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Diamonds, maidens, Widow Dido, and Cock-a-diddle-dow.

References to Dido, lover of Aeneas, in the second act of The Tempest have garnered much interpretation and speculation by readers and playgoers. Studieed the extensive use of images and themes from the Aeneid in the play and have shown especially how the love of Ferdinand and Miranda is partly parallel to, and partly a reversal of, the ancient love story of Aeneas and the queen of Carthage, there may be another motive for Didos inclusion, a motive related to a system of wordplay involving shuffled repetitions of the sounds of letters and syllables. (2) As Russ McDonald has remarked in Shakespeare's Late Style, "The notorious mystery surrounding Gonzalo's 'Widow Dido' has been examined in almost every conceivable context except, I think, that of aural identity, simple rhyme." (3) Although venturing a bit beyond rhyme, this essay focuses on the name of Dido as sound, and as alphabetical letters, situating the name within a set of wordplay practices extending across the genres of drama, prose fiction, poetry, and folk ballad. It explores, therefore, an overlooked linguistic facet of Dido's multifaceted legacy.

My argument begins with anagrammatical wordplay involved in commonplace associations between desirable women and precious jewels, and Dido's participation within that complex. I then consider Dido as an emblem of love-induced madness and explore a link between her name and the nonsense words in bawdy ballads. Finally, I maintain that utterances of "widow Dido" in The Tempest echo the refrain to "Come unto these yellow sands" and therefore participate in Ariel's music, which is both alluring and cautionary.

I. Diamonds

Diamonds were hardly common material objects in late medieval and early modern England, yet in language and literature they gathered about them an array of cultural implications. Everyday speakers linked them, of course, with wealth and treasure, but also with innocence and virginity, and the writers of romances used them to symbolize the idealized, unalloyed beauty of the chaste females who were the objects of their heroes' quests. Players on the London stage in the time of Shakespeare invoked them to mark the role of the eminently desirable woman. The following lines, spoken by Savourwit in Thomas Middleton's No Wit/Help Like a Woman's, exemplify the figure:
   Do not wise men and great often bestow
   Ten thousand pound in jewels that lie by 'em?
   If so, what jewel can lie by a man
   More precious than a virgin? If none more precious,
   Why should the pillow of a fool be graced
   With that brave spirits which dearness have embraced?--And
   then perhaps, ere the third spring come on,
   Sends home your diamond cracked, the beauty gone,
   And--more to know her, 'cause you shall not doubt her--A
   number of poor sparks twinkling about her.

(1.219-28) (4)


He tells us that a virgin is a treasure so precious that she should be reserved for great men, who, presumably, will appreciate her, not for fools who will debase her and eventually abandon her to overuse among the common multitude ("poor sparks"), her own light and value greatly diminished. The phrase "diamond cracked" transfers the jewel reference from the young woman herself to her maidenhead. In the sexual innuendo of the period, "diamond" "jewel," or "precious stone" might refer to either female or male sexual parts. (5)

Yet a leading lady did not have to be a maiden to be pure and radiant, and valued as a diamond. In Middleton's Women, Beware Women the "most matchless jewel" Bianca, the sixteen-year-old wife of Leantio, must be "cased up from all men's eyes" (1.1.162, 170). When the lust-filled Duke of Florence sends a messenger to invite Bianca to a banquet, her husband tells her to withdraw, because she is "a gem no stranger's eye must see, / Howe'er thou please now to look dull on me" (3.1.175-76). (6) Looking and seeing are intimately linked with the diamond-like woman, not only because she is beautiful, but because sight is linked with fire through popular optical theory, and in keeping with such theory, both fire and chaste women, like diamonds, are light-giving or radiant. Romeo's Juliet is not only his Jule (jewel) of July, born on Lammas Eve in the fieriest part of the year, but also light breaking from a window and the sun rising in the east (1.3.19, 34; 2.1.47-48). (7) In The Merchant of Venice, Portia tells Bassanio, "Let me give light, but let me not be light, / For a light wife doth make a heavy husband" implying that she would be radiant but not wanton (5.1.139-40).

Of course, every lover's diamond is the rarest there is. In As You Like It, one of Orlando's poems reads, "From the east to western Ind, / No jewel is like Rosalind" (3.2.62-63). The diamond maiden is that which both her lover and her father hold dear above all else, as when Hortensio says,
   Tarry, Petruchio, I must go with thee,
   For in Baptista's keep my treasure is:
   He hath the jewel of my life in hold,
   His youngest daughter, beautiful Bianca.

(The Taming of the Shrew, 1.2.105-8)


The treasure may also quite specifically be the young woman's maidenhead. Boult, the bawd in Pericles, trying to introduce Marina to prostitution, is quite blunt with her:

Boult: Come, mistress, come your way with me.

Marina: Whither wilt thou have me?

Boult: To take from you the jewel you hold so dear. (4.5.162-64)

Similarly, Sir Charles of Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness would have his sister Susan exchange her maidenhead for his freedom: "Shall I die in debt / To Acton, my grand foe, and you still wear / The precious jewel that he holds so dear?" (14.51-53). (8) And, in Gervase Markham and Lewis Machin's The Dumb Knight, the maiden Mariana justifies her own pride by comparing it with the protective value of a diamond's hardness and purity:
   Pride gives a lustre to a woman's fair,
   Things that are highest priz'd are ever dear.
   Why is the diamond the sapphire's king,
   But for esteem and rareness? both which spring
   From the stone's pride, which is so chaste and hard,
   Nothing can pierce it, itself is itself's guard. (9)


Here the diamond's connotations include pride, chastity, hardness, self-esteem, vanity, and independence.

II. Amadine, a Maiden

That chaste women are regularly figured as diamonds or other gemstones in medieval and early modern texts is well known. What is less often acknowledged is the significant role of the anagrammatical relationship between the words diamonds and maidens and the names of a number of these treasured females. Playing upon the letters and sounds that constitute the word diamond was so widespread as to constitute not merely a literary motif, but a cultural convention relating to light, sight, attraction, and treasuring. In the Spanish setting of the anonymous English stage romance Mucedorus, it is Amadine, "Aragon's bright jewel," who like a lodestone draws the title character to his adventure (1.17). Mucedorus's rival, Anselmo, calls Amadine a "forcing adamant" (13.32), a word that could mean either a hard mineral such as diamond, or a magnetic one, and was therefore apt for an attractive beauty. (10) Her name, Amadine (alphabetically, AADEIMN), is an anagram of a maiden (AADEIMN), and its letters reshuffle most of those of diamond (ADDIMNO) and its etymological relative, adamant (AAADMNT). She is a diamond by virtue of her name, her beauty, and her status as a princess. She is not only radiant but magnetic, and when she seeks her lover in the woods she is, in more than one sense of the phrase, a diamond in the rough. The virtuous maiden of James Shirley's play The Traitor has the quite similar name Amidea (AADEIM), which lacks only the n of Amadine. (11)

We find another diamond name in Thomas Nashe's prose romance The Unfortunate Traveler. The rogue Jack Wilton has acquired "large sums of money" from Castaldo's wife, Diamante, whose name is Italian for "diamond" and spends it while assuming the identity of the Earl of Surrey. (12) Furthermore, in reference to the numerous engraved epigrams--"venereal monuments"--in the chamber of the Earl of Surrey's exceedingly fair mistress Geraldine, Wilton tells us, punningly, that "diamonds thought themselves Dii mundi if they might but carve her name on the naked glass" (316). In the heraldic device on Surrey's horse is the shape of an ostrich in "rough-plumed silver plush," and on its wings are crystal eyes, Geraldine's eyes, the rays of which are formed of diamonds (317). The ostrich is "the most burning-sighted bird of all others" and thus is able to spur the earl's horse in the lists (318). Nashe associates diamonds with eyes, especially burning ones. The diamond is an emblem whose associations include money and wealth, selling, light, vision, visual display, and the element of fire.

