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throughout; Shakespeare admits no "incautiousness" on her part, no unqueenly condescension in meeting the charge; (v) Bohemia takes the place of Sicily, and vice versa, "apparently from a feeling that Bohemia carried better than Sicily, the associations of deserts and remoteness"; finally, (vi) the names are changed throughout:Polixenes Pandosto; Leontes Egistus; Hermione = Bellaria; Mamillius Garinter; Florizel = Dorastus; Perdita = Fawnia. The Greek element in Shakespeare's list of names is striking, and should perhaps be considered in connection with the Alcestis motif of the closing scene of the play. The Winter's Tale, from this latter point of view, suggests comparison with the "tragi-comedy" of Euripides. One cannot but think that, by some means or other, directly or indirectly, Shakespeare owed his dénouement to the Greek dramatist, certainly to the Greek story.1


Shakespeare's rogue has distinguished pedigree; his ancestor dwelt on Parnassus, where he was visited by his 1 Cp. the passage quoted above, which has been translated as follows:


Toward her turn thine eyes,

And say if she resembleth not thy wife.
Rest happy now, and all thy pains forget.
Admetus. O ye immortal gods! what can I say
At this unhoped, unlooked for miracle?
Do I in truth behold my wife, or doth

Some phantom of delight o'erpower my sense?
Hercules. This is no phantom but your own true wife.
Admetus. Art sure she is no ghost from the nether world?
Hercules. You did not think a sorcerer was your guest.
Admetus. O form and feature of my dearest wife,
Against all hope thou once again art mine."

-(W. F. NEVINS.)

Observe, too, that Alcestis dare not speak to Admetus for three days; Hermione similarly "lives, though yet she speaks not"; when she does find voice, it is to call a blessing on Perdita; no word is addressed to Leontes. There are other remarkable parallels in the two plays.

grandson Ulysses. A slight character sketch is given of him in Book XIX of the Odyssey, 392–8:—

"Autolycus, who th' art

Of theft and swearing (not out of the heart
But by equivocation) first adorn'd

Your witty man withal, and was suborn'd
By Jove's descend'nt, ingenious Mercury." 1

Shakespeare, in all probability, first became acquainted with Autolycus in the pages of his favorite Ovid, perhaps in Golding's translation (cp. Metamorphoses, Bk. XI).2


Drummond of Hawthornden, in his famous Conversations, recorded that Ben Jonson said, "Shakespeare wanted art and sometimes sense, for in one of his plays he brought in a number of men saying they had suffered shipwreck in Bohemia, where is no sea nearly 100 miles." This censure has been frequently repeated. As a matter of fact, Shakespeare follows Greene in this geopraphical detail. He may or may not have known better; incongruities and anachronisms are not out of place in "a winter's tale": he certainly bettered Greene's example, "making Whitsun pastorals, Christian burial, Guilio Romano, the Emperor of Russia, and Puritans singing psalms to hornpipes, all contemporary with the oracle of Delphi," the island of Delphi!

Like the Chorus Time in the play, Romance might well claim:

"It is in my power

To o'erthrow law and in one self-born hou
To plant and o'erwhelm custom."

1 Chapman's paraphrase (pub. 1616); cp. "My father named me Autolycus, who being as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper up of unconsidered trifles."

2 It is possible that Shakespeare's Autolycus owed something to Thomas Newbery's Book of Dives Pragmaticus, 1563 (reprinted in Huth's Fugitive Tracts, 1875).


The Winter's Tale, with its interval of sixteen years between two acts,1 may be said, too, to mark the final overthrow of Time-the hallowed "Unity of Time" by its Time”—by natural adversary, the Romantic Drama. The play recalls Sir Philip Sidney's criticism, in his Apologie for Poetrie, anent the crude romantic plays popular about 1580, when he outlined a plot somewhat analogous to that of The Winter's Tale as a typical instance of the abuse of dramatic decorum by lawless playwrights, who, contrary to academic rule, neglected both "time and place." The Winter's Tale, perhaps the very last of Shakespeare's comedies, appropriately emphasizes, as it were, the essential elements of the triumph of the New over the Old. Sidney could not foresee, in 1580, the glorious future in store for the despised Cinderella of the playhouses,

"Now Grown in Grace Equal with Wondering."

1 Eight days only are represented on the stage, with an interval of twenty-three days after Day 2 (Act II. sc. i.); and another short interval after Day 4 (Act III. sc. ii.); the main interval of sixteen years comes between Acts III. and IV.; again, there is a short interval between Act IV. sc. iv. and Act V., i. e. the seventh and eighth days.


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Other Lords and Gentlemen, Ladies, Officers, and Servants,

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SCENE: Partly in Sicilia, and partly in Bohemia

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