It occurred to me the other day that I'm not really clear on the origin of the idea of swearing on something. It seems reasonably clear that swearing on or by a deity is akin to saying "May God strike me dead if I'm lying"; and I suppose "I swear on my soul" means "my soul is forfeit if I'm lying." But what about "I swear on my honor" or "I swear on my mother's grave"? I guess giving one's "word of honor" is an indication that one should be considered dishonorable by everyone if one is lying—but that seems a little tautological somehow, because wouldn't everyone consider you dishonorable for lying regardless of whether you swore?
And I'm really unclear on the "mother's grave" business. Is it that lying would then bring dishonor to your mother's grave?
The web and Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable are both unable to help me in this matter. Ideas welcome.
Meanwhile, while looking for that info, I happened across a modernized paraphrase of Romeo and Juliet (or at least the balcony scene). I rather like this bit:
Jeff: I want to be your lovesick puppy.
Jacy: That's sweet, but it's late and tomorrow can't come if you never leave. Goodbye!
I mean, it's no "parting is such sweet sorrow," but it has a certain charm.
The page title includes the phrase "Fan Fiction," which immediately made me wonder: Why isn't there any Shakespeare fanfic? There's lots of modernizations and retellings and so forth, but I haven't heard of any fanfic per se. And then I realized that I do know of one such item: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. So never mind.
(I have a vague notion there's also Shakespearean fanfic mentioned in The Eyre Affair, but I haven't read that yet, nor—at the current rate at which I'm acquiring books—am I like to.)
fanfiction.net has a whole bunch of Cats fanfic and a fair bit of Rent fanfic, and even a couple of JCS fics, but—aha! Two brief R&J fics. Not really what I had in mind, though. . . . Oh, okay, that's better: Shakespeare is filed under Books, not Plays. Okay, so there appear to be hundreds of them. Never mind, then. (Hey, I just noticed one of the other search results was a blog entry from eBear talking about Shakespearean fanfic. You folks are way ahead of me, clearly.)
But I'll just say this as I go: in the R&J production we did in high school, as I may've mentioned, we cross-cast Benvolio as Benvolia. She was a great tomboy character, and was clearly way better for Romeo than that wimpy Juliet. So enough with the Mercutio/Benvolio; I'd rather see Romeo/Benvolio.
But I wouldn't rather it enough to search through the fanfiction.net archives for it when I ought to be editing.