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Law/Form/History: Shakespeare's Verdict in All Is True

Law/Form/History: Shakespeare's Verdict in All Is True Thespis, at this time, beginning to act tragedies, and the thing, because it was new, taking very much with the multitude, though it was not yet made a matter of competition, Solon, being by nature fond of hearing and learning something new, and now, in his old age, living idly, and enjoying himself, indeed, with music and with wine, went to see Thespis himself, as the ancient custom was, act; and after the play was done, he addressed him, and asked him if he was not ashamed to tell so many lies before such a number of people; and Thespis replying that it was no harm to say or do so in a play, Solon vehemently struck his staff against the ground: “Ay,” said he, “if we honour and commend such play as this, we shall find it some day in our business.”1 By responding anxiously to the hypocrisy of acting, Solon gives voice to the “antitheatrical prejudice,” founded on the belief that theater conI am grateful to Jonathan Crewe, whose seminar on early modern normativity at the 2001 Shakespeare Association Conference stimulated this essay. Margaret Ferguson and Annabel Patterson read earlier drafts charitably and judiciously, and I http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History Duke University Press

Law/Form/History: Shakespeare's Verdict in All Is True

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by University of Washington
ISSN
0026-7929
eISSN
1527-1943
DOI
10.1215/00267929-63-1-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Thespis, at this time, beginning to act tragedies, and the thing, because it was new, taking very much with the multitude, though it was not yet made a matter of competition, Solon, being by nature fond of hearing and learning something new, and now, in his old age, living idly, and enjoying himself, indeed, with music and with wine, went to see Thespis himself, as the ancient custom was, act; and after the play was done, he addressed him, and asked him if he was not ashamed to tell so many lies before such a number of people; and Thespis replying that it was no harm to say or do so in a play, Solon vehemently struck his staff against the ground: “Ay,” said he, “if we honour and commend such play as this, we shall find it some day in our business.”1 By responding anxiously to the hypocrisy of acting, Solon gives voice to the “antitheatrical prejudice,” founded on the belief that theater conI am grateful to Jonathan Crewe, whose seminar on early modern normativity at the 2001 Shakespeare Association Conference stimulated this essay. Margaret Ferguson and Annabel Patterson read earlier drafts charitably and judiciously, and I

Journal

Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary HistoryDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2002

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