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Leashing in the dogs of war: The influence of Lyly's Campaspe on Shakespeare's All's Well that Ends Well

    It is a commonplace of Shakespeare studies that the dramatist shows a recurrent interest in what soldiers do when they are not soldiering. In particular, the love interests of off-duty soldiers recur in the drama, and the contrast between fighting and lovemaking frequently denigrates the latter. In Campaspe John Lyly visited this topic before Shakespeare:

HEPHESTION Is the warlike sound of drum and trump turned to the soft noise of lyre and lute, the neighing of barbed steeds, whose loudness filled the air with terror and whose breaths dimmed the sun with smoke, converted to delicate tunes and amorous glances? (2.2.40-5)1

Campaspe is set in Athens in 335 BCE between Alexander's destruction of Thebes and his invasion of Persia. Alexander falls in love and a major theme of Lyly's play is the tension between sexual desire and masculinity, expressed by Hephestion (Alexander's confidant) above and by Parmenio, one of Alexander's officers, below:

PARMENIO Clitus, I mislike this new delicacy and pleasing peace; for what else do we see now than a kind of softness in every man's mind, bees to make their hives in soldiers' helmets, our steeds furnished with footcloths of gold instead of saddles of steel, more time to be required to scour the rust off our weapons than there was wont to be in subduing the countries of our enemies? Sithence Alexander fell from his hard armour to his soft robes, behold the face of his court: youths that were wont to carry devices of victory in their shields engrave now posies of love in their rings; they that were accustomed on trotting horses to charge the enemy with a lance now in easy coaches ride up and down to court ladies; instead of sword and target to hazard their lives, use pen and paper to paint their loves. Yea, such a fear and faintness is grown in court that they wish rather to hear the blowing of a horn to hunt than the sound of a trumpet to fight. O Philip, wert thou alive to see this alteration--thy men turned to women, thy soldiers to lovers, gloves worn in velvet caps instead of plumes in graven helmets--thou wouldst either die among them for sorrow or confound them for anger. (4.3.6-27)

This exercise in antithesis is perhaps familiar because of its similarity to the opening soliloquy by Shakespeare's Richard 3, which has the same catalogue of the perversion of military hardware ("Our bruised arms hung up for monuments"), of military sounds ("Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings"), and of military maneuvers ("Our dreadful marches to delightful measures" 1.1.6-82). In the same vein is Benedick's disdain of love in Much Ado About Nothing and the condemnation of Antony in Antony and Cleopatra.

    What Lyly offers which Shakespeare withholds is the counter-argument. In a remarkable scene in Campaspe two ordinary soldiers, Milectus and Phrygius, come to agree with the courtesan Laïs that peace is better than war:

LAÏS Sweet youths, if you knew what it were to save your sweet blood you would not so foolishly go about to spend it. What delight can there be in gashing, to make foul scars in fair faces and crooked maims in straight legs? As though men, being born goodly by nature, would of purpose become deformed by folly, and all forsooth for a new-found term called valiant, a word which breedeth more quarrels than the sense can commendation.

MILECTUS It is true, Laïs, a feather bed hath no fellow, good drink makes good blood, and shall pelting words spill it?

PHRYGIUS I mean to enjoy the world and to draw out my life at the wire-drawer's, not to curtail it off at the cutler's.

LAÏS You may talk of war, speak big, conquer worlds with great words; but stay at home, where instead of alarums you shall have dances, for hot battles with fierce men gentle skirmishes with fair women. These pewter coats can never sit so well as satin doublets. Believe me, you cannot conceive the pleasure of peace unless you despise the rudeness of war.

MILECTUS It is so.

The soldiers, Milectus and Phrygius, began the scene ready to accept peaceful pleasures as a temporary respite from war: it "shall bring us some pleasure" and "this is a world for the nonce" (5.3.1-4, my emphasis). But Laïs's claim is greater: pleasure can only be fully appreciated when war is despised. M. R. Best observed that Lyly's plays avoid the usual dialectical progression of plot, the meeting of conflictual desires or ideologies leading to synthesis, and instead make a virtue of dramatic stasis (Best 1968). There is no suggestion in Campaspe that Milectus and Phrygius are ineffectual soldiers, rather theirs is a rational, if temporary, pacifism which is as reasonable as anything expressed by the Athenian philosophers; they exit with courtesan Laïs to share the pleasure of her body.

