Oh, To Be The Local Shakespeare Geek, Now That Spring Is Here

Earlier today I got to use the word “pandering” in IM conversation, just hoping that I’d get to point out that the word comes from Pandarus, a Shakespearean character. Alas, no such luck. However, not 5 minutes ago I heard a hallway conversation from two cubes over on the derivation of the character “Lothario.”    Before the inevitable “I wonder if it’s a Shakespeare thing. Hey Duane?” came lofting my way I’d already googled enough to answer, “Nope, not Shakespeare, he’s apparently from a 1703 play by Nicholas Rowe called The Fair Penitent.”  I like anticipating when I’m needed. 🙂 Although interesting, the Wikipedia is unclear on whether Rowe’s character is in fact the origin.  There’s a reference to a Lothario in Don Quixote, which was 100 years previous.    So perhaps Cervantes is the originator of the name?  In that case Shakespeare could also have known of the character.  Maybe he shows up in Cardenio!

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3 thoughts on “Oh, To Be The Local Shakespeare Geek, Now That Spring Is Here

  1. Uh, Duane – not to dis Shakespeare, but you do know that Pandarus was not just a Shakespeare character, right? He first appears in Homer’s ILLIAD, then again in Chaucer, before landing in the play Shakespeare wrote based on Chaucer’s poem.

    Much as I honor the man with inventing a fifth of our language, I don’t think you can give him credit for Pandarus. “Pander” or “panderer” maybe (I don’t have an OED around to check). But, like Romeo and Oberon, Pericles and Timon, Shakespeare was filching names and ideas from other writers and making them his own.

  2. Good point, David. I suppose with a little research I should have known that. Assorted online dictionaries do date “panderer” back to the 1300s as well, so I don’t think we can give Will credit for that particular variation.

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