All 577 entries tagged Jonson

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December 31, 2007

You hear me brief.

i.e. That’s all I have to say.  

Note the potential for word-play on the meaning of ‘brief’: (a) succinctly; (b) 'a summary of the facts of a case, with reference to the points of law supposed to be applicable to them, drawn up for the instruction of counsel conducting the case in court' (  Volpone has concisely summarised the key facts of the case before the Avocatori.

since we all can hope | Nought but a sentence, let’s not now despair it.

Since we can all only but hope for a sentence upon me, let’s not make it a disappointing one (an ‘ironic hyperbole’, as Brian Parker puts it, 288).


A willing cuckold


A mythical three-natured beast (traditionally part lion, part goat, part serprent) (Parker ed., 288).


(a) menial servant; (b) rogue (Parker ed., 288).

my substance shall not glue you, | Nor screw you, into a family.

My riches shall not be used to insinuate you into a good family by either sympathy (O.E.D., glue, 2) or guile […]. (Parker ed., 288).

Your match

Mosca’s marital match with the daughter of the socially ambitious 4 Avocatore.

Whipped? | And lose all that I have? If I confess, | It cannot be much more.

Volpone conjectures that his full legal punishment cannot be much worse than being whipped for insolence and losing all his ‘substance’, possessions, and indeed pride, to Mosca; as such, he resolves to reveal his identity, regardless of the punitive consequences.

I humbly thank your fatherhoods.

Mosca ingratiates himself to the Avocatori; consider the subsequent resonance of Volpone’s line, ‘I thank you for him’, at V. xii. 115.

I am silent; ‘twas not this | For which you sent, I hope.

I will be silent; it was not silence for which you sent, I assume.  i.e. the Avocatori sent for Mosca so that he could speak to them and thereby clear the ‘misty’ confusion. 

Note the potential interpretation of this threat of silence as a parodying of Iago’s oath at the close of Othello, when he swears that ‘From this time forth [he] never will speak word’ (V.ii.304).

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