One of these men is genius to the other
And so of these, which is the natural man
And which the spirit? Who deciphers them? --A Comedy of Errors
Critics have dismissed The Comedy of Errors as the shortest and slightest of Shakespeare's works; a silly product of his youth; a piece of fluff unworthy of serious consideration. It is ironic critics should have seen nothing in this profoundly esoteric play, but it is understandable. Since the dramatist holds the mirror up to nature, if there is nothing in the minds the mirror is held up to, nothing is reflected back.
In a previous essay I showed there was an Orphic allegory in Twelfth Night. In the present essay I will show there is an Orphic allegory in The Comedy of Errors. The Comedy of Errors was performed during the 1594 Christmas season at Gray's Inn. Twelfth Night was performed at Middle Temple during the Christmas season of 1602. The reason the Orphic allegory is present in both is somewhat of a puzzle. The solution throws light both on the play and on the author of the play. Why did the author of these plays deem it apropos that plays linked to Orpheus be performed during the Christmas season?
Referring to the secret of warfare, Patton quoted a Frenchman who said, "'l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace." The author of the Shakespeare plays was also fighting a war a war against ignorance. I can only marvel at his audacity. Some of the people present at the performance of the play were Queen Elizabeth, The Lord Keeper, The Earls of Shrewsbury, Cumberland, Northumberland, Southampton, and Essex; the Lords Buckhurst, Windsor, Mountjoy, Sheffield, Compton, Rich, Burleigh, Mounteagle, Sir Thomas Howard, Sir Thomas Heneage, and Sir Robert Cecil. There were learned people presence. There were also enemies of Francis Bacon present. Some of the people present belonged to both categories. If they had understood why it was apropos that this particular play be performed during the Christmas season it could have meant not only certain death for the author, but a most agonizing death at that. This was before the name "Shakespeare" appeared on any of the plays. Nevertheless, Francis Bacon was in charge of the revels at Gray's Inn. An investigation would inevitably have led back to him.
It is highly significant that the play only appeared in print with the publication of the 1623, First Folio edition of the collected works of William Shakespeare. The allegory would have been much more readily discernible in a printed version. By the time the play appeared in print in 1623 the putative author was seven years dead, and the back trail was a dead end.
Back to our burning question: Why did Francis Bacon (the real author of the two plays) feel plays connected to Orpheus apropos for a Christmas celebration? Actually the matter would not have caused Bacon to be burned. That horrible example of man's inhumanity to man, flew under the banner of "most favored execution method " for the Catholics who, as pious Christians, were careful to heed the Biblical injunction that, "Thou shalt not spill thy brother's blood". But their counterparts in England, the Protestants, also pious Christians, had their own method of execution which endeavored in its own modest way, to be just as agonizing.
The reason The Comedy of Errors, and Twelfth Night were apropos for the Christmas season, was because the Christmas season, centering around the birth of Christ, was intimately connected with the origin of Christianity, and the Orphic religion was also intimately connected with the origin of Christianity. Whatever the facts, if any, about Jesus Christ, the truth is that while the Orphic religion predated him by at least a thousand years, much of his story, and the theology based on his story, can be found in the Orphic theology. Add the sun-god mythology to the mix, and you've got the whole ball of wax. Christians like to call the Christ story the Greatest Story Ever Told. They might do better to call it the Greatest Story Ever Retold, or maybe, the greatest story ever sold. The Christian doctrine of original sin comes straight from this source.
The annual commemoration among the Christians at Easter of the passion and resurrection of Jesus is based on the observances of the Orphics. The Orphics worshipped the infant god Dionysus, the son of Zeus by a mortal woman named Semele. Hera, the wife of Zeus, incensed by her husband's infidelity, sent the Titans to kill the infant Dionysus.After they killed him they devoured his body. Certainly a strange idea, but, if I may coin a phrase, not too much for the Christians to swallow.
The Christians have a bizarre story. On the night their god, Jesus, was betrayed, He took bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. After supper, He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me. From this was implemented The Sacrament of Holy Communion where the body and blood of Jesus is given with bread and wine for the Catholic to eat and drink, so that symbolically they are devouring the body, and drinking the blood of Jesus.
This idea comes straight from the mythology of the Orphics. The Orphics observed the mystery of communion long before Jesus. They held sacramental communion with their god, Zagreus-Dionysus, who had suffered, died, and arose. Justin Martyr reported they used wine and bread in their communion: "For when they say Dionysus was born of Zeus' union with Semele, and narrate ... that he was torn to pieces and died, he arose again and ascended to heaven, and when they use the wine in his mysteries, is it not evident that the Devil has imitated the previously quoted prophecy ...?" So, the story that Christ was slain and resurrected originated with the story of Dionysus, who was slain and resurrected. According to Herodotus it was believed that Zeus brought the new born babe to Nysa in Ethiopia. Hence the name Dionysus has been construed as composed of Dio (i.e. divine, or god) + Nysa (son), i.e., Son of God. Do I need to point out that this is the same title that was applied to Christ?
Justin Martyr acknowledged that the Dionysians were practicing communion before the Christians, but, he explained, they did so because the Devil imitated an ancient prophecy of the Old Testament. Justin Martyr had his own brand of audacity also, but some might think it could more appropriately be called by a different name.
Through the mystery of communion, the Orphics became one with their god. The Christian communion is almost identical to the Orphic ritual. (John 6:55-56) "For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. Whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. "
The Orphics spread the idea that the world was under the power of evil and that the body was a burden and a bondage for the soul, whose destiny is to escape this bondage and arrive at eternal and blessed life (sound familiar?). They also promoted the belief that man's efforts to win salvation were powerless without divine assistance. This idea appears in John 6:44: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him."
The Orphics believed Dionysus, being born from the divine Zeus and the mortal woman Semele, had a two-fold nature. Likewise, Jesus had a two-fold nature, divine and human. Dionysus was persecuted and murdered, yet was resurrected and became victorious. Jesus was persecuted, murdered, and was victorious through his resurrection.
Late texts reflecting Orphic eschatology put an emphasis on the role of Dionysus as king of the New Age. When Jesus returns he will be the king of the New Age. Though a child, Dionysus was made to reign over all the kings in the universe. Jesus is the king of kings. Dionysus was called "Lord." Jesus, too, was called "Lord." (Acts 2:36) God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (NIV)
Orpheus (from whom the Orphics received their name) and Dionysus went to Hades and returned. The Christians created the tradition that during the three days while Jesus was dead before his resurrection He went to hell and preached to the souls in prison. The Orphic "savior" was even crucified, as the following ancient depiction of Orpheus demonstrates:
Significantly, Plato, who follows the Orphic and mystery teachings throughout his dialogues, has the following to say, in the Republic II (362e), referring to the just man:
"What they will say is this, that such being his
disposition the just man will have to endure the lash,
the rack, chains, the branding iron in his eyes, and
finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will
The Orphics had a number of books which contained the details of their theology.These books have been lost, but I have no doubt this little jewel from Plato came straight from one of these. Dionysus was known by the name "Pentheus", i.e. "man of suffering."
Dionysus was known among the Greeks as the god of the vine, and of wine. Hence in the New Testament in John 15:1 we find Jesus saying,
"I am the true vine."
The Christians, in trying to steal from and supplant the Orphic religion, were saying, 'Hey, our guy is the truegod of the vine!'
And as in the Orphic theology there was a miracle connected with wine, so the Gospels have their miracle connected with wine, where Jesus turns water into wine.
Dionysus was known by the alternate name of Bacchus. Bacchus was nursed by panthers and the panther was always associated with him. He is sometimes depicted riding either on one of these animals or in a chariot drawn by them. The name Panther establishes a direct connection between Jesus and the Orphic theology. According to the Sepher Toldosh Jeshu, one of the so-called Apocryphal Jewish Gospels, Jesus was the son of Joseph Panther and Mary, hence Ben Panther, i.e., "the son of panther."
Manly Hall said, "Godfrey Higgins has discovered two references, one in the Midrashjoheleth and the other in the Abodazara (early Jewish commentaries on the Scriptures), to the effect that the surname of Joseph's family was Panther, for in both of these works it is stated that a man was healed "in the name of Jesus ben Panther." Part of the passage from Higgin's Analycalypsis is as follows, The name of Jesus also was JESUS BEN PANTHER. Jesus was a very common name with the Jews. Stukeley observes, that the patronymic of Jesus Christ was Panther; and that Panther were the nurses and bringers up of Bacchus; and adds, "'Tis remarkable that Panther was the sirname of Joseph's family, our Lord's foster-father."
In addition to the Orphic allegory in Twelfth Night, Twelfth Night also had a theme connected with the Roman Catholic Church. If we remember that this was the organization most closely connected with the origin of Christianity, and that Christianity was derived from the Orphic theology, than the reason for the Roman Catholic thread in Twelfth Night becomes crystal clear.
The play has some obvious connections with early Christianity. Ephesus, located on the Aegean coast of Turkey, what the ancients called Asia Minor, about 200 miles south of Ancient Troy, was an important city for early Christianity. The Apostle John lived here and on the neighboring island of Samos until his death. The Apostle Paul visited here several times. He wrote the Letters to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians while living here and, of course, wrote the Letter to the Ephesians to the church there. St. Paul's famous exit from a riot in Ephesus was occasioned by his preaching against the worship of pagan gods and idols, whereupon the silversmiths rose in a rage, crying "Great is the Diana of Ephesus" from which they made their living making small souvenirs for pilgrims and tourists.
There has been some speculation that Jesus placed his mother in the care of the Apostle John prior to the Crucifixion, and that she accompanied John to Ephesus and lived out her life here.
The Catholic theme is present in The Comedy of Errors also, but it is more subdued than in Twelfth Night. When Aegeon says, "Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece, Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia, And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus'", the allusion to St. Paul's journeys to, and long sojourn in Ephesus is apparent. Acts 13-20 describes Paul's three journeys through Greece and Asia. Antipholus of Ephesus's mistaken arrest for debt is described in the terms of possession, as seizure by a devil. The Courtesan is called "the devil's dam" who appears, like Satan, as "an angel of light" to gain men's souls. The deliverance from the bonds of error is by angelic power. Pauline wordplay runs through the scenes focusing on Antipholus of Ephesus's arrest. He seeks deliverance from the sergeant's bonds with the coins angels which will pay his debt. All of this reflects Paul's miraculous deliverance from prison.
Many of the references to faith in the play are to Catholicism. When Dromio cries "O, for my beads! I cross for a sinner" his reference to rosary beads and to crossing himself marks him distinctly as Catholic. The abbess in the play also indicates Catholicism. The option of entering a convent was one that was lost when England converted from Catholicism to the Protestant faith.
In one of the Louis L'Amour Westerns the hero, who has had a run in with a man named Lang, is standing alone on the street at night when a voice whispers to him from the shadows:
"Look down Lang's back trail."
Look down the back trail" would be very good advice for commentators on The Comedy of Errors. The back trail of The Comedy of Errors leads to a curious work titled, Gesta Grayorum [The Deeds of Gray]. This work (an account of the Christmas season revels at Gray's Inn in 1594) contains the first record of a performance of The Comedy of Errors. It tells us that on Innocents Day night (December 28, 1594), "a Comedy of Errors (like to Plautus his Menechmus) was played by the players at Gray's Inn. This can only have been The Comedy of Errors, which is indeed based on Plautus' Comedy Maneachmi. Since it is unlikely the lawyers and students would have hired actors to appear at a grand festive with anything but a new, or current play, it is probable this was the first performance of the play.
Gesta Grayorum, an anonymous work, was first printed in 1688 for W. Canning, at his shop in the Temple Cloysters. The publisher was Henry Keepe. He does not tell us where he obtained the manuscript. The first reprint of the work was made by John Nichols in his Progresses of Elizabeth in 1823. Both works are rare and difficult to obtain. But a second reprint of the work was made in 1921 by Basil Brown in her book Law Sports At Gray's Inn, and this book is more readily available.
The Gesta Grayorum is very interesting, indeed. A careful comparison of the Gesta Grayorum with The Comedy of Errors brings to light a very significant fact. Far from being merely a random, humorous farce, suitable for the fun and games of the seasonal festivities, the play was specifically designed as part of the overall theme of the Gesta Grayorum. A close examination of both reveals very strong evidence that demonstrates the author of The Comedy of Errors was also the author of the Gesta Grayorum.
The Gesta Grayorum contains the sun-god mythology allusion that complements the Orphic source material relevant to the performance of The Comedy of Errors at this particular time, as well as a continuing a thread, running through the text, of ideas identical with those in The Comedy of Errors.
But most interesting of all it has been generally accepted, ever since James Spedding (the great authority on Bacon) pointed it out, that Francis Bacon wrote the speeches for the six councilors, which makes up quite a substantial portion of the Gesta Grayorum. This is more than an interesting connection of Bacon with Shakespeare at an early stage in Shakespeare's career, because a detailed study of the Gesta Grayorum provides strong evidence that Bacon did more than just write the speeches for the six councilors. It indicates he wrote the whole thing, and in view of the evidence (which I will show here of the correlation between the Gesta Grayorum and the Comedy of Errors) the evidence indicates Bacon also wrote The Comedy of Errors.
When Spedding identified Bacon as author of the speeches of the six councilors in the play, he also mentioned the possibility that Bacon wrote all of the Gesta Grayorum. In the Northumberland Manuscript "Orations at Graie's Inee Revells" is mentioned as part of its contents. James Spedding, commenting on the Gesta Grayorum said:
"Thus ended one of the most elegant Christmas entertainments, probably, that was ever presented to an audience of statesmen and courtiers. That Bacon had a hand in the general design is merely a conjecture; we know that he had a taste in such things and did sometimes take a part in arranging them; and the probability seemed strong enough to justify a more detailed account of the whole evening's work than I should otherwise have thought fit. But that the speeches of the six councilors was written by him, and by him alone, no one who is at all familiar with his style, either of thought or expressions, will for a moment doubt it. They carry his signature in every sentence. And they have a much deeper interest for us than could have been looked for in such a sportive exercise belonging to so forgotten a form of idleness. All of these councilors speak with Bacon's tongue and out of Bacon's brain; but the second and fifth speak out of his heart and judgment also."
Francis Bacon statue & Gray's Inn Dining Hall where The Comedy of Errors was first performed in 1594
That Francis Bacon wrote the substantial portion of Gesta Grayorum, which is the speeches of the six councilors, is now the orthodox viewpoint. Spedding, however, even though he was hyper cautious, did voice the obvious that, since Bacon wrote the speeches of the six councilors, then the possibility exists that he wrote all of it. We can add to this the evidence that Francis Bacon was in charge of the Christmas season entertainment that took place at Gray's Inn in 1594. Basil Brown even calls Bacon "the master of revels" for Gray's Inn. An undated letter written by Francis Bacon to the Earl of Shrewesbury is conjectured by Basil Brown to refer to the Gesta Grayorum entertainment:
"It may please your good Lordship,
I am sorry the joint masque from the four Inns of Court
faileth; wherein I conceive there is no other ground of that
event but impossibility. Nevertheless, because it falleth out
that at this time Grey's Inn is well furnished of gallant young
gentlemen, your lordship may be pleased to know, that rather
than this occasion shall pass without some demonstration of
affection from the Inns of Court, there are a dozen gentlemen
of Grey's Inn, that out of the honour which they bear to your
Lordship and my Lord Chamberlain to whom at their last masque
they were so much bounden, will be ready to furnish a masque;
wishing it were in their powers to perform it according to their
minds. And so for the present I humbly take my leave, resting"
Basil Brown said this letter referred to the 1594 Christmas season revels. Whether it did or not, in any case it indicates Bacon was the spokesmen for Gray's Inn, and gives us further evidence (in addition to his connection with the Gesta Grayorum) that he was in charge of the whole affair. So here, in connection with one of the earliest plays, exists a close connection between Bacon and Shakespeare. This is found merely from looking on the surface. Now let's look a little deeper.
The Gesta Grayorum begins by explaining that there were a great number of gallant gentlemen at Gray's Inn, and from this group, some of them got together to design the entertainment for the 1594 Christmas season. It is significant that in a notebook in 1594 Bacon left a notation that said,
"Law at Twickenham for ye merry tales".
The Gesta Grayorum can indeed be viewed as a series of "merry tales" It bristles from beginning to end with a series of humorous items that could be viewed as "merry tales." Example:
"Bawdwine de Islington holdeth the town of Islington of
the Prince of Purpoole, by grand-serjeantry; and rendring,
at the the coronation of his Honour, for every maid in
Islington, continuing a virgin after the age of fourteen
years, one hundred thousand millions sterling."
"Lucy Negro, Abbess de Clerkenwell, holdeth the nunnery
of Clerkenwell, with the lands and privileges thereunto
belonging, of the Prince of Purpoole, by night service
in Cauda, and to find a choir of nuns, with burning lampgs,
to chant Placebo to the Gentlemen of the Prince's Privy
Chamber, on the day of his Excellancy's coronation."
Lucy Negro was a prostitute in one of the houses at Southwark, who was evidently in high favor with the young bloods from Gray's Inn, and a whole cottage industry has been built up from this reference claiming Lucy Negro as the dark lady of the sonnets. In any case, we may deduce from the "merry tales" notation that Bacon gathered a number of lawyers at Twickenham for the purpose of devising the Gray's Inn Christmas entertainment for that year. This is further evidence that Bacon was in charge of the affair since Twickenham was his retreat where he went to think and compose his writings. Bacon was at Twickenham in 1593 while "Venus and Adonis" was being written.
Basil Brown, contended that the Gesta Grayorum was originally a part of the Northumberland Manuscript, which was written circa 1594-1597. The manuscript, which has notes on the cover connecting Shakespeare, and some Shakespeare works, with Bacon, is known to have belonged to Bacon. Brown, who was convinced that Bacon was the author of the whole of the Gesta Grayorum, cited a number of items to support her belief. One of these was a letter that was near the end of the Gesta Grayorum. Brown notes that, in a letter to the Queen, Bacon dated it from "My Tub of Vanity". The letter in the Gesta Grayorum was dated from ship-board at our Ark of Vanity. Furthermore the letter was obviously in Bacon writing style:
Henry Prince of Purpoole to the Right Honorable
Sir Thomas Heneage
"I have now accomplished a most tedious and hazardous
journey, though very honourable, into Russia; and returning
within the view of the Court of your renowed Queen, my
gracious Sovereign, to whom I acknowledge homage and service,
I thought good, in passing by, to kiss her sacred hands, as
a tender of the zeal and duty I owe unto her Majesty; but,
in making the offer, I found my desire greater than the
ability of my body; which, by length of my journey, and
my sickenss at sea, is so weakened, as it were very
dangerous for me to adventure it. Therefore, most
honourable friend, let me intreat you to make my humble
excuse to her Majesty for this present: and to certifie
her Highness that I do hope, by the assistance of the
Divine Providence, to recover my former strength about
Shrovetide; and which time I intend to repair to her
Majesty's Court (if it may stand with her gracious
pleasure) to offer my service, and relate the success
of my journey. And so praying your Honour to return me
her Majesty's answer, I wish you all honour and happiness.Dated from ship-board at our Ark of Vanity
The Gesta Grayorum describes how, for the 1594 Christmas revels at Gray's Inn, it was determined that a Prince of Purpoole should be elected to preside over the revels. "Purpoole" was the name of the manor in which Gray's Inn was located, hence the title. The Prince of Purpoole had a sacred diadem guarded by the helmet of the great goddess Pallas, and presided over the most heroical Order Of The Helmet which had its name from this helmet of Pallas Athena.
This is additional evidence pointing to Francis Bacon. Traditional muses did not suffice for Bacon. He chose a tenth muse while he was still in his teens in France. A letter Bacon received in 1582, from Jean De la Jesse, personal secretary to the duc d'Anjou identifies his tenth muse. Jesse asserts that his own Muse has been inspired by "Bacon's Pallas",
"bien que votre Pallas me rende mieux instruit".
Pallas Athena. Goddess of Wisdom. The Spear-Shaker. When she shook her spear the light of knowledge flashed forth, and all the darkness of ignorance fled away. Those true filed lines were her offspring, as Ben Jonson broadly hinted in his somewhat awkward introductory verse to The First Folio:
"In each of which he seemes to shake a lance,
As brandish't at the eyes of ignorance."
This is ostensibly the basis for Bacon's pen-name Shake-speare, and the Knights of the Helmet with the helmet of Pallas Athena, points no less mistakably to Francis Bacon. Just as in the plays where there is usually a thread dealing with topical allusions relating to events connected to Francis Bacon, so the Gesta Grayorum has its thread of the Knights of the Helmets dealing with actual events. Gray's Inn was Francis Bacon's power base. Here he formed a group of people(His Knights of the Helmet) who aided him with his concealed designs, and his concealed publications.