    In Shakespeare, opposition to military prowess usually comes from men too cowardly to fight, such as John Oldcastle/Falstaff in the Henry 4 plays and Parolles in All's Well that Ends Well. Since pacifism is unpopular, these characters also hypocritically extol their military prowess in over-compensation for their cowardice. But in All's Wells that Ends Well there is a new development running alongside this familiar trope: the perversion of values inherent in soldiering as an end in itself. Robin Headlam Wells argued that in 1608 Shakespeare entered the public debate about the social danger of heroic values with Coriolanus which specifically engaged with the cult of chivalry surrounding young Prince Henry in order to denounce it (Wells 2000). I intend to show that via Timon of Athens, written around 1604-5 (Wells et al. 1987, 126-28), All's Well that Ends Well is linked with Lyly's Campaspe and shares the same concern.

    Caroline Spurgeon noted that Shakespeare was particularly concerned with dogs in Timon of Athens, especially the way that they fawn on their masters, and that he used this as a metaphor for human relations (Spurgeon 1935, 195-99). In a essay called "Timon's Dog," (Empson 1951, 175-84) William Empson examined this image more closely and decided that it was doing double duty as a symbol of fawning but also of admirable snarling criticism of human weakness, as found in the sententia of Jaques, Hamlet, and Iago (Empson 1951, 176). Shakespeare learnt from Erasmus, Empson pointed out, that even in fawning a dog is sincere and faithful, and Empson uncovered a strain of dog praising in Timon of Athens which Spurgeon had overlooked in her quantitative account. As a double symbol in the play ". . . the dog does not manage to become a 'symbol' that includes cynic and flatterer, flattery and affection, so at to imply a view of their proper relations. It remains a bridge over which they exchange puzzles. . . ." (Empson 1951, 183) It is currently fashionable to label this literary/dramatic phenomenon "ambivalence" and to value it as a barometer of unresolved tensions in a work, but for Empson the striking thing was that such symbolism "could be worked out so far and yet remain somehow useless." (Empson 1951, 183)

    The "dogs of war" of my title come from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at the moment in Mark Antony's apostrophe to the "bleeding piece of earth" when he imagines that Caesar's spirit will come hot from hell and "with a monarch's voice / Cry 'havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war" (3.1.275-6). Those dogs are given individual names in the prologue to Shakespeare's Henry 5 where Harry is imagined holding the leashes of "famine, sword, and fire" who "Crouch for employment" (Prologue 7-8). In Julius Caesar another kind of dog intrudes where he is not wanted, into the dialogue of the rebel generals before battle:

POET For shame, you generals, what do you mean?
Love and be friends, as two such men should be,
For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye.
CASSIUS Ha, ha! How vilely doth this cynic rhyme!
BRUTUS (to the Poet) Get you hence, sirrah; saucy fellow, hence!

Shakespeare's source for Julius Caesar, Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Marcus Brutus, makes the dog connection plain.

Now, though he used this bold manner of speeche after the profession of the Cynick Philosophers, (as who would say, doggs)5 yet this boldnes did no hurt many times, bicause they did but laugh at him to see him so mad. . . . Cassius fel a laughing at him: but Brutus thrust him out of the chamber, and called him dogge, and counterfeate Cynick.

