Twelfth Night


Mather Walker

 June 2003


"Twelfth Night, or What You Will" is the only Shakespeare play with an alternate title.  It is recognized as one of his masterpieces.  On the other hand, due to its complexity, it is generally viewed as lacking any unity of  underlying theme, and has been dubbed, 'the most elusive of Shakespeare's comedies'. Many commentators (admittedly not the brightest lights on the Christmas tree) have even failed to perceive any trace of Twelfth Night in the play, arguing that the alternate title means no more than, "You may call my play what you please." 

Actually Twelfth Night has a unity of theme that rivals that synthesis perceived by the scientific genius of Isaac Newton. Newton made four simple assumptions : his law of universal gravitation, and his three laws of motion.  These assumption enabled him to make an amazing synthesis of the world about him.  With these simple assumptions Newton demonstrated that the most amazing results could be derived.  Not only could all the movements of earthly bodies be explained, but all the movements of the heavenly bodies as well.  All the phenomena of astronomy, the movements of the heavens, of the sun, of the moon, the very complex movements of the planets, all of which had baffled the acutest intellects since the dawn of history, suddenly tumbled together and became intelligible in terms of these few basic assumptions.


         Time To Wake Up and Smell the Bacon

A comparable synthesis of Twelfth Night is present in the play.  It has been there all along.  Now is the time to seize it.  CARPE DIEM!  No, make that, CARPE BACON!

All of the very complex phenomena in Twelfth Night can be explained with the aid of two very simple assumptions.  We need only assume that Francis Bacon was the author, and that the key to the meaning of the play is in his description of the myth of "Orpheus, or Philosophy" in his "Wisdom of the Ancients". With these two simple assumptions all the very complex phenomena of Twelfth Night tumbles into place and becomes an intelligible, coherent whole.   

According to Classical Mythology Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope.  While he was still a small child he was given a lyre (a kind of harp) by his father, Apollo.  His skill with the instrument was astounding.  Nothing could withstand the power of his music. Even wild beasts gathered round him with their fierceness tamed, spellbound by the magic of his music.  Bacon (always concerned with the subject of human learning) says the story presents a picture of universal philosophy, and the magic power of the music of Orpheus represents the magical power of philosophy.  The wild beasts drawn to Orpheus by the power of his music represents those who forget their unbridled passions and emotions as a result of the discipline of philosophy.  The major themes of the play are based on these ideas : music, love, and unbridled passion.  The Orpheus connection introduces the idea of music.  Philosophy, which literally means LOVE of knowledge, or love of wisdom, introduces the theme of love, and what better milieu than the Twelfth Night festival in which to depict unbridled passions?   

Twelfth Night was the modern version of a festival from antiquity, The Saturnalia.  Twelfth Night provided Bacon with the requisite foundation to use the Saturnalia as his face looking toward the past, which in turn provided a basis on which to construct an inquiry into the form of unbridled passion as his face looking toward the future.

In "The Golden Bough" Sir George Frazer says:

 "We have seen that many people have been used to observe an annual period of
license, when the customary restraints of law and morality are thrown aside, when
the whole population give themselves up to extravagant mirth and jollity, and when
the darker passions find a vent which would never be allowed in the more staid and
sober course of ordinary life.
Of such periods of license the one which is best known and which in modern
language has given its name to the rest, is the Saturnalia.  This famous festival
fell in December, the last month of the Roman year, and was popularly supposed
to commemorate the merry reign of Saturn, god of sowing and husbandry."

The Janus design with the two faces, one looking toward the past, and one toward the future was a constant feature of Bacon's plays.  He described this design and stated his intent to use it in his "Masculine Birth of Time":

"Nevertheless it is important to understand how the present is like a seer with two faces,
one looking toward the future, and the other towards the past. Accordingly I have decided
to prepare for your instruction tables of both ages, containing not only the past course and
progress of science, but also anticipations of things to come."

The Orpheus/philosophy connection, in addition to telling us why music and love have such a predominant role in the play, also tells us why the setting of the play is Illyria.  Countries such as Albania, Morovia, India, and so forth, have the suffix 'ia', meaning that the preceding name is the name of the country, land, or realm.  In the Romance Languages 'il' means 'the'.  Illyria, or Il'lyr'ia literally means 'the realm or land of the lyre'.  In his essay  "Of Love" Bacon says: 

"This passion hath his floods, in very times of weakness; which are great prosperity, and great adversity" 

Therefore, Illyria is depicted as a leisure society in a time of great prosperity, where the people, removed from the practical realities of urban life, are almost exclusively devoted to the pastimes of leisure, music, and especially love.  In accordance with the Twelfth Night theme, Illyria is a place of unbridled passions where people do what they will.

Thanks to a diary entry by a law student, John Manningham, dated February 2, 1602, we know the first performance of 'Twelfth Night' took place in Middle Temple on Twelfth Night of that year.  The play was written to be performed at the Inns of Court where Bacon is known to have taken the lead role in organizing and providing masques and entertainments.  In fact, it had very many similarities with an entertainment Bacon provided for Gray's Inn a few years before.  Moreover, two characters in Twelfth Night, Andrew Arguecheek and Sir Toby, are parodies of two of Bacon's closest friends: Lancelot Andrewes and Sir Tobie Matthew.  These hilarious parodies were obviously designed to entertain Bacon's other friends at the Inns of Court who were acquainted with Andrewes and Matthew.  Another character in the play was modeled on Bacon's brother, Anthony Bacon.  One character was even modeled on Bacon himself, and in a context that shows he was the author of the Shakespeare plays.  The music in the play is another link to Francis Bacon.  

Bacon's friend, Ben Jonson, had recently written "Every Man Out of His Humour" and dedicated the play to his friends at the Inns of Court.  Bacon had a boar on his coat of arms.  In the play, at the same time as he ridicules the man from Stratford, Jonson shows the Stratford man was a front for Bacon by putting a boar's head on his coat of arms.  A custom of the Twelfth Night feast (which took place preceding the performance of the play, or even while Bacon's friends were watching the play) was to bring out a boar's head held aloft on a platter. No doubt Bacon's friends in the audience would have seen the connection.  But just to make the connection more obvious Bacon incorporated many elements from Jonson's play in Twelfth Night.

When Viola comes ashore at Illyria, and asks the Captain, "who governs there", the Captain answers,

"A noble duke, in nature as in name."

One meaning of this is he has a noble nature and a noble name. The other less obvious meaning is - his nature is the same as his name.  His name, Orsino, means 'bearlike', i.e., the ravenous devourer, the creature of the appetites.  Orsinio is the wild beast tamed by the power of music.  The name of Viola, who marries Orsinio at the end of the play, means 'violet', but it is also the name of a musical instrument.  Moreover, this is not just any musical instrument.  The viola has been described as "the ultimate consort instrument, ideally suited to the rich lugubrious music, full of the pangs of unrequited love, so beloved of the Elizabethan English."  A further tip off is when Viola talks to the captain about her intention of entering the service of Orsinio.  She says, "I can sing and speak to him in many sorts of music".  The viola is the musical instrument ideally suited for the symbolism of the play.  In short the very musical instrument that is playing as the play begins.  This is emphasized when the music is equated with violets:

Duke.  If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.

That strain again!  It had a dying fall;

O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour!  Enough, no more;

'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.

O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!

That, notwithstanding thy capacity

Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,

Of what validity and pitch soe'er,

But falls into abatement and low price

Even in a minute.  So full of shapes is fancy,

That it alone is high fantastical.

Curio.  Will you go hunt, my lord?

We don't know anything about Viola when the play begins.  But, in accordance with the curious design of the play, which follows the idea from Twelfth Night where the ordinary pattern of things is reversed, here at the very beginning we are presented with three allusions to Viola.  The 'bank of violets' alludes to her name.  The music alludes to her name.  The 'receiving into the sea' also alludes to Viola.  Before Viola comes to Illyria she is shipwrecked, received into the sea and in danger of drowning before her rescue.  Why are the allusions to Viola  in connection with music placed at the very beginning of the play?  This can be understood in connection with the other clue that is given at the beginning of the play ; the clue to the author of the play. 

According to Bacon, the normal appetite of man should be the hunger for knowledge.  All knowledge, he says, is a hunt.  He referred to Literate Experience as "the Hunt of Pan."  The office of Pan, he said, could not be more lively represented than by making him the god of hunters. So the Arts and Science have their particular end which they hunt after. For every natural action, every motion and process, is no other than a hunt.  This idea is immediately brought in. Curio (a name derived from an abbreviation of curiosity, from the Latin word meaning a desire to learn or know) asks the Duke, "Will you go hunt, my lord?" and the following dialogue ensues:

Duke. What, Curio?

