Journal of Musicological Research
In Act 4, scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare used the rhetorical figure of catachresis to capture the meta-theatrical thoughts of musicians as a way of expressing the “uncomfortable time” of Juliet’s apparent death on her wedding day. It is possible to trace Shakespeare’s source for the scene to O that most rare breast, William Byrd’s extensive dirge for Sir Philip Sidney. Not only does the song provide musical and funereal material, it also invites a writer’s response, as Byrd used a cross-disciplinary form of eristic imitation to outdo the rhetorical achievement of his text’s unnamed author.
Smith, Jeremy L., "What Do Shakespearean Musicians Think? Complementary Rhetorical Devices in Romeo and Juliet (4.5) and Byrd’s O that most rare breast" (2017). Musicology Faculty Contributions. 1.
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