Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare and Religious War
Twelfth Night, 2012.
In this scene Feste is harassing Malvolio disguised as the priest ‘Sir Topas’. This name has many resonances – to begin with, Sir Thopas was a Flemish knight in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
The topaz stone was believed to cure mad or choleric behaviour – such as that displayed by Malvolio towards the revellers. If you’d rather rely on a saint than an object, the one you would go to for this purpose was – you will have guessed it: Saint Bartholomew.
This is probably why the topaz and Saint Bartholomew were sometimes linked together, as reported in Thomas Nicols’s Arcula gemmea.
Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC.
Twelfth Night, 2012: Sir Topas torments Malvolio.
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