Posted by GPP on October 12, 2003
In Reply to: THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH posted by ESC on October 12, 2003
: : Among the COURT COMEDIES of JOHN LYLY, which were published in 1632 by EDWARD BLOUNT, after he dug up his tomb in the Churchyard of St. Bartholomew the Less in London, located near what is now the Strand, is a reference to the above subject, although the word "ITCH" is not used. In the second Act of the Play, ENDYMION, which is Greek for "THE MAN IN THE MOON", starting at line 12, ENDYMION states:
: : "Wouldst thou have me vowed only to thy beauty, and consume every minute of my time in thy service? Remember my solitary life, ALMOST THESE SEVEN YEARS! Whom have I entertained but my own thoughts , and thy virtues? What company have I used but contemplation?"
: : Act III, scene 4, Line 52, EUMENIDES says:
: : "How art thou perplexed! Recall to mind the beauty of thy sweet mistress, and the depth of thy never dying affections! How often hast thou honored her, not only without spot , but suspicion of falsehood! And how hardly has she rewarded thee, without cause or color of despite! How secret hast thou been these seven years, that hast not, nor once darest not, to name her for discontenting her. How faithfull! You that have offered to die for her, to please her."
: : Thus after seven years, the itch comes, and he must find someone else.
: Interesting. Did you read the previous discussions in the archives -- under "itch"?
Lyly was 1554?-1606. Aside from the Biblical and/or mystical significance of seven, think just of the word's euphony in English--it's the only two-syllable number until you get to thirteen. As an experiment, read both of these two passages aloud, and then try substituting either 'six' or 'eight'. It pretty much ruins the flow. Then compare just the sound of the soft 'seven' with the much harsher 'six', or 'eight', or 'thirteen', for instance.
I'd guess this is just euphony, plain and simple, with no real need for allusion (but taking whatever it might get).