Saturday, November 20, 2010

"DEATH devours all things"

Fredric March
"Beware the Ides of March"
(Image from Wikipedia)

I found an index with an entry "DEATH devours all things" in Shakespeare's Proverbial Language: An Index (University of California Press, 1981), collated by Robert William Dent, and I've copied the entry below, adding pertinent links, where possible, to original or otherwise relevant texts and persons:
DEATH devours all things (Varied)
1557 Tottel P3V: Set hym free From dark oblivion of devouring Death.
1596 C. Middleton Historie of Heaven C2: Hungrie death that all thinges doth devoure.
1604 T. Middleton Father Hubburds Tale V11 1,65: The old devourer . . . death, had made our landlord dance after his pipe.
c 1605 (1630) Dekker 2 Honest Whore 1.2.102—4: Deaths a good trencherman, he can eat course homely meat, as well as the daintiest.
Shakespeare: Jn. 2.1.352--4, Rom. 2.6.7
Cf. D 139: Death devours lambs as well as sheep [from 1620]; T326: Time devours all things.
The title Shakespeare's Proverbial Language is a bit misleading until one realizes that it refers to proverbs that Shakespeare could have been familiar with because they were common coin.

By now, no one should have any doubt that John Milton's image in Paradise Lost of an all-devouring Death was itself dependent upon a proverbial commonplace, common to the point of cliché, though Milton's treatment of this image proved anything but common.

But why the photo of Fredric March? Oh, just to take a holiday from all those images of death, though the man looks a bit deadly himself . . .

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At 6:55 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

... In the end, to all of us:

"See ya!"

At 6:58 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, that's a dismal prospect . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:06 AM, Anonymous dhr said...

Don't blame me: I didn't create this world, I swear!


Just happened to re-reread a very witty passage in PL (2.803ff):

Before mine eyes in opposition sits
Grim Death my son and foe, who sets them [the dogs] on,
And me his parent would soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involved: and knows that I
Should prove a bitter morsel (...)

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Death, thou shalt die . . .

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Yes, but the 'funny' thing, from a theological standpoint, is that the "bitter morsel" would be Sin instead of Christ.

Besides the sketch where Death is so hungry that he would literally feed "on his mother's corpse". And, by doing so, he would 'commit suicide'.

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

One more subtle, creative use: the sentence

Pestis eram vivus
moriens tua mors ero

(referred to as Luther's)

at the beginning of EA Poe's short story Metzengerstein.

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, incest is known to attenuate the gene pool, to the point that one is taking high dives in the shallow end . . .

Poe was something of a poet, almost to a tee.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:06 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Poe was something of a poet

And much more than that, he was a great thinker, both philosopher (Magnetic Revelation, Eureka etc.) and theologian.

The above-mentioned quote provides an important key to Red Death and other stories: the sudden, destroying, deadly, devilish power who, in fact, can often be identified with a revolutionary, upsetting, disturbing, super- and counter-human Christ. See also The Devil in the Belfry, Bon-Bon, Gordon Pym, Hop-Frog...

Nothing more than a personal interpretation, of course, but after having been studying his works for decades.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

Satan in paradise as "Red Death"

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I read a lot of Poe when I was about 13, so he's always seemed a part of myself from that time . . . not that I understood much.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:22 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

I understand what you mean: my whole (halfway) life has been a research on the subjects in the books my father kept in his library or gave me: Dante, Dali, Poe, animals...

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, you're way ahead of me, Dario.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:43 PM, Anonymous dhr said...

... meaning "you are a head of me", I suppose, provided that we've turned into Cerberus.

Who applies for the third head?

At 11:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uhm, Jeff?

You realize I check in every day.

Mind, I'm just curious - are you feeling well? Night sweats? Diarrea? Kim chi developing an off taste?


At 7:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dario: JK has just popped up and would likely be willing to serve as a third head.

JK: No special health problems, just a scholarly interest in Milton's turn of a phrase.

Jeffery Hodges

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