When, in The Tempest, Ferdinand exclaims of Prospero's daughter, "Admired Miranda, / Indeed the top of admiration, worth / What's dearest to the world!" (3.1.46-48), he is unwittingly echoing Philisides' comment, "And Mira I admired" in Sir Philip Sidney's Old Arcadia. (13) Miranda is an anagram of "And Mira," and the name Mira is, of course, based on a word in the romance languages having to do with directing or aiming one's line of sight (e.g., Sp. mirar, to look), thereby highlighting the fact that the bearer of that name is a target of the gaze of men. These names, along with adamant Amadine of Mucedorus, the animated Diamante and dii mundi of Nashe's tale, and the maiden Amidea in The Traitor, employ alphabetical characters of the word diamond to suggest a diamond-like acted character: a maiden (AADEIMN), Amadine (AADEIMN), Amidea (AADEIM), Diamante (AADEIMNT), And Mira (AADIMNR) I admired (ADDEIIMR), Admired (ADDEIMR) Miranda (AADIMNR). In the larger view, these instances of letter-play constitute merely a sample or segment of a larger set of names relating to a stock character of drama and fiction, and a standard character of general discourse, the diamond woman.

III. My Daughter, My Ducats

Of course, the category was also evoked without this letter-play upon the woman's name, and in many instances, the focus was on the exchange value of the female prize involved, its diminishing of her humanity, and the deceptions that often accompanied anything that was especially valuable and alluring. In Much Ado About Nothing, we find this exchange:

Benedick: Would you buy her, that you inquire after her?

Claudio: Can the world buy such a jewel?

Benedick: Yea, and a case to put it into. (1.1.120-22)

The human commodity to be exchanged is Claudio's beloved, Hero, who is presented here in both financial and sexual terms (the innuendo in "case"). The female character often refers to herself, and her chastity, as a prize to be valued, won, or exchanged. In The Tempest, Miranda admits her attraction to Ferdinand, saying she's never seen another she liked better, and swearing to it "by my modesty-- / The jewel in my dower" (3.1.63-64). In All's Well That Ends Well, there is an intricate web of valuations of this kind. Bertram speaks of the ring that is central in his vow not to acknowledge his marriage to Helena, while Diana, the object of his interest for whom Helena will substitute in bed, compares her chastity to such a jewel:
   Bertram: It is an honour 'longing to our house,
      Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
      Which were the greatest obloquy i'th'world
      In me to lose.

   Diana: Mine honour's such a ring:
      My chastity's the jewel of our house,
      Bequeathed down from many ancestors,
      Which were the greatest obloquy i'th'world
      In me to lose.

(4.2.50-58)


The parallelism in these statements reinforces the equating of jewel and virginity. Later, when Diana presents this ring to the king as evidence that Bertram seduced her with it, he defends himself by claiming that the gift of the ring was nothing more than a payment to a prostitute; and after that, the same jewel serves as proof that he has actually consummated his marriage with Helena.

Abigail in Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta is another maiden diamond. Her father, Barabas, has upon occasion traded in diamonds in the marketplace of Malta. When one Lodowick, son of the governor, seeks the Jew's help in obtaining a precious stone, Barabas replies,
   O, sir, your father had my diamonds.
   Yet, I have one left that will serve your turn.
   (Aside) I mean my daughter--but ere he shall have her,
   I'll sacrifice her on a pile of wood.

(2.3.50-53)


The language of the scene puts Abigail in the position of goods to be exchanged among men, and she is specifically marked as lustrous sexual goods and referred to impersonally as "it." Barabas uses his sparkling daughter, who "outshines Cynthia's rays" (63), to lure Lodowick to his house, where he intends to arrange the man's demise by having Abigail vow love to him falsely, "like a cunning Jew" (236), thus making him the enemy of her lover, Don Mathias. (14) The cunning of the scene's diamond motif is furthered through the letters of the word diamonds (ADDIMNOS) being enclosed within the name of Don Mathias (AADHIMNOST).

Shylocks daughter, Jessica, in The Merchant of Venice is similarly conflated with the objects of wealth, thereby diminishing her humanity. Antonio's friends Solanio and Salerio report Shylocks disordered state of mind upon learning that Jessica fled with her lover, Lorenzo, taking jewels and money with her. In Solanio's words,
   I never heard a passion so confused,
   So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
   As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
   "My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!
   Fled with a Christian! O my Christian ducats!
   Justice, the law, my ducats, and my daughter!
   A sealed bag, two sealed bags of ducats,
   Of double ducats, stol'n from me by my daughter!
   And jewels, two stones, two rich and precious stones,
   Stol'n by my daughter! Justice! Find the girl,
   She hath the stones upon her, and the ducats"

(2.8.12-22)


Shylocks confusion seems about whether to be most upset about his money, his daughter, or his own emasculation, implied in his reference to his loss of two bags and two stones. Salerio tells us, "Why, all the boys in Venice follow him, / Crying, his stones, his daughter, and his ducats" (23-24).

IV. Dido, Queen of Diamonds

The pile of wood on which Marlowe's Barabas imagines sacrificing his daughter evokes the pyre that the wealthy and beautiful Dido uses for her suicide when she is abandoned by Aeneas in book 4 of the Aeneid. Dido was regularly associated with the cultural habit of the diamond woman. Her name is composed of letters contained in the word diamond, and makers of playing cards regularly imprinted it on the queen of diamonds. (15) In playing-card terms, the suit of diamonds was the suit of money, but before it was diamonds, the suit was simply money, or coins. "Moneys is your suit," says Shylock, referring to the Venetian merchant's request for a loan, but unwittingly punning on the playing-card suit (1.3.110). Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights were well aware that both coins and diamonds were objects symbolic of the monetary and mercantile aspects of their society and that those objects provided the suit signs for the cards with which they played gambling games.

The gambling in Susanna Centlivre's The Basset Table provides a venue for associating jewel imagery with the playing-card suit of diamonds. Composed late in the seventeenth century, this play is useful in demonstrating that the diamond emblem on cards was interpreted, by that time, as a symbol of the jewels that were the mark of wealth. When Mistress Sago asks for "all diamonds" at a game of basset, she takes the cards and throws them over her shoulder, one at a time. Lady Reveller, in an aside, remarks, "That can never be lucky. The name of jewels don't become a citizen's wife." (16)

The diamond suit of playing cards goes back at least to the late fifteenth century, when French card makers substituted a lozenge-shaped emblem for the coins that had marked earlier cards of the suit of money and wealth. Initially, this lozenge, or rhomb, had little to do with actual diamonds, other than the fact that this shape was widely construed as symbolic of that stone. Instead, the name given to this new version of the suit of wealth was carreau (French for "paving tile," also spelled quarreau), which seemed to refer to the sort of checkered floor or chessboard (echiquier, or exchequer) on which monetary sums could be calculated with counters. The French term is etymologically linked with the Italian suit term quadro, as well as the English word quarrel, which typically refers to rhombic window panes, while also allowing for puns upon matters of disagreement. In A Fair Quarrel, by William Rowley and Thomas Middleton, the Cornish servingman Trimtram admits, "Yes, we cut out quarrels and break glasses where we go" (2.2.123-24). (17)

It was probably during the early sixteenth century that the suit of carreaux came to be known as diamonds in England. Court cards of the period were regularly inscribed with the names of legendary or mythical figures. The diamond king--or king of money--was almost always labeled Caesar, whose image was on the coin examined by Jesus when he pronounced, regarding taxes, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" (AV, Matt. 22:21). Names for the queen varied considerably but might be Calpurnia, Medea, or Dido, legendary women of wealth and position. The queen of diamonds was especially associated with radiant, unapproachable beauty, and in some packs she was labeled la belle eterne. (18) Accounting for his passion for the beautiful Olivia in Twelfth Night, Orsino avows that it is not her lands and money that interest him, "But 'tis that miracle and queen of gems / That nature pranks her in attracts my soul" (2.4.85-86). His lines bring together the image of the precious stone, the idea of magnetic attraction, and the gaze upon a wondrous sight implied in "miracle," while also hinting at the queen of diamonds.

