But he, poor man, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear;
Some tardy cripple bare the countermand,
That came too lag to see him buried.
- Richard, Duke of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s R3, 2,1,89-92
Character winds up dead, “winged Mercury” gets blamed for faulty communication.
Kind of like, “Dude, you didn’t get my e-mail in time?”
It’s clearly a “Mercury in Retrograde” kind of moment from King Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard 3.
Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die.
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain today in stead of him.
A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!
- Richard, Duke of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s R3, 5,4,9-13
It’s the fitting conclusion, to King Richard, later dug up from being buried in a car park. He’s addressing a loyal lord, Sir William Catesby, explain that the hunch-backed toad King had set his course on a cast of the die, and will thereby die by his cast.
“Die” and “cast” are a bit of slippery wordplay, with several possible meanings, just bleakly funny.
Like Mercury Retrograde, obliquely funny.