5In margin: "Cynick Philosophers [ac]counted doggs." (Bullough 1964, 114)

"Cynic" is a transliteration of the Greek word jtmij¾| meaning "dog-like," which the OED records as a popular but erroneous etymology, the true origin of the name of the "Cynic" sect being jtm¾raqce|, a gymnasium where Antithenes taught (OED cynic n. 1). The erroneous etymology reflects a powerful symbolism (Cynics snarl at the rest of us), and in Campaspe the Cynic philosopher Diogenes is repeatedly referred to as a dog who snarls and bites. In his edition of Campaspe, G. K. Hunter glossed Diogenes's denial that he is a "hater of men" (4.1.30) with a report that in the Renaissance Diogenes and Timon were assimilated (Lyly 1991, 107-8), substantiated by a citation of John Leon Lievsay's essay on Diogenes (Lievsay 1948). In fact Lievsay found only one example of a saying by Diogenes being attributed to Timon (Lievsay 1948, 454n23), but the link is important because Apemantus in Shakespeare's Timon of Athens is undoubtedly "cast in the philosophical traditions of Diogenes," as David Cook put it (Cook 1963, 89). It is reasonable to suppose that around the time he was writing Timon of Athens Shakespeare would have read, or more likely re-read, Lyly's play Campaspe in which Diogenes forms the main element of the subplot. Both plays are set in ancient Athens where a court entourage (including a pet painter) develops around a patron of the arts and a snarling Cynic condemns it.

    In Campaspe Shakespeare would have found Lyly's failure to condemn Macedonian soldiers who find the soft life of peace rationally superior to war. The idea for Timon of Athens may have come to Shakespeare while preparing All's Well that Ends Well. The major source for All's Well that Ends Well is Novel 38 "Gilletta of Narbona" in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure (Painter 1566, Aa3r-Bb4v). If instead he turned to Novel 28 (a Roman numeral "x" is easily dropped) Shakespeare would have read "Of the strau<n>ge & beastlie nature of Timon of Athenes, enemie to mankinde, with his death, buriall, and Epitaphe." (Painter 1566, P1v-P2v) The major source for Shakespeare's Timon of Athens was North's translation of Plutarch, but Painter's book must be a minor, supplementary, source since Shakespeare gives part of Timon's epitaph as "A plague consume / You wicked caitiffs left!" (5.5.73-4) whereas North has "wicked wretches left." (Bullough 1966, 252) Shakespeare appears to be remembering Painter's version of the epitaph which has "wretched catife," (Painter 1566, P2v) as H. J. Oliver observed (Shakespeare 1959, xxxiii).

    Briefly to summarize the argument so far, Shakespeare's interest in Cynics-as-dogs is clear in Timon of Athens, written around the same time as All's Well that Ends Well. A single source, Painter's Palace of Pleasure, links the two Shakespeare plays, and a third play, Lyly's Campaspe, concerning the Cynic Diogenes would have been entirely suitable background reading for Timon of Athens. Indeed, Geoffrey Bullough thought it "Doubtless [that] Shakespeare / recalled . . . the court of Alexander the Great in Lyly's Campaspe . . ." when writing the opening scene of Timon of Athens (Bullough 1966, 242-43). The connection cannot be proven, but the war in All's Well that Ends Well is unlike any war in his earlier works, and is likely indebted to Lyly's style of dramatic inconsequentiality and his positive representation of pacifism.

    The war between Florence and Siena which forms the primary backdrop to All's Well that Ends Well is almost entirely absent from Shakespeare source. In Painter's version of the story Beltramo (Bertram) flies from his new wife towards Tuscany before he hears of the Florentine/Sienese war and he joins it having already broken from her, whereas in Shakespeare's version it gives him an additional reason--that is, as well as his dissatisfaction with his new wife--for leaving Paris. Although Beltramo is "willinglie receiued, and honourablie interteigned" (Painter 1566, Bb1r), and given charge of a force of men, nothing more is heard of the war in Painter's version of the story: the outcome is not mentioned, and Bertram does not distinguish himself in battle. The war is quite inconsequential.

    Shakespeare began by making much of this war. From the first scene in Paris (1.2), the young lords of France speak of little else, the king deliberates about which side to take, a message from Austria urges him not to support Florence, and the king decides to let his young noblemen choose sides for themselves: "freely have they leave / To stand on either part" (1.2.14-5). Before the French intervention, the war is at stalemate:

KING The Florentines and Senois are by th'ears,
Have fought with equal fortune, and continue
A braving war.

Austria's request that France deny aid to the Florentines is presumably intended to prolong this stalemate, but in expanding the war from his source Shakespeare initially took sides, following the Florentines only. The only authoritative text of the play, the 1623 Folio, appears to have been printed from authorial papers and the opening stage direction of 2.1 contains information which cannot be an aid to performance but appears to be a note by Shakespeare to himself:

Enter the King with diuers yong Lords, taking leaue for the Florentine warre: Count, Rosse, and Parrolles. Flourish Cornets. (Shakespeare 1968, AWW TLN 594-6)

The war is here not a Florentine/Sienese war, just a Florentine one, but even more revealing is that Shakespeare adds this detail to a stage direction where it is of use to no-one in the theatre: one cannot act being headed for Florence. As Fredson Bowers pointed out (Bowers 1980) there are other stage directions in the text which contain what appear to be aides-mémoires made by Shakespeare when breaking off composition so that he might more easily pick up the thread at a later time. From the dialogue which follows it is clear that certain of the French lords have decided to support Florence and others to support Siena, and that the two groups stand before the king to receive his blessing:

KING Farewell, young lords. These warlike principles
Do not throw from you. And you, my lords, farewell.
Share the advice betwixt you;

The king's doubled and shared blessing indicates that he is addressing two groups of men, one representing those who will fight for Florence and the other those who will fight for Siena. A natural consequence of this will be that members of one group might find themselves fighting members of the other group, so the courtly entertainment of tourneying is here taken to its logical limit: in the name of "breathing and exploit" (1.2.17) the young noblemen risk killing each other. Apparently this arbitrary division into opposed camps has happened before. Having bid farewell to both groups, the king takes aside one group--presumably those on the side of Siena--saying "Come hither to me" (2.1.23), while Paroles and Bertram speak to the other group. Paroles boasts of a past exploit:

PAROLES You shall find in the regiment of the Spinii one Captain Spurio, with his cicatrice, an emblem of war, here on his sinister cheek. It was this very sword entrenched it. Say to him I live, and observe his reports for me. (2.1.40-4).

We have reason to doubt this claim--Shakespeare's choice of the name Spurio is an unsubtle hint--but Paroles's claim to once have fought a man who is now on the same side as these young Frenchmen must be plausible to those with whom he speaks. Shakespeare is careful to remind the audience that for the aristocratic men in this fictional world the choosing of sides has been and remains not a matter of political principle but rather a matter of whim. Unlike any war in his other plays, Shakespeare's Florentine/Sienese war is unmotivated (as far as the audience can see) and is carried on by men without strong feelings about who wins. In two plays in which war features peripherally, Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure, the audience might puzzle about the cause of the conflict, but they are not invited to think of it as mere sport for young men. Janette Dillon observed that from 1599 Shakespeare's depiction of battles avoided attacks upon the "city walls" as represented by the tiring house facade and instead offered moments when the audience would expect such an attack, only to see a variation on the theme: Henry 5 talks, rather than fights, his way into Harfleur, and Caius Martius fights his way into Corioles only to be trapped alone as the city gates close behind him (Dillon 1999). Having moved away from a certain populist technique of staging war in 1599, All's Well that Ends Well shows Shakespeare removing depiction of a war altogether while focussing on its psychological implications. While Bertram is engaged in unmotivated killing in which one body is as good as another for the purpose of proving his prowess, Helen teaches him that in sexual relations one body may also be exchanged for another. In essence, his blindness to individuation rebounds on Bertram.

    In 3.1 of All's Well that Ends Well we see the young Frenchmen being welcomed by the Duke of Florence, who rather embarrassingly draws attention to their king's refusal of direct help. The Second Lord Dumaine elaborately declares it all beyond his comprehension (3.2.9-16) but the First Lord offers reassurance:

FIRST LORD But I am sure the younger of our nation,
That surfeit on their ease, will day by day
Come here for physic. (3.1.17-9)

At least, it is the "younger of our nation" if we follow Nicholas Rowe's emendation, but the Folio text has "the yonger of our nature" (Shakespeare 1968, AWW TLN 1393) which is rather more truthful since some of the French nation's noble youth chose the other side. But the audience never again see the young Frenchmen who fight for the Sienese; they disappear from the play together with the ugly details of war. The only reported casualty of the war is the Duke of Siena's brother whom Bertram is reputed to have killed "with his own hand" (3.5.6). In a war so generally free of overt violence this duke is even more unlucky than the 4 English nobles who died alongside 25 English commoners killing 10,000 Frenchmen in Shakespeare's telling of the battle of Agincourt (Henry 5 4.8.80-106). The Florentine/Sienese war is the occasion for Bertram's military triumph, but no action is shown to the audience. It is also a highly cosmopolitan affair: because Paroles "hath a smack of all neighbouring languages" (4.1.15-6) his ambushers must affect a non-European sounding language in order to carry off their pretence to be "some band of strangers i' th' adversary's entertainment" (4.1.14-5), and indeed Paroles takes them for Muscovites (4.1.70). In the midst of the plot to humiliate the ambushed Paroles--a comedic inversion of military reality--the First Lord Dumaine tells the Second that the war is over. The cessation of hostilities is received without an expression of relief, but just a cliquish enquiry: "What will Count Roussillon do then?" (4.3.43-4).

    The Sienese, their French supporters, and the war's casualties are not the only missing persons in All's Well that Ends Well. The opening stage direction of 3.5 in the Folio text is "A Tucket afarre off / Enter old Widdow of Florence, her daughter Violenta and Mariana, with other Citizens" (Shakespeare 1968, AWW TLN 1602-5) which is odd since the Widow's daughter is named Diana in the subsequent dialogue. It is possible that Shakespeare meant "her daughter" and "Violenta" to be two separate characters, in which case the latter is technically a ghost character, having no dialogue and no part in the action. It might strain credulity to suggest that the absent violence of the play and the absent Violenta are related, but the parallel must be added to the striking list of correspondences between dramaturgical practicality and thematic concerns in the play.

    The extremely confusing variation of Folio speech prefixes for the characters which editors normally reduce to First Lord Dumaine and Second Lord Dumaine heads the list of oddly appropriate coincidences. On the assumption that "a transcript made for playhouse purposes . . . would require regularized speech headings" (Shakespeare 1993, 221) Susan Snyder followed Bowers in attributing the speech prefix variations to the messiness of authorial papers, which Bowers thought compositor B had unsuccessfully attempted to correct when using them as copy for the Folio (Bowers 1980). However, the New Bibliographical assumption that theatrical papers were consistent in their speech prefixes has recently come under strong attack (Long 1985; Long 1999; Werstine 1997a; Werstine 1997b; and Werstine 1998). If we suppose that the variations found in the Folio text might have stood in a manuscript used to run the play in performance, then both Lords Dumaine, on separate occasions (Shakespeare 1968, AWW TLN 1993, 2227), play the enemy general holding Paroles prisoner. Paroles's inability to detect when one takes the place of the other resonates powerfully with Bertram's inability to differentiate between the bodies of Diana and Helen. Both instructive deceptions also resonate with the peculiarly arbitrary Florentine/Sienese war in which the young French lords are allowed to choose sides. Having found in Campaspe 5.3 a rational and dignified objection to war, Shakespeare, I suggest, decided to explore in All's Well that Ends Well the limits of soldiering undertaken for no good reason and to have the worst offender, Bertram, taught the importance of bodily individuation. In Campaspe 5.3 the two soldiers exit apparently to share one prostitute and this too manifests insensitivity to individual bodies, although hopefully the original audience held Laïs's occupational insensitivity less culpable than the soldiers'. Perhaps these soldiers retain their martial dispositions (pleasure being still "for the nonce" 5.3.3-4) despite Laïs's argument, but the two-bodies-for-one principle might easily have given Shakespeare the idea to teach Bertram his lesson via a body-swapping bed trick.

