Vere helped introduce hendiadys into English literature.
Introduction to the “Golding” Ovid
Books One through Four appeared in 1565, when de Vere was only fifteen.
Its dedicatory epistle states that it was written at Cecil House, when both de Vere and his maternal uncle Arthur Golding lived there. The entire book was published in 1567 and reprinted in 1575, 1603, and 1612, attesting to its popularity. It was the only English translation of the work directly from the Latin original until 1621. In addition to its immense influence on Shakespeare, this translation also influenced Spenser and Marlowe. They each knew Latin well enough to read Ovid in the original, so their respect for this translation increases the likelihood that it was by a writer of the caliber of Shakespeare rather than of Golding.
John F. Nims, in his Introduction to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Arthur Golding Translation 1567, muses about the flagrant paradox of Golding, the “convinced Puritan who spent much of his life translating the sermons and commentaries of John Calvin” undertaking to English this work of Ovid, “the sophisticated darling of a dissolute society, the author of a scandalous handbook of seduction” [i.e., The Art of Love] (xiv). Unwittingly supporting the re-attribution of this translation to Golding’s precocious nephew, Nims calls this notion, “Hardly less striking than the metamorphoses the work dealt with” (xiv), especially given how much racier this translation is than Ovid’s original. Unfortunately, attribution of many Elizabethan works became set in stone before Marcy North’s scholarship on anonymous, pseudonymous, and allonymous Elizabethan authorship was more fully appreciated. I believe that several of his contemporaries knew de Vere was the real translator, and that was probably one reason that Shakespeare was known to his contemporaries as an “English Ovid” (Ogburn 1984, 443).
We might pause to ask if it is conceivable that a juvenile of fifteen could possibly have composed the first four books of this translation. I think the answer is yes. Studies of the psychology of creativity have concluded that childhood loss often contributes to creativity in talented individuals. De Vere lost his father three years before his translation of Ovid first appeared, so turning to a work written 1,500 years earlier may have offered de Vere something of an escape from the many stresses in his young life.
Moreover, there have been child prodigies in numerous creative fields, including literature, such as the English poet Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770), who took his own life at seventeen after the exposure of his hitherto successful forgeries of the invented medieval poet, “Thomas Rowley.” Or the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891); one of his best poems (“Ophélie”) was composed when he was fifteen, and he concluded his creative writing career by the age of only twenty. A third example is Mary Shelly (1797-1851), who wrote her classic Frankenstein when she was nineteen.
Ezra Pound described the “Golding” translation of Ovid as “the most beautiful book in the [English] language,” adding, “(my opinion and I suspect it was Shakespeare’s)” (Pound 1934, 58). If only Pound had written “I suspect it was Shakespeare’s translation,” then I would be in complete agreement with him. Pound emphasized that, “I do not honestly think that anyone can know anything about the art of lucid narrative in English...without seeing the whole of the [Golding] volume” (127). Pound is hyperbolic in his praise of this translation. In another essay, he calls Golding Ovid’s equal. He goes on, “Is there one of us so good at his Latin, and so reading in imagination that Golding will not throw upon his mind shades and glamours inherent in the original text which had for all that escaped him?... it is certain that ‘we’...have forgotten our Ovid since Golding went out of print” (Pound 1985, 235).
Pound is not the only critic who has strongly linked the Golding Ovid with Shakespeare. L.P. Wilkinson writes, “[Shakespeare] draws on every book of the [Golding] Metamorphoses, and there is scarcely a play that shows no trace of its influence” (Wilkinson 410). Ovid’s book is mentioned explicitly in Titus Andronicus IV.i. The context, interestingly enough, is the need to solve a puzzle of anonymity. Lavinia, the daughter of Titus Andronicus, has been raped, and her tongue and hands have been cut off so that she cannot name her rapists. As a first step toward communicating her plight, she looks through several books, and turns the pages of one book in particular. When Titus asks his grandson Lucius which book it is, he replies: “Grandsire, ‘tis Ovid’s Metamorphosis,/ My mother gave it me” (l. 42-43). Lavinia turns the pages until she finds the story of the rape of Philomele, who also had her tongue cut off by her rapist, her sister’s husband (Book VI, 526-909).
The unifying theme of Ovid’s poem is transformation from one shape into another. The gods regularly transform people into animals, trees, and flowers. To quote the poem, “And aptly into any shape his persone he can shift” (XIII, l. 784). This is precisely what the young de Vere accomplished by arranging for his uncle’s name to appear on the title page of his translation, and using a variety of other allonyms and pseudonyms during his long literary career.
Several other researchers of the period have proposed that de Vere may have been the translator of this work, among them Charlton Ogburn Jr. (1984), Elisabeth Sears (1987), Robert R. Prechter (2007), Paul H. Altrocchi (2010), Hank Whittimore (website), and William J. Ray (website).
In addition to frequent hendiadys, I discovered additional evidence of de Vere’s verbal “fingerprints” in this translation. We know that Shakespeare had a compulsion for inventing new words. In this translation, he coined approximately one hundred new words, including now common words such as disbar, dribble, foredeck, hamstring, hard-faced, nightclothes, outstrip, pawing, pleasureless, Pythian, restlessly, screech owl, and sylvan.
Idiosyncratic spelling habits also link this translation with de Vere. In Book Six, lines 269-70 rhyme “naamde” with “ashaamde.” In my search of EEBO, I found “naamde” only one other time, and never found another instance of “ashaamed.” This matches de Vere’s quirky way of doubling his vowels in his letters. Examples include “caald,” “caale,” “faale,” “haales,” and “waales.” None of those idiosyncratic vowel doublings appear a single time in EEBO. Yet that is how de Vere sometimes spelled those words in his surviving letters. Quaakt (4 times), shaakt (3 times), inflaamd (3 times), spaakst, maakst, prepaarde, daarde, raazd, and blaazd appear only in this translation—and nowhere else among the 50,000 or so fully searchable books on EEBO. So in de Vere’s letters, and in the “Golding” Ovid, we find “aa” spellings that are not found at all, or not found elsewhere, respectively, in EEBO.
In his 1904 edition of the “Golding” Metamorphoses, W. H. D. Rouse noted that in the second complete edition of 1575, spellings are changed from the more regular forms in 1567 to more, well, original ones. There are many more double vowels, which de Vere favored in his letters. Rouse lists the following examples, which are all found in Oxford letters: bee [for be], hee, shee, wee, doo, too [for to], and moother. Rouse also singled out the following quirky spellings in the 1575 edition: bin, blud, deth [dethe in Oxford’s letters], heare, hart, and hir. All of these spellings may be found in de Vere’s extant letters. So it is possible that de Vere, now 25 years old, exerted more control over such matters in the 1575 edition, whereas his uncle edited his idiosyncratic (and often antiquated) spellings in the 1567 edition.
In this extraordinary work of the fifteen-year-old de Vere (that is, the first four books), he seized upon the rhetorical figure of hendiadys, which he likely knew from reading Virgil. In addition, he probably read Johannes Susenbrotus’s Epitome Troporum ac Schematum, published in London two years earlier. T.W. Baldwin emphasizes the influence Susenbrotus had on all of Shakespeare’s work. Susenbrotus was the first Renaissance writer to give a clear description of hendiadys.
In another paper I summarized George T. Wright’s landmark study of hendiadys in Shakespeare:
Wright helped draw attention to the fact that Shake-speare used this figure of hendiadys more than 300 times. Examples that have entered common use include “sound and fury,” “slings and arrows,” and “lean and hungry.” Wright excludes from his use of the term what he derisively calls Shakespeare’s “ceremonious parading of synonyms,” that is, two closely related words, “without any significant increment, usually for an effect of expansion or elevation” (174). If we follow Wright in his derogation of insufficiently complex word pairs, we will deprive ourselves of taking the full measure of de Vere’s lifelong fascination with word pairs, and the growth and development that his use of them underwent in his writing career. They tell us something important about his mind and spirit. One thing reminded him of another, and he linked them with a conjunction. One word alone often did not suffice, and in pairing it with a second, he drew a line that gestured toward meanings and connotations that went beyond mere words. (Waugaman 2016, 138-139)
Wright specifies that, as Shakespeare usually used the figure, “the parallel structure may mask some more complex and less easily describable dependent relation” between the two words (which are usually nouns in the later Shakespeare) (169). Further, classical hendiadys, including in Shakespeare, should have an “element of surprise, of improvisation, and of eccentric coordination” (171). Wright finds that hendiadys in Shakespeare “normally but not invariably occurs in passages of a certain elevation, dignity, or remoteness from ordinary experience” (173).
In addition to Susenbrotus, another important rhetorical treatise was by Johann Sturm, translated into English in 1570 as A Ritch Storehouse or Treasurie for Nobilitie and Gentlemen. In my paper cited above, I demonstrated why I believe de Vere himself was the translator of this work. If so, it is telling that a word pair used three times in the Metamorphoses, “form and beauty,” is also found in the Sturm translation (“the same did make the forme and beautie of the Goddesse”). When that hendiadys is used in Ovid, it is first put in the mouth of the goddess Venus; another time, it describes a nymph. Gordon Braden writes compellingly of the Ovid translation that is traditionally attributed to Golding. Inadvertently, he drops numerous hints that are more consistent with de Vere rather than Golding having been the actual translator. For example, he notes that Golding did not use as much hendiadys (which he calls “doublets”) in his later works. Yet in “his” Ovid, “he often renders a single Latin word twice or more” (17). Braden implies that one source of the hendiadys in the translation of Ovid that he and others have attributed to Golding is the translator’s “habit of translating by multiple synonyms” (5). Every translator knows that there are often no exact equivalents between words of the two languages at issue, so the use of two words in English helps capture the Latin original. By way of illustration, Italian offers the noun sprezzatura, from the verb sprezzare, “to disdain.” It is variously translated as non-chalance; or as effortless mastery. French offers l’esprit d’escaliers, which alludes to the witty come-back that only occurs to us too late, as we are walking down the stairs from the social event at which we were at a loss for words.
De Vere continued to use the figure of hendiadys throughout his literary career. Braden notes that “In Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare apparently quotes about half of one of Golding’s lines almost verbatim” (Braden 4): “a crowne of fresh and fragrant floures” in Ovid becomes “coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers” in the play (AMND, IV.1 and Ovid, Book II, 33).
Braden ascribes youthful qualities to the translation: “In a simple and even naïve way Golding just wants to be easy to follow” (49). He says that the translator’s attitude toward Ovid “is not sophisticated detachment but a deep, naïve intimidation” (54). The translation “is full of moments of quietly spreading astonishment...” (32). And “The quality of astonishment is childlike” (33). Braden is an honest scholar, and thus does not conceal these observations, despite reinforcing our sense that “Golding’s connection with Ovid is often considered a matter for surprise and something of a puzzle” (9).
Further, Braden perceptively draws parallels between the “Golding” Ovid and the later works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare understood Ovid’s Latin better than did “Golding,” i.e., the adult de Vere compared with the teenage de Vere. He writes, “Reading Golding, we can trace the beginnings of a particular poetic world that Shakespeare twenty years later would bring to its fullest development” (36).
Caroline Spurgeon, in her classic study of Shakespeare’s imagery, emphasizes his sympathy for all living creatures, even snails. Likewise, Braden notices that Golding and Shakespeare are similar in giving Ovid’s bull (II, 1063) “a much more human kind of craftiness, a kind of false, indolent innocence” (4). Not actually similar, but coming from the same mind and personality, earlier and later in his writing career, respectively. Another stylistic parallel for Braden is Golding’s “casual additions” to and “off-handed expansions” of Ovid’s Latin; while “Decoration lightly borne is an important part of Shakespeare’s poetics” (7). One thinks of de Vere’s Latin introduction to the 1572 translation of Castiglione’s The Perfect Courtier, with its ideal of sprezzatura, or nonchalance. Braden admits that Golding “was, after all, a man closer to being [Shakspere’s] social and cultural opposite than his fellow” (7). Braden then dismisses the Oxfordian authorship theory as created solely “by those embarrassed by [Shakspere’s] low origins” (8). Ad hominem reasoning is dangerous, and here it leads Braden to ignore the abundant evidence for de Vere’s authorship of the Shakespeare canon. Consequently, Braden fails to use his superb research and close reading to challenge the traditional authorship theory.
Instead, Braden falls victim to the unconsciously circular thinking that plagues orthodox Shakespeare scholarship. He looks at the utter incongruity of a sincere Puritan such as Golding writing such a prurient translation, then concludes we do not really understand the Elizabethans. First, he points out that Calvin was Golding’s favorite author to translate. Further, “Moral didacticism, mixed with anti-Papist rhetoric, fills most of his prefaces—especially, with good reason, the dedications to the young Earl of Oxford—and there is nothing in their tone or in what we know of Golding’s life to suggest that he might not be serious” (8).
Braden comments on the tone of Golding’s 600-line dedicatory epistle, with its feeble claim that the translation is intended to warn the reader against immoral behavior. Braden then refers to the 222-line Preface to the Metamorphosis, presuming it was also written by Golding. No, the lines that Braden quotes from the Preface mock the squeamish reader (before advising him to emulate Ulysses and be tied to the mast to resist temptation):
If any stomacke be so weake as that it cannot brooke,
The lively setting forth of things described in this booke,
I give him counsell too absteine untill he bee more strong
This Preface to the Metamorphosis sounds far more like the youthful de Vere, casting himself as physician whose patient is temporarily impaired by illness, and must recover before he can safely enjoy this translation. Moreover, his reference to the “simple sort” in the first line—“I would not wish the simple sort offended for to bee”—contains a variety of allusions to Puritans, such as his uncle. At that time, “simple” could mean innocent and honest. However, it could also signify common, or of low rank, for his uncle was situated far beneath de Vere in the social structure of the Elizabethan era. Recall the Puritans’ aversion to fine clothing as you consider that “simple” could also mean wearing attire that lacks elegance. “Simple” likewise meant weak or feeble, anticipating the three lines quoted above about a “weake” stomacke that needs to become “more strong.” “Simple” could further mean intellectually deficient, as it still does today. De Vere’s exasperated uncle may have read the manuscript of de Vere’s translation, then implored his nephew to write a preface that would pacify potentially offended readers. With what was later called de Vere’s “perverse temperament,” de Vere instead chose to mock unappreciative readers, perhaps especially the Puritans.
Hamlet famously advised the actors that the purpose of theater is to hold a mirror up to nature. De Vere used a strikingly similar image in his Preface, to justify the book’s detailed description of pagan sins:
Now when thou readst of God or man, in stone, in beast, or tree
It is a myrrour for thy self thyne owne estate to see (lines 81-82;)
The pattern of hendiadys itself helps attribute this Preface to de Vere. It contains the greatest concentration of hendiadys in the entire work. An average of 27% of its lines contain a word pair—that is, an average of once every four lines. Books I through IV, published in 1565, have hendiadys an average of every ten lines (or 10% of their lines). Word pairs then drop off to 7% of the lines of Book V; 5-6% of the lines of Books VI and VII; then 2-3% of the lines of Books VIII through XIV. It is only in the final book that their occurrence picks up to 5% of the lines, for Book XV. To the extent that his use of this rhetorical figure revealed de Vere’s youthful creative exuberance, he gave it fullest vent in the Preface; less so in the first four books; then he seemed to have a bit less creative energy for this device in the remainder of his translation (published and perhaps written two years later), getting his second wind for the final book.
Gordon Braden notes another discrepancy when he writes, “Golding’s most memorable intrusions of authorial comment are not Puritan at all, but show a very secular combination of impatience and amusement” (14). This description is more consistent with the 17-year-old de Vere than with the 31-year-old Puritan, Arthur Golding.
Braden also unwittingly points to a younger translator in referring to “childlike” and “naive” characteristics of the “Golding” Ovid. For example, “The quality of astonishment is childlike...” “In a simple and even naive way Golding just wants to be easy to follow”; and “...the bashfulness of his opening lines.”
I think of de Vere as “E.K.” in Spenser’s A Sheepherd’s Calendar when Braden observes of Golding’s substantive additions to Ovid, “These are the intruded glosses, never allegorizing but merely explanatory in an antiquarian way” (15).
Braden notes that Golding’s approach “indicates a way of looking at everything, with interest, but no compulsion to interfere: a style of omniscience that sees all, knows all, and does not mind. We are in various ways close to the sensibility of the early Shakespeare comedies” (48). This is consistent with de Vere’s authorship of both. Golding’s “sense of humor that sometimes seems to go completely haywire” (53) is reminiscent of Sidney Lee stating, in his Dictionary of National Biography entry on de Vere, that his adolescent “perverse humor was a source of grave embarrassment” to his guardian, the future Lord Burghley.
Braden returns to the vast impact of the Metamorphoses on Shakespeare in a much later work. He includes Shakespeare as one of the many Elizabethan writers who were deeply influenced by Ovid. His chapter focusses on Ovid’s poems written in exile. De Vere, whom Queen Elizabeth exiled from court for two years (1581-83) after de Vere impregnated Anne Vavasour, would have felt a special kinship with Ovid’s exile for offending the Roman emperor. Braden then notes the special salience of allusions to Ovid in The Tempest. He likens Prospero’s exile to that of Ovid. “Prospero found himself in the middle of nowhere because he was undone by his love of his books” (54). Drawing attention to a little-known detail, Braden adds that “Prospero sought his redemption in perfecting his mastery of the one book that was left to him...the imaginative guess at what that book is would be the Metamorphoses” (55). As Mary Douglas (2010) discovered, in “ring composition,” the literary work returns to its beginning at the end. Just so with de Vere’s literary career. In the play that has been considered Shakespeare’s farewell to the theater, de Vere, as Prospero, returned to his adolescent translation of Ovid. As Braden states:
The Tempest is the capstone work of the Shakespearean corpus, his summing up of the power and nature of his theatrical craft. It seems appropriate that a centerpiece of this summing up would be the most extensive of his direct appropriations from Ovid that had characterized his writing almost from the beginning: this had always been his great book of magic… (Braden, 55)
We can be immensely grateful to Braden for his valuable help in elucidating the translation of Ovid that has been traditionally misattributed to Golding, even though he stopped short of connecting the dots he so perceptively identified.
Our name is central to our sense of identity. De Vere had been Viscount Bulbec since birth. Since his father died when Edward de Vere was twelve years old, he was known by the title of Earl of Oxford6 as well as Lord Sanford and of Escales and Badlesmere. So even his multiplying titles may have enlarged his sense of his complex identity, sensitizing him to the rich possibilities of word pairs.
Hendiadys in Oxford’s Ovid
De Vere not only helped introduce hendiadys into English literature&emdashhe also explored its rich possibilities, including various ways of “doubling” the hendiadys twins. For example, his first use of this figure is a double one—“A heavie lump and clottred [clotted] clod of seedes togither driven...” (I, line 8).
In one couplet he employs two consecutive, rhymed, double hendiadys, consisting of four adjectives modifying four nouns, joined by two conjunctions—
“I never was in greater care nor more perplexitie,
How to maintain my soveraigne state and Princelie royaltie”
Steven May, professor of English Emeritus at Georgetown College, an orthodox expert on Elizabethan poetry and on de Vere’s signed poetry in particular, calls his poetic style “highly experimental” (May 13). Here, de Vere even experiments with enjambed hendiadys, with a line break between its two halves:
More precious yet than freckled brasse, immediately the olde
And auncient Spring did Jove abridge, and made thereof anon,
Foure seasons... (I, 132-134)
As well as:
Then to beholde: yet forbicause he saw the earth was voyde
And silent like a wildernesse, with sad and weeping eyes...”
