A New Date for Marlowe’s Faustus

An example of how the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) may work in plays:

Consider Marlowe’s Faustus (1604)…

R. M. Cornelius (Christopher Marlowe’s Use of the Bible, 1984) notes the friar’s dirge “Cursed be he that stole away his Holiness’ meat from the table …” is an allusion to Deut 27:15-19: “Cursed be the man that …”.

Interestingly, the BCP’s ‘A Commination Against Sinners’ also contains a reading from Deut 27:15-26, i.e. “the general sentences of God’s cursing against impenitent sinners”. We know said Commination is heard on the First Day of Lent (Ash Wednesday).

The friars sing their dirge on St. Peter’s Day (per the 1616Q, the feast actually celebrates St. Peter’s chair) which occurs on Feb 22nd. Question: Why is the friars’ dirge so similar to the ‘Commination Against Sinners’? Does Marlowe intend his audience to recognize such?

So why does Faustus snatch the Pope’s plate of meat on St. Peter’s Day (a feast day)? Because in the year 1604, Feb 22nd (Roman feast day) is a meat-less Feb 22nd First Day of Lent in England. Surely, Marlowe’s audiences would have gotten that joke!! Funny!!

Of course, Marlowe dies in 1593 so a joke based on the year 1604 doesn’t work, now does it, nevermind the fact that Feb 22nd in England is actually March 3rd in Rome per the Gregorian calendar.

But if we stay w/in Marlowe’s lifetime, in 1589 the First Day of Lent occurs on Feb 12th in England (which would be Feb 22nd in Rome based on the Gregorian calendar). It should be noted both Feb 12th (Julian) and Feb 22nd (Gregorian) occur on a Wednesday giving us a Roman Feb 22nd (Gregorian) feast day vs. an English Feb 12th (Julian) meat-less day which justifies Faustus’ removal of the Pope’s meat. Hilarious!!

The above should be seen as an example of how the BCP calendar (as well as the calendar change) can work in plays and perhaps how it may offer a composition date. Perhaps Marlowe’s Faustus was written closer to 1589.

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Manwich Monday??

Like, hey… I bought a Manwich can last week and got it out last Friday night to cook up some yummy Manwiches… but WTF?? The label said “Manwich Monday”. BUT is was FRIDAY… Not MONDAY. So I went back to the store and went through every can on the shelf and guess what?? NO “Manwich Friday” cans. So I tooted over to three more stores and still NO “Manwich Friday” cans. WTF Hunt’s?? So now it’s Monday and guess what?? I don’t want Manwiches today.


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Location of The Tempest

I. Gascoyne’s *A delicate diet, for daintiemouthde droonkardes* (1576)

‘I thought it shoulde not be vnprofitable, nor any way vnpleasaunt (vnlesse it be to such as can not abyde to heare of vertue, for feare least they might be ashamed of theyr vyce) to adde some Aucthoryties and examples for the more speedy extyrpation of this monstrous plant, lately crepte into the pleasaunt Orchyardes of Englande.

‘And surely it is time (yea more then tyme) that we shoulde foresée, and learne to auoyde, those Bermaydes of myschiefe, which pype so pleasantly in euery Potte, that men be thereby allured to sayle into the Ilandes of all euyll. And there (being iustly depryued of Gods grace,) are transfourmed into most ougly shapes of brute Beastes.

‘And least I séeme ouer sodainly to leape into my matter, and ouer rashly to rayle before good proofe of reproofe, let mée set downe this for my generall proposition, That all Droonkardes are Beastes…’

=== Could this early reference to Bermudas (Bermaydes) as a drink be relevant to The Tempest (‘to fetch dew / From the still-vex’d Bermoothes’)? i.e. Why are scholars so intent on saying Tempest was written about the geographical islands?

II. Could the actual island for Tempest be the Fortunate Isles (i.e. Canary Islands)?
(a) Fortunate = Prosperous
(b) Canary = There are dogs on Tempest island.
(c) Caliban’s ‘a south-west blow on ye / And blister you all o’er!’ could refer to the winds coming off the Sahara Desert.
(d) Ariel’s song ‘Come unto these yellow sands’ could refer to sulphur from a volcano.

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Queen Elizabeth and Susanna in The Tempest

Leviticus 25: The Jubilee and The Tempest

I. Purpose of subplot

So how does this biblical Jubilee subplot relate to our dating of The Tempest to the year 1583? Consider the fact that such Jubilee occurs every fifty years, then consider the fact that Queen Elizabeth celebrated her fiftieth birthday on 7 September 1583.(fn. 32)

For further validation the Jubilee subplot does indeed fit in with the foregoing Lenten season allusions, consider the fact that Quinquagesima (Shrove Sunday) is the fiftieth day before Easter and is the prelude to the Lenten season.

And refer to the prophecy at Mark 13:30-31, which is read on February 13th (our assumed First Day of Lent): ‘Verely I say vnto you, that this (n) generacion shal not passe, til all these things be done. 31. Heauen and earth shal passe away, but my wordes shal not passe away.’ Marginal note (n): ‘The worde signifieth the space of a 100 yeres albeit this came to passe before fiftie yeres.’

