Online Seminar Series: Shakespearean Marriage

**Events may have been canceled or postponed. Please contact the venue to confirm the event.

Date & Time

Sat, May 20 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Address (map)

1129 Maricopa Highway #156

Online Seminar Series

Shakespearean Marriage, Italian-Style (Mostly) –

& One by Marlowe!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Almost the last detail the reader hears of Socrates at the end of Plato’s Symposium, which is Apollodorus’ recollection of Aristodemus’ account of the dinner party, is that after a night of speechmaking and drinking, Socrates was still awake near dawn, pressing Agathon and Aristophanes (tragedian and comedian, respectively), the three of them still passing the jug around, to admit that the same poet could write both tragedy and comedy.  As “dawn spread forth her fingertips of rose,”[1] the two poets, deep in their cups, nodded off to sleep, Aristophanes just before daybreak, Agathon just after.  What would one do for the encore of a Socratic lullaby!

Fast forward two millennia: in a strange land, in a tongue that had not existed on the occasion of that Athenian sunrise, Shakespeare proved Socrates right in a very different city with a very different climate.  One can only guess at Socrates’ argument, for Aristodemus seems not to have heard or remembered it, as he was only just waking up, presumably with a hangover, but one might try surmising the logic backwards from the evidence of Shakespeare’s drama, different as it is from that of ancient Athens, and say that comedy and tragedy in the hands of the same poet can show themselves as the inside-out, upside-down mirror images of each other.  Whence comes the hypothesis that the same poet can write both if he understands the mirror and can give each dramatic form, in each of its many instances, “a local habitation and a name.”[2]  This hypothesis serves as an invitation to consider Shakespearean comedy and tragedy together, loosely grouped, all but one of the plays set in Italy, all but one by the Bard, comedies followed by tragedy, each play always standing on its own, winking perhaps at the others.

Group 1:

The Taming of the Shrew

Much Ado About Nothing

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (set in Athens)

Romeo and Juliet

Group 2:

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Jew of Malta (by Marlowe)

The Merchant of Venice


[1] a translation of an expression from Homer

[2] A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May 20 Reading:

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Signet Classic – Penguin Publishing Group (April 1998)

ISBN 9780451526793


12:00-2:00 PM PDT


Eric Stull


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