Curio. The hart.

Duke. Why, so I do, the noblest that I have.

O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,

Methought she purg'd the air of pestilence!

That instant was I turn'd into a hart,

And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,

E'er since pursue me.

As in the Twelfth Night revels where everything is inverted, so in the beginning passage we see the inversion of the normal appetite of man.  Man, who should be the hunter, has become the hunted.  He is prey to his passions.  The allusion in the opening passage to the sea also points to Bacon.  In the passage from his essay on love we have seen that he compares the passion of love to a flood, 'This passion hath his floods'.  Throughout the play liquid, particularly water (as the sea, or drowning, or even as rain) is equated with the idea of people being submerged by their passions.

Bacon always optimizes his symbolism.  Because philosophy, mean 'love of' wisdom Bacon weaves the theme of love into the plot of the play.  The play deals with excessive love, love melancholy, self-love, love of friends, homosexual love, etc. When dealing with the subject of love in the renaissance all paths led to that great seminal work on the subject - the Symposium of Plato.  In the Symposium, Aristophanes, describing souls as they were originally created, says they were globular in shape, then Zeus cut them all in half just as you or I might cut an apple in two.  When Antonio says of Sebastian and Viola:

"How have you made division of yourself?

An apple cleft in two is not more twin

Than these two creatures.  Which is Sebastian?"

The dialogue is a dead give away.  The allusion is to the division of souls in Symposium.  In the play when the ship is wrecked and Viola and Sebastian are cast into the sea, Bacon depicts the soul, which has been cleft in two like an apple, now descending into the world of material existence.  In The Tempest, written nine years later, when the ship is wrecked and the people aboard the ship descend into the sea, the symbolism is also that of the souls descending into material existence.  Bacon even uses almost the same words found in Twelfth Night.  In The Tempest the Boatswain says:

"Heigh my hearts, cheerily, cheerily my harts"

Compare this with Twelfth Night:

"O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,

Methought she purged the air of pestilence,

That Instant was I turned into a hart,

And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,

E'er since pursue me."

Here we also find the explanation of the presence of Valentine in the play.  This is an allusion to "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" which was an allegory of the soul going forth into the material world.  The presence of Valentine is a hint that tells us to look backward to "The Two Gentlemen of Verona".  Significantly, Valentine is Orsinio's embassy to Olivia before Viola is given that role.

According to the renaissance ideas the soul was made up of the understanding, and the appetites, plus the intermediary between the two - the imagination.  Bacon designed the play as a microcosm, both of the human constitution, and as a microcosmic society depicting the Twelfth Night revels.  By doing this Bacon depicted an anatomy of man in accordance with the anatomy of the constitution of man arising from Jonson's 'humors' plays, and depicted an anatomy of a society modeled on the Twelfth Night entertainment in accordance with his own designs in the play. So in the play we see the House of Olivia (the understanding), the court of Orsinio (the appetites), and Feste (the imagination) who goes back and forth between the two.  The house of Olivia is endowed with a special symbolism since it represents the understanding.  Olivia literally means 'olive tree'. Bacon emphasizes this by having Viola make an allusion to the olive when she first sees Olivia:

"I bring no overture of war, no taxation of homage.
I hold the olive in my hand. My words are full of peace as matter."

This signals us to look for some particular allusion in connection with the 'olive tree'.  We do not have to look far.  In Greek mythology the olive tree originated as the result of a contest between Poseidon, god of the sea and Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom.  The contest was for the purpose of determining who would be protector of a newly built city in Attica.  It was agreed that the winner would be the one who offered the most valuable gift to the people of Attica.

Poseidon struck his trident on a rock and salt began to flow. Athena stuck her spear into the ground and it turned into an olive tree.  The Olive tree was nourishing, useful for caring for wounds, useful as a defense against the cold, never died, and was judged the most valuable gift to humanity. Athena won the contest and the city was named Athens in her honor.  The ancients believed Pallas Athena was originator of the olive tree, and this tree was always viewed as a symbol for Pallas Athena.  Pallas Athena was also the goddess connected with households.  So the household of Olivia is the household of Pallas Athena.  And it follows that Bacon would depict the goddess of wisdom as in mourning, since in his view human learning had suffered a shipwreck.  Valentine tells Orsinio that Olivia intends to mourn for seven years.  This is a symbolic period of time like the seven lean years of the Bible. 

In my essay on "Shake-Speare's Other Side of Midnight" I pointed out that Francis Bacon eschewed the old nine muses, choosing instead for his inspiration a tenth muse (Pallas Athena) 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".

     (Well that your Pallas has rendered me better instructed)

Pallas Athena Herself.  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. This was the symbolic meaning behind the name Shake-Speare that Bacon used as his mask.  Ben Jonson broadly hinted at this 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."

In view of all this, it is highly interesting that the character which is a depiction of Francis Bacon in the play is shown as marrying Olivia.  It is interesting also that when Olivia is leading Sebastian to the chantry to marry him, Sebastian says, "'tis wonder that enwraps me thus."  At the beginning of the Advancement of Learning Bacon says:

            "for all knowledge and wonder (which is the seed of knowledge)"

Bacon's presence hovers over the play like the customary boar's head which was brought out held aloft over the Twelfth Night feast  Additional background on Bacon provides additional information about his connection with the play.


                                             A Little Traveling Music

I would be remiss if I did not note in passing the musical links with Francis Bacon in the play.  In 1599 the following book was published:

"The first booke of consort lessons", by Morley, Thomas, 1557-1603? [London] : Printed at London in Little Saint Helens by William Barley, the assigne of Thomas Morely, and are to be solde at his shop in Gratious-streete, 1599

This book contained the music for "O Mistress Mine", one of the songs in Twelfth Night.  As I have already shown in my article "Was Francis Bacon a Masked Musician?", William Barley was a front man for Francis Bacon and published books containing his works.  The following book, published in 1600, also contained quotes from a number of songs in Twelfth Night:

"The first booke of songes & ayres of foure parts with tableture for the lute", by Jones, Robert, fl. 1597-1615. [London] : Printed by Peter Short with the assent  of Thomas Morley, and are to be sold at the signe of the Starre on Bredstreet hill, 1600

It is significant, bearing in mind Bacon's Masonic connections, that this work had the Masonic beehive emblem on the title page.  In addition the book was dedicated to Bacon's friend, Robert Sidney, and the music was designed to be played on the viola.  The following works by Robert Jones were marked with Bacon's "AA", or Archer emblem:

"A musicall dreame", by Jones, Robert, fl. 1597-1615. London : Imprinted by [J. Windet for] the assignes of William Barley, and are to be solde [by S. Waterson]  in Powles Church-yard, at the signe of the Crowne, 1609 ---AA p3--Bear p2

 "Cantus The first set of madrigals, of parts", by Jones, Robert, fl. 1597-1615.London : Imprinted by Iohn Windet, 1607 ---no AA--Archer p2

And the following work was marked with the bear emblem which Bacon used quite often:

"A musicall dreame. Or The fourth booke of ayres", by Jones, Robert, fl. 1597-1615.London : Imprinted by Iohn Windet, and are to be solde by Simon Waterson, in Powles Church-yeard, at the signe of :he [sic] Crowne, 1609 ---no AA--Bear p2, p3

So publications in contemporary songbooks definitely showed Francis Bacon was connected to Twelfth Night.  There is much more.


                                              Twelfth Night In Context

In 1607 Francis Bacon wrote a short work titled, "The Clue to the Maze".  It began, "Francis Bacon thought in this manner."  The phrase could not be more appropriate to the present study.  When trying to understand the meaning of any 'Shakespeare' play exactly what is needed is to  keep in mind the manner in which Bacon thought.  Francis Bacon was a superman.  Another superman would instantly recognize the author of Twelfth Night as one of his kind by the peculiar holoistic quality of the play.  But these beings are very rare.  If others exist they are like whales listening for other whales across a thousand miles of freezing ocean.  In the consciousness of the superman everything is present at once.  Patterns are seen that ordinary humans do not see because the data grasped in one perception by the superman is spread out over time in the linear consciousness of ordinary man.  Imagine someone shown a likeness an artist had drawn, while another is only shown small portions of that same drawing over a period of days. The person who saw all of the drawing at once could recognize the person, but the person shown small portions over a period of time could not.

Bacon saw patterns we cannot see because we are not capable of that perception in which all is part of one whole.  I emphasize this because although I have glimpsed the unity of theme in Twelfth Night, when I try to convey what I have glimpsed I will likely fall short in my attempt to show how much Bacon seamlessly blended together in the miracle of art he called, 'Twelfth Night'.  And, of course, In addition to the manner in which Bacon thought we need to be familiar with those stock ideas which were a staple of his thought. I will just point out three of these:

(1) Bacon conveyed the information he wanted to convey through the mode of allegory, metaphor, and allusion.  He tells us this in his preface to The Wisdom of the Ancients:

"And even to this day, if any man would let new light in upon the human understanding,
and conquer prejudice, without raising contests, animosities, oppositions, or disturbance,
he must still go in the same path [as the ancients], and have recourse to the like method
of allegory, metaphor, and allusion."

(2) Bacon built a  Janus design into the plays. Each play has two faces, one face looking toward the past, the other toward the future. One face looks at the course and progress of the ancients in some particular aspect of knowledge. The other, looking toward the future, contrasts Bacon's method with theirs and shows that his is better by demonstrating the operation of his discovery device in inquiring into the form of a related aspect of knowledge.

(3) Bacon also had a thread of topical allusion throughout the plays that dealt with people and events he had had personal contact with.  Even a casual survey of the plays demonstrates this.  Commentators have pointed to John Dee as the model for Prospero, William Cecil as the model for Polonius in Hamlet, Bacon himself as the model for Hamlet.  Sir Walter Raleigh as the model for Othello; Robert Cecil as the model for Richard III, and a composite of Robert Cecil and Henry Howard as the model for Iago.  As has often been noted, Bertram in 'All Well that Ends Well' is based on Edward De Vere, and Helena on Anne Cecil.  In Twelfth Night Bacon depicts Lancelot Andrewes, Tobie Matthew, Anthony Bacon, and himself.  But before I get into this, a little background on the genesis of Twelfth Night is in order.

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  The year 1601 is nearing its close.  The fabled masked man, shadowy and legendary figure, fastest pen in the West, is preparing to create another masterpiece.  A fiery steed (Pegasus) with the speed of light.  A cloud of ideas.  A hearty shake of his spear.  With his faithful muse, Pallas Athena, the daring and resourceful masked writer leads the fight for learning and light.  The masterpiece he is about to create is Twelfth Night.  He has agreed to write a play to be performed on Twelfth Night at Middle Temple.   

In 1930 (Cambridge University Press, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and J.D. Wilson, eds., Twelfth Night or What You Will) Sir Arthur wrote, "It seems a reasonable guess that Shakespeare had written [this play] for presentation on . . .Twelfth Night (Epiphany), 1602."  Of course it seems a reasonable guess since the first record we have of the performance of the play tells us it was performed at the Middle Temple, which was particularly noted for their celebrations of Twelfth Night, and the record indicates the performance took place on Twelfth Night. An entry dated February 2, 1602, in the diary of John Manningham, a lawyer of  the Middle Temple is the first record of the performance of 'Twelfth Night'.He points to its first performance as taking place in the Middle Temple on Twelfth Night of that year:

"At our feast [i.e. our Twelfth Night feast] we had a play called Twelve Night, or
What You Will, much like the Comedy of Errors or Menechmi in Plautus, but most
like and near to that Italians called Inganni."

We can go a step further.  Since we know Twelfth Night was first performed at Middle Temple on Twelfth Night (January 5/6) of 1602 we can plausibly conclude at the time Bacon began to write the comedy he had already agreed to write a comedy for the annual Twelfth Night entertainment in the Middle Temple, and we can conclude that this play was written specifically for that purpose.  Why was Francis Bacon  writing a play to be performed at Middle Temple?

From 1580 onward Bacon had a close connection with Gray's Inn.  He was devoted to Gray's Inn.

He became the dominant force there, and the ruling spirit in devising and organizing the masques and entertainments, which were such a feature of the life of the Inn.  Beyond this still, he became the dominant force in all of the Inns of Court.  There is a close connection between the play "Twelfth Night" he wrote for the Twelfth Night entertainment at Middle Temple for the 1602 entertainment,  and the entertainment he designed for Gray's Inn for Christmas season of 1594.

Lady Anne Bacon had learned of the  planned festivities at Gray's Inn early in early December of that year.  On December 5th she wrote Anthony Bacon a letter filled with anxiety least her precious boys might go astray, "I trust they will nor mum nor mask nor sinfully revel at Gray's Inn", and she added fretfully, "Who were sometime counted first, God grant they wane not daily and deserve to be named last."

Christmas season, 1594.  So much for Lady Anne's admonition.  We might paraphrase Dickens.  Francis Bacon knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  For those who imagine Francis Bacon as too sober and serious a character to have a role in the midst of such frivolous goings on, it is well to bear in mind the remark by his friend Ben Jonson: 

"Yet there happened in my time one noble speaker, who was full of gravity in his speaking.  His language (where he could spare or pass by a jest) was nobly censorious."

The truth is Francis Bacon always had an irrepressible sense of humor.  This is nowhere more apparent than in the play "Twelfth Night", and in the 1594 revels.  Here it was Christmas season 1594 and the boys were going full tilt.  This was not just any old Christmas celebration.  It was one of the most elegant that ever took place at Gray's Inn. An account of the entertainment was later printed in a publication titled, "Gesta Grayorum", i.e. "The Deeds of Gray".  The entertainment was structured around the idea of the twelve days of Christmas.

This structuring of the twelve days of Christmas to correspond to the twelve months of the year is very significant.  Bacon was a Freemason, and the great motif of the Masons was the idea of their lodge built on the pattern of the Temple of Solomon, which, in turn was modeled after the universe.  In his Novum Organum Bacon said:

          "We neither dedicate nor raise a capitol or pyramid to the pride of man, but rear a holy temple in his mind, on the model of the universe, which model therefore we imitate."

The word 'temple' had its root in the word 'tempus' meaning time.  Masonic scholars have demonstrated that the microcosmic design of most ancient temples, as well as The Temple of Solomon on which the Masonic Lodge is modeled, included the pattern of the annual cycle, a paradigm of time.  Bacon designed the plays as stations, along the annual cycle.  The writing of Twelfth Night occurred near the end of his cycle of comedies.  Twelfth Night may not have been the twelfth comedy he wrote, but it was written near that point.  When the First Folio was published in 1623, it was designed so Twelfth Night was clearly indicated as the twelfth play in the volume.  It was actually the thirteenth, but the first play, The Tempest, was designed as a summary for the following twelve, and marked with a different ornamental heading than the group of twelve comedies of which Twelfth Night was the last.  This indicated that Twelfth Night was actually designed as the twelfth in the group of comedies.  The only comedy that was placed after Twelfth Night in the volume was The Winter's Tale.  The Winter's Tale was designed to show the pattern of the entire volume (see my article on this play).

We should remember also that in connection with the 1594 entertainment, appeared the first recorded performance of a 'Shakespeare' play ; "The Comedy of Errors".  Two sets of twins in "The Comedy of Errors" set the stage for a situation comedy resulting from the confusions of mistaking one twin for another twin.

James Spedding, the recognized authority on Francis Bacon, demonstrated that the speech of the six Councilors in the Gesta Grayorum entertainment was written by Francis Bacon.  This is generally accepted.  This being the case it follows Bacon wrote the whole thing, and that he was in charge of the whole entertainment.  Even at this early date Bacon had already established himself as the dominant force at Gray's Inn, and at the Inns of Court.  This is emphasized two years later in a letter Francis Bacon wrote to the Earl of Shrewesbury:

            "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 please 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 Your Lordship's very humble and much bounden,

                                                          FR. BACON"

When Bacon says, 'their last masque' it is evident he refers to the Gesta Grayorum entertainment. 

When Twelfth Night appeared, a few years later, it had the same device of twins and mistaken identities.

It dealt with the same festivity "Gesta Grayorum" had dealt with.  It was performed at one of the Inns of Court just as "The Comedy of Errors" had been performed at one of the Inns of Court.  And in the play Bacon's irrepressible sense of humor bubbled over just as it did in Gesta Grayorum.  For we find the hilarious parody of two of his closest friend: Lancelot Andrewes and Toby Matthew.  And, the play also depicts his brother Anthony Bacon, and even (in allegory and allusion), himself.

Additional background pertinent to the play, "Twelfth Night", has to do with Bacon' friend; Ben Jonson.  In 1598 Jonson wrote his play, "Everyman in His Humour".  Jonson harkened back to the old idea of the word 'humor' in the Galenic tradition.  This tradition postulated the functioning of the human organism as having at it basis four humors (bile, phlegm, choler, and blood).  In a sound constitution the four humors were perfectly blended, but when one transgresses its proper boundaries a disorder results in the organism.  In drawing his characters as depictions of the operations of the humors in the human organism Jonson adopted the later and more commonplace tradition of the bipolar scheme where the psychological disorders in the human organism were associated with choler and blood.

In 1599 Jonson wrote another play, "Every Man Out of His Humour", which was registered in 1600.

He dedicated this play to the Inns of Court, noting that:

"when I wrote this Poeme, I had friendship with divers in your societies; who,
as they were great Names in learning, so they were no lesse Examples of living."

It is significant that Jonson dedicated the play to the Inns of Court. At this time Jonson had become a friend of Bacon's and had also become acquainted with others from the Inn's of Court.  In "Every Man Out Of  His Humour" Jonson showed that he was one of Bacon's insiders.  It is obvious he knew that the man from Stratford was merely a mask Bacon was using.  He mocked the pretentiousness of the man from Stratford at the same time as he showed Bacon was the true author of these writings.  In Act iii, Scene I, the character Sogliardo (who represent the man from Stratford) is proud of his newly acquired coat of arms, and boasts about it in his conversation with Sir Puntarvolo and Carlo the jester:

Sogliardo.  Nay, I will have them, I am resolute for that.  By this parchment, gentlemen, I have been so

toiled among the harrots (heralds] yonder, you will not believe; they do speak I' the strangest language

and give a man the hardest terms for his money, that ever you knew.

Carlo. But ha' you arms? ha' you arms?

Sogliardo. I' faith, I thnk God.  I can write myself a gentleman now; here's my patent, it cost me thirty

pounds, by this breath.

Puntarvolo. A very fair coat, well charged and full of armory.

Sogliardo. Nay, it has as much variety of colours in it, as you have seen a coat have; how like you the

crest, sir?

Puntarvolo. I understand it not well, what is't?

Sogliardo. Marry sir, it is your boar without a head, rampant.

After some more badinage about this ridiculous coat of arms, Sogliardo reads from a paper where it is described in heraldic language: 

Sogliardo.  On a chief argent, a boar's head proper, between two ann'lets sables.

Carlo. (to Puntarvolo). 'Slud, it's a hog's cheek and puddings, in a pewter field, this.

Sogliardo.  How like you 'hem, signior?

Puntarvolo. Let the word be, 'Not without mustard': Your crest is very rare, sir.

Sogliardo is clearly identified with the Stratford man by the motto.  "Not without Mustard" is a parody of the motto "Not Without Right"on Shakespere's coat of arms, (Non Sanz Droit), and the device of the Boar's head clearly signals that the real author behind the scenes was Bacon with his Boar coat of arms.

It is evident not only that Shakespere had trouble obtaining his patent, but that someone very clever intervened.  The original draft of the grant of arms showed that it had been denied.  It had written on it "non, sanz droit", i.e. "no, without right". Someone, by merely having the comma removed, reversed the entire meaning of the phrase to "non sanz droit", i.e. "not without right".  (A photograph of the original draft of the grant of arms can be seen in John Michell's, "Who Wrote Shakespeare").

One imagines Bacon at the heralds office after the grant had been refused.  The official insists the refusal is final - the notation "no, without right" has already been made, and it cannot be changed.  Bacon smiles and suggests (as he extends some cash) that the comma was put in there by mistake, that what is actually written is "not without right".  The cash changes hands, the official realizes the mistakes, and corrects it by writing the motto at the top of the draft in large, bold letters: "Non Sanz Droit", "Not Without Right."

Why does Jonson place the Boar's head in a pewter platter?  Jonson alludes to an earlier event connected with Bacon.  While Bacon was in France, in 1577, a version of Alciat's Emblems was published in which, for the first time, Bacon's "light A-dark A" device appeared in the remarkable "In dies meliora [In better days] emblem below (the symbolism also showed a masonic connection):

Baconians have often made reference to this emblem, but in order to appreciate the full significance of the emblem it is necessary to compare it with the original "In dies meliora" emblem that appeared in the earliest edition of Alciat's Emblems.  This emblem was as follows:


 The 'better days' of the original emblem with the boar's head on the pewter platter referred to a time of feasting, perhaps even to a Twelfth Night revelry.  As already noted, a customary feature of the Twelfth Night feast was bringing a boar's head out held aloft on a platter.  Bacon's emblem contrasted this by showing that the true 'better days' will come when man realizes there is 'more beyond' and ventures forth pass the pillars of Hercules of the Old World to find a New World of science along with the benefits this will bring to man.  Also there was evident Masonic symbolism in the latter emblem.  The dark and light "A" embodied the great Masonic motto, "From darkness to light."  The two pillars reflected the familiar Masonic pillars, and the SOW the fact that every master Mason was a SOW, i.e. a Son Of the Widow. When the Gilbert Watts edition of the De Augmentis was published in 1640 the title page contained a wealth of Masonic symbolism.  But one feature of the title page also showed a connection to the Bacon's 1577 Alciat emblem.  On the base of the obelisks were the words, "Moniti Meliora", i.e. "Better Reminder", indicating that the De Augmentis was a still better reminder that mankind must look not to the time of feasting for 'better days' but to the future of science of which the De Augmentis gave such an outstanding preliminary foundation..

The play, "Twelfth Night Bacon" alludes to all three instances of the Boar's head:  the Boar's head in the original Alciat emblem; the customary Boar's head in the Twelfth Night revelry. and the Boar's head in Jonson's parody of the actor Shakespere.  

Bacon went far beyond Jonson in his presentation of the 'humors' element.  In Jonson the humors are dead cartoon characters.  Bacon constructed a dynamic representation of a living human organism by depicting two divisions in his house of Olivia, and his court of Orsino respectively, corresponding to the traditional renaissance divisions of the human soul: the Understanding and the sensitive soul (which included the faculties of the appetites), and by including the clown, Feste, as a symbolization of the imagination.

                                             The Local Reading of Twelfth Night

Thanks to the entry in the diary of John Mannigham we know the play was performed in the hall of Middle Temple on February 2, 1602.  Middle Temple was closely allied with Gray's Inn, and many members of the audience would have known Bacon and his friends, and would have been amused by his depiction of Lancelot Andrewes and Toby Matthew, and would have recognized his depiction of Anthony Bacon.. 

Lancelot Andrewes was a tall man (Aubrey describes him as 'a great long boy' at 18 years old).  He was master of a great many languages (a contemporary said he could have served as the interpreter general at the confusions of tongues) and was sickly and pale from burning the midnight oil, indulging in so many years of continuous study. The character Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the play obviously represents Lancelot Andrewes.  There is the similarity of the names Andrew and Andrewes.  There is the height.  We are told he is as tall as any man in Illyria.There is the languages. We are told that he "speaks three or four languages word for word without book".  This was a parody.  Actually Lancelot Andrewes was master of 21 languages.  There is his pale complexion. His name Aguecheek reflects his pale and sickly complexion that came from so many years of study.  His straight hair is referred to by Sir Toby, who says 'it will not curl by nature' and 'it hangs like flax on a distaff'. Andrewes was noting for his walking, this being his only physical activity, and Sir Toby tells Aguecheek, 'I did think, by the excellent constitution of thy leg, it was formed under the star of a galliard'.

"Twelfth Night" was a period of festival and revelry, of license in which people do what they will.  Their appetites and passions were given full reign, and the ordinary social order was inverted.  Cross-dressing was a feature of this inversion of the normal order of things ; hence the cross-dressing of Viola.  In accordance with this Twelfth Night logic of the play where everything is inverted, and in accordance with the entertainment requirements of the play, Aguecheek is represented as a fool.  He says, "I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting."  In keeping with the theme of the play this is just the opposite to Andrewes who did bestow that time in the tongues, and who never gave a thought to fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting.

Sir Toby Belch in the play obviously represents Toby Matthew.  He was not merely Toby Matthew, he was Sir Toby as his biography, "The Life of Sir Tobie Matthew" by his kinsman, Arnold Harris Mathew, tells us.  And thereby hangs a tale.  Arnold Mathew tells us Tobie Mathew was Knighted by King James at Royston in October of 1623.  Prior to that time he was just Tobie Mathew, not Sir Tobie Mathew. Twelfth Night had no quarto printings.  It first appeared in the 1623 First Folio edition of the collected works of Shakespeare.  Printing was begun on the volume during the summer of 1623 and then discontinued.  It was begun again a few months later and the first completed copy of the Folio was available for licensing and registration by November 8, 1623.  And when this volume appeared (lo and behold) Toby has the title "Sir" before his name.  This leads to some interesting conclusions for those who are not too thick headed to listen. 

Since Edward De Vere died in 1604 he is eliminated as the author. Furthermore, since William Shakespeare of Stratford on Avon died in 1616 he is also elimnated as the author.  This leaves (guess who?) Francis Bacon. Surprise, surprise!

Arnold Mathew also tells us that Tobie Mathew was a remarkable linquist.This is indicated in the depiction of the character of Sir Toby in the play.  He constantly throws off foreign words, or phrases: Pourquoi", 'Castiliano vulgo', 'Deliculo surgere', and so on.  In addition, it is well known that Tobie was a Roman Catholic.  He was exiled from England for this reason.  And Arnold Mathew tells us that he was both a friend of the Jesuits, and of Father Parson.  Both of these are alluded to in connection with Sir Toby in the play.

Father Parson was a fellow Jesuit who traveled with Edmund Campion from Rome to France.  The two separated to enter England and, for reasons of security, pursued their ministries in England individually.  When Feste the Clown prepares to go to Malvolio, who has been shut up in the dark room, Sir Toby calls him Master Parson: "Jove bless thee, Master Parson."  The clown answers:

 "Bonos dies, Sir Toby: for, as the old hermit of Prague, that never saw pen and ink, very
wittily said to a niece of King Gorboduc, "That that is is" ; so I, being master Parson, am master Parson;
for,what is "that" but "that"; and "is" but "is"?

This is typical Jesuit equivocation.  The old hermit of Prague alludes to Campion's last assignment before his mission to England.  Nearly six of his less than nine years on the Continent were spent in Prague. He may be thought of as a hermit in either of two ways in that hermits were holy men who sought solitude in their quest for holiness, or that Campion's stay in Prague was considered to be an exile not only from England but from Englishmen.  The reference to the old hermit of Prague being denied pen and ink alludes to an incident in connection with Edmund Campion which occurred in the "conference" of September 24, 1581, the third of four such conferences, in which Campion was opposed by one Master Fulke:

"If you dare, let me show you Augustine and Chrysostom," he [Campion] cried at one moment,"if you dare."

Fulke: "Whatever you can bring, I have answered already in writing against others of your side. And yet if you think you can add anything, put it in writing and I will answer it."

Campion: "Provide me with ink and paper and I will write."

Fulke: "I am not to provide you ink and paper."

Campion: "I mean, procure me that I may have liberty to write."

Fulke: "I know not for what cause you are restrained of that liberty, and therefore I will not take upon me to procure it.'

Campion: "Sue to the Queen that I may have liberty to oppose. I have been now thrice opposed.

 It is reason that I should oppose once."

Fulke: "I will not become a suitor for you."

Although Sir Toby was known as quite a learned man in his day, he never came anywhere near the prodigious learning amassed by Lancelot Andrewes.  But in keeping with the inverted logic of the play, Sir Toby is constantly portrayed in the play as more learned than Aguecheek.

The name of the character Antonio, in the play, is a variant of the name Anthony.  Anthony was Francis Bacon's brother, and the third member of the triad of his closest friends.  Anthony was a homosexual.  He was arrested in France on a charge of Sodomy, and only escaped the penalty of being burned alive by virtue of the fact that he was a close friend of Henri, the King of Navarre.  In the play the love of Antonio for Sebastian is deliberately written to indicate it is of a homosexual nature.  Antonio says to Sebastian, "If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant."  Sebastian tries to free himself of Antonio's attachment by leaving Antonio, but Antonio follows him, and says to Sebastian, "I could not stay behind you: my desire, more sharp than filed steel, did spur me forth."  In addition to this, Antonio (Act II, Scene 4) insists on giving Sebastian his purse.  This is another significant designation of Anthony, since Anthony constantly supplied Francis with money. 

If Antonio depicts Anthony Bacon this means Sebastian depicts Francis Bacon.  Sebastian, whose name means 'august' tells Antonio that he is also known by the name of 'Roderigo'.  Roderigo means 'renowned ruler', which designates Francis Bacon who, in his letter to Burghley, said he had taken all knowledge for his province.  He is the noble ruler of the province of knowledge.  Sebastian marries Olivia.  We do not have to look far to find the connection.  Francis Bacon took Pallas Athena for his muse.  It is significant then that in Twelfth Night, Sebastian, the characters who represents Francis Bacon, marries Olivia who represents Pallas Athena. But there is an even more interesting allusion here.  Viola is the identical twin of Sebastian.  She is one half of the soul that is Sebastian.  So Viola equals Sebastian.  Now it just so happens that Olivia is an anagram for Viola.  The letters of Olivia rearrange to spell: "I, Viola".  This might be somewhat of a a reach, but Bacon was careful to have the letters M.O.A.I. in the letter which Malevolio picks up, and to show Malevolio struggling to decipher an anagram from these letters.  Leslie Hotson has speculated that "M,O,A,I" stands for Mare, Orbis, Aer, and Ignis, the four elements to which Malvolio so often refers.  This is an additional allusions for the 'humours' theme in the play.   But there is another, perhaps less obvious, rationale for the inclusion of the M.O.A.I. in the letter scene.  Ostensibly the reader will struggle along with Malevolio to make sense of the letters, and consequently should be alert for anagrams in the play.  This being the case it might be expected that the reader will find the anagram in Olivia.  Therefore, if the name of Olivia was deliberately selected so it was an anagram of Viola, identifying Viola as Olivia, then Sebastian who is actually Viola is also Olivia who is Pallas Athena. What does this mean?  Just this ; since Pallas Athena is Shake-speare it obviously means Francis Bacon is Shake-Spear.

One question presented by the allegory is why would Tobie Matthew be shown as being elder to Pallas Athena?  We find the answer to this when we remember that Tobie was a Freemason.  (The message at the beginning of The Tempest says, "F. Bacon, Toby, two alike, SOW", i.e. Sons of the Widow).  In the legend of Masonry the origins of Masonry is placed far back.  One legend says it originated with Noah, and another has it originating with Adam.  In this sense it would be logical to have Matthew shown as the uncle of Pallas Athena.  It may also be objected that Bacon would not have depicted his friends as drunkards and fools.  But the context is that of carousing in the house of Pallas Athena, and that places their depiction in a whole new light.

The scenes where Maria makes a fool of Malevolio and then has him shut up in a dark room as a madman needs further explanation.  In order to understand this let's take a closer look at the figure of Malevolio.

Everything about Malevolio points to him as a personification of the Roman Catholic Church.  The Church should be the logical steward of the House of Wisdom.  A steward is the individual in charge of the affairs of a large household or estate.  A person whose duties include supervision of the kitchen and servants, and management of the household accounts.  But Malevolio, whose name means 'evil desire, or ambition', is so sick of self-love (as Olivia tells us and him) that he wants to rise above his station and become absolute master.  Maria says sometimes he is a kind of Puritan.  This applies to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church with its ideas of celibacy and so on, but Maria hits closer to the center of the target when she says he thinks himself so crammed with excellencies that it is his grounds of faith that all that look on him love him.

There is another allusion in the play that identifies Malvolio as symbolizing the Roman Catholic Church. In the play when Sir Toby and Andrew Arguecheek are engaged in their drunken carousing just before Malvolio enters to upbraid them for the noise they are making Sir Toby sings:

            "O the twelfth day of December"

It is obvious he was trying to sing:

            "On the twelfth day of Christmas"

and in his drunken state garbled the song.  The reference, on the surface, would be that it alludes to the Twelfth Night which they were celebrating. But the song had another hidden allusion. The popular song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is usually seen as simply a nonsense song for children. However, those who have looked beneath the surface say it is a song of Roman Catholic instruction dating to the 16th century religious wars in England, with hidden references to the basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Faith.

Catholics in England during that period were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law - private or public. To be a Catholic was to commit the crime of treason.  "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was written in England as one of the "catechism songs" to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith.  It served as a memory aid at a time when a Catholic caught with anything in writing indicating adherence to the Catholic faith was subject to conviction for treason, and the crime of treason had a ghastly penalty at that time. 

The gifts in the song are hidden meanings pointing to the teachings of the faith. The "true love" mentioned in the song instead of referring to an earthly suitor, refers to God Himself. The "me" who receives the presents refers to every baptized person. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge which feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, as in the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..."

The other symbols have been explained as follows:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives
the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments 8 Maids
A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

So that snatch of song placed at that particular point just before Malvolio appeared alludes to his personifying the Roman Catholic Church.

Twelfth Night provides another connection with the Church.  During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, masques, disguises and the Feast of Fools (an ecclesiastic festival which involved an inversion of social hierarchy as members of the lesser clergy dressed up as their superiors to ridicule and mock the routine practices of the church) were closely associated with Twelfth Night.

We have already seen that the allusion connected to his imprisonment in the dark room was related to the Roman Catholic Church.  There is a historical antecedent for the yellow stockings bit.  Lacey Baldwin Smith in 'Henry VIII, The Mask of Royalty' described how:

"Word of Catherine of Aragon's death was celebrated with a masque, banquet and ball where Henry, cross-gartered in yellow hose, danced the night away with Anne Boleyn."

At first glance one might think this points to Malvolio as a personification of Henry VIII, but this particular incident in history was connected with the severance of  the Roman Catholic Church from England just as the Malvolio yellow stocking incident was connected with the severance of Malvolio from the household of Olivia.  So the allusion still points to Malvolio as a personification of the Roman Catholic Church.  The question is, what does Maria represent?

What do we know about Maria?  We know she has an antipathy for Malvolio.  She says, "I can hardly forebear hurling things at him".  She engineers the scheme where he is made out a fool and a madman and shut up in the dark room.  We know that physically she is a small woman.  We have another clue as to what she represents.  When the clown Feste goes to talk to Malvolio where he is locked up in the dark room it is Maria who tells him to put on his gown and his beard and make Malvolio believe he is Sir Topas.  Sir Topas was the hero of Chaucer's 'Rime of Sir Thopas', a parody of chivalric romances.  In unraveling the mystery of Maria we must take all of these factors into account.

Perhaps the most important clue is the Chivalry clue.  The Chivalry literature sprang from the body of literature dealing with the quest for the Holy Grail.  The most knowledgeable author on the subject was Wolfram Von Eschenbach, who wrote, "Parzival".  According to Eschenbach the Knights Templars were the guardians of the Holy Grail.  Beginning with "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln which was published in 1982 there have been an entire literature of books claiming that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene, and as a result of this marriage his bloodline was continued down through the centuries.  The "Holy Grail" is a translation of the term 'Sangreal' from the original French literature.  'Sangreal' also translates as 'Holy Blood' (Sang Real).

This claim is that the term refers to Mary Magdalene.  According to tradition Mary Magdalene was a small woman, and the story is that she was pregnant at the time of the crucifixion and fled the Holy Land to secretly travel to France where she had her child who transmitted the holy bloodline.

According to this story the Knights Templar order was originated for the specific purpose of recovering the Sangreal documents from beneath Solomon's Temple which furnished proof of the Holy Bloodline.  Having accomplished this task they were then entrusted, as their primary duty, with the duty of guarding those of the bloodline who were in perpetual danger from the Roman Catholic Church.  If the lineage was permitted to grow the secret of Jesus and Magdalene might eventually surface and challenge the fundamental Catholic doctrine of a divine Messiah who did not consort with women or engage in sexual union.  In accordance with their primary duty, the primary figure of reverence for the Knight Templar was Mary Magdalene.  Since Tobie Matthew became a Freemason this is presumably the symbolism behind Sir Toby marrying Maria in the play.

Symbolically Mary Magdalene (Maria) not only had a great antipathy for the Roman Catholic Church, she also made fools and madmen of the Church and shut them up in the dark room of their concealed secret so their only recourse was pen and paper on which to issue their proclamations and Papal Bulls. 

                                         The Face Looking Toward the Past

"Twelfth Night, or What You Will" is the only Shakespeare play with an alternate title.  Commentators have expressed the opinion that the alternate title means no more than, "You may call my play what you please."  They are unable to see the hint contained in , "or what you will", but it is obvious.  Before Twelfth Night, a number of annual festivals, all remarkably similar to Twelfth Night, were celebrated in various nations all the way back to the beginning of recorded history.  The Celts called their festival Samhain.  In ancient Rome the, festival was called Saturnalia.  Still earlier in ancient Persia it was Sacaea.  Before  that a similar festival was celebrated in ancient Babylon.  Further back, some 4,000 or so years ago, the Ancient Egyptians had a similar festival celebrated beginning around the winter solstice to celebrate the rebirth of the sun.  So the meaning of "What You Will" in the alternate title was that, since there are many examples of this type of festival back through history, instead of Twelfth Night you can call it what you will.  And the alternate title contained still another meaning.  The central idea of all these festivals was the celebrants did "what they will".  All the ordinary constraints of society were removed, and all the ordinary mores of society reversed..

This also explains the curious design of Twelfth Night.  In the play everything is reversed.  It looks backward instead of forward.  The first speech is actually the last, and it is retrospective, not only looking backward toward those festivals back through history, but also looking backward at the preceding comedies.  Harold Goddard says:

"It is as if Shakespeare, for his last unadulterated comedy, summoned the ghosts
of a dozen characters and situations with which he had triumphed in the past and
bade them weave themselves into a fresh pattern.  The Comedy of Errors,
TheTwo Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, and even such
recent successes as Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It were laid under contribution."

Due to the fact that the Twelfth Night festival included the customary feature of the boar's head brought and held aloft to signify it's rule over the feast, and to the episode with the boar's head in Jonson's 'humours' play, the play even looks backward to the original 'in dies merliora' emblem.

The commentators who were not able to recognize the hint in the alternate title, were also not able see any evidence of the Twelfth Night festival in the play.  Let's look at the details of this festival and compare these with what is found in the play.  Twelfth Night came at the end of a festival which lasted anywhere from 12 days to 3 months.  Although the Lord of Misrule sometimes reigned for 12 days, he generally reigned for around three months in winter (from Allhallow Even, the thirty-first of October, the Eve of All Saints' Day till Candlemas, the second of February).  Thus we see in the play when Orsinio asks Antonio when he came to Illyria, Antonio says:

"Today, my lord; and for three months before,no int'rim, not a minute's vacancy,
Both day and night did we keep company.

So we know that both Sebastian and Viola had been in Illyria for around 3 months at the end of the play.

The person elected to rule over the festival was the ABBOT OF MISRULE, or KING OF MISRULE.  He was the official of the late medieval and early Tudor period in England, who was specially appointed to manage the Christmas festivities. The Lord of Misrule was responsible for arranging and directing all Christmas entertainment, including elaborate masques and processions, plays, and feasts. The lord himself usually presided over these affairs with a mock court and received comic homage from the revelers.  The most familiar role the Lord of Misrule played was that of fool or jester. Dressed in his gaudy and elaborate theatrical clothing he held court. He kept his subjects entertained with riddles, pranks and pantomimes.
His spontaneous outbursts and lively antics kept his royal audience amused.

The character personifying the Lord of Misrule in the play is the clown is named "Feste".  His name shows he personifies the spirit of the festival. Feste provides the songs and the jokes.  In the play we are told that Feste is the 'allowed' fool.  The play is divided between the court of Duke Orsino and the house of Olivia, and Feste is at home in both places, as befits the Lord of Misrule.

"Twelfth Night", the twelfth night of the Christmas celebration, fell on the night of January 5/6.  In Shakespeare's day, this holiday was celebrated as a festival in which everything was turned up side down;much like the upside-down, chaotic world of Illyria in the play.  Illyria is depicted as a leisure society in a time of great prosperity, where the people, removed from the practical realities of urban life, are almost exclusively devoted to the pastimes of leisure, music, and especially love.  In accordance with the Twelfth Night theme, Illyria is a place where people are ruled by the appetites and do what they will.  Illyria is an entire society modeled on the Twelfth Night festival.  Reference is made to Twelfth Night in the play by Aguecheek, who  says to Sir Toby, "I'll stay a month longer.  I am a fellow o' th' strangest mind I' th' world; I delight in masques and revels sometimes altogether', and by Sir Toby also, when he sing, 'O he twelfth day of December.'   

A peculiar feature of the festival was the election of the King of the Bean.  On the day of the festival a great cake was baked with a bean in it.  The cake was carefully divided into equal pieces, one for each person who was present, and the person who got the piece with the bean in it was elected "Rex Fabarum" i.e. "King of the Bean" and was in charge of the feasting and revelry.  The name of one of the characters in the play is Fabian, which derives from a Latin root associated with beans, possibly 'one who grows beans'.

Since the normal social order was reversed another feature of the Twelfth Night festival was cross dressing.  This is depicted in the play by the cross dressing of Viola.  The festival was much given to drinking and revelry and in the play we have Sir Toby and Andrew Arguecheek who spend their time in drinking and merriment.  At one point Sir Toby sings, "On the twelfth day of December" which could imply an attempt in the midst of his drunken stupor of singing "On the twelfth day of Christmas" which was the Twelfth Night of the festival.  

Some themes were repeated year after year. The Lord of Misrule always led a long procession into the Banquet hall. The Yule Log was also brought in with a procession and a song "Ye Yule Song." Next, the Boar's Head entered, held aloft and accompanied by a song. The tables were usually decorated with brown paper and greenery, and in the center of the Banquet Hall, atop a dais sat the Lords and guests at the main table. Not only songs, but also dances were a part of the festivities.

