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Tempest see Wind

Tercel see Hawk

Theatre ‘‘The world hath been often compared to the theatre,’’ writes Fielding, ‘‘and

many grave writers as well as the poets have considered human life as a great

drama, resembling in almost every particular those scenical representations

which Thespis is first reported to have invented’’ (Tom Jones 7.1). The

comparison most often quoted is Shakespeares: ‘‘All the worlds a stage, / And

all the men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their

entrances, / And one man in his time plays many parts’’ (AYLI 2.7.139--42). It is

an old metaphor, going back at least to Plato, not long after the rise of Greek

drama. He speculates: ‘‘We may imagine that each of us living creatures is a

puppet made by the gods, possibly as a plaything, possibly with some more

serious purpose’’ (Laws 644d--e, trans. Taylor); in another dialogue Socrates

considers ‘‘the whole tragedy and comedy of life’’ (Philebus 50b). Indeed Platos

influential Cave is a kind of shadow-theatre with people as spectators rather

than actors (see Cave). Like Plato, Horace thinks of man as a puppet (Satires

2.7.82), and other Latin writers, pagan and Christian, followed suit.

By and large the image of puppet or actor implies that people are under the

control of puppeteers or playwrights, that is, the gods, or God, or fate. Its

germ may be found in the Iliad, where the gods watch the war, comment

on it (as the nobles do during the mechanicals play in A Midsummer Night’s

Dream), and sometimes intervene in it, though fate seems in overall control.

From the spectators viewpoint, which is really that of an actor stepping back

from his or her role, the metaphor tends to bring out a sense of lifes

unreality, as when Prospero likens the globe to the ‘‘insubstantial pageant’’ he

has just put on (Tempest 4.1.155), or lifes brevity and meaninglessness, as when

Macbeth sums up: ‘‘Lifes but a walking shadow; a poor player, / That struts

and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more’’ (5.5.24--26).

Spenser complains that his beloved is like a spectator who remains unmoved

while ‘‘beholding me that all the pageants play, / disguysing diversly my

troubled wits’’ (Amoretti 54). Cervantes Don Quixote stresses the superficiality

of dramatic roles as he explains to Sancho that ‘‘some play emperors, others

popes, and in short, all the parts that can be brought into a play; but when it

is over, that is to say, when life ends, death strips them all of the robes that

distinguished one from the other, and all are equal in the grave’’ (2.12, trans.

Starkie). Several of Calderons plays depend on the notion of ‘‘the theatre of

the world,’’ with God as director or playwright. While Wilhelm Meister is

expatiating on the ignorance, vanity, and selfishness of actors, a friend breaks

in: ‘‘dont you realize that you have been describing the whole world, not just

the theatre?’’ (Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship 7.3). Poe restates Don

Quixotes lesson in lurid terms in ‘‘The Conqueror Worm’’: angels watch a

‘‘motley drama’’ put on by ‘‘mere puppets’’ with ‘‘horror the soul of the plot’’

until death puts out the lights on the tragedy called ‘‘Man,’’ of which the hero

is ‘‘the Conqueror Worm.’’ Yeats developed a complex theory of masks to

account for human character, and in many of his own plays he returned to

ancient Greek or Japanese styles of masked acting to bring out the essential

role of artifice in life. ‘‘It was the mask engaged your mind,’’ one lover says to

another, ‘‘And after set your heart to beat, / Not whats behind’’ (‘‘The Mask’’);

in a late poem Yeats admits, ‘‘Players and painted stage took all my love / And

not those things that they were emblems of’’ (‘‘Circus Animals Desertion’’

31--32). Literary critics often use ‘‘persona’’ (Latin for ‘‘mask’’) to refer to the

speaker or narrator of a work (as opposed to the author); the ‘‘dramatic

monologue,’’ perfected by R. Browning, is spoken in character, not in propria

persona, ‘‘in the authors own voice.’’ Ezra Pound, speaking ventriloquistically

through many voices and styles, titled an early collection Personae.

