Shakespeare's Myths

Titus Andronicus (1594), II.iii.60-65:

Tamora: Saucy controller of my private steps,

Had I the power that some say Dian had,

Thy temples should be planted presently

With horns, as was Actaeon’s, and the hounds

Should drive upon thy new-transformèd limbs,

Unmannerly intruder as thou art!


Titus Andronicus (1594), II.iii.66-71:

Lavinia: Under your patience, gentle Empress,

’Tis thought you have a goodly gift in horning,

And to be doubted that your Moor and you

Are singled forth to try experiments.

Jove shield your husband from his hounds today—

’Tis pity they should take him for a stag.


The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597), II.i.105-117: 

Pistol: Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs.

Sir John affects thy wife.

Ford: Why, Sir, my wife is not young.

Pistol: He woos both high and low, both rich and poor,

Both young and old, one with another, Ford.

He loves the gallimaufry, Ford. Perpend.

Ford: Love my wife?

Pistol: With liver burning hot. Prevent,

Or go thou like Sir Actaeon, he,

With Ringwood at thy heels.

O, odious is the name!

Ford: What name, sir?

Pistol: The horn, I say. Farewell.


The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597), III.ii.35-38: 

Ford: … I will take him; then torture my wife, pluck the borrowed veil of modesty from the so-seeming Mistress Page, divulge Page himself for a secure and wilful Actaeon …


Twelfth Night (c. 1601-1602, 1601), I.i.16-22:

Curio: Will you go hunt, my lord?

Orsino:                             What Curio?

Curio:                                           The hart.

Orsino: Why so I do, the noblest that I have.

O, when my eyes did see Olivia first,

Methought she purged the air of pestilence;

That instant was I [Actaeon] turned into a hart,

And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,

E’er since pursue me.

[Veiled allusion]


Cymbeline (c. 1608-1611, 1609), II.iv.80-82, II.iv.80-82:

Giacomo: The chimney

Is south the chamber, and the chimney-piece

Chaste Dian [Diana], bathing.

[Veiled allusion]


How to cite

Agnès Lafont.  “Actaeon.”  2013.  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology  (2009-), ed. Yves Peyré.

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