While mostly known as a British holiday custom, the appointment of a Lord of Misrule came from antiquity. In ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were turned topsy-turvy as masters served their serfs, and the offices of state were held by slaves.  The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period.  During the holiday, restrictions were relaxed and the social order inverted. All restraints of law and morality were set aside. Class distinctions were abolished. The Feast of Fools had begun.  The community selected one person to be King of Saturnalia.  This mock king directed his subjects to get drunk, dance, carouse and be blatantly lewd and lascivious.  Saturnalia and related festivals of its day were ruled by a mock king, chosen by bean ballot.  

The primary sources for this ritual are Macrobius' Saturnalia (Bk. I, Chs. 7, 8, 10, 11) and Scullard's Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (pp. 205-7). (There is additional information available on the Saturnalia, Consualia and Opalia; see De Saturno & Jano Tractatus for background information on Saturn.)  

According to the anthropologist James Frazer, there was a darker side to the Saturnalia festival.  "Of this gloomy side of the god's religion", although he says, "there is little or no trace in the descriptions which ancient writers have left us of the Saturnalia", he goes on to say:

"We are justified in assuming that in an earlier and more barbarous age it was the
universal practice in ancient Italy, wherever the worship of Saturn prevailed, to choose a
man who played the part and enjoyed all the traditionary privileges of Saturn for a season,
and then died, whether by his own or another's hand, whether by the knife or the fire or
on the gallows-tree, in the character of the good god who gave his life for the world."

We see this hint in the play where Orsino believes Cesario (Viola) has become the lover of Olivia and says:

 "Why should I not, had I the heart to do it,
Like to th' Egyptian thief at point of death,
Kill what I love? -a savage jealousy
That sometimes savors nobly.  But hear me this:
Since you to nonregardance cast my faith,
And that I partly know the instrument
That screws me from my true place in your favor,
Live you the marble-breated tyrant still.
And this your minion, whom I know you love,
And whom, by heaven I swear, I tender dearly,
Him will I tear out of that cruel eye
Where he sits crowned in his master's spite,-
Come, boy, with me.  My thought are ripe in mischief.
I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love
To spite a raven's heart within a dove."

Although Frazer thought the hint of the sacrifice of the Lord of Misrule indicated the practice belonged to those cases where a man, representing either a king or a god, was sacrificed after a certain period of rule, there is very scant evidence of this element in the festival, and it seems Frazer may have been mistaken. The presence of the sacrifice in the festival was an anomaly.  It may have resulted from the fact that for the farmers of old, it was not possible to keep their entire herds alive though the winter, so only the minimum breeding stock was maintained, and the rest was slaughtered after being given exception treatment where they were feasted and fattened for the slaughter.  This may be why Bacon merely shows a hint of the sacrifice in the play, without depicting an actual death.

                                          The Face Looking Toward the Future

For his face looking toward the future Bacon has a model of his discovery device inquiring into the form of unbridled passions.  In accordance with the overall theme of Twelfth Night the unbridled passion depicted in the play is love.  Orsinio, the ruler of Illyria, depicts the central case of unbridled love.  Orsinio is subject to love melancholy.  

Bacon not only possessed what was probably the greatest intellect that has ever been on this planet, but he  also possessed unparallel psychic powers.  The form of unbridled passions that he arrives at is also an indication of his psychic power.  In order to make this clear I will cite a personal experience.  In my book "Secrets of the Shakespeare Plays" I described a psychic experience I had as a result of a deep and continued study of The Tempest.  I seemed to have momentarily tuned into Bacon's mind, and had the experience where I saw the play as he saw it.  As a residual ability, following that experience, I found from time to time a psychic faculty would spontaneously manifest while I was talking to someone that caused me to experience all the thought and emotions of that person as if I was inside their head.  On one occasion when this happened I was talking to a person who became very angry.  The faculty suddenly manifested itself and I had an interior of awareness of that person.  It was very strange.  The surge of anger was exactly like a surge of water flooding into a balloon causing the balloon to expand, only in this case it was the surge of emotion flooding into the emotional body of the person and causing it to swell.

The form of unbridled emotion that Bacon finds in Twelfth Night is drowning.  The emotions flood into the emotional body of that person and while the flood of emotions are present that person experiences a condition that is akin to drowning.  In his essay on Twelfth Night in "The Meaning of Shakespeare" Harold Goddard says:

 "The theme of the main plot as well as that of the enveloping action, we suddenly see, is rescue from drowning: drowning in the sea, drowning in the sea of drunkenness and sentimentalism.  (There is a reason why with the exception of The Tempest the word 'drowned' occurs oftener in this play than any other of Shakespeare's.)"

Goddard caught a glimpse of an important feature of the play, but because he did not have the Baconian key, he was unable to apply it.  At the beginning of the play Orsinio is subject to the flood of passion.  The play shows characters being rescued from drowning in the flood of their passions. And, at the end of the play, Orsinio, the ruler of Illyria marries Viola.  That is, he becomes subject to the discipline of philosophy. 


                                                The Tie That Binds

In antiquity the celebration of Saturnalia was immediately followed by the festival of the sun (Sol Invictus).  The correspondence to this in Twelfth Night was the Epiphany which immediately followed Twelfth Night.  Epiphany means "to show" or "reveal". The Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first to "reveal" Jesus as the incarnate Christ.  The child Jesus was "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32).  Epiphany was merely a modified version of the pagan Sol Invictus celebration.

All the paraphernalia of the pagan sun mythology was carried over into Christian theology.  The holy day of the Christians was Sunday (the sun's day). Jesus said of John the Baptist, "he will decrease while I will increase."  John the Baptist was born at the summer solstice when days had reached their maximum length, from that point days became successively shorter ; the power of the sun decreased. Jesus was born at the winter solstice when days were shortest, from that point days became successively longer ; the power of the sun increased. Jesus had twelve disciples corresponding to the twelve signs of the zodiac. The path of the ecliptic crosses the path of the equator forming a cross.  On the equinoxes the sun was positioned at the point of the juncture of this cross, and symbolically was crucified. Actually there two crucifixions. One was a philosophical theme.

In ancient sun mythologies two annual periods were of premier important: a three day period, and a three month period.  Both were based on an astronomical foundation.  Following the autumnal equinox (when days and nights were equal) nights became successively longer by a few minutes each day until the Winter solstice, three months later, when the nights were longest and the days shortest of anytime in the year. In the mythology, the sun god was said to have died at this point.

Solstice means to stand still.  The length of the days and nights stood still for three days until, on midnight of December 24 (just at the beginning of December 25th), the little sun god was born again.  From this point the  days began to become longer and longer again.  The three month period, and the three days period were the time when, according to the ancient mythology, the power of darkness prevailed over the earth.  The Saturnalia festival, and the other similar festivals, were a form of sympathetic magic through which, by simulating a reversal of the normal pattern of things there was an attempt to reverse the period of darkness and bring back the light.  The feasting and jollity were companion attempts to bring back the good days.

Both periods are alluded to in Twelfth Night.  In act I, scene 4, Valentine tells Cesario (Viola):

"If the Duke continue these favors towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced.
  He hath known you but three days and already you are no stranger." 

When Orsinio asks Antonio how long he has been in Illyria, Antonio says:

"Today, my lord; and for three months before,
no int'rim, not a minute's vacancy,
Both day and night did we keep company."

The captain, describing Olivia to Viola in the play, says:

"A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth since, the leaving her
In the protection of his son, her brother,
Who shortly also died."

Zeus, the father of Pallas Athena, died.  He only lived in the mind of men to begin with, and he died with the last of his votaries.  Her brother, Apollo (the sun), died, as he always does within each twelvemonth period.  But Apollo is also the god of light.  And the applicability of all this to Bacon's theme of the love of wisdom falls into place when one bears in mind Bacon's view of light.  In Bacon's  metaphoric mentality knowledge was always equated light.  In his essay "Of Truth" he said:

 "The first creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reasons; and his Sabbath work ever since, is the illumination of his Spirit.  First he breathed light upon the face of the matter or chaos; then he breathed light into the face of man; and still he breatheth and inspireth light into the face of his chosen."

The corresponding idea symbolized in Twelfth Night is also light, but it is the light of enlightenment.  When the passions have finally become exhausted, man will turn to philosophy. This is the basis for the satiety which a number of commentators have noticed as being an important feature of the play.  In the book, "Anatomy of Melancholy" which Baconians have shown to be one of Francis Bacon's works, we find a description of the malady of Orsinio under the heading of Love Melancholy, and we are told that the best cure for love melancholy is satiety.  

