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Re: No Fear Shakespeare

Posted by ESC on November 24, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Macedon and Monmouth posted by Lotg on November 24, 2004

: : : : : : : Does anyone know where the saying "As different as Macedon and Monmouth" originated from?

: : : : : :
: : : : : : I've found it! It's from Shakespeare's Henry V.

: : : : : Thanks for posting and letting us know.

: : : : Pardon me for being a dunce, but lacking a copy at hand of Henry V, I don't know whether there's any significance in this choice of place names. Is it just that both start with M, but are very far apart geographically? SS

: : : does it mean the same as "as different as mastedon and mammoth".

: : I suppose it might to an archaeologist. However, most lay folk would not know the difference between a mastodon and a mammoth, so it might tend suggest similarity. What is the source of this phrase?

: Smokey, there does appear to be significance in the choice of place names in Henry V. Although rather than the comparison indicating how different they are - as I would have expected given you can't get much more different than Macedon (as in Macedonia) and Monmouth (as in the UK), it appears to me that Shakespeare is using the example to indicate how alike they are. Which if taken in context, does make sense. Here's a passage that might clarify:

: "I tell you, captain, if you look in the maps of the 'orld, I warrant you shall find, in the comparisons between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon, and there is also moreover a river at Monmouth: it is called Wye at Monmouth; but it is out of my prains what is the name of the other river; but 'tis all one, 'tis alike as my fingers is to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. If you mark Alexander's life well, Harry of Monmouth's life is come after it indifferent well; for there is figures in all things."
: (Captain Fluellen to Captain Gower, King Henry V, Act IV Scene VII)

"No Fear Shakespeare" from sparksnotes.com --

(Modern text version)

FLUELLEN
I think that Macedon is indeed where Alexander was born. I tell you, Captain, if you look at a map of the world, I'll bet you will find, comparing Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, see, are very similar. There is a river in Macedon, and there is likewise a river in Monmouth. The river in Monmouth is called Wye, but the name of the other river has gone out of my head. Nevertheless, it's all one-the two rivers are as alike as my fingers are to my fingers, and there are salmon in both. If you look closely at Alexander's life, Harry of Monmouth's stands up fairly well by comparison -for there are analogies in everything. Alexander, God knows and you know, in his rages and his furies and his wraths and his angers and his moods and his displeasures and his indignations, and also being a little the worse for drink, killed his best friend Cleitus in a drunken rage, see.