In Book VIII (682-683), “The Lords and Commons did lament, and maried wives with torne/ And tattred haire did cry alas...” combining enjambment with alliteration.
These line breaks encourage the reader not to treat the word pairs as closely related by forcing us to pause between them, giving us time to ponder the nuances of each word’s respective meaning. As noted earlier, this may prime the reader to read all hendiadys with greater care and attention. The earlier pair of hendiadys is all the more arresting, as it is the sole use of “void and silent” in EEBO, and the first (of 18) of “sad and weeping.”
The second half of hendiadys may amplify the first half, as in “with sad and weeping eyes” (I, 409). “Sad” is an emotional state visible in one’s facial expression; “weeping” is a behavior that makes stronger and more concrete that emotional state of sadness. Both words come from old Saxon. Or “the grim and greedy Wolfe” (I, 355), the first of two instances of that phrase in EEBO. Those two words also have an old Saxon origin. The last example is especially alliterative, beginning with the same two consonants (gr-). A single line has the doubly alliterative “dowles [boundary markers] and diches,” then “free and fertile” (I, 152). The first pair is unique in EEBO. Notice the play of “f ” and “r” in that second pair, the first of two instances in EEBO. Not a hendiadys, but earlier the translator wrote, “The fertile earth as yet was free” (I, 115), thus echoing them 37 lines later. De Vere coins the alliterative “sort and sute” (Book IX, 109); only seven lines later, he adds the commonplace “sauf and sound,” repeating the initial letters.
Alliterative hendiadys combines two of his stylistic devices. Examples abound: “meeke and meeld”; “fly and follow”; “fowle and filthye”; “wynd and weather”; “sword and spear”; “strives and strugles” (the same first three letters in each word).
De Vere is sometimes ridiculed for the excessive alliteration in his early signed poetry; one finds the same profusion of alliteration in this translation of Ovid. The “w” sound is repeated seven times in “The wonted weight was from the Waine, the which they well did wot” (Book II, 212). In case the inattentive reader missed this, three lines later one reads, “Even so the Waine for want of weight it erst was wont to beare.” Oxford also employed hendiadys in his signed early poetry, along with the alliteration found in Golding’s translation. Both were used in Oxford’s poem published in 1576, “The Loss of My Good Name,” in the first two lines: “Fram’d in the front of forlorn hope, past all recovery/I stayless stand t’abide the shock of shame and infamy.”
Alliterative hendiadys is especially pleasing to the ear, making a further connection between the two linked words. “Wyde and wynding” (Book IX, 24) is a unique hendiadys using two highly similar words. Alliteration combines with assonance in the unique “meate [flesh, or food in general] and mancheate [fine wheat bread, or food in general]” (Book XI, 1330). Further, there is implicit wordplay with the verb “eat” being contained in these two words for food.
“Unforct and unconstrainde” (I, 104) recalls Shakespeare’s fondness for words beginning with “un-”; he coined more than 300 such words in the canon. In this translation, de Vere coined fourteen such words.
In this work, de Vere would go a few pages without using a single word pair, then use several within just a few verses. De Vere seemed to coin new hendiadys when a given image especially intrigued him—“the thicke and foggie ayre” (I, 22) is the first of 113 uses of “thick and foggy” in EEBO; 40 lines later, de Vere coins the related “mist and cloudes” (I, 61), the first of 9 uses in EEBO. Fifteen lines later, he coins “shoures [showers] and rotten mistes” (I, 76), elaborating on this same theme.
De Vere also composes verbal themes and variations with hendiadys. He speaks of “thicke and muddie slime” at line 436 of Book 1; it is the first of 115 uses of this word pair in EEBO. Only 60 lines later, he turns this into “fat and slimie mud” (I 498); the first of 17 uses of that word pair in EEBO. Two lines later, he has “fat and lively soyle” (I, 500), the first of only two uses of this hendiadys in EEBO. In the latter two phrases, one or two words are repeated from the prior phrase, whereas one or two new words are introduced. Readers with good verbal memories are thus rewarded with the pleasure of déja entendu. Judicious repetition is inherent in good art.
Spending time with de Vere’s hendiadys leads one to surmise that he did not regard similar words simply as synonyms. As when he repeats a single word in his plays because it has a different nuance each time, he is asking us to notice different shades of meaning in the words that he pairs. He was the first to use “woods and forrests” (I, 573).7 It is easy to dismiss these words as mere synonyms but, in de Vere’s time, woods were usually smaller than forests; further, the latter referred specifically to royal hunting districts. The French etymology of the latter, in contrast with the Anglo-Saxon origin of “woods,” underlined this difference between king and commoners.
