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SIDNEY’S OLD ARCADIA: THE ALLEGORY IS BORN

 

 

 

Sir Philip Sidney’s Old Arcadia, a romance in five Books, was written at Wilton, the house of his sister the Duchess of Pembroke, in the years 1578-80. It circulated widely in manuscript, and was never published until after its rediscovery by Bertram Dobell in 1907. Given the case put by George Harman and others for Sidney as yet another alter ego of Sir Francis Bacon, Old Arcadia begs to be looked at in terms of the psychological and philosophical allegory of the First Folio (FF) of Shakespeare, the dual theme of which is, as I have shown in Ugly Dick and the Goddess of Complete Being, the mortal threat posed by the Puritan tyranny to the Western tradition, particularly in England, and the Puritanism-induced breakdown in Stratford, and subsequent repair through the ministry of Bacon and the Gnostic tradition, of the psyche of Will Shakspere.

 

The Gnostic tradition had burst back into flower in Florence in the 1490’s as Neoplatonism or Christian Cabalism, consequent on the expulsion of the Jews, with their wealth of esoteric patrimony, from Granada in 1492; but by the Elizabethan age the establishment reaction had well and truly set in, as well described in the books of Dame Frances Yates, to culminate in the burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno in the Vatican in 1600. It was part of Bacon’s genius to discern the Roman Catholic world-view at the bottom of the Puritan error, as I have shown in Ugly Dick. A powerful case is being built up, through my work and that of the great Baconists of the last century and a half, as well as the non-Baconist Ted Hughes, for the allegorical nature of most, if not all, of the great literature of this period, whose hidden concern is revealed to be above all the primacy of the Gnostic tradition.

 

The Gnostic world view is based on engagement with the world that lies unseen below the surface of things. The great modern artists, scientists, and depth psychologists, are by this definition Gnostics, which eponym is derived from the same Greek root as ‘noble’ and ‘to know’. We take the primacy of knowledge over blind faith for granted now, but it was not so in the Europe of the 16C. This unseen world, subject of Catholicism’s and Puritanism’s especial anathematisation, as manifest most memorably in the ‘witch-hunts’, is represented by the several ‘foul and fair’ or ‘black and fair’ Goddess-figures of  FF, whose ultimate source is the lover of the esoteric Song of Solomon, who proudly proclaims: ‘melaina eimi kai kale’, ‘black am I and beautiful’; and also by its numerous underworld Goddesses, or Queens of Hell, who are also Grail Queens, such as Portia, Desdemona, Cleopatra, Cordelia, Hero, Hippolyta, Imogen, and so on. A key allegoric theme of the plays of Shakespeare is that the unseen world must first be engaged by the reasoning ego for the phenomenal or given world to be understood. This is portrayed in, for example, the marriage of Lucentio and Bianca Minola, as subsequent to that of Petruchio and Kate, in The Taming of the Shrew.

 

It is of very great interest, therefore, to find the character in the first few pages of Old Arcadia of Pamela, whose name means in Greek ‘the dark one’. Further, on page 33 (all references are to the Oxford World Classics ed., 1994), she is described as ‘the fair Pamela’. She indeed will prove to be an exemplary ‘fair and foul’ Goddess – the underworld perceived as fair by the Gnostic enquirer – as we shall see, on engagement with whom is predicated the poet’s art. This sort of precise, premeditated, deeply informed nomenclaturic invention – often sourced, as here, from Greek, amongst several languages – is instanced time and time again in FF.

 

Old Arcadia is full of the allegoric legerdemains and bravura set pieces which so enrich the plays of Shakespeare. One of the most remarkable is the lion-bear scene of Book 1, which will be found to secrete a summa of the theatrical philosophy of the author, a decade before the Shakespearean oeuvre began to appear. Before analysing the narrative of OA, to synthesise therefrom a powerful and wholly consistent allegory, it is necessary for us first to determine, in the way of Ugly Dick, the allegoric principle yoked by the author to each character and place.

 

1. The elder of the two cousins who will be shipwrecked in Arcadia, and adopt disguises there – again, to adumbrate a familiar technique of FF – is Musidorus, whose name means in Greek ‘gift of the Muse(s)’. To what gift in particular could the author be referring? Musidorus bears in fact, as will become clear, the allegoric value of the poem, precisely: the lines of poetry on the page. His ‘younger but chiefer’ (9) cousin and companion is

2. Pyrocles, whose name means in Greek ‘beloved of fire’ (cf. Heracles, ‘beloved of Hera’).  He will adopt the nom-d’amour of

3. Cleophila, in his wooing of

4. Philoclea, daughter of Basilius, duke of Arcadia. The names of these last two combine the Greek for ‘I love’ and ‘Cleo’, one of the Muses, most plausibly chosen by the author for the brevity and suitability for combination of her name. What is going on here? The ‘fire’ of Pyrocles refers to the element which symbolises in the esoteric tradition the activity of the reasoning imagination, as the first step towards full enlightenment (air), after the initiate has broken away from the Ordinary World of his old unenlightened life (earth), to cross the river (water: baptism) to the Special World of his inner quest. He is therefore the 'younger but chiefer' brother of Musidorus because the imagination is anterior to the poem, as the faculty from which its beauty derives. Cleophila and Philoclea are clearly to be identified, as representing the same allegoric principle. We recall the (female) character of Psyche in Apuleius’ magical masterpiece of psychic transformation, The Golden Ass, who represents the outer world recreated in the imagination of the initiate as, in fact, his psyche: and the transformational phase of fire was also termed by Plotinus and the other great early Gnostic masters the ‘psychic’ phase. There can be no doubt that this is the meaning of Pyrocles-Cleophila’s successful wooing of Philoclea. They are Psyche-analogues, and their love represents the decisive step into the ‘fire’ phase of transformation by the initiate, who is represented here by

