Acts of Naming and Spanish Subtexts in Othello


Lena Cowen Orlin

Through repetition, the text of Othello emphasizes for us an act of naming that might otherwise pass unnoticed as a rhetorical flourish: Othello and Desdemona elope to a building called the "Sagittary" (1.1.158; 1.3.115). Although the Sagittary's primary identification is with the newly married couple, we are also told that Iago "best know[s] the place" (1.3.121), and in fact it is he who first introduces the name:
Though I do hate [Othello], as I do hell's pains
Yet, for necessity of present life,
I must show out a flag, and sign of love,
Which is indeed but sign. That you shall surely find him,
Lead to the Sagittary the raised search.
And there will I be with him.

Having already identified himself as "his worship's ancient"--ensign, or flag-bearer--Iago links his profession and his duplicity to this place. These associations implicate Iago in a characteristically Shakespearean constellation of images that also references archery, Biblical representations of the scandalous tongue, legends of centaurs, the history of the Moors in Spain, and Christianized astrology. The Sagittary is a keynote for complex mythical constructions of place and plot in Othello.

Iago's iteration of "flag," "sign," and "sign," a noun sequence culminating in "Sagittary" and punctuated by "there will I be with him,"2 serves the subliminal function of summoning up for the listener or reader a mental image of the sign with which an inn or public house would have been identified. In this case, the image is of a celestial sign, the technical term in astrology for any of the twelve elements of the zodiac. The "zodiacal man" of the English almanac--according to Ruth Samson Luborsky the most familiar printed secular image in Tudor England--fixed in universal currency the figurative nature of the Sagittarius as a centaur with drawn bow (see the illustration).3 Editors seeking an explanation for the name of the Sagittary and a clue to its nature make frequent analogy to the "Centaur" of The Comedy of Errors.4 A more common related name for a public house in early modern England was perhaps the "Archer." This much is hinted in John Taylor's comic tour of the taverns of London in 1636, purportedly a search to record in their signboards the twelve signs of the zodiac and so to "imitate" the sun in its monthly journey. He notes that, "For Sagittarius, I was forced to make use of the sign of the Archer, near Finsbury-fields, or Grub-street end."5

The primary source for Othello, the seventh story in the third decade of Cinthio's Hecatommithi, contains a hint of this association of ensign and archer. After the nameless prototype for Iago succeeds in inspiring the Moor's jealousy, "the unhappy Moor went home," according to the Hecatommithi, "feeling as if he had been pierced by a sharp arrow."6 In Othello the imagery resurfaces in Lodovico's lament for the "much chang'd" Moor:

Is this the noble Moor, whom our full senate
Call all in all sufficient? This the noble nature,
Whom passion could not shake? whose solid virtue
The shot of accident, nor dart of chance,
Could neither graze, nor pierce?
(4.1.260-64; emphasis mine)

Later, apprehending the innocence of the wife he has murdered, Othello cries, "Here is my journey's end, here is my butt" (5.2.268). Lawrence Ross notes that "the butt is the structure on which the targets are placed in archery, and thus the utter limit of the aimed arrow's flight."7 But Iago has aimed this arrow; "your reports," says Emilia, "have set the murder on" (5.2.188).8

One aspect of this cluster of associations with the Sagittary is Biblical. The text of James 3:8 reads: "the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison"; Proverbs 25:18 states, "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbor is like an hammer and a sword, and a sharp arrow." And in Psalms we find:

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked and from the rage of the
workers of iniquity,
Which have whet their tongue like a sword and shot for their arrows
bitter words
To shoot at the upright in secret: they shoot at him suddenly, and
fear not.
. . . But God will shoot an arrow at them suddenly: their strokes
shall be at once.
They shall cause their own tongue to fall upon them. . . .
(Psalms 64:2-4, 7, 8)

In the 1576 Geneva Bible, a marginal gloss for "arrows" is "false reports and slanders."

In fact, the comparison of the tongue to an arrow was proverbial in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.9 In the 1588 Marvelous Combat of Contrarities, for example, William Averell's personified Tongue announces: "I counterfeit laws, I tell lies, I sow seditions, I stir up traitors, I slander princes; under color of truth I beguile and deceive, I swear and forswear, I break promise, I allure to whoredom, to theft, to murder, and to all mischief." The Tongue's corporeal opponent in Averell's fantastic contest, the Belly, accuses: "her words are but light, because they lightly fly, and although they fly swiftly, yet they wound deeply, sting grievously, and pierce inwardly. . . . she is more slippery than an eel, more piercing than an arrow." In the 1598 Palladis Tamia, similarly, Francis Meres compares "an ill tongue" to "bow and arrows, which are sent from far, and wound the absent"; he advises that "a cunning archer is not known by his arrow, but by his aim: so a friendly affection is not known by the tongue, but by the faith."10 Iago's announced aims are "to abuse Othello's ear" with false suspicions of Cassio and Desdemona (1.3.393) and to "pour this pestilence into his ear" (2.3.347): T. McAlindon has characterized Othello as "the tragedy of the tongue and its terrible potency."11

If one prominent visual aspect of the Sagittary is a drawn bow with its arrow, another is the centaur. In the early modern period, centaurs were most often associated with the violent sexuality they displayed in the individual insult to Deianira, the wife of Hercules, by Nessus (to which Shakespeare alludes in All's Well that Ends Well and Antony and Cleopatra) and in the group assault on the Lapith women at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia (to which he refers in Titus Andronicus and A Midsummer Night's Dream).12 Of related interest is the political use to which human rape narratives have been put. In her study of this phenomenon, Stephanie H. Jed remarks: "From the earliest historiographic records, some `erotic' offense . . . is always required in order to justify the overthrow of tyrants. Aristotle abstracts from this narrative pattern a political formula: one of the primary reasons that tyrants are ruined is that they offend the honor of their male subjects by raping and violating their wives and breaking up their marriages."13 While Jed is concerned with the significance for Republican Rome of the rape of Lucrece, Aristotle's formula also applies to medieval Spain and to the mythology of rape that, even down to the Renaissance, gave Spain a redemptive narrative for its subjection by the Islamic peoples known in England as Saracens or Moors.14

In early modern England, a legend of the Islamic conquest of Spain was widely told. According to the 1575 Notable History of the Saracens, Saracen invasions of Spain were of limited success until 712.15 At that time, Spain was ruled by a Visigoth king named Roderick, who entrusted the defense of his country to Julian, Earl of Cepta.

This Julian had a daughter named Caba, a beautiful young lady, insomuch that for her personage she was no less pernicious to Spain than fair Helena was to the Trojans. For Roderick falling in love with her, whether it were by force or by fraud (for it is reported both ways) made a breach into her virginity. Which unprincely trick she (as soon as she conveniently could) uttered and discovered unto her father. Who, dissimuling as though he had known nothing of this injury done to him in his daughter and keeping to himself the desire of just revenge till a time for his purpose convenient, desired leave of the king to depart the court and to go to Cepta, because being there (as he said) he could much better defeat the Saracens' intended enterprises. Which request obtained, he trussed up all his furniture of household and with his wife went to Cepta. When he was come thither, feigning an excuse that his wife was sore sick, he desired the king to give Caba his daughter leave to come home and see her languishing mother, who was never like to see her any more. For Caba with other princes' and lords' daughters (as the manner was) at that time waited in the court. Having by this means received home his daughter, he went to Mucas, who was (as before we showed) the head ruler of all Libya under Vlite, and unto him he opened from point to point the whole cause of his coming away from the court, and promising to make him lord of all Spain if he would give the adventure and take the enterprise in hand (sigs. K1r-v).

Among his own friends, kin, and countrymen, Julian "forgot not to tell them the king's ungratitude and the spightful dishonor done unto his house by the ravishing and deflowering of his daughter" (sig. K2r), adding to the story an accusation of usurpation against Roderick. Julian's kin, "feigning that they went to repulse this Saracenical invasion" of 12,000 troops sent by Mucas, instead joined the Moors (sig. K2v). Roderick gathered a great army; Mucas answered with more troops and a renewed assault. There resulted for a while "an equal match," despite the Spanish disadvantages of years of dearth, plague, and military unpreparedness (sig. K3v). The Saracens were finally triumphant (according to this report) only with the aid of Julian's own, Spanish men and with further betrayal by two sons of Roderick's royal predecessor, Witiza. Eventually, Roderick fled the "merciless slaughter of his men on every side, moved with repentance because he knew himself to be the cause and occasioner of all this mishap" (sig. K4r; emphasis added). And indeed, Western history attributes the conquest of Spain not to Saracen might nor even to Julian's treason but instead to Roderick's rape. His purported epitaph reads that his "sensual reign brought dull and deadly sting / To Spanish soil" (sig. K4v). The narrative of conquest adds that Valencia was thereafter "pestered and peopled with Moors" (sig. L2r). In a passage of some relevance to the racial anxieties of Othello, another commentator notes that during the ensuing eight-hundred-year occupation, "we must not think that the Negroes sent for women out of Aphrick."16

According to legend, one of the first of the Spaniards to "take heart" against the invaders was Pelagius, whose life and motivations were reportedly intersected by yet other rape narratives. Because his father had been killed by Witiza "to th'intent he might carnally abuse his [the father's] wife" (sig. M1r), Pelagius and his sister had taken sanctuary with a Saracen ally, Mugnuza, Duke of Gigion. Mugnuza sent Pelagius on a diplomatic mission to the Saracens so that in Pelagius's absence he might, while insinuating marriage to the sister, have the "spoil" of her "maidenhead" (sig. M1v). Pelagius in revenge inspired the resistance of other Spaniards with an oration reminding them of how the Saracens "do perforce ravish and like devils pollute infinite Christian women and virgins," how they "despoil" men "of their temporal goods, wives and children" (sig. M2r), how resistance was required so "that your wives and children shall not be constuprated [violated], harmed, nor uncourteously handled" (sig. M3v).

The theme of sexual appropriation resurfaced once more in Spanish national myth. In the next major recorded confrontation of the occupation, a Spanish king, Ramiro I, reportedly took up arms rather than render an annual tribute of one hundred virgins exacted by the Moors. In a battle launched inauspiciously near Clavijo, Ramiro in desperation "sought his only refuge at God's hands." In apparent response, "Saint James the Apostle seemed personally to appear unto him, promising him his help and furtherance":

Ramire the next day [came] into the field in good array of battle against his enemies, with an assured confidence of divine help and assistance. The said holy Apostle Saint James was seen in the battle, sitting upon a white horse and bearing in his hand a red cross, and that in the same battle were slain of Saracens seventy thousand. Then were Albaida, Clavigium, Calagurra, and many other towns thereabout regained by the Christians. In token and remembrance of which victory by the divine assistance of celestial presence achieved, the noble Order of the Knights of Saint James was by the king instituted (sigs. T2v-T3r).

In 834, Ramiro reportedly inaugurated a national tax in substitution for the tribute of virgins; he called it the Voto de Santiago.17

As G. N. Murphy first pointed out and Barbara Everett has more recently reminded us, "Iago" would have been recognized by Shakespeare's contemporaries as the Spanish name for "James." The name was specifically associated in medieval and Renaissance Spain with the third apostle taken by Jesus in the Gospels. He was first called "James the Greater" to distinguish him from another apostle also named James (the Less); he came to be known as Spain's patron saint, with a shrine at Santiago de Compostela second only to Rome as a European destination for pilgrimage; and, dating from the battle of Clavijo, he was also known to Spaniards as "Santiago Matamoros," that is, St. James the Moor-killer.18

The fact that the Ensign in Cinthio was nameless throws into bolder relief Shakespeare's choice of a name that seems tantalizingly to forecast Iago's fatal effect on Othello's protagonist. This suggestion of symbolic naming seems one further step removed from the purely conjectural when we remember that the character of Roderigo, whom Iago calls "my dear countryman" (5.1.88), does not even exist in Cinthio but is sheer invention on Shakespeare's part. The eighth-century king Roderick is in other English accounts given his proper Spanish name, Roderigo, and it is difficult not to make the association between the Roderigo of legend, who was known to have betrayed his homeland to the Moors for the sake of illicit desire, and the Roderigo of Othello, who vows to "sell all my Land" (1.3.377-80) to pursue by proxy his adulterous courtship of Desdemona.19

In his introduction to the Riverside Othello, Frank Kermode suggests that "the richness of the tragedy derives from uncancelled suggestions, from latent subplots operating in terms of imagery as well as character. . . ."20 The associative subplot being traced here seems not to confine itself to Othello, for the Sagittary is a focal element in a nexus of images for unquiet relationships, violent sexuality, and murderous jealousy that works itself out through a number of Shakespearean texts. In The Comedy of Errors a woman boasts of her "reprehension" of her husband that "In bed he slept not for my urging it; / At board he fed not for my urging it" (5.1.63-64), much like Desdemona, advancing Cassio's case by making Othello's "bed . . . a school, his board a shrift" (3.3.24). The woman is held responsible for her husband's "hind'red" sleep, "Unquiet meals," "jealous fits," and mad behavior (5.1.71-74), although the real cause lies in the confusion of his identity and reciprocal dislocation with a twin who lodges at an inn named the Centaur. In Titus Andronicus, the cast of which includes Aaron the Moor, a father revenges the rape of his daughter by preparing a banquet "More stern and bloody than the Centaurs' feast" (5.2.203). He makes two "pasties" of her assailants, Chiron and Demetrius, called by him "Rape" and "Murder" (5.2.189, 156). Chiron bears the name of the centaur that, wounded by a poisoned arrow (in some versions at the Lapith wedding, by Hercules), was transformed by Zeus into the constellation Sagittarius. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus, friend of the Lapith who battled centaurs attempting the kidnap of his bride, Hippodamia, has himself "woo'd" Hippolyta "with his sword" (1.1.16). In memory of the "glory of [his] kinsman Hercules," he tells his bride of the "battle of the Centaurs" (5.1.44-47). In Antony and Cleopatra, the most valiant of soldiers, undone by love, cries that "The shirt of Nessus is upon me" and vows that the "witch" shall die for it (4.12.43-39). Perhaps most strikingly, particularly in view of its rough contemporaneity with Othello, in All's Well that Ends Well a woman heals a fistula, an ailment generally governed (according to occult medical tracts) by Sagittarius.21 Deserted by her husband, she travels as a pilgrim to the shrine of St. Jaques le Grand (that is, Santiago de Compostela). And her husband is slyly affiliated with the centaur Nessus by Parolles, whose name identifies him as the Archer of that play.

A further, as-yet-unrecognized twist on this identification of Othello's Iago with Saint James the Greater requires some familiarity with the history of astrology. The science began in the correlation of celestial and terrestrial maps, through the association of constellations with specific portions of the planet or with, as Ptolemy put it, "the inhabited world." His classic Tetrabiblos established that Spain was among the countries "in familiarity" with Sagittarius.22 When astrology later came to be Christianized, practitioners of numerology and the occult sciences recognized that among the significances of the number "twelve" are its enumeration both of the signs of the zodiac and of the Christian apostles. They devised a scheme in which each apostle "ruled" one of the twelve signs. It was probably because Sagittarius was already associated by Ptolemy with Spain and because James the Greater was known as the patron saint of Spain that James the Greater came to be identified as the ruler of Sagittarius. Cornelius Agrippa's chart of "cabalistical" correspondences confirms the identification of "Jacobus major" or "James the elder" with "Sagittarius"--and also with the "tempters or ensnarers" among the "degrees of the damned, and of devils."23