Compare with Prospero’s ‘Our revels now are ended. … the great globe itself, / Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, / And like this insubstantial pageant faded / Leave not a rack behind.’ (IV.i.148, 153-6)

Also, consider the fact that Joel 1 and 2 are readings from the BCP on September 10th, the ‘tenth day of the seuenth moneth’ per Leviticus 25:9 which is the day of the Jubilee. Recall Joel 2:15-17 is read at the Communion Service on the First Day of Lent and that Joel 1:9 and 13 nicely allude to the Lenten season.

Regarding the monthly change in the moon, compare our previous trio of assumed years with the addition of the September New Moon:(fn. 33)

Feb 1583 Feb 1594 Feb 1605
Sun 10 10 10
Mon 11 11 11
Tues 12 12 12 – New Moon
Wed 13 – Ash Wed 13 – Ash Wed 13 – Ash Wed
Thur 14 14 – New Moon 14
Fri 15 – New Moon 15 15
Sat 16 16 16
SEPT 10 – New Moon 9 – New Moon 7 – New Moon

Clearly, we see that only 1583 shows a New Moon occurring on September 10th, again noted as the ‘tenth day of the seuenth moneth’ per Leviticus 25:9 which is the day of the Jubilee, further validating our dating of The Tempest to said year.

For further validation The Tempest alludes to Queen Elizabeth, consider this listing found in Cooper’s Thesaurus (1578): ‘Viro tempestiua virgo’ which is defined by Horatio as ‘A maiden maryable.’(fn. 34)  Compare not only the character, Miranda, but also the fact that Elizabeth was born under the sign of Virgo. Also, note ‘tempestiua’ certainly reflects not only the name of the play, but also the coming marriage season.

And, finally, consider the scripture from Matthew 8:23-27 as read on September 7th (the day of Elizabeth’s birth):

And when he was entred into the ship, his disciples followed him. 24. And beholde, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the ship was couered with waues: but he was a slepe. 25. Then his disciples came, & awoke him, saying, Master, saue vs: we perish. 26. And he said vnto them, Why are ye feareful, o ye of litle faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the windes and the sea: and so there was a great calme. 27. And the men marueiled, saying, What man is this, that bothe the windes and the sea obey him!

III. Other Events in the Year 1583

We should also consider the fact that Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, was baptized on May 26th, 1583 (Trinity Sunday).

The BCP shows Matthew 24 as one of the scriptures read on May 26th.

Also, per ‘A Table of the Epistles and Ghosphels After the Romane Vse, Vpon Svndayes, Holidayes, and other Feasts, and special daies and causes through the whole yeare’ from the 1582 Rheims New Testament:

For ‘Trinitie Sunday’, Matthew 24 is listed as the Gospel reading.
For ‘S. Faustinus and Iouita’ day, Matthew 24 is listed as the Gospel reading.

Consider that Matthew 24:32: ‘Now learne the parable of the figge tre: when her bough is yet tender, & it bringeth forthe leaues, ye knowe that sommer is nere.’ is comparable to Mark 13:28: ‘Now learne a parable of the figge tre, When her bough is yet tender, & it bringeth forthe leaues, ye knowe that sommer is nere.’ Recall that Mark 13 is read on February 13th (our assumed First Day of Lent) and that Faustin’s day is celebrated on February 15th.

The liturgical calendar as found in the Bishops’ Bible (f.p. 1568) shows 2 Esdras 4 and 5 as two of the scriptures read on May 26th.(fn. 35) We should note that Nehemiah 4 discusses how the building of Jerusalem was hindered. We should further note the map of the Temple of Jerusalem as found in the Bishops’ Bible (f.p. 1568) does indeed mimic the island in The Tempest.(fn. 36) And recall that Nehemiah 5:11 is consistent with the Jubilee readings at both Leviticus 25:13 and 25:37.

Clearly, The Tempest reflects a renewal not only via the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s birth, but also via Shakespeare’s first-born child, Susanna, whose baptism would indeed bring her into a new world in the year 1583.


(32)  Elizabeth was born on 7 September 1533 and was baptized three days later on the 10th of September (i.e. the ‘tenth day of the seuenth moneth’ per Leviticus 25:9). Recall that The Tempest occurs over three days, culminating in a ‘renewal’, and that a baptism is considered to be such a ‘renewal’.

(33)  September New Moon dates are from the BCP.

(34)  Thomas Cooper, Thesaurus linguæ Romanæ & Britannicæ (London, 1578) <http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A19275.0001.001&gt; accessed 18 January 2016. Listed under ‘Tempestiuus’ which is defined by Cicero as ‘Done in conuenyent tyme and season: seasonable.’

(35)  The book ‘2 Esdras’ is the called ‘Nehemiah’ in the Geneva Bible.

(36)  See Map of Prospero’s Island for a map of the Temple of Jerusalem as based on the book of Nehemiah. For references to the six porches, see Neh. 3:1: ‘the shepegate’; 3:3: ‘the fish porte’; 3:6: ‘the gate of the olde fishpoole’; 3:13: ‘the valley gate’; 3:14: ‘the dung porte’; 3:15: ‘the gate of the fountaine’.

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