Venetian Jasons, parti- coloured lambs and a tainted wether
Ovine tropes and the Golden Fleece in The Merchant of Venice
in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
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The Merchant of Venice abounds in allusions to the myth of the Golden Fleece, unlike the rest of the canon where key terms associated with the myth are rarely mentioned explicitly. The myth circulated widely in sixteenth-century Europe. This chapter analyses the significance of the Golden Fleece myth as a subtext of The Merchant of Venice. It contends that its contribution to the dramatic texture and spatial mapping of the play extends well beyond Ovidian and Senecan interactions. The Golden Fleece myth and biblical parables are brought together in an intricate network of ovine images that radiates through the whole play, inviting audiences to revisit initial, male-induced representations of the play's three female figures, Portia, Nerissa and Jessica. The Venetian Jasons are the product of myth and its reconfigurations, which are interwoven historically and contemporaneously.

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