If, in other words, James the Greater/Santiago rules the sign of Sagittarius, then, by eloping to the Sagittary, Othello and Desdemona place themselves in some sense under the influence of the "ensnarer" Iago, an influence that exerts itself throughout the course of the play as the Moor "changes with [Iago's] poison" (3.3.330). The occult thread reasserts itself in Othello's throwaway line to the Senate that he has "some nine moons wasted" in Venice (1.3.84); because Sagittarius is the ninth sign, the detail places him in yet another way under the influence of the Sagittary. Of course, the passage of nine months also resonates with implications of gestation, but the progeny of this incubatory period is Iago's practice: "I ha't, it is engender'd; Hell and night / Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light" (1.3.401-2). Among Iago's monstrous progeny is the Cypriot "night-brawl" of Cassius, Roderigo, and Montano, but his alternative account of its genesis--that it erupted "As if some planet had unwitted men" (2.3.173)--both intimates his own identification of self with celestial signifier and integrates Othello into his astrological belief system. As Iago's practice achieves its end, Othello falls into an epileptic fit that (even without Iago's self-congratulatory "Work on, / My medicine, work" [4.1.44-45]) is its own confirmation of the ensign's occult efficacy, for according to Ptolemy, Sagittarius is one of two signs "responsible for those [diseases] that come about with falling fits or epileptic seizures."24

Othello's credulity, in other words, begins in his inscription in a rape narrative. His inscriber is Iago. But, in a distinction that marks the ultimate divergence of Othello's narrative from those of Moorish Spain, Republican Rome, and Aristotle's axiom, Iago's first subscriber is not Othello. Instead, it is Brabantio, who bears the name of a territory (the Netherlandish Brabant) then under the rule of Spain. Iago begins by testing his case there and succeeds in convincing the incredulous Brabantio that "an old black ram / Is tupping your white ewe," that "you'll have your daughter cover'd with a Barbary horse," that "your daughter, and the Moor, are now making the beast with two backs" (1.1.88-89, 110-11, 115-17). Typically depicted in profile, with the spines of both man and horse outlined (as shown in the illustration), Sagittarius literalizes the beast with two backs.

Thus infected with the myth of the centaur--of Othello he might say, as does Parolles of Bertram, "For rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus" (4.3.251)--Brabantio makes the Aristotelian conceptual leap from rape narrative to political consequence. His early resistance--"What, tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Venice, / My house is not a grange"--reveals the civic conviction that will underlie his ensuing determination to recover his daughter: "at every house I'll call, / I may command at most: get weapons, ho!" (1.1.105-6, 181-82). In his worldview,

. . . any of my brothers of the state,
Cannot but feel this wrong, as 'twere their own.
For if such actions may have passage free,
Bond-slaves, and pagans, shall our statesmen be.

He bursts in upon the Senate's emergency session to complain that Desdemona "is abus'd, stol'n from me and corrupted, / By spells and medicines" (1.3.60-61). When Brabantio's confidence in his domestic rule, in his political influence, and in the fellowship of Venetian patriarchs is nonetheless betrayed, the Duke of Venice attempts slight and aphoristic consolation: "The robb'd that smiles, steals something from the thief, / He robs himself, that spends a bootless grief." Brabantio's retort--"So let the Turk of Cyprus us beguile, / We lose it not so long as we can smile"--maintains the analogy between the daughter who has been "stolen" from him and the threat to the Venetian title to the island of Cyprus (1.3.208-11, 60). He follows the Aristotelian formula that enmeshes the fate of a community's women, the surety of its possessions, and its political stability.25

