Antics, Before and After “Hamlet”

One of the source materials for Shakespeare’s Hamlet was a legend recorded by Saxo in Historiae Danicae, published in 1514. The brother of the king killed Prince Amleth’s father, then married the queen. A friend of the uncle planned to hide in the queen’s chamber so he could overhear a conversation between her and Amleth, like Polonius does in Shakespeare’s play. Amleth “in his mad antics (crowing, flapping his arms, and jumping up and down on the bedding) discovered him and killed him.”

The description of Amleth’s mad antics reminded me at least as much of Tom Cruise’s infamous appearance on Oprah as it did of the version of the scene from Shakespeare’s play.

Tom Cruise on Oprah

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