More on sexually transmitted diseases

More on sexually transmitted diseases: Venereal disease was often called ‘the French disease'. ‘Piled' means both the thickness of cloth and ‘devoid of hair' (also spelt ‘pilled'). The gentleman tells Lucio that they are men of a kind, cut from the same cloth, and goes on to suggest by his punning jokes that Lucio is suffering from sexually-transmitted diseases, which have given him a bald crown (i.e. made him lose his hair). The pun is continued with a reference to a crown as a type of coin and the pun on ‘dolour' (misery) and dollar. Although Lucio and his companions see this as a joke, there are serious implications for the audience, as in 'Measure for Measure' Shakespeare uses sexual licence, and physical disease and corruption, as a metaphor for spiritual corruption. (See also Themes and significant ideas: The nature of humanity).
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