The Dark Side of Shakespeare (A Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)
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Translations and examination of two mysterious Latin poems dedicated to the 17th Earl of Oxford, one in 1579 by Anthony Munday (the same man who some suggest took dictation from Shakespeare for 3/4 of the MS play Sir Thomas More), and the other in 1584 by Robert Greene (the same man who allegedly criticized Shake-speare as "Shake-scene" in 1592 Groatsworth of Wit).
Posted Oct 2009


(1 of 2) Munday's "Virum E O" Dedication to Oxford in 1579 Mirrour of Mutabilitie

W. Ron Hess (    10-22-09


            I've discovered a previously unnoticed cryptic salutary Latin poem, apparently dedicated to the 17th Earl of  Oxford, which lurked four pages from the end of Anthony Munday's 1579 Mirrour of Mutabilitie, the first of many books which Munday dedicated to his master.  Not set with acrostics, as were the other dedications to Oxford in Mirrour, the title "Ad Preclarum et nobilissimum Virum E O" reinforces a number of ideas about Oxford-as-Shakespeare that we Oxfordians have long assumed, such as using coded allusions, playing with Oxford's family name "DeVere" (in "Virum"), and toying with Oxford's initials ("E.O.").  These were obviously fair game for poets in Oxford's circle.


            The translation below may yield vague information about Oxford's travels overseas to Greece in the Summer of 1575 (Munday himself traveled overland only to France and Itlay).  It may be a lead-in via "my beautiful one" to Lyly's and Munday's 1579 & 80 stories about "Euphues" (or maybe even to "the fair youth" of the Sonnets?), and via "Phoebus" possibly a prelude to Oxford's role as "the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne" in the January 1580/1 White Hall jousts.  Although the poem has beauty, its meaning remains obscure due to oddities of translating Renaissance Latin, Italian, or French to English; each are rife with "double entendre" because of allusions to mythology, contractions, accepted misspellings, deliberately winking idioms, etc.  So, I wondered if this Munday salutary poem did hide something VEREy special?  If Oxford "originated" the works of Shakespeare as early as Eva Turner Clark argued, and as I have argued (circa 1576 to 1586, with the rest of the story in revisions or revamps), then it would have been natural for Munday to allude to the proto-canon of works in some fashion, even if the "Shake-speare" pseudonym itself had been adopted only later.  This poem shows that cryptic allusions to Oxford's genius and contributions to his language were permitted at least as early as 1579.  If what I've called "the Shakespeare Enterprise" has yielded for us the Bard's canon, Munday may have hinted here at a snapshot of what "the Shakespeare Enterprise" looked like in 1579, only a few years from its origination!


            A mystery about Mirrour is how could it have been fashioned entirely by Munday?  Though the poems are comparable to others Munday is credited with, in fact from Fall 1578 to about July of 1579, Munday was abroad in France and Italy, spying on English expatriates.  Of course, he may have written some of them while traveling, or hastily on his return?  But, I think it more likely that he returned to London, resumed his apprenticeship as a printer in the shop of John Allde, and then a poem collection was presented to him for editing, adding to, and publishing under his own name.  In other words, I believe that Munday was often a "publishing front" for others, even for Oxford.


            For example, among the four "Bodenham miscellanies" was 1600 &10 Bel-vedre or the garden of the Muses, where I've noted that Belvedere (= beautiful to see) is a perfect anagram for bel DeVere (= fair or warlike Oxford)!  Munday edited Bel-vedre; but its first edition listed Oxford, Shakespeare, and dozens of other poets.  Sadly, unlike 1600 Englands Parnassus and Englands Helicon, Bel-vedre didn't link verses to names.  So, Oxford gets no credit for any Belvedere poems, many of them quite beautiful.


"Virum E.O." Transcription by W. Ron Hess


            The "nobilissimum Virum E.O." first caught my attention, and then I was struck by the "Pallidus... Amator" (= pallid lover) which I hoped might have double meaning allowing "lover of Pallas" (= the Spear-shaker).  Here is my transcription, slightly modernized (line #s and end-of-line slashes added, f's replaced by s's where needed):


      Title:  Ad Preclarum / et nobilissimum Virum E O.//


1.  NAuta Mari medio vectus spuma[n]tibus un-/

2.     depositis portu, sperat reperire salute[n]:  dis,/

3.  Conscius extremo procumbe[n]s Carcere latro/

4.     sperat fortunam lucis sentire ministram./

5.  Pallidus attonito vultu tardatur Amator/

6.     Finem tamen dominam confidit habere benignam./

7.  Apatrys sperat Perigrinus finibus exul:/

8.     Orbe pererrato sibi, conciliare quietem./

9.  Hac ratione meum viuo visurus Alexin,/

10.    Tristitiaque mea latas perstringere fines,/

11.  Speque rereabor, medicum-Fortuna resistat,/

12.    Donec opem ferat, et morbo mediatur acerbo./

13.  Non aliquando diem tantaperessere tenebra,/

14.    quin redeat spargens glebis sua fulmina Phoebus./

15.  Aequor a quando metam certam posuere furendi,/

16.    Gaudia securis ego sic possessa tenebo./

17.  Mi formose vale, valeat tua grata voluntas,/

18.    Deprecor optata tutus potiaris arena./

19.  Te, cunctosque tuos CHRISTO committo tuendos,/

20.       Donec prastentes sermone fruamur amico./


21.  FINIS./

22.                       Honos alit Artes.


In #22 "Honos alit Artes" (= Honor nourishes the Arts) was Munday's often-used motto on his title-pages and dedications from 1579 to1628, many of them dedicated to Oxford and after his death to Oxford's family.  The motto can be evidence that he was the author or translator of an otherwise anonymous project, and is universally accepted as Munday's.  So, there's little doubt this "Virum E O" poem was meant to be identified as Munday's own, as opposed to hypothetically someone else's contribution to the work.  And the motto appears to have been originally to honor an Earl, rather than to mundanely be just its writer's motto (even in Latin "mundane" = worldly, of the universe, unimaginative, ordinary).  Indeed if, like Greene (= Latin Vere, credit Nina Green and Stephanie Hughes), there is ever a good reason to argue that Munday's name was a pseudonym or front, the mere fact that his name was potentially MUNDAY+ne (= Mundane) could be the unimaginative reason why it was chosen.  Plus, Munday is known to have used many of his own pseudonyms (Shepheard Tonie, Lazarus Piot, Anthony Gibson, etc.), and is even suggested to have taken dictation from Shakespeare himself (i.e., the majority of the Sir Thomas More MSS is in Munday's hand, only part said to be in the Bard's hand).


            Prof. Albert W. Burgstahler helped me by seeking the opinion and translation of one of his faculty colleagues, a Stratfordian, who wishes anonymity.  The colleague improved upon my own poor effort [see my interpretations of his bracketed text notes]:


      Title:  To the famous and most noble man E O.//  [1]


1.  The sailor in the midst of the sea, borne up by the foaming waves, hopes to heaven to find safety in  port,/

3.  The conscious thief languishing in prison, aware of the end, hopes to hear fortune bearer of light,/

5.  The pale lover, with bewildered countenance, hesitates,  [2] yet he has faith that his mistress intends a  favorable outcome,/  [3]

7.  The wanderer exiled from his homeland hopes that he will acquire rest after traveling the world./

9.  In this same way I live to see my Alexis [savior?, commander?],  [4] and in my sadness I will again think hopefully of approaching the [his?] wide domains./

11.  Fortuna resists the doctor until he brings aid and she is cured of sickness by bitterness [i.e., bitter  medicine]./

13.  Sometimes such darkness would have consumed the daylight, but Phoebus will return scattering his beams upon the earth./  [5]

15.  When the seas have put a definite end to their raging, I will hold the joys possessed by those who are safe./

17.  Farewell, my beautiful one, may your good wishes find success.  [6]  In safety I pray that you have reached the longed-for shore./

19.  I commit you and all your people to the protection of Christ, until we enjoy friendly conversation in each other's presence./


21.  FINIS./

22.                   Honor nourishes the arts.


Hess' Notes:

I had hoped some of the following hunches would have merit.  But alas, for the most part they remain only my conjectures or queries.  Still, they are worth some thought:


[1]  Title: Could it also be, "To the famous and most noble hero on proceeding" (e.g., "eo" can = to go, advance, proceed, travel, move along, progress)?  Since it was Oxford's oft-used poetry signature (for Edward Oxenford or Earl of Oxford), could "E O." imply something special?  E.g., "eo" also can = because of the fact, because, for this reason.  Since the 1579 book was dedicated to Oxford, the translator stated with confidence that the title was a pun of Virum (= virile hero) and Vere (Oxford's family name = Truth).


[2]  #5 Could "Pallidus... Amator" (= pale lover) obliquely refer to or be conflated with "Pallas" the Spear-shaker, rendering Oxford as "the lover of Pallas" (e.g., "Palladine" = of the Spear-shaker, an internationally celebrated knight-errant fable later translated by Munday in 1588 Palladine of England)?


[3]  #6 Could "dominam" (= lady, mistress) in this context refer not just to Virgin Mary but also to virgin "Pallas Athena," the guide and savior of wandering Greek heroes like Odysseus, Jason, and Belerophon?


[4]  #9 Could "Alexin" refer to Alexander the Great, with whom Oxford was compared in several dedications?  Otherwise, "Alexis" = "savior" in Greek and is also a Byzantine military commander title.


[5]  #14 Could "Phoebus" point to Oxford's role-playing, such as to his Summer 1575 trip to and from Italy to the Delphic-Parnassus home of Apollo in Greece?  Or possibly it may presage his forthcoming January 22, 1580/1 jousting role as "the Knight of the Tree of the Sunne?"


[6]  #17 Could "mi formose vale" (literally = my powerfully Beautiful) be equivalent to Greek "Euphues" (= well born, well formed, cultured)?  Lyly's, Munday's, Greene's, Lodge's, and Dickinson's "euphuistic" works depicted "Euphues" as a cultured knight-errant who adventured from the Muses' Mt. Parnassus in Greece, via Italy, to England on a quest to reform the English language and universities.  Munday's own 1580 Zelauto dedication would identify "Euphues" as Oxford, addressing by name his overall dedication to Oxford, and then saying, "Given for a freendly entertainment to Euphues, at his late arivall into England."



(2 of 2) The "Beloved Youth" of Greene's Gwydonius 

W. Ron Hess  10/22/2009


            Recently, I noticed that Robert Greene's 1584 Gwydonius, the Carde of Fancie may have more than just one dedication in it to the 17th Earl of Oxford.  The second one is in Latin, phrased in a way deliberately structured to conflate the names and identities of these three characters: a) Cupid or a "beloved youth," b) Oxford, and c) Greene himself. 


            This has potential bearing on identity of the "beloved youth" of the 1609 Sonnets and 1640 Poems.  Which requires us to examine context.  Just a few weeks after the entry of Gwydonius into the Stationers Registry (S.R.) in April 1584, the June 1584 Pandora, or the musyke of his mistresse Diana was published (date from its profuse dedication to Oxford).  Pandora several times referred to Oxford as "Dever" (= of green), but the putative author of Pandora was "John Soowthern," where "Soowthern" or "Soothern" is little more than Oxford's family name (DeVere) translated into Middle English for "Of Truth" = "Of Sooth" = "Soothern."  The importance of this is what was after Pandora's best poetry (several sonnets falsely attributed to Oxford's wife and "her majesty," where recently scholars have identified that poetry was little more than paraphrase from the French of Philipe Desportes' Diane sonnets).  At top of the page after those poems were more poetry in which Pandora's author brags, "That Soothern which will rayse English to the skies" (see for my transcription of Pandora on Mark Anderson's webpage).  In internet circles I've often remarked that by itself Pandora didn't support such an elevated brag, unless it had companion pieces.


            So, continuing with context, perhaps we could throw into the mix the Diana sonnets, another 1584 work if we are to believe the date printed on its title page.  The Short Title Catalog (STC) says it was wrongly dated, claiming it was a 2nd edition, and thus they "correct" its date to "1594?" in the STC to put it when James Roberts had succeeded to the printing house of Pandora's and Diana's original printer, John Charlewood (I suggest Roberts had partnered with Charlewood in 1584 on a combined Pandora-Diana project).  Diana was credited to "H.C." (said to be "Henry Constable," though I suggest Henry Chettle), and it used Charlewood's same type and colophons as did Pandora.  Plus, Diana was also largely translations or paraphrasing from Desportes.  Still, even adding in Diana, Pandora's brag about "Soothern" seems a bit thin.


            So, to wrap-up our context, it seems from Gwydonius that there was in 1584 a correlation of a "fair youth" (or Cupid), the Earl of Oxford (DeVere), and Robert Greene (Ver), all celebrated at the same time Pandora was being prepared.  Moreover, I've often observed over the internet that Pandora contains all the themes later appearing in Shakespeare's 1609 Sonnets, as if some or all of "the proto-Sonnets" were to also accompany Pandora.  Also, as you'll see from my notes below, the name of the putative author of Gwydonius' Latin poem seems to be a pseudonym constructed from elements that my notes explain, or else his name was chosen as a "front" due to its resemblance to those elements.  Isn't this similar to how we Oxfordians believe the "Shakspere => Shake-speare" name was selected?  There's also a possibility that the Latin poem refers to Oxford among multiple "Comites" or "Earls" engaged in secret poetry, or using fronts.


Transcription of Greene's poem by W. Ron Hess:


Ad Lectorem in laudem Authoris.

1. PVllulat en stirpi similis speciosa propago /

2. Aureolusq; nouo reuirescit ramus amoris /

3. Vere : (tuo ver iam V E R E dicandus honori) : /

4. Ista salus Iuueni, Comiti sit gloria nosse /

5. Accepisse decus : Comites vbi passibus aequis /

6. Ales amor virtusq; fagax decurrere nrunt. /

7. Ventilat iste faces, restinguit at illa furentes /

8. Taedas.  Neo taedet  Pueri sic taedia caeci /

9. Fallere, qui caecis conuoluit viscera flammis. /

10. Ergo refer grates qui deuitare cupi'sti /

11. Spumosos Veneris fluc-tus, scopulosq; minaces /

12. Qui fragilem tumidis cymbam mersisse procellis /

13. Possent.  Hc iter est, hc dirige, tutior ibis. /

            Richardus Portingtonus.


