It was great pity, so it was,
That villanous saltpetre should be digg’d
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth,
Which many a good tall fellow had destroy’d
So cowardly; and but for these vile guns
He would himself have been a soldier.
— Henry V, Act I, scene 3
Wait… What is he saying? We spent the last four weeks really diving into Shakespeare’s histories (thanks to the PBS series The Hollow Crown) and it occurred to us that many of those plays are tales of battles and military men. So too is our 2014 Winter Shakespeare production The Tragedy of Othello.
In the 400 years since Shakespeare wrote his plays, the language of battle and conflict has changed. Understanding what these words meant in Shakespeare’s day can enhance your understanding of the plays so we’ve put together a list of words found in Shakespeare’s works that deal specifically with conflict and put them together with the corresponding word used today. Study up and prepare your arsenal of words!
ancient: a soldier who carries the army’s flag
arrant: downright, absolute
avaunt: be off
boisterous: violent, fierce, savage
bootless: unprofitable, useless
broach: pierce, impale
brook: put up with
chambers: small cannon
fillip: strike or hit
gage: a glove thrown down, as a challenge
girded: besieged, blockaded
humorous: capricious, fickle
lusty: vigorous, strong
puissance: power, force
vile: lowly, of humble birth
warrant: assure, promise
Othello will be performed at Belmont University’s Troutt Theater January 9th – February 2nd, 2014. For specifics, including ticket availability, visit our website.