Caroline Spurgeon notes that one of Shakespeare’s favorite images was of the human body in motion. In Book One, de Vere writes of ships that did “leape and daunce” (151); and he says that Phaeton began “to leape and skip for joye” (984).
Some examples have a parallel construction, with the same word modifying both halves of the word pair, e.g., “But one of eche, howbeit those both just and both devout” (I, 383).
I counted 20 instances of hendiadys in Book I of Ovid that are unique in EEBO. That is one measure of the prominence of this figure. Another measure is when a given example is the first instance, followed by other writers who used (or borrowed?) the same word pair. Of these, I count 35 examples in Book I. Anywhere from one to 200 subsequent examples of that hendiadys are found in EEBO. Again, this is merely the first of the 15 Books of the
On the first page of his preface, de Vere uses six word pairs in only two lines:
Of health and sicknesse, lyfe and death, of needinesse and wealth,
Of peace and warre, of love and hate, of murder, craft and stealth.”
This profusion of hendiadys (unique to this translation) anticipates the stylistic plenitude of de Vere’s later Euphuistic phase, characterized by verbal exuberance, and is later captured in Loves Labors Lost. De Vere was formally recognized as the leader of the Euphuists after another secretary, John Lyly, dedicated his second novel, Euphues and His England, to the Earl of Oxford in 1580.
As noted earlier, de Vere coined some 390 hendiadys in this translation, including its Preface. Some 230 word pairs were apparently first used in this work, and then used by subsequent writers. An additional 160 of the word pairs are unique, at least in EEBO. Naturally, these examples are of special interest. In Book XV, l.527 we find “away with Risp and net.” “Risp” is first found in EEBO in 1553; the present example is only its second use. It refers to a bush used to trap birds. In 1553, it was used in a translation of Virgil’s Aeneid into “Scottish meter,” coincidentally by Gawin Douglas, another uncle of an earl (the Earl of Angus). De Vere was constantly enlarging the English language, which may have been one of his motives in linking “risp” with “net” here.
Using one hendiadys often led de Vere to use others in succeeding lines, or even in the same line. This may reflect what cognitive psychology calls “priming”—a technique whereby exposure to one stimulus influences a response to a subsequent stimulus, without conscious guidance or intention. In a single line of his Preface (l. 123) he coins two contiguous hendiadys—
Even so a playne and naked tale or storie simply told...
Book IV (808-810) has three original hendiadys in only three consecutive lines:
As huge and big as Atlas was he tourned in that stead
Into a mountaine: into trees his beard and locks did passe:
His hands and shoulders made the ridge...”
Book XV, lines 910-912 also includes three original hendiadys in three consecutive lines:
Doo dwell, thou shouldest there of brasse and steele substantiall see
The registers of things so strong and massye made to bee,
That sauf and everlasting, they doo neyther stand in feare...
In each of these six cases, the word pairs are used many more times in EEBO. These three word pairs constitute a continuation of an image of something so strong that it will endure—the repetition carries emphasis. According to EEBO, these word pairs are the first of 34, of 20, and of 2 uses, respectively. The first hendiadys anticipates Sonnet 120, l. 4:
“Unlesse my Nerves were brasse or hammered stelle”
There are several examples here of a hendiadys first used in a translation of the works of Erasmus, e.g., Book XV, 932 has “the wyld and barbrous nacions” (Ci verso). In a 1537 translation of Erasmus’s Declamation, the translator uses that very phrase, “the wylde and barbarous nacions.” “Sharp and eager,” used first in a 1548 translation of Erasmus, is used for the second time here (lxviii verso). Thus, one strongly suspects the young de Vere read Erasmus, the foremost Renaissance humanist.
The Psalms, which were a major literary influence on Shakespeare, regularly use repetition for emphasis, and this is one effect of de Vere’s hendiadys. They also have the effect of slowing down the pace of his poem, as it pauses to intensify a point.
Rhymed hendiadys are even more pleasing. Book XIII includes “quake and shake” for the first time (line 94); it was used in 40 subsequent works, including by Ben Jonson. What’s more, there is an example of a triple hendiadys in Book XIII, l. 146: “But myne [shield] is gasht and hakt and stricken thurrough quyght.”
Conversely, when the Ovid translation is the first instance of a given word pair, discovering who used it afterwards may be a clue that they read this translation, or perhaps wrote it. For example, it includes the first use of “spade and mattocke” (Book XI, l. 880). The hendiadys is later echoed in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (V. 3) and Titus Andronicus (IV. 3). Two lines earlier in Ovid is the first use of “fair and sheene [beautiful]”; the second use of that hendiadys is in Spenser’s Faerie Queene.
What about hendiadys in the Medea speech in Book Seven that Prospero alludes to in Act V, scene one of The Tempest?8 There are four examples of newly coined (but later echoed) hendiadys: “Charmes and Witchcraft,” “herbe and weed,” “Ayres and windes,” and “raise and lay.” “Woods and forests” reappears after being coined in Book One, and “stones and trees” is used for the second of 105 instances in EEBO.
