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Proper Names in Twelfth Night

St. Anne (II. iii., 111). According to the Apocryphal Gospel of St. James, St. Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary. The frequent occurrence of her figure and name in the Catacombs shows that she was regarded with reverence by early Christians. In the museum at Antwerp there is a painting by Rubens of "St. Anne instructing the Virgin." Her day is July 26.

Arion (I. ii., 15). A celebrated lyric poet and musician of Lesbos. He visited Italy, and became very rich through the exercise of his profession. When returning to Lesbos, the sailors who manned the ship in which he was informed him that they intended to kill him and seize his riches. He was, however, first allowed to play a tune, and when he had finished this, he threw himself into the sea. Dolphins, attracted by his music, surrounded the ship, and one of them carried him to Taenarus.

Candy (V. i., 59). The island of Candia or Crete.

Diana (I. iv., 31). The goddess of the chase. She presided over the woods, and delighted in hunting. She is usually represented as hunting, bathing or resting. She is tall and handsome, though her face is somewhat manly. She was identified with Luna, or Cynthia, in the heavens, and with Proserpine, or Hecate, in hell.

Elysium (I. ii., 4). The lower world was by the ancients divided into five parts, the fifth of which was called Elysium, or the region of bliss. This was a delightful country of green fields, pleasant streams, shady groves and wholesome air, where birds ever warbled their sweetest songs, and the souls of the virtuous were continually engaged in the enjoyment of the pleasures they had most delighted in when on earth.

Fates (II. v., 152). Three goddesses who presided over the life and destiny of every man. They were three sisters, daughters of the sea. The youngest, Clotho, held a distaff in her hand, Lachesis spun the chequered thread of life, and Atropos, the eldest, cut it with a pair of scissors.

Fortune (II. iv., 85; II. v., 164). A goddess who directed worldly affairs, and dispensed riches and poverty. She was represented as blindfolded, and standing on a wheel, to show her fickleness.

Grief (II. iv., 113). The personification of suffering. Spenser, in the "Faiirie Queene," represents Grief as a woman with a pair of pincers, with which she nips hearts.

Illyria (I. ii., 2). A narrow strip of country bordering on the eastern shores of the Adriatic, corresponding in part to the modern Dalmatia. Shakespeare's Illyria is probably imaginary.

Jove, Jupiter (I. v., 94, etc.). The most powerful of the Roman gods, son of Saturn, and husband of Juno. When he was a year old he liberated his father from the Titans, but afterwards drove him from the throne, and became sovereign of the world.

Lethe (IV. i., 63). A river and vale in Elysium. In this river the souls which had endured some of their trials were immersed, so that they should forget whatever they had seen, heard, or done, and thus be prepared to be put into new bodies.

Lucrece (II. v., 96). Lucretia, a Roman lady, famed for her domestic virtues. Dishonored by Sextus, the son of Tarquin, she stabbed herself in the presence of her husband and her father, and by her self-inflicted death caused the rebellion which resulted in the expulsion of the Tarquins.

Mercury (I. v., 78). Son of Jupiter and messenger of the gods. He was the patron of travellers, merchants and orators, and the god of thieves, pickpockets and liars. He stole the oxen of Admetus on the day of his birth, and it was this and other early thefts which recommended him to the notice of the gods.

Messaline (II. i., 17). If Shakespeare bad any particular place in view, it was probably the island of Mitylene, or Lesbos, in the Archipelago.

Myrmidons (II. iii., 26). A very industrious race of people dwelling near the river Peneus in Thessaly. They accompanied Achilles to the Trojan War. In II. iii., 26, their name is perhaps used for "legal officers."

Patience (II. iv., 112) As represented by Boccaccio and copied by Chaucer, Dame Patience sat with a subdued look and pallid face. Shakespeare, in Pericles, again speaks of her as "smiling."

Penthesilea (II. iii., 179). A queen of the Amazons. She fought in the Trojan War, and was slain by Achilles.

Pythagoras (IV. ii., 52). A Greek philosopher of the sixth century B.C. He was born at Samos, but settled at Croton in Italy. He was skilled in music, medicine, mathematics, nattiral philosophy, and almost every other branch of learning, and is credited with being the first to teach the doctrine of the transmigration of souls.

Sebastian (II. i., 17). The father of Viola and Sebastian.

Tartar (II. v., 213). Tartarus was the fourth division of the lower world. It was the abode of the impious and unjust, and here, in a vast, deep pit, they were tortured by the Furies.

Vulcan (V. i., 51). The son of Jupiter and Juno. His father kicked him down from Olympus, and when, after nine days, he reached the earth, the fall broke his leg. He was a skilful blacksmith, and is represented as black from the smoke of the forge, with a fiery red face whilst at work, and tired and heated after it.

Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1


How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night Or What You Will. Ed. J. Lees. London: Allman & Sons, 1895. Shakespeare Online. 20 Nov. 2013. < >

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