In the crest of the Prince of Purpoole, his government for the twelve days of Christmas is resembled to the Sun's passing through the twelve signs. In other words, for ruler over the Gray's Christmas revels, Bacon created someone who symbolized the sun, i.e. he created a sun god. This not only refers to and complements the idea of the Orphic origins of Christianity, but was an act of incredible audacity on his part, because in addition the Orphic theology, the other great aspect of the origin of Christianity was that He was modeled on the mythology of the sun gods. The Gesta Grayorum points out that a significant feature of the crest of the Order of the Knights of the Helmet were two griffins. This was, perhaps, a tongue in cheek allusion, since one of the traditions of the griffin was that it was associated with the worship of the sun.
December 25th was traditionally the time in the pagan sun god mythologies of the birth date of the sun god. At the winter solstice, for a three day period, the days were the shortest, and the nights longest of any time during the year, then, on the 25th of December the days begin to lengthen again. In the sun god mythology this was when the sun god was born.
The early Christians originally celebrated the birth of Christ on January 6th, the Three King's day, but changed his birthday to December 25th The motives which induced the ecclesiastical authorities to transfer the festival of Christmas from the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December are explained with great frankness by a Syrian scholiast on Bar Salibi. He says:
"The reason why the fathers transferred the celebration of the sixth of January to the twenty-fifth of December was this. It was a custom of the heathen to celebrate on the same twenty-fifth of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity. In these solemnities and festivals the Christians also took part. Accordingly when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day and the festival of the Epiphany on the sixth of January. Accordingly, along with this custom, the practice has prevailed of kindling fires until the sixth."
This seemingly candid avowal was all well and good on the face of it, until one looked a little deeper, then it became an obvious facade of lies. For the fact is, in addition to originating with the Orphic theology, the story of Christ was through and through based on the Sun God mythologies. The apparent path of the sun, as it moved above and below the equator, traced a line that created a cross where it passed over the line of the path of the equator. At the equinoxes the sun was at the place where the two lines of the cross joined, i.e. it was crucified. This was the astronomical basis behind the mythology of the sun god that had him crucified on the equinoxes.
The sun god was born of a virgin because the sun entering the winter solstice emerged in the sign of Virgo. His infancy was beset with dangers, because the new-born sun was feeble in the midst of the winter's fogs and mists that threaten to destroy him. The companions of the sun god were the twelve signs of the zodiac, and Christ had twelve companions, the twelve disciples. Christ said of John the Baptist,
"He will decrease while I will increase."
Of course, John the Baptist was born at the summer solstice, and symbolized the sun at its strongest point. From that point the days became continually shorter until the winter solstice. So, of course, John the Baptist would decrease, while Christ, the sun of the Winter Solstice would increase.
"Every detail of the Sun myth," says the noted astronomer, Richard A. Proctor, "is worked into the record of the Galilean teacher."
Beyond this, In the Gesta Grayorum the twelve days of Christmas are depicted as a microcosm of the twelve months of the year. Innocents Day, was traditionally the recapitulation of the twelve days of Christmas. It is significant that the action in The Comedy of Errors (which was performed on Innocents Day night) takes place in one day, and furthermore, that the allegory of this one day is set out as a microcosm of human life.
In the Orphic doctrine Dionysus was a magician, who with his thysus created spells, and illusions. This idea of spells and illusions is a theme that runs through both the Gesta Grayorum and The Comedy of Errors.
In the Gesta Grayorum, the Prince of Purpoole delivers a speech on the first grand night of the revels. In the speech he says (among others things):
"It is there Our will and pleasure, that all and every
public person and person, whether they be strangers or
naturals within Our dominions, be by virtue hereof
excused, suspended, and discharged from all and all
manner of treason, contemps,...
also all manner of sorceries, inchantments, conjurations,
spells, or charms."
This idea, delivered at the beginning of the revels, is directly related to the ideas in The Comedy of Errors, which was only performed later on the 28th of December. Antipholus of Syracuse says of Ephesus:
"They say this town is full of cozenage:
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating montebanks,
And many such like liberties of sin."
And later in the play he says:
"Even now a tailor called me in his shop
And showed me silks that he had bought for me,
And therewithal took measure of my body.
Sure these are but imaginary wiles,
And Lapland sorcerers inhabit here."
The significant point here is that the author of the Gesta Grayorum not only knew the contents of The Comedy of Errors before it was performed on Innocent's Day, but that, in fact, the Gesta Grayorum was designed around ideas from the play. The evidence points to Francis Bacon as the author of the Gesta Grayorum, and therefore to Francis Bacon as the author of The Comedy of Errors.
According to the Gesta Grayorum, on the grand night of festivities, after the first grand night when the address was delivered by the Prince of Purpoole, an Ambassador from Inner Temple came to Gray's Inn, but when he was in his place, and it was known that there was something going to be performed for the delight of the beholders:
"there arose such a disordered tumult and crowd upon the
stage, that there was no opportunity to effect that which
was intended: there came so great a number of worshipful
personages upon the stage that might not be displaced, and
gentlewomen whose sex did privilege them from violence, that
when the Prince and his officers had in vain, a good while,
expected and endeavoured a reformation, at length there was
no hope to redress for that present. The Lord Ambassador
and his train thought that they were not so kindly entertained
as was before expected, and thereupon would not stay any
longer, but, in a sort, discontented and displeased. After
their departure, the throngs and tumults did somewhat cease,
although so much of them continued as was able to disorder
and confound any good inventions whatsoever. In regard whereof,
as also for that the sports intended were especially for the
gracing the Templarians, it was thought good not to offer anything
of account, saving dancing and reveling with gentlewomen;
and after such sports, a Comedy of Errors (like to Plautus his Menechmus)
was played by the players. So that night war began
and continued to the end in nothing but confusion and errors;
whereupon, it was ever afterwards called, "The Night of Errors."
The mischanceful accident sorting so ill, to the great predudice of our proceedings, was a great discouragement and disparagement to our whole state; yet it gave occasion to the lawyer's of the Prince's Council, the next night, after revels, to read a commission of Oyer and Terminer, directed to certain Noblemen and Lords of his Highness's Council, and others, that they should enquire, or cause enquiry to be made, of some great disorders and abuses lately done and committed within his Highness's dominion of Purpoole, especially by sorceries and inchantments; and namely, of a great witchcraft used the night before, whereby there were great disorders and middemeanours, by hurly-burlies, crowds, errors, confusions, vain representations, and shews, to the utter discredit of our state and policy."
This theme of witchcraft and enchantment, found in The Comedy of Errors, runs through the Gesta Grayorum, and it could have only been present in both if the same person was the author of both. Further on in the Gesta Grayorum we find :
"The Prince gave leave to the Master of Requests, that he should read the petition; wherein was a disclosure of all the knavery and juggling of the Attorney and Solicitor, which had brought all this law-stuff on purpose to blind the yes of his Excellency and all the honourable Court there, going about to make them think that those things which they all perceived sensibly to be in very deed done, and actually performed, were nothing else but vain illusions, fancies, dreams, and enchantments."
In fact, the whole Gesta Grayorum is a complementary construction to The Comedy of Errors (or vice versa). Since The Comedy of Errors was designed to be performed on the day which was the recapitulation of the twelve days of Christmas, and since the Gesta Grayorum was written by Francis Bacon, it follows that The Comedy of Errors was also written by Francis Bacon.
