Page:Hamlet (1917) Yale.djvu/171

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Prince of Denmark
159
 

is the Latin name for the yew tree, which exudes a resinous substance from its leaves. It could, therefore, be described as a 'fat weed.'

I. V. 33. Lethe. A river (sometimes called a lake) of the Greek underworld, whose waters gave forgetfulness of the past to those who drank of them.

I. V. 67. gates and alleys. Shakespeare here implies as much as was then known touching the circulation of the blood. (Hudson.)

I. V. 80. horrible. The tradition of the stage assigns this line to Hamlet. It was so spoken by, among others, Garrick, Kemble, and Irving. Betterton probably omitted it, for it is marked for omission in the Quarto of 1676.

I. V. 136. Saint Patrick. He. was the keeper of purgatory; the patron saint of all blunders and confusion (Moberly); he banished serpents from Ireland, hence he was the proper saint to take cognizance of the report that a serpent stung Hamlet's father. (Dowden.) If Hamlet's oath requires any explanation, the first surmise appears the more probable.

I. V. 138. honest ghost. I.e., an actual ghost, and not the devil or an evil spirit in disguise. Cf . Hamlet's doubt upon this point later.

I. V. 154. sword. It was customary to swear upon the sword, because the hilt made the form of the cross. Such an oath was binding both in military honor and in religion.

I. V. 167. your. Does not mean Horatio's philosophy, but refers to philosophy in general.

II. i. 35. Of general assault. Chambers plausibly suggests that the meaning may be 'a passionate desire to assail all kinds of experience.'

II. i. 119. More . . . love. The line is obscure, but Hudson paraphrases it as follows: 'By keeping Hamlet's love secret we may cause more of grief to others than of hatred on his part by disclosing it.'