—- Mistake me not: Shakespeare’s Coriolanus —- Nahum Tate: The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth (1682), Parte II – di Germana Maciocci

UN CORIOLANUS DALLA PARTE DEI TORIES

 ‘Throughout the history of Shakespeare representation, each age in its attempt to speak with the dead, to respond to Shakespearian traces, has reinvented Shakespeare, to use Gary Taylor’s phrase, in its own image…it is not what the text is that matters, but what it is becoming, as each generation reconstructs from the “traces” offered by the verbal score itself and theatrical tradition a new aural and visual creation which bears the stamp of its unique sensibility .’11

Come già accennato, durante il periodo della Restaurazione inglese le opere di Shakespeare, e soprattutto le tra­gedie, venivano considerate in base alla morale politica ed all’estetica del momento.12 Non c’è da stupirsi quindi se il primo tentativo di adattamento di un’opera shakespeariana del poeta e dram­maturgo Nahum Tate (1652-1715) abbia come titolo Henry the Sixt, The First Part, with the Murder of Humprey Duke of Glocester, messa in scena  al Dorset Garden tra il 1680 ed il 1681, contempora­neamente ad un’altra opera dello stesso autore dal titolo The Misery of Civil-War, A Tragedy. Come afferma Ruth McGugan, questo nuovo tipo di rappresentazione drammatica, che prende piede in Inghilterra tra il 1678 e il 1682, è la diretta conseguenza dell’attività letteraria del periodo, che tende a trarre profitto dal teatro tramite l’attrazione esercitata sul pubblico da allusioni, spesso satiriche, alla situazione politica contemporanea.13

Ma tra il 1680 ed il 1681 Tate lavora a ben altre tre elaborazioni da testi shakespeariani: Richard II, che fu messo in scena al Theatre Royal l’11 dicembre 1680 con il titolo The Sicilian Usurper, con dramatis personae siciliane, e che fu prontamente soppresso per ordine del governo il 14 dicembre; King Lear, passato alla storia per il suo happy-ending, recitato al Dorset Garden nel marzo 1681; e, infine The Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth: or, the Fall of Caius Martius Coriolanus, in scena al Drury Lane nel dicembre 1681.14

Secondo John Ripley, il dramma di Tate inaugura non solo a tutti gli effetti la carriera teatrale del Coriolanus,15 ma anche sette tra le più turbolente decadi della storia inglese: la battaglia per il potere tra il re e il Parlamento, la questione della successione al trono e i problemi creati dalla nascita del nuovo sistema partitico diedero origine a una tipologia di ansia nazionale non molto diversa da quella romano-giacobita descritta nel Coriolanus di Shakespeare.16

Gli ‘scompigli’ politici tra il 1680 ed il 1683 produssero invero una fervida propaganda anti-Whig, fortemente incoraggiata, naturalmente, dal partito avversario: tre anni prima della messa in scena dell’opera di Tate, un complotto papista aveva intensificato i sentimenti anticattolici nella popolazione inglese e rafforzato il potere liberale. Nel maggio 1680 fu emanato un Exclusion Bill che negava di fatto al duca di York il diritto di successione al trono. Di conseguenza nel marzo 1681 Carlo II sciolse il Parlamento e nei mesi successivi non perse occasione di denigrare il partito avverso.17

La propaganda anti-Whig coinvolse anche il mondo del teatro: The Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth: or, the Fall of Caius Martius Coriolanus di Tate fu la prima di molte opere a mettere in evidenza il pericolo costituito da chi si ribella all’autorità precostituita, trascinando la propria patria nella ‘miseria della guerra civile’ – per utilizzare la terminologia dell’epoca.

In questa riscrittura del Coriolanus cambia quindi totalmente il fine dell’autore: mentre nel Coriolanus Shakespeare ‘portrays a changing Rome’ e ‘The catalyst of conflict is the collision of values or the divergence between personal aspirations and obligations to the society,’ e inoltre ‘…in the primitive Rome of Coriolanus it is valor which is the chief virtue, because this is a period when the very existence of Rome is dependent on the courage of its warriors and citizens to do battle with its immediate neighbours…,’18 in Tate il personaggio principale della tragedia diviene il protagonista di una sorta di parabola storica.

Per quanto riguarda lo scrittore in questione, non è da sottovalutare, tra le motivazioni della riscrittura, l’interesse personale; come suggerisce Ruth McGugan, egli si trovava a dover affrontare gli innumerevoli complotti politico-religiosi dell’epoca, spesso attuati tramite messaggi ostili tra Whigs e Tories, Anglicani, Dissidenti, Papisti e Gesuiti. La sensazione di instabilità lo portò probabilmente a dover trovare un mezzo di sostentamento per poter escogitare una via d’uscita, e probabilmente pensò di riscrivere una terza opera shakespeariana in una forma che potesse essere gradita al pubblico londinese contemporaneo.19

Le ragioni di Tate nel riscrivere il Coriolanus sembrano essere chiare sin dalla de­dica posta all’inizio del dramma. Destinatario ne è Charles Somerset (1661-1698), Lord Herbert, figlio più grande di Henry Somerset, terzo marchese di Worcester e successivo duca di Beaufort. Non ci sono dubbi che le lodi a Lord Herbert abbiano, come fine non ultimo, l’ottenimento di protezione e fi­nanziamenti dalle alte sfere politiche, anche se sembra che l’autore e il suo potenziale mecenate neanche  si conoscessero personal­mente .20

Comunque, il drammaturgo trova che la materia da lui trattata sia molto adatta alla sua epoca, no­tando che: ‘Upon a close view of this Story, there appear’d in some Passages, no small Resem­blance with the busie Faction of our own time…What offence to any good Subject in Stigmatizing on the Stage, those Troublers of the State, that out of private Interest or Mallice, Seduce the Multitude to Ingratitude, against Persons that are not only plac’t Rightful Power above them; but also the He­roes and Defenders of their Country.21  Palese è qui il riferimento a Carlo II, e soprattutto a Gia­como duca di York.

Vi è infatti uno stretto parallelismo tra la situazione di Coriolanus e quella del duca nel 1681: ‘Like Martius, James had a distinguished military record, but was politically naive and in­competent, and wanting in tact and moderation. Both men were banished by the country they ser­ved…In Shakespeare’s account of an aristocrat driven into exile by an ungrateful rabble, spurred on by irresponsible leadership, he found a subject which could be reworked to carry a contemporary visual and verbal warning: Whig opposition to established authority was dangerous; indeed, the fo­menting of popular discontent of the sort advocated by the Earl of Shaftesbury could well return the country to the horrors of the Civil War era.’22

Come Coriolanus, York aveva cominciato la propria carriera difendendo coraggiosamente la propria patria, e, come Coriolanus desiderava il consolato, egli avrebbe voluto  succedere a Carlo II  sul trono d’Inghilterra. Ma York, a differenza del generale romano, terminò in pace i suoi giorni in Scozia, senza tentare di invadere la sua terra.

