Monday, January 12, 2015

Shenanigans with the Original "Hamlet"

So, I really need to be working on my senior thesis right now.  I'm writing a commentary of the original "Hamlet" story, which was written down in Latin in the middle ages by a funny man named Saxo Grammaticus.

Yes, you heard that right.  Things written in Latin can be funny. 

So, in an effort both to entertain and to warm myself up for an evening of work on this thing, I present to you:

What Shakespeare Didn't Tell You:  The Original "Hamlet" and His Original Shenanigans

1. In which Hamlet keeps people from detecting his sanity and also inspires an Old Spice commercial:  "Having been ordered to mount his horse, he arranged himself with cunning, so that his own back was turned to the horse's neck, and so that he was facing its tail.  He then proceeded to encircle the tail with the reins, as if he were going to check the speed of the rushing horse with that part. In this exceedingly clever way he evaded his uncle's tricks." 

2.  In which the Horatio-character harnesses the full potential of stinging insects:  "(In an attempt to warn Hamlet that he is being spied upon) he found a piece of straw on the ground and carefully tied it to the tail of a wasp that was flying past.  Then he herded that particular wasp into the place where he knew Hamlet was.  And by this feat he did the prince a great favor.... When Hamlet saw the wasp and the piece of straw it carried on its tail, having watched it with curiosity, he understood that it was a silent warning to beware of some trickery." 

3.  In which Hamlet is kind enough to cook Polonius before feeding him to the pigs:  "After cutting the body up into little parts, he cooked it in boiling water, and tossed them through the mouth of the sewer for the pigs to eat." 

4. In which we learn about a mysterious Danish mourning ritual:  "When he was leaving, he secretly ordered his mother to decorate the court with woven knots, and to carry out funerary rites for him for a year."  (What????) 

5.  In which Hamlet is an enterprising little trickster:  "Not content to escape execution himself and transfer the death sentence onto others, he added to the letter a request that the king of England marry his daughter to the exceedingly sensible youth who was being sent to him." 

6.  Did I mention that Hamlet's daddy was a pirate?  No word yet on whether this is as interesting as it sounds or if it's simply the case that everybody who was anybody in Scandanavia at this time was into piracy.


7.  In which Hamlet fills some sticks with gold for No Discernible Reason.   

8.  In which Hamlet gets half the nobles of Denmark to fall into a drunken stupor, ties up the other half in a blanket, locks them all inside the castle, and burns them alive.

And many more, but now it's time for me to go try my hand at elucidating this crazy tale.  Wish me luck! 


  1. Sounds like Shakespeare, uh, had no end of inspiration to draw from for his play. However did he pick and choose? <.<


  3. Oh, to be sure, everyone who's anyone at any point in history is always into crime...