Et in Arcadia Ego, Mary and Philip Sidney in Pembroke’s Arcadia



Graphic Anagrams Related to Shakespeare

Grave buries Sidneys' secrets.


One-way anagram is used with constancy to tell stories around Wilton House, like M. Rosalinde, a one-way anagram of Mary Sidney or Boteswain of Ben Jonson. Other names like Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, Queen Elizabeth can be found in scenes about them. The method is used also in some graphs.

Joshua Sylvester’s text-pyramid is a quick sample of graphic anagram. Mary hides backward in pyramid (_yram__). Sidney is enlarged and its next line "that rare more-than-man" hints at a woman.

Guercino’s painting Et in Arcadia Ego contains three major elements: shepherd, maiden, and skull.

Shepheard skull (shep__ar_ _k__)=Shakespeare.

Shepheard maiden skull=Philip, Mary Sidney.

The shepherd is Philip Sidney, the maiden Mary Sidney, and the skull (without brain) Shakespeare as their disguise. The painting shows Pembroke’s wish to be with her brother in Arcadia.

To affirm the anagram, there is a mouse just above the inscription. "Et in Arcadia Ego" with M and S can spell Mary Sidney. The mouse provides the needed m and s. Mouse is a playful term of endearment to a woman.

Martin Droeshout (Mar_in D__es____) can spell Mary Sidney. The editor might select the engraver due to his name or simply borrow that. To avoid being considered a coincidence, and since Droeshout spells Herbert except letter B, Shakespeare’s collar, thin as a page, is shaped to B to complete Mary Sidney Herbert. The two lines under Shakespeare’s chin secure that, else it’s more like D than B.