Per quanto riguarda il riferimento a ‘the busie Faction of our own time’, McGugan ritiene che una attenta analisi dell’adattamento di Tate non riveli alcun sviluppo interessante per quanto riguarda i personaggi dei tribuni affinchè essi possano essere identificati con i nemici di York, e il fatto che le lettere iniziali dei loro nomi in Shakespeare corrispondano a quelle di Shaftesbury e Buckingam sembra essere una coincidenza, come la scelta di inventare i nomi di Cornicius e Bethellius per altri due tribuni,23 tanto più che questi vengono nominati solamente una volta.24

La stessa studiosa afferma che, in quanto Tate si impegnò moltissimo, in questo adattamento, al fine di trasformare Aufidius in un villain lussurioso, e il suo luogotenente, – che in Shakespeare non aveva nome, – nell’insidioso Nigridius,  si potrebbe sospettare l’esistenza di una qualche metafora politica. Soprattutto Shaftesbury, ritenuto il nemico numero uno dei tories dell’epoca, potrebbe aver dato l’ispirazione a Tate per illustrare la biografia di Nigridius, confermando l’ipotesi di un parallelo tra il luogotenente e il suo modello.25

Per raggiungere il suo scopo, quello cioè di lodare l’autorità costituita del re e dell’aristocrazia inglese e denigrare gli av­versari politici attraverso il Coriolanus, Tate ha dovuto lavorare molto sul testo shakespeariano, – che tra l’altro sembra essere la sua unica fonte,26 –  esaltando il personaggio di Martius doveva essere esaltato e screditando il più possibile i plebei e i tribuni. Per quanto Tate possa aver alleggerito le vedute antipopuliste di Martius, non era possibile purgare così radicalmente il suo carattere senza rendere allo stesso tempo un’ingiustizia al personaggio storico e senza distruggere l’energia e la tensione che anima la tragedia di Shakespeare. Tate preferì quindi denigrare il carattere e il comportamento dei plebei,27 rendendo così l’atteggiamento sprezzante del personaggio principale più una risposta civile alla barbarie dei suoi oppositori che un atto apertamente politico.28

Diversi critici in passato hanno voluto vedere anche in Shakespeare intenzioni anti-democratiche ed anti-populiste. Un ritorno senza speculazioni al testo shakespeariano porterebbe comunque chi scrive a concordare con Thomas Vivian, il quale afferma: ‘just because the people’s representatives are charlatans and are likely to be so in the future, this by no means suggests that representative government is a bad thing. It does imply that the people are unlikely to gain direct access to the decision-making process and will be subject to manipulation by those in power. This does not imply that the political leverage of the people is the same in all circumstances; on the contrary, it would appear from the action of the play that the people are in desperate need of representation…this is a society in a stage of transition and Coriolanus is the physical embodiment of the tension that reaches breaking point…The energy, vitality and intense conflicts which animate the play create an immediate awareness of class antagonism and quickly trigger individual prejudice, but only the most bigoted member of the audience can remain impervious to the distortions or excesses of ‘their’ side.’ 29

Tra l’altro, a differenza di quanto avviene nell’opera shakespeariana, il conflitto tra Romani e Volsci, non ne­cessario alla funzione del dramma di Tate, e problematico da rappresentare per quanto riguardava il nuovo modo di fare tea­tro, viene ridotto ai minimi termini.30

Tate trascura inoltre i problemi psicologici dei personaggi del dramma originale: tutti gli accenni alla solitudine del protagonista sono esclusi, i suggerimenti che commentano un qualsivo­glia suo comportamento riflessivo scompaiono, come i riferimenti alla sua natura suscettibile dovuta soprattutto all’educazione spartana ricevuta da parte materna.

Inoltre, dopo l’elaborazione del testo da parte di Tate anche l’imagery del Coriolanus viene a perdere qualsiasi significato,31 e, cosa più importante, vi­ene a mancare la varietà del punto di vista soggettivo di ogni personaggio riguardo il carattere e le moti­vazioni di Coriolanus, che costituisce uno dei punti di forza dell’opera di  Shakespeare.32

Il risultato di questo taming del personaggio originale è che, mentre il Coriolanus di Shakespeare appare comunque ammirevole per il suo coraggio e la sua onestà – anche se sarebbe stato opportuno se fosse stato più moderato e discreto in politica, – dopo Tate tutti i drammaturghi che hanno riadattato l’opera originale, tagliando alcune tra le scene di maggior importanza pur mantenendo inalterati gli elementi base della tradizione del personaggio, hanno lasciato immutata l’opinione diffusa per cui la versione di Shakespeare resta sempre, e in ogni caso, la migliore e la più suggestiva.33

D’altra parte, secondo i critici è difficile stabilire con quali criteri soprattutto Tate abbia alterato i drammi shakespeariani, ed a quali elementi – intreccio, personaggi, tema o vocabolario – egli abbia dato più importanza. Spesso i risultati di un’attenta analisi del testo rivisitato sono piuttosto deludenti: ad esempio, cambiamenti nello sviluppo dell’azione dell’opera presumerebbero di conseguenza cambiamenti anche nell’azione dei personaggi o nella loro caratterizzazione, come mutamenti nel plot dovrebbero comportare modifiche nell’interpretazione di temi e nell’argomento del testo; inoltre, l’ideale sarebbe che il lettore o lo spettatore fossero in grado di poter individuare le radici di questi cambiamenti nell’uso dei vocaboli scelti per la composizione e nei gusti artistici del periodo contemporaneo all’autore. Ma in Tate una tale analisi logica è quasi impossibile, e lo studioso moderno deve in linea generale attenersi ai testi stampati in quanto tali, cercando di evitare rigorosamente distorsioni interpretative effettuate al fine di dimostrare complicati principi critici o storici.34

Il nome di Tate è entrato perfino a fare parte del lessico anglosassone tramite il termine ‘Tatefication’: ‘…[tatefication] was coined to describe the peculiar kind of literary activity which was Tate’s major occupation between 1680 and 1687. The product of his literary activity is usually discussed under the general heading of “adaptation”, among many other examples of modification of source to meet the demands of the contemporary audience. Unlike Dryden, in All for Love, or James Thomson, in Coriolanus, A Tragedy, Tate does not create a drama based on the same story line as Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra or The Tragedy of Coriolanus. Unlike such actors as Thomas Sheridan and John Philip Kemble, Tate does not merely lift choice speeches…from various sources and arrange them in chronological order. Tate’s contributions to this branch of drama are methodical, laborious, line-by-line reworkings of his immediate source in an effort to produce (with the addition of a few, brief, original passages) a work that will approximate a dramaturgical ideal quite different from that of the author of the original version.’35

Il metodo principale seguito dal drammaturgo per adattare il testo originale alle sue esi­genze sembra essere stato in ogni caso quello dei ‘tagli’:36 le numerose omissioni possono infatti riguardare una sin­gola parola  (ad es. alone in  Shakespeare, I. viii. 8),37  interi periodi di discorsi più o meno rilevant­i per lo svolgimento dell’azione (come la descrizione del tribuno Brutus dell’accoglimento riservato a Coriolanus dal popolo – Shakespeare, II. i. 197-213 della Penguin edition, – ridotto a undici versi – Tate, III. i. 33-43), in­tere parti di scene o addirittura scene complete (come quella dell’incontro tra Adriano e Nicanore38 – Shake­spe­are, IV. iii.) Ruth McGugan ritiene che in particolare l’esclusione del dialogo di 105 versi tra i tribuni e Menenius che apre l’atto II e delle scene ii e x dell’atto I – in cui si ac­cenna per la prima volta al personaggio di Aufidius: ‘…[these three extensive cuts]…suggest that Tate either failed to appreciate the complexity and essential function of the material with which he was dealing or that he deemed concision more important than these subtle means of  characterization .’39