In Othello the formula of Aristotle exhausts itself with Brabantio's role, in the first act of the play. The text's characteristic shift of focus from the political to the domestic is forecast here, where Brabantio's projection of the rape narrative onto Venetian jurisdiction is voided and where only Iago's projection of Othello into a rape narrative persists and reverberates. Brabantio's final warning is of marital rather than political consequence: "Look to her, Moor, have a quick eye to see: / She has deceiv'd her father, may do thee" (1.3.292-93).26 This construction of the event is put to the specific purpose of Othello's torment in Cyprus--Iago reminds him meaningfully: "She did deceive her father, marrying you" (3.3.210)--but it is a limited purpose. The subject of the remaining acts--and the object of Iago's mythical practice--is catastrophe not for a state but for a marriage.

The source story for Othello concludes as a cautionary tale about the determinative capacity of names. In the Hecatommithi the story is purportedly told to a group of travelers, whose responses point the moral: "It appeared marvellous to everybody that such malignity could have been discovered in a human heart; and the fate of the unhappy Lady was lamented, with some blame for her father, who had given her a name of unlucky augury. And the party decided that since a name is the first gift of a father to his child, he ought to bestow one that is grand and fortunate, as if he wished to foretell success and greatness. No less was the Moor blamed, who had believed too foolishly."27 Disdemona, in Greek "the unfortunate one," is the sole named character in Cinthio.

The 1590 Brief Discourse of the Spanish State alleges that the name Spain is also Greek in origin and means "neediness, penury, and rarity." In its report that "after the division of tongues" Spain was inhabited by Tubal, meaning "confusion," the Discourse is able to ground its unapologetically English nationalistic agenda in an apparently disinterested linguistic significance. The common manifestation of Spanish "confusion," it declares, is a violation of natural law: "for the father to kill his innocent son, or the husband his chaste wife . . . I know no authentic proof, unless Spain can yield some precedent for both. . . . so small a thing it is in Spain, for a father to murder his son, and a husband his wife." The Discourse continues that "in what place the Spaniards display their ensigns, nothing is to be looked for but cruelty and slaughter, and all misery."28 The Spanish name subsequently given the ensign in Othello, coupled with the name for his general's place of elopement, provides a suprapsychological explanation of influence, of why (to return to Cinthio) the Moor believes the ensign, otherwise "too foolishly," and murders his own chaste wife. The Sagittary casts a long shadow, and it is the shadow of Iago.

Lena Orlin

University of Maryland


This essay is one part of a chapter in Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994). The material has been edited slightly for comprehensibility in this shortened form.

1) References are to M. R. Ridley's (1958) edition for The New Arden Shakespeare.  Ridley follows the first quarto spelling of "Sagittar"; the First Folio gives "Sagitary"; I silently emend Ridley in preferring "Sagittary."  For other plays, references are to The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans, et al. (Boston, 1974).

2) I except "love" from this noun-sequence because it participates in a different sequence, the hate-love dichotomy.

3) Ruth Samson Luborsky, "What Tudor Book Illustrations Illustrate," a talk at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 20 March 1987.

4) For attempts to identify the Sagittar/y, see the New Variorum Othello and Lawrence Ross's 1974 edition for Bobbs-Merrill (especially the "Introduction," p. 12).  The general conclusion is that it is an inn, as is the Centaur of Errors.  It is implicitly distinguished from both private house and military lodging, from Brabantio's house (1.1.74,80,106,138), Bianca's house (3.4.169; 5.1.118), and quarters for Iago (1.3.374), Roderigo (2.3.370), and Cassio (3.3.326; 3.4.6,7,9,10; 3.4.170).  The fact that Brabantio and others do not know its location adds to its mystery.  Ross first discussed the thematic significance of the name in his unpublished dissertation (1956), pp. 566-71; I am grateful to Leeds Barroll for directing me to it.  For more on the centaur image in Othello, see Abbey Jane Dubman Hansen, "Shakespeare's Othello," Explicator 35 (1977), 4-6; and Martin Elliott, Shakespeare's Invention of Othello (Houndsmills, 1988), pp. 252-53.