According to myth there once existed in prehistoric Thrace, a person named Orpheus. There may or may not have been an actual historic person behind the myth. In any case, both Plato and Aristophanes (Republic and Frogs) say that as founder of the mystery religions, Orpheus was the first to reveal to men the meaning of the rites of initiation. Pausanias said, "Whoever has seen an initiation at Eleusis or read the writings called the Orphic knows what I mean."
And statements pairing the Orphic writings with the Mysteries were commonplace. To cite just one more, Diodorus of Sicily said, "All of this conforms to that which the Orphic poems say and to the ceremonies of the mysteries." The Orphic cults were already present in Ancient Greece before the beginning of the first millenia B.C.
In Orphic theology the mythic basis of their doctrine of reincarnation was the story of Dionysos. According to the myth Dionysos was the son of Zeus, but Juno (Hera), the sister-wife of Zeus, jealous of Dionysos, conspired with the Titans for his destruction. The Titans, gathering the substances of space, fashioned them into a great mirror, so perfectly burnished by Hephaestos that it reflected the whole world. The Titans, having smeared their faces with gypsum so that they could not be recognized, surrounded the infant holding the mirror up before him. Dionysos looking into the mirror, beheld his own likeness for the first time. He reached out for this radiant being, but the Titans moved the mirror further and further away, luring him far from his heavenly home. Then they fell upon the infant god and slew him.
After they had slew Dionysos the Titans began to devour his body. Then Zeus looked down with his all seeing (albeit belated) eye, and saw what was happening. He immediately dispatched Athena who swooped down from heaven, but managed to save only the heart of Dionysos and brought it back to Zeus
In his anger, Zeus hurled great bolts of lightning at the Titans, nor did his wratch subside until only ashes remained of their bodies. From the ashes of the titans arose the race of man. Man, therefore, was a mixture of the divine Dionysos and the Titans. According to Plutarch in his treatise On the Eating of Flesh, the story of Dionysos being torn into pieces, and devoured by the Titans, and their subsequent destruction by Jupiter, was "A sacred narrative concerning reincarnation."
A basic Orphic idea is that once the soul has fallen into the sphere of the earthy realm it must wander for a long period of time before it can eradicate the impurities and regain its celestial estate. In the Katharmoi, Empedocles, following the Orphic tradition, describes the soul as a divine being, who has contracted an impurity, and in consequence is condemned to wander far from the realm of the blessed until the primal wrong is expiated:
"these must wander for thrice ten thousand seasons far from the company of the blessed, being born throughout the period into all kinds of mortal shapes, which exchange one hard way of life for another. Such is my actual exile, far from the gods, in error"
The cycle of reincarnation through which the impurity is eventually eradicated is seen, in the Orphic theology, as the sole method of salvation. Empedocles says:
"There is an oracle of Necessity, an ancient decree of the gods, eternal, sealed fast with broad oaths"
And, in his commentary on the Timaeus Proclus said:
"The one way of salvation offered by the Creator to the soul is this which frees it from the circle of birth and from all its wandering and from fruitless living."
and a little later he speaks of the soul being brought:
"to the life of blessedness from its wanderings in the region of becoming"
In Orpheus and Greek Religion, W.K.C. Guthrie says:
"Once fallen, the soul cannot return to its true home, the highest heaven, until after ten thousand years, divided into ten period of a thousand years each, each period representing one incarnation and the period of punishment or blessedness which must follow it."
So the span of a 1,000 years is a fixed period. If the individual does not complete that period here on earth, then the ancient decree of the gods sentences him to death and to the completion of the 1,000 years in the realm beyond the earth.
The ceremony of initiation into the Eleusenian Mysteries required a long period of wandering in the darkness.This symbolized the same idea of the wanderings that the soul must undergo during its cycle of reincarnations. In his Commentary on Plato's Politicus, Proclus observed that from the symbolic mythology of the Orphic doctrine Plato established many of his own doctrines:
"Since in the Phaedo he venerates, with a becoming silence, the assertion delivered in the arcane discourses, that men are placed in the body as in a prison, secured by a guard, and testifies, according to the mystic ceremonies, the different allotments of purified and unpurified souls in in Hades, their several conditions, and the three-forked path from the peculiar places where they were; and this was shown according to traditionary institutions; every part of which is full of a symbolical representation, as in a drama, and of a description which treated of the ascending and descending ways, of the tragedies of Dionysus, the crimes of the Titans, the three ways in Hades, and the wanderings of everything of a similar kind."
In Dionysus Mythy and Cult alter F. Otto tells us that it was well known that the presence of Dionysus brought madness. Dionysus was the magician, who with his song created spells, and with his thysus created illusions.
The Comedy of Errors begins with Aegeon of Syracuse, the father of the Antipholus twins standing before Solinus, the Duke of Ephesus, who is in the act of passing the sentence of death upon him. The Duke of Ephesus explains that due to the "enmity and discord", which has sprung from the rancorous outrage of the Duke of Syracuse, if any one from Syracuse is found in Ephesus they are subject to a sentence of death, unless they can pay a 1,000 marks fine.
Then he orders Aegeon to explain why he has departed from his native home and came to Ephesus. Aegeon tells him that a quarter of a century before, while he and his wife were in Epidamnum, they became the parents of twin sons, and to attend his children he bought from a "meaner woman" her twin sons, who were born that very hour. On the return voyage their ship was wrecked, he escaped with infant son and one little slave, but was separated from his wife, who was lashed to a spar with the other two babies." The father and his charges were picked up and taken to Epidaurus, but not before he had seen his wife and the other children carried away by a Corinthian fishing-boat. Eighteen years later his son obtained permission to search for his lost brother. When he did not return, the father set out after him, and wandered for five years in a vain search only to be arrested and condemned to death in Ephesus. Although moved by Aegeon's story, Duke Solinus does not remit the sentence, but since the normal time for the execution of the sentence is at the end of the day, he grants the old man the remainder of the day in which to secure his ransom. This, of course, symbolizes the period of one lifetime. The idea that we have our brief day on earth and then we die is commonly met with.
What do Syracuse and Ephesus symbolize? Duke Solinus tells Aegeon that there is "mortal and intestine jars" between Syracuse and Ephesus. It is not difficult to determine the symbolism.Ê Ephesus was famous for its temple of Diana, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient Word. Since Diana was goddess of the moon she ruled everything in the sublunary, or material realm, which was the domain of nature. Since Syracuse was in opposition to Ephesus, Syracuse represents the domain above the moon, while Ephesus represents everything beneath the moon, i.e., the earth. In the Shakespeare's works Duke is utilized to designate deity. "Solinus', the Duke of Ephesus obviously has a symbolic name. "Solinus" means "The Alone ", a very apt designation for deity. Plotinus uses the phrase, "the flight of the Alone to the Alone" to designate to flight of the soul to God. It is interesting also that here, as elsewhere Bacon indicates the existence of another deity. One, Solinus, the deity of earth, and the other the Duke of Syracuse who was the deity of the realm beyond the earth.
The shipwreck (where the twins along with their twin servants were separated) is a symbolism Bacon uses repeatedly to designate the soul descending into the material realm. The descent of the soul into the underworld, the sphere of earthly existence is a theme that is not limited to the Orphic theology. The Chaldeans, The Egyptians, Plato, and after him the Neoplatonic writers all dealt with this theme. Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais, describing the descent of the soul said:
"...When first it comes down to earth, it embarks on this animal spirit as on a boat, and through it is brought into contact with matter."
