by Richard Joyrich
Day Three (Saturday, April 12):
The day began at 9 AM with Roger Stritmatter on Small Latin and Less Greek: Anatomy of a Misquotation. Roger discussed his take on how the First Folio came to be published. In this, he follows generally what Peter Dickson and others have been saying about the Spanish Marriage Crises of 1622-23 when there was an intention on the part of James I to marry his son Charles to the Spanish Infanta Maria Anna (daughter of the king). This proposed match to a Catholic was opposed by the powerful Protestant nobility, among which were the two "Incomparable Brethren", William and Philip Herbert, to whom the First Folio was dedicated. It seems clear that the publication of the First Folio at this time was, in some way, a political statement by this court faction.
It was also at this time that there was the big push to substitute William of Stratford as the author of the plays. Ben Jonson was hired to help in this endeavor. Roger discussed the form in which Jonson's Dedication to Shakespeare in the First Folio took. It is in the form of what was called a "Triumph". There is a 16-line Exordium at the beginning (containing references to "ignorance", "blind affection" and "crafty malice") and then a 48-line Narratio (in which the line "And though thou hadst small Latin and Less Greek…" appears) and then a 16-line Peroration (containing "Looke how the father's face lives in his issue", i.e. the true Shakespeare is to be discovered in the works).
Roger then demonstrated that Jonson's line about "small Latin and less Greek" is a mixed contrary-to-fact conditional. That is, Jonson is not saying that Shakespeare really had no real Latin or Greek training. The words "though thou hadst" actually mean "even if you had" and Jonson is acknowledging Shakespeare's mastery of these languages, but that this is not the only reason for his literary greatness.