5) John Taylor, Taylor's Travels and Circular Perambulation through, and by more than Thirty Times Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, of the famous Cities of London and Westminster (1636), sigs. A4r, B1r.  See also Jacob Larwood and John Camden Hotten, English Inn Signs (London, 1951) for a seventeenth-century public house named "Arrow," an "Archers," and a 1634 "Sheaf of Arrows" (p. 197).

6) Per Ridley's translation of Cinthio (p. 242); Ross has "dart" (p. 267), as does Geoffrey Bullough in Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, vol. 7 (London, 1973), p. 246.  For John Payne Collier: "The poor Moor went home with a barbed arrow in his side" (The History of English Dramatic Poetry to the Time of Shakespeare [London, 1831], p. 11).  Compare the original: "Il misero Moro, come tocco da pungetissimo strale, se n'ando a casa."  Also of relevance is: "Ben che lasciarono tali parole, cosi pungente spina nel l'animo del Moro"; "these words had left such a thorn in the soul of the Moor that he . . . became quite melan-choly" (Ridley, p. 240).

7) Ross edition, p. 240.

8) Meanwhile, from Othello's reference to Cupid, Elliott develops a nexus of arrow images (pp. 10-11).  Arrow imagery runs through Kenneth Burke's rhetoric in "Othello: An Essay to Illustrate a Method," Hudson Review 4 (1951), 165-203.

9) In A Dictionary of Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Morris Palmer Tilley cites "A Word spoken is an arrow let fly" and quotes Thomas Lodge from 1596: "Words are like to arrows, which are easily shot out, but hardly got in again" (W780).  The relationship between the tongue and poison is also of interest; see Walter Dorke: "tongues so tipped [i.e., like arrows] with taunts and bitter-ness" (Type or Figure of Friendship [1589], sig. B1v), and Wendoll's plea in Woman Killed with Kindness: "Give me a name, you whose infectious tongues / Are tipp'd with gall and poison" (6.81-82).

10) Shakespeare certainly knew William Averell's Marvelous Combat ([1588], sigs. A1v, C2r-C2v), at least by the time he wrote Coriolanus (for which it has been cited as a source).  He should also have known Francis Meres's Palladis Tamia ([1598], sigs. T7r, T7v-T8r, R3r), for his own citation therein.  See also Thomas Wright: "rash men in speech have an arrow in their tongues" (Passions of the Mind [1601], p. 169).  And compare Owen Feltham: "Anger is the fever of the soul, which makes the tongue talk idly: not come words clothed as at other times, but now as headed Arrows, fly abroad" (Resolves [1623], sig. Ii3v).

11) T. McAlindon, Shakespeare and Decorum (London, 1973), p. 18.

12) For Shake-speare's association of centaurs with lechery see also Lear's complaint of his daughters that "Down from the waist they are Centaurs."  Compare Edward Topsell: "Centaurs . . . are described by the poets to have their forepart like men, and their hinder part like horses, the occasion whereof is thus related by Pindarus: that Centaurus the Son of Ixion committed buggery with the mares of Magnetia, under the mountain Pelius, from whence came that monstrous birth in the upper part resembling the father and in the nether the mother" (History of Four-Footed Beastes [1607], sig. Ggr).  The part of the body governed by the sign of Sagittarius is the thigh, which was long coded as the male seat of sexuality.

13) Stephanie H. Jed, Chaste Thinking: The Rape of Lucretia and the Birth of Humanism (Bloomington, 1989), p. 3.

14) See Petrus Martyr Anglerius, Decades of the New World (English translation, 1555): "[Ferdinand of Aragon] hath quite driven out of Spain the Moors or Saracens" (sig. A4r).

15) Caelius Augustinus Curio, Notable History of the Saracens (English translation, 1575).  The story of Julian's revenge for rape is apocryphal.  For some of its chronological inconsistencies, see Derek W. Lomax, Reconquest of Spain (London, 1978), pp. 12 and 15.

16) Edward Daunce, Brief Discourse of the Spanish State (1590), sig. E3r.

17) See T. D. Kendrick, St. James in Spain (London, 1960), pp. 34-38, as well as James C. Stone, Cult of Santiago (New York, 1927).

18) G. N. Murphy, "A Note on Iago's Name," in Literature and Society, ed. Bernice Slote (Lincoln, 1964), pp. 38-43; Barbara Everett, Young Hamlet: Essays on Shakespeare's Tragedies (Oxford, 1989), p. 190.  I am grateful to Alan Sinfield for directing me to Everett.  Murphy records a poetic version of the Othello story, purportedly recorded not long after the play, that identified Iago as "a false Spaniard."  But this was discovered by Collier.

19) As Roderigo's vow is from the Folio and second quarto texts only, it is not included in Ridley's copy text.  Roderigo was also the Christian name of the Cid (who fought in the name of Santiago and with the slogan that as one Roderigo had lost Spain, a second would redeem it).  In the thirteenth century an Archbishop Roderigo of Toledo referred in a chronicle to the apparition of Saint James at Clavigo; see Kendrick, p. 36.  Add to this the Visigothic count Cassius (with obvious resonance of Cassio) who joined Musa and became a Muslim; see Lomax, pp. 13-14.  I am grateful to J.G.A. Pocock for turning my attention to Roderigo and thus to these circles of association.

20) Frank Kermode, "Introduction," p. 1200.

21) William Lilly, for one, notes that Sagittarius "ruleth the thighs and buttocks in the parts of man's body, and all fistulas or hurts falling in those members" (Christian Astrology [1647], sig. N1r).

22) Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, II.3, pp. 133-37, 159.  For help in this section, I am grateful to Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs.

23) Henricus Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, Of Occult Philosophy, 3 vols. (1533; translated into English in 1651).  On the text's wide influence, see Charles Garfield Nauert, Jr., Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought (Urbana, 1965).  Agrippa's Book 2 (p. 216) presents the "Cabalistical scale" of the number twelve; Book 3 notes "the twelve Apostles of Christ, who (as the evangelical truth saith) sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, who in the Revelations are distributed upon twelve foundations, at the twelve gates of the heavenly City, who rule the twelve Signs, and are sealed in the twelve precious Stones, and the whole world is distributed to them . . . . The third . . . is James the greater" (pp. 454-55; emphasis added).
    The identification of James the Greater with Sagittarius can also be found in Francesco Giorgi, De harmonia mundi totius (1525), sig. cccxiv.  (I am grateful to Georgianna Ziegler for confirming this in the University of Pennsylvania collections).  On Giorgi, see also D. P. Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella (London, 1958), p. 116.   The tradition continues in, e.g., Dal Lee, Dictionary of Astrology (New York, 1968): "The twelve apostles of Jesus Christ sometimes are compared with the twelve signs of the zodiac."  Although his correspondences differ significantly from Agrippa's, Lee, too, associates James the Greater with Sagittarius.

24) Ptolemy, III.12, pp. 329-30.

25) Michael Neill suggests that Venice "offers to supply each indivi-dual with a clearly defined and secure position within an established social order" ("Changing Places in Othello," Shakespeare Survey, 37 [1984], p. 118).

26) Neill has also remarked that Iago "presents the abduction of a daughter as though it were an act of adultery," p. 122.

27) Bullough, p. 252.

28) Daunce, sigs. B1r, C3r-C3v, C4r, D2v.  See also the story of the Prince of Spain, imprisoned by his father at the behest of the Duke of Alba in 1568.  His mother, "presuming much on her place, and pitying his innocency and tender years, solicited the king to receive him again into favor: but the malice of the prince's adversaries prevailed" (sig. C3v).  She was punished with death for her intervention (the prince also died), in analogue to Desdemona.

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