At the end of the play Orsino marries Viola.  Symbolically, his unbridled passions becomes subject to the  influence of the  discipline of philosophy.  This also gives a rationale for the song at the end of the play, which has often been viewed as meaningless, and out of place.  The song Feste sings is as follows:

When that I was and a little tiny boy,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate
For the rain it raineth every day

But when I came, alas, to wife,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With tosspots still had drunken heads,
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

Wind and rain symbolize the passions.  The song says the passions will always be present, "the rain it raineth every day."  This is the natural order of things.  To subdue these passions is to reverse the natural order of things.  This is why the theme of the Twelfth Night festival conforms to the Orpheus/philosophy theme - Twelfth Night is a festival in which the natural order of things is reversed. The discipline of philosophy is a reversal of the normal order of things because it teaches man to struggle against and overcome his passions.  In accordance with this principle the play itself has a peculiar construction.  It looks backward to the preceding plays, and even looks backward on itself.  The beginning is the end,and if we look at the back at the beginning we see the end of the discipline of philosophy.  The play begins as follows:

Duke.  If music be the food of love, play on,

Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.

That strain again!  It had a dying fall;

O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound

That breathes upon a bank of violets,

Stealing and giving odour!  Enough, no more;

'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.

O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!

That, notwithstanding thy capacity

Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,

Of what validity and pitch soe'er,

But falls into abatement and low price

Even in a minute.  So full of shapes is fancy,

That it alone is high fantastical.

Curio.  Will you go hunt, my lord?

Duke. What, Curio?

Curio. The hart.

Duke. Why, so I do, the noblest that I have.

O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,

Methought she purg'd the air of pestilence!

That instant was I turn'd into a hart,

And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,

E'er since pursue me. 

One meaning of this opening passage is that, as in the Twelfth Night revelry where everything is inverted,  we see the inversion of the normal appetite of man.  Man, who should be the hunter, has become the hunted.  He is prey to his passions.  But Bacon was a master of the double statement.  Take the following statement for example:

For if I profess that I, going the same road as the ancients, have something better to produce,
there must needs have been some comparison of rivalry between us (not to be avoided by any
art of words) in respect of excellency or ability of wit, and though in this there would be
nothing unlawful or new (for if there be anything misapprehended by them, or falsely laid
down, why may not I, using a liberty common to all, take exception to it?) yet the contest,
however just and allowable, would have been an unequal one perhaps in respect of the measure
of my own power."

The passage has two opposite and diametrically opposed meanings.  One is the overt meaning that the contest would be an unequal one because the power of Bacon was not equal to that of the ancients.  The other covert meaning was that the contest would be an unequal one because the power of the ancients was not equal to that of Bacon.    

The opening passage in the play has this same kind of double meaning.  We now see that Orsinio's passion is for Pallas Athena (Olivia, the olive tree).  This expresses a delivery from the flood of passions.  Being familiar with the remainder of the play we have seen Sebastian/Viola delivered from the flood of the sea, cast up on the shores of Illyria.   It would not have been lost on Bacon that the very first mention of the olive tree was in the context of deliverance from a flood. Noah sent out a dove.  The dove returned with an olive leaf (Gen. 8:10,11).  The opening passage in the play is one of Bacon's double statements that reads both ways.  Read this way we see Orsinio, due to satiety has been delivered from the flood, or sea, of passion and become a devotee to Pallas Athena ; the goddess of wisdom.


                                    Twelfth Night : A List of Questions for Students

Why is the setting of the play in Illyria?

Why is there such a concern with music in the play?

Why is this concern with music so connected with love, and why does the play deals with different types of love?  It would not be usual for a comedy of this type to deal with love.  That was staple fare.  But Twelfth Night is systematic.  It explores and illustrates love of different types with precise detail.  There is excessive love, self-love, love of a friend, homosexual love, and so on.  Why such an anatomy of the emotion of love?

Why, in utilizing the comedic device of twins, does the play employ male and female instead of just males as in the Comedy of errors?  It is obvious that except for the biological differences in sexes Viola and Sebastian would be identical twins.  All the references in the play go to show that they are indistinguishable one from the other.  So why not show them as both males so they can be true identical twins?

Why the device of cross-dressing in the play?  Was it really necessary for Viola to disguise herself as a man when she came ashore at Illyria?  And furthermore, why did she have to dress herself in clothes identical to those of her twin so she looked exactly like him even to the clothes?

Why is there the disparity between the three day period and the three month period referred to in the play.  It seems difficult to believe that from the time Valentine refers to the three day period in his conversation with Cesario (Viola):

"If the Duke continue these favors towards you, Cesario, you are like to be much advanced.
  He hath known you but three days and already you are no stranger." 

and the time Antonio says tells Orsinio:

"Today, my lord; and for three months before,
no int'rim, not a minute's vacancy,
Both day and night did we keep company.

that 27 days could have passed.

  Why does the theme of drowning have such a large part in the play.  Harold Goddard says:

 "The theme of the main plot as well as that of the enveloping action, we suddenly see, is rescue from drowning: drowning in the sea, drowning in the sea of drunkenness and sentimentalism.  (There is a reason why with the exception of The Tempest the  word 'drowned' occurs oftener in this play than any other of Shakespeare's.)"

Why did the author chose, at this particular time to write a play named Twelfth Night, and does it really deal with Twelfth Night, or does the full title, 'Twelfth Night', or What You Will' (the only 'Shakespeare' play with alternative names) indicate it can be called anything one desires?

Why does Valentine (protagonist from The Two Gentlemen of Verona) pop us again in Twelfth Night?

Why does the play includes all those characters with symbolic names:

 Orsino 'bear',

 Viola (alternately Cesario) 'violet' or 'musical instrument' and 'not born from normal manner of birth'

 Olivia 'Olive Tree'

 Fabian 'bean'

 Feste personification of the festival

 Sebastian (alternately Roderigo) 'august' and 'renowned ruler' respectively.

 Curio 'a desire to learn or know'

 Malevolio - 'evil desire, or 'evil ambition'

Why does the play (in contrast to the foregoing) include the characters Sir Toby, Andrew Arguecheek, Antonio, and Maria whose names, with the exception of 'Arguecheek', suggest no symbolic meaning?

Who is Maria?  What is she?  Why is she depicted as having such a dislike for Malevolio?

She says, "I can hardly forebear hurling things at him."  And she engineers the plot whereby he is made out a fool and a madman and shut up in a dark room.   

Why is Malevolio depicted as being shut up in the dark room?

Why does the clown take the name Sir Topas when he goes to talk to Malvolio in the dark room in which Malvolio has been imprisoned?

Why is there the reference to giving Malevolio a pen and paper to write with?

Why did Malevolio wear yellow garters?  What allusion does this make?

Why does the play incorporate elements of the comedy of humors?

Why is Olivia depicted as being in mourning?  What is the significance of her father and brother having died and left her in mourning?  Why, if she is in mourning, does she so readily become enamored of Viola?

Why does the play looks backward to include so much from previous plays.  Harold Goddard says:

 "As has often been pointed out, the play is a sort of recapitulation.  It is as if Shakespeare, for his last unadulterated comedy, summoned the ghosts of a dozen characters and situations with which he had triumphed in the past and bade them weave themselves together into a fresh pattern.  The Comedy of Error, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, and even such recent successes as much Ado about Nothing and As You Like it were laid undercontribution."

Since the play is so retrospective why is the diametric change made between As You Like It, and Twelfth Night?  In both cases there is a conspicuous example of the characters doing what they will, but in the case of As You Like It there is a forest setting, while the author is careful to have a metropolitan setting in Twelfth Night.

Why is there an allusion to 'Master Parson', i.e., 'Father Parson' by Sir Toby?

Why was the original performance of the play connected with the Inns of Court?

An entry dated February 2, 1602, in the diary of John Manningham, a lawyer of
the Middle Temple is the first record of the performance of 'Twelfth Night'.  He
points to its first performance as taking place in the Middle Temple on Twelfth Night of that year:
'At our feast we had a play called Twelve Night, or What You Will, much like the Comedy of Errors
or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and near to that Italian called Inganni.'

Why are there two intersecting plots, one set in the court of Orsinio, the other in the household of Olivia?

Why is Feste shown as equally at home in both settings?

Why is there the allusions to skill in the use of languages in reference to BOTH Sir Toby, and Andrew Arguecheek?

Why does the song of Feste at the end of the play include the refrain 'the rain it raineth everyday'?  This is in contrast to the festival air of the remainder of the play, and seems, on the surface to be quite out of place.


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 - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning