Lear's dilemma - future of Britain & Cordelia

Tripartition of Britain - Lear's grand plan

Kent & Gloster - Lear's attitude to Cornwall

Act 1 Scene 1 - Enter KING LEAR

The flattery game - Goneril & Regan

Sharing the kingdom - a third more opulent

Lear and flattery - did he love it or hate it?

Duke of Burgundy - the dowerless suitor

King of France - in choler parted

Edmund - sectary astronomical

Duke of Albany - worthy prince

Queen Goneril - King Lear's successor?

Oswald - this detested groom

Goneril - under the influence

Regan - is she worse than Goneril?

Goneril/Edmund/Regan - unequilateral triangle

Division 'twixt Albany and Cornwall - rumour

Lear's sanity - recovery

The final tableau - Lear endures his going hence

The last word - Albany or Edgar?

Edmund — the astronomer

A sectary astronomical

EDGAR (asks Edmund)
How long have you been a sectary astronomical?
Although Edmund is only feigning an interest in the stars, in fact he is quite knowledgeable about astronomy as an earlier passage shows:
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, — often the surfeit of our own behavior, — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on: an admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the drag­on's tail; and my nativity was under Ursa Major.

The most interesting thing here is Edmund's last sentence because it presents an opportunity to check him out as an astronomer. The drag­on's tail obviously refers to the constellation of Draco (the drag­on). Ursa Major (the big bear) and Draco are next to each other in the sky and both pass over Britain and thus passed over Edmund when he was both conceived and born. He is therefore quite accurate when he says he was born under Ursa Major. These days he would simply say his Zodiac sign is Leo the Lion.

But how does Edmund know which stars he was conceived under? He simply determines the constellation that was (and always is) overhead nine months before Ursa Major. He waits until Ursa Major is directly overhead. After a little mental calculation he works out that he need only wait six hours and then look overhead to see what constellation is there. He finds that it is Draco the drag­on or more precisely, the drag­on's tail. And so we discover that Edmund is a competent observational astronomer.