The Jew of Malta

The Jew of Malta Glossary

A vôtre commandement, madame

French for "At your command, madam" (IV.iv.40).


A large merchant ship, or a fleet therof, usually carrying a rich cargo.


To betray by a revelation of the truth.

Bueno para todos mi ganado no era

Spanish for "my gain was not good for everyone" (II.i.39).

Cazzo, diabole!

Two Italian curses, meaning "penis, devil" (IV.i.21).

Corpo di Dio

Italian curse; like many curses that involve part of the body of God, this curse means literally "body of God" (I.ii.91).

coup de gorge

French for "blow to the throat," in context suggesting, "I'll cut his throat" (IV.iii.5).


To waste time; to act playfully.


Great happiness; an older meaning is of a frenzy, pointing to great distress, as if one were beside onself or "standing outside oneself" (from the Greek ekstasis, ek = out, stasis = standing).

Ego mihimet sum semper proximus

Latin for "I am always closest to myself" (I.i.187).

Hermoso placer de los dineros

Spanish for "beautiful pleasure of money" (II.i.63).

Hodie tibi, cras mihi

Latin for "today your turn, tomorrow mine" (IV.ii.19). (Literally: "today for you, tomorrow for me.")


Latin for "in the first place" or "above all" (III.iii.21). It is misused by Ithamore to comic effect.


The food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness (see Exodus 16).

offspring of Cain

The descendants of wicked Cain, who is the first to kill in the Old Testament. Cain was banished and then founded a city. Barabas thus curses Lodovico (II.iii.304).


French for "Pardon me" (IV.iv.49).


In historical and biblical usage, the enemies of the Israelites. They have been associated with unlearned anti-intellectualism, and it is an insult to be called a Philistine.


To portend or foreshadow (usually an ominous event). Thus: "What pretendeth this?" (III.iv.6).

Primus Motor

Latin for "Prime Mover," that is, God, the unmoved mover who created the universe (I.ii.165).


a religion; or, a declaration of belief in a religion, as in "counterfeit profession" (I.ii.291). (From the Latin profiteri, to declare publicly.)

Rivo Castiliano!

Italian for "River of Castile" (IV.iv.10). In context, perhaps a call for a continuing supply of Spanish wine.


The resonances of this word suggest confession, penance, absolution, and writing, thus: "'Twas told me in shrift" ( (Compare the word "script.")


Latin for "filthy" (III.iv.6); a curse.

Stygian pool

The Styx, one of the rivers of the underworld in classical mythology.


A fixed payment from a subject to a sovereign; a tax that one state pays to another in exchange for a guarantee of security and peace.

Virgo, salve!

Latin for "Greetings, Maiden!" (III.iii.53).