Which of the following is the Prince of Cats referred to in Romeo and Juliet?  A. Morris B. Dizzy Gillespie C. Feline in the medieval story of Reynard the Fox

1 Answer | Add Yours

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Of these three, only C is a serious answer.  The others are jokes.

Morris was an actual cat who has performed in TV commericals for a brand of cat food since the late 1970s.  Dizzy Gillespie was a jazz musician.  Whoever wrote this question is playing on the fact that the slang of Gillespie's time used the term "cat" to refer to men in general, and in particular to "cool" men.  Obviously, Shakespeare knew nothing of Morris the Cat or Dizzy Gillespie.

By contrast, the stories of Reynard the Fox were very well known in Shakespeare's time.  They feature Reynard as an anthropomorphic and very tricky fox.  The stories were satires against the abuses of the powerful during late medieval times.  One of the characters in these stories was a cat (also anthropomorphized) named Tybalt or Tibert.

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio uses "Prince of Cats" as a derisive nickname for Tybalt.  This is partly a reference to the Reynard stories and partly a derisive pun playing on an Italian word for male genitalia.

We’ve answered 317,889 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question