In seguito a questi tagli, Tate mantiene ancora 470 versi del testo originale, che utilizza pa­rola per parola,40 e provvede a rielaborare i restanti 804 versi dell’opera shakespeariana ‘in almost the same workmanlike way in which one would rebuild a brick wall that had tumbled down,’ come afferma la McGugan.41 Ma, come già accennato in precedenza, anche se molti dei cambiamenti effettuati sono giustificati dalla necessità di presentare un testo chiaro nel significato, in un linguaggio com­prensibile ad un pubblico di tre secoli più giovane rispetto a quello formato dai sudditi di Giacomo I, spesso leg­gendo l’opera si ha la sensazione che Tate abbia semplicemente provveduto a sostituire i termini scelti da Shakespeare per comporre i suoi versi con dei sinonimi, ‘with no other concrete result than establishing the fact that an adapter had been at work.’42

I primi quattro atti del dramma di Tate possono essere così riassunti:43

L’atto primo inizia come in Shakespeare (Menenius44 e Martius si incontrano con i plebei, I. i) e procede senza particolari variazioni, fino a quando un Messaggero entra ad annunciare la nomina di Martius a sostituto di Cominius al posto di Lartius. Segue la scena a casa di Martius tra Volumnia e Virgilia, come nell’originale, e due brevi scene sul campo di battaglia.45 L’atto termina con Martius che entra a Corioles (Corioli in Shakespeare).

L’atto secondo comincia con il ritorno vittorioso di Martius, cui è stato dato il nuovo appellativo di Coriolanus, e con l’incontro con Volumnia e Virgilia. Coriolanus si candida come console nella seconda scena e nella terza mendica i voti dei cittadini. Quest’ultima scena si conclude con il discorso dei tribuni alla plebe  per convincerli della falsità di Coriolanus nei suoi confronti.46

All’inizio dell’atto III viene omesso l’aggiornamento a proposito delle condizioni militari di Aufidius (Shakespeare, III. i.1-20.) L’attenzione si mantiene sulla crescente tensione tra patrizi e plebei. Coriolanus accetta di riconciliarsi con questi ultimi e con i tribuni47 in seguito alle preghiere della madre – che in Tate suonano più come un ricatto che come una semplice richiesta:

 

Volumnia   At thy Choice then:

To beg of Thee, is more below my Honour,

Than Thou of them: I stand prepar’d for Death,

With Heart as fix as Thine: Destruction come,

And let Rome’s Founder, and the groaning Spirits

Of all Her Guardians Dead,

Affright the Elements to see their Citty,

With Her own Hands let all Her Vital’s Blood:

The Care of Heav’n, and Fate expire in Flames,

Whilst with a dreadful Joy Her Foes look on;

And with insulting Smiles Aufidius cries,

Corioles Ruins sped him with one Name,

Rome give him now Another

…………………………………………………….

Volumnia   Do your will.48

La riconciliazione è però inutile: Coriolanus viene condannato all’esilio alla fine della terza scena– in anticipo nei tempi rispetto all’opera originale. L’atto si chiude con l’addio di Coriolanus ai familiari. Tate riscrive questa scena con particolare cura e passione al fine di mettere in evidenza il legame tra il protagonista e i suoi cari e per preparare il terreno alla tragedia finale.49 La scena tra Volumnia e i tribuni (IV. ii) e il colloquio tra Adrian e Nicanor (IV. iii) di Shakespeare – vedi supra – vengono eliminati.

Il quarto atto si apre con l’arrivo di Coriolanus a Corioles – non ad Anzio come in Shakespeare, – e le sue riflessioni a riguardo. Le sue intenzioni sono subito chiarite:

Coriolanus   A Goodly Citty this Corioles! Citty,

‘Twas I that did Transform thy Joyful Wives,

to Mourning Widdows; many a Darling Heir

of these fair Palaces, have I Cut off

I’ th’ wretched Parents fight; then know me not.

Here is Aufidious Court, I’ll enter in;

Perhaps he Kills me; then he does fair Justice;

But if he give me Scope, I’ll do his Country Service.50

Coriolanus si presenta subito ad Aufidius,51 proponendogli un’alleanza contro quella che lui chiama ‘ingrateful Rome,’52 alleanza che viene subitaneamente accettata. Ma le reali intensioni di Aufidius si rivelano subito dopo, grazie all’introduzione del villain Nigridius – vedi supra, – perfido  luogotenente di Aufidius,53 che, come un novello Jago, ha il compito di infiammare la gelosia e il desiderio di vendetta del suo generale.

Le scene IV. vi e V. i in Shakespeare, nelle quali i cittadini romani e i tribuni vengono a conoscenza dell’arrivo di Martius, sono abbreviate, combinate e poste al seguito della scena in cui appare Nigridius. La superficialità della plebe viene ulteriormente messa in evidenza nella terza scena: essi si sentono in colpa per aver contribuito all’esilio di Coriolanus, cambiano opinione a seconda del parere di chi si rivolge a loro per ultimo, – in questo caso Menenius, – attribuiscono tutte le colpe ai tribuni e alla fine il loro portavoce dichiara:

1st Citizen   The Gods preserve you Sir, Commend my hearty Affections to him [to Coriolanus]; and if it stand with his good liking, we’ll hang up our Tribunes, and send him them for a Token.

e termina la scena affermando:

1st Citizen   Some comfort yet, that we have these Vipers to Carbinado; Come Neighbours, we’ll see them smoak before us. Away, away with ‘em.54

Così si per la prima volta i tribuni si trovano di fronte a quella che più tardi verrà chiamata da John Dennis ‘Almighty Conduct and…Sovereign Justice’55 della poesia.

Il quarto atto si conclude con la scena dell’intercessione (V. iii in Shakespeare,) alla quale fa da prologo un appello di Menenius. La supplica di Volumnia non si rivolge però ai sentimenti di un figlio verso la madre per convincere Coriolanus alla resa; al contrario, Volumnia utilizza una sorta di ‘reasoned and humane petition by an individual family on behalf of the national family to one who is at once protector and aggressor, and, as on an earlier occasion, Martius is persuaded against his better judgment to place patriotic duty above personal pique.’56 Si confrontino infatti i due appelli di Virgilia57 e Volumnia in Tate:

Virgilia   Think with your self my once indulgent Lord,

How more unhappy than all living Women,

Are  we come hither, since thy sight, that shou’d

Make our Eyes flow with Joy, strikes Terrour through us;

Forcing the Mother, Wife, and Child, to see

The Son, the Husband, and the Father, tearing

His Countries Bowels with unnatural Rage,

Whilst frighted Destiny disowns the Deed,

And Hell is struck with Horrour.

 

Volumnia   Thou debarr’st us

Ev’n of our Prayr’s to th’ Gods, and to this Hour,

No Wretchedness was e’re deny’d that help:

How shall we ask the Death of Rome, or thee,

Oppos’d in fatal War; and one must fall?