In The Tempest the author goes to great lengths to point out that the passengers of the ship, which was wrecked, were to be considered as souls. In the short space of thirty lines they were three times referred to as souls. In the East this sphere into which the incarnating soul enters was referred to as Samsara, and often as the sea of samsara.
The thousand marks that Aegeon must pay if he is to escape death, is the 1,000 year period of the Orphic theology. Each cycle of incarnation is composed of a 1,000 year period. If that period is not completed during life on earth, it must be completed during death in the realm beyond the earth.
The fact that each twin is identical to the other is also an allegory of the Dionysian myth. In the symbolism of the Dionysos, looking in the mirror represented the idea that the part of Dionysos that incarnated in the lower world was a reflection and exact replica of the Dionysos of the higher world.
The theme of wandering that is so prevalent in Orphic theology, is also very much a theme of the play. The title of the play, The Comedy of Errors, can be read as The Comedy of Wandering, since the word error comes from the Latin errare, to wander. The Antipholus twins were separated shortly after birth, and when he was 18, Antipholus of Syracuse left home and began a period of years of wandering in search of his twin. When he did not return, Aegeon, the father set out after him and wandered for five years in a vain search for him. When Antipholus of Syracuse arrives at Ephesus, the merchant pays him a thousand marks and warns him that a Syracusan was arrested that same day. He, therefore, has the chance to immediately ransom, Aegeon, but instead wanders alone through the streets of the city. Thus the play is really about wandering.
In order to have a more detailed understanding of the allegory in The Comedy of Errors we need to be familiar with the ancient ideas that originated with Orpheus, and thence descended down through the Mysteries, of the divisions of soul of man. One of the best sources from which to gain an understanding of this is Plato's celebrated analogy in the Phaedrus of the driver, the two steeds, and the chariot. The driver controlled the two steeds, of which, one was light colored, noble in character, a thing of air, ever tending upward, and the other, degenerate (dark in color)and ever tending downward. In his LES MYSTERES D'ELEUSIS, Victor Magnien demonstrated that this analogy did not originate with Plato, but was borrowed from the Mysteries, and had been used by ancient poets before him, and represented the divisions of man.
The driver represented the Nous the rational soul, (what the Theosophists called the monad). This is designated by the name Aegeon, a name and character invented outright by Bacon. According to the Theosophists, in order for the Monad to manifest as a separate entity, it must take on a thin veil of matter.Therefore, it seems that his name is derived from the Aegean Sea which symbolizes matter in the play.
The noble steed, light in color represents the Psyche the produced soul, while the degenerate soul Ð black in color represents the vegetable soul that enters into matter, the soul that is in control of the lower physical self and the body. In Plato's analogy The chariot represents the body. These divisions may be more understandable if we designate them as the Higher Self, and the Lower Self. It is significant that, in the play, the name of the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, Adriana, means dark, or black, and the name of the one who is to become the wife of Antipholus of Syracuse, Luciana, means light.The names are changed from the source so this symbolism will be present. In the Menaechmi of Plautus, Adriana was named Mulier, and Luciana replaces Senex, the father of Mulier. The wives represent the body. The wife of the lower self is the physical body, symbolized as dark because physical matter was always dark or black in symbolism. Antipholus of Syracuse seeks Luciana for his wife. In Gnosticism the higher self is depicted as having a body of light.
The Orphic allegory in The Comedy of Errors deals with the Orphic ideas about reincarnation. The allegory in The Comedy of Errors deals with the entire cycle of reincarnation, and there are numerous allusions in the play that signals the presence of an Orphic allegory. But scholars, clueless in Bardolphia, continually make fools of themselves. For example, in the Folio, Antipholus of Syracuse is called "Antipholis Erotes." Scholars have sought corruptions of Latin terms as the origin of this name. If they had looked for Greek terms, especially in relation to Orphism, they might have had more success in finding the answer. Dionysus was the god of wine, and In his book, Dionysos C. Kerenyi says:
"The silence of Greek literature concerning the simple wine the lenos or pateterion runs through the entire Classical period. This may be accidental, but is none the less striking in view of the constant presence in Greek life of one or another phrase of wine-making. Archaic vase painting introduces superhuman beings, sileni or satyrs, as wine pressers, and they remain the indispensable performers of the act in ancient art down to the end of antiquity-except when they are replaced by Erotes, or cupids, likewise divine beings."
This is interesting because, bearing in mind the allusion to Adrian and Luciana, one of the Antipholus cupids would be associated with light, and the other with dark, and in the following device at the beginning of the 1623, First Folio, there are two cupids, one associated with a light "A" and the other with a dark "A."
It may also not be out of place here to observe that the foregoing touches close upon what is perhaps the most esoteric aspect of the plays, an Instance of the Fingerpost if I have ever seen one, but since this is a digression, and to quote Bacon's statement in his Valerius Terminus, a matter, where I would, "open that which I think good to withdraw, I will omit." On the other hand, anyone who is capable following this clue out more power to them.
The names Antipholus can be traced back to classical mythology. Pholus was the name of a centaur Hercules visited, who lived in a cave on Mount Pholoe. Hercules was hungry, so Pholus gave him some food. But he was also thirsty, and wanted some wine. Pholus had a large vase full of choice wine, but it had been a present from Dionysos, and was the common property of the centaurs. However, the gift had been accompanied with the command from Dionysos, that it should not be opened until his good friend Hercules arrived. So Pholus had no hesitation in opening the wine, and both drank freely from it. The other centaurs smelled the wine, however, and flocked toward the cave of Pholus armed with various weapons. Bad idea. Hercules kicked ass.
But after the other centaurs were fallen, his friend, Pholus, stooping over a Centaur who had fallen from an arrow from Hercules, after drawing the arrow out was perplexed how such a small thing could have such a large effect. He accidentally dropped the arrow, the tip penetrated his body, and the poison from the arrow killed him. Those, who think it mere coincidence that the name of a centaur should be associated with the name of the twins in The Comedy of Errors, must answer the other coincidences, that not only is the myth connected with Dionysos, but also when Antipholus of Syracuse comes to Ephesus he stays at the Centaur Inn. In addition to this, we must remember that the name of the twins in Plautus was Menaechmi, and Bacon replaces it with the names Antipholus. The fact that he changed the names indicates there is some meaning in the replacement he chose.
This is a riddle. As was customary with Bacon he packs a great deal of meaning in a very small amount of matter. One way of looking at this riddle is that man is aptly symbolized as a centaur because he is a composite made up of a higher and lower nature. But, since Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus are opposites, although identical in appearance it is apropos to give them the name "Pholus" with the "anti" or "opposite" suffix. Also Pholus was a mortal. Chiron was the only immortal centaur. Therefore, since the Antipholuses represent the soul they immortal and thus opposite to the mortal Pholus, i.e. "anti" Pholus.
But there may be an additional meaning in this riddle that goes beyond the foregoing. Since their names refer to the division of the soul, they may also refer back to the celebrated analogy of the driver, the two steeds and the chariot. The two steeds in the analogy are totally horses, and at the same time, totally human, since they represent divisions of the souls of man. Since the centaur, Pholus, was half horse and half human, what is presented in the symbolism of the names of the twins in The Comedy of Errors is "anti" Pholus.
Bacon invents a separate set of twins in the play who were not in his source Dromio of Syracuse, and Dromio of Ephesus. They are slaves, or bondmen to the Antipholuses. Since we know this has to do with the divisions that make up the constitution of man it is not difficult to determine what they symbolize. At the beginning of the fifth book of the De Augmentis, Bacon says,
"The Will of man and the Understanding of man are twins by birth." In the Advancement of Learning Bacon says, "The knowledge which repecteth the faculties of the mind of man is of two sorts: the one respecting the Understanding Reason, and the other his will, appetites and affections."
So we may assume that Dromio of Syracuse represents the understanding, while Dromio of Ephesus represent the will. Of course, since "Dromio" is a name Bacon chose to designate these two, then the name must have some related meaning. The understanding and the will are the faculties that cause all of our actions, and in The Mysteries, "Dromena" designated actions that were performed.
Writers during the Renaissance sometimes expressed the idea that, due to The Fall, there was a persistent tendency in the soul to short-circuit. Either the will by-passed the Understanding faculty, impelling the moving faculty directly, or the Sensitive Soul collected and processed the data as it should, but then by-passed the rational soul altogether and sent the data directly to the moving facultyof the Sensitive Soul. Thus the passions (with no control by the judgment of reason, or the moral choice of will) were aroused by what is pleasurable or what is painful, not by what is true or false, good or bad, and directed action accordingly. This symbolism can be seen in the play where there is the frequent in the association of the two Dromio's between Antipholus of Syracuse, and Antipholus of Ephesus.
But Bacon adds the additional symbolism of the mix up between the Higher and Lower self. In "Dionysus Myth and Cult" Walter F. Otto tells us that it was well known that the presence of Dionysus brought madness. Dionysus was the magician, who with his song created spells, and with his thysus created illusions. This theme of madness and illusions runs through The Comedy of Errors.
Upon my life, by some device or other
The villain is o'er-raught of all my money.
They say this town is full of cozenage:
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheater, prating mountebanks"
" for my beads! I cross me for a sinner.
This is fairyland. O spite of spites,
We talk with goblins, owls, and sprites!"
Am I in earth, in heaven or in hell?
Sleeping or waking? mad or well advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised?
"ll say as they say, and preserver so,
And in this mist at all adventures go."
Sure, these are but imaginary wiles,
And Lapland sorcerers inhabit here."
The fellow is distract, and so am I;
Now, out of doubt, Antipholus is mad"
How say you now? Is not your husband mad?"
"Go bind this man for he is frantic too."
May it please your grace, Antipholus my husband,
Who I made lord of me and all I had,
At your important letters, this ill day
A most outrageous fit of madness took him,
That desperately he hurried through the street Ð
With him his bondsman, all as made as he "
What we have here is the short version of an idea Bacon developed at more length in Don Quixote. The apparent madness comes from the introduction of the higher self into the world of the lower self. It would not have happened if Antipholus of Syracuse had not come to Ephesus. It is the old story of the cave in Plato's Republic. Socrates compares this world to a cave in which people sit fettered with their backs to a fire. They see only shadows cast on the wall of the cave before them by objects moving between them and the fire that is behind them. One of them escapes and makes his way to the outside world. When he returns and tries to describe the real world to the prisoners of the cave they think he is mad. To men of our world the real world is illusion. To men of the real world our world is illusion. The views are incompatible. They are mad from our viewpoint. We are mad from their viewpoint.
In the novel, Don Quixote believes in a reality he has read about in books. This reality is generally called Chivalry. A careful reading reveals the Chivalry of Don Quixote is that of the Quest for the Holy Grail. An understanding of the Grail Quest shows it dealt with the trials, ordeals, and adventures of Initiatism. Initiates are people who have escaped, or are escaping from the shadow world. Ordinary people have only heard about these people in books. Initiates undergo certain trial and ordeals that enable them to develop latent inner faculties that move their lives from the "shadow world" into the real world. Compared with their world the life of ordinary man is a life of madness in a world of illusion. But to ordinary man accounts of their world are tales of imagination by writers of fiction, and people who think they are real are mad. This is what is expressed in the seeming "madness" in The Comedy of Errors.This is why the presence of Dionysus brought madness because his presence symbolized the introduction of the higher self into the lower world.
According to the Orphic doctrine the soul had to enter its long cycle of incarnations in the earth because of the impurity it contracted. This impurity (symbolized by the ashes of the Titans from which the race of man arose) was due to the contact of the soul with matter, and to the impurity that resultedfrom the passions and the pleasures of the flesh. In his treatise Of The Face In The Orb Of The Moon, Plutarch gave an interesting account, which is more of the nature of a scientific than a mystical treatise. According to Plutarch the soul was an igneous breath of which the moral corruption was conceived quite materially. When it gave itself up to the corporeal passions, its substance thickened and the matter of this pollutions adhered to it. When the soul left the body at the time of death it became a spirit like the multitude of demons who peopled the atmosphere. If it was laden with matter, its weight condemned it to float in the densest atmosphere nearest the earth. But with time these impurities were worn away to a certain extent and it gradually ascended higher and higher to the realm of the moon from which the rebirth occurred.
If any further proof of Bacon's authorship of The Comedy of Errors is needed it is supplied by his Treatise on "Dionysus, Or Bacchus As Explained of the Passions" in the De Augmentis and The Wisdom of The Ancients, and his treatise on "The Sirens, or Pleasures" in the Wisdom of The Ancients. These may be compared with the detailed allusions in The Comedy of Errors. These allusions are noted very well by the ever perceptive W.F.C. Wigston in his The Columbus of Literature, Or Bacon's New World of Sciences.
Bacon says the fable of Bacchus has to do with the passions and unlawful desires.That Bacchus should be the inventor of wine carries a fine allegory with it;
"for every affection [passion] is cunning and subtle in discovering a proper matter to nourish and feed it; and of all things known to mortals, wine is the most powerful and affectual for exciting and inflaming passions of all kinds, being, indeed, like a common fuel to all."
and he adds:
Nor is it without a mystery that the ivy was sacred to Bacchus, and this for two reasons: first, because ivy is an evergreen, or flourishes in the winter; and secondly, because it winds and creeps about so many things, as trees, walls, and buildings, and raises itself above them. As to the first, every passion grows fresh, strong, and vigorous by opposition and
prohibition, as it were by a kind of contrast or antiperistasis, like the invy in the winter. And for the second, the predominant passion of the mind throws itself, like the ivy, round all human actions, entwines all our resolutions, and perpetually adheres to, and mixes itself among, or even overtops them.
And no wonder that superstitious rites and ceremonies are attributed to Bacchus, when almost every ungovernable passions grows wanton and luxuriant in corrupt religions;nor again, that fury and frenzy should be sent and dealt out by him, because every passion is a short frenzy, and if it be vehement, lasting, and take deep root, it terminates in madness. And hence the allegory of Pentheus and Orpheus being torn to pieces is evident; for every
headstrong passion is extremely bitter, severe, inveterate, and revengeful upon all curious inquiry, wholesome admonition, free counsel, and persuasion."
So in The Comedy of Errors, which deals with the Orphic allegory of the impure soul subject to its wanderings during its incarnations in the earth, Bacon depicts the vine (the emblem of Bacchus) as the symbol of the unpruned passions, to illustrate the workings of the unbridled will. In the Sylva Sylvarum Bacon says,
"And in France the grapes that make the wine, grow upon low vines bound to small stakes. It is true that in Italy and other countries, where they have hotter sun, they raise them upon elms."
So we see in The Comedy of Errors:
Adriana. Thou art an elm, and husband, I a vine,
Whose weakness married to thy stronger state
Makes me with thy strength to communicate:
If ought possess the from me it is dross,
Usurping ivy, briar or idle moss,
Who, all for want of pruning, with intrusion,
Infect thy sap, and live on thy confusion.
And in relation to his treatise of the "Sirens, or Pleasures" note the allusion to the sirens in the play. Antipholus of Syracuse exclaims to Luciana:
", train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears;
Sing, siren, for thyself and I will dote.
Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs,
And as a bed I'll take them and there lie,
And in that glorious supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die.
And further on in the scene:
"I'll stop my ears against the mermaid's song."
In the East the sphere into which the incarnating soul enters was referred to as Samsara, and often as the sea of samsara. In connection with the journey of the soul through Samsara the ancient Eastern Traditions had another very strange idea. They said the whole experience was only an illusion, a cosmic dream in which the self was caught up, but from which it would awaken when it finally achieved liberation. The great Lord Vishnu lays sleeping on his bed of Sesa, The King of Snakes. As he sleeps he dreams. This dream is all of creation. When he awakes all creation will disappear. With the appearance of his dream was also born time, the intregal aspect of Maya-the dream producing power of Vishnu.
In The Comedy of Errors (with an almost supernatural skill for compression), Bacon summarizes the entire cycle of reincarnation in this shortest of all his plays. There are numerous features that signal the presence of symbolism. For example, the names of the three lodgings referred to in the play:
1. The Centaur Inn (where Antipholus S. lodges in
2. The Phoenix (the house of Antipholus of Ephesus)
3. The Porpentine (where Antipholus E. meets the courtesan)
Why bring in the names at all? Especially why give the house where Antipholus of Ephesus lives a name? To use the words of Bacon these, "show and proclaim an allegory, even afar off."
Antipholus of Syracuse lodges at the Centaur Inn while he is in Ephesus. The symbol of the centaur is a very apt allegory of the contact of the higher self with the lower world of nature. The man half symbolizes the higher divine part; the horse half symbolizes the lower physical half. The 1,000 marks is stored at Centaur Inn during his stay in Ephesus. This represents the 1,000 year cycle.
The house of Antipholus of Ephesus is named the Phoenix. The Phoenix, who according to the legend, arose from the ashes, symbolizes man who, in the legend of Dionysus arose from the ashes of the Titans. The 500 year cycle of the Phoenix, although not the period of the earth life, while being half of the 1,000 year cycle symbolizes the complementary half of man's life in the 1,000 year cycle that is divided between the life in his physical incarnation and the part of his existence, during the cycle, that is spent outside the physical.
When Antipholus of Ephesus is locked out of his home he goes to the Porpentine (porcupine) so he can consort with the Courtesan. This represent the life of man given over to the carnal pleasure. Since this is opposed to his inner divine nature, he continually suffers a reaction symbolized by the pricks of spines of the porcupine.
Two additional threads run through this story of confusion and apparent madness. These deal with the 1,000 marks and the golden chain. Parallel with the motif of Aegeon being subject to the penalty of death if he cannot pay the fine of 1,000 marks is the depiction of Antipholus of Syracuse as possessing the 1,000. Immediately upon arriving at Ephesus he has Dromio of Syracuse take the 1,000 to his lodging at Centaur Inn, and it remains safely stored there throughout the play, although confusion exists from time to time as to whether it is there or not.
In the details of the motif of the gold chain, the situation is somewhat different. In his De Augmentis Bacon made reference to "that excellent and divine fable of the golden chain, where men and gods are represented as unable to draw Jupiter to earth, but Jupiter was able to draw them up to heaven. This refers to the golden chain of incarnations that will eventually allow man to regain his original celestial estate. The golden chain is fashioned for Antipholus of Ephesus by Angelo. Angelo represents the angelic, or what has sometimes been called the creative hierarchies. According to some esoteric doctrines these hierarchies play a part in fashioning the vehicles and conditions that allow the successive incarnations of the incarnating entity. In the play the golden chain was intended for Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus' wife, but when he is shut out of his own home he decides to give it to a courtesan. That is, he replaces the legitimate union of the soul with the physical vehicle, with the pursuit of the carnal pleasure of the flesh.
It is interesting that the theme of the 1,000 and the gold chain can also be found in As You Like It A very wise friend of my mine has pointed out that the plays incorporate a feature that is remarkably like the feature of HTML (Hyper Test Markup Language) in web pages, where there are links at certain places in the text that embed "jumps" to hypertext elsewhere. This feature is present throughout the text of the Shakespeare plays.
According to the famous American seer, Edgar Cayce, during the cycle of incarnations the higher self and the lower self are separated. He describes how, during the cycle, when the soul first began to incarnate in physical bodies in the earth, the consciousness of the soul and of the physical being were the same. But gradually the soul consciousness became submerged, and a separate physical consciousness was formed over it. At first the soul consciousness fed into the waking consciousness all the time. Then there appeared flashes where only the physical consciousness operated. These periods became longer until there existed only flashes from the soul consciousness, and finally these disappeared altogether so that the consciousness of the soul was totally submerged. But as the soul continues through its vast cycle of incarnations, the physical being will be reintegrated with the spiritual self. When the cycle is complete they would once again be united.
The Tibetan books of Alice Ann Bailey go into still more detail. They describe how several divisions are involved in the separation that takes place during the cycle of incarnations. The highest is the monad. Below this is the causal, or soul, and then the astral, and so on. At the end of the cycle all of these are reunited and absorbed into the oneness from which they arose.
At the end of the play all of these different characters symbolizing the different parts of man are reunited. Duke Solinus remits the 1,000 marks penalty that had been required of Aegeon to save him from the penalty of death.This is in line with the allegory because death can only happen to the Lower Self as long as it is separated from the Higher Self. When they are united death cannot take place.
The overall allegory in The Comedy of Errors is a profoundly esoteric doctrine, and one of the great mysteries connected with Bacon. How was he able to obtain this information in his day and age? He may have contacted an Esoteric School, or had teachers on the inner planes. In any case the esoteric teaching is that the parts of the constitution of man that are separated during the great cycle of reincarnations, are at the close of the cycle, finally reunited again.
Since this essay has swelled far beyond its intended length in my effort to cover the preceding ideas, I will merely glance at the aspect of the play dealing with the face looking toward the future. It seems that for his related aspect of knowledge Bacon has made an inquiry into the form of division or diversity and found that the form is unity.
The Shakespeare-Bacon Essays by Mather Walker