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chariot burghley polonius julius caesar

Cowards die many times before their deaths; 
The valiant never taste of death but once. 
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard. 
It seems to me most strange that men should fear; 
Seeing that death, a necessary end, 
Will come when it will come.

Our elders say,
the barren, touched in this holy chase, 
Shake off their sterile curse.

Anchor 1
  • Be not scurrilous in conversation, or satirical in thy jests.

  • Let thy kindred and allies be welcome to thy house and table. Grace them with thy countenance, and farther them in all honest actions. For by this means thou shalt so double the band of nature as thou shalt find them so many advocates to plead an apology for thee behind thy back. But shake off those glow-worms, I mean parasites and sycophants, who will feed and fawn upon thee in the summer of prosperitie, but in an adverse storme they will shelter thee no more than an arbour in winter.

  • Beware of suretyship for thy best friends. He that payeth another man's debts seeketh his own decay. But if thou canst not otherwise chose, rather lend thy money thyself upon good bonds, although thou borrow it. So shalt thou secure thyself, and pleasure thy friend. Neither borrow of a neighbour or of a friend, but of a stranger, whose paying for it thou shalt hear no more of it.

  • Give thy thoughts no tongue,
    Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.

  • Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

  • Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.

  • Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.

  • Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new hatch'd unfledged comrade.

  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Anchor 2

Crib Notes

Name: The Chariot - Lord Burghley as Polonius as Julius Caesar

Dramatis Personae: Polonius; Julius Caesar.

Roman à Clef: William Cecil, 1st Baron of Burghley, Lord Protector, Secretary of State, Lord High Treasurer, Lord Privy Seal, Master of the Court of Wards.

Astrology: Cancer

Hebrew Letter: ZAYIN


 Text & Context: The Hebrew letter Zayin is a seeming paradox. It's meaning is "weapon" or "sword", but is derived from "food" or "nourishment". In Zayin we see Vav, or The Lovers, crowned. William Cecil was made 1st Baron Burghley in 1571, the year of his daughter's marriage to Shakespeare. Elizabeth I called Lord Burghley her "Spirit". In Ephesians, the "sword of the Spirit is the word of God." As with sword where we espy word, so in Shakespeare we hear spirit. The Hebrew word for Time, zman, begins with zayin, and Time, by definition, is forward movement. Yet the word for remembering, zacher, also begins with zayin, and backwards-looking memory is the basis of self-identity.

  Hamlet the man is haunted by his father's ghost. Hamlet the play is haunted by much more. The earlier Hamlet referred to by Thomas Nashe, and by subsequent scholars as The Ur-Hamlet, is an earlier version of the play by Shakespeare. Similarly, Romeo and Juliet is based on the poem The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet translated from Italian by the same author using the pseudonym Arthur Brooke - Arthur being a play on "author" and Brooke a cognate of the author's name, seen again in Mr. Ford's alias Mr. Brook in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Hamlet, then, is haunted by its own earlier version. Indications as to Hamlet's age within the text appear to contradict themselves, possibly because they date from different times. Older than his years, perhaps age weakened his hams. He tells Polonius, "you yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward." An author, of course, revising a text, can go backwards, making the old new.

   One such revision sees Polonius' name altered, from that of Corambis in the First Quarto. Originally postulated by Sir Israel Gollancz in the late 19th Century and painfully repeated by Shakespeare scholars ever since, Corambis in their estimation relates to the Latin crambe, signifying a kind of cabbage and hence the proverbial expression "reheated cabbage", indicating tedious repetition. And, really, I can think of nothing more apt to summarize the bulk of Shakespearean scholarship than this: reheated cabbage. If most scholars weren't so otherwise engaged in out-thinking the obvious, they'd see in Corambis a play on Lord Burghley's family motto, Cor Unum, Via Una. Burghley's motto means One Heart, One Way, while Corambis roughly translates as Two-Hearted, or Divided-Heart. The implication, then, for Polonius and Lord Burghley, is clear: the assertion that following the simplistic bromide "To thine own self be true" necessitates that "Thou canst not then be false to any man" is not only an erroneous syllogism, but is an advised course of conduct not actually followed by its counsel. Hiding behind arras' may be true to his nature, and his intentions themselves may be good, but that isn't the same as not being false. Burghley's son, Robert Cecil, famously concealed himself behind an arras during the trial of Essex, jumping out dramatically to contest certain testimony.

 The Chariot 's meaning is wrapped up with the ego as agency and assuming the mantle of identity. Hamlet attempts to side-step this agency, thwarting his provenance and providence as it were, by assuming a role of antic disposition. The result is The Hanged Man. Polonius in some ways is Hamlet's opposite, directing his daughter how to behave, writing a book of truisms for his son to obey, spying on that son as he does on Hamlet, and harping on about the motivation behind Hamlet''s harping on to any who will listen. Behaviorists believe if we act a certain way, we will eventually become that way; Aquinas suggested those who have no faith should act like they do and faith will follow. The First Player, from a script, forces his soul so to his own conceit it

would drown the stage with tears
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech;
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties of eyes and ears.

 In this way, The Chariot is a vehicle, like a play, for enacting the ego's character.