In Book XV, there is the twelfth instance of “hands and eyes” in EEBO. What’s striking about it is that the eleventh instance is found in Arthur Brookes’ 1562 Romeus & Juliet. The context is similar: in Brookes, “With handes and eyes heaved up/he thanks God.” In Ovid, “to heaven he cast his handes and eyes.”
Book VIII twice mentions a “boarspeare” (lines 459 and 553). It is the first instance of this word in EEBO, though the OED gives a usage in 1465. So the word was unusual in 1567, but we know the boar was de Vere’s heraldic
animal. When Rosalind and Celia in AYLI are discussing how to disguise their real identities with “poor and mean attire” and new names, Rosalind proposes to carry a “boar-spear” (I, 3). This is but one of two times that word is used in Shakespeare. The other time is in Richard III (III, 2), which was published in 1597, a year before the first play that carried the name “William Shakespeare” (but after Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, which used that pseudonym). So did “boar-spear” hint at the connection between de Vere and “Shakespeare”?
Shakespeare is said to have coined more than 300 words beginning with “un-”. Remarkably, this translation coins fourteen such words: unreele; unfrayd; unambicious; unsurmysed; unastaunched; unsentfor; unavoyded; unwish; unhated; unwieldsome; unfaded; unbetrayed; unhackt (the OED incorrectly lists Shakespeare’s King John as having coined the word); and unappeasd (once again, the OED erroneously credits Shakespeare with coining this word years later, in Titus Andronicus). This fact alone increases the likelihood that Shakespeare translated this work.
Additional Coined Hendiadys in Oxford’s Ovid
There are numerous instances of Shakespeare echoing Ovid’s word pairs, with the two words in close proximity to each other. While there is no doubt that this translation was one of Shakespeare’s most significant literary sources, this pattern of echoes—reminiscent of Carl Jung’s word association test to assess the uniqueness of each personality—further suggests a similar process of verbal association in the mind of the translator and the author of Shakespeare. Below, I list some examples.
As noted earlier, the Preface has a higher concentration of hendiadys than the rest of the book—61 examples in only 222 lines. This provides compelling evidence against the theory that the incidence of hendiadys in Books 1–15 is merely due to their presence in Ovid’s original Latin. The Preface has the unique hendiadys “trees and stones,” while Lorenzo in Merchant of Venice (V.i) says “Orpheus drew trees, stones and floods.” Similarly, it includes the unique “strange and monstrous,” while Quince in Midsummer Night’s Dream says “O monstrous! O strange!” Note that one italicized word brings the other to mind for both translator and playwright—further evidence that they are one and the same writer.
Book I (line 101) includes EEBO’s unique “shape nor hew.” The title character of Hamlet (V.ii) verbs these two nouns in, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,/ Rough-hew them how we will.”
Book I (125) has the first of EEBO’s 47 instances of “leane and barren.” Venus and Adonis (156) has “Thick-sighted, barren, lean...”
Book II (301) describes the Aethiopians as “blacke and swart.” That is the first of 15 uses of that word pair in EEBO. Joan la Pucelle, in 1 Henry VI (I.ii) says, “I was black and swart before.” Book II (1016) also includes the first of 38 EEBO examples of the hendiadys “light nor heate.” In Hamlet (I.iii), Polonius says, “Giving more light than heat.” Line 960 has the first of 26 EEBO uses of “Snakes and Todes.” Tamora, in Titus Andronicus (II.iii) speaks of “a thousand hissing snakes,/ Ten thousand swelling toads.”
Cadmus is described in Book III (7) as “kinde and cruell.” In Hamlet (III.iv), the title character famously says “I must be cruel, only to be kind.” Book III (272) includes “over hill and dale.” That is the second EEBO instance of this hendiadys; the first was by de Vere’s uncle Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in his 1557 book, Songes and Sonettes. The Fairy in Midsummer Night’s Dream (II.i. 369) sings nearly the same phrase in “Over hill, over dale.”
Book IV includes the hendiadys used for the first time here, and borrowed the most often subsequently: 857 further instances of it are found in EEBO. It is “That heart and hand and all did faile in working for a space” (212). In Shakespeare we find:
I Henry VI (I.ii) — “My heart and hands.”
Troilus and Cressida (IV.v) — “His heart and hand.”
Coriolanus (I.x) — “Wash my fierce hand in’s heart.”
Book IV also contains the first of 42 EEBO examples of “neat and trim” (line 386). In 1 Henry IV (I.iii), someone is described as “neat, and trimly dress’d.”
Book V (42) has the first of 59 EEBO uses of “powre and sway.” Sonnet 65 (l. 2) includes, “But sad mortality o’er-sways their power.”
“Haaste and speed” (line 644) makes its first of 46 EEBO appearances in Book VI; Shakespeare associates these seemingly redundant words in Measure for Measure (III.i): “Haste you speedily.” And in Richard III (III.i): “make all the speedy haste you may.” In all instances, there is an implicit allusion to and contrast with the Latin adage, “festina lente,” meaning “make haste slowly.”
