A New Source, A New Date for The Tempest, Part 3

A New Source, A New Date for The Tempest, Part 2

E. Reconciling February 13th to 15th  

Considering Mark 14 reports the Last Supper of Christ as held on Thursday, could we say that a reading of such would mimic that day of the week said events occurred? Similarly, since Mark 15 reports the Cruxificion as held on Friday, could such reading mimic that day as well? We should note that Mark 14 is also read at the Communion Service on the Monday before Easter and Mark 15, at the Communion Service on the Tuesday before Easter, thereby reinforcing the idea that such readings would be appropriate during the Lenten season.

Another way to validate our assumptions that Mark 14 and 15 should be read on Thursday and Friday, respectively, would be to consider the following two passages:

Prospero.  If I have too austerely punish’d you,
xxxxxYour compensation makes amends, for I
xxxxxHave given you here a third of mine own life,
xxxxxOr that for which I live; who once again
xxxxxI tender to thy hand. …
(IV.i.1-5: emphasis added)

Miranda, age fifteen, is ‘a third’ of Prospero’s life. He is, therefore, forty-five years old. Hence, he was cast out at age thirty-three (‘Twelve year since’), the same age Christ was in his Passion.

Ferdinand.  This is strange. Your father’s in some passion
xxxxxThat works him strongly.
(IV.i.143-4: emphasis added)

We should note that Christ’s Passion is reported in Mark 14 and 15.

Given our assumptions, can we find a year which supports the following dates:

Sunday – 10-Feb
Monday – 11-Feb
Tuesday – 12-Feb
Wednesday – 13-Feb
Thursday – 14-Feb – reading of Mark 14 which reports Last Supper
Friday – 15-Feb – reading of Mark 15 which reports Cruxificion
Saturday – 16-Feb

For the years 1564 to 1611, we find 1566, 1572, 1577, 1583, 1594, 1600, 1605, and 1611 support such dates.(fn. 15)

Could our selection of years possibly be narrowed?

F. Narrowing of Possible Years

Certainly, we should add the First Day of Lent (also known as ‘Ash Wednesday’) to our list of Valentine’s day and Faustin’s day, which equates to our Wednesday, February 13th. We may also recall Mark 13 is read on this date.

Reconsidering our prior assumptions, can we now find a year which supports the following dates, and in particular, the first day of Lent on February 13th:

Sunday – 10-Feb
Monday – 11-Feb
Tuesday – 12-Feb
Wednesday – 13-Feb – First Day of Lent (Ash Wednesday)
Thursday – 14-Feb – Valentine’s day
Friday – 15-Feb – Faustin’s day
Saturday – 16-Feb

For the eight years previously selected, we find only 1583, 1594, and 1605 support such date.(fn. 16)  How, then, can we further narrow our selection of years?

G. Further Narrowing of Possible Years

We should note the liturgical calendar in the BCP also shows the day the moon changes each month based on each year’s Golden Number. Could we determine if a New Moon is relevant to The Tempest?

The moon is mentioned eleven times in the play, including three mentions of ‘Man i’ th’ Moon’ and five of ‘moon-calf’. And, we know Sycorax ‘was a witch, and one so strong / That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs’ (V.i.269-70) and hence Caliban would appropriately be called a ‘moon-calf’.

Considering Ariel’s ‘On the sixt hour, at which time, my lord, / You said our work should cease.’ (V.i.4-5: emphasis added), could we assume Ariel is referring to the change of the moon which does indeed occur only on or after ‘the sixt hour’? (fn. 17) Has Prospero taken over Sycorax’ power over the moon? He would indeed be one who controls the seas.

By adding the New Moon to each of our three years (fn. 18),

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

we see that for 1605, four days (12-15) would be necessary to represent the action in The Tempest. Again, we know the play ends within three days and recall our earlier assumption the play occurs February 13th to 15th. So we may now exclude the year 1605 from our analysis.

Then, the question remains, does a new moon occur before the end of the play (as per 1594) or at the end (as per 1583)? Considering once again Ariel’s ‘On the sixt hour, at which time, my lord, / You said our work should cease.’ (V.i.4-5: emphasis added), clearly the moon changes at the end of the play, thus further excluding the year 1594 from our analysis, and leaving us with the year 1583 as the date The Tempest was possibly written.(fn. 19) Further proof of such year will be addressed as follows.

=== GO TO Leviticus 25: The Jubilee and The Tempest ===

(15)  See Appendix A. All dates are based on the Julian calendar. Supported years fall under Dominical Letters ‘F’ (common year starting on Tuesday, January 1st) and ‘FE’ (leap year starting on Tuesday, January 1st). Years of study begin with William Shakespeare’s year of birth and end with the first recorded performance of The Tempest in 1611.

(16)  See Appendix B.

(17)  According to A Prymmer or boke of priuate prayer nedeful to be used of al faythfull Christianes (London, 1553) from The Two Liturgies, A.D. 1549, and A.D. 1552 with Other Documents Set Forth by Authority in the Reign of King Edward VI, ed. Joseph Ketley (Cambridge, 1844), ‘the moon never changeth before, but ever at or after noon’ (363). See the marginal note at Matthew 27:45 which equates ‘sixt houre’ with ‘none’ [noon].

(18)  See Appendix B.

(19)  We should note a change in the moon would be most appropriate on Prospero’s day, which mimics (in name) Faustin’s day, February 15th.

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About knitwitted

Goofette and troublemaker
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1 Response to A New Source, A New Date for The Tempest, Part 3

  1. knitwitted says:

    Side note: Interestingly, the Lupercalia is also celebrated on Feb 13-15. This would seem to explain Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo’s (i.e. the heathen) behavior throughout the play.

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