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Philological Examination Questions on Hamlet

Question: Explain: "I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant. It out-herods Herod."

Answer: "Termagant," supposed to have been a god of the Saracens, a very violent character, was employed very often in the plays of the middle ages, but no such character has been found in any English plays. The Italian is Trivigante. Derivation probably ter, three, and magnus, great.

Herod was also a favorite character of the time, very noisy and turbulent, hence to "out-herod Herod" would be to be excessively violent.

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How to cite this article:

Mertins, Emma. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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