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8 of Cups - Alcibiades

Dramatis Personae: Alcibiades.

Text & Context: For defending a fellow soldier from penalty of death, Alcibiades is banished from Athens. The soldier Alcibiades defends has killed a man in a moment of passion. Athens' great general argues passionately for clemency being extended a man whom Athens has called upon to commit murder in its defense. In this he mirrors Timon's self-banishment, while being, as the archetypal man of war, Timon's antithesis.

 Similarly, in Alcibiades, we should see the great parade of characters in Shakespeare's work who have endured banishment - all women in Love's Labours Lost; Rosalind and Duke Senior's court in As You Like It; Valentine; Romeo; Falstaff; Henry Bolingbroke; Marcus Andronicus; Coriolanus; Cordelia, Poor Tom, & Kent; Posthumus Leonatus; Arcite; Prospero & Miranda. Also may be glimpsed those characters whom tacitly excuse themselves - Nestor & Ulysses, Leonato's wife Innogen in Much Ado About Nothing, Christopher Sly. We may even be excused for espying banished characters in contemporaneous Elizabethan plays, such as Anthony Munday's sometime actor and Robin Hood in The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington, insofar as it alludes to his employer and sometime patron, Shakespeare. Most of all we may see the Bard's beloved poet, Ovid, banished by Caesar, and ultimately - preeminently - we may see the Bard himself.

 Subtext: Shakespeare was banished - or barred if you will - from Elizabeth's court for years, and correspondingly exiled from his wife and child. After remarrying, stabilizing his finances, and the creation of the Lord Chamberlain's Men in the aftermath of Lord Strange's death, Shakespeare withdrew from the theatre scene to devote more time to writing and revision. It can be said then, in this way, he conquered that which he had been banished from.

Intertext: The Hermit IX Timon of Athens

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