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NOTES


Prol. 11. cockpit. A pit or enclosure for the popular Elizabethan sport of cockfighting. The expression is not to be taken literally, but merely as part of Shakespeare's disparagement of his inadequate representation of the great events of King Henry's reign. The 'wooden O' of line 13 presumably refers to the Globe theatre, built in 1599. The Globe is thought to have been octagonal on the exterior, but the interior was probably circular.

Prol. 16. Attest. The 'crooked figure' that may stand for a million is probably the figure '1,' which was a very crooked figure as the Elizabethans wrote it.

Prol. 29. jumping o'er times. The action of the play covers a period of six years, from 1414 to 1420.

Prol. 32. Chorus. This term, an inheritance from the drama of Greece and Rome, is used by Shakespeare simply as a name by which to designate the speaker of his prologues; i.e., a single actor.

 

I. i. S. d. Bishops. The stage directions of the Folio do not discriminate between the titles of Archbishop and Bishop either here or in the second scene.

I. i. 35. Hydra-headed. The Hydra of Lerna was a nine-headed monster slain by Hercules. When one head was struck off, two new ones grew in its place.

I. i. 46. Gordian knot. An oracle had declared that he who untied this famous knot, tied by King Gordius of Phrygia, should rule over Asia. Alexander the Great cut the knot with his sword, declaring that he was destined to fulfill the oracle.

I. i. 51. art. The word as used here means the application of theory to practice. King Henry, reversing the usual process, appears to have learned the theory of statesmanship from practical endeavor.