Book VII has EEBO’s first of 45 instances of “heavie and unwieldie” (line 730). Romeo and Juliet (II.v) has “Unwieldy, slow, heavy...” And Richard II has “I give this heavy weight from off my head/ And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand.” Book VII also has the first of 50 instances in EEBO of “bones and dust” (line 669). These words are connected in Sonnet 32 (l. 2): “When
that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover.” And Titus Andronicus (V.ii) has, “I will grind your bones to dust.”
The first of EEBO’s five instances of “ghostes and soules” (line 633) is in Book VIII; Antony and Cleopatra (IV.i) includes “Where souls do couch on flowers, we’ll hand in hand,/ And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze.”
Book IX has EEBO’s first of 21 instances of “sort and sute” (line 109). We find in Measure for Measure (IV, iv), “give notice to such men of sort and suit as are to meet him.”
In Book X, we find the first of 40 uses of “shape and nature” (line 73) in EEBO; Twelfth Night has “the shape of nature” (I.v); Pericles has “Nature’s own shape” (V.prologue). In addition, “blood and hart” is used for the first of 44 times; Antony and Cleopatra (V.i) has “blood of hearts.”
The first of 43 instances of “spade and mattocke” (line 880) in EEBO is in Book XI; Shakespeare’s early play Titus Andronicus includes “Tis you must dig with Mattocke and with Spade” (IV.iii). And Romeo and Juliet includes “We took this Mattocke and with Spade from him” (V.iii). It also includes the first of nine uses of “charge and break” (line 621); Cymbeline (III.iv) says “if sleep charge nature,/ To break it with a fearful dream...”
Book XIII has the first of 40 EEBO uses of “quake and shake” (line 94). Venus and Adonis has Venus say that her heart, “like an earthquake, shakes thee on my breast.”
Book XIV also includes “heate and lyght” (line 888); as noted, it is echoed when Hamlet says, “Giving more light than heat” (I.3.605).
Book XV has more unique hendiadys since Book X, and even more first instances that were later used by other writers. Among the latter is “harsh and hard,” (86) the first of 99 instances. In Troilus and Cressida we find “The cygnet’s down is harsh and spirit of sense/ Hard as the palm of ploughman” (I.i.88-89).
Only in Book XII did I find no notable instances of Shakespeare later associating the same words that were first used in a hendiadys in this translation.
In conclusion, I have employed converging lines of evidence to strengthen past attributions of the “Golding” translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses to a precocious adolescent literary genius, Edward de Vere. That translation created more than 100 new words, including several still in common use. It used nine words with unusual “aa” spelling, which appear nowhere else in EEBO; this is consistent with the five “aa” words in de Vere’s surviving letters that also do not appear in EEBO. Its 14 coined words beginning with “un-” are consistent with Shakespeare inventing over 300 such words. Finally, its 390 coined word pairs are consistent with Wright’s estimate that Shakespeare created more than 300 examples of hendiadys. As noted at the beginning, my thesis—that the translator of this work was actually Edward de Vere—enriches our knowledge of the earlier development of Shakespeare’s literary powers.
1. The question of de Vere’s translation of Ovid has attracted even the interest of anthropologist Robin Fox, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, in his book, Shakespeare’s Education (2012). Charlton Ogburn Jr. is one of several researchers who have proposed that de Vere had a hand in the “Golding” Metamorphoses. In my opinion, he stops short of giving de Vere his rightful credit for the entire translation. I suspect it would have been too distasteful to de Vere’s uncle Arthur Golding to collaborate in it, and that they would have been too much at cross purposes to have agreed on how to English the Latin Ovid. Gordon Braden, in his comments on the “otiose” “doubling of adjectives” in this translation, unwittingly helps build the case for the youthful de Vere as translator, criticizing both the inaccurate translations and childish diction.
2. This invaluable database includes the searchable full text of some 50,000
early books, though EEBO has its limitations. First, not all early modern
books are included, and I have noticed that searches for specific phrases
sometimes yield different results when executed several months apart. Thus, while EEBO should be regarded as suggestive rather than definitive in the evidence it provides, it still offers scholars a repository of knowledge about the Early Modern Period.
3. “Ye have yet another manner of speech when ye will seem to make two of one not thereunto constrained, which therefore we call the Figure of Twins, the Greeks hendiadys” (261).
4. “when one thing of itself entire is diversely laid open…This also is rather poetical than otherwise in use” (83). By the way, it is relevant that the etymology of “secretary” involves keeping the secrets of one’s employer.
5. I do not claim this was an original trope with de Vere. One need only
recall the earlier editions of the Mirror for Magistrates.
6. He preferred the older spelling, “Oxenford,” signing nearly all his extant
letters “Edward Oxenford.”
It later became the name of a department of the British Civil Service.
Jan Cole (2013) discovered that “Golding” mentioned Vulcano.
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