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We (Can't) Defy Augury: Alexander (the Pig?) vs. Henry V

"Ay, he was porn at Monmouth, Captain Gower. What
call you the town's name where Alexander the Pig was born!"
Thus started the playful comparison between Henry V and Alex the Great. It was funny the first time I read it. It was, really. The Welsh Captain kept saying the word wrong, the comparison couldn't be more absurd, especially the way he tried to find similarity between Monmouth and Macedon.

The second time I read it, I wanted to cry.

I am the one to blame for my sheer ignorance of English history. Reading Henry V, I was full of expectation that the king would live long and prosper, he would be the best Shakespearean character ever, and would stay high, live eternally, and be a living literary legend like Sherlock Holmes, for instance. I had no idea that the king would die. I mean, I know he would, but not that fast. As soon as I knew that he died shortly after Agincourt, Alexander was no longer a joke.

Well, at least we know why they didn't say anything about their looks, only their achievements
Fluellen might be happy that his king was as young as Alexander and as great a military commander as he was. He might also be happy that Monmouth and Macedon shared the same first letter. Or he might think himself smart to note that Henry shoved away his bad company when he was sane as Alexander killed his when he was drunk. His comparisons served as entertainment anyway. But I wonder if Shakespeare thought merely of that when he compared Henry to Alexander.

As mentioned before, both were great military commanders in their youth, because the both shared the same young untimely death. Alex died of malaria fever when he was 32, Henry of dysentery when he was 36. Both left their achievements to civil war. Both, after all their labour, gained nothing for themselves, nor for their issues. Best thing, both became legends, although me must admit that Alexander still wins in that aspect.

Now, to be honest, all of these comparisons would be nothing to me, they wouldn't upset me, if Shakespeare hadn't so subtly put them in jest. I hate it when Shakespeare plays oracle and prophet in his plays, putting things here and there to *hint* the futures of his characters. In the first tetralogy, these kinds of hateful omens are everywhere.

Maybe in later posts I will discuss them further.


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