Most wretched Martius, thou bleed’st ev’ry way;

For know ‘tis sworn betwixt thy Wife and me,

In that curst hour that Thou despoilst our Citty,

Thou tread’st upon thy Mother’s Earth.58

con la fiera supplica della sola Volumnia in Shakespeare:

Volumnia   Should we be silent and not speak, our raiment

And state of bodies would bewray what life

We have led since thy exile. Think with thyself

How more unfortunate than all living women

Are we come hither; since that thy sight, which should

Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,

Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow,

Making the mother, wife, and child to see

The son, the husband, and the father tearing

His country bowel’s out. And to poor we

Thine enmity’s most capital. Thou barr’st us

Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort

That all but we enjoy. For how can we,

Alas, how can we for our country pray,

Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,

Whereto we are bound? Alack, or we must lose

The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,

Our comfort in the country. We must find

An evident calamity, though we had

Our wish, which side should win. For either thou

Must as a foreign recreant be led

With manacles through our streets, or else

Triumphantly tread on thy country’s ruin,

And bear the palm for having bravely shed

Thy wife and children’s blood. For myself, son,

I purpose not to wait on fortune till

These wars determine. If I cannot persuade thee

Rather to show a noble grace to both parts

Than seek the end of one, thou shalt no sooner

March to assault thy country than to tread –

Trust to’t, thou shalt not – on thy mother’s womb

That brought thee to this world.59

Alle parole della madre e della moglie Coriolanus non può che arrendersi, e chiude l’atto rivolgendosi a tutte le donne del corteo:

Coriolanus   ——————–Ladies you deserve

To have a Temple built to you: all Romes Legions,

With their Confed’rate Arms, cou’d ne’re have stood

My sworn Revenge, and turn’d this Tide of Blood.60

 

Ma la vera sorpresa  la riserva il quinto atto.

Infatti, mentre Tate in linea di massima segue per i primi quattro atti dell’opera il corso della storia tradizionale di Coriolanus, – i successi in battaglia, il  ritorno trionfale a Roma, le  polemiche con i plebei e i tribuni che lo portano all’esilio, la coalizione con Aufidius, l’assalto alle mura di Roma e la resa in seguito alle preghiere della madre,– già al termine dell’atto IV, scena ii, Tate aggiunge dei versi a quelli originali – Shakespeare IV. vii. 2-16 della Penguin Edition, – che, sebbene per quanto riguarda l’azione drammatica non comportino alcun cambiamento, preparano l’atmosfera per la totale disfatta del V atto.

Tornando un po’ indietro nella nostra trattazione, nella scena settima del quarto atto in Shakespeare Aufidius nomina le qualità di Coriolanus che a suo parere sono contemporaneamente la sua forza e la sua debolezza:

 

Aufidius  Do they still fly to th’ Roman?

 

Lieutenant  I do not know what witchcraft’s in him, but

Your soldiers use him as the grace ‘fore meat,

Their talk at table and their thanks at end,

And you are darkened in this action, sir,

Even by your own.

 

Aufidius  I cannot help it now,

Unless by using means I lame the foot

Of our design. He bears himself more proudlier,

Even to my person, than I thought he would

When first I did embrace him. Yet his nature

In that’s no changeling, and I must excuse

What cannot be amended.

 

Lieutenant  Yet I wish, sir –

I mean for your particular – you had not

Joined in commission with him, but either

Have borne the action of yourself, or else

To him had left it solely.61

Ma, mentre alla fine di questa scena l’Aufidius di Shakespeare afferma ‘When, Caius, Rome is thine, / Thou art poor’st of all; then shortly art thou mine’ (IV. vii. 56-7 della Penguin Edition), la scena seconda del quarto atto di Tate così termina:

Aufidius    Death! Hell! This Infamy enflames my Brest,

Makes Emulation higher boyl than ever;

I’ll sink Corioles, but I’ll yet break with him;

And wreck the State, rather than want a Quarrel.62

La scena è interamente studiata al fine di sottolineare la gelosia e l’invidia di Aufidius nei confronti del generale romano e la malvagità vendicativa di Nigridius, e di approfondire ulteriormente il parallelo tra le condizioni di Coriolanus nella Roma repubblicana e quelle dell’Inghilterra di Tate, York e dei suoi nemici.

Anche se in quest’ultimo atto può sembrare che Tate si sia lasciato un po’ prendere la mano, ‘by astute textual cutting, highlighting, and strategic insertions, the renovated avenger, in contrast to Shakespeare’s alienated, enigmatic, almost mystic, machine, stand forth as an unequivocally pious and noble warrior, dutiful son, and loving husband and father. In the play’s final moments, his grief-stricken endurance of his family’s pain was finely calculated to win the audience’s compassion and initiate them into the horror and exaltation of the martyred family.’63

Ma proseguiamo con ordine.

Secondo Christopher Spencer, ‘Tate’s adaptation anticipated Dr. Johnson’s observation that the first act of Coriolanus had “too much bustle” in it and the last “too little”. In Shakespeare, only the hero dies, but in Tate the stage is covered with blood. ’64

L’atto quinto è pieno di avvenimenti che sono frutto esclusivo dell’intelletto di Nahum Tate. Infatti, si apre con Volumnia, Virgilia e il giovane Martius che sono di ritorno a Corioles per avvertire Martius del pericolo imminente:65 Nigridius sta infatti tramando contro di lui. Aufidius intanto confessa a quest’ultimo di desiderare Virgilia da lungo tempo, e al suo arrivo la famiglia di Coriolanus viene imprigionata, mentre questi viene accusato di tradimento davanti al concilio dei Volsci – la stessa accusa si ripete per il condottiero sia a Roma che a Corioles.

La scena sesta dell’atto quinto di Shakespeare viene ampliata e revisionata: mentre le truppe romane e quelle di Aufidius combattono, quest’ultimo ferisce a morte Coriolanus che però riesce a colpirlo a sua volta. In un succedersi di eventi a tratti rocamboleschi, Aufidius si fa portare Virgilia per soddisfare la sua lussuria di fronte al marito di questa,66 ma ella, secondo la più pura tradizione romana, si è già pugnalata fuori scena, arriva sul palco sanguinante e muore pronunciando un discorso degno di una nobile Lucrezia della Restaurazione:

Virgilia    My Noble Martius, ‘tis a Roman Wound,

Giv’n by Virgilia’s Hand, that rather chose

To sink this Vesser in a Sea of Blood,

Than suffer its chast Treasure, to become

Th’ unhallowed Pyrates Prize; but Oh the Gods,

The indulgent Gods have lodg’d it in thy Bosome!

The Port, and Harbour of eternal Calms:

O Seal with thy dear Hand these dying Eyes;

To these cold Cheeks lay thine; and to thy Breast

Take my unspotted Soul, in this last Sigh.              [Dyes.67

Nigridius dichiara di aver ucciso Menenius e di aver ‘Mangled, / Gash’t, Rack’t, Distorted’68 le membra del giovane Martius, e subito dopo entra Volumnia ‘Distracted, with young Martius under her Arm.’ Quest’ultima pronuncia un discorso d’addio che secondo Christopher Spencer ‘owes a debt to King Lear, for Tate, who had admired Poor Tom’s mad language, imitated it in Volumnia’s ravings:

Ha! What a merry World is this Elizium!

See how the youthful Sheepherds trip to the Pipe,

And fat Silenus waddles in the Round.

