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Most heathenish and most gross !
0, thou pernicious caitiff-
I found it in my chamber;
0, fool! fool! fool!
LOD. You must forsake this room, and go with us;
your command is taken off,
OTH. Soft you! a word or two before you go.
[Stabs himself. Lod. O, bloody period ! GRA.
All that is spoke is marrd.
(*) First folio inserts, it.
OTH. I kiss'd thee ere I kill d thee;—no way but this,
[Falling upon DESDEMONA. Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.
[Dies. Cas. This did I fear, but thought he had no weapon ; For he was great of heart.
LOD. [TO LAGO.] 0, Spartan dog,
[Exeunt. ILLUSTRATIVE COMMENTS.
(1) SCENE I.-Lead to the Sagittary.] By the Sagittary, Mr. Knight says, was meant the " residence at the arsenal of the commanding officers of the navy and army of the republic. The figure of an archer with his drawn bow, over the gates, still indicates the place.” Others, however, conceive Iago to mean only some house of resort which bore this sign.
In Lydgate's Auncient Historie, &c. 1555, quoted by Steevens, is found a very circumstantial description of the Sagittary:
“And with hym Guydo sayth that he hadde
A wonder archer of syght mervalous,
(2) SCENE II.-I'll have't disputed on.) This is an allusion to the manner in which causes were debated by the judges according to the custom of Venice formerly, and it affords one of many proofs that before writing “Othello,” Shakespeare had attentively perused Lewkenor's translation of “ The Commonwealth and Government of Venice, written by the Cardinall Gasper Contareno," &c. 1599. From this work he obtained his information concerning those officers of night” whom Brabantio directs to be summoned ; his knowledge of the Arsenal; as well as several particular expressions, such as Mine eares enclined; doe their countrie service; experience the mistresse of all things; serve the turne; their countrie customs, and others which he has modified and transplanted into the piece. The following is Contareno's account of the way criminal questions were disputed on before judgment could be obtained, in the ancient legal courts of Venice :
“ The Councell being assembled, the Advocator plaieth the parte of a bitter accuser, strayning the uttermost invention of his wittes against the offender, first obiecting unto him the offence, confirming the same with witnesses, and then strengthening his obiection with probabilities and likelihoodes of coniecture: having ended his speech, the advocate of the offender pleadeth in the Clventes behalfe: After which if any of the Advocators will speake afresh, before the Judges give sentence, he hath libertie so to do: likewise the Lawyers of the defendant have leave to aunswere and to confute, if they can, the opposed arguments. And so of eyther side the cause is debated and tossed to and fro, till eyther the offender or the Advocator whose turne it is to speake, doth
declare that he hath no more to say, which done, the offender and his advocates are commanded out of the Court, and the Advocators are shutte into a roome apart with the Iudges and their Secretaries, not any one else being suffred to be there. The Advocators first doe make a motion unto the Iudges of punishing the offender, demaunding their opinions whether they thinke him worthy of punishment or no, not naming or appointing any one certayne kinde of punishment, which custome was in a manner) observed by the Athenians: for in Athens the Iudges gave two sentences, in the first esther condemning or absolving the prisoner. If in the first hee were condemned, then was the manner of his punishment determined of in the second, as out of Platois Apologie of Socrates may plainly bee perceived, the very like order of iudgement is that in manner which we do use: first (as I say) the Advocators make a motion unto the Iudges of punishing the offender. Then the Iudges go unto their suffrages, for by suffrages among the Venetians all things are determined. Three pots are brought forth, by the one of which the offender is condemned: by the other he is absolved in maner without any correction, & by the third are known the opinion of those, which doe seeme yet to doubt whether course is to be taken: the first of condemnation is white, the second of absolution greene, the third of doubtfulnes redde. Every of the Iudges, whether the cause be disputed of by the forty (as usually it is) or els that the senate be consulted with (which seldome happeneth) & that only in great and waighty causes, or whether it be by the Advocators reported over to the great councell, which is most seldome, and never but in matters exceedingly enormous, to the ende to have his suffrage undiscerned, letteth fall into whether of these three pots he pleaseth a little linnen ball: which being done, the presidents of the councell doe number the balles, and if more then the half be in favour of the prisoners liberty, he is presently pronounced free, and the request of the Advocators reiected. But if more then the half of those bals, be found in the pot of condemnation, he is presently condemned: if neither of both exceede the half, but that the greater part of the Iudges put their suffrages into the pot of doubtfulnes: then his cause is deferred over til another day, & to the better discussion of the Iudges."
(3) SCENE III.
Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you
Against the general enemy Otioman.s The circumstances originating the siege of Nicosia, “the chief and richest citie of all the Island," and the ultimate conquest of Cyprus by the Turks (for there was no "segregation of the Turkish fleet” as the play supposes) are thus related by Knolles in his Historie of the Turkes :
“Selymus (the second) now at peace with all the world (a thing of the Turkes not much desired) began to thinke of workes of charitie: and proposing to build a magnificent temple at Hadrianople for his owne sepulture, with a monasterie, a colledge, and an almeshouse (as had his father, and other his ancestors before him at Prusa and Constantinople, led thereunto with a vaine and superstitious devotion) was troubled with nothing more, than how to endue the same with lands and revenues sufficient for the maintenance of so great a charge: For that the Mahometan kings, are by their superstition prohibited to convert any lands or possessions to such boly uses, other than such as they have with their own sword woon from the enemies of their religion, which they may (as they are persuaded) as a most acceptable sacrifice, offer to their great prophet: which devillish persuasion, serveth as a spurre to pricke forward every of those ambis tious princes to adde something to their empire. This his devout purpose once knowne, wanted not the furtherance of many ripe heads, devising some one thing, some another, as they thought best fitted his humour. But amongst many things to him presented, none pleased him so well, as the plot laid for the taking of the rich island of Cyprus from the Venetians : a conquest of itselfe sufficient, both for the eternizing of his name, and performance of his owne charitable works intended; with a large overplus, for the supplying of whatsoever wanted in his fathers like devout works at Constantinople. But that which moved him most of all, was the glorie of such a conquest, which as his flaterers bare him in hand, might make him equall with any his predecessors; who in the beginning of their raign, had usually done or attempted some notable thing against the Christians. Selymus presently commanded preparation to be made both by sea and land, for the performance of his resolution. Which was not so covertly carried in the Turkes court, but that it was discovered by M. Antonius Barbaras the Venetian embassadour; and not without cause suspected by the Venetian merchants, whom the barbarous Turks began now to cut short in their trafficke, looking big upon them, as men suddenly changed, and evill entreating them with hard speeches, the undoubted signes of greater troubles to ensue. These things and such like as were then done at Constantinople, being by letters sent in post from the embassadour, made knowne at Venice, brought a generall heavinesse upon the citie: for why that understanding and provident state, warned by their former harmes, of all others most dread the Turks forces.
" In the meane time the Senatours sitting oftentimes in counsell, were divided in opinions concerning the chief matter they consulted upon : some there were, that thought it not good to wage warre against such an invincible enemy, nor to trust upon a vaine and idle hope, neither to commit all unto the hazard of such fortune as was unto them in that warre by the enemie propounded: they alleadged that it were better to depart with Cyprus, so that they might quietly enjoy the rest, rather than to enter into armes. Others were of a contrary opinion, as that the island was by force of armes to be defended : saying that nothing could be more dishonourable, than without fight to depart with so notable a part of their Seigniorie; neither anything more commendable, than to prove all things for defence of their honour: neither would the proud Turks with whom no assured league could bee made (as they said) hold themselves content with this yeelding up of the island, by intreating of them and giving them way, become more insolent: and when they had taken Cyprus from them, would also seeke after Creete and Corcyra, & so yeelding them one thing after another, spoile themselves of all together. The matter thus debated to an fro, it was in the end resolved upon, to take up armes in defence of their honour, and by plaine force to withstand the Turke.
“The greater the danger was now feared from the angrie Turke, the more carefull were the Venetians of their state. Wherefore they forth with sent messengers with letters unto the Governours of Cyprus, charging them with all carefulness and diligence to make themselves readie to withstand the Turke, and to raise what power they were able in the island, not omitting any thing that might concern the good of the state: and at the same time made choice of their most valiant and expert captains both by sea and land, unto whom they committed the defence of their dispersed Seigniorie, with the leading of their forces.
“Selymus thoroughly furnished with all things necessary for the invasion of Cyprus, in the beginning of Februarie sent a great power both of horse and foot into Epyrus to forage the Venetian territorie. About the middle of Aprill following he sent Piall Bassa with four score gallies, and thirtie galliots to keep the Venetians from sending aid into Cyprus. He tooke his course to Zenos, an island of the Venetians, to have taken it from them. Piall here landing his forces, sought both by faire means & foule to have persuaded the inhabitants to have yeelded up their towne ; but when he could get nothing of them but foule words againe, he began by force to assault the same. _Two daies the towne was valiantly both assaulted and defended, but at length the Turks perceiving how little they prevailed, and that the defendants were resolutely set downe for the defence of themselves and their countrie; shamefully gave over the assault, and abandoning the island directed their course towards Cyprus. For Mustapha, author of that expedition, had before appointed Piall Bassa at a time prefixed, to meet him at the Rhodes, and that he that came first should tarrie for the other, that so they might together saile into Cyprus.
“All being now in readinesse, and a most royal gallie of wonderful greatness & beautie by the appointment of Selymus prepared for the great Bassa the Generall : he together with Haly Bassa and the rest of the fleet, departed from Constantinople, the six and twentieth of May, and at the Rhodes met with Piall as he had before appointed. The whole fleet at that time consisted of two hundred galleys, amongst whom were diverse galliots, and small men of warre with diverse other vessels prepared for the transportation of horses: with this fleet Mustapha kept on his course for Cyprus. They of the island in the meane time carefully attending the enemies comming from their watch towers first discovered their fleet at the west end of the island not far from Paphos : from whence the Turks turning upon the right hand, and passing the promontorie Curio, now called Del Le Gate, landed diverse of their men, who burnt and spoiled certaine villages, and with such spoile and prisoners as they had taken returned againe unto the fleet : which holding on their former course came at length to a place called Salinæ (of the abundance of salt there made) where they knew was best landing : and there in an open road came to an anchor, where the Bassảes without any resistance upon a plaine shoare landed their armie."
(4) SCENE III.-
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders.] In this passage the poet had probably in his mind the marvellous account which Raleigh has given in his Discorerie of Guiana, 1596, of the Amazons, the cannibals, and the **Nation of people, whose heads appear not above their shoulders : " or was thinking of Pliny's description of the "Anthropophagi"
"Above those are other Scythians called Anthropophagi, where is a conntry named Abarimon, within a certain vale of the mountain Imans, wherein are found savage and wild men, living and conversing usually among the brute beasts, who have their feet growing backward, and turned behind the calves of their legs, howbeit they run most