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Biblical References in Julius Caesar

Notes and Queries , Volume 49 (2) – Jun 1, 2002


Oxford University Press
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Biblical References in Julius Caesar


NOTES AND QUERIES June 2002 contemned the Christians because they left the olde religion, & broght in another trade of doctrine (Acts 19:22±4; QQiiiiv) The `olde religion' refers to the indigenous cult of `the great goddesse Diana', or Artemis, divinity of fertility and childbirth (Acts 19:27±8, 34±5). Her temple or `church' (as one likely source for The Comedy of Errors terms it4), was one of the seven wonders of the classical world, and is the setting for the final scene of both Errors (disguised as a `priory' or `abbey'5) and Pericles.6 Falstaff's Ephesian affinities are notably paradoxical in the light of his admiration expressed elsewhere for the Eastern Diana's Western counterpart (I Henry IV, I.ii.29), the more familiar goddess of hunting, the moon, and female chastity. For Elizabethan readers and spectators the Page's phrase carries additional allusions to the period's officially displaced but still widely practised `old religion', Catholicism, and more personally to the traditional faith of Shakespeare's family, and perhaps of the play4 The excellent and pleasant worke of Iulius Solinus Polyhistor (1587) describes `the Temple of Diana . . . in the most famous Cittie Ephesus' as `thys holy church' (Aaiiiv). The fact that Shakespeare names
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