Thread see Weaving and spinning

Three see Number

Thyme see Bee

Tiger Not found in the Mediterranean area, tigers go unmentioned in the Bible and

in Greek poetry and drama. In Latin literature it is sometimes the beast of

Bacchus: in Virgils Aeneid the god drives his tigers down the slopes of Nysa

(6.805; see also Eclogues 5.29), while Horace (3.3.14--15) and Martial (8.26.8) have

him drawn by a pair of tigers. Dionysus wears a tiger skin in Claudian (Rape of

Proserpine 1.17--18). The point here is surely that Bacchus/Dionysus represents

the power to tame what is wild or fierce. For even more than the lion, with

which it is often paired, the tiger represents cruelty or ferocity. Dido accuses

Aeneas of being suckled by a tigress (4.367); if she fails to help Jason, Medea

tells herself, ‘‘Ill surely own / I am a child of a tigress’’ (Ovid, Met. 7.32). Over a

pathetic scene in Chaucer ‘‘ther nys tigre, ne noon so crueel beest,’’ that

would not weep (Squire’s Tale 419); ‘‘cruel’’ occurs as the epithet several times

in Chaucer and Spenser. In The Faerie Queene the wicked Maleger rides on one

(2.11.20). When Shakespeares Albany turns on Goneril for her cruel treatment

of her father, he says, ‘‘What have you done? / Tigers, not daughters’’ (Lear


In his Ars Poetica Horace gives as an example of artistic incongruity the

linking of wild with tame, ‘‘of pairing snakes with birds or lambs with tigers’’

(13). Byrons version of this is ‘‘Birds breed not vipers, tigers nurse not lambs’’

(‘‘Hints from Horace’’ 20).

The most famous tiger in literature is the mysterious creature in Blakes

‘‘The Tyger.’’ The poem is a series of unanswered and unanswerable questions

addressed to the beast and his creator, climaxing in ‘‘Did he who made the

Lamb make thee?’’

During the joyous cosmic celebration that concludes Shelleys Prometheus

Unbound, the moon likens herself to a Maenad, worshipper of Dionysus, in her

rapture, while the earth responds that the moons rays charm ‘‘the tyger joy’’

that fills her (4.501). An even more striking image is T. S. Eliots ‘‘Christ the

tiger’’ in ‘‘Gerontion.’’ If ‘‘April is the cruelest month’’ (The Waste Land) to a

man in spiritual despair, then he would also think ‘‘In the juvescence of the

year / Came Christ the tiger’’ (19--20); ‘‘The tiger springs in the new year. Us he

devours’’ (48).

Note: Tigers in classical literature generally come from Hyrcania, on the

southeast shore of the Caspian (Virgil, Aeneid 4.367; Claudian, Rape of Proserpine

3.263), or from Armenia (Propertius 1.9.19; Virgil, Eclogues 5.29). Macbeth

names ‘‘thHyrcan tiger’’ (3.4.100).

See Lion.

Time Seldom a symbol of something else, time is itself often symbolized, like dawn,

death, and the seasons, in images no less interesting for being conventional.

 ‘‘Times scythe,’’ or his ‘‘bending sickle,’’ is his most salient prop

(Shakespeare, Sonnets 12 and 116); with it ‘‘wicked Tyme . . . / Does mow the

flowring herbes and goodly things / And all their glory to the ground downe

flings’’ (Spenser, FQ 3.6.39). Resembling the harvest, and death the Grim

Reaper, times scything or mowing would seem an obvious trope, but it

probably owes something to the Greek god Kronos, an agricultural god who

was imagined as carrying a sickle, and whose name was confused with

khronos, ‘‘time’’ (Latinized as chronus, whence ‘‘chronic,’’ ‘‘chronology,’’ etc.);

Plutarch mentions that some Greeks identify the two (De Iside et Osiride 363d)

(and see Cicero, De Natura Deorum 2.25).

Ovid calls time edax rerum, ‘‘gluttonous of things’’ (Met. 15.234); Shakespeare

addresses him as ‘‘Devouring Time’’ (Sonnets 19), ‘‘eater of youth’’ (Lucrece 927),

and ‘‘cormorant devouring Time’’ (LLL 1.1.4). Ronsard says, ‘‘Time the glutton

(Le temps mangeard) consumes all things, / Cities, Castles, Empires: indeed man’’

(Discours de l’altйration et change des choses humaines 49--50). Milton defies him to

‘‘glut thyself with what thy womb devours’’ (‘‘On Time’’). That metaphor too

may go back to Kronos, who swallowed his children as they were born: so

time consumes what it creates. ‘‘Thou nursest all, and murderst all that are’’

(Lucrece 929).

In variants of these images Shakespeare and many other poets call time a

thief, a ‘‘bloody tyrant’’ (Sonnets 16), a waster; envious, injurious, inexorable,

fatal. Sometimes he drives a chariot or coach. Marvell hears ‘‘Times winged

chariot hurrying near’’ and it threatens to turn him and his coy mistress to

dust (‘‘Coy Mistress’’ 22). Goethes ‘‘An Schwager Kronos’’ (‘‘To Coachman

Chronus’’) imagines the coach rolling briskly downhill into life, then laboriously

uphill to a splendid view, pausing for a drink with a maiden, and then

careering toward a sinking sun through the gate of hell.

As opposed to eternity, one seldom finds a favorable account of time, but he

has his virtues. He heals wounds, and Truth is his daughter -- he can ‘‘unmask

falsehood and bring truth to light’’ -- and he has the power to redress wrongs

and reward diligence (Lucrece 936--59). This latter idea goes back at least to

Pindar, who wrote ‘‘for just men Time is the best savior’’ (frag. 159). Sophocles

Ajax learns that ‘‘Vast and measureless time makes all / hidden things grow

and hides what appears’’ (Ajax 646--47). Jesus said, ‘‘there is nothing covered,

that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known’’ (Matt. 10.26). In a

sinister context Racine writes, ‘‘There are no secrets that times does not

reveal’’ (Britannicus 4.4.1404). Time may also be disparaged as a ‘‘ceaseless

lackey to eternity’’ (Lucrece 967), for he will consume himself in the end and

‘‘long Eternity’’ will prevail (Milton, ‘‘On Time’’); but Blake says ‘‘time is the

mercy of Eternity’’ (Milton 24.72) and ‘‘Eternity is in love with the productions

of time’’ (Marriage of Heaven and Hell 7).

Marvells chariot and Goethes coach remind us that time is unidirectional

and fast. By contrast the motion of eternity is circular, stately, and dancelike.

During the eternal spring of unfallen Eden, according to Milton, the Hours

danced (PL 4.267). Shelleys fateful Hour rose in a chariot to dethrone

Demogorgon, but after the death of Time there are no more chariots; ‘‘Once

the hungry Hours were hounds / Which chased the Day’’ but now they dance

in ‘‘mystic measure’’ (PU 4.73--78). At the ‘‘still point’’ of eternity, according to

Eliot, ‘‘there is only the dance’’ (‘‘Burnt Norton’’ sec. 2).

Times of day see Day, Dawn, East and west, Sun

Toad see Frog and toad

Tortoise see Harp

Tower As its most striking feature at a distance, a tower often stands as a synecdoche

for a great city, as in Marlowes ‘‘topless towers of Ilium’’ (Doctor Faustus B

5.1.94). As a human structure striving towards heaven, and as a dwelling for

noble lords, a tower might mean pride or hubris, marked for destruction, like

the Tower of Babel; see also Miltons phrase ‘‘proud towers’’ (PL 5.907). It can

symbolize a woman besieged, as in The Romance of the Rose (8566), or a woman

sequestered, as in the tale of Rapunzel or Tennysons ‘‘The Lady of Shalott.’’

(see Siege.)

A tower may also be a refuge of solitude for sage or poet. ‘‘Or let my lamp

at midnight hour / Be seen in some high lonely tower,’’ Milton writes in ‘‘Il

Penseroso’’ (85--86). Having moved into a house with an ‘‘ancient tower,’’ Yeats

saw the chamber at the top of a winding stair as like that of Miltons contemplative,

and where he could meditate on history and rise above it (‘‘My


Though ‘‘tower of ivory’’ is a simile for the neck of the beloved in the Song

of Solomon (7.4), the common phrase ‘‘ivory tower,’’ referring to a retreat or

shelter from the real world, such as a university, seems to derive from a poem

by Sainte-Beuve (‘‘Pensees dAoˆut’’) where he contrasts the embattled Victor

Hugo with the aloof Alfred de Vigny, who withdraws to his tour d’ivoire. Why

ivory? Perhaps Sainte-Beuve alludes to Vignys own cor d’ivoire, the ivory horn

in ‘‘Le Cor’’ sounded by the dying knight at Roncevaux -- surely an emblem of

the poet -- and perhaps to the gate of ivory in Homer and Virgil, the gate of

false dreams, dreams or revery being the Romantic refuge from this sordid

world. Flaubert wrote to Turgenev, ‘‘I have always tried to live in an ivory

tower, but a sea of shit is beating against its walls’’ (13 November 1872). The

Ivory Tower is the title of Henry Jamess last, unfinished, novel.

Tree Most symbolic trees are specified, for the symbolism of individual trees is

usually highly specific. But anything that can grow, ‘‘flourish,’’ bear ‘‘fruit,’’

and die might be likened to a tree: a person, a family, a nation, a cultural

tradition. In the Bible a tree often stands for a person, usually to distinguish

the godly from the ungodly. Thus in Psalm 1 the godly man ‘‘shall be like a

tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;

his leaf shall not wither’’ (1.3; cf. Jer. 17.8), whereas Jude warns against false

Christians, who are ‘‘trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead,

plucked up by the roots’’ (1.12). Job contrasts a man to a tree, which might

grow again after being cut down (14.7--10). Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzars

dream of a tree that grew to heaven only to be ordered cut down by an angel

as really about Nebuchadnezzar himself (Dan. 4.8--27). Paul calls a new

member of the church a ‘‘neophyte’’ (Authorized Version ‘‘novice’’), i.e., ‘‘newly

planted’’ (1 Tim. 3.6). Isaiah extends the image: ‘‘as the days of a tree are the

days of my people’’ (65.22; cf. 56.3); Ezekiels riddling parable in chapter 17

establishes Jerusalem as a tree. The now common notion of a ‘‘family tree’’ is

found in the tree of Jesse: ‘‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem

of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’’ (Isa. 11.1, quoted by Paul in

Rom. 15.12). It is implicit in Homers Iliad, where the generations of men are

likened to leaves on a tree (6.145--50; see Leaf).

The two most important trees in the Bible, of course, are ‘‘the tree of life’’

and ‘‘the tree of knowledge of good and evil’’ (Gen. 2.9). Though what they

symbolize is more or less expressed in their names, why the books author

chose trees as the vehicle is less clear: perhaps to make the link between

knowing and tasting, of the sort that Milton makes as he exploits the original

sense of ‘‘sapience’’ (from the root of Latin sapere, ‘‘to taste of’’) (PL 9.797, 1018),

and perhaps to establish the first of a series of dietary taboos that define the

Hebrew people. The notion of two trees, variously named, has entered into

western religious traditions, such as the Kabbalah, and literature. Byrons

Manfred has learned that ‘‘Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most /

Must mourn the deepest oer the fatal truth, / The Tree of Knowledge is not

that of Life’’ (Manfred 1.1.10--12). Yeatss ‘‘Two Trees’’ are an inner one that

grows in ones heart with ‘‘great ignorant leafy ways’’ (16) and an outer one

reflected in a glass where ‘‘ravens of unresting thought’’ fly through broken

branches (34). In the pageant that Dante sees atop Mt. Purgatory, one tree, the

tree Adam ate from, loses all its leaves and fruit, but after the chariot of the

church is tied to it the tree is renewed, as if to say that Christ reconciles our

fallen nature to God (Purgatorio 32.37--60). Mephistopheles tells a student, ‘‘All

theory is gray, dear friend, / And green is the golden tree of life’’ (Faust


The bleeding tree is an interesting topos or motif traceable from Virgils

Aeneid 3.22--68, where Aeneas, after breaking a branch off a bush, sees blood

dripping from it, and learns that it is his friend Polydorus. Dante (at Virgils

urging) breaks a branch of a tree in the wood of suicides and hears the

sinners story (Inferno 13.28--108). Ariosto in book 6 of Orlando Furioso and Tasso

in Jerusalem Liberated 13.41 have similar tales; Spenser imitates these in his

story of Fradubio, enchanted by Duessa (FQ 1.2.30ff.).

Ovids tale of Orpheus includes a tree-list or small catalogue of trees (and

other plants) that came crowding around him when he sat down to sing:

poplar, oak, beech, maple, fir, willow, pine, and so on (Met. 10.90--105). Other

tree-lists after Ovid are found in Senecas Oedipus 566--75, Statius Thebaid

6.98--106, the Roman de la Rose 1338--68, Boccaccios Teseide 11.22--24, Chaucers

Parliament of Fowls 176--82, and both Spensers Faerie Queene 1.1.8--9 and his

Virgil’s Gnat 190--224. Sidney gives a catalogue with symbolic meanings

attached in First Eclogues 13.113--54. See also Shelley, ‘‘Orpheus’’ 105--14.

Tree entries in this dictionary: Almond, Apple, Ash, Beech, Cedar,

Cypress, Elm, Holly, Laurel, Linden, Oak, Olive, Palm, Poplar, Willow, Yew.

See also Forest, Leaf, Seed.

Trumpet ‘‘Trumpet’’ in English translates several types of ancient horns, whether the

curved rams horn of the Hebrews (usually shopar) or the straight bronze horn

of the Greeks (salpinx) and Romans (tuba). In the Bible and classical literature

its main uses are similar -- to send signals, to summon an assembly, and

especially to prepare for battle -- but its extended senses are interestingly


The Book of Numbers explains that trumpets are to be used to call

assemblies, announce a war, and sound over sacrifices (10.1--10). Already

Jehovah had summoned the Israelites to go up to Mt. Sinai with a long loud

trumpet sound (Exod. 19.13,16,19). Leviticus ordains a ‘‘trumpet of jubile’’ after

forty-nine years (25.9). In Joshua seven priests blow seven trumpets for seven

days as part of the campaign to destroy Jericho (6.4--20).

The prophets serve as trumpets of the Lord. ‘‘Cry aloud, spare not,’’ Isaiah is

told, ‘‘lift up thy voice like a trumpet’’ (58.1). ‘‘Blow ye the trumpet . . . for the

day of the Lord cometh’’ (Joel 2.1). That day, according to Zephaniah, is a ‘‘day

of the trumpet’’ (1.16), while according to Zechariah ‘‘the Lord God shall blow

the trumpet’’ (9.14). Shelley evokes these prophets when he asks the west wind

to be through his lips ‘‘The trumpet of a prophecy’’ (‘‘West Wind’’ 69).

The Christian meaning of the ‘‘last trump’’ (1 Cor. 15.52) subsumes the

Jewish uses -- gathering the exiled Israelites, preparing for the Messiahs war --

and adds the resurrection of the dead. To John of Patmos the voice of Christ is

as great as a trumpets (1.10); then John sees seven angels, each with a

trumpet that produces a revelation of the last days (8.1ff.).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ enjoins his followers to give alms in

secret: ‘‘do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the

synagogues and in the streets, that they may have the glory of men’’ (Matt.

6.2). We still speak of ‘‘trumpeting’’ ones virtues or doing something ‘‘with a

flourish of trumpets.’’

Homers warriors do not use trumpets, but a trumpet appears once in a

simile for Achilles piercing cry (Iliad 18.219). Though it had other uses in

Greece, it became almost synonymous with war and wars alarms. Bacchylides

trumpet ‘‘shrieks out the song of war’’ (18.3). Greeks attack boldly, says

Aeschylus, inspired by blaring trumpets (Persians 395). When peace is

established, a trumpet-maker has a useless and expensive trumpet on his

hands (Aristophanes, Peace 1240).

Quite a few trumpets appear in the Aeneid and other Roman epics, though

it is not always the tuba; sometimes it is the curved horn called the bucina, or

just a ‘‘horn’’ (cornu) that summons men to arms (e.g., Aeneid 6.165). In the

Golden Age, according to Ovid, one heard ‘‘no trumpet straight, no horn of

bent brass’’ (Met. 1.98). In literature ever since, trumps or trumpets, with such

epithets as ‘‘thundering’’ (Chaucer), ‘‘dreadful,’’ ‘‘doleful’’ (Spenser), ‘‘braying,’’

‘‘angry,’’ ‘‘hideous’’ (Shakespeare), and ‘‘warlike’’ (Milton), have sounded

whenever battles are described. Even Miltons angels form ranks when ‘‘to

arms / The matin trumpet sung’’ (PL 6.525--26).

Antipater of Sidon called Pindar ‘‘the Pierian trumpet’’ (Greek Anthology 7.34).

Traditional (Renaissance) portraits of Clio, the muse of history, give her a

trumpet. Spenser has Clio say ‘‘I, that doo all noble feates professe / To

register, and sound in trump of gold’’ (Tears of the Muses 97--98). Fame, a poor

cousin of Clio, also has a ‘‘trompe of gold’’ in Chaucer (House of Fame 3) and

Spenser (FQ 3.3.3). Since history is mainly a tale of wars and famous deeds of

warriors, the trumpet became a synecdoche for epic poetry. When Alexander

came to Achilles tomb, according to Petrarch, he called him fortunate to have

found ‘‘so clear a trumpet,’’ i.e., Homer (Rime 187). Spenser, improving on the

supposed preamble to the Aeneid, announces he is forced ‘‘For trumpets sterne

to change mine Oaten reeds,’’ that is, to give up pastoral poetry and take up

 ‘‘Fierce warres and faithful loves’’ (FQ 1 Pro. 1; see 1.11.6). Alfieri notes that

Tasso made the ancient trumpet sound in modern tones (‘‘On Tassos Tomb’’).

Wordsworth, however, claims that it was the sonnet that, in Miltons hands,

‘‘became a trumpet; whence he blew / Soul-animating strains’’ (‘‘Scorn not the


Turtle-dove see Dove