A Roman pie 🥧 for pie day

Ave and Happy Pie Day ! Since it’s Roman month, I thought I’d talk about the most infamous pie in Shakespeare’s Roman plays, and give you an ancient Roman recipe that tastes a lot better!

In Act V of Titus Andronicus, the titular general and his household cook and serve the Empress’ sons to their mother in a pie! Here’s how the scene plays out in the 1999 film Titus:

The infamous pie scene from Titus Andronicus

Before he cooks the Empress’ sons, Titus actually tells them what he is going to do to them, like some kind of psychotic chef giving a cooking program:

This one hand yet is left to cut your throats,
Whilst that Lavinia 'tween her stumps doth hold
The basin that receives your guilty blood.
You know your mother means to feast with me,
And calls herself Revenge, and thinks me mad:
Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust
And with your blood and it I'll make a paste,
And of the paste a coffin I will rear
And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
And bid that strumpet, your unhallow'd dam,
Like to the earth swallow her own increase.
This is the feast that I have bid her to,
And this the banquet she shall surfeit on;

I’ve adapted Titus’ recipe into this creepy recipe card below:

Now when Titus says coffin he’s actually referring to a pie crust, (though ironically this coffin will also be a tomb for two human bodies). Ancient Romans did in fact make meat pies, so Tamara wouldn’t have immediately been suspicious It also was not unheard of for the ancient Romans to actually eat brains! According to DE RE COQUINARIA, one of the oldest surviving Roman cookbooks, there was a recipe called Patina frisilis, a pudding made of fresh vegetables, wine, and calf brains:

Take vegetables, clean and wash, shred and cook them cool them off and drain them. Take 4 calf’s brains, remove the skin and strings and cook them4 in the mortar put 6 scruples of pepper, moisten with broth and crush fine; then add the brains, rub again and meanwhile add the vegetables, rubbing all the while, and make a fine paste of it. Thereupon break and add 8 eggs. Now add a glassful of broth, a glassful of wine, a glassful of raisin wine, taste this preparation. Oil the baking dish thoroughly put the mixture in the dish and place it in the hot plate, (that is above the hot ashes) and when it is done unmould it sprinkle with pepper and serve.

APICIUS- DE RE COQUINARIA (c. 1st century CE).
Medieval edition of De Re Coquinaria

My research suggests that the coffin was mainly just flour and oil and was not actually intended to be eaten. It would be similar to a modern salt crust pie that seals in juices and helps preserve the pie in the absence of refrigerators.

Thankfully Apicius has another recipe for a Roman pie that I find much more appetizing

Elderberry Custard or PiePatina de sambuco

A dish of elderberries, either hot or cold, is made in this manner: take elderberries, wash them; cook in water, skim and strain. Prepare a dish in which to cook the custard; crush 6 scruples of pepper with a little broth; add this to the elderberry pulp with another glass of broth, a glass of wine, a glass of raisin wine and as much as 4 ounces of oil. Put the dish in the hot bath and stir the contents. As soon as it is getting warm, quickly break 6 eggs and whipping them, incorporate them, in order to thicken the fluid. When thick enough sprinkle with pepper and serve up.

A modern recipe for Elderberry pie 🥧

While I’m at it, here’s another historical pie recipe that was a favorite of Shakespeare’s Richard II:

Roman Women Week!

Since International Women’s Day is tomorrow, I’m devoting this week to talking about the awesome female characters in Shakespeare’s Roman plays: Titus, Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus

First, here’s my post and an accompanying podcast on Roman women, which includes an analysis of Lavinia, Portia, Valumnia, and Cleopatra:

Here’s a fascinating video about the lives of Roman girls:

And here’s a special section about Cleopatra:

Comedy sketches about Cleopatra from “Horrible Histories” BBC, 2015.
cleopatra facts infographics in 2021 | Cleopatra facts, Ancient history  facts, Cleopatra history
A Lady-Gaga-esque song about Cleopatra from “Horrible Histories,” 2014
Infographic from an article about Cleopatra’s beauty regimen. Source: http://socialdiary.pk/

Teaching Titus through creepy cooking

Titus Andronicus is one of the most bloody, disgusting plays in Shakespeare. As this infographic from the Royal Shakespeare Company shows, there are tons of deaths and some of them are even the result of cannibalism!