5. Basilius. His name in Greek means simply ‘king’. He goes in the early pages into voluntary exile in Mantinea, ‘a solitary place’ (6), having heard some disquieting news from the Delphic oracle. The name ‘Mantinea’ can only be derived from the Greek mantis, ‘seer’, ‘prophet’. This place undoubtedly represents the Special World of his psychic transformation. His ‘my name is Basilius, unworthy duke of this country’ suggests the inadequacy of the Ordinary World, the will prompt the subject to take up the journey.  He is to be sorted with Lear, Macbeth, Othello, and the other tragic heroes of FF, though not Hamlet. Why, exactly? Hamlet is the only hero not to undergo an allegorical rebirth, as I have shown. Lear is reborn as Edgar, who assumes the crown in the final scenes; Macbeth as Malcolm; Othello as Gratiano; and so on: the reference in all being to the life of Will Shakspere, whom Bacon successfully cured of an incapacitating psychic breakdown. Hamlet, which portrays as allegory the decline into psychosis of the incurable paranoid schizophrenic, is sui generis in FF, and in world literature. Basilius too is reborn in a typical way, after swallowing death-counterfeiting poison, to rise dramatically from his death shroud in the final pages. One thinks of course of the poisoned Juliet. This element of rebirth is typical of the Journey of the Hero, a genre to which Old Arcadia and the plays of FF undoubtedly belong. Basilius is married to

6. Gynecia who, as ‘daughter of the king of Cyprus’, can only represent the Goddess of Love: for Cyprus was the home in myth of Aphrodite/Venus. Her vehement protestation of responsibility for the death of Basilius in Book 5 means that the initiate’s renunciation of his old life is made out of love for his fellow human beings, and the given world as a whole: a sense of kinship which can only be gained from knowledge of the world which lies below the psyche (collective unconscious) and the surfaces of phenomena (world of the atom), to unify them. Old Arcadia is looking increasingly like the manifesto of a life’s purpose. Gynecia is, consistently, seeing through the disguise, madly in love with Cleophila. One recalls Cupid in the myth of Psyche and Cupid in The Golden Ass, which plays a key role in FF as allegory.

7. Dametas represents the poet himself, as sourced from Virgil’s Eclogue III, wherein he engages in a poetic contest with Menalcas, which is declared a draw. Musidorus, disguised as Dorus, a humble shepherd, wears the shepherd Menalcas’ clothes throughout OA. Dametas and Menalcas are to be identified in terms of the allegory. Dametas’ wife is

8. Miso, yet another ‘foul and fair’ Goddess: ‘… his wife Miso, yet as handsome a beldame that she was counted a witch only for her face and her splay foot.’ (27); ‘… Miso, for the shrewdness of her brain…’ (86). Miso was an underworld Goddess of Greek mythology. The daughter of Dametas and Miso is

9. Mopsa, who bears the allegoric value of the visible world described by the poet, through the beauty of which is revealed the unseen world beneath. Mopsus is yet another poet in Virgil’s Eclogues, and also a seer in Greek mythology: a grandson of Teiresias, who survives the Trojan war. We recall the blindness of Gloucester in King Lear, which signifies his nature as a Teiresias-like seer figure, master of the inward vision, an aspect of the ego essential for its transformation through the ministry of the written word, the reference being as always to the life of Will Shakspere. Mopsa is the Latin feminine form of the masculine Mopsus. She is the Goddess, or given world, ‘seen’ by the poet in his imagination. She is therefore cognate with Ariel in The Tempest, who is born from a tree, just as Mopsa is brought down from a tree by Dametas in Book IV: the tree bearing here just as in FF its allegoric value of the written word, the source most plausibly being the Druid grove, on the barks of which were nicked their sacred texts.

10. Kerxenus. A fascinating character. A ‘principle gentleman in Mantinea [‘place of the seer’]’, he shelters Musidorus and Pyrocles from persecution in his house in Books 1 & 2. His name is derived from the Greek kerxne, ‘hawk’, ‘kestrel’. We recall the hawking party in Henry the Sixth 2, where the hawk bears the allegoric value of the esoteric tradition: for the hawk was a symbol of the Egyptian god Horus, and  the early Hermetic priests were known as ‘Sons of Horus’. Freemasons even now style themselves ‘Sons of the Widow’, also a reference to Horus, the son of Isis (the mythic Widow) and Osiris (her dead husband). (This is the point of the Widow in The Taming of the Shrew, as I have shown.) There can be no doubt at all that Kerxenus bears this value of the esoteric/Gnostic tradition, which went underground after the rasing of the Temple of Jerusalem in 67 AD, and protected its culture from the vicious depredations of Theodosius and the other early Church fathers in subsequent centuries, to surface again in the Florence of Lorenzo de Medici, carried thither by the Jews after their expulsion from Granada in 1492.

 

Let us now examine Old Arcadia in more detail, where a fascinating story will be revealed. Followers of the argument of Ugly Dick (a small but happy band) will be on utterly familiar ground.

 

 

 

BOOK 1

 

The shipwreck in Arcadia and subsequent disguise of the cousins Musidorus and Pyrocles adumbrates the similar allegorical technique of, for example, The Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night. The primacy of the visual imagination in psychic transformation is a key theme of FF; and this faculty is represented therein by the Watches (e.g. in the last scenes of Romeo and Juliet, with the subject well on the way to rebirth), torches, paintings (e.g. Julia-Sebastian gazing in wonderment at Sylvia’s portrait in Act IV of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, with final transformation in the offing), and so on. The various painters of the plays (e. the Painter in Timon of Athens, and Fabian in Twelfth Night, whose name is derived from Fabius Pictor (‘painter’) as described in Plutarch) also represent this faculty.

 

Further evidence for OA as a precursor of FF is therefore the early episode of Pyrocles gazing in rapture, while in the house of Kerxenus, upon a portrait of the Duke and Duchess with their daughter Philoclea : ‘… both the parents’ eyes cast with a loving care upon their beautiful child, she drawn as well as it was possible art should counterfeit so perfect a workmanship of nature.’ (10-11). That is, the ego in the first stages of transformation is beginning to dwell on the given world recreated in the imagination, as described in the Gnostic tradition (Kerxenus), with Pyrocles (visual imagination) being identified with Basilius (ego) and Gynecia (universal love), all as devotees of Philoclea (given world).

 

Following The Golden Ass, the psyche here is the given world recreated therein: ‘As for my name, it shall be Cleophila, turning Philoclea into myself, as my mind is wholly turned and transformed into her.’ (Pyrocles, 17). Here is a typically fascinating episode (25- ):

 

In such friendly speeches they returned again to the desert of the two lodges [in Mantinea], where Cleophila [Pyrocles] desired Musidorus he would hide himself in a little grove where he might see how she could play her part; for there, she said, she was resolved to remain till, by some good favour of fortune, she might obtain the sight of her whom she bare continually in the eyes of her mind.

 

That is, the poem (Musidorus) on the page (grove) will evoke in the imagination of the reader (Cleophila) the given world (Philoclea). Cleophila now breaks into a sonnet, ‘which she had made since her first determination thus to change her estate: Transformed in show, but more transformed in mind &c.’ It could not be plainer. This is the first instance of many poems throughout OA, which signify the utter primacy of this form of the written word in the transformation described therein. They will reach a crescendo in Book 2, when the Special World is well and truly engaged.

