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162
The Tragedy of Hamlet,
 

unities of time, place, and action—hence usually a tragedy. Cf. note on Seneca below.

II. ii. 428. poem unlimited. Probably a play which disregarded the unities; or, a comedy in which unlimited license was used in treating the material. Cf. note on Plautus below.

II. ii. 428. Seneca. A Roman rhetorical writer of tragedies whose plays were during the Renaissance considered models of classic technique. See Appendix A for notes on Senecan influence in Hamlet.

II. ii. 429. Plautus. A Roman comic dramatist who was the model for comedy technique during the Renaissance. Cf. The Comedy of Errors.

II. ii. 429. law of writ and the liberty. There are two conjectures as to the meaning: (1) 'law of writ,' plays written according to the classical rules; and 'liberty,' plays which do not follow these rules; (2) adhering to the text, hence, 'law of writ'; 'liberty,' plays in which the dialogue was extemporized by the actors, as in the Italian commedia dell' arte. This editor believes 'law of writ' to refer to 'tragedy,' (cf. scene individable); 'liberty' to refer to 'comedy,' (cf. poem unlimited).

II. ii. 431. Jephthah. There were several old ballads on this subject. Cf. Percy's Reliques, 2d. ed., 1757, for a copy of one of the ballads.

II. ii. 457. Cracked . . . ring. Having the circle broken that surrounds the sovereign's head on a coin. Here used quibblingly for a voice that has changed and hence is 'cracked' in its 'ring' or purity of tone. It is, of course, a boy actor of women's parts that Hamlet is addressing.

II. ii. 466. Caviare . . . general. I.e., a delicacy for which the general public has no relish.

II. ii. 469. digested. Cf. the Prologue to Troilus and Cressida, 23–29.

II. ii. 471. no sallets . . . savoury. No ribaldry to spice the lines.