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Analyse linguistique de la langue de Shakespeare

Cymbeline’s Much Ado about Nothing, Noting, (K)not Knowing, and Nothus1

Patricia Parker
p. 103-121

Résumés

Cette étude s’intéresse particulièrement aux réseaux de langue, que l’on trouve abondamment dans Much Ado About Nothing et Cymbeline – en prenant pour point de départ l’homophonie célèbre entre « nothing » et « noting » dans Much Ado. Se fondant sur des dictionnaires de langues et les réseaux langagiers présents dans les pièces de Shakespeare, elle se penchera sur les similitudes existant entre nothing, noting, knots, musical notes et les sous-entendus grivois de nought/naught/not(e). Mais elle retracera également l’influence multilingue du latin « nota » (notamment ars notaria ou écriture; marquage, tache; stigmates de la diffamation; et « notus/ignotus » signifiant savoir/ignorance), les contrats commerciaux comme reconnaissance de dettes, l’assimilation du « O » féminin et du zéro des notations arithmétiques, et le bâtard ou la contrefaçon Nothus (homophone de Notus), que l’on retrouve dans les personnages de John le bâtard de Much Ado et l’« Italien » Iachimo, qui contrefait les preuves pour gagner son pari dans Cymbeline, fournissant « assez de preuves simulées » (v.iv.200). Cette étude se concentrera principalement sur Cymbeline et tentera de démontrer que ce réseau langagier n’est pas uniquement une source de jeux de mots, mais qu’il s’inscrit dans les thématiques propres à ces deux pièces : le pouvoir de la narration, les comptes-rendus erronés sur l’apparence, l’assimilation de pièces contrefaites (counterfeit « coin ») et de l’organe féminin (« coint » ou « count »), tout en créant une illusion de preuve (« simular proof. »).

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  • 1 Nothus. . . . Base borne, a bastard, not lawful, counterfeit (Thomas Thomas, Dictionarium Linguae L (...)
  • 2 Cymbeline, v.iv.200, quoted from William Shakespeare, Martin Butler, ed., Cambridge, CUP, 2005 – us (...)

1Much Ado About Nothing is famous for its homophonic title —where “nothing” reverberates with “noting.” But Cymbeline employs the language of “noting,” “notes,” and “noted” even more frequently than Much Ado. And the pervasive fears of female infidelity and cuckolding exploited by Don John the Bastard (precursor of Iachimo as well as Iago) become in Cymbeline a foregrounding of the power of narrative telling, and counterfeit “accounts,” to shape or fashion how one looks, projecting bastard or counterfeit “coin” onto the female “coint” or “count,” while forging the illusion of evidence or “simular proof.”2

2Like Much Ado About Not(h)ing, Cymbeline not only exploits the homophones of nothing, noting, knots, and nought/naught/not, but reflects the broader early modern network of Latin nota, including slander and accusation; branding, blot, or stain; the ars notaria or writing; the notus and ignotus of knowing or (not) knowing; the female “nothing,” “nought” or “O,” and fears of female infidelity conflated with the “O” or “cipher” of arithmetical notation; revenge as payback and commercial notes as “IOU”; and the “bastard” or “counterfeit” Nothus, homophone of Notus – the unhealthy south wind identified with the “spongy south” and infecting “Italian” Iachimo of Cymbeline, who wins this “Roman” play’s anachronistic bourgeois wager by counterfeiting “simular proof enough” (iii.ii.4; iv.ii.348; v.iv.200).

3Much Ado exploits overlapping parts of this associational nexus — from Claudio’s “Didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?” (i.i.162-3) and Benedick’s “I noted her not, but I looked on her” (i.i.164); to the exchange on musical “notes” in Act ii, before the eavesdropping that brings Benedick and Beatrice together through others’ noting; the conclusion that Benedick is in love (“The greatest note of it is his melancholy,” iii.ii.54); Dogberry’s “take no note of him” (iii.iii.28); the slandered Hero, another sense of “noted”; the Friar’s certainty that he knows through “noting of the lady” (iv.i.158); and the reiterated “note” of Act v, as a sign that might make it possible to detect a “villain” (v.i.259-261), or know false from “true.”

  • 3 For Stubbes, see Peter Stallybrass and Ann Rosalind Jones, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials o (...)

4In Borachio’s “Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man” (iii.iii.117-119), “nothing” resonates with noting and knowing through “notes” of “apparel,” the outward “signs” that in Phillip Stubbes’s Anatomy of Abuses (1583) are crucial to distinguishing social status and gender.3 In Cymbeline, Posthumus’ change of “fashion” from “Italian gentry” to “Briton peasant” (v.ii.18-24) alters how he is seen and therefore regarded by others; but the strategic reading of outward “notes” or “signs” is already at work from the opening scene, where British courtiers align their “faces” (if not their “hearts”) with the “looks” of the “King” (i.i.13-14), a word, like regard, that is both subjective and objective. “Fashion” (from facere, make or forge), a keyword in Much Ado, becomes in Cymbeline the shaping or forging of “looks” through rhetorical evidentia (the simulating of ocular proof), and through clothing, including in the pivotal scene where Innogen grieves over the headless body she thinks is Posthumus, when it is Cloten in his garments (iv.ii). But dissembling outward notes (parodied in Dogberry’s “Is our whole dissembly appear’d?” Much Ado iv.ii.1) extend to Innogen herself, crossdressed as “Fidele” (faithful or true). And the play foregrounds theatrical simulation or counterfeiting, including the transvestite boy actor who “play(s)” this “woman’s part” (v.iv.228; ii.v.22), while kaleidoscopically exploiting the language and logic of paradox, being false to be true.

  • 4 “Stigma” (like the “stigmata” recalled by Cymbeline’s “bloody cloth” in v.i.1) was a “note” or sign (...)

5“Note” came with a sense of profit, use, or yield (OED note, noun 1). But in an English still emerging from Latin, it also resonated with the darker senses of nota: not only “a mark, sign, or (outward) note,” a “mark or character in writing” and a written document or legal examination, but “a mark of ignominy or infamy, a reproach, disgrace”; a brand on the body of a criminal (“stigma” or “stigmata”);4 and “the mark or note which the censors affixed” to the “name of any one whom they censured” (OED note noun 2), invoked in Julius Caesar’s “condemn’d and noted” (iv.iii.2). Notare meant not only to notice or to put down in writing but to “mark with disgrace, to censure, stigmatize,” reflected in the disciplines of literacy, written examination, and stigmatizing “noting” in Much Ado. In Cymbeline, the ars notaria includes long-distance letter-writing and the law of Roman “emperor’s writ” (iii.vii.1), but also the new “arithmetic” of the “pen” and the “book” of “debitor and creditor” accounting, invoked by the Jailer (v.iii.228-29), in lines that call into question the truth of all accounts or reckonings, other than the hangman’s rope (“no true debitor and creditor but it”).

  • 5 That seeing is fashioned or shaped by Iachimo’s figural telling becomes clear when the same bodily (...)
  • 6 See Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Litera (...)

6Even Cymbeline’s focus on “name” and “fame” is part of this contemporary nexus, since notus (or nota) meant both “known” and “notorious.” The apparently innocent exchange between Claudio and Benedick on whether Hero has been “noted” (i.i.164) foreshadows the later scenes where she is more ominously “noted” (iii.ii; iv.i). “To note” as “accuse of a fault, defect, or wrongdoing” was used for a woman “noted of inconstancie” in Lyly’s Euphues (Oxford English Dictionary: note verb 2 3a). “Noted” appeared as “condemned” or “stigmatized” (“note her as an adulteress”) in Nicholas Udall’s 1548 translation of Erasmus’ Paraphrases on the New Testament (Matthew 5:43); as “in suspicion, and noted with infamy” in Thomas Cooper’s Thesaurus (1565); and as “spotted” and “tainted” in other texts. In Cymbeline (ii.ii.28-38), in Iachimo’s description of “natural notes” on Innogen’s “body,” the “cinque-spotted” mole is figurally refashioned into the maculate or spotted opposed to immaculate; and the sound of “sank” anticipates the rapid bodily descent of this “mole” into the “stain” of the “woman’s part,” O, or “not(h)ing” itself in ii.iv.5 “Note” for a sexual stigma, blot, or stain had already appeared in “my posterity, shamed with the note” in The Rape of Lucrece (208), the story invoked in Iachimo’s reference to “Tarquin” in ii.ii, where he falsely reports the turned-down “leaf” of Ovid’s Philomel story where “Philomel gave up,” when the subtext is not the book Innogen has been reading but Ovid’s Amores (iii.xiii) instead, where a “two-leaved book” figures “a woman opening to receive a man” or the “phallic pen.”6

7Sir Thomas Elyot’s Dictionarie (1538) includes virtually all of this network in a single sequence:

Notae, notes, cyfers, markes, made for remembraunce of some thynge.
Notarius, a clerke, whiche wryteth instrumentes or plees.
Notesco, notui, scere, to be knowen or made knowen.
Nothus, a bastarde.
Nothia, that whiche by some lawes is appoynted to a mans bastarde.
Notifico, are, to make knowen.
Notio, knowlege. Notitia, idem.
Noto, are,
to note or marke, to make a mark or token, to write after an example.
Notus, ta, tum, knowen: also a frende, or of acqueyntaunce.

8His Bibliotheca Eliotae or Eliots librarie (1542) added the perceiving and “evidently” crucial to Cymbeline as to Much Ado:

Notae, notes, cyphers, markes, sygnes.
Notae eximere, to acquite or dyscharge of reproche or dishonour
Nota, defamation
Notabiliter, notably, evidently
Notare, to note or marke, to reproue, somtyme to accuse, also to perceyue

9In ways important for Cymbeline, Thomas Thomas’s Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicane (1587) foregrounded the ars notaria (including letters and “cipher” as cryptic writing to be deciphered); “fashion” or behavior; “knowledge” and discernment; and the ambiguity of being “noted” or “known.” It defined “Nota” as “A note, a marke, a signe, a token, a spotte: a defamation, infamie, rebuke, a slaunderous name or report; a reprehension or correction of any writing; a cipher, note, or abbreuiation of that is read or written; also a print, letter, behauiour, sort, or facion”; “Notabilis” as “to be reprehended” as well as “Notable, knowne, to be noted or marked as a great matter, soone & easily discerned”; “Notio” (from “Nosco” or “To know, to be skilful in, to discerne, to perceiue”) as “Knowledge, understanding, acquaintance” but also “the examination or understanding of a cause in judgement”; “Notus” as “Knowen, notorious, notable, famous, acquainted: also he that knoweth”; “Noto” as “To note, to marke, to reprove, reprehend, twitte, or rebuke: to accuse, to perceiue, or understand, to call or term: to discerne, to defame or put to rebuke; also to put in writing”; and “Notoria” as “Tokens, witnesses, or testimonies in appeaching or accusing of one.” John Florio’s Italian-English Worlde of Wordes (1598) included: “Nota, a note, a marke, a signe, a blot, a blemish, a token, a touch of infamie, a notice, an obseruation, a warning, a forewarning, a note of musicke”; “Notabile, notable, or worthy to be marked and noted”; “Notare, to note, to marke, to obserue, to discerne, to aduertise, to blemish, to touch, to reprooue, to twit, to rebuke, to accuse, to call, to terme, to defame” (p. 241).

10The combination in noting of writing’s ars notaria with accusation, blot, or stain yielded the contemporary sexual image of virgin white paper stained by a phallic “pen,” reflected in the “ink”-stained Hero of Much Ado (iv.i.140) and Othello’s “Was this fair paper, this most goodly book, / Made to write ‘whore’ upon?” (iv.ii.71-2). In Cymbeline, when Pisanio receives Posthumus’ letter ordering him to murder Innogen for “adultery” (iii.ii.1), he rejects the noting of his own outward “look” that led to his being “counted” (or accounted) “serviceable” (15) to such an order; and reverses the conventional attribution by condemning the letter itself as a “damned paper, / Black as the ink that’s on thee!”, though “virgin-like without” (iii.ii.19-22).

  • 7 See William C. Carroll, “The Virgin Not: Language and Sexuality in Shakespeare,” Shakespeare Survey(...)
  • 8 Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard, “Knotting or Je-ne-sais-quoi: two readings of Nothing in Much (...)
  • 9 Carroll, op. cit., p. 119.
  • 10 Euripides’ tragicomic Alcestis, already established as known through George Buchanan’s and other La (...)
  • 11 Critics and editors cite different textual signs as evidence of whether or not Innogen’s marriage i (...)

11“Note” in the period simultaneously exploited the homophonic “knot ” reflected in the marital “knot” and “not” of All’s Well That Ends Well — a play linked with Much Ado and Cymbeline through apparent returns from “death” and the issue of whether Bertram, Claudio, or Posthumus are worthy husbands. Bertram’s “I have wedded her, not bedded her, and sworn to make the ‘not’ eternal” (iii.ii.21-2) depends on the sounding of “not” as “knot” as he denies the marriage “knot”: but virginity itself was paradoxically “not” and “knot” —a “knot” to be untied on the wedding night (like Miranda’s “virgin-knot” in The Tempest iv.i.15) and a “nothing” or “not something.”7 The not/knot of Much Ado includes a marriage knot that is supposed to be tied in the wedding scene (iv.i) but is “tragically untied”8 by the “noting” or defamatory accusation that Hero’s virgin knot has already been undone. At the same time, the not/knot as part of the network of nothing, nought, and naught figures “the mystery of virginity itself that attracts, confuses, and bedevils many of the male characters in Shakespeare’s plays, the fetishized commodity that is and is not.”9 “Is and is not” is suggestive in another sense as well, for the Friar’s “tomb-trick” where the slandered virginal Hero (like Bertram’s wife Helena in the paradoxes of All’s Well) both “is and is not” dead. And for Cymbeline, where the funeral dirge for the “boy” Fidele is for a woman who is and is not dead (iv.ii.257-80),10 in a play where the not/knot is evoked in Iachimo’s “Gordian knot” (ii.ii.34) and Cloten’s claim that Innogen’s marital “contract” is only a “self-figured knot” (ii.iii.109, 113), foiling or soiling the “precious note” of the crown with a “base slave” (ii.iii.115-116).11

12Florio and other early modern texts included in nota not only the ars notaria of the “pen” but also musical notes. This is reflected in the most concentrated punning on “notes” in Much Ado About Not(h)ing:

Don Pedro. Nay, pray thee come,
Or if thou wilt hold longer argument,
Do it in notes.

Balthasar. Note this before my notes:
There’s not a note of mine that’s worth the noting.

  • 12 Wordplay on not[h]ing and musical notes occurs in other plays, including The Winter’s Tale (“my sir (...)

Don Pedro. Why these are very crotchets that he speaks  –
Note notes, forsooth, and nothing. (ii.iii.52-57) 12

  • 13 See music and music lesson in Williams, Dictionary, vol. 2.
  • 14 J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982, p. 70.
  • 15 Gordon Williams, A Glossary of Shakespeare’s Sexual Language, Atlantic Highlands, The Athlone Press (...)

13Dictionaries of early modern bawdy point to the sexual overtones of musical “notes” and “noting” in Shakespeare and others. Gordon Williams on “music” and “music lesson” cites the overtones of “crotchet” and “prick-song” as well as “note” and “burden” (exploited as “song” and bearing the weight of a man in Much Ado iii.iv.26). These include “crotchet” as legs or “crotch,” from texts where lengthening or shortening a note (as with crotchet or quarter-note) depends on the phallic resonance of “note” and “prick” as note, noting, or notation.13 “Nota virilis” was a Latin term for the male member,14 the sense activated in A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Titania asks Bottom to “sing again. / Mine ear is much enamored of thy note” (iii.i.137-8). Troilus and Cressida, where it is said of Cressida “she’s noted” and “Any man may sing her, if he can take her cliff” (v.ii.10-11), combines “noted” as “set to music” with “notorious for sexual availability” and “musical notation made with the phallic pen,”15 just as “cliff” (or clef) plays on musical “key” and sexual “cleft,” another term for the female nothing or “O.”

14Given Mercutio’s erotically double-meaning “occupy the argument no longer” in Romeo and Juliet (ii.iv.100), sexually lengthening or prolonging a “note” may figure in Don Pedro’s “if thou wilt hold longer argument, / Do it in notes,” even as “notes” simultaneously evoke written accounts. In an exchange that may seem to be “much ado” about “nothing,” reference to “slander” keeps alive the sense of “note” as accusation or defaming, anticipating not only the “honest slanders” (iii.i.84) of the eavesdropping scenes (ii.iii and iii.i) but also the staining with sexual slander that follows from what Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato conclude (after John the Bastard’s account) is certain knowledge.

15In Cymbeline, the phallic resonance of musical notes is much cruder, when Cloten says at Innogen’s window: “I am advised to give her music o’mornings; they say it will penetrate,” instructing the musicians “If you can penetrate her with your fingering, so; we’ll try with tongue too” (ii.iii.10-13); and dismissing them after the song with “If this penetrate, I will consider your music the better; if it do not, it is a vice in her ears which horsehairs and calves’ guts, nor the voice of unpaved eunuch to boot, can never amend” (ii.iii.24-7). But the song itself —even while reflecting his crudeness in doubles entendres on “gate, “springs,” “winking Mary-buds,” “ope,” and “Arise, arise!” — also floats free of Cloten himself, anticipating the other song where musical “notes” are mentioned, the dirge for “Fidele” in Act iv.

16In ways typical of scenes in Cymbeline where divergent senses of “notes” converge, this passage starts with another kind of note, the “due debt” to the “grave” (iv.ii.232), recalled with a difference in Cloten “paid” back by death (iv.ii.245). “Note” as musical note then follows in Arviragus’ “let us [...] sing him to th’ground / As once our mother; use like note and words, / Save that ‘Europhile’ must be ‘Fidele’” (iv.ii.234-7). But the dirge itself ends up spoken rather than sung, after Guiderius responds “I cannot sing. I’ll weep, and word it with thee; / For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse / Than priests and fanes that lie” (iv.ii.239-241) — lines that combine musical “notes” with false outward “notes,” while ironically (in the “feigns” of “fanes that lie”) calling attention to what he knows not (though the audience does), that “Fidele” outwardly appears to be but is not dead and like “Europhile” is a counterfeit name.

  • 16 See Brian Rotman, Signifying Nothing, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1987, p. 8; Patricia Parker, “C (...)

17The suspect fidelity of the female “note,” “nothing” or “O” was associated with the so-called “infidel symbol” zero, designated by nota and written like the letter O.16 This “nought” is able to “Attest in little place a million” in Henry V, where actors on the “wooden O” become “ciphers” to a “great accompt” (Prologue 13-17) and the “count” of Katherine’s female body becomes part of an inventory-language lesson (iii.iv.51-9). In Much Ado, the “not(h)ing” of female “country matters” is tellingly sounded in Claudio’s title of “county” or “Count”; however, it is not the female “count” but Count Claudio’s noting that is untrue. In Cymbeline, when Posthumus credits Iachimo’s counterfeit account that Innogen has turned “whore,” his “Spare your arithmetic, never count the turns. / Once, and a million!” (ii.iv.142-3) echoes the female “count” of Henry V and the sexual “turns” of Othello (iv.i.252-4). It also anticipates The Winter’s Tale, where the “cipher” or “O” able to “multiply” one into “many thousands” more figures not only a “debt” but the “rich place” and increase of Hermione’s body (i.ii.6-8), a “nothing” soon refigured by Leontes’ jealously proliferating “not(h)ings” (i.ii.284-96).

  • 17 See Parker, “Cassio,” p. 228, on “arithmetician” (Othello, i.i.19).
  • 18 See Williams, Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 863-4, on “Turnbull Street whores” as practising “arithmetic” (...)
  • 19 Eugene Ostashevsky, “Crooked Figures: Zero and Hindu-Arabic Notation in Shakespeare’s Henry V,” in (...)

18The fact that the female “nothing” is an unseen or “invisible baldrick” (Much Ado i.i.242) adds to the evidentiary problem of (not) knowing for certain, evoked in Leonato’s “Her mother hath many times told me so” when asked if Hero is his daughter (i.i.105), and in Cymbeline’s interconnected preoccupations with knowing (epistemological, cognitive, and sexual). “Arithmetic” (as the algebraic Regola della cosa) brought the unknown “thing” to light, a cosa or “thing” suggestive of the female res or thing,17 while the female “count” was part of bawdy on commercial “(ac)counts,” and subject/object of conter as both “count” and “narrate.” In Cymbeline, when Iachimo’s account of his night in Innogen’s “chamber” (ii.iv.81) convinces Posthumus he has carnal “knowledge” of her (ii.iv.51), his anguished response invokes the “count” and multiplying O’s of sexual “arithmetic.”18 In Henry V, the zero’s “crooked figure” O, in “ciphers to this great account” (1. Prol.15-17), suggests crooked as dishonest in relation to this “count,” recalled in the Language Lesson scene; but the accounts in this play of the king himself, inheritor of the crown of “crooked” Bolingbroke, are open to question.19 And in the comic rather than ultimately tragic outcomes of Cymbeline and Much Ado, the slanderer’s account (not the “noted” female count) is revealed to be untrue.

19The power of zero or “O” to make much out of nothing extended to usury, debt, or the commercial “note” crucial to Cymbeline and Much Ado, which are filled with references to debts, usury, and the “payback” of revenge. In The Merchant of Venice, Bassanio’s “I come by note, to give and to receive” (iii.ii.140) evokes “note” as a bill to be paid as well as a kind of IOU, in a play where “bonds” are both personal and commercial. Isabella’s “due and wary note” in Measure for Measure (iv.i.37) turns on the double sense of a “note” that is “due” and a “notice” or remark, in a play that highlights two kinds of usury, sexual and monetary (iii.ii.6). Much Ado’s language of credit and creditors includes trust and belief (from credere) as well as settling scores; Claudio’s “For this I owe you” (v.iv.52), after Benedick implies he is a bastard, means “I’ll pay you back,” in the same line as other accounts that need to be settled (“here comes other reck’nings. / Which is the lady I must seize upon?” v.iv.52-3).

  • 20 On marital sexual “debt,” “interest,” and usury, see “cancel” in Sandra K. Fischer, Econolingua, Lo (...)
  • 21 See Patricia Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, chap (...)

20In Cymbeline, even the Welsh pastoral retreat includes talk of “the city’s usuries” (iii.iii.45), debts in a ledger (“keeps his book uncrossed,” (iii.iii.116), and a “prison for a debtor that not dares / To stride a limit” (iii.iii.34-5). Iachimo’s account of how by “notes” and “marks” he simulated proof of the “forfeit” of Innogen’s “bond of chastity” (v.iv.205-8) combines commercial “bond” with “notes” as the imputed stain on her sexual purity. Crediting him, Posthumus concludes that her sexual dette de mariage has been paid to this winner, to whom, by the wager’s contract, he owes Innogen’s gift to him of the diamond “ring” as well.20 Cymbeline’s revenge plots range from personal to imperial, including Roman invasion in response to unpaid “arrearages” of Britain’s “tribute.” The “noted” or slandered Belarius’ revenge is “conveying” the King’s sons, the term not only for transporting but for the ars notaria of written transfers of property and title, as well as slang for theft.21 Posthumus in Act v seeks the death he reckons he owes as payback – measure for measure – for Innogen’s murder, in scenes that evoke the debt owed to God together with a final Audit or Reckoning.

  • 22 Ceri Sullivan, The Rhetoric of Credit, London, Associated University Presses, 2002, p. 28, 40, 155.
  • 23 Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 37.
  • 24 See Parker, “Cassio,” p. 231-3; Korda, “Dame Usury,” p. 129-53.
  • 25 Williams, Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 131-2.
  • 26 Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, ed. Claire McEachern, London, Arden Shakespeare, Third Series, (...)

21Debts, notes, arithmetic, and accounts are combined in the Jailer’s speech in v.iii, where “no true debitor and creditor but it” (i.e. death) slyly calls into question the honesty and “credit” given to this form of accounting, which purported to demonstrate the honesty of commerce and an accountant’s “scrupulous fidelity to his own word.”22 “Debitor and creditor” or “double-entry” bookkeeping was a “vehicle for producing public knowledge — that is knowledge that was designed to function in public as a sign of something more than the information included in the books.”23 But it was also suspected of being open to counterfeiting and fraud. The female “count,” nota or “nothing” that already figured in sexual bawdy on “accounts”24 was linked to the suspect honesty of “debitor and creditor” account books, where commercial “notes” were “pricked,” written or noted. The ledger, its most public “book,” was slang for “prostitute because like that paper she is open to all parties.”25 The “nothing” of King Lear includes female “plackets” next to “lenders’ books” (iii.iv.95-8). And in Much Ado About Nothing, “I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books” (i.i.79) suggests “account books of a tradesman in which creditable customers were listed.”26 But Beatrice’s “Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony, a goodly count, Count Comfect,” in the scene where Hero is “noted” for infidelity (iv.i), impugns not the female “count” but the false account and testimony credited by Count Claudio with regard to that “not[h]ing.”

  • 27 “Like a full-acorned boar, a German one” (ii.v.16) not only evokes the boar as emblem of lust from (...)

22The fact that an accountant could appear honest, when an account was forged, is crucial to Cymbeline’s wager plot, where Iachimo wins by providing “simular proof enough” (v.iv.200). The accusation of “counterfeiting” (homophone of counter-fitting, a “fit” sexualized by Cloten in iv.i.3) is made by Posthumus against the “woman’s part,” charged with coining “counterfeit” or bastard issue with some “coiner” (ii.v.5-6, 20). But in this play filled with simulacra and doubles, the definitive defamatory noting of Innogen is enacted as both Posthumus and Iachimo join in refiguring her body’s “natural note” (ii.ii.28) as a note or “stain” produced by the act of noting itself. Even after Iachimo leaves the stage, Posthumus continues to generate the powerfully voyeuristic imaging that produced the look they both shared, as the perceived “stain” of the “mole” descended from breast to lower bodily “hell” (ii.iv.135-40) — forging his own participatory sight of Iachimo as a “German” boar penetrating what Innogen should “from encounter guard” (ii.v.19).27

  • 28 See Ellen Spolsky, “Women’s Work is Chastity: Lucretia, Cymbeline, and Cognitive Impenetrability,” (...)

23The power of words themselves to make much out of nothing or counterfeit creation ex nihilo is foregrounded in Cymbeline as well as Much Ado. Evil in the Bible is both negation and counterfeit, lookalike, or double, in ways reflected in Cymbeline’s multiple forms of simulation, both within and beyond the wager plot. As early modern dictionaries underscore, “noting” was related to the problem of knowing, since notus was derived from nosco (“to know”) and meant both “notable” and “known.” But the problem is how to discern counterfeit from true, knowing from not knowing. In the public accusation of Hero, “know,” “known,” and “none” sound ominously, for a woman, as slandered, dishonored, and “tainted” with “infamy.” But ironically, Claudio’s “What men daily do, not knowing what they do!” (iv.i.20) reveals his (nought) knowing as the reverse of what he assumes, since Hero’s infidelity (which he now takes as certain knowledge, not known to him before) is based on the false “noting” of ocular proof (or looks) outside Hero’s window. This nexus is crucial to Cymbeline, which foregrounds claims to “knowledge” (including carnal knowledge), false security in interpreting “signs,” and “cognitive impenetrability,”28 even as it invokes multiple forms of “penetration” (including attempted invasion – military, voyeuristic, and sexual — and Cloten’s musical notes intended to “penetrate” Innogen’s “ear” and sexual “case”).

24In Cymbeline as in Much Ado — where the success of sexual slander depends on assumptions by Posthumus and Claudio that they “see” and “know” what they do not, this nexus matters not only to wordplay but to the potentially tragic plot itself. Knowledge as carnal “knowledge” (Cymbeline ii.iv.51) is evoked in Claudio’s “If I have known her, / You will say she did embrace me as a husband,” in response to Leonato’s questioning whether he “made defeat of her virginity” (iv.i.47-50). In the context of the hidden female “nothing” or “O” and anxieties of cuckoldry when a father could not know for certain whether his child was a bastard, the absence of access to certain knowledge is one of the ways both plays engage, without an ultimately tragic ending, the epistemological problem of (not) knowing that is the tragedy of Othello.

25Clothing as outward “note” or sign is related in Cymbeline, as in Much Ado, to knowing but also to who is “known” in the hierarchical sense – or “of note.” After Posthumus changes his fashion from “Italian gentry” (v.i.18) to “Briton peasant” (v.i.24), it is scoffed that he “brags his service / As if he were of note” (v.iii.93-4). John Ferne’s The Blazon of Gentrie (1586) roots “nobility” itself in the “knowe” from which noting derived: “The word Nobilitas [...] is deriued of the verb Nosco, to knowe [...] A Gentleman or a Nobleman is he [...] which is knowne, and through the heroycall vertues of his life, talked of in euery man’s mouth.” Conversely, “ignotus” meant ignoble or “base” (the term used for Posthumus by Cymbeline and Cloten); as well as “unknowing” and “unknown,” which converge in the “unknown” of the text of Jupiter in Act v. “Note” is sounded as noble and high reputation in Cymbeline, including when Belarius recalls his status (or “note”) before the note or stigma of the slander against him, in a speech that underscores their antithetical meanings: “this story / The world may read in me: my body’s marked / With Roman swords, and my report was once / First with the best of note” (iii.iii.55-8). In the wager scene, Iachimo says of Posthumus’ status earlier in Britain: he “was then of a crescent note, expected to prove so worthy as since he hath been allowed the name of” (i.iv.2-3), a combination of “note” with “name” that recalls “of name” in Much Ado, for “gentle” status. But his “crescent note” was before the play’s beginning, where he is banished and Innogen “condemned and noted” for making the “throne / A seat for baseness” (i.i.141-2) — a crime for which the punishment is to “pen her up” (153). The King continues to “note” or condemn her for not having “tendered” what daughters owe to their fathers (“We have noted it,” iii.v.31-4), a “noted” that combines noticed (or committed to “pen”) with the commercial sense of “note” the Queen makes explicit, the duty left “unpaid to you / Which daily she was bound to proffer” (iii.v.48-9).

26“Note” is also foregrounded as the notice that elevated soldiers to higher social status (as Posthumus’ father Sicilius gained the “sur-addition Leonatus,” i.i.33); in Pisanio’s “These present wars shall find I love my country, / Even to the note o’th’king, or I’ll fall in them” (iv.iii.43-4); and in Cymbeline’s making “knights of the battle” of the unknown “old man and two boys” who repulsed the Roman invaders, an ironic turn to Belarius’ worry that “we being not known” by “the King’s party” might “drive us” to “render” an account resulting in torture and death (iv.iv.10-11). Arviragus argues against Belarius that the King’s party will not “waste their time upon our note, / To know from whence we are,” iv.iv.20-1), lines ironically recalled in the Recognition Scene, where he and his brother are not only to become “knights” but are revealed to be the king’s sons (“of note,” nobility, and “name,” though “unknown” to themselves).

  • 29 See Nancy Vickers, “‘The blazon of sweet beauty’s best’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece,” in Patricia Parker (...)
  • 30 When she reads Posthumus’ later letter accusing her of playing “the strumpet in my bed” (iii.iv.21- (...)

27The slander against Innogen brings together different parts of this nexus — including “known,” “renown,” “notable,” “notorious,” “marks,” writing, defaming, stigmatizing, and staining. The wager scene — in which the female “count” or “con” repeatedly sounds — begins from the men’s praise of their “country mistresses” (i.iv.46), a rhetorical display that recalls Sonnet 21 (“I will not praise that purpose not to sell”), opening their “mistresses” not only to the mind’s eye but to potential theft, as happens in The Rape of Lucrece where Lucrece is “shamed with the note.”29 The letter of introduction to Innogen that Posthumus writes for the “gentleman” Iachimo, combines “note” as nobility, reputation, name, and status: “‘He is one of the noblest note, to whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied.’”30 In the night scene in Innogen’s bedroom, Iachimo’s “design” is “to note the chamber. I will write all down” (ii.ii.23-4); and also to note the “contents” of his “story” (or “sufficient testimony”) for Posthumus back in Rome, including the “mole,” most valuable of the “notes about her body” that “testify, t’enrich mine inventory” above “ten thousand meaner movables” (ii.ii.27-30).

28When Iachimo performs his detailed account (and recounting) in the Recognition Scene, he brings together even more of the compound senses of notes and noting:

That I returned with simular proof enough
To make the noble Leonatus mad,
By wounding his belief in her renown
With tokens thus, and thus: averring notes
Of chamber-hanging, pictures, this her bracelet –
O cunning, how I got it! —nay, some marks
Of secret on her person, that he could not
But think her bond of chastity quite cracked,
I having ta’en the forfeit. (v.iv.200-8)

29“Cracked” here, as the forfeiting of a commercial “note” or “bond,” includes the dette de mariage. But at the same time, it figures the cracked “coin” of the female “count,” quaint, or coint blamed for unfaithfully coining bastards in Posthumus’ tirade in Act ii, where “the woman’s part in me [...] be it lying, note it, / The woman’s” (ii.v.20-3) projects that noted stigmatized “part” outward as “the woman’s” and swears “I’ll write against them” (32).

30In Cymbeline’s emphasis on suspect ways of knowing, “letters” as part of the ars notaria or “notes” as writing are joined by “characters” as handwriting (iii.ii.28); and the Queen’s “note” in i.v.2 as a written list (recording her dissembled hidden “knowledge,” but at odds with concern it remain unnoted/unknown). Innogen, seeing a “letter” from Leonatus (“learned indeed were that astronomer / That knew the stars as I his characters; / He’d lay the future open,” iii.ii.27-29), suggests confidence that she knows his “character” as well; but this scene ends with uncertain knowledge (“Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them / That I cannot look through,” iii.ii.80-1). Both passages ambiguously anticipate the Roman “Soothsayer” Philharmonus, whose title suggests “sooth” (or truth)-teller but who may be simply a spin-meister or time-serving imperial refashioner of enigmatic notes or signs. The “glass darkly” of Cymbeline’s echoes of 1 Corinthians 13 (where knowing is only “in part” and seeing is per speculum in aenigmate) complicates any deciphering of enigmas, including his; or any claims to “knowledge” that is more than partial (in both senses).

31Cymbeline further complicates “note” or “sign”-reading by reminders that its actions are being performed by actors, including the boy actor playing the “woman’s part.” The very moment in the “Recognition Scene” where Innogen is revealed to have been on stage all along, though regarded by others as the “boy” they see, is the moment when “play” and “part” (v.iv.228-9) call attention to a transvestite theater that itself dissimulates and simulates, subverting Stubbes’s distinguishing “notes” or signs by requiring the audience to see double, both boy player and female character at once.

  • 31 See Aeneid I.28 and V.255-7 with Ovid’s Metamorphoses X.155-61 and XI.756 and Fasti VI.43. On the p (...)

32Christian or Jacobean imperial readings of Jupiter and his Roman eagle are differently complicated by reminders in the descent of Jupiter on his eagle (v.iii) of the rape or raptus of Trojan Ganymede, classically linked to Juno’s revenge against Troy and familiar not only from Ovid but from Virgil’s Aeneid, in relation to the trials of Aeneas recalled in Jupiter’s own speech.31 And more recent contemporary “Ganymedes” are evoked from the play’s beginning, in the reference to the King’s “Bedchamber” in the opening scene (i.i.42).

  • 32 Revelation 19:11. See Parker, Margins, p. 56-82 on biblical counterfeits and simulacra in The Comed (...)
  • 33 See Claude Peltrault “Nothus et bouts cousus; des formes de la bâtardise dans Much Ado about Nothin (...)
  • 34  On spurious, bastardy as adulteration, and “mongrel” tragicomedy, see Michael Neill, Putting Histo (...)
  • 35 For famous “Nothi,” including William the Conqueror, King Arthur, and Hercules (in Alciati’s In Not (...)

33Cymbeline’s biblical echoes underscore that the final Recognition Scene of Apocalypse (the ultimate separation of counterfeit and true) may be foreshadowed, but even the epiphany of Nativity remains forever in the future at its end. There is in the play itself no final (or “true”) “debitor and creditor,” Audit, or Reckoning, and no ultimate “Faithful and True.”32 For “noting” in relation to the counterfeit or “bastard,” however, we need to return to the “Nothus,” as part of the network of noting and nothing.33 In a definition from Isidore of Seville iterated in English texts, “Nothus” was the title for “a bastard borne of a noble father and ignoble mother” (for example a concubine or adulteress), in contrast to “Spurius,” born of a noble mother and ignoble father. In addition to being linked with “nothing” (the filius nullius, or heir of nobody), “nothus” like “spurius” was identified with the adulterate and counterfeit, including counterfeit coins.34 The “Nothus” or high-born “Bastard” was well known from Virgil and Ovid, among other writers (Aeneid ix.697; Heroides iv.22). But the nothus as counterfeit or simulacrum was also familiar,35 including from Catullus 63 on the gelded Attis as “notha mulier” or counterfeit woman – a text often cited in relation to the suspect counterfeiting of transvestite theater, undermining clear gender distinctions, “notes,” or signs.

  • 36 See Parker, Margins, chapter 2.
  • 37 Ibid., chapter 7. Although there is not space to develop this here, Nothus as a familiar early mode (...)

