Thursday, 14 August 2008


What was Othello doing in Aleppo?

..............................Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him, thus. [V.v.]

It's part of a matrix of oriental references in the speech (the base Judean who threw away a pearl; Arabian trees dropping myrrh. But Aleppo stands out, not for its specific historical referent (although a Venetian did visit the city in 1555, and recorded what he saw), but simply because it follows a similar verbal logic, as word, to Othello's own name: the vocalic opening, the labial, the central 'e', the doubled consonant, and the terminal 'o'. It is a piece of wordplay that reflects upon the speaker.

No comments: