Will's word

4th April 2003 at 01:00
Lover (noun) "someone with whom one has a sexual relationship, especially illicit in character" When lover came into English in the 13th century, it developed several senses, but the illicit sexual sense appeared only 300 years later. Today, it has virtually taken over. So we have to be especially careful not to read it in when Shakespeare uses lover in the earlier sense of "companion, comrade, dear friend". This is the sense you need when Menenius refers to Coriolanus as "my lover" (Coriolanus, V.ii.14) or Ulysses says to Achilles:

"I as your lover speak" (Troilus and Cressida, III.iii.214). And in Julius Caesar remember to interpret the characters correctly when Artemidorus closes his letter to Caesar with the words, "Thy lover" (II.iii.8), Cassius refers to himself and Brutus as "Lovers in peace" (V.i.94), and Brutus harangues the crowd with "Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my cause" (III.ii.13). The plots could get very confusing, otherwise.

David Crystal is author, with Ben Crystal, of Shakespeare's Words, published by Penguin

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now