One way to capture the macabre nature of this play in the classroom, (which some scholars see as a horror comedy), is to characterize it through cooking, after all, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Me in costume as Titus Androgynous, a crazy cooking show host who butchers two people in the same manner as Titus

So here are some ghoulish gourmet dishes and revolting recipes that you can share with your students to help them get into this tragic tale of violence, revenge, and cooking:

Idea 1: recipe cards

Design a recipe card like the ones in cooking magazines based on Titus speech where he murders Chiron and Demetrius

Idea 2: Create a menu that summarizes the play:

Act I:

Starter: Caesar Salad, toad in the hole

As the play begins, Caesar has died and Saturnine wants to devour his father’s empire. Enjoy this light salad in anticipation of far more bloody feasts to come.https://youtu.be/UxZ5NOkRwj0

Act II Scene 3: Breakfast:

Lamb Benedict

Lamb Benedict recipe I found on Reddit

While on an early morning hunting trip, Bassianus is slaughtered like a lamb by his own nephews. Enjoy this sweet treachery with a golden egg in the hole.

Act II, Scene 4: Main course:

Roast venison with all the trimmings

“As the deer that hath some unrecuring wound.”

“She was washed and cut and trimmed.”

Titus compares his daughter to a deer or welkin, and in the play’s most barbaric scene, the emperor’s sons ravish her and cut out her tongue. They enjoy the cruel rape and mutilation just like two starving lions enjoying their prey.

Act V:

Just desserts: people pot pie.

“More stern and bloody than the centaur’s feast,” A truly unforgettable dessert for this feast of carnage. The cook, Titus, reinvents the term rich food by cooking two emperor’s sons into pies.

Served cold, like revenge!

“Set him breast deep in Earth and famish him.”

Idea 3: Real Titus foods inspired by my favorite Halloween diy recipes

1. Lavinia’s tongue and hands

• horrific Halloween punch with ice cold hand cubes: https://youtu.be/XLYwcX7Ud-E

• Bloody lady fingers https://pin.it/xbnfxcs4bxbhsq

2. Titus hand: Hot dog fingers for Titus’ hand.

https://pin.it/ofn6cotybnvn4n

Or this grisly appetizer: cheese hand in prosciutto

3.

People Pies:

There are many horrific pie recipes on the internet, but for a busy teacher on a budget, I’m adapting this one from the YouTube channel Threadbanger: https://youtu.be/E6U6xUl3A5M. Don’t show this video to your students because there’s far too much cursing. That said this recipe is very cheap and it’s easy. He used only store bought items and no fancy cooking techniques, which means if you choose to bake it as a classroom activity, even your students can help make it. Here are some tips from the video to get the most horrible ppeople pie you can make:

• Use red filling like cherry or strawberry for filling.

• Use excess dough for a nose.

• Cut out little pieces of apple to make teeth

• Cut holes for the eyes and mouth

• The bloodier, the better!

Bone appetit!

How Game Of Thrones is like a Shakespearean Play

I love Game Of Thrones! If you’ve ever read the books or seen the series on HBO, like me you might be amazed by the scale and complexity of the world author George RR Martin created. He wove together a rich tapestry of medieval history, legends, and yes, Shakespeare. He used some of Shakespeare’s plots, commented and expanded on his themes, and adapted some of his iconic characters into a very rich and in a way, very modern story. Today I’m going to examine the components of Martin’s narrative that he embroidered off of Shakespeare’s plots, themes, and characters. If you like my take on this, or if you disagree, please leave a comment below! If you have any suggestions for other popular works adapted from Shakespeare, let me know and I’ll review them on the blog!

Part I: Story

Shakespeare wrote four plays that chronicle a series of civil wars where powerful families battled each other for the crown of England. Like Game of Thrones, the conflict was mainly between the kingdoms in the North and South:

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Shakespeare’s three parts of King Henry VI and Richard III chronicle the real struggle between the Yorkists in the north to take the crown from the Lancastrians in London in the South.

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Part II: Themes

Power corrupts, especially those who go seeking it.

The death of chivalry and honor in favor of political backstabbing.

King Henry VI has a speech where he watches a great battle while sitting on a molehill, watching the tide turn back and forth between his soldiers and the Yorkists. As with Game Of Thrones, the more blood each side has on its hands, the harder it becomes to decide whom to truly root for. In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter- kingdoms are won and lost as arbitrarily as a game. All it takes is time, and a good player to win.

