The Boar in “Minerva Britanna” (1612) and Edward de Vere and “Shakespeare”

The heraldic emblem of the Earls of Oxford for centuries was a Blue Boar, standing proudly atop their Coat of Arms. Henry Peacham in Minerva Britanna of 1612 included the image of a Boar with accompanying verse that pointed to the story of Venus and Adonis in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and — given Peacham’s demonstrated knowledge of both Edward de Vere and Shakespeare — also to both the Poem and the Poet of Venus and Adonis of 1593:

(click on image  for larger view)

(click on image
for larger view)

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  1. Please expand upon this. A boar atop a supine female (with a spear below her) bears little or no resemblance to the Oxford coat of arms other than the presence of a boar. On the other hand, if you can tie the translation of Ovid’s text to Oxford or Golding, then you may really have something here.

    • Thanks. (As you can see it is not one of the “reasons” – not yet, anyway) I’ll see what I can find.

      • At the top of the page is “Haud conveniunt.” Does that bear any significance to Oxford?

      • Not sure. Will try to look into it. Anyone?

      • ‘Haud conveniunt’ = “Do not agree” (per Google translate) which gives an interesting twist.

        As for the “a thousand miseries”, agree it could echo de Vere’s £1000 annuity.

        Thanks for the post, Mr. Hank!!

      • You are welcome Knitwitted!

  2. Good point, Whittemore, but I have also to disagree: not everyone knew of Oxford’s Shakespearean secret. Apparently, only lesser but yet great authors, like Chapman or Jonson, knew of the secret. And after all, the greatest moment on a tragic love story like Venus and Adonis (not so lovely under Shakespeare’s hand, though) is Adonis’ death, killed by a boar. So, I have to say I don’t see Oxford in this page nor image.

    • I agree, Francisco, that only certainly individuals knew of Oxford’s authorship, and also that Peacham’s drawing does not direct us to Oxford — not directly, that is. First, was it Peacham or Peacham’s father who drew the sketch of a Titus Andronicus performance (at the Swan?) in 1594 or so? One or the other — so you have him interested in plays, theater, and in Shakespeare. And in 1622 he will list Oxford among the best Elizabethan authors no longer alive. We might assume that he was interested enough in “Shakespeare” to go looking for more about him, even looking for the man himself — and finding what? And we might assume he tried to learn what he could about Oxford; and one of the first things he would find would be the boar emblem; and that Oxford was the author of plays which, so far as we know, were not identified. So let’s say he tried to learn, from publishers and authors, about both Oxford and Shakespeare. The man was involved, I’ll bet, in the authorship question! One of the first! If there had been a Shakespeare-Oxford Fellowship in 1622, or even earlier, the man would have signed up and run for president!

      In any case, whatever he is preserving would be an expression of his own truth, or his own surmising. Judging by the cover of the 1612 work, he is well aware of dramatists whose identities are hidden. Now — just for a little Oxfordian exercise, meaning possibly nothing: He refers in his margin to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated as by Oxford’s maternal uncle Arthur Golding; and he knows that Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis comes originally from Ovid, and that Shakespeare was obsessed with Ovid — to the point where, in Titus Andronicus, he has the young person reading the Metamorphoses that his mother gave him! Now, on his first line, he ends with the word “brooke” — recalling Arthur Brooke, of Romeus and Juliet, 1562, and recalling Merry Wives of Windsor. In the third line he refers to Kings and Princes — in the fourth to hunting, a nobleman’s sport; and in the sixth line he notices or suggests that Adon, or Adonis, is a member of the royal “court.” He then goes on to say that this is “fiction” devised by the “Poet’s brain” — but it “signifies unto the Reader” something else — that Love will not entertain someone like Adon, who prefers to “live in Idleness” — echoing Oxford’s poem published in “Paradise of Dainty Devices” in 1576, going through many editions, with the line “That never am less idle, lo! than when I am alone.”

      He uses the word “vertue” echoing “ver” — which rhymes with “Her Adon faire” of line five. And winds up speaking of “a thousand miseries” echoing the thousand pound grant.

      All of which is by way of amusement, perhaps nothing more. If Peacham knew or suspected the answer to the Shakespeare authorship question, it may explain his “obsession” with the dramatist behind the curtain, the suggestive writing by the hand, the boar, Adon, his listing of Oxford as among the great poets — perhaps for readers in the future? Too bad we can’t ask him!

  3. Given Henry Peachams “demonstrated” knowledge of him self e.g. In ” Thalias Banquet”(1620)
    Epigram 69
    To my Reader
    “My Person is another as I List
    I now but act the Epigrammatist”
    perhaps Mr. Whittemore would be wise, to define more precisely whom he meant by Henry Peacham and what are the evidences beyond the printed works of Henry Peacham or H.P. ,( Analog to Shaxspere) that he really was a poet….when he lived etc…..


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