William Rogers, Elizabeth Triumphans,
a portrait celebrating the
defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Image from the National Portrait Gallery.
—A figure four and an arrowhead with an E stuck to it. In Elizabethan times, people would have used the Latin word “quater” as a slang term for a four in dice and cards. Put an "e" on the end and it becomes quatere, which is the infinitive of the Latin verb quatior, meaning "shake." Look closely and the four can be seen as a spear.
—A "W" – for William? And "Or"? A few months before it was engraved, Shakespeare’s father was granted a coat of arms with a golden background. The heraldic term for gold is Or.
—[The figure] is holding a snake’s head fritillary . . . . In Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare did not have Adonis metamorphose into an anemone after being gored by a boar, as tradition dictated. He turned him into a snake’s head fritillary.
—Two irises, one French, one English, can be seen as referring to Henry VI Part One.
—An ear of sweetcorn the man is holding refers . . . to . . . Titus Andronicus and the speech Marcus makes about gathering the sad-faced people of Rome, “this scatter’d corn into one mutual sheaf.”