    Shakespeare here seems to have taken a new tack with his theme of the soldier/lover. In Lyly's Campaspe Shakespeare would have found Alexander who is perceived by his men to have changed since conquering Athens:

CLITUS Parmenio, I cannot tell how it cometh to pass that in Alexander nowadays there groweth an unpatient kind of life: in the morning he is melancholy, at noon solemn, at all times either more sour or severe than he was accustomed.

Clitus thinks that love might be afflicting Alexander, or equally "It may be an unquenchable thirst of conquering maketh him unquiet" (3.4.12-4). Alexander for his part sees the same disease in Hephestion:

ALEXANDER Methinketh, Hephestion, you are more melancholy than you were accustomed; but I perceive it is all for Alexander. You can neither brook this peace nor my pleasure. Be of good cheer; though I wink I sleep not.

For the leading soldiers the restlessness of love, then, is indistinguishable from the restlessness of demobilization. This sentiment is not, however, shared by all the soldiers, as the previous scene with Milectus and Phrygius shows. The leaders Alexander and Hephestion, and their generals Clitus and Parmenio, fight to relieve a certain tension within themselves and such fighting is an end in itself. Lyly implicitly condemns this outlook by offering the pacific hedonism of Milectus and Phrygius, and by making Alexander merely an obstacle to the love of Apelles and Campaspe. From this Shakespeare, I think, got his inconsequential Sienese/Florentine war fought by young Frenchmen indifferent to the outcome (save for their own glorification) and thus indifferent to the identity of those against whom they fight. In All's Well that Ends Well the young men's indifference to sides is a manifestation of their indifference to particular bodies, and Bertram typifies this fault. Shakespeare himself initially (perhaps habitually) took sides, making it a Florentine war, but then markedly changed his approach so that sides do not matter in the play. The bed-trick in All's Well that Ends Well, as in Measure for Measure, is more than a plot device since the young man's inability to distinguish between the woman he wants and the woman he does not speaks also of his character. This fault is not solely personal however: it is shared by a group of young men and has an analogue in the practices of the playhouse since another kind of body-swapping inheres in theatrical performance. The doubling of roles necessitates a measured indifference to individual bodies on the part of the audience, and it is tempting to see in the disparate speech prefixes and contradictory stage directions of the Folio text of All's Well that Ends Well an attempt by Shakespeare to weave this idea into a playhouse document. In making an edition of All's Well that Ends Well an editor is obliged to rid the text of mere errors introduced by the dramatist or by those with whom he worked. One cannot help noticing, however, that the "errors" in the unimproved text advance the major theme of the drama and appropriately interweave an idea, a theatrical practice (doubling), and a document (the papers used as copy for the Folio) whose status somewhere between the textualization of an idea and a working theatrical tool remains one of the unsolved problems of textual bibliography.


1Lyly's Campaspe will be quoted from Lyly 1991.

2Except where indicated, quotations of Shakespeare will be from Shakespeare 1989.

Works Cited

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Bowers, Fredson. 1980. "Shakespeare at Work: The Foul Papers of All's Well That Ends Well." English Renaissance Studies Presented to Dame Helen Gardner in Honour of Her Seventieth Birthday. Edited by John Carey. Oxford. Oxford University Press. 56-73.

Bullough, Geoffrey. 1964. Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Vol. 5: The Roman Plays: Julius Caesar; Antony and Cleopatra; Coriolanus. 8 vols. London. Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Bullough, Geoffrey. 1966. Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Vol. 6: Other 'Classical Plays': Titus Andronicus; Troilus and Cressida; Timon of Athens; Pericles, Prince of Tyre. 8 vols. London. Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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Shakespeare, William. 1959. Timon of Athens. Ed. H. J. Oliver. The Arden Shakespeare. London. Methuen.

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Wells, Robin Headlam. 2000. "'Manhood and Chevalrie': Coriolanus, Prince Henry, and the Chivalric Revival." Review of English Studies. 51. 395-422.

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Werstine, Paul. 1998. "Hypertext and Editorial Myth." 2.1-19. Online (http://purl.oclc.org/emls/). Internet. 17 May 1998. Early Modern Literary Studies. 3.3. n. pag.