  As a younger man, perhaps even Hamlet's age (16? 30?), Polonius played the part of Julius Caesar. He was, by his own account, "accounted a good actor." Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer, is known to have, on occasion, acted (he was also known as Polus, an epithet used by Gabriel Harvey suggesting the pole around which the heavens turn and the rhetorician Polus of the Socratic Dialogue Gorgias). Accused of tyranny, Caesar was killed in "the capital" by Brutus. Hamlet refers to Polonius' Caesar as "a calf". Here is a nexus of meta-meaning so dense it may prove impossible to unravel. By having Caesar speak Latin in an English play at the moment of his death, we can infer Shakespeare read The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, who had Caesar at the same point speaking Greek in the otherwise Latin text. That Greek phrase, Kai su, teknon, translates as "You too, child?" Here, "child" openly refers to the widely-held belief that Brutus was Caesars' own bastard son. If Polonius is Caesar, Hamlet - who will stab Polonius to death a few scenes later  - is Brutus. While technically a different Brutus than the descendant of the founder of Britain, it is nonetheless an allusion to him, an allusion that recurs in Shakespeare like reheated cabbage. Shakespeare was not only Lord Burghley's ward, therefore tantamount to his "child", but also his son-in-law, having married his only daughter. That daughter was rejected by the author, not unlike Hamlet's rejection of Ophelia, or Brutus' dismissal of his wife Portia. As the plays-within-a-play progress, Hamlet will be seen lying at Ophelia's foot, or calf. The question remains: why does Shakespeare move side-ways, like a crab, to conceal this patricide?

   What is clear is various IDs are being proffered by various ids. Hamlet knows the true identity of Polonius "excellent well" - he is a fishmonger. Lord Burghley, after much argument, forced Parliament to enact a bill making Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday "fish days", for the betterment of the fish trade and the British Navy; these days became known as "Cecil's Fast". In Spenser's Mother Hubbard's Tale, Burghley was satirized as The Fox, pulling strings behind the throne and indulging in nepotism. Hamlet, referring to Polonius' hidden corpse, cries "Hide fox, and all after." At Ophelia and Yorick's joint graveside, Hamlet notes identity's transience: "Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, might stop a hole to keep the wind [Latin, spiritus] away." Mistaken or otherwise, identities can themselves be deadly - after the oration over Caesar's corpse, a mob runs riot, tearing to pieces a poet named Cinna because he has the same name as one of the conspiritors. Such country matters should concern the Secretary of State, who had, like Jephthah, a daughter he loved passing well, since cinna has the same name as a slang word for vagina.

Subtext : The Chariot is a puppet theater, drawn by chess pieces. Lord Burghley amassed the bulk of his wealth as a result of leveraging his role as Master of the Court of Wards. As ER's right hand man, he held the reigns of the British ship of state. As Privy Council and Knight of the Garter, he corralled the knights of the realm. As Lord High Treasurer, he could gild or geld. In chess, the knight and pawn are the only pieces who can make the first move, and only the knight can leap over both ally and foe alike. The cornerstones of the chess fortress are the castles, whose adopted Persian name, rook, means chariot. Castles are the fortified enclosures of the monarch and nobility, seen along with the spoils on The Chariot's stage left and right.


 Closely related to the Phoenix [cf. The High Priestess] is another mythical Arabic bird, Roc. This intimidating bird of prey brought to King Solomon a blessed piece of wood which completed his temple. This gift was adorned with silver rings which became the silver rings used to pay for Judas Iscariot's role in the Passion Play. The exact etymology of Iscariot is shady; possible cognates include "delivery", "constriction", and "two-faced". One suggestion sees Iscariot indicating Judas' association with the sicarii - a secret Zionist cadre who assassinated Romans.  


 In Roc's gift of wood we see would's completion. Said to be used to construct Christ's cross, we see The Tree of Life & Death and the Jewish Sephirot. In the egocentric machinations of Empire, we glimpse the face-paint and string-pulling of tyranny Julius Caesar was assassinated for. The Chariot is a chiaroscuro world of shadow play, of silhouettes thrown from the ceremonial chair of the sovereign.  It can give with one hand, as if charity, and with the other, spirit away.


 The stage has been set by the cards thus far, the rubicon crossed; the onus now is on us, is ours to carry out; do we chary? do we put the cart before the horse? the roam before the rode? Or do we put on the masque, play the part, to our own selves ring true? Take with equal thanks Fortune's buffets and rewards, and - taking charge, steward and ward - tread the bored, out-Heroding Herod, and saw the heir too much with our hand, thus: 

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, and you are stay'd for.

There - [with a kiss] - my blessing with thee! 

And these few precepts in thy memory look thou character. 

 This is how character is undertaken: the labor of the actor, the char of the act. Shakespeare, like "Hamlet's character. 'Naked!'", shakes peers, their rooks [castles] for they're rooks [betrayers], and - like an upstart crow - the very scene; Barren Burghley, on the other hand, shakes them down. The Chariot is cariot, dangled before the horse - that's just the way it rôles.

Intertext: Staffs 9 Mark Antony; Staffs 10 Richard III; Swords 3 Brutus; Swords 4 Hamlet Snr.; Swords 7 Laertes & Claudius; Swords 9 Ophelia; The Hanged Man XII Hamlet


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