Man in the moon

Posted by ESC on October 18, 2005

In Reply to: Man in the moon posted by RD on October 12, 2005

: Can someone please site for me the earliest known date for the phrase "Man in the moon?" I know Benjamin Franklin used it c1776, but I would assume it was in use far earlier.

I was looking through my notes for something else, and found this:

Googling "Midsummer Night's" "man in the moon" yields up several sites including:

"Thus, Robin Starveling appears in the final act of the play as the Man-in-the-Moon, showing Shakespeare's dexterity in playing with all of the cultural representations that coalesce around a single image: From slender, virgin huntress to full, ripe mother to dark, mysterious crone to comical man-in-the moon, Shakespeare represents the moon in its full complexity." From Cliffs Notes online: "A Silver Bow, New Bent in Heaven": Moon Imagery in A Midsummer Night's Dream at

"Some say the man in the moon is a man leaning on a fork, on which he is carrying a bundle of sticks picked up on a Sunday. The origin of this fable is from the Bible (Numbers xv, verse 32-36). A dog is sometimes added as in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream:

'This man with lantern, dog, and bush of Thora, presenteth moonshine." (v, i).
While in yet another folktale, written tradition says that the man in the moon is Cain along with his dog and a thorn bush. Cain was banished to the moon for killing his brother Abel. The thorn bush is emblematic of the thorns and briars of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and the dog represents the foul serpent." The Moon In Folklore by Virginia Marin, published December 6, 2000 .