V. Madding Dido's Diminution

Diamonds were regularly invoked not only as the epitome of radiance and invincibility, but of sharpness as well. As suit signs on cards they were sometimes called picks, or picts, because of their sharply pointed or piked ends. (19) The rhombic shape we call the diamond tapers toward points, gradually diminishing in width. Other than the eye itself, there may be no object more intimately associated with the sense of sight than the diamond, as far as Shakespeare is concerned, and like the shape of the diamond, an object receding in the field of vision diminishes to a vanishing point.

Virgil's account of Dido in the first four books of the Aeneid was employed by Shakespeare as a prototype for visual diminution because in that story, Aeneas is imagined sailing far away from her, and, after her suicide by the sword, looking back upon her funeral pyre. Dido says, "And may that heartless Dardan, far at sea, / drink down deep the sight of our fires here / and bear with him this omen of our death!" (20)

In 2 Henry VI, Queen Margaret invokes the story to depict her separation, aboard ship during a storm, from England's shore. She thinks the winds that prevent her from reaching England are warning her of death awaiting her there, because of her deceptive scheming with the ambitious and murderous lord of Suffolk. She blames King Henry's hard heart for her troubles. Straining to see the diminishing chalk cliffs, as the sky darkens, she casts a heart-shaped jewel into the channel waters, toward England:
   As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,
   When from thy shore the tempest beat us back,
   I stood upon the hatches in the storm,
   And when the dusky sky began to rob
   My earnest-gaping sight of thy land's view,
   I took a costly jewel from my neck--A
   heart it was, bound in with diamonds--And
   threw it towards thy land. The sea received it,
   And so I wished thy body might my heart:
   And even with this, I lost fair England's view,
   And bid mine eyes be packing with my heart,
   And called them blind and dusky spectacles,
   For losing ken of Albion's wished coast.
   How often have I tempted Suffolk's tongue,
   The agent of thy foul inconstancy,
   To sit and witch me, as Ascanius did,
   When he to madding Dido would unfold
   His father's acts commenced in burning Troy.
   Am I not witched like her? Or thou not false like him?
   Ay me, I can no more: die, Margaret,
   For Henry weeps that thou dost live so long.

(3.2.102-22)


Margaret compares Suffolk to Cupid in Virgil's Aeneid, who, disguised as Aeneas's son Ascanius, is sent by Venus (mother of Aeneas) to get wealthy Dido to fall in love with the Trojan hero. The queen claims that Suffolk has tricked and bewitched her into marrying Henry, as Cupid tricks Dido, while Henry is as false to her as Aeneas. That Dido is "madding" means, to be sure, that she has come a bit unhinged in her love for Aeneas, but, at the same time, the word serves to place the name of Dido, queen of diamonds, securely within the anagrammatical motif of the diamond female. The g is the only letter in the phrase "madding Dido" (ADDDD[G]IIMNO) that is not also in the word diamond (ADDIMNO). We may also observe that Cupid's tales are of Aeneas's actions in "burning" Troy, adding the element of fire to the diamond image.

VI. Idle Widow Dido's Idol

It did not escape Marlowe and Shakespeare that the letters in the name Dido, which appeared on the queen of diamonds, were also contained in the word diamond, or that her marital status was described by the word widow, whose sound resonated with--and whose spelling contained the letters of--her name of Dido. The echoic and trochaic dimeter "widow Dido" has a chantlike effect on the ear, like the nonsense syllables of some songs, and as such it is apt for the magical, dreamlike island of The Tempest, as well as the mythical and tragic setting of Dido's abandonment by Aeneas. (21)

Retellings and invocations of Didos story in Renaissance drama are characterized by a language of seeing, burning, and dying, relating both to Dido's supposed view of Aeneas sailing away from her and Aeneas's view of her pyre as he further recedes. In Marlowe's Dido Queene of Carthage, for example, the widow queen describes in just such terms the man she has been induced by Cupid to love:
   The man that I doe eye where ere I am,
   Whose amorous face like Pean sparkles fire,
   When as he buts his beames on Floras bed,
   Prometheus hath put on Cupids shape,
   And I must perish in his burning armes:
   Aeneas, O Aeneas, quench these flames.

(3.4.18-23) (22)


The object of her desire is a man of fire, as she will be a fire for him to see after her suicide. Fire is an integral part of diamond imagery, as is the play of the letters and syllables of the diamond anagrammatical motif. Didos "I doe eye" plays upon her name; other instances include the palindrome "O Dido" (2.1.159; 4.4.55, 149) and the partial anagram of diamond, "Dido I am" (5.1.264). Although Didos sister Anna urges her to "leave these idle fantasies" (5.1.262), Dido, under the spell of Venus and Cupid, makes an idol of Aeneas. In Virgil, the city-building Dido becomes idle once she assumes that her coupling with Aeneas in the cave constitutes marriage, and her guilt sets in with regard to her vow to her dead husband. She had responded to lust, and called it marriage, and she began to neglect her new city. (23) Contrasting "faring well" with the possibility of a "farewell," Marlowe's Dido again plays upon her name, contemplating her own death: "Fare well may Dido, so Aeneas stay, / I dye, if my Aeneas say farewell" (107-8), and in the end she throws herself into the flames, saying, "Dido dyes" (312).

An opportunity to play upon the name of Dido is rarely resisted. In a letter to the gullible Mistress Gallipot in Middleton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl, the conniving scoundrel Laxton assures the mark of his con game that "though Aeneas made an ass of Dido, I will die to thee ere I do so" (6.61-3). (24) With "an ass," Laxton puns on Aeneas, and with both "die to" and "I do" on Dido. Assured that she has a secret admirer in Laxton, Mistress Gallipot frets over how to provide him with the funds he desires from her, without her husband's knowledge.

For Shakespeare, Dido is the epitome of someone verging on madness because of love, whether or not that love is originally wholesome. The eerie tryst between Tamora and Aaron in the dismal forest of Titus Andronicus is a case in point. Because we know Aaron likes to boast of his many villainies, Tamora gives us a chill when she calls him "my lovely Aaron" and describes a supposedly pleasant day as follows: "The snake lies rolled in the cheerful sun, / The green leaves quiver with the cooling wind / And make a chequered shadow on the ground" (2.3.10, 13-15). She compares the embraces they will share with those "the wand'ring prince and Dido once enjoyed, / When with a happy storm they were surprised / And curtained with a counsel-keeping cave" (22-24). The evil surrounding this encounter perversely darkens the usual romantic value of the reference to Dido, while at the same time the reference reinforces a sense that Tamora is out of control.

There is also an unsettled quality, at the least, in the Dido moments of Romeo, Hamlet, and Mark Antony. Mercutio thinks Romeo a bit over the edge, as he mocks his friend's attempts to celebrate his love in poetry: "Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in: Laura to his lady was a kitchen-wench--marry, she had a better love to berhyme her--Dido a dowdy" (Romeo and Juliet, 2.3.30-31). "Dido a dowdy" is, of course, another of many plays upon the d sounds of the name, but it also incorporates the letters of "widow Dido" Hamlet's overenthusiastic engagement with the players also seems just a bit frantic: "One speech in it I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin at this line--let me see, let me see" (Hamlet, 2.2.389-92). Of course, Hamlet's mental state is merely interpreted as a result of love, by those unaware that he has been urged by the ghost to revenge. Mark Antony, too, is a bit distract when he conceives the thrill of taking his own life to join Cleopatra, or so he believes, in the afterworld. He calls to his devoted friend Eros:
   Eros!--I come, my queen.--Eros!--Stay for me:
   Where souls do couch on flowers we'll hand in hand
   And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze.
   Dido and her Aeneas shall want troops,
   And all the haunt be ours.--Come, Eros, Eros!

(Antony and Cleopatra, 4.14.58-62)


Antony's image ignores the fact that in the underworld, Dido turns away from the Trojan hero and embraces the love of her husband Sychaeus. Such details are not part of his immediate passion. Of course, he would not have known them anyway, as Virgil had not yet composed the epic.

When Jessica and Lorenzo, the poetic lovers of The Merchant of Venice, interlace the sounds and letters of their lines, Dido wordplay again has a role, but here the reference adds to our understanding of the literary lovesickness and great intimacy of this pair.
   Jessica: In such a night
      DID Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the DEW,
      And saw the lion's SHADOW ere himself,
      And ran dismayed away.

   Lorenzo: In such a night
      STOOD DIDO with a WILLOW in her hand
      Upon the WILD sea banks and waft her love
      To come again to Carthage.

(5.1.7-14) (25)


Jessica's word "shadow" combines sounds from dew and saw, as Lorenzo's "wild" takes from "Dido" and "willow." The d of "dew" and s of "saw" are reversed in "shadow," while the d of "Dido" and the w of "willow" are reversed in "wild" More generally, a set of Lorenzo's words echoes and rearranges sounds and letters in a set of Jessica's words. The letters in common are DIOSW, those of "widow Dido," plus s. (26) The sound-play functions in defining the romantic character of this couple in the play, as well as the intimacy between them at this moment, but it also links the moment with a motif employed across a wide range of texts and contexts.

VII. As I Am Mad, I Do

In Cymbeline, a motif of the diamond is developed in connection with visual diminution, as in Queen Margaret's speech in 2 Henry VI. Both Posthumus Leonatus and his wife Innogen describe the other as a jewel, and in both cases in association with seeing. When Posthumus is banished from sight by King Cymbeline, Innogen knows she will find no cause to live,

"But that there is this jewel in the world / That I may see again" (1.1.102-3). After her husband's departure, Pisanio's description of the event sets Post-humous in a scene suggesting the sailing of Aeneas from Carthage:
   Pisanio: No, madam: For so long
      As he could make me with this eye, or ear,
      Distinguish him from others, he did keep
      The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief,
      Still waving, as the fits and stirs of's mind
      Could best express how slow his soul sailed on,
      How swift his ship.

   Innogen: Thou shouldst have made him
      As little as a crow, or less, ere left
      To after-eye him.
   Pisanio: Madam, so I did.

   Innogen: I would have broke mine eye-strings, cracked them, but
      To look upon him, till the diminution
      Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle:
      Nay, followed him, till he had melted from
      The smallness of a gnat to air: and then
      Have turned mine eye, and wept.

(1.3.11-27)


Innogen imagines that she would have strained her "eyestrings" to the breaking point as Posthumous receded from view. His diminution would have "pointed him" needle sharp, but also, by implication, as sharp as a diamond. (27) Throughout the first act, there is a counterpoint of growth and diminution, joining and parting, togetherness and separation, expanding and contracting like the shape of the lozenge or diamond: <>.

We see this in the opening speeches of the play, as one gentleman reports to another about what has happened to Innogen and Posthumus: "She's wedded, / Her husband banished, she imprisoned, all / Is outward sorrow, though I think the king / Be touched at very heart" (1.1.8-11). Although the couple has been made one through marriage, Posthumus's banishment immediately separates them again. The First Gentleman is impressed with how Posthumus is doubly endowed with "so fair an outward and such stuff within," and in an almost mathematical analysis states, "I do extend [him], sir, within himself, / Crush him together rather than unfold / His measure duly" (26, 29-31). Crushing versus unfolding provides another variation on the motif of diminution versus expansion.

Additionally, the scene highlights the contrast 1 <2. That Posthumus had two brothers who died in war parallels the fact that Innogen has two brothers who were stolen in infancy and have not been heard from since. They are and are not "only" children. Innogen further reinforces the diminution motif, saying of her husband's exile, "There cannot be a pinch in death / More sharp than this is" (149-50). When Cymbeline admonishes Innogen for marrying Posthumus instead of his queen's son, she boldly claims that she "chose an eagle" and thereby "added a lustre" to the throne of her father (161,165). The eagle is a bird known for keen sight, as well as an attribute of the thunderbolt-wielding god Jupiter. She uses the language of commerce appropriate to the diamond suit, saying Posthumus is "a man worth any woman: overbuys me / Almost the sum he pays" (170-71). To Cymbeline's "What? Art thou mad?" she replies, "Almost, sir" acknowledging her share in the Dido madness (172-73). The whole first act is rich with literary and cultural connotations of the diamond: the tapering or pointed shape, monetary exchange, madness, radiance, the eagle, vision, and visual and other forms of diminution.

In his wagering of Innogen's diamond ring against the ten thousand ducats of the villainous Iachimo that Innogen is pure and chaste, Posthumous likens both his wife and her "dearest bodily part" to the most precious of diamonds. Iachimo takes a bargaining stance, pointing out that he has only seen Posthumus's stone, not the wife with whom it is compared: "If she went before others I have seen as that diamond of yours outlustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady" (1.4.51-54). Posthumus replies, "I praised her as I rated her: so do I my stone" (55). After further discussion, Iachimo completes the wager:
   By the gods, it is one. If I bring you no sufficient testimony that
   I have enjoyed the dearest bodily part of your mistress, my ten
   thousand ducats are yours, so is your diamond too. If I come off,
   and leave her in such honour as you have trust in, she your jewel,
   this your jewel and my gold are yours, provided I have your
   commendation for my more free entertainment. (108-12)


Innocent Innogen's rebuffing of the clodpoll Cloten contrasts the mad with the foolish, while resonating with the play's diamond motif.

Cloten: To leave you in your madness, 'twere my sin: I will not.

Innogen: Fools cure not mad folks.

Cloten: Do you call me fool?

Innogen: As I am mad, I do.

(2.3.100-4)

Of the letters in diamonds, only the n is missing from 'Ms I am mad, I do." (28) The same may be said of Pisanio's earlier response--"Madam, so I did"--to Innogen's complaint that in his watching of Posthumus's departure he should have made him "as little as a crow, or less." Later in the play, seeking her husband while assuming the disguise of the page Fidele, Innogen's discovery of the body of Cloten in the clothes of her husband leads her to believe that she has become a widow (4.2.373). Cymbeline, then, features multiple elements of the cultural pattern of the diamond--comparison of the diamond with a woman and her sexual anatomy, hints of the story of widow Dido, visual diminution, a hint of madness, and verbal play upon the letters of the word diamond.

VIII. Dildido, Dildido, to Wap with a Widow

Because of Dido's love-related madness, and the fact that her name sounds like the words called dildos or fadings in the sexually suggestive refrains of ballads, such as diddle, dildido, and trangdidowne-dilly, she came to be associated with the bawdy songs and mental diminution of characters such as the Jailer's Daughter and Ophelia. (29) As Queen Margaret of 2 Henry VI draws upon the visual diminution in the story of Dido, the distracted Jailer's Daughter of The Two Noble Kinsmen unwittingly invokes Didos mental diminution as a parallel to her own abandonment and madness. Embarking on a song, in a diminished, dreamlike state, she says, "I have forgot it quite: the burden on't was 'Down-a down-a' and penned by no worse man than Giraldo, Emilia's schoolmaster: he's as fantastical too as ever he may go upon's legs, for in the next world will Dido see Palamon, and then will she be out of love with Aeneas" (4.3.11-16). We might suppose that Gerald's song is about Dido and includes the words down-a down-a in its refrain, or "burden." Ophelia, going mad, instructs those gathered around her on their parts in her ballads: "You must sing 'a-down a-down,' and you call him 'a-down-a.' O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward that stole his master's daughter" (Hamlet, 4.4.177-78).

Down and a-down-a are words used in the refrains of songs or ballads, but may also refer to the refrain or the song itself. They regularly carried a sexual suggestion; down was a general reference to a posture for sexual activity. A closely related expression was down-diddled, which signified being "laid," sexually. "I was never down-diddled by a Barbers Boy, on a Coblers stall" says a character in The Gossip's Brawl. (30) The word dido itself can refer to sexual anatomy, male or female, and it too appears in the refrains of ballads, along with related sexually charged words such as fiddle, diddle, and dildo. Both diddle and fiddle may refer to the genitals, as well as to sexual intercourse. A line in Robert Greene's Francesco's Fortunes reads "Dildido dildido, / oh love, oh love, / I feele thy rage romble below and above." (31) In the ballad To Wap with a Widow are the lines "hey dildedo, hoe dildedo, hey dildedo, dildelye! The bravest sport that a man can devise, is to wap with a widow, berladye!" (32) In another ballad, The Maid's Complaint for Want of a Dil Doul, a maid is frustrated at hearing "my dame Nancy declare how her Master did tickle her fancy With his dill doul dill doul dill doul doul." (33) And, in the play Wily Beguiled, Will Cricket sings to his love that he is her "Trangdidowne-dilly," but she says she's not the kind of woman who loves only "tum, dum, diddle." (34)

The contrast of above and below in the parts of the ballad, while sometimes relating to the spiritual versus the earthly, was also used to suggest the relative positions of sexual partners. It was a commonplace to invoke sexual acts in this way. In Gascoigne's The Adventures of Master E J., we read: "his quills and pens not worn so near as they were wont to be, did now prick such fair large notes that his mistress liked better to sing faburden under him than to descant any longer upon F. J.'s plainsong." (35) Faburden was an Anglicization of the French faux-bourdon, false burden. Bourdon was a musical term for the droning motif or undersound of a bass or bagpipe, and, by extension, any repeated chorus or refrain, but it could also refer to one's lover as a weight to be borne during sexual intercourse. The innuendo is present when Rowley and Middleton's character Diaphanta, participating in a bed-trick in The Changeling, will "carry't well, because I love the burden" (4.1.125). (36)

The Schoolmaster or "pedagogus," of The Two Noble Kinsmen is also known as "dainty dominie," an appellation that falls within the set of near anagrams linked with diamond (2.3.45). (37) Its letters (ADDEIIIMNNOTY) include those of both diamond and maiden. Furthermore, this dominie orchestrates his rustic players as they "dance a morris" (AACDEIMNORRS) (3.5.121). His address of Duke Theseus as the "dainty duke, whose doughty dismal fame / From Dis to Daedalus" not only features alliteration upon d, but incorporates other diamond connotations as well, including implications of rarity and value (127-28). Doughty refers to the highly regarded value of the Duke's fame. That his fame is dismal reinforces "Dis," another name for Pluto, the underworld god of wealth, a term that is countervailed by "Daedalus," the mythical, high-flying father of Icarus. This high-low contrast parallels the air and burden in the songs of the "dainty madwoman" (AAADDIMMNNOTWY), the Jailer's Daughter. Other words of the Schoolmaster are loaded with sexual suggestion, while continuing to play upon the letter d: "Ladies, if we have been merry / And have pleased ye with a derry, / And a derry, and a down, / Say the schoolmaster's no clown" (151-54).

Theseus gives the morris dancers money for their efforts, and the Schoolmaster, referring to the hunt that the Duke is about to begin, says:
   May the stag thou hunt'st stand long,
   And thy dogs be swift and strong:
   May they kill him without lets
   And the ladies eat his dowsers.--
   Come we are all made, dii deaeque omnes.
   Ye have danced rarely, wenches.

(168-73)


The image of the ladies of May eating the stag's testicles adds to the bawdy of the Schoolmaster's performance. To be "made" was to be successful, especially in a financial sense. Dii deaeque omnes, "You gods and goddesses all," contains the letters in diamonds, plus EEEEQU. The diamond anagrammatical assemblage may again be indicated here. If so, the Latin phrase may suggest "diamond queens," or "queans" given that in the next line the Schoolmaster refers to the female dancers as "wenches," which is nearly a synonym of "queans." The dow sound--suggesting the root meaning "wealth" in words such as endow and dowry--is multiplied in "doughty," "down," and "dowsets."

The Doctor's remedy for the Jailer's Daughter's madness is to have her lower-class Wooer sleep with her disguised as the aristocratic Palamon. To the extent that he is therefore a false version of her object of desire, he serves as a "dildo," which is also a term for the words in the refrains of ballads. The "extravagant vagary" of her senses, as the Doctor describes her condition, is the female-gendered malady that must be cured with his--the Doctor's, but also the Wooer's--male-gendered "appliance" (4.3.76, 104). (38)

IX. Not the Old Fa-Ding

Driven to distraction by her interest in Palamon, and singing aimlessly of Dido, the Jailer's Daughter thinks it important to "lose my maidenhead by cocklight, / 'Twill never thrive else" (4.1.140-41). In The Tempest, another play with references to Dido, the strain of strutting Chanticleer constitutes part of the song that Ariel and the spirits sing for love-struck Ferdinand. Is there something that links the rooster's call at dawn with chanted allusions to the desperate story of Dido and Aeneas? As we consider the use of Dido in The Tempest, we would do well to keep in mind the fact that Aeneas enters the underworld at the very break of day. The name of Dido and the phrase "widow Dido" are evoked in The Tempest as part of a series of echoes of the Aeneid, and in relation to dreamlike states of the characters that have been transported to Prospero's magical island. Along with related sounds such as cock-a-diddle-dow, ditty does, wicked dam, and wicked dew, these terms contribute to an echoing, sexually suggestive language, such as that found in the "burdens" or "fadings" of folk ballads. We should note that among the most popular ballads of the time was one called "Queen Dido." (39)

The Dido-related wordplay begins with a vituperative exchange between Prospero and Caliban, which highlights the consonants w, k, and d:
   Prospero: Thou poisonous slave, got by the devil himself
        Upon thy WICKED DAM: come forth!
      Enter Caliban
   Caliban: As WICKED DEW as e'er my mother brushed
        With ravens feather from unwholesome fen
        Drop on you both!

(1.2.376-80)


Later in the scene, the sounds of w, k, and d return, in "cock-a-diddle-dow." These rooster sounds rhyme with, while also expressing an elemental contrast with, the refrains of watchdog spirits--"Bow-wow!"--in Ariel's song. (40)
   Ariel: Come unto these yellow sands,
      And then take hands:
      Curtsied when you have, and kissed
      The wild waves whist:
      Foot it featly here and there,
      And, sweet sprites, bear
      The burden.

   [Spirits. Within, sing the] (burden, dispersedly)
      Hark, hark! Bow-wow!
      The watch-dogs bark: Bow-wow.

   Ariel: Hark, hark! I hear
      The strain of strutting chanticleer
      Cry, COCK-A-DIDDLE-DOW.

(438-50)


The "burden" that the spirits are instructed to sing "dispersedly" refers to the song's refrain, as well as its central message, while punningly suggesting weight to be carried. Therefore, Ariel's air of "Come unto these yellow sands" is countered by the weight of the earthy and Cerberus-suggesting "bow-wow" of the burden, creating both an erotic lure and a dire warning of the powers of desire, which is further echoed, refrain-like, by utterances of "widow Dido" in the conversations of the other captives of Prospero's island in act 2.

The musical contrast of burden and air resonates with the play's contrasts between the heavy and light elements, Caliban and Ariel, guilt and forgiveness, scarcity and foison, dread and hope. The sound of such music is interlinked with the kind of sounding that measures the depths of the sea. The usurper Alonso, for example, describes hearing his guilt sounded in the island's atmosphere:
      the thunder--
   That deep and dreadful organ-pipe--pronounced
   The name of Prosper: it did bass my trespass.
   Therefore my son i'thooze is bedded: and
   I'll seek him deeper than e'er plummet sounded.

(3.3.109-13)


His words are later echoed by Prospero's "And deeper than did ever plummet sound / I'll drown my book" (5.1.61-62). Ariel's air in act 2 sets up a counterpoint of animal sounds voiced by the spirits he commands. The spirits render the vocalizations of earthy watchdogs who bark the burden dispersedly--the heavier and more expanded side--while Ariel reports the rooster's cry, a strain of a different kind, which announces the arrival of the morning light. (41)

Dogs that bark a burden do not make their first literary appearance in The Tempest. Edmund Spenser, for example, depicts a wailing melody with a mournful, canine refrain in the eclogue of Astrophel: A Pastoral Elegie upon the Death of the Most Noble and Valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney. The nymphs of Sidney's own Arcadian world leave their springs to seek out the dark caves,
      whence banisht is the gladsome aire
   ... and there in mourning spend their time
   With wailfull tunes, while wolves do howle and bark
   And seem to beare a bourdon to their plaint. (42)


Both Shakespeare and Spenser echo Virgil's description of Aeneas entering the cave to the Underworld, which happens at dawn. Carrying out the sybil's orders, Aeneas sacrifices a black-fleeced lamb to Night and Earth, a barren heifer to Proserpina, and bulls to the king of the river Styx.
   Then suddenly, look, at the break of day, first light,
   the earth groans underfoot and the wooded heights quake
   and across the gloom the hounds seem to howl
   at the goddess coming closer.
      "Away, away!"
   the Sybil shrieks, "all you unhallowed ones--away."

(6.293-97)


It is useful to note that the rooster who announces the break of day is an attribute of Mercury, the god of the persuasive arts, who comes to Aeneas to remind him of his fate and duty, but also the god who, as Hermes Psychopompos, guides souls out of the darkness and into the light. (43) Furthermore, Mercury is a god implicated with money and commerce, and therefore with the associative domain of the diamond. The Chanticleer of Ariel's song is analogous to the cock who crows the break of day at which Aeneas enters the underworld. He is located at the hinge between night and day, or metaphorically, between earthy, bodily things and airy, spiritual things. His "cock-a-diddle-dow" is not only a further link between Shakespeare's play and Virgil, but within the play, a warning to Ferdinand of the proximity of the realm of the "unhallowed ones."

Ferdinand's response to Ariel's music addresses its elemental distinctions: "Where should this music be? I'th'air or th'earth?" (1.2.451). The element of air is suggested in the song's air, the element of earth in the burden. He has heard such music while experiencing the sadness of his father's loss in the shipwreck, and has been drawn forth by it. In the song of "Full fathom five," there is again a counterpoint to Ariel's air in the burden of the sea nymphs, who ring the knell for Ferdinand's father: "Ding-dong ... ding-dong, bell" (467-68). In punning terms, the burden, in the sense of the central meaning of the song, is the weight, the potential heaviness of this loss. Somewhat awestruck by the music, Ferdinand unwittingly makes his own contribution to the cluster of interlinking sounds, saying that "the DITTY DOES remember my drowned father" (469). There is a close resonance between his "ditty does" and the rooster's "diddle-dow." Furthermore, these expressions echo similar constructions outside the play, such as Mercutio's "Dido a dowdy" in Romeo and Juliet and the refrains of many ballads. Are the dogs that bark "Bow-wow" and the birds that crow "cock-a-diddle-dow" in Ariel's song a kind of warning, relating to both the language of ballads and the events of Virgirs Aeneid? Through comparison with the Aeneid, we may see them as the watchdogs of Hades, the gatekeepers of the world of the dead. In other words, they signal death and evil, the "baser" part of the world. Still, the cock's call is the signal of morning light. Here the dogs and birds are giving signs of the heavier burden of earth, mortality, and the underworld, but in contrast with the air and light of morning, or spiritual rebirth. These signs are hints to Ferdinand, as yet not fully understood by him, that mourning may be a path to morning.

The question that Ferdinand asks of the music--'I'th'air or th'earth?"--might also be asked of the love for Miranda that he is about to experience. Is such love a spiritual or earthy thing, or some of each? We have seen that the burdens of ballads are rich with sexual suggestion, and this is surely true of the "Bow-wow" and "cock-a-diddle-dow" of Ariel's music. (44) As Donna Hamilton has argued, Ferdinand becomes an analogue of Aeneas, yet differs in certain essential ways from Virgil's hero:
   One of the most obvious of these [methods of imitation used by
   Shakespeare] is the use of the Dido and Aeneas love story as the
   model for the love story of Ferdinand and Miranda, a pattern that
   is present from the moment of their first meeting in act 1 all the
   way through the game of chess in act 5. But Shakespeare alters,
   even reverses, the model so that the Virgilian patterns this time
   tell a story of true love, not lust, and of right choice rather
   than delay and diversion. (45)


In Hamilton's view, the network of references and allusions to the Aeneid serve to contrast the lustful and tragic relationship of Dido and Aeneas with the community-enhancing, peace-serving potential of the love of Ferdinand and Miranda, and are part of a general strategy for reversing tragedy. On first seeing Miranda, Ferdinand thinks she is "most sure, the goddess / On whom these airs attend!" (1.2.489-90), which is a variation on Aeneas's "o dea certe." Although for the moment he ignores the heavier refrains, he will soon be tested further with the "burden" as he becomes a log carrier for Prospero, a productive sort of earthy occupation. His inquiry whether Miranda be "maid or no" (ADIMNOR) contains all the letters of diamond, and therefore registers the anagrammatical motif (495). Its associative link with light and vision is reinforced as Prospero expresses pleasure that "at the first sight / They have changed eyes" (513-14). Still, Prospero believes he must test and challenge Ferdinand "lest too light winning / Make the prize light" (526-27). He must be humbled, must bear a burden, to be worthy of Miranda. In a sense, Ferdinand must be brought back to earth, to physical and practical activity, literally to the groundwork of his new relationship. The burden of Ariel's song, in other words, is echoed by the actual burden of logs that Ferdinand must carry (in 3.1). Although the pile of logs that he will build reminds us of the pyre built for Didos end, he and Miranda will turn away from the tragic. Smitten with love, Ferdinand sees that all the weight of his sorrow might be "but light" (1.2.575), so long as he might gaze upon this maid. The early audiences of the play would have been aware that carrying wood was emblematic of the melancholy humor and the element of earth. This is not a burden repeated automatically, but one carried with thought and purpose. Miranda also offers to carry logs to give Ferdinand a rest (3.1.27). Their willingness to work cooperatively is in contrast to Didos loss of interest in her city, once she is taken with Aeneas. The idolatrous part of the relationship continues, but it is balanced by reason and practicality. He thinks of her as "admired Miranda" (3.1.46), anagrammatically and metaphorically a "diamond maiden" but he is willing to humble himself and earn her trust and her father's approval. Although she praises Ferdinand's outward appearance, she has also observed that he is gentle and not to be feared (1.2.547). This is not the old fa-ding of tragic romance in the mode of Dido and Aeneas.

X. O Widdow Dido? I, Widdow Dido

At the beginning of the second act, we notice something strange in the discussion among the island captives, including a chantlike quality in Antonio's repetitions of the name of "widow Dido." They seem to be under a spell, as they debate matters ranging from the odor of the air to the beauty of the recently married daughter of Alonso in comparison with Queen Dido. While Adrian believes Tunis has never been graced by such a queen as Claribel, Gonzalo corrects this by saying, "Not since widow Didos time," and Antonio reacts oddly: "Widow! A pox o' that! How came that 'widow' in? Widow Dido!" (2.1.63-64). After a few remarks about whether Tunis was Carthage, and whether their garments remain strangely fresh, they return to the matter of Claribel versus Dido in this exchange:

Antonio: And the rarest that e'er came there.

Sebastian: Bate, I beseech you, widow Dido.

Antonio: O, widow Dido? Ay, widow Dido. (81-83)

It is as though Antonio has distractedly forgotten Gonzalo's earlier comment about Dido, and meanwhile our attention turns to the mere sounds of the phrase "widow Dido" repeated with three different vowel-sound prefixes: "you," "O" and "Ay." (46) The repetitions with this small variation have the effect of a ballad refrain such as "hoe diddle diddle, hey diddle diddle." The effect is reminiscent of Ariel's spirits singing the burden "Bow-wow" in the previous scene and Ariel's "cock-a-diddle-dow."

Gonzalo's narrative of an Edenic isle is a story of the founding of a society, which echoes Didos founding of Carthage. But when he speaks of there being, in his new world, "No occupation, all men idle, all" (143), we may perhaps recall, simply through sound association and the nearby references to Dido, the implication in Marlowe's play that Dido, having made Aeneas her idol, has herself become idle, forgetting her commitment to her city.

Robert Wiltenburg points out that the use of "Widow Dido" in The Tempest resonates with Virgil's depiction of an especially critical point in human experience:
   In the view that dominates the first half of the poem (and still
   continues in the second), all are widows, all are widowers. All are
   necessarily bereft of, or separated from, what they most want,
   need, or love, whether in the form of a lost friend, brother,
   father, wife, husband, or city; or of a destiny promised but
   nowhere apparent. (47)


Like the Aeneid, The Tempest concerns characters who are separated from what or whom they love, need, or have lost. Believing many to be lost in the shipwreck, including Alonso's son Ferdinand, Sebastian says that "Milan and Naples have / More widows in them of this business' making / Than we bring men to comfort them" (2.1.116-18). Of course, such separations are characteristic of Shakespeare's late romances, as Posthumus and Prospero are banished from their communities, or the families of Pericles and Leontes are split apart. Virgil stresses, says Wiltenburg, "the tragic paradox whereby man's desperate attempts to find satisfaction merely drive him further from his best self and from his destiny" (48) When Dido calls her lovemaking in the cave "marriage," Virgil says she thereby covers up her guilt. Central to her guilt is that she has neglected her commitment to Carthage, in addition to breaking her vow to her dead husband.

The kind of separation involving visual diminution--which is suggested in the Aeneid and extended in Queen Margaret's speech of 2 Henry VI and Pisanio's account of banished Posthumus in Cymbeline--returns in Alonso's regrets about his daughter's marriage, now that he believes his son to be lost:
      Would I had never
   Married my daughter there: for, coming thence,
   My son is lost and--in my rate--she too,
   Who is so far from Italy removed
   I ne'er again shall see her.

(2.1.88-92)


Although Sebastian argues that Ferdinand may be alive, Alonso believes him lost, and Sebastian places the blame back on Alonso, who has married his daughter outside Europe, instead of in the service of a useful political alliance closer to home.
   Sir, you may thank yourself for this great loss,
   That would not bless our Europe with your daughter,
   But rather loose her to an African,
   Where she, at least, is banished from your eye,
   Who hath cause to wet the grief on't.

(106-10)


Describing Claribel as the absent heir of Naples, Antonio refers to her as
   She that is Queen of Tunis: she that dwells
   Ten leagues beyond man's life: she that from Naples
   Can have no note, unless the sun were post--

(248-50)


This places both Claribel and those who are now bereft of her in a position like that of Aeneas, gone to fulfill a political destiny, at the expense of personal relationship and loss of life.

For the early audiences of The Tempest, Dido was the legendary queen of Carthage and lover of Aeneas, whose image graced the Queen of Diamonds, and whose name was subject to puns and letter-play, resembled words commonly employed in the refrains of ballads (dildido or diddle-dow), and was emblematic of fire, vision, and the madness of love, along with the conditions of widowhood and loss. "Dido dies" and "die, do" are not merely idle puns upon the name of Dido, but expressions that draw attention to an idea, already in the name--the idea of separation or bereavement. "Widow Dido" is redundant, both terms referring to the condition of being separated. There is already a sort of "refrain" in the appellation, and it participates in the play's turn from the tragic love of Dido and Aeneas to the hopeful love of Ferdinand and Miranda. While the Aeneid is a tragic vision, in spite of the hero's founding of Rome, in The Tempest, those who have experienced separation and loss are humbled and become gentler in their relationships, finding a new sense of hope. The "Widow Dido" refrain speaks to the tragic movements of human experience, which always constitute a droning burden, but not the only music available to those who seek to live in compassion and reconciliation. As the love of Dido and Aeneas is the old, and the love of Ferdinand and Miranda the new, it is possible--to recontextualize the words of Antonio--that "out of that 'no hope' / What great hope have you!" (2.1.239-40).

Kettering University

NOTES

(1) See Paul Brown, "'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine': The Tempest and the Discourse of Colonialism;' in Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism, ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), 48-71; Meredith Skura, "Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tempest," Shakespeare Quarterly 40 (1989): 42-69; and John Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Jerry Brotton, countering overemphasis upon English colonial enterprises in America, stresses that the play "carries resonances of different geographical trajectories," in "'This Tunis, sir, was Carthage': Contesting Colonialism in The Tempest," in Post-Colonial Shakespeares, ed. Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin (New York: Routledge, 1998), 23-42 (31). Varied perspectives on The Tempest in time and space are collected in Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman, eds., "The Tempest" and Its Travels (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000). Two general categories of readings of Dido, sometimes competing, sometimes combined, have survived since antiquity--one in which Dido is the pre-Virgilian, chaste and heroic, Diana-like city founder, and another in which Dido is the Virgilian, passionate and irresponsible, Venus-like lover of Aeneas, and a digression from that hero's imperial project. On the many inflections of these readings in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, see Marilynn Desmond, Reading Dido: Gender, Textuality, and the Medieval "Aeneid" (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), and John Watkins, The Specter of Dido: Spenser and Virgilian Epic (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).

(2) See Donna B. Hamilton, Virgil and "The Tempest": The Politics of Imitation (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1990); John Pitcher, "A Theatre of the Future: The Aeneid and The Tempest," Essays in Criticism 34 (1984): 193-215; and Robert Wiltenburg, "The Aeneid in The Tempest," Shakespeare Survey 39 (1986): 159-68. The possibility that the references to Dido were prompted by Montaigne's citing of Virgil, rather than directly from the Aeneid, is proposed by Gail Kern Paster in "Montaigne, Dido, and The Tempest: 'How came that widow in?'" Shakespeare Quarterly 35 (1984): 91-94.

(3) Russ McDonald, Shakespeare's Late Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 195.

(4) Thomas Middleton, No Wit/Help Like a Woman's; or, The Almanac, ed. John Jowett, in Thomas Middleton, The Collected Works, ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 799-832.

(5) See examples under the heading "gem, jewel" in Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, 3 vols. (London: Athlone, 1994), 2:588-91.

(6) Thomas Middleton, Women, Beware Women: A Tragedy, ed. John Jowett, in Middleton, The Collected Works, 1488-1541.

(7) Unless otherwise noted, citations of Shakespeare are from the Royal Shakespeare Company's William Shakespeare: Complete Works, ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (New York: Modern Library, 2007).

(8) Thomas Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness, in Drama of the English Renaissance: Volume 1, The Tudor Period, ed. Russell A. Fraser and Norman Rabkin (New York: Macmillan, 1976), 511-36.

(9) Gervase Markham and Lewis Machin, The Dumb Knight, in A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Originally Published by Robert Dodsley in the Year 1744, ed. W. C. Hazlitt, 4th ed., 15 vols. (London: Reeves and Turner, 1874-76), 10:107-200 (179).

(10) Mucedorus, in Drama of the English Renaissance, Volume 1, The Tudor Period, ed. Russell A. Fraser and Norman Rabkin (New York: Macmillan, 1976), 463-80.

(11) James Shirley, The Traitor, in The Dramatic Works and Poems of James Shirley, ed. William Gifford and Alexander Dyce, 6 vols. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1966), 2:95-187.

(12) Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works, ed. J. B. Steane (Oxford: Penguin, 1985), 313. Subsequent citations of this edition appear parenthetically in the text.

(13) Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The Old Arcadia), ed. Jean Robertson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 338.

(14) Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, in Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, ed. David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 247-322.

(15) See, for example, the queen of diamonds in the set of "Cards in the Costume of Henri IV," made by V. G. (=Vincent Goyrand?) in Paris, c. 1600, now in the Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris (Est. Kh 30a, res. fol. 12). This card is reproduced in Detlef Hoffmann, The Playing Card: An Illustrated History (Greenwich, Conn.: New York Graphic Society, 1973), plate 47b.

(16) Susanna Centlivre, The Bassett Table, in Female Playwrights of the Restoration: Five Comedies, ed. Paddy Lyons and Fidelis Morgan (London: Dent, 1991), 235-92 (279).

(17) William Rowley and Thomas Middleton, A Fair Quarrel, ed. Suzanne Gossett, in Middleton, The Collected Works, 1209-50.

(18) For suit associations and the names given to court cards, see both the discussions and illustrations in W. Gurney Benham, Playing Cards: The History and Secrets of the Pack (London: Ward, Lock, 1931), 11; Catherine Perry Hargrave, A History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming (New York: Dover, 1966); and Hoffman.

(19) Ironically, one might then have both a pick and a spade in one's hand, or a pick and apique, the French term for the spade suit.

(20) Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fagles (New York: Viking, 2006), 4.820-22.

(21) Relatively few two-syllable nouns and adjectives in English are accented on the second syllable, such as machine or polite, so many of the words in the diamond association have first-syllable accents: diamond, maiden, Mira, mundi, madness, madding, Dido, idol, dowdy, dainty, diddle, dildo, widow, willow, and others. This allows for a rhythm when they are used together, as in the phrase "widow Dido" An instance of letter shuffling involving maiden, widow, and diamond is Juliet's line, "But I, a maid, die maiden-widowed" (Rom. 3.2.139). The letters of "I, a maid, die" are AADDEIIIM, while those of "maiden-widowed" are ADDDEEIIMNOWW.

(22) Christopher Marlowe, Dido Queene of Carthage, in The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Roma Gill, 5 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 1:113-74.

(23) Pitcher, 203-4.

(24) Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, The Roaring Girl; or, Moll Cutpurse, ed. Coppelia Kahn, in Middleton, The Collected Works, 721-78.

(25) In some of the passages quoted, I have used small capitals to emphasize portions involved in the wordplay under discussion.

(26) Folio spelling does not change this analysis, merely adding e to "dew" and "wild."

(27) Given this connection between visual diminution and the character as diamond, it may not be surprising that in A Midsummer Night's Dream it is just after Demetrius observes, "These things seem small and undistinguishable," with regard to Duke Theseus and his train, that Helena finds "Demetrius like a jewel." (4.1.180, 185). Earlier in the play, Helena refers to Demetrius as a drawing adamant, or one with magnetic powers (2.1.199). He seems to be a "diamond character" in that play, at least in Helena's estimation.

(28) A similar counterpoint is developed in the bantering exchange between Feste and Olivia in Twelfth Night 1.5, wherein she repeatedly calls him "fool" and he calls her "madonna" a term that resonates with other words spoken later in the scene by Olivia, such as "mad," "madman," "kind o' man," and "comedian," all of them potentially pertaining to diamond-linked anagrammatical word-play, once we see Olivia as a "diamond maiden." For a discussion of the Feste-Olivia exchange, see Stephen Booth, Precious Nonsense: "The Gettysburg Address," Ben Jonson's Epitaphs on His Children and "Twelfth Night" (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), 196-200. On specific wordplay involving madonna, madam, and madman, see Geoffrey Hartman, "Shakespeare's Poetical Character in Twelfth Night," in Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, ed. Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (New York: Methuen, 1985), 37-53.

(29) Dildo and fading are terms for the words of the balladic burden. In The Winter's Tale, a servant speaks naively of the ballads sold by Autolycus:
   He has the prettiest love-songs for maids, so without bawdry, which
   is strange, with such delicate burdens of dildos and fadings, "jump
   her and thump her." And where some stretch-mouthed rascal would, as
   it were, mean mischief and break a foul gap into the matter, he
   makes the maid to answer "Whoop, do me no harm, good man," puts him
   off, slights him, with "Whoop, do me no harm, good man."
   (4.4.216-21)


Fading may also imply the repeated or customary practice, the old message of the old song. Ben Jonson, Epigrams 97.1-6, in The Works of Benjamin Jonson (London, 1616), adapted it as a metaphor for the run-of-the-mill stylish character: "See you yond Motion? Not the old Fa-ding, / Nor Captain Pod, nor yet the Eltham-thing; / But one more rare, and in the case so new: / His Cloak with orient Velvet quite lind through; / His rosie Tyes and Garters so o'reblown, / By his each glorious Parcel to be known!" The new "motion" is not the same old thing, a man about town, but something even rarer, i.e., a man entirely without substance, land, achievements, or position, who has only his clothes to define him.

(30) The Gossip's Brawl (London, 1655), qtd. in Williams, 1:411.

(31) Robert Greene, Francesco's Fortunes, in The Life and Complete Works in Prose and Verse of Robert Greene, ed. Alexander Grosart, 15 vols. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964), 8:217.

(32) Shirburn Ballads, 1585-1616, ed. Andrew Clark (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), 285.

(33) For The Maid's Complaint for Want of a Dil Doul, consult the compact disk recording Bawdy Ballads of Old England, by the City Waites (Tolpuddle, Dorset: Regis Records, 1995). Also see Williams, 1:383, 390. Although dated to about 1680, this ballad continues an old tradition of bawdry.

(34) Wily Beguiled (1606), in A Select Collection of Old English Plays, 9:327. Some puns, though not directly associated with Dido, nevertheless suggest the same refrain through their die and doe sounds. Coloring fabrics, playing at dice, and dying provide wit for the title character of Lyly's Mother Bombie, as she tells Dromio's fortune: "Thy father doth live because he doth dye. / Thou has spent all thy thrift with a die, / And so like a beggar thou shalt die." Dromio's partner in crime, Riscio, then says, "I would have liked well if all the gerunds had been there, di, do, and dum. But all in 'die' that's too deadly" (The Plays of John Lily, ed. Carter A. Daniel (Lewisburg. Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1988), 266-67).

(35) George Gascoigne, The Adventures of Master E J., in An Anthology of Elizabethan Prose Fiction, ed. Paul Salzman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 62.

(36) William Rowley and Thomas Middleton, The Changeling, ed. Douglas Bruster, in Middleton, The Collected Works, 1632-78.

(37) The Schoolmaster is but one of many such pedants, including Holofernes in Love's Labor's Lost and the Tutor of Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, who speak a pompous academic language sprinkled with Latin. Their forerunner in Philip Sidney's Lady of May is aptly named Rombus, alluding to the lozenge or rhombus shape of the diamond, as well as to a rumbling or roaring style of life. Miscellaneous Prose of Sir Philip Sidney, ed. Katharine Duncan-Jones and Jan van Dorsten (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), 22.

(38) For an extended discussion of the class and gender relationships relating to this supposed cure, as well as the Jailer's Daughter's language as the "unconscious" of the play, see Douglas Bruster, "The Jailer's Daughter and the Politics of Madwomen's Language," Shakespeare Quarterly 46 (1995): 277-300.

(39) Joseph Ritson, Ancient Songs and Ballads, from the Reign of King Henry the Second to the Revolution (London, 1790; repr. Detroit: Singing Tree, 1968), lxxxvii. Howard Furness, in his New Variorum edition of The Tempest (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1892; repr. New York: American Scholar, 1966), 99 n. 81, cites Ritson on this ballad's popularity.

(40) The spelling is bowgh-wawgh in the Folio.

(41) A burden may be positive or negative. Prospero says, "Let us not burden our remembrances with / A heaviness that's gone" (5.1.225-26), yet in the nuptial masque, Ceres celebrates the earth's productivity, its "foison plenty" and "plants with goodly burden bowing" (4.1.119, 122).

(42) Edmund Spenser, Astrophel: A Pastoral Elegie upon the death of the most Noble and valorous Knight, Sir Philip Sidney, dedicated to the most beautifull and vertuous Ladle, the Countesse of Essex, Eclogue, in The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Edmund Spenser, ed. Alexander Grosart (Manchester: Spenser Society, 1882), 74-77.

(43) See C. G. Jung, Alchemical Studies, trans. R. F. C. Hull (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 80, and H. David Brumble, Classical Myths and Legends in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: A Dictionary of Allegorical Meanings (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998), 215.

(44) For sexual implications of dogs, generally, see Williams, 1:400-3.

(45) Hamilton, 25; see also 79-80.

(46) The Folio reads "O Widdow Dido? I, Widdow Dido," rendering the wordplay even more clearly.

(47) Wiltenburg, 163.

(48) Ibid.
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Date:Jun 22, 2009
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