Note the poem's left column acrostic (pp. from Traupman, John C., ed., The New College Latin & English Dict., New York, 1995, Bantam Books):


      PAVIA [= place of pavi = perfect tense of pasco = pastoral (or of paveo = quake with fear, panic), or a city in Lombardy, north Italy, on the Po (or Padus) river]

   + AVT [= aut = or else]

   + FESQ [= abbrev.-contraction for Fescennia, a north Italian city of Tuscany, known for coarse "fescennine verses" in boisterous dramatic dialogue (179)]

   + P [abbrev. for "Publius" = a name derived from "of the public" (292 & 345)]


Thus, the acrostic alluded to all poets' fearful dilemma of choosing between writing:

         Pastoral or else coarse verses of the public!

And, that was a dilemma which Oxford and his poetic circle faced and mastered.


Translation by W. Ron Hess :

Using an online translator [at] and Traupman.


To the Reader in praise of the Author.

1. Spring forth shoot resembling a splendid offspring /

2. Of the golden one; fresh strong growing branch of love's /

3. Youth: (your youth REALLY consecrates honor) :/ [1]

4. Of such a prosperous youth, Comrade [or Earl] is glorious for us to have known / [2]

5. Grasp glory : Comrades [or Earls] who keep pace with /

6. Cupid's virile wings;  hasten beeches [i.e., book pages] to be aware / [3]

7. Brandish your torch of love, quench that rage but be a furious /

8. Torch.  By wearily spinning Boyhood of blind tediousness /

9. To deceive, that blind person [Death] sweeps away blazing flesh. /

10. Thus bring back thanks that shuns lust's style /

11. Venus' Foaming wave, [crashing onto] rocky cliffs; threatening /

12. That frail confident small boat [of Charon] with drowning gale / [4]

13. Of power.  This journey [to Hades] exists, this way, pass therein [to oblivion]. / [5]

            Richard Portington [6]


[1]   This appears to be a "triple entendre," as in the above translation, plus two more meanings:

                 [Truth: (your truth VERE ...)] or 

                 [Greene: (your growth GREENE ...)].

Thus, the poem deliberately conflated names and identities of the "beloved youth" of this poem (Cupid + possibly the book's honoree, 34-year old Oxford), with Vere (i.e., Oxford), and with Greene (i.e., the book's putative author).  Isn't it reasonable that all three were but one man (credit S. Hughes and N. Green)?


[2]  "Comiti" was capitalized, so rather than merely "comrade," the best translation might be "Count" (= the companion to a King), and the British equivalent was "Earl."  Because of the reference to "Comites" (also capitalized), it would seem that the main "Earl" (i.e., Oxford) was in a body of "Earls," for which I suggest the circle that had originated in the 1570s to 1583 around Oxford's mentor, the Earl of Sussex.


[3]   To Greco-Romans, the beech (or birch?) was a symbol of wisdom and knowledge, and book pages were made from thin slices of its wood (Grimassi, Raven, The Old Religion of Southern Europe [aka, Ways of the Strega], St. Paul, MN, 2003, Llewellyn Publ., pg. 224).


[4]  Per the Latin translator, "cymba, cymbae" = "skiff,
                           small boat," especially used to refer to that skiff "in which Charon ferried the dead across the Styx."


[5]  In Romano-Egyptian religion, the ibis bird-headed Thoth was the scribe who kept and wrote the roll of souls in the underworld -- for Thoth to strike a name meant that the name and its soul was wiped from existence (note use of "est" = is, exists).  The gods weighed the soul's heart against a feather of truth, and if the heart weighed more, the name would be stricken (see  Thus, ending the poem with "ibis" meant the Latin "ibi" for "therein" plus the "ibis" for bird of "darkest oblivion."


[6]  Was this a pseudonym?  The "char" of "Richard" may hint at Charon, the ferryman in Hades, or at Charybdis, the whirlpool monster of the Odyssey; "porting" reinforces the ferryman-whirlpool theme; and even the "tonus" residue of Portingtonus means "shade, tension, or clap of thunder," adding to the Hades imagery!  Or was it a front?  A Roger Portington was several times an MP from south Yorkshire, the family was prominent there, and he wrote a poem and was a dedicatee in Greene's 1580-83 Mammilia Pt. 1 and 1583-93 Pt. 2.  But, no Richard Portington is in the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).  To me, "one hit wonder" writers of no other literary distinction are especially suspicious, particularly when associated with members of Oxford's poetic circle, like Greene was.


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The Dark Side of Shakespeare (a Trilogy by W. Ron Hess)