Beware thy Horns, Pan, Cupid’s with their Bow-strings

Have ty’d ‘em fast to th’ Tree! Ah, ha! ha! ha!

Whats that? – a Summons to me from the Gods?

Back Mercury, and tell ‘em I’ll appear.69

Unlike Poor Tom, who imagines a Christian hell, Volumnia thinks she is the Classical uderworld.’70

Quindi Volumnia ‘Snatches a Partizan from the foremost of the Guards, and strikes Nigridius through, as she runs off.’ 71

Tate raggiunge l’acme della melodrammaticità facendo pronunciare al giovane Martius e a suo padre, morendo, questi versi:

Coriolanus   There struck the Gods.

Boy   Look where my Mother sleeps, pray wake her Sir;

I have heard my Nurse speak of a dying Child,

And fancy it is now just so with me;

I fain wou’d hear my Mother bless me first.

Coriolanus   My pretty Innocence, she do’s not sleep.

Boy   Perhaps then I have done some Fault, makes her

Not speak to me.

Coriolanus   O Gods! May this be born!

Boy    I fain wou’d clasp you too; but when I try

To lift my Arms up to your Neck,

There’s something holds ‘em.

Coriolanus   Thy Torturers my Boy have crippled ‘em,

And gash’t thy pretty Cheeks.

Boy   I know you Lov’d ‘em;

But truly ‘twas no fault of mine; they did it

Because I wou’d not cry; and I have heard

My Grand-Mother say, a Roman General’s Son

Shou’d never cry.

Coriolanus   O Nature! A true Breed!

Boy   ‘Tis grown all Dark o’th’sudden, and we sink

I know not whether; good Sir hold me fast.

Coriolanus   Fast as the Arms of Death: Now come my Pangs,

The chilling Damp prevails upon my Heart.

Thus, as th’ Inhabitant of some sack’t Town,

The Flames grown near, and Foe hard pressing on,

In hast lays hold on his most precious Store:

Then to some peaceful Country takes his Flight:

So, grasping in each Arm my Treasure, I

Pleas’d with the Prize, to Deaths calm Region Fly.          [Dies.72

Secondo Genest, citato da Horace Howard Furness:, ‘Tate’s alteration is, on the whole, a very bad one; he omits a good deal of the original to make room for the new fifth act – his own additions are insipid, and he makes numberless unnecessary changes in the dialogue, but the first four acts of his play do not differ very materially from Shakespeare – he has been guilty of a manifest absurdity in turning Valeria73 into a talkative fantastical lady – the new scenes which he gives her are not bad in themselves, but they are unsuitable not only to the real character, but to the time in which she lived – Volumnia’s speeches, when she is mad, are contemptible to the last degree.’74

Per W.N. Merchant, invece, nonostante il pessimo gusto dei drammaturghi della Restaurazione nel riscrivere le opere shakespeariane, il loro lavoro non può essere giudicato così disprezzabile, anzi sarebbe opportuno, prima di esprimere qualsiasi opinione al riguardo, documentarsi sulle motivazioni alla base delle loro scelte, presenti in dediche e prefazioni. Non è di conseguenza corretto citare frammenti isolati di opere di autori del calibro di Dryden, Shadwell, D’Urfey, Davenant, Tate o Gildon e su questi basare le proprie ricerche.75

Inoltre, lo stesso critico ritiene che, quando al giorno d’oggi si cavilla su un adattamento, un’opera, un balletto o addirittura un musical della Restaurazione, forse ci si dimentica di prendere in considerazione il fatto che in ogni nuova performance di qualsiasi testo vi è un certo grado di adattamento interno, dovuto all’epoca, agli spazi teatrali utilizzati, alla psicologia degli attori, per cui ogni allestimento di un’opera può essere giudicato come unico, anche nel caso di una tragedia  shakespeariana. Dryden, Shadwell e Tate non possedevano altresì il rispetto tutto moderno per il testo in quanto tale, ma alla luce delle interpretazioni attuali di un Guthrie o di un Peter Brook, dovremmo parimenti giudicare drammi di tre secoli fa in base ai principi di arte teatrale e di critica sociale a loro contemporanei.76

Nonostante le idee piuttosto conservatrici per quanto riguarda il testo shakespeariano, chi scrive si sente comunque più vicina all’opinione di Viola Papetti: ‘Il testo secondo…può dirsi linguaggio proliferante che s’inscena, o al contrario, improvvisa regia di suoni, luci, oggetti, corpi; la sua semplice apparizione è inevitabilmente ideologica. Il testo secondo può essere enunciato come nascita, effrazione omissione che gli autori sei-settecenteschi raccontano nella prefazione o nel prologo…La metafora della nascita è naturalmente preferita nel periodo della Restaurazione quando il fenomeno teatro “nasce” nuovamente, come luogo teatrale, repertorio, professionismo attorico, scenografia. È urgente che l’epistemologia neoclassica ordini e assista la compresenza e il riuso dei testi del passato, collocandoli in uno stato simbolico di morte generatrice di vita. Lo stato segnino del testo primo è così dilatato e al tempo stesso è reso così imponente da diventare Natura, la sua parole è disintegrata nella langue (di qui la legalità di imprestiti e di imitazioni). La finzione, non più riconosciuta come tale, ritorna alla Natura (uno dei suoi referenti), eleggendola (ancora una volta) a testo originario di ogni testo.’77

Gary Taylor sottolinea ulteriormente il fatto che, nelle rappresentazioni shakespeariane di tutte le epoche, anche se il testo originale rimane intatto, esso viene comunque adattato ai nuovi teatri, ai nuovi generi, al nuovo pubblico, per cui il significato delle parole muta anche se queste rimangono le stesse. Il teatro della Restaurazione differisce da quello dei periodi seguenti forse solo in questo, nella diffusione del fenomeno e nella sua sfacciataggine, per cui: ‘Later ages would also, in their own ways, reinvent Shakespeare, but – unlike the Honestly hypocritical Restoration – they would simply deny that they were adapting him at all. The Restoration at least knew what it was doing.’78

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


11John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,New York, 1998, p. 30-1.

12 Come afferma John Ripley , il Coriolanus ‘…was judged as a moralized historical reconstruction.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit., p. 14.

13 Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, Garland, New York e London, 1987, p. xxii. ‘The heroic play [was considered] as a reaction against the Shakespearean tragedy. It was evolved to meet certain special needs of the age and it lived so long as it satisfied those needs – social, moral and artistic. When it faded away, it was precisely because it had ceased to respond adequately to the yet newer needs of a changing society…it was the product of certain forces at a particular period and it flourished only so long as it adequately reflected those forces.’  Sarup Singh, The Theory of Drama in the Restoration Period, op. cit. p. 1.

14 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit, p.xxvi.

15 Nessuna performance del Coriolanus di Shakespeare è infatti registrata prima della Restaurazione (vedi G. Bullogh Narrative and dramatic sources in Shakespeare, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1964, Introduction to Coriolanus, p. 453.) La prima rappresentazione dell’opera originale sembra essere infatti quella della King’s Company di Thomas Killigrew nella stagione 1668/9, anche se la sua attestazione non è certa. (John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p.54-5)

16 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 54. Secondo Harold Goddard ‘[Shakespeare’s] Coriolanus has often been taken as a political treatise in dramatic form. Its subject, in that case, is the struggle between the ruling and the oppressed classes, and Coriolanus himself is a typical tory who prefers the privileges of his class to the good of his country, as tories have been prone to do from time out of mind. It sounds plausible, but it will not do. Tories there are in this play- and a class struggle – but Coriolanus is not one of them. His one speech on custom –

Custom calls me to ‘t.

What custom wills, in all things should we do ‘t,

The dust on antique time would lie unswept,

And mountainous error be too highly heapt

For truth to o’er-peer,

– is sufficient to disqualify him once for all. And as for loyalty to his class, he comes to hate the members of it who acquiesced in his banishment worse, if anything, than the plebeians and their tribunes who engineered it…It may be a political play, but its scheme is not so simple as that.’ Harold C. Goddard, The meaning of Shakespeare, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1951,  pp. 211.

17 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 55.

18 Thomas Vivian, Shakespeare’s Roman worlds, Routledge, London, 1989, p. 1-2. Il critico così prosegue: ‘The fundamental values which permeate the Roman plays are: service to the state, fortitude, constancy, valour, friendship, love of family and respect for the gods. The relative importance of these values varies according to the condition of Rome and its stage of development. Most of these values reinforce each other, but occasionally there is an intense conflict of values. Normally the great Roman attributes of fortitude, constancy and valour are cultivated to ensure that a man fulfils the goal of serving the state: likewise, due respect for the gods is an essential duty in ensuring that they look favourably on Rome.’ (p. 13.)

19 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. lv.

20 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit., p. 112 (note alla dedica)

21 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit., p. 2-3. ‘The heroic play…created a neat mechanical world of its own in which life was lived at a heightened emotional level where real suffering could rarely penetrate. This was a ‘heroic’ world – not a ‘tragic’ one – in which all the limitations of human nature were forgotten and where man was encouraged to believe that he had “an absolute power over [his] actions.” [Dryden]’ Sarup Singh, op. cit. p. 3.

22 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p.56. In particolare, ‘Nahum Tate in his commendatory verses prefixed to Sir Francis Fane’s The Sacrifice (1686) paid the highest compliment to the playwright when he said that his ‘Characters set just Examples forth.’ Sarup Singh, The Theory of Drama in the Restoration Period, op. cit. p. 9. Di conseguenza in The Ingratitude il carattere di Coriolanus avrebbe dovuto dare il giusto esempio a York e compagni e suscitare ammirazione, intesa come insegnamento della poesia tramite l’esempio, nel pubblico.

23Cornicius may be intended to remind the audience of Henry Cornish who was, according to Trevelyan (p. 431), “one of the most influential an honourable of the Whig merchants of London so bitterly hated by the Court, [and] was singled out and murdered on a false charge of treason” in September of 1685. During 1681 both Cornish and Slingsby Bethell (of whom Bethellius is an even more obvious reminder) were, as sheriffs, picking the grand jury which eventually dismissed the sedition charges against Stephen College (Ogg, II, 626).’ Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 117.

24 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.lxxii.

25 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.lxxii-lxxiv.

26  ‘…although textual similarities between Tate’s adaptation and sources earlier than Shakespeare are interesting, they do not provide conclusive evidence that Tate had either the imagination or the inclination to go farther than a folio of the works of Shakespeare.’ Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. lviii. La stessa autrice ritiente che il folio shakespeariano adattato da Tate sia  il Terzo (F3), pubblicato tra il 1633 e il 1634 (McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. pp. lviii-lix).

27 ‘The mob’s callous stupidity is epitomized by the First Citizen, a role now fattened by the reallocation of other citizens’ speeches and some new material. Mindlessly overconfident, the sets the tone for the rabble’s senseless, yet bitterly comic, abuse or power with his line, “Let ‘um feel our Swords, that take away the use of our Knives, not that I mean any Harm Neighbours” (2)…Tate reduces them to terrified hysterics when Cominius returns from his Volscian embassy…’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p.57.

28 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 56-7. Ripley mette in evidenza alcuni versi dell’opera in cui Tate si preoccupa di eliminare dal personaggio principale le idee antidemocratiche più radicali: ‘ His outburst beginning “Shall?” in which he demands why the senators have “Given Hydra here to choose an officer” (3.1.90-112), and the tirade shortly afterward in which he scorns a governmental system in which “gentry, title, wisdom / Cannot conclude but by the yea and no / Of general ignorance” (3.1.125-57) are excised. His plea for the repeal of the tribunate (3.1.166-70) is abbreviated and his arrogant assertion “I do despise them! / For they do prank them in authority, / Against all noble sufferance” (3.1.22-24) disappears. His observation when required to beg plebeian voices – “It is a part / That I shall blush in acting, and might well / Be taken from the people” (2.2.144-46) – is rephrased to run rather more tactfully: “It is a Part, that I shall Blush in Acting; / Methinks the People well might spare this Method; / Better Constraint to do it” (19). The tribunes’ assertion that their power will sleep if he is elected (2.1.222-23) and Sicinius’s contention that Martius has “Envied against the people, seeking means / To pluck away their power” (3.3.93-99) are also blue-penciled.’ (John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit, p. 56-7.)

29 Vivian, Shakespeare’s Roman worlds, op. cit. pp. 179-181. Per una corretta interpretazione dell’opera alla luce del contesto storico, sociale e culturale dell’epoca in cui si suppone essa sia stata composta, vedi C.C. Huffman, Coriolanus in Context, Lewisburg, Buckwell U.P., 1971.

30 ‘His decision to set “nearer to sight” the parallel between Shakespeare’s Rome and Restoration England, which amounted to a redrafting of Shakespeare’s overdetermined design, demanded that the Audience’s attention be confined to a single theme – the dangers of factionalism. The multiple foci in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, the ongoing Roman-Volscian military struggle, the patrician-plebeian conflict, and the mother-son attachment rendered it as ineffective a vehicle for political indoctrination as Parmigianino’s Madonna of the Long Neck, with its anatomical distortion and perverse perspective, would have been as an aid to pious contemplation.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 59.

31 Ripley afferma: ‘Hardly less attractive to the propagandist than Coriolanus’s evenhanded politics and capricious characterization was its want of what Bradley was later to term “imaginative effect or atmosphere.” To supply affective resonance, Tate invokes a veritable armory of florid, if somewhat hackneyed, imagery – fire, stars, Roman gods and goddesses, winds, storms, darkness and light, sunset, dying roses, owls, ravens, and vultures – and for good measure contrives several passages of  portentous atmospherics, typified by Martius’s premonition of catastrophe as he exits through Rome’s  gates:

I know not what presage has struck my Breast;

But Oh! Methinks I see Destruction teem,

And waiting for my Absence, to Discharge

The battering Storm on this perfidious Citty;

So when the murmering Wind, from out his Nest,

Jove’s Royal Bird to the open Region calls;

Aloft he Mounts, and then the Tempest Falls.

(John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 64). Per una trattazione esaustiva a proposito dell’imagery nel Coriolanus di Shakespeare si consiglia la lettura di Maurice Charney, Shakespeare’s Roman plays. The function of imagery in the drama, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1961, e del saggio di Wilson Knight The Royal Occupation: An Essay on Coriolanus in The Imperial Theme, Methuen, London, 1931, pp. 154-198.