The silence of the Gods. Shakespeare’s King Lear is constantly making oaths to his gods and asking them to punish his enemies. Likewise, Lear’s friend the Duke Of Gloucester, places his faith in the gods to protect Lear and punish the usurpers Goneril and Regan. Nevertheless, the action of King Lear doesn’t show any kind of divine judgement- Lear is exiled, goes mad, is sent to prison, and finally dies. Gloucester loses his sight, his lands, and dies randomly right after he is re-united with his son Edgar. In both King Lear and Game Of Thrones, there is a persistent question as to the nature of the gods, or even the surety of their existence.

King Lear mourns Cordelia’s death by

James Barry, c. 1786.

No where is this more apparent than at the end of the play King Lear, when, just as it seems that the Duke of Albany is about to reward the good people and punish the wicked, King Lear arrives howling, with the dead Cordelia in his arms. “Is this the promised end?” in horror at the gods’ apparent cruelty. https://youtu.be/7acLWsal1FU

In Game Of Thrones, the good characters pray to their old gods and new, but never seem to hear from them or sense their influence. Osha, the Wildling even suggests that the gods have no power in King’s Landing, where the special God’s Wood trees have been cut down.

Part III: Characters

Below is a list of my favorite GOT characters, with my interpretation of their Shakespearean roots.

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Ned Stark- Humphrey Duke of Gloucester from Henry VI, Part II

Duke Humphrey is a Yorkist from the north of England, just as Ned is Lord of Winterfell, a powerful kingdom in the north of Westeros. King Robert makes Ned Protector Of the Realm when he dies, which makes him king in all but name, and tasked with taking care of Robert’s young son Joffrey until he comes of age.

Portrait of the historical Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester from the National Portrait Gallery, artist unknown.

In Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy, King Henry the Fifth makes his brother Humphrey Lord Protector before he dies, to take care of England until his infant son Henry VI comes of age to rule. Like Ned, Humphrey is loyal, blunt, and only interested in keeping the realm at peace. In both Westminster and the Red Keep, all the lords are conniving and ambitious, and only interested in advancing themselves politically. These two lord protectors are the only ones with the good of the kingdom in mind.

Both Ned and Humphrey are betrayed and executed by those ambitious lords around them for the same reason; they stand in the way of the lords in their quest for power. In Henry VI, Part II, Henry’s ambitious queen Margaret starts a smear campaign against Humphrey’s wife, then pressures the King to force Gloucester to resign. As if that weren’t enough, Margaret also secretly conspires to murder the noble duke. Similarly, In Game of Thrones (Spoiler Alert), queen Circe puts her son on the throne and proclaims Ned a traitor. In both cases though, once the Lord Protector dies, the whole kingdom erupts in fights and arguments for the crown on all sides.

game-of-thrones

Ned Stark also resembles the heroes of Shakespeare’s Roman plays. He is cold and stoic as Brutus, and a devoted soldier like Titus Andronicus. Ned’s dire wolf is another connection with Shakespeare’s Roman plays; the wolf 🐺 is the symbol of the Roman Empire; packs of cold hunters who depend on each other for the survival of the family.

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King Joffrey- Saturnine from Titus Andronicus– Joffrey is like the worst kind of tyrant- rash, proud, violent, and cruel. He lacks the maturity to make wise decisions and because of his privileged upbringing, he takes even the tiniest slight against him as an act of treason, and leaves a trail of heads in his wake. Worse still, he is easily manipulated by his mother Circe, who teaches him to act and feel superior to everyone else, and never care for the good of anyone but himself. In that way, he is very much like a Roman Emperor like Nero or Caligula, the real people whom Shakespeare adapted into the character of Emperor Saturnine in his play Titus Andronicus.

Joffrey

When we first meet Saturnine, he leads an angry mob into the streets of Rome, demanding to be made emperor, and threatening all out war if he doesn’t get his way. He also turns on the loyal soldier Titus, (who helped him win a war and win his crown), just because Titus wouldn’t give Saturnine his daughter in marriage. In the clip below from the 1999 movie Titus, Emperor Saturnine (Alan Cummings) is furious just because Titus wrote some mean scrolls about him, after Saturnine killed two of Titus’ sons, and banished a third.

