View Full Version : Loves Labour's Lost riddle solved?

mike thomas
02-06-2009, 01:04 AM
Hi all

Has this enigmatic riddle ever been solved?


The Foxe, the Ape, and the Humble-Bee
Were still at oddes, being but three


Vntill the Goose came out of doore,
Staying the oddes by adding foure

(Love's Labour Lost Act 3, Sc 1)

Is it perhaps too difficult? Would anyone consider attempting a solution?

I think I have may have worked out the correct solution, but I would like to hear other opinions.

So come on all ewe Shakespeare buffs, what sayest thou?

Regards to all

07-22-2011, 11:44 PM
A fascinating question. The obvious answer is that it plays with the theme of numbers, with which the play seems obsessed. Thus the fox and ape and bee were "at odds," being but three, an odd number. This was remedied by the fortuitous goose, who evens things out. There has been some question in my mind as to who, if any, in the play plays the role of clown or jester, a common role in the Bard's plays. I have always warmed to the idea that the clown of the piece is Costard. Yet he is in witty competition with Moth.

In The Arden Shakespeare, editor H. R. Woudhuysen notes: "The significance--topical or personal-- of the four-line verse is obscure. It comprises a very brief beast fable of the kind Spenser wrote in SC (1579) and Sidney in OA poem, 66." Alas, my complete ignorance of that to which he refers makes this suggestion as obscure as the lines of verse. :confused: