ENG100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Incest Taboo, Sprachbund
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Lecture 4 – Jan 18th - Shakespeare
–2.3.66-84 --> Bassianus describes Aaron as aboninable
–What is the logic of Lavinia's appeal?
–What ideas is Tamora's response to Lavinia grounded in?
–What does the reape demonstrate about Tamora and her sons?
–There is a threat coming from Tamora (revenge it as you love your mother's life/or be not
called my sons)
–there is a threat because of lineage
➢Where does Shakespeare get his ideas? (Ovid Metamorphoses)
➢Tereus & Procne marry in Thrace
➢In Ovid, greeks are the homelad, the thracians are the barbarians who are outside the linguistic
area of greece
➢pg 145 he says he will protect philomel with a father's love, but then he ends up raping her?
➢Tereus is an outsider
➢When Lavinia says “confusion” - & in Ovid.....they say....”Now it is all confused” - this idea of
confusion in the form of incest....because tereus takes philomela as a second wife at at the same
time it's an exomogous marriage that he comes from thrace and not from greece.
➢Tereu's rape of Philomel breaks the incest taboo
➢Tereus is an outsider/barbarian in greek
➢Philomel threatens to speak the crime that has been committed against her.
➢Babbling --- Barbarians...the things that babble are barbarians (idea of Lavinia getting her
tongue get off....only allows her to babble and not speak)
➢Lavinia's encounters with Demetrius and Chiron are encounters with Barbarians.
➢There[s a link between the mouth and wounded genitals.
➢We need to read Ovid to understand the underlying meaning because Shakespeare can't stage
everything (especially a rape)
➢Procne (the sister) and Philomela discover the crime and it is Procne that designs the revenge.
The revenge is infanticide and cannabilism.
➢Composed in the 8th century A.D (known to medieval and renaissance readers so it had a great
deal of influence)
➢For titus, rome becums a wilderness of tigers
➢So where are the barbarians now?
➢Titus is going to plead that perhaps his hands might be exchanged for his hands. He says that his
hands have fought for Rome in vain.
➢Bootless prayer = unproductive
➢Hands for titus are an instrument first of service, then dishonour and then betrayal.
➢Lines 83 (3.1) Lavinia has been transformed from the signifier of Rome and order (thru
marriage), here she's rendered into a babbling and hollow cage.
➢Tongues becomes an important plot device
➢He suggests things to ease Lavinia: Titus speaks of looking into a fountain, and all their tears
turn the water into a brine pit. He then considers plotting with the leftover tongues.