Baratheon Stag

King Robert Baratheon- Edward IV from Richard III.

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◦ In the first book of the Game of Thrones series, Robert is the King of the Seven Kingdoms, having won a civil war to take it away from the Mad King Araes Targaryen. Edward in the play Richard III has just won the crown of England after a civil war against the mad King Henry VI. Both men were powerful warriors and used to be strong and handsome. People loved and feared him, but now the pressures of keeping the throne has literally consumed them.

Robert_slays_Rhaegar

P. 53

Next had come King Robert himself, with Lady Stark on his arm. The King was a great disappointment to Jon. His father had talked of him often: the peerless Robert Baratheon, demon of the Trident, the fiercest warrior of the realm, a giant among princes. Jon only saw a fat man, red-faced under his beard, sweating through his silks.

Jon had noticed that too. A bastard had to learn o notice things, to read the truth that people hid behind their eyes. Two seats away, the king had been drinking heavily all night. His broad face was flushed behind his black beard.

In this passage from Thomas More’s History Of Richard III, (Shakespeare’s primary source for the play), More chronicles how Edward went from a handsome young king, loved and feared by all, into a gluttonous, lecherous, sick old man, who was consumed by care.

He was a goodly personage, and very princely to behold: of heart, courageous; politic in counsel; in adversity nothing abashed; in prosperity, rather joyful than proud; in peace, just and merciful; in war, sharp and fierce; in the field, bold and hardy, and nevertheless, no further than wisdom would, adventurous. Whose wars whosoever would well consider, he shall no less commend his wisdom when he withdrew than his manhood when he vanquished. He was of visage lovely, of body mighty, strong, and clean made; however, in his latter days with over-liberal diet [1], he became somewhat corpulent and burly, and nonetheless not uncomely; he was of youth greatly given to fleshly wantonness, from which health of body in great prosperity and fortune, without a special grace, hardly refrains. This fault not greatly grieved the people, for one man’s pleasure could not stretch and extend to the displeasure of very many, and the fault was without violence, and besides that, in his latter days, it lessened and well left.

-Thomas More, History Of Richard III, c. 1513

There are also similarities in how the characters died. King Robert was killed by a wild boar, while King Edward was killed by his brother Richard, whose sign was a white boar. As a bonus, the stag that is the sigil of House Baratheon, is also the seal of King Richard II, the king who, in the Shakespearean tragedy that bears his name, started the civil war when he was murdered in the Tower Of London. Below is a picture of the famous Wilton Diptych, (Richard the Second’s private alter piece), which depicts the king and all the angels in heaven wearing a badge with a white stag on it.

wilton diptych

I’m not actually the first person to mention this connection between Robert Baratheon and Edward IV. In the British newspaper, The Guardian, the author compares several characters from Game Of Thrones, to historical English events: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/game-of-thrones-vs-history-which-real-characters-and-events-insp/robert-baratheon-and-edward-iv/

littlefinger

Little Finger -Lucio from Measure For Measure, Iachimo from Cymbeline, Bawd from Pericles, etc. Shakespeare has a host of character like this lord of Westeros, the Master of Coin. He is cowardly and cynical, but he is also very clever and understands people’s weaknesses, especially sex. Like Bawd from Pericles, Little Finger has grown rich off brothels, and like many real life governments, he turns his prostitutes into spies. This gives him not only cash, but dirt on every lord in the 7 kingdoms. He only worries about Ned Stark, (who can’t be bought), and Vares the eunuch, who can’t be seduced. Little Finger is basically an oily politician and exploits the power of lust in the men of King’s Landing.

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Jon Snow– Edgar and Edmund in King Lear Philip the Bastard in King John.

◦ Snow is the illegitimate son of Ned Stark. He’s aware of what he is, so he joins thieves and rapers as a knight of the Night Watch to make a life for himself, just as Edgar becomes a mad beggar in King Lear once he is accused of attempted murder. He has few illusions and like all the base-born children in Shakespeare:

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He was who he was, Jon Snow, bastard oath breaker motherless, friendless, and damned. For the rest of his life, however long that might be- he would be condemned to be an outsider, the silent man standing in the shadows who dares not speak his true name.”

◦ Shakespeare wrote several characters born out of wedlock such as Phillip Falconbridge in King John, and Edmund from King Lear.

Unlike Jon Snow, Edmund in King Lear uses deceitful and cruel cunning in order to advance his position in life. Snow doesn’t try to change the rules, but both of them know that no one is going to give them anything. Early in book one, Jon learns to accept the cruelty of the world, and to accept what he is:

Let me give you some council, bastard, never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.

Song Of Ice And Fire, p. 57.

🦁 Tyrian Lannister –

Obviously he shares some parallels with Richard III, with his small size and the fact that he is the most hated member of a powerful family. In fact, Peter Dinklage who plays Tyrion played Richard the Third back in 2004.

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In terms of his personality however, Tyrion has neither the cruelty, nor the bitterness of Richard. For this reason, I would argue that Tyrion more closely resembles Sir John Falstaff.

Tyrion

◦ Like Falstaff, Tyrion laughs at his physical form as a way of disarming his enemies.

◦ Both Characters are famous for talking their way out of anything.

◦ Both characters are down on their luck for most of the books

Both characters are, ahem, fond of drink. Falstaff even has a beer named after him:

◦ Most Of all, Tyrion and Falstaff are survivors – they will do anything to stay alive, good or bad. They are also unapologetic about acting cowardly and deceitfully to avoid death. In Falstaff’s famous ‘Catechism speech,’ he mocks the concept of honor and how it frequently gets men killed.

FALSTAFF

‘Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before
his day. What need I be so forward with him that
calls not on me? Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.

Now observe this passage where Tyrion reacts to the death of a noble knight who was foolish enough to wear armor while crossing a river on a raft.

“Good my lord,” the messenger said. “Lord Brax was clad in plate-and-mail when his raft overturned. He was so gallant.” “He was a fool,” Tyrion thought, willing his cup and staring down into the wind depths. Crossing a river at night on a crude raft, wearing armor, with an enemy waiting on the other side–if that was gallantry, he would take cowardice every time. Song of Ice and Fire, 765.

My favorite part of the books is the way Martin writes the female characters. All the female characters are dealing with the fact that women have very little power or say in their society and they all use Shakespearean means or methods to get what they want.

🦁 Circe- Tamara and Lady Macbeth

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Circe

Just as her son Joffrey has the arrogance and sadistic cruelty of a Roman emperor, Circe is a mirror image of the cruel empress Tamara, Queen Of Goths in Titus Andronicus. Both women are attracted to power and motivated by revenge. Tamara wants revenge against General Titus, who executed her son in the war. After seducing and marrying the emperor, she uses her influence to execute two of Titus’ sons. She then uses her lover Aaron the Moor (with Whom she secretly has a child), to concoct a plot to rape and mutilate Titus’ daughter. And if that weren’t enough, she tries to drive him mad by appearing at his home dressed as the Roman goddess Revenge. In short, Tamara is a classic femme fatale, who raises above the social oppression of her sex by seducing powerful men, and stabbing them in the back.

Circe is also a femme fatale, though Martin gives her more time to explain her motivations than Shakespeare gives Tamara. Like the Queen Of Goths, Circe marries King Robert Baratheon, while secretly having a taboo affair, this time with her brother Jamie. The difference is that Circe kills not strictly for vengeance, but mainly to conceal the fact that her son Joffrey is actually the product of her incest in order to protect him and eventually make him king. This is why Circe kills Ned Stark, Jon Aron, and consents to the murder of all or Robert Baratheon’s true born sons.

Circe does desire revenge, but not against anyone in particular. Instead, she wants to repay the patriarchy that keeps her down simply because she is a woman. Quote about Circe when she talks about how jealous she is of Jamie. In that chapter we get a great sense of who Circe really is. Because she’s a twin, she compares herself to her brother, observing how Jamie was given on her glory and respect when he became a knight and a member of the King’s Guard, while she was sold off to king Robert at the age of twelve like a slave or a common whore. Why, Circe asks, if she looks so much like him and acts so much like him, is she treated so differently just because she’s a woman? In a perverse sort of way, her incest might be a misguided attempt to claim part of Jamie’s honor and power through sexual conquest. Both Tamara and Circe show how an oppressive patriarchy can plant truly destructive thorns in the hearts of women, and these two queens reap that bitter harvest by cutting down the men in power one by one.

like camera Circe is driven by her love for her children and her desire and her pride and desire for vengeance. She spends the first half of the place seducing the emperor to gain his favor and then when she is made empress she uses her power to systematically destroy Titus and his family. Similarly, Circe marries king Robert and then when he dies she makes her son she then kills Ned Stark guy in prisons his daughter tries to kill the second of and

Catelyn-

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Hermione From The Winters Tale ❄️ 🐺

◦ Pious

◦ Kindness and mercy are her weapons as well as her will and devotion to her friends and family. Even Tyrion is impressed by her integrity.

🐺 Aria- Imogen from Cymbeline

◦ If it’s a mans world, pretend you are one! She learns to use a sword ⚔️ and uses her small size and gender to sneak away from her enemies.

🐉 Daenerys Targaryen- Cleopatra!

◦ Crafty and beautiful

◦ Uses her sexuality to gain a powerful man’s protection

◦ Her dragons 🐉 make her a goddess, elevating her beyond a woman and even a queen. In a society that opposed and ignored women, female monarchs needed to practically deify themselves in order to get the same respect as their male counterparts.

Just as the real Cleopatra claimed to be a descendant of the goddess Isis and Elizabeth I was part of the cult of the virgin queen, The Mother Of Dragons has a mythic power that commands fear and adoration.

Spoiler Alert

In the final chapter of book one, Daenerys tries to simultaneously say goodbye to her warrior husband Khal Drogo, and to get her few remaining soldiers to swear loyalty to her. She dresses him, she braids his hair, she puts him atop a pyre, and waits for a star to pass overhead to give his funeral a cosmic significance:

“This is a wedding too.”

The pyre shifted and the logs exploded as the fire touched their secret hearts. She could hear the screams of frighten horses and the voices of the Dothraki. “No,” she wanted to shout to him, “No my good knight, do not fear for me. The fire is mine. I am Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of dragons, bride of Dragons, Mother Of Dragons.”

This mirrors how, once Cleopatra loses Antony and knows that the Romans are coming to capture her, she says goodbye to Antony, and asserts herself as queen.

CLEOPATRA

Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have
Immortal longings in me: now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:
Yare, yare, good Iras; quick. Methinks I hear
Antony call; I see him rouse himself
To praise my noble act; I hear him mock
The luck of Caesar, which the gods give men
To excuse their after wrath: husband, I come:
Now to that name my courage prove my title!
I am fire and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.

Have I the aspic in my lips? Dost fall?
If thou and nature can so gently part,
The stroke of death is as a lover’s pinch,
Which hurts, and is desired. Dost thou lie still?
If thus thou vanishest, thou tell’st the world
It is not worth leave-taking. Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, Scene ii.

Dany does the same thing. She lights the pyre to help her husband ascend to the heavens, taking his place among the stars. Then, she sits on top of the pyre along with her three dragon eggs. Miraculously, she survives the fire and the dragons hatch, thus establishing her as the true heir of House Targarean and the Mother Of Dragons.

After witnessing the queen embracing her serpentine children, the blood riders that swore oaths to defend her husband swear again to defend her, promising to help her win the Iron Throne. Her power to command loyalty can win her the throne, and unlike Robert, keep it!

There are enough comparisons between Shakespeare and GOt that one playwright even adapted Shakespeare to resemble a Game Of Thrones story. Below is a poster of

Play Of Thrones, an adaption Of The Henry VI plays that, as I’ve mentioned, are full of characters and scenes similar to Game Of Thrones:

http://philwillmott.org/play-of-thrones-shakespeare-that-inspired-game-of-thrones.html

In conclusion, these two works prove that Shakespeare has a timeless appeal that has inspired countless writers to adapt his stories and characters.

Announcing The Best Fathers In the Shakespearean Cannon

Announcing The Best and Worst Fathers In the Shakespearean Cannon

Podcast Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/45002/282555-the-shakespearean-student-episode-5-the-best-dads-in-the-shakespearean-cannon 

 Shakespeare himself was a father, and he frequently wrote about the dynamic between fathers and their children. There are many different types of fathers in Shakespeare’s 40 plus plays, and this week I’m ranking them in terms of three categories: Good Dads, Bad Dads, and “Dad Dads.” You’ve probably already read the “Worst Dad” post, so now we’re looking at the good, and the not so good. I used the following criteria when choosing the top 5 dads in each categories:

The Good Dads

  • Are supportive for their kids
  • Try to keep their children happy
  • Offer help and advice, especially on their children’s future.
  • Are willing to sacrifice themselves
  • They let their children become their own people.

 

The Bad Dads

  • Treat their children as property
  • Have little to no interest in their children
  • Put their children in danger
  • Subject their children to abuse
  • In some cases, they murder them!

 

The “Dad” Dads

  • Are basically good hearted, but they have some kind of flaw that prevents them from becoming really good parents.
  • In my view, are the most human, modern dads on the list.
  • I’ve chosen to award these dads a necktie, something every ok dad needs.

Now, onto the Dad Dads:

aclkaclk5. Aegean from The Comedy Of Errors. Aegean wonders around for 20 years looking for his lost children, which I call devoted parenting, but a little aimless and undisciplined. I therefore award Aegean two ties with little anchors on them, to remind him to stay in one place and wait for his sons to find him!

Alexandre Bida, "The death of Lord and John Talbott," 1895
Alexandre Bida, “The death of Lord and John Talbott,” 1895

4. Lord Talbott from Henry the Sixth Part I. Talbott is the hero of the English fight against the French at the close of the Hundred Years War. He goes toe to toe with Joan of Arc on numerous occasions. He also raises a fine and valliant son, John Talbott who is also a warrior. The two die bravely in a siege against the French, rather than surrendering, or leaving the other to die. Talbott is clearly also devoted to his child, but his career choice doesn’t allow his son to grow up in a safe environment! I therefore award Talbott two ties with little English and French flags on them.

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The Ghost of Hamlet's Father by William Blake, 1806.
The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father by William Blake, 1806.

3. The Ghost Of Hamlet’s Father from Hamlet/ Portia’s Dad from Merchant Of Venice. Both these parents die before their plays begin, yet they still try to improve their children’s lives from beyond the grave! The Ghost helps Hamlet become king of Denmark, and Portia’s dad tries to help her find a good husband, (one who will love her for something besides her beauty or riches). Although these parents achieve their goals, waiting this long to help their kids seems a bit like absentee parenting! I therefore award these posthumous parents ties with little skulls on them.

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. King Henry IV, from King Henry IV King Henry is the classic career dad, one who wants his son Hal (the future King Henry V), to follow in his footsteps. The two have a terrible fight when Henry thinks Hal is trying to steal his crown on his deathbed! Eventually though, father and son reconcile, and dad even gives the future king some last minute advice; if you fight a war with France it’ll help secure your crown, which Hal does and succeeds! I therefore award King Henry a tie with little crowns on it, hoping that nobody with a dagger ties tries to steal it when he’s sleeping!

42-44949227-11. Prince Pericles from Pericles Pericles is another busy dad- King Antiocus tries to murder him, and he has to leave his own kingdom. Then he gets shipwrecked 3 times! In fact, his only daughter is born onboard a ship in the middle of a storm! Pericles raises the girl for a number of years, but then has to leave again, and guess what, he gets shipwrecked AGAIN! He eventually finds his daughter and they live happily ever after, but you kind of get the idea that Pericles is a little accident-prone, which keeps him from being on the Best Dads list. Sorry Pericles, but at least you get a tie with, what else, Boats on it! Maybe next Fathers Day, someone will get you a life preserver.

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And now at Long LAST, the BEST Dads in Shakespeare!

Aaron fights to protect his baby child.
Aaron fights to protect his baby child.

5. Aaron the Moor from Titus Andronicus. Ironically, one of the worst villains in Shakespeare is also one of the best fathers. Aaron is fiercely protective of his child, even threatening people at sword point if they dare come near his baby. He also plans out the child’s future and is willing to give his own life for a promise that Lucius will protect and nourish his son. He may be a monster to everyone else, but to his baby, Aaron is simply, a good dad!

4. The Old Shepherd from The Winter’s Tale. This character is a very mirror of generosity and kindness; not only does he take care of his son The Clown, he adopts a poor discarded child, the princess Perdita, with no obligation to do so. He raises her for 16 years and constantly brags about her to the entire town. She becomes a beautiful, wise, and modest girl who fills her adopted father with pride because of his good parenting. Even when Perdita meets her real father, she speaks of The Old Shepherd with real filial affection “Oh my poor father.”

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Lord Capulet, from Romeo and Juliet. I know this was a controversial choice, and I discuss my choice in detail on my podcast, but I’ll sum up my major arguments here:

  1. Even though a lot of actors choose to have him smack Juliet around, there’s no mention of it in Shakespeare’s text. The most he ever does is threaten to strike her, but the stage directions never indicate he does it. Capulet is clearly more bark than bite.
  2. From the very beginning of the play, Capulet has shown that he cares about Juliet, and wants her to marry for love, not money.
  3. Lord Capulet hovers and frets constantly when Juliet tells him she will marry Paris, staying up late to plan the wedding! I ask you, does that sound like a tyrannical father? I wonder sometimes if Lord Capulet would’ve forgiven Juliet for marrying Romeo if she had just told him. In any case, based on my criteria above, Capulet is a good dad, bad tempered, yes, but fundamentally concerned for the welfare of his children.

BOL143705 Prospero and Miranda, fragment from 'The Tempest', c.1790 (oil on canvas) by Romney, George (1734-1802); © Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire, UK; English,  out of copyright
Prospero and Miranda, fragment from ‘The Tempest’, c.1790 (oil on canvas) by Romney, George (1734-1802); ¬© Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Lancashire, UK; English, out of copyright

3. Prospero from The Tempest I chose this high spot for Prospero mainly because he seems to have the most success of any other dad in the cannon. Like Pericles, he too is shipwrecked with his daughter, but Prospero stays with Miranda, raises her alone, teaches her everything she knows, and calls her an angel that helped preserve his life. Prospero cares so much for his daughter that he refuses to give into despair, even though he’s lost his wife, his dukedom, and his home.

Prospero also hatches a plan to get him and Miranda off the island, to get his dukedom back, and to get her married to a handsome prince name Ferdinand, and he succeeds with every one of these endeavors, even though it takes 12 years. Prospero gets extra points for his patience and his wisdom, but I have to admit he’s a bit of a control freak; he demands that Miranda listen to him and obey him no matter what, and he warns Ferdinand that there will be dire consequences if he dare try to do anything illicit with his daughter before the wedding. In addition, there’s no denying that Prospero is also acting out of self interest- he wants to become duke again, and he wants revenge against his enemies and that’s partially why he raises a tempest, (or a huge storm), instead of just sending a message back to Milan.

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Simonides grants permission for Pericles to wed his daughter. Production shot from Mary Zimmerman's 2006 production of "Pericles."
Simonides grants permission for Pericles to wed his daughter. Production shot from Mary Zimmerman’s 2006 production of “Pericles.”

King Simonedes from Pericles, Prince Of Tyre You might forget this character because he only has a short time onstage, but I defy anyone to come up with a better father. He’s kind, supportive, stable, funny, and has a wonderful relationship with his daughter Thaisa. Above all, Simonedes actually listens to his child and does everything in his power to help her when she decides she wants to marry Pericles. Also, like Prospero, Simonedes pretends to object to the marriage, but you kind of get the sense that, rather than testing the affection of the couple, he’s actually just playing a joke on them. You can hear a “gotcha” and a fatherly wink in the final line of the speech in Act II, where he pretends to object to their marriage:

Congratulations to all our fabulous fictional fathers! Thank you for reading, and see you soon!

Top Five WORST Shakespearean Father Characters!

Hello everyone!

Parenting is tough! Parents have to sacrifice so much to make sure their kids grow up happy, healthy, and prepared for life. Not everyone can do it, but if Shakespeare has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always someone doing a worse job than you. So for all you dads out there, enjoy this list of my top 5 worst dads in Shakespeare, lovingly made to remind you that whatever kind of father you are, at least you’re not these baddies!

If you’d like to listen along to my podcat about this topic while you read, here’s the latest episode here:

The Shakespearean Student Episode 4: Top 5 WORST Shakespearean Father Characters

Worst Dads Title:

First and Worst: #1: King Antiocus from Pericles.

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#2: Egeus from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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#3: King Leontes from The Winter’s Tale

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#4: Titus Andronicus from Titus Andronicus

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#5: King Lear from King Lear

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Do you agree with my list? Leave me a comment below! Tomorrow I’ll continue my list with the top 5 Dad Dads; guys who are good, but have modern problems that keep them from being truly great. Then we’ll take it home with the best of the best. Hope you enjoy them!

Till Next Time,

-The Shakespeare Guru