Esoteric Shakespeare (Part 4)

Royal Shakespeare Company – The Winter’s Tale, Act 1 Scene 1

In The Winter’s Tale, by the pseudonymous “William Shakespeare”, Perdita is associated with the lost spring, Persephone, the “sleeping beauty”, and Cinderella. Prince Florizel, who falls in love with Perdita, is associated with Uddushu-Namir, messenger sent to Hades, and with the prince in the Cinderella story. (Background: Esoteric Shakespeare (Part 3), Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of February 16, 2014.)

Antigonus, on orders from king Leontes of Sicily, abandons to the elements the infant born to Hermione, wife of Leontes:

Places remote enough are in Bohemia, there weep, and leave it crying; and, for the babe is counted lost for ever, Perdita, I prithee, call’t. (Act 3 Scene 3)

Perdita, the lost spring, is gone and almost immediately thereafter Antigonus is killed by a bear – the bear of winter. Meanwhile Leontes still shines in the relatively sunny climate of Sicily.

And what of Hermione? In The Winter’s Tale, Leontes, king of Sicily, becomes jealous of his wife, Hermione. Leontes wrongly thinks Hermione has been fooling around with his friend, Polixenes, king of Bohemia. Leontes tries to poison Polixenes but he escapes back to Bohemia. In a rage, Leontes imprisons Hermione. (Background: Esoteric Shakespeare (Part 2), Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of February 15, 2014.)

Hermione is Harmonia, who was married to Cadmus. Harmonia “seems to have been an emblem of Nature, and the fostering nurse of all things.” [1]

In the Spear Shaker’s play, Hermione is the wife of king Leontes. Leontes is Leo, the Lion, the sign in the zodiac called the house of the sun. “The priests of the Leontica (sacrificial festivals among the ancients in honour of the Sun)”, were called Leontes, because they represented the sun under the form of a lion. [1]

Harmonia was married to Cadmus. Cadmus is associated with astronomy [2] and with the sun. In the play, Hermione is married to king Leontes, symbolizing the sun. [1]

The worshipers of Cadmus were known by several names, among them “Hermionians; this last name is from Harmonia, by which also Cadmus is described. A story is told that his wife’s name was Hermione, whom he married at Thebes…” [1]

Many of the ancients viewed the sun as moving and not the earth. Hence Cadmus (the sun) was a great traveler to them. King Polixenes of Bohemia, in The Winter’s Tale, who is almost a brother to king Leontes of Sicily, signifies Time. “What is it that brings winter and restores summer, but Time?” [1]

“Polixenes could never thank Leontes sufficiently for the years (revolutions of the sun) which mark time.” [1] From Act 1, Scene 2 of The Winter’s Tale:

Polixenes: Nine changes of the watery star hath been the shepherd’s note since we have left our throne without a burden: time as long again would be fill’d up, my brother, with our thanks; and yet we should, for perpetuity, go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher, yet standing in rich place, I multiply with one we-thank-you many thousands moe that go before it.

Leontes: Stay your thanks awhile, and pay them when you part.

King Leontes signifies the sun; his “brother” king Polixenes signifies time. Recall, if you will, from Esoteric Shakespeare (Part 2), how The Winter’s Tale is derived from Robert Greene’s Pandosto, or The Triumph of Time.

The choice of the name Polixenes may have been suggested to the pseudonymous “William Shakespeare” by the Egyptian Polynices. He and his brother Eteocles were supposed to have reigned alternately, year by year. In the classical story, Polynices becomes an exile, in much the same way that the Spear Shaker’s Polixenes takes flight. [1]

Time itself is personified in The Winter’s Tale at the start of Act 4:

Time: I, – that please some, try all; both joy and terror of good and bad; that masks and unfolds error, – now take upon me, in the name of Time, to use my wings…

This insertion of Time itself into the play, argues William Francis C. Wigston, is a “clumsy prop.” And yet its somewhat crude insertion as a prop may serve to especially emphasize a serious intention connected with Time. [1] It is as if the author tweaks our noses and says, “Notice this!”

Hermione (nature) and Leontes (the sun) are wife and husband. Then Leontes becomes jealous of Polixenes’ (Time) attention to his wife Hermione. Leontes fails to kill Polixenes, but then separates from Hermione when he imprisons her. “Now the union of sun and earth in their full potentiality is summer, – their divorce, winter.” [1]

Later, after the “death” of Hermione, a life-like statue of her is seen in Act 5, Scene 3:

(Paulina draws back a curtain, and discovers Hermione standing as a statue.)

Paulina: I like your silence, – it the more shows off your wonder: but yet speak; – first, you, my liege: comes it not something near?

Leontes: Her natural posture! – Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she in thy not chiding, for she was as tender as infancy and grace.

The initiate into the mysteries of Eleusis had, as the climax of wanderings through chambers of ever-increasing brightness, an encounter with just such a statue. In the center of a great vaulted room was revealed the carved image of the goddess Ceres. Ceres is also known as Demeter. [3] (Recall from Esoteric Shakespeare (Part 2) how Hermione, in The Winter’s Tale, is paralleled by Demeter.)

The statue of Demeter was finally revealed to the initiates in a burst of light, as the crowning ceremony of the Eleusian Mysteries. “And what was this myth of the search of Demeter (Ceres) for her lost child? It was simply A Winter’s Tale – Winter mourning and awaiting the return of Spring and Summer…” [1]

——- Sources ——-
[1] A New Study Of Shakespeare, by William Francis C. Wigston
[2] “Cadmus – Greek Mythology Link”, http://www.maicar.com/GML/Cadmus.html
[3]  The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall. Los Angeles: The Philosophical Research Society, 1977. Chapter XXIX, “The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies”.

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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