The Intersection of Shakespeare and Astronomy

Leading up to the first day of summer, today, I've been re-reading Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream" and this passage from Act V, Scene II has imprinted itself onto me.

IMAGE: Joseph Noel Patton, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, 1550
Joseph Noel Patton, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, 1550 Many of the names of the 27 satellites orbiting the seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus, come from the bard's plays. Characters, sprites and spirits in the heaven and on parchment include Oberon, Titania, Ariel, Miranda, Puck, Portia, Juliet, Cressida, Rosalind, Belinda, Desdemona, Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Caliban, Sycorax, Stephano, Prospero and Setebos.

Uranus is the only planet in our solar system with satellite names not borrowed from mythology. Jupiter's 63(!) moons are named after the Roman god's entourage. Saturn's 46 moons are named after Greek, Norse, Celtic and Inuit mythologies and legends. Earth's solitary Moon has gone by such mythical names as Luna, Cynthia, Selene, Diana and Hecate.

... meet me all by break of day.

tags: .....
another point of view ...

Blogger Akh

whoa! I LOVE this post! How awesome is that!? I had no idea about the mythos and stuff! Definately something to blog and ponder! Fantabulous!

Blogger TrueJerseyGirl

Wow, that's way too deep for me today on less than an hour's sleep last night! Gotta come back later when my brain is fully functioning.

And PS - you have been on my blogroll for months now!!!

Blogger Nam LaMore

AKH: like most kids, i got hooked on dinosaurs and then mythologies. it was only a matter of time that i started to show interest in the heavens. i didn't get into reading until much, much older. but, it was interesting to find out that the sciences are tempered by the arts.

Blogger Jaded Maniac

Q: What do the Starship Enterprise and a roll of toilet paper have in common?

A: They both wipe the Kling-On's off Uranus.


(I'm sorry...when I'm around my kids too long, I act like them...especially when I hear the word "Uranus"...Forgive me....)

Blogger Nam LaMore

TRUEJERSEYGIRL: it's really not that deep .. the passage is basically about GOOD TIDING & BLESSING .. i just really like it!

and, yes, i know i've been on your blogroll -- just that your post got me thinking: i never acknowledged it!

Blogger Nam LaMore

JADEDMANIAC: i have to say i've heard that joke - but not in a long time .. thank goodness you have kids, or i would never hear such stuff! and, just to let you know, i ABSOLUTELY LOVE cornball jokes like that. one of my roommates from many years ago would tell jokes that made me laugh, but everyone else around us thought they were lame.

like this joke: why did the trees have to leave? (because it was FALL) haha

Blogger diadima

very cool post, nam. i can always count on you for something a little left of centre when i come here

Blogger *~*Michelle*~*

All I can say is...WOW! :) Love it

Blogger Nam LaMore

DIADIMA: gosh, thank you! you know, i used to be able to name a handful of constellations as a kid .. but not anymore. i'm not sure when i lost interest in astronomy .. but i bet it was probably around the time when i had to start paying for rent, thus all that day-dreaming time dried up.

Blogger Nam LaMore

MICHELLE: hey there! glad you like it .. i'm actually now on my third reading of 'midsummer' because the many subplots are way too complex even after a second reading. :-) maybe a passage by tatiana will jump out this time!

Blogger Lester T.

i think uranus gets a bad rap either way you say it. both pronounciations evoke potty humour of some sort. i bet shakespeare enjoyed good potty humour!

Anonymous Anonymous

oh, that is neat, after reading it about ten times, I am guessing it is like a "bless this house and all that are in it" thing, blessed by fairies?

Blogger Nam LaMore

LESTER T: yeah, it's sorta tough not to chuckle when that 'uranus' is said. i know i should be more adult about it, but it's just so darn funny! i guess that's why i get along with my nephew (he's only six years old) so well .. we can relate to lots of things!

Blogger Nam LaMore

PERI: i'm not sure what it is, but this passage makes me so happy when i read it. i don't remember the passage jumping out at me when i first read it in college. but it's really gotten the best of me now. i love the two last lines:

Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.


Blogger mquest

Oberon the King of the Fairies has always bothered me-- His mood swings are overly mortal. Envy, anger and desire for revenge seem so petty for a king.
Oh- well it has been a long time since I looked at this play.

Blogger mquest

“Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.”

“If I get home before daylight,
I just might get some sleep tonight.”
The Grateful Dead

Blogger Nam LaMore

MQUEST: i actually like my dieties to have all of the human trappings. this makes them predictable. the 'holier than thou' dieties tend to frustrate me too much, mostly cuz i can't relate to them.

as anger-driven as oberon is, i love how titania is his opposite in this -- how she cares for the orphaned mortal boy whose mother was one of her priestesses.

hey! that's a nice connection with the grateful dead .. so jerry garcia and the bard may not be strangers after all!

speak up!

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