 

Cleophila (Pyrocles) represents a faculty of the subject (Basilius), who will now be brought into the picture, consistently, through Dametas (poet). Dametas has been resting nearby, and is woken by Cleophila’s song (poetic faculty stimulated by given world recreated in the imagination). The sword or dagger bears always throughout FF the allegoric value of the phallos, and hence the will-to-eros, and, by extension, the will-to-life, and broader unseen world. Thus, Hamlet’s stabbing of Polonius (libido) through the arras (barrier between ego and unconscious) portrays the activation of the long-repressed libido in the ego of the schizophrenic, to plunge him into psychic chaos. This is also the point of the technique, common throughout FF, and used with great precision and power to turn the spotlight on the unseen world, of substituting ‘I’ for the expected ‘Ay’. So it is here, where Cleophila’s sword, drawn against Dametas in a contretemps, represents the unseen world engaged by the poet in the act of composition. Note carefully the choreography: Dametas now goes back to his lodge where Miso is busy inside with Pamela, and Mopsa appears at a window to talk with him (unseen world immanent in the world created in the woken imagination of the poet). He now goes to Basilius’ lodge, where Philoclea appears in the flimsiest of gowns (superficialities of the given world shed, so that the truth beneath may be engaged). Basilius follows Dametas, who is bristling with swords and weapons, to the grove, where he falls violently in love with Cleophila (poet stimulating love (Gynecia) of subject for imagination).

 

We come now to an extraordinary scene. There can be not the slightest doubt that its concern is with the theatre:

 

Round about the meadow, as if it had been to enclose a theatre, grew all such sorts of trees as either excellency of fruit, stateliness of growth, continual greenness, or poetical fancies have made at any time famous. In most part of which trees there had been framed by art such pleasant arbours that it became a gallery aloft, from one tree to the other, almost round about, which below yielded a perfect shadow…

 

- Where 'shadow' bears its familiar meaning of 'dream', 'imagined world': the world created on the stage. The lovers Cleophila-Philoclea and [Musi-]Dorus-Pamela are involved in incidents with a lion and a bear respectively. One immediately suspects that the lion may bear here the same allegoric value as in FF, of the Puritan world-view, the source of which was most plausibly the lion torn to pieces by Samson on his way to a tryst with the Philistine girl, and found later with honeycomb in its mouth, in Judges 14. Sir Francis Bacon referred to this in a petition to the House of Lords:

 

… if any of you will do posterity good, if out of the carcass of a dead and rotten lion, there may be honey gathered for the use of future times…

 

FF is above all a vehement excoriation of Puritanism, which was being enacted as allegory under the noses of the Puritans in the Globe theatre. The lion appears most memorably in FF in the names Posthumus Leonatus and Leontes, and makes an explicit appearance in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Always it signifies the Puritan error, which the subject must expunge completely from his psyche in the process of transformation. There can be no doubt at all that it also bears this value in OA, where it competes with Cleophila in a race to get to Philoclea, and is slain by him, consistently, with a sword (unseen world, the very principle which the Puritan denies, but which the Gnostic tradition celebrates). The suppression of the world recreated in the imagination (Philoclea) is a definitive trait of Puritanism. Cleophila initially strikes the bear in the shoulder; and is wounded in the shoulder himself. The two blows are to be identified, as will be the shoulder wounds in The Winter’s Tale (see below): the unseen world being engaged by the reasoning imagination of the Gnostic enquirer, to kill the Puritan in himself. It is evident therefore that there is an inward psychic dimension to OA, which points clearly toward the inner life of the author.

 

Similarly, the bear undoubtedly bears the same allegoric value as in FF, of the Gnostic/esoteric tradition. The bear was the sacred totem animal of Arcadia, whose name is derived from the Greek arkades, ‘people of the bear’. This is, needless to say, of immense relevance to the setting of OA. The motto of Renaissance Hermetism was ‘et in Arcadia ego’, ‘And I am in Arcady’, both in its geographical sense – the sacred river Alph, symbolic of the underground current of Gnosticism, was believed to gather in Arcady, to surface in Sicily; and allegorical, cryptic, sense: for ‘et in Arcadia ego’ is, famously, an anagram of ‘i tego arcana dei’, ‘Begone, I conceal the secrets of God’. This is the point of Poussin’s painting Et in Arcadia ego (Blake and Blezard, The Arcadian Cipher); while Goethe was a member of the Hermetic Academy of Rome, and adopted the motto as the epigram for his Italian Journey. The Merovingian dynasty of the Franks almost certainly had its origins in Arcady, via the Sicambrian Franks. There is strong evidence that Sigisbert VI, known as ‘Prince Ursus’ (<Latin, ‘bear’), and a lineal descendent of the Merovingian King Dagobert II, led an insurrection against Louis II of France in an attempt to re-establish on the throne the bloodline of Christ. (Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail; Genesis of the Grail Kings).

 

The word ‘Ormus’ had immense significance in the Hermetic tradition as a symbol and device. It occurs in certain Zoroastrian texts, where it symbolises the principle of light. There is a strong tradition of an heresiarch Ormus in 1C Alexandria, that great syncretistic crucible, who conferred on his followers the symbol of the red or rose cross: the cross of the Knights Templar, the Order of the Garter, and of Rosicrucianism. The word is an amalgam of the French or, orme, and ours, ‘gold’, ‘elm’ and ‘bear’ respectively. The device is framed by the letter M, which symbolises the constellation of Virgo, the Mother of Christ. Gold symbolised in alchemy the end result of the psychic transformation from baseness to nobility;.while the elm tree supports the vine in the later months of the year, and hence became the alma mater of the god Dionysius (Robert Graves, The White Goddess).

 

Whereas Cleophila kills the lion by a blow to its shoulder, Dorus plunges his dagger into the heart of the bear. This signifies that the unseen world is at the heart of the Gnostic tradition. The bear’s ‘death’ is the occasion for the birth of Pamela’s love for Dorus (unseen world celebrated in Gnostic poetry). The bear’s paw, held by Dorus after slicing it off, symbolises this written tradition. This will also be the meaning of the Titus’s auto-amputation of his hand in Titus Andronicus.