34Hercules (prominently cited in Cymbeline and Much Ado) was a famous “Nothus,” bastard issue of Jupiter’s cuckolding of Amphitryon by counterfeiting his identity. Shakespeare clearly knew this story in Ovid (Metamorphoses IX) but also the other sense as simulacrum or counterfeit, since he used this story for the mistaken doubles or twins of The Comedy of Errors.36 This is important for the combination of cuckoldry or bastardy with simulation or counterfeiting in both Cymbeline and Much Ado. Cymbeline combines bastardy with counterfeiting in Posthumus’ “woman’s part” speech, which moves from “We are all bastards” to the idea that he is himself a bastard “counterfeit,” since “my father was I know not where / When I was stamped (ii.v.2-5). Both plays depend on the forging of false accounts, including the “Counterfeit Representation” of enargeia or evidentia.37 But the forgeries succeed as long as they do because of the partnerships forged by those who credit them, because they plausibly second, double, or twin, a belief structure that was already there.

  • 38 On “cozen Germans” see Parker, Margins, p. 129, 155, 178.

35The “nothus” as “bastard” stood as “note” or sign of a suspect female “nothing” (“ignoble mother”). The “nothus” as “counterfeit” is avatar of the simular or “simular proof.” In Much Ado About Not[h]ing, the first scene where John the Bastard shares his slander of Hero with Claudio and others (iii.ii) is followed by Dogberry’s “Are you good men and true?” (iii.iii.1). Much Ado is filled with “notes” as misread signs (and “looks”) as well as fears of cuckoldry and female spots or stains. But at the same time, like Cymbeline, it foregrounds “illegitimate construction” (iii.iv.50) – “notings,” construings, and constructions that pass for truth, even though there is “no art / To find the mind’s construction in the face” (Macbeth, i.iv.11-12). Cymbeline is pervaded by forged accounts, simulacra, counterfeits, and doubles, including Posthumus and Iachimo as secret sharers or “cozen Germans.”38

36The scapegoating of the “noted,” ink-blackened Hero, and the retaliatory “letter” to “kill” Innogen have as their basis the nothing of illegitimate constructions. Scapegoating the “Bastard” of Aragon or counterfeiting “Italian fiend” would be itself yet another “illegitimate construction” – projecting outward the similar simular simulacrum within, like the abjected “woman’s part” itself.

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Notes

1 Nothus. . . . Base borne, a bastard, not lawful, counterfeit (Thomas Thomas, Dictionarium Linguae Latinae et Anglicane, London, 1587); Nothe: com. Bastard, adulterous; counterfeit (Randall Cotgrave, A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, London, 1611).

2 Cymbeline, v.iv.200, quoted from William Shakespeare, Martin Butler, ed., Cambridge, CUP, 2005 – used for all references to this play. Butler retains the Folio’s Iachimo but changes Imogen to Innogen, citing inter alia Holinshed, Spenser, the “ghost-character” Innogen as Leonato’s non-speaking wife in Much Ado, and Simon Forman’s 1611 account (p. 79). The Riverside Shakespeare, G. Blakemore Evans et al., eds., Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1974/1997 is used for other Shakespeare works.

3 For Stubbes, see Peter Stallybrass and Ann Rosalind Jones, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory, Cambridge, CUP, 2001, p. 4-8, 68, 279.

4 “Stigma” (like the “stigmata” recalled by Cymbeline’s “bloody cloth” in v.i.1) was a “note” or sign written in the skin by a needle or sharp instrument. Importantly for Cymbeline, the Latin of Ovid’s Philomel story (the “book” Innogen has been reading in ii.ii), uses “purpureas notas” (purple or bloody “notes”) for the tongueless Philomel’s writing the story of her rape. See Lynn Enterline, The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare, Cambridge, CUP, 2000, p. 4-5; Charlotte Scott, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Book, Oxford, OUP, 2007, p. 47-50.

5 That seeing is fashioned or shaped by Iachimo’s figural telling becomes clear when the same bodily “mark” or “stamp” – Guiderius’ “mole” – is noted through a very different cultural lens in v.iv.363-8.

6 See Gordon Williams, A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, 3 vols, Atlantic Highlands, The Athlone Press, 1994, vol. 1, p. 131-132; with Werner Von Koppenfels, “Dis-covering the Female Body: Erotic Exploration in Elizabethan Poetry,” Shakespeare Survey, vol. 47, 1994, p. 127-137, p. 134 on Christopher Marlowe’s translation of these lines.

7 See William C. Carroll, “The Virgin Not: Language and Sexuality in Shakespeare,” Shakespeare Survey, vol. 46, 1993, p. 107-229 (p. 117, 111).

8 Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard, “Knotting or Je-ne-sais-quoi: two readings of Nothing in Much Ado About Nothing,” in Jean Perrin, ed., Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Actes de Colloque Université Stendhal, Grenoble, November 1991,Grenoble, ELLUG, 1992, p. 131.

9 Carroll, op. cit., p. 119.

10 Euripides’ tragicomic Alcestis, already established as known through George Buchanan’s and other Latin translations and as an influence on returns from “death” in Much Ado and The Winter’s Tale, is also important for Cymbeline’s tragicomic plot and Innogen’s “keep it till you woo another wife, / When Innogen is dead” (i.i.113-4).

11 Critics and editors cite different textual signs as evidence of whether or not Innogen’s marriage is consummated, i.e. whether her virgin knot is “undone” by Posthumus —a question that has also divided critics of Othello, in the absence of certain knowledge.

12 Wordplay on not[h]ing and musical notes occurs in other plays, including The Winter’s Tale (“my sir’s song, and admiring the nothing of it,” iv.iv.613); The Tempest (“music for nothing,” iii.ii.140); Romeo and Juliet’s exchanges on “note” as “observe, or pay attention to,” musical note, notation, or written score, and “crotchets” as quarter-notes and quirks or strange ideas.

13 See music and music lesson in Williams, Dictionary, vol. 2.

14 J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982, p. 70.

15 Gordon Williams, A Glossary of Shakespeare’s Sexual Language, Atlantic Highlands, The Athlone Press, 1997, p. 70.

16 See Brian Rotman, Signifying Nothing, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1987, p. 8; Patricia Parker, “Cassio, Cash, and the ‘Infidel O’: Arithmetic, Double-entry Bookkeeping, and Othello’s Unfaithful Accounts,” in Jyotsna Singh, ed., A Companion to the Global Renaissance, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, p. 225-8.

17 See Parker, “Cassio,” p. 228, on “arithmetician” (Othello, i.i.19).

18 See Williams, Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 863-4, on “Turnbull Street whores” as practising “arithmetic” and “Arithmaticke” of a “Bawd” as carnal and commercial “Divisions & Multiplications.”

19 Eugene Ostashevsky, “Crooked Figures: Zero and Hindu-Arabic Notation in Shakespeare’s Henry V,” in David Glimp and Michelle R. Warren, eds., Arts of Calculation, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 205-228.

20 On marital sexual “debt,” “interest,” and usury, see “cancel” in Sandra K. Fischer, Econolingua, London, Associated University Presses, 1985, p. 51; Natasha Korda, “Dame Usury: Gender, Credit, and (Ac)counting in the Sonnets and The Merchant of Venice,” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 60, Summer 2009, p. 151-2.

21 See Patricia Parker, Shakespeare from the Margins, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1996, chapters 4 and 5.

22 Ceri Sullivan, The Rhetoric of Credit, London, Associated University Presses, 2002, p. 28, 40, 155.

23 Mary Poovey, A History of the Modern Fact, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 37.

24 See Parker, “Cassio,” p. 231-3; Korda, “Dame Usury,” p. 129-53.

25 Williams, Dictionary, vol. 1, p. 131-2.

26 Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, ed. Claire McEachern, London, Arden Shakespeare, Third Series, 2006, p. 154.

27 “Like a full-acorned boar, a German one” (ii.v.16) not only evokes the boar as emblem of lust from Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and Spenser’s Gardens of Adonis (along with the “wild boar” of Psalm 80: 13) but may add to the sense of “germens” (or “seeds”) sounding in “German” the fear that Iachimo might have impregnated Innogen. The curious use of “German” (for “Italian” Iachimo) also recalls Shakespeare’s ironic combination of “german” as “honest” (as well as “kin”) with geminus, double, or twin, appropriate to Iachimo and Posthumus as simultaneously rivals and secret sharers. See Parker, Margins, p. 127-32; and the comparison in Love’s Labor’s Lost (3.1.190-3) of a woman to a “German” clock, in lines that include the ironic resonance of “german” as “honest.”

28 See Ellen Spolsky, “Women’s Work is Chastity: Lucretia, Cymbeline, and Cognitive Impenetrability,” in Alan Richardson and Ellen Spolsky, eds., The Work of Fiction, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004, p. 51-84.

29 See Nancy Vickers, “‘The blazon of sweet beauty’s best’: Shakespeare’s Lucrece,” in Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman, eds., Shakespeare and the Question of Theory, London, Methuen, 1985, on Sonnet 21 and rhetorical “display” (from displicare, “unfold to the view”). Cymbeline foregrounds such display in the mens’ praise of their “country mistresses” in i.iv, as well as its own explication, un-folding or un-tying of enigmas and knots, including in the complicated dénouement of the Recognition Scene.

30 When she reads Posthumus’ later letter accusing her of playing “the strumpet in my bed” (iii.iv.21-2,), Innogen compares his falseness to Aeneas and to Sinon, whose false account convinced the Trojans to open Troy’s gates. Sinon might seem more appropriate to Iachimo, whose false story of a partnership that includes Posthumus (i.vi) is the stratagem that gets him into Innogen’s chamber (ii.ii). But in the wager (unknown to her) these men are partnered as co-signers; and Posthumus’ letter of introduction (i.vi.22-5) plays Sinon by asking her to give this “stranger” her “trust” (Folio, sometimes emended to “Your truest Leonatus”: see Butler, Op. cit., p. 107). Posthumus’ letter also performs the function of women-bawds in earlier wager stories (evoked in Cloten’s attempt to bribe Innogen’s female attendant).

31 See Aeneid I.28 and V.255-7 with Ovid’s Metamorphoses X.155-61 and XI.756 and Fasti VI.43. On the play’s Aeneid echoes, see Patricia Parker, “Romance and Empire: Anachronistic Cymbeline,” in George M. Logan and Gordon Teskey, eds., Unfolded Tales, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1989. The name “Polydore” for Guiderius in Wales has been linked to Polydore Vergil (Butler, op. cit., p. 79). But “Polydore” also clearly recalls Aeneid III, where Polydorus, the youngest son of Priam of Troy, tells how his surrogate father in the wilds of Thrace murdered him for his “gold.” This famous episode’s “cursed love of gold” thus provides a potential critique of empire. Gold and coins figure prominently in Cymbeline; but coins are refused in its wilds in Wales.

32 Revelation 19:11. See Parker, Margins, p. 56-82 on biblical counterfeits and simulacra in The Comedy of Errors, Othello, and other texts, including “angels” as coins.

33 See Claude Peltrault “Nothus et bouts cousus; des formes de la bâtardise dans Much Ado about Nothing.” Colloque Shakespeare/Marlowe, 1992.

34  On spurious, bastardy as adulteration, and “mongrel” tragicomedy, see Michael Neill, Putting History to the Question, New York, Columbia University Press, 2000, ch. 5-6; Parker, Margins, ch. 6.

35 For famous “Nothi,” including William the Conqueror, King Arthur, and Hercules (in Alciati’s In Nothos emblem), see Alison Findlay, Illegitimate Power, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1994.

36 See Parker, Margins, chapter 2.

37 Ibid., chapter 7. Although there is not space to develop this here, Nothus as a familiar early modern spelling for Notus (Auster or south wind) is also suggestive for Don John the Bastard (who recalls Philip II of Spain’s brother Don John of Austria, the “foreign Papist bastard” of James’s Lepanto), and by extension for the “infection” from the “spongy south” by “Italian” Iachimo. Stephen Bateman’s The Travayled Pylgrime (1569) makes “infections Nothus blows” part of Protestant England’s travails caused by Habsburg Spain.

38 On “cozen Germans” see Parker, Margins, p. 129, 155, 178.

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Patricia Parker, « Cymbeline’s Much Ado about Nothing, Noting, (K)not Knowing, and Nothus », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare, 31 | 2014, 103-121.

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Patricia Parker, « Cymbeline’s Much Ado about Nothing, Noting, (K)not Knowing, and Nothus », Actes des congrès de la Société française Shakespeare [En ligne], 31 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 mai 2014, consulté le 27 septembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/shakespeare/2826 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/shakespeare.2826

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Patricia Parker

Stanford University

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