32 Per quanto riguarda il punto di vista dei personaggi nel Coriolanus di Shakespeare, illuminante è il già citato saggio di Marcella Quadri, Coriolanus: l’arma della parola.

33 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. liii-liv. Anche secondo l’opinione di A. C. Bradley, ‘Shakespeare could construe the story he found only by conceiving the hero’s character in a certain way; and he had to set the whole drama in tune with that conception. In this he was, no doubt, perfectly right; but he closed the door on certain effects, in the absence of which his whole power in tragedy could not be displayed. He had to be content with something less, or rather with something else; and so have we.’ In  B. A. Brockman, Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: a casebook , op. cit. p. 54.

34 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. xxvii.

35 Ruth McGugan Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. v-vi.

36 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. lx-lxi

37 ‘In justice to Tate it should be observed that he has made one considerable improvement – Shakespeare has been guilty of a mistake in repeatedly saying that Caius Marcius was alone when he forced his way into Corioli – Tate uniformly represents him as not being quite alone on this occasion – Plutarch says he had a very few friends with him – Livy and Dionysius Halicarnassensis afford still less ground for the supposition that he was alone – Coriolanus was a man of extraordinary courage, but it is absurd to make him an absolute Almanzor…’ Genest, citato da Horace Howard Furness (ed.), The Tragedie of Coriolanus, New Variorum Edition , Philadelphia/London, 1928, pp. 717.

38 Oltre a questi due personaggi, Tate ne elimina un terzo, l’ufficale Tito Lartio.

39 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. lxi.

40 Tate mantiene in totale 1274 versi di Shakespeare, il 60% delle 2124 linee di The Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth. (Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. xxviii).

41 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. lxi.

42 Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.lxii. La stessa McGugan schematizza i tagli, le modifiche e le aggiunte operate da Tate sul testo originale per arrivare alla versione definitiva del suo dramma (vedi Appendice A alla presente trattazione).

43  Per i riassunti in linea generale degli atti di The Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth: John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994,  op. cit. pp. 59-61 e  H. H. Furness, The Tragedie of Coriolanus, op. cit. p. 716.

44 ‘Menenius, like Volumnia, loses much of his unique individuality. To avoid diversion of interest form the nuclear Martian household, Tate purges all hint of the frail and endearing humanity with which Shakespeare graces him. His relationship with the citizen is downplayed throughout in favor of highlighting Martius’s encounters with them; and only a few lines of his moving appeal in the Volscian camp survive. Little more than a judicious statesman and model Tory, he perishes in an offstage attempt to rescue Young Martius from the clutches of Nigridius.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994,  op. cit. p. 64.

45 ‘Only enough warfare remains to establish Martius’s military stature and introduce Aufidius. The effect is to remove the equivalent of foreground clutter, and to place the plebeian-patrician friction at center stage with minimal distraction or delay.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994,  op. cit. p.59.

46 Inoltre, ‘The sequence in which the cushion-layers assess Martius’s character (2.2.1-36) is eliminated, as is the tense exchange between the tribunes and Menenius prior to Cominius’s euloty (2.2.37-66). The plebeians’ good-natured banter at 2.3.18-35 is replaced by a sequence after the Voices episode in which they are shown as slow-witted and lacking in judgment. Several of Martius’s more defiantly ungracious exchanges are cut (2.3.94-102; 108-10), and the tribunes’ inflammatory appraisal of the Voices ritual is rendered more pointed and succinct.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994,  op. cit. p.59.

47 Questi ultimi erano stati così  da lui attaccati in Senato:

 

Coriolanus      You, Faction-Mongers,

That wear your formal Beards, and Plotting Heads,

By the Valour of the Men you Persecute;

Canting Caballers, that in smoaky Cells,

Amongst Crop-ear’d Mechanicks, wast the Night

In Villanous Harrangues against the State.

There may Your Worship’s Pride be seen t’embrace

A smutty Tinker, and in extasy

Of Treason, shake a Cobler be th’ Wax’t Thumb.

 

( in Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Common-Wealth, atto III. ii. 64-72, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 48. )

‘In 1681, these lines may have been recognizable as a direct hit at some individual who was currently plotting against York in spite of the fact that he had incurred an obligation to James who had often defended England on land and sea. This obligation could have been merely the gratitude due to the defender of his country or a personal, individual obligation, e. g., if York had saved someone who was now his political enemy but had once been his companion in arms.’ Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 123.

48 Nahum Tate, op. cit. atto III. iii. 107-118 e 124, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 57.

49 ‘Tate’s Volumnia is mellower, his Virgilia more vocal, than Shakespeare’s originals. And as a final touch, Young Martius is summoned to add pathos to the leavetaking.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 60.

50 Nahum Tate, op. cit.  atto IV. i. 1-8, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 65. Si confrontino questi versi con i versi di Shakespeare nello stesso contesto:

Coriolanus   A goodly city is this Antium. City,

‘Tis I that made thy widows. Many an heir

Of these fair edifices ‘fore my wars

Have I heard groan and drop. Then know me not,

Lest that thy wives with spits and boys with stones

In puny battle slay me.

Questo è uno dei casi in cui si possono rilevare le diverse intenzioni degli autori – sottolineare la psicologia del personaggio da parte di Shakespeare, anticipare in qualche modo gli eventi da parte di Tate – e in cui il lavoro di collage di quest’ultimo con i versi dell’originale shakespeariano è particolarmente evidente – cfr. supra.

51 ‘Tate’s Aufidius, unlike Shakespeare’s, who exists in the most complex and ambiguous relationship to Martius, is little more than a plot device: a mean-minded foil to Martius’s high-minded nobility, a convenient enemy to whom he can desert, and the instrument of his destruction. To render the audience antipathy doubly certain, he is made the would-be ravisher of Virgilia as well. The portraits of Aufidius and Nigridius call to mind the sadistic torturer/executioners in baroque pietistic art, who by their craven viciousness heighten sympathy for the long-suffering martyr.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994,  op. cit. p. 64.

52 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto IV. ii. 44, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.67.

53 Nigridius viene così presentato ancora prima di entrare in scena:

3rd Servant   He is ever the Harbinger to Mischief; his former command was under Caius Martius, who entrusted him with the custody of Corioles, which he fairly gives up to Aufidius, at a close Revenge he never fails; yet he that Lives to see him hang’d, may Dye before the Year’s out; And there’s Prophecy without Conjuring.

(Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto IV. ii. 141-146, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.71.)

54 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto IV. iii.110-2 e 121-3, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.78-9.

55 John Dennis,  in Brian Vickers, (ed.), Shakespeare – The critical heritage 1623-1801,  Arnold , London, 1975, vol. II, p. 284. John Ripley commenta così i personaggi dei tribuni in Tate: ‘Hard as Tate is on the “blind Compliance” of the people, it is their “popular Misleaders,” the tribunes, epitomized offstage by Shaftesbury, his minions and organizations such as the Green Ribbon Club, for whom he saves his heaviest salvos. Shakespeare treats Brutus and Sicinius with unusual harshness, but allows them at least some degree of political sagacity and psychological insight. Tate lets no mitigating feature remain. Sicinius’s shrewd counsel to Coriolanus, “If you will pass / To where you are bound, you must inquire your way, / Which you are out of, with a gentler spirit” (3.1.53-55) is a typical excision. Martius’s execration of them, cast in contemporary political vernacular lest the point be missed, fair reeks of Tory wrath at the popular threat to aristocratic exclusivity.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 58.

56 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 60.

57 ‘Tate’s decision to domesticate Martius meant that Virgilia would consequently assume a higher profile. Not at all taken by Shakespeare’s whim to render Martius’s spouse virtually mute, Tate makes her a veritable chatterbox, and a markedly more assertive soul than her Jacobean counterpart. In 2.1 she voices her abhorrence of the rabble quite as firmly as her mother-in-law. Her assessment of Valeria is more caustic than in the original (“Let me Retire from her Impertinence, / A heavier Burden than the Grief I bear” (8), and tongue-tied tearfulness on Martius’s victorious return is overcome by spousal solicitude: “Ah, my Dear Lord, What Means that Dismal Scarf” she demands, “My Joy lies folded There!” (15). The Intercession scene, thanks to the appropriation of a fair number of Volumnia’s lines, finds her impassioned and persuasive. Her determination to return to Corioli to rescue her husband completes the portrait of a woman of spirit, fortitude, and decisiveness. All in all, she is a fitting wife for a Roman general and an effective counterbalance to Volumnia. Her suicide, to avoid rape by Aufidius, and the noble character of her final moments identify her with a long line of female martyrs enshrined in baroque art.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 63.

58  Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto IV. iv.105-121, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.84.

59 William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, op. cit. atto V. iii. 95-125.

60 Nahum Tate, op. cit. atto IV. iv.180-3, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 86-7.

61 Shakespeare, William, Coriolanus, op. cit. atto IV. vii. 2-16.

62 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto IV. ii.181-4, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.73.

63 John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 61.

64 Christopher Spencer, Nahum Tate, Twayne, New York, 1972, pp.89.

65 ‘To save Rome first, and then Coriolanus’ afferma Volumnia in  Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto V. i.100 – Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.92.

66 Secondo Ruth McGugan, le intenzioni di Aufidius ‘…are Tate inventions and apparently have no specific political parallel unless it be the metaphorical implication that Shaftesbury is trying to ravish England before the eyes of her potentially rightful sovereign, i. e., York. But this does sound a bit too subtle for Tate.’ Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p. 130.

67 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto V. iii.117-126 in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.102.

68 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto V. iii. 150-1 in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.102.

69 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto V. iii. 186-192 in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.104

70 Christopher Spencer, Nahum Tate, op. cit. p. 90.

71 ‘Volumnia, with her unhealthy hold on her son excised, emerges as an idealized mother figure selflessly committed to family and country. All idiosyncrasy is suppressed. No mention is made of wound-counting; she evinces no uncertainty over Martius’s new name (2.1.174); nor is she overtly ambitious for the consulship for him (2.1.198-202). On Martius’s banishment, Tate’s matron discovers a “Womans Tenderness,” a “Mothers Fondness,” and a fund of “panting Fears” (36) unknown to her Junoesque original. The difference between the Volumnias of Shakespeare and Tate is tellingly epitomized in the handling of her final lines in the Intercession scene in which the understated, suggestive force of the Jacobean matriarch’s “I am hush’d until our city be afire, / And then I’ll speak a little” (5.3.181-82) yields to the flamboyant explicitness of:

We’ll speak no more, till Rome be all on Fire.

Then joining Curses with the Crowd, expire.

(51)

In similar fashion, the wordless, maddeningly inscrutable stage-cross with which Shakespeare’s Volumnia quits the play is superceded by a display of partisan-wielding madness. The averted eyes of the Jacobean matriarch have been repainted to stare back unambiguously at the Restoration spectators with maternal love, patriotic ardour, and finally terrifying irrationality when the forces of disorder have done their work.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. pp.62-3.

72 Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. atto V. iii. 209-235, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. pp. 105-6. Da citare per intero è anche l’epilogo recitato dal personaggio di Valeria:

What? No Attendance in this World? – make way,

Where are our noisy Bullying Criticks? They

That heard no Scene, and Yet damn all the Play!

Run down by Masques; to their old Shift they flee,

And Rail at us, for want of Repertee!

Well Gentlemen, how e’re you doom to Night,

Methinks this Company’s a blessed Sight.

And shews the Realm’s disorder coming Right.

As we Thrive, with the Publick it do’s pass:

The Play-House is the Nation’s Weather-Glass;

Where like to th’ Quick-Silver the Audience, still

As the State goes, is found to Ebb or Fill.

Shall I inform you one thing Gallants? We

In our Vocation with the Saints agree:

For as their Holders-forth, their Flock enchant,

So we our Audience charm with Noise and Rant:

‘Tis thus we Please; and I dare take my Oath,

that Decency and Sence, wou’d Break us Both.

 

(Nahum Tate, The Ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. Epilogo, in Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit. p.107. Per quanto riguarda il personaggio di Valeria e la peculiarità dei versi a lei destinati scritti interamente in corsivo, è illuminante anche in questo caso la trattazione di Ruth McGugan – Ruth McGugan, Nahum Tate and the Coriolanus Tradition in English Drama, with a Critical Edition of Tate’s The ingratitude of a Commonwealth, op. cit., Critical Introduction, pp. lv-lxxv.)

73  ‘The character whose role is most enlarged…is Valeria, who is described in the cast as “An affective, talkative, fantastical lady” and at her first appearance as “Gawdily and Fantastically Drest, follow’d by Six or Seven Pages.” She acts up to her role of the talkative empty-headed belle :”And do I look Sovereignly Madam? Indeed I think my  Enemies will Grant me That; but I bear not upon ’t: I am Ambitious only of the Graces of the Mind, the Intellectuals, ad despise those vain Allurements of Dress ad Face- but do I look Sovereignly Madam?” She speaks forty-four of the fifty-one lines remaining in the scene after her appearance, and the seven speeches that are delivered by others are one line each. She also dominates the other two scenes in which she appears, and Tate finds cause to dismiss her or simply does not introduce her when there is business to be accomplished; but she survives to speak the Epilogue. Although Valeria seems out of place in Republican Rome, she is an amusing character in herself; and her absurdity adds to the comedy of Shakespeare’s drama (which was enough to prompt Dr. Johnson’s other famous observation about Coriolanus – that it is “one of the most amusing” of Shakespeare’s dramas).’ Christhopher Spencer, Nahum Tate, op. cit. p. 90. Secondo John Ripley : ‘Her presence seems to be a pragmatic response to the popularity and availability of a particular actress, rather than any political or aesthetic imperative. The role may have been written for Mrs Corey who had a reputation for playing empty-headed society women.’ John Ripley, Coriolanus on Stage in England and America, 1609-1994, op. cit. p. 69.

74 Horace Howard Furness (ed.), The Tragedie of Coriolanus, op. cit. p. 717.

75 W.N. Merchant, Shakespeare “ made fit”, op. cit. p. 197.

76 W.N. Merchant, Shakespeare “made fit”, op. cit. p. 204.

77 V. Papetti, Lo spazio teatrale nella Londra della Restaurazione, in Le forme del teatro a cura di Giorgio Melchiori, Bulzoni, Roma, 1979, pp. 206-7.

78 Gary Taylor, Reinventing Shakespeare, op. cit. p. 20.

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