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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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Thomas Nicols, Arcula gemmea: or, A cabinet of jevvels. Discovering the nature, vertue, value of pretious stones, with infallible rules to escape the deceit of all such as are adulterate and counterfeit, 1653.

Ref no: 83414703


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