 

Bacon would remember OA when it came to the writing of The Winter’s Tale. There, Bohemia represents the living Gnostic tradition; Sicily, home of Leontes, the dead. The Bohemian bear that eats Antigonus (reason engaging the unseen world) bears the value of the Gnostic or esoteric or Christian cabalist or Neoplatonic tradition, as sustained by the unseen world. The bear initially seizes Antigonus by the shoulder; and Autolycus later complains of pain in the shoulder. It is evident that he is Antigonus reborn: the Gnostic tradition, which was outlawed in Bacon’s time (Autolycus is a thief in Homer). (See Ugly Dick for a full discussion).

 

The author of OA therefore conceived the theatre, well before the golden age of the Shakespearean drama, as the arena of a lethal assault on the Puritan error.

 

 

Eclogues

Five pastoral eclogues intermit the books of OA. They are not an organic part of the romance as allegory, yet are intimately related to it. For they are undoubtedly an expression of the author’s intention to create a new English poetry, largely modelled on the Greek, and based on its metres, a vast number of which are experimented with in the Eclogues’ many poems.

 

The influence of Greek on FF was be profound, far more so than appreciated by the critics: odd, for an author with ‘little Latin and less Greek’, as Ben Jonson observed of Shakspere.  It is evidenced by more than just the many neologistic names of Greek derivation, such as Othello, Ophelia, and Minola (see Ugly Dick); the frequent beginning of a sentence with ‘And’, to recall the Greek de, which occurs so often as the second word in a sentence, but in effect begins it; and the use of the phrase ‘So much for…’, to recall Aeschylus’ touton men outo in the Agamemnon 950. For there can be no doubt at all, I believe, that the ‘high style’ of FF – the style of the great speeches, the purest expression of the Shakespearean poetic genius – was inspired by Aeschylus, especially his great speeches, with their majestic and magical quadrisyllabic rhythm. Listen for example to the music of the following speech of Agamemnon, one of Aeschylus’ greatest heroes (Agamemnon, 914 ff.):

 

Ledas genethlon, domaton emon phylax,

apousiai men eipas eikotos emei,

makran gar exeteinas. all enaisimos

ainein, gar allon chre tod erchesthai geras.

 

Leda’s daughter, guardian of my home,

your greeting was indeed proper for my absence,

for you spoke at great length. But fitting praise

is a gift of honour that should be bestowed by others.

 

This is measured, magnificent, and intensely noble locution. The great Australian poet Christopher Brennan believed Aeschylus’ poetry to be the equal of Shakespeare’s, and it is hard to disagree. The author of FF was clearly saturated with the Greek tradition. What then was Jonson up to in the above quote? Telling the truth, I am sure.

 

Already a powerful case is being built up for the genius of FF to be either the same as the author of OA, or his most talented and devoted acolyte, who had determined to carry out the master’s plan after his death. The dates of Sidney’s death (1586) and Shakspere’s arrival in London (1587) are therefore clearly immensely difficult to reconcile with the orthodox view of the authorship of FF.

 

 

BOOK 2

 

This book sees a deepening of the loves of Cleophila (Pyrocles)-Philoclea,  Dorus (Musidorus)-Pamela, and Basilius and Gynecia for Cleophila. Concurrent with this is an increase in the frequency of poems, often in association with groves or trees: for the transformation of the subject (Basilius) is now well under way. A powerful allegorical technique of FF, the plays of Jonson, and the apocryphal plays, is the frequent substitution of ‘I’, symbolising the phallos and broader unseen world of nature, for the expected ‘Ay’. Needless to say, these are invariably altered in modern editions, and a facsimile FF is therefore indispensable for our appreciation of this as well as countless other aspects of the allegory. Here we may well have the first instance of the ‘I’ symbol in Elizabethan literature: ‘… but that only I, most wretched I, should become a plague unto myself…’ (Gynecia, 81). The written word as medium of the transformation is specifically alluded to in: ‘And thus did he duke … pass great time in writing of verses…’ (85).

 

The episode of Dorus making a show of wooing Mopsa, when Pamela, standing close by, is in truth the object of his affection (86-95), is a portrayal of poetry’s engagement with the unseen world (Pamela) – its primary purpose – through the prior celebration of the visible world recreated therein (Mopsa). Nowhere is this more so than in the sonnets of Petrarch, with his fervent love for Laura, with which Bacon was deeply familiar.

 

The enrichment and fertilisation by the unseen world of the imagined world of poetry is beautifully portrayed in the episode of Philoclea’s solitary musing in the chapel-like grove (96-7). On a ‘fair white marble stone’ (representing the blank page) therein, she had written a poem expressing her intention to preserve her chastity. Now however the writing has faded, and had the light allowed she would have written there instead a poem of agony for her new-awakened love for Cleophila. It could not be plainer.

 

The final episode of this second book is full of import as allegory. Cleophila woos Philoclea in the woods, and Gynecia, burning with love for Cleophila, whom she knows to be a man, joins them – all amid a welter of poems. Straight upon Gynecia’s arrival they are attacked by ‘an unruly sort of clowns’. These are, as allegory, the same clowns as will accost Dorus and Pamela in the forest in Book 4. Further, they are precisely the same clowns as appear throughout the Shakespeare plays – Yorick, Feste, and Lear’s fool, being three memorable examples. The words ‘fool’ and ‘fall’ have the same Germanic root; and the Fool bears immense significance in the esoteric tradition as the psyche in the early stages of transformation. This is the point of Lucius’ ass-disguise in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass; of the Fool card in the Tarot; and of Finnegan’s epoch-making fall from the ladder in James’ Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

 

The cave in which Pamela, Dametas, Miso and Mopsa hide during the attack is undoubtedly the cave of poetry, as sourced from Virgil’s Eclogue V, wherein Menalcas listens to Mopsus’ poem of the death and deification of Daphnis, who may stand for all transformed psyches. In OA, Dorus is poetising on a hill with Philisides (‘son of Philis [Phyllis]’) when he catches wind of the attack. The name ‘Philisides’ must refer to the poet Phyllis, who is mentioned in the same Eclogue: aut Phyllisidis ignis, ‘or Phyllis’ fire’, another reference in OA to the Pyrocles principle of the imagination. The shepherd’s crook which Dorus’ takes up to fight the clowns refers to the ‘pedumformosum paribus nodis et aere’, ‘the crook … handsome with matching knobs and brass’, which Mopsus awards Menalcas for his fine poem in Eclogue V. We recall that Dorus is wearing the clothes of Menalcas in OA. The author’s borrowing (or theft, as T.S. Eliot would insist) from his source is therefore premeditated and precise, in a way powerfully reminiscent of FF. It is all to signify that the subject is in the early stages of transformation, with the poet as his mentor, his Sybil or Gandalf or Obi-Wan-Kenobi.

