Location, Location, Location

Some quick hits on locales in the play…

The play takes place in Ephesus… and that’s pronounced EF-uh-SUSS, not e-FEE-suss (the first one is the only one that scans correctly throughout the play).  Now, where is Ephesus?  On the eastern coast of the Aegean/Mediterranean Seas in present-day Turkey.

Syracuse is some distance away on the southeastern tip of Sicily.

Corinth is located in Greece. [and man, I can’t resist: Corinth is the home of “fine Corinthian leather” … I watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan last weekend, so sue me]

Epidamnum (e-PEH-dam-NUM) is on the eastern coast of the Adriatic in present-day Albania.

In the Plautus comedy (on which many think Shakespeare based his play), the setting is Epidamnum, rather than Ephesus (though the travelers were still from Syracuse).  So why the change?  No one’s really sure, though Shakespeare’s audience may have been less familiar with Epidamnum as it was with Ephesus (through the audience’s Biblical knowledge of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians).

Also, I think that by changing the location to be further east, Shakespeare sets up a more exotic locale, one in which AS and DS can fear the locale’s witches and sorcery, and the audience can more easily accept it.

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