 

 

 

BOOK 3

 

Basilius woos Cleophila, amid more poems in closely related yet different rhyme schemes: the author always exploring, trying, pushing the envelope of what has been the norm of English poetry. Cleophila goes to the cave, whose entry vault we now find to be beautified by ‘rich growing marble’, symbolic as in Philoclea’s grove of the page. She and Gynecia exchange more extraordinary poems, some with only one rhyme. Here is a celebration of the ‘black and fair’ Goddess of the esoteric tradition:

 

Since that the stormy rage of passions dark

(Of passions dark, made by beauty’s light)

With rebel force hath closed in dungeon dark

My mind ere now led forth by reason’s light;

 

Since all the things which give mine eyes their light

Do foster still the fruit of fancies dark,

So that the windows of my inward light

Do serve to make my inward powers dark;

 

Since, as I say, both mind and senses dark

Are hurt, not helped, by piercing of the light;

While that the light may show the horrors dark,

But cannot make resolved darkness light;

I like this place where, at the least, the dark

May keep my thoughts from thought of wonted light.

 

In the cave is ‘enticed the melancholy mind of Cleophila to yield herself over there to the flood of her own thoughts’. This is also the melancholy of Melancholy Jacques in As You Like It, who represents Shakspere as reader from 1587-9 approx., in the early stages of his transformation through the ministry of Sir Francis Bacon. This is not melancholy negativised as in the pages of Galen, but rather as celebrated in the Gnostic tradition as a prime requirement for psychic growth (see especially Albrecht Durer’s engraving Melencolia I).

 

Dorus’ ploys to get the family out of the way while he elopes with Pamela are masterpieces of symbolism, ancestors of so many of their kind in FF. Dametas’ weak point is his greed: and his digging for gold beneath the oak recalls of course the similar actions of Timon in Timon of Athens and Aaron in Titus Andronicus, as well as their likely precursor, Parsifal digging for edible roots in the eponymous Grail saga. The gold and life-giving roots symbolise the riches to be gained from engagement with the underworld as described in the written word. The object of Dametas’ search is indeed identified here with the word, for as he digs he comes upon: ‘a stone—a stone, God knows, full unlike to the cover of a monument, but yet there was the cypress box with Aristomenes graven upon it, and these verses written in it…’ The stone is most plausibly symbolic here of the Tables of Destiny enclosed in the Ark of the Covenant, on which was inscribed the Word of God. This is also the symbolism of the Page (page) holding up the empty box at Pedringano’s hanging in (Kyd’s? Bacon’s) The Spanish Tragedy, and the stones in the episode in FF of Timon’s last supper in Athens. This Aristomenes is plausibly the Aristomenus, companion of Lucius, in Apuleius’ esoteric masterpiece The Golden Ass.

 

Miso’s vulnerability lies in her jealousy.  Dorus spins her a tale of how in Mantinea he spied Dametas wooing Charitas, extravagantly praising her beauty in a sonnet. Miso, fired with vengeance, mounts her mare and rides her furiously to Mantinea. We recall the tale in myth of how the blind seer Teiresias was called upon to judge which of Aphrodite and the three Charites (Graces) was the most beautiful. He chose Cale, one of the three Charites, whereupon Aphrodite turned him into an old woman. There can be no doubt that Dametas is to be identified here as a Teiresias-type, master of the inward vision: yet another instance in OA. Teiresias appears also most memorably in FF as the blind Gloucester, that aspect of the ego-in-transformation (Lear) which imagines the given world. Miso on her horse predicts the frequent symbolism in FF of the horse-and-rider as the libido in action (e.g. Falstaff riding up Gads Hill), the source of which can only have been the famous Socratic metaphor in Plato’s Phaedrus.  Miso is here an Aphrodite-type, with her underworld aspect upstage. The author may have been especially thinking of ass-phase Lucius’ erotic adventures in The Golden Ass, which would provide the model for Falstaff’s germane escapades in The Merry Wives of Windsor. The libido stands here as in FF for the broader unseen world.

 

Dorus exploits Mopsa’s curiosity. He tells her a ‘far-fet’ tale of a tree and Apollo’s capacity to grant a wish. She must climb the tree, wrapped in a cloak so that her face is not visible, and remain silent, only to come down and respond after she hears the god call her tree times. It is Dametas who calls her, and she falls down from the tree, shedding her cloak in the process. Miso comes upon them, foaming with jealousy, and mistakes Mopsa for Charitas, grabbing her by the throat. Dametas appeases her and parts them.

 

This is a tightly wrought set-piece, akin in its symbolic richness and allegorical significance to its many cousins in FF. Firstly, we remember that Ariel in The Tempest is born from a tree; and I have shown in Ugly Dick that she bears precisely the same allegoric weight as Mopsa, of nature recreated and worked on in the imagination. The trees in TT and OA bear their invariable symbolic weight of the written word. Mopsa however is cloaked and silent, until Dametas (poet) brings her down. Her silence is closely germane to that of Cordelia, Hero, Hippolyta, and Lavinia, as signifying that the given world does not speak to the Puritan subject (Basilius). This is reinforced by the cloak, which emphasises the visual principle in her representation. Prospero, in a closely germane episode, also brings Ariel down from her tree in TT. Mopsa uncloaked and voluble therefore represents the song of nature as recreated in the imagination. The brawl of Miso and Mopsa represents the conflict felt in the Puritan ego between nature as they (mis-) conceive it and the underworld, which they anathematise and deny (the witch-hunts were a vicious expression of this). It is the poet’s task to appease this conflict, by showing that the underworld is in truth a constitutive dimension of nature, to be valued as such and engaged.

 

Having achieved his end of getting her family out of the way, Dorus sets out with Pamela on their journey to Thessaly. They stop to spend the night in a wood (the written word, as always). No less than five poems make it clear just what is happening on the plane of allegory. Pamela falls asleep, and Dorus contemplates her beauty, and is moved to have his way with her. This scene has offended some commentators, including C.S Lewis, who had an impossibly idyllic view of OA. However, it was absolutely necessary for the allegory to have her wake from sleep, to represent the evocation of the unseen world by the poem. It is a band of roguish clowns that wakes her, having accosted them. These are precisely the same clowns as appeared in Book 1, bearing the esoteric allegoric value of the Fool, as the ego in the earliest stages of transformation (see above). The fight between the clowns and Dorus, and then their appeasement, signifies the initiate battling to appreciate a poem, and succeeding. In Book 4 three of the clowns will be crucified on a hill: a graphic reference to the crucifixion, which will see the initiate die on the cross of poetry to be reborn into Christlikeness. FF also is full of the imagery of Gnostic Christianity, or Christian Cabalism: for example, Hubert cradling the body of Arthur in King John IV, iii (mater dolorosa: see for example Michelangelo’s Pieta).

 

The author interweaves the Dorus-Pamela story with Cleophila’s plan to neutralise the unwanted affections of Basilius and Gynecia: for they represent two aspects of precisely the same process, as enlightenment gradually comes to the ego-in-transformation, with the help of poetry. We turn now to Cleophila and Gynecia, who have a long dialogue in the cave, with the latter aflame with love. This is the cave of poetry, as we have seen; and the scene portrays the burning passion of the initiate for his new-found faculty of the imagination.

 

Cleophila plots to have Basilius and Gynecia spend the night together in the cave, each thinking Cleophila to be his/her lover, while she is in fact in Philoclea’s chamber. Book 3 ends in another burst of poetry, as the love of Cleophila and Philoclea is consummated. 

 

 

 

BOOK 4

 

Dametas has found only some verses written on vellum at the bottom of the pit where he has been digging for gold. The mode of his return, ‘forced he was (his horse being otherwise burdened with digging instruments) to return as he came, most part of the way on foot’ (230), symbolises the initiate’s victory over the libido or broader unseen world (horse). This is also the point of the half-starved dog in Durer’s Melencolia I.  The poetry is the gold, of course, on the plane of allegory. Mopsa’s descent from the tree (232) suggests both the hawk as symbol of the esoteric tradition (see above), and Ariel:

 

But when he had named her the third time, no chime can more suddenly follow the striking of a clock than she … throwing her arms abroad, and not considering she was muffled upon so high a tree, came fluttering down like a hooded hawk, like enough to have broken her neck, but that the tree, full of boughs, tossed her from one bough to another, and lastly well bruised brought her to receive an unfriendly salutation of the earth.

 

It is, consistently, Dametas (poet) who locks Cleophila (imagination) and Philoclea (psyche) in the chamber, leaving no weapon (sword: phallos) therein (again, victory of initiate over unseen world). Basilius has spent the night with Gynecia in the cave, fooled into thinking her Cleophila. They quarrel in the morning, and are reconciled, to the song of another poem (initiate’s love for poetry). Gynecia has brought with her a love potion in a cup of gold engraved with verses (the symbolism is clear) given to her by her mother in Cyprus. She has never used it, and is therefore ignorant of its true effects. Basilius drinks it down on leaving the cave, and collapses, seemingly dead. This anticipates, of course, the potion drunk by Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which has precisely the same allegoric function, of portraying death and rebirth: in R&J of the Goddess or given world, in OA of the hero himself. For Basilius will rise from his shroud in the final in the final scene. Gynecia will broadcast her guilt for all to hear: for it is the love for poetry and the imagination (Cleophila (Pyrocles), whose gown Gynecia still wears) that has wrought the change: the crucifix on which the resurrection has come). Consistently, a poem accompanies the lamentations of the shepherds.

 

The various captains in FF represent the wit and wisdom which has newly enriched the formerly barren and Puritan ego. Here is they are now bearing that same symbolic value, at least ten years before:

… he [Philanax] placed garrisons in all the towns and villages anything near the lodges, over whom he appointed captains of such wisdom and virtue as might not only with the force of their soldiers keep the inhabitants from outrage, but might impartially look to the discipline  both of the men of war and people.

 

The name ‘Philanax’ is formed from the Greek for ‘I love’ and anax, a lord or master, being applied especially to the gods Apollo and Zeus in Homer. It most plausibly means ‘lover of Apollo [as god of poetry]’. The region from which the inflamed shepherds had come to threaten the party in Book 1, and which Philanax now occupies, is called Phagonia, derived from the Greek phagos, ‘glutton’, a reference to the initiate’s insatiable hunger for enlightenment. Dametas ‘lights from his horse’ to kneel by he body: another reference to the victory over the unseen world as symbolised by the horse.

 

Another common dramatic technique of FF is to return the action to square one as the transformation is almost complete, and then have it emerge fully achieved, to intensify the sense of change. In the Journey of the Hero, to which genre OA and FF both belong, this stage is The Road Back, which is often fraught with peril, as the old despised life makes a last bid for the soul of the Hero (see Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey, Pan, 1998). Thus it is that Philanax imprisons Dametas with his wife and daughter to await the trial of Book 5.

 

Dametas has locked Cleophila and Philoclea in the latter’s chamber, and taken away the former’s sword. Cleophila, on perceiving their plight, tries to kill himself by driving an iron bar through his chest, but is prevented by the entreaties of  Philoclea. This is a variant of the ‘return to square one’ technique, where the iron bar is cognate with the sword, the end result being, on the plane of allegory, the enlightened ego’s victory over the unseen world. The long dialogue of the two lovers in the chamber represents the striving of the imagination (Cleophila) to recreate the given world (Philoclea), as induced by the poet (Dametas).

 

The narrative now reverts to Musidorus and Pamela, who were left facing the threat of the villainous clowns in the wood. Musidorus places Pamela against a tree, and stands before her, with sword drawn, to protect her. This icon is divisible into two, bearing the same meaning: the poem (Musidorus) describing the unseen world (sword); and the page (tree) also describing it, here deified as the Queen of Hell. He sallies out to attack, with the result that one clown loses his head (beheading is an esoteric symbol of psychic rebirth: cf. for example the witches’ prophecy in Macbeth), while another has the sword rammed down his throat (initiate now acquiring the verbal tools to engage the unseen world). A clown now holds a dagger to Pamela’s throat, threatening to kill her, and Musidorus immediately drops his sword. The author is here making the point en passant that hostility to the underworld will rob the poem of this its most important dimension. Musidorus’ ‘… it is I, it is I, that have done you the wrong’ (267) would seem to be another instance of the ‘I’ symbol. The clowns place the two on horses (underworld dimension active again in poem), and ‘having decked their heads with laurel branches, as thinking they had done a notable act, singing and shouting, ran by them in hope to have brought them the same day again to the duke.’ (269). The laurel recalls of course the Apollonian poetic crown.

 

Musidorus decides that, for safety, he and Pyrocles should now adopt the aliases they had decided on for such an emergency, namely, Palladius (himself) and Timopyrus (Pyrocles). The allegory is now decisively returning to square one: for ‘Timopyrus’ is an inversion of ‘Pyrocles’, meaning ‘I fear fire’ (< Latin timeo, I fear); while Palladius is most plausibly a reference to the author (4C A.D.) of Opus agriculturae, a treatise on farming, which was a standard text in the Middle Ages, and might easily have been in the library of the great house of the author’s upbringing. The first thirteen books are in prose, while the fourteenth, on the grafting of trees, is in elegiac verse. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (1Ed) observes: ‘His prose style is jejune; his verses are metrically faultless, but monotonous and of limited vocabulary.’ He would therefore seem to be the very type of the mechanistic technical writer, utterly devoid of imagination and lacking the tools of poetry. Moreover, the subject of his poem is the tree, that key symbol in OA and FF of the written word, whose magic yet escapes him. Fascinatingly, we recall the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mechanistic speech on the beehive in Henry the Fifth, which has a closely germane import: for the bee was a key symbol of the esoteric tradition, with its origins in Lower Kingdom Egypt. The tomb of King Childeric ( ) contained no less than three hundred miniature bees made of solid gold. (See Ugly Dick p.201 for more detail).

 

Philanax, consistently with his allegorical value as ‘lover of Apollo [as god of poetry]’ holds the princes, whom he knows only as Palladius and Timopyrus, in confinement in preparation for the trial where, in a typically adroit structural touch, they will be condemned, only to have their true selves revealed, to be pardoned in glory (final rejection by the initiate of the ways of his old ego, and embracing of the new).

Kerxenus reappears with his countrymen the Mantineans. He knows Palladius and Timopyrus for their true selves, and, consistently, urges their release and marriages to the princesses and elevation to the rule of Arcadia (Gnostic tradition upholding poetry and the imagination as illuminatory of the unseen world). Philanax rejects the evil Timautus’ proposal to share the kingdom with him. There can be no doubt that Timautus (< Latin timeo, ‘I fear’, and Greek autos, ‘self’) represents the fear of the self, which Jung has defined as comprising the conscious ego and collective unconscious (unseen world of the psyche). Once again the personal, psychic aspect of the unseen world is emphasised; and this will be intricately and massively elaborated in the plays of Shakespeare as allegory, which represent, as I have shown as exhaustively as possible in Ugly Dick, the true inauguration of Western depth psychology as a formal discipline, some three centuries before Freud and Jung. Timautus therefore portrays a key aspect of the Puritan ego, with its denial of the unseen dimension.

 

 

 

BOOK 5

 

Euarchus, king of Macedon and father of Pyrocles, whom he has not seen for many years, arrives in Acadia. It is he who will sit in judgement on the alleged conspirators. His name means ‘good rule’; and his allegoric value is of the Gnostic ego, with its propensity for visualisation (Pyrocles). It is this ego-state that will be responsible for the rebirth of the subject (Basilius). The (fiery) torch carries always in FF the value of the imagination; and so the following passage is full of meaning on the plane of allegory (308):

 

[Philanax], honourably accompanied with a great number of torches, went to the king Euarchus, whom he found taking his rest under a tree with no more affected pomps than as a man that knew, howsoever he was exalted, the beginning and end of his body was earth.).

 

In other words, Euarchus is a type of the Gnostic noble, whose God is the immanent transcendent divinity, involved with the earth yet separate from it. ‘Cleave a piece of wood and I am there; lift a stone and I am there’, says Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas. His virtue is clear: ‘Euarchus did not further exceed his meanest subject with the greatness of his fortune than he did surmount the greatness of his fortune with the greatness of his mind.’ (309). His allegorical role is made explicit (310):

 

These rightly wise and temperate considerations moved Euarchus to take this laboursome journey, to see whether by his authority he might withdraw Basilius from this burying himself alive, and to return again to employ his old years in doing good, the only happy action of man’s life.

 

In her confinement before the trial, Gynecia is riven with conflict and self-accusation: ‘At some times again the very heaviness of her imaginations would close up her senses to a little sleep; but then did her dreams become her tormentors.’ She has ‘a little lamp’ beside her in her room. The lamp bears throughout FF the same value as the torch, of the imagination. Gynecia represents here the aspect of the subject that is now in love with the imagination, and undergoing thereby the painful process of transformation, where the old ego, with all its comforts and habits and refuges, must be sloughed off, taking with it the living skin, which will grow back stronger than ever. Jesus says, in the Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas: ‘Perhaps people think that I have come to impose peace upon the world. They do not know that I have to impose conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war.  For there will be five in a house: there will be three against two and two against three, father against son, and son against father, and they will stand alone.’ (trans. Marvin Meyer, Harper Collins, 1992).

 

Pamela and Philoclea, immured together, grow closer than ever, and write letters of self-exculpation, which will appear at a critical moment in the trial, bearing the value of the Gnostic written word. Pyrocles and Musidorus, accompanied by a poem, engage in a long philosophical dialogue (imagination coming to grips with poem, to the end of the growth of wisdom). Kerxenus brings them in gaol their princely apparel and jewels. The occult nature of the Gnostic tradition, in the long centuries after its vicious suppression by the early Christian church, is suggested by the anonymity of the gift, Kerxenus being forbidden to enter the prison: ‘they accepted their own with great thankfulness, knowing from whence it came…’ (323). The identification of Euarchus and Basilius is suggested by the emphasis on the throne of judgement where Euarchus will sit being Basilius’ (324).

 

Gynecia is sentenced to be buried alive with her supposedly dead husband (love for transformation an essential quality of initiate). The speeches for and against the accused are of extraordinary deliberation and sophistication, so much so that one must conclude the author to have been deliberately exercising a developing legal mind. Euarchus’ and Basilius’ musings about statecraft similarly suggest a preoccupation, even passion, for this aspect of public life.

 

During the prosecution of the princes, letters from Pamela and Philoclea are brought to Philanax, who however refuses to read them. They represent the written word as founded on engagement with the unseen world. One recalls – one instance among a vast number – the letter from Maria (another Queen of Hell) in Twelfth Night IV, iii. The reason for Philanax’s refusal lies in the allegoric identity here of the princes as their opposites, namely the Palladius and Timopyrus principles; for it is not the Gnostic written word that is in question here, but its (Puritan or Roman Catholic) travesty. The princes as Palladius and Timopyrus are sentenced to death (ego-in-transformation condemning his old ways). The former is to be beheaded by Dametas, who is sentenced to perform this office for the rest of his days (poem will be reborn in hands of true poet); while Timopyrus is to be hurled from a high tower (reluctant ego forced to imagine, and so dive into underworld to engage it).

 

Musidorus is about to speak on behalf of Pyrocles when Kerxenus runs up to the throne, open-mouth, asking that Kalodoulus from Thessaly be heard, to reveal the true identities of the prisoners. ‘Kalodoulus’ means in Greek ‘beautiful slave’. What can be his role here? We remember that when Musidorus (poem) took Menalcas’ (poet’s) clothes, he gave him two stone tablets (Word of God) and ordered him back to Thessaly, where he should be detained by Kalodoulus. It is specifically stated that: ‘Musidorus … became a slave to affection [for Pamela]’ (353). He and Kalodoulos are therefore to be identified, as a slave to the Queen of Hell, Goddess of the Underworld, to whose welfare he will be devoted. Further, it is clear that it is through the mouth of the poem (Musidorus/Kalodoulus) that the Gnostic tradition (Kerxenus) is speaking. Why this emphasis on poetry, rather than philosophy or history? We need only look to Sidney’s (???) Apology for Poetry (1580), where a powerful argument is made for poetry as better philosophy than philosophy, better history than history.

 

Finally, Basilius rises from his death-shroud, in a graphic portrayal of the rebirth of the subject. For Gynecia did not appreciate the true effect of the potion, whose allegoric value is beautifully described. It had been first made by Gynecia’s grandmother, a princess of Cyprus, to the purpose of inveigling a young gentleman of the court into marrying her. Given the potion, he fell into a sleep as if dead, to be carried into her garden, where she lovingly tended him, with the result that when he awoke could not resist her proposal of marriage.

 

The word ’paradise’ is from the Persian for ‘walled enclosure’, ‘orchard’, and is used of course in the Bible of the Garden of Eden. The theme of the gardener as cognate with the alchemist was central to the broadly Gnostic (Neoplatonic or Christian Cabalist or, more pertinently, Rosicrucian or Masonic) tradition. There are many gardens in the Shakespeare plays. Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh in their The Elixir and the Stone quote an illustrative passage from Prest’s The Garden of Eden:

 

… the value of a botanic garden was that it conveyed a direct knowledge of God.  Since each plant was a created thing, and God had revealed a part of himself in each thing that he had created, a complete collection of all things created by God must reveal God completely. Given the supposed relation between the macrocosm and the microcosm, the man who knew nature best knew most about himself.

 

This emphasis on the inward, psychological dimension is of great relevance to OA, as we have seen, and also of course FF. The initiate (Basilius) has come to know God, though certainly not as conceived by the Roman Catholic Church. The transformation is complete.

 

 

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

The critics have recognised the many similarities between OA and the plays of Shakespeare, but only on the literal plane. The close relation of their allegories has escaped them, unsurprisingly, for a knowledge of the themes and techniques of FF is necessary properly to decipher the earlier work. There can be no doubt that the author of FF either is the same as the author of OA, or was his most talented and devoted acolyte, who had determined to carry out the master’s plan after his death. The dates of Sidney’s death (1586) and Shakspere’s arrival in London (1587) are therefore clearly immensely difficult to reconcile with the orthodox view of the authorship of FF.

 

There can be no doubt also that the author of OA, still a young man, harboured immense ambitions as a statesman, a lawyer, a philosopher, and a poet. Given Sidney’s passion for the life of action; the points adduced by Edward George Harman (Edmund Spenser and the Impersonations of Francis Bacon, Constable and Co., London, 1914) and others that compellingly argue against his talent for the pen; and the incontrovertible proof I have given in Ugly Dick for Sir Francis Bacon as the genius behind the plays of Shakespeare, responsible for their conception and planning, and author of their renowned high style, philosophical wealth, and linguistic richness; then the possibility of Bacon as author of OA, as his youthful artistic manifesto, in the years following his return from his four year sojourn on the continent, which had inspired him to create the English language as a vehicle for the highest art, in the manner of Dante and the French, – must be conceded to be very great indeed. OA has a strong inner psychic dimension, as we have seen;, which suggests, providing a precious and fascinating insight into the inner life of Bacon as a young man, that the world of poetry was the milieu of his own Journey of the Hero away from the corruptive and enfeebling Puritanism of his mother (see below). Certainly, there are strong indications in the surviving biographical records that Bacon's life was marked by episodes of anxiety and (relatively minor) psychic collapse, which may have given him a sympathy with the young Will Shakspere, who would present to him in 1587 with a full-blown Puritanism-induced breakdown, the aetiology, pathogenesis, crisis, and successful treatment of which would form the substance of the FF allegory. 

 

The introduction of the esoteric philosophical theme of Grail-Ark identity, figured in the statue of Melchizedek in the north porch of Chartres Cathedral (see Graham Hancock’s The Sign and the Seal), and allegorised in Timon’s last supper in Athens (see Ugly Dick Chs.36 and 44), strongly indicates that Bacon must have gained in Europe a very thorough instruction in the Gnostic tradition – most plausibly in its incarnation as Freemasonry. A key feature of this tradition was its penchant for allegory – an absolutely necessary strategy when a culture or peoples is under threat of extinction, as the Old Testament atbash cipher and the Enigma machine of World War II graphically show. At the time of writing of OA, the Gnostic tradition was being threatened with annihilation by the powers of ignorance – the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant Puritanism – just as it had been since the rasing of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., which had resulted in the diaspora of the Jewish high priests to form the great families of Europe, from whose bosom came the Knights Templar, agents of retrieval of the Jewish patrimony from the Jerusalem Temple from 1118-1127, whence they passed to Sir William St. Clair, founder of Freemasonry in 1446, to be concealed again beneath Rosslyn Chapel. (A key theme of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is that they may now lie beneath the pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre.)

 

Why then did Bacon find it necessary to co-opt Sir Philip Sidney into providing the first mask of his authorship? Certainly, a potent reason must have been the strong Puritanism of Bacon’s mother (or foster-mother) Lady Anne Bacon. He may well have been afraid that the narrative, with its eroticism, even pardoning of attempted rape, would have shocked her. If the allegory had been discovered and published, the effects on their relationship could have been lethal, such is the vehemence of its anti-Puritan message, as we have seen. A close study of the life of Sidney may well suggest other reasons. We shall see.                              

 

 

 

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