Monday, August 22, 2016

Oxford and Cupid, Sidney and Aeneas

Cupid and Aeneas - sons of Venus

 He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. --Jonson, on Shakespeare

Facile Jonson deploying the fountain trope.


Hester Lees-Jeffries, England's Helicon: Fountains and Early Modern Literature

 As Plutarch and Erasmus had taught, the public fountain's influence and the prince's power were inseparable from their vulnerability and, as Jonson himself explores in The Fountaine of Self-Love (note - I read Amorphus as Edward de Vere-Shakespeare -- NLD), language itself could be described in much the same terms, being intimately connected to princely power and moral and cultural order, and similarly vulnerable to corruption.
This vulnerability is given perhaps its most graphic expression in the period in one of the most shocking moments in early modern drama, the speech of Marcus on the appearance of his niece Lavinia, her hands cut off and her tongue cut out, following her rape, in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (1594):

 Alas, a crimson river of warm blood,
Like to a bubbling fountain stirr'd with wind,
Doth rise and fall between thy rosed lips,
Coming and going with thy honey breath.
But, sure, some Tereus hath deflowered thee,
And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue.
Ah, now thou turn'st away thy face for shame!
And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood,
As from a conduit with three issuing spouts,
Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan's face
Blushing to be encountered with a cloud.

 Titus Andronicus was one of the most popular plays of the 1590's, and Jonson may have known it better than many: it had been the property of the Admiral's Men before passing to the Chamberlain's Men in the late 1590ès, a second quarto was printed in 1600, and Jonson himself referred to it dismissively in his Induction to Bartholomew Fair (1614). More than Marcus' vivid image of a fountain of blood makes it relevant to a discussion of Jonson's The Fountain of Self-Love, however, for as Jonathan Bate has persuasively argued, in Titus Andronicus "Shakespeare is interrogating Rome, asking what kind of example it provides for Elizabethan England": even more, the play is "both a revisionary reading of the Ovidian text and an examination of the efficacy of humanist education". Like Jonson, Shakespeare uses the fountain not simply as a humanist image, but as an image for humanism itself. His play's Ovidianism has been brilliantly elucidated by Bate and others, as has the way in which it is Lavinia in particular who is portrayed as a repository of classical texts and values, in her Virgilian name and her recollection of the iconic figures of Lucretia and Virginia, as well as her strong association with Ovid: it is Lavinia who has begun young Lucius' Roman education by reading to him 'Sweet poetry, and Tully's Orator',and who finally reveals the nature of the crimes against her through a material intertext, a copy of the Metamorphoses. Yet is is the lesson of the Metamorphoses that has led Chiron and Demetrius to cut of Lavinia's hands, lest she be able to write (or weave) her attackers' names like Philomel: Rome has beocme a èwilderness of tigers', and its most fetishized texts have been exposed as sites of violence and violation. The fontes run with blood. (209-211)


The Fountain of Aeneas: Sidney Rewrites the Hypnerotomachia
Hester Lees-Jeffries, England's Helicon: Fountains and Early Modern Literature

     One of Philip Sidney's most striking additions to his revised Arcadia is his description of a not dissimilar setting to the Hypnerotomachia's Fountain of Adonis, and his adaptation of Colonna's fountain acts as a sophisticated and suggestive frame to the subsequent actions and concerns of his romance in ways that have hitherto not been elucidated. Sidney's borrowing from the Hypnerotomachia is the first discernible instance of its literary influence in  Elizabethan England, some ten years before there is any trace of its influence on art or architecture and indeed before its partial translation into English by Robert Dallington, The Strife of Love in a Dreame (1592), appropriately enough dedicated to Sidney's memory. Sidney's description of the fountain forms part of the house, garden, and picture gallery of Kalander, the benevolent nobleman with whom the disguised Musidorus stays after his rescue from shipwreck on the Arcadian coast. The passage has become a locus classicus for discussions of ekphrasis and the relationship between renaissance literature and the visual arts, and an understanding of both the importance of the Fountain of Adonis in particular, has important and suggestive implication for how this passage in the revised Arcadia, and indeed the Arcadia in general, might be read:

But Palladius hauing gotten his health, and onely staying there to bee in place, vvhere he might heare answere of the shippes set foorth, Kalander one after noone led him abroad to a well arayed ground he had behind his house, which hee thought to shew him before his going, as the place himself more thē in any other delighted. the backside of the house was neither field, gardē, nor orchard; or rather it was both field garden, and orchard: for as soone as the descending of the stayres had deliuered them downe, they came into a place cunningly set with trees of the moste tast-pleasing fruites: but scarcelie they had taken that into their consideration, but that they were suddainely stept into a delicate greene, of each side of the greene a thic
ket, and behinde the thickets againe newe beddes of flowers, which beeing vnder the trees, the trees were to them a Pauilion, and they to the trees a mosaicall floore: so that it seemed that arte therein would needes be delightfull by counterfaiting his enemie error, and making order in confusion.In the middest of all the place, was afaire ponde, whose shaking christall was a perfect mirrour to all the other beauties, so that it bare shewe of two gardens: one in deede, the other in shaddowes: and in one of the thickets was a fine fountaine made thus. A naked Venus of white marble, wherein the grauer had vsed such cunning, that the naturall blewe veines of the marble were framed in fitte places, to set foorth the beautifull veines of her bodie. At her brest shee had her babe AENEAS, who seemed (hauing begun to sucke) to leaue that, to looke vpon her fayre eyes, which smiled at the babes follie, meane while the breast runing. Hard by was a house of pleasure built for a Sommer retiring place, whether Kalander leading him, he found a square roome full of delightfull pictures, made by the moste excellent workeman of Greece. There was Diana when Acteon sawe her bathing, in whose cheekes the painter had set such a colour, as was mixt betweene shame and disdaine: and one of her foolish Nymphes, who weeping, and with all lowring, one might see the workman meant to set forth teares of anger. In another table was Atalanta; the posture of whose lims was so liuelie expressed, that if the eyes were the onely iudges, as they be the onely seers, one would haue sworne the very picture had runne. Besides many mo, as of Helena, Omphale, Iole: but in none of them all beautie seemed to speake so much as in a large table, which contained a comely old man, with a lady of midle age, but of excellent beautie; and more excellent would haue bene deemed, but that there stood betwene them a yong maid, whose wonderfulnesse tooke away all beautie from her, but that which it might seeme shee gaue her backe againe by her very shadow. And such difference (being knowne that it did in deed counterfeit a person liuing) was there betweene her and all the other, though Goddesses, that it seemd the skill of the painter bestowed on the other new beautie, but that the beautie of her bestowed new skill of the painter.

This description of the fountain is clearly drawn both from the illustration of the Fountain of Adonis in the Hypnerotomachia and from the text with accompanies it:

On the flat top of this tomb was a sculpture of the divine Mother, sitting with her child, astonishingly executed in tricoloured sardonyx. She was seated on an antique chair which did not exceed the vein of sard, whereas the entire Cytherean body was made wiht incredible artifice adn skill out of the milky vein of onyx. She was almost undressed, for only a veil made from a red vein was left to conceal the secrets of nature, covering part of one hip; then the resto of it fell to the floor, wantderd up by the left breast, then turned aside, circled the shoulders and hung down to the water, imitating with wonderful skill the outlines of the sacred members. The statue indicated motherly love by showing her embracing and nursing CUPID; and the cheeks of both of them, together with her right nipple were pleasingly coloured by the reddish vein. Oh, it was a beautiful work, miraculous to look upon, wanting only the breath of life! (snip)

...Yet there are also important differences between Sidney's Venus fountain and Colonna's. Most obviously and significantly, Sidney's Venus nurses AENEAS, whereas her prototype in the Hypnerotomachia is depicted with her other son, CUPID. As Katherine Duncan-Jones has noted, 'Venus suckling Aeneas does not seem to be at all a usual subject, whether in literature or in visual artifacts. Perhaps the invention here is Sidney's'. The invention is certainly Sidney's, but it is surely meant to resonate specifically with its source, without knowledge of which much of the moral force of the substitution is lost. In the context of a discussion of the Hypnerotomachia, Sidney and Kalander's garden, it is striking to note that there was in the centre of the main court at Theobalds, the great country house of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, a large fountain depicting Venus and Cupid. If this fountain was also known to Sidney - the dates are not impossible - then this adds another dimension to the fountain in Kalander's Arcadian garden. Cupid, capricious, unmanageable, eternally a child, is replaced with the infant Aeneas, who will become a model of piety, a nation builder, and an epic hero. This substitution had many potential significances. It has implications for the genre in which Sidney is writing: unlike the more conventional romance of the Old Arcadia, the New Arcadia is determinedly mixed in its genre, with aspects far more characteristic of epic. Aeneas is the greatest epic hero and his story is that of the fall and rise of nations it is more overtly political and concerned with the nature of good government. In particular, by his abandonment of Dido Aeneas overcomes excessive, improper, and impolitic love, putting imperial destiny and duty before passion, and it is the political implications of this particular aspect of Sidney's substitution that I will explore here, through the medium...of portraiture.


Lees-Jeffries, Con't:

Aeneas appears several times in Sidney's Defence, as the best possible example of the exemplary value of literature:

But if anything be already said in the defense of sweet poetry, all concurreth to the maintaining the heroical, which is not only a kind, but the best and most accomplished kind of poetry. For, as the image of each action stirreth and instructeth the mind, so the lofty image of such worthies most inflameth the mind with desire to be worthy, and informs with counsel how to be worthy. Only let Æneas be worn in the tablet of your memory, how he governeth himself in the ruin of his country; in the preserving his old father, and carrying away his religious ceremonies; in obeying the god’s commandment to leave Dido, though not only all passionate kindness, but even the human consideration of virtuous gratefulness, would have craved other of him; how in storms, how in sports, how in war, how in peace, how a fugitive, how victorious, how besieged, how besieging, how to strangers, how to allies, how to enemies, how to his own; lastly, how in his inward self, and how in his outward government; and I think, in a mind most prejudiced with a prejudicating humor, he will be found in excellency fruitful,—yea, even as Horace saith, melius Chrysippo et Crantore. 

As Gavin Alexander points out in his note on this passage, ' " Tables" or "tablets" were also boards on which portraits were painted; the image is thus closely related to the thread of visual metaphors centred on the "speaking picture" . Sidnei's list alludes to the central matter of the Aeneid'. Sidney's image of the 'table' of the memory here recalls the strongly material textuality of the Hypnerotomachia, the way in which it as at once text-as-story, landscape-as-experience, book-as-object. The tablet or table is a surface which can be inscribed with writing or painted with an image; in either case, it at once materializes an idea, that idea's importance, and the metaphor which expresses both of these.(snip)p.90


Hamlet and the part of Aeneas:

  • Hamlet:  I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted;
    or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleas'd
    not the million, 'twas caviary to the general; but it was (as I
    receiv'd it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in 1515
    the top of mine) an excellent play, well digested in the scenes,
    set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said
    there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury,
    nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of
    affectation; but call'd it an honest method, as wholesome as 1520
    sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't
    I chiefly lov'd. 'Twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it
    especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in
    your memory, begin at this line- let me see, let me see:
    'The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast-' 1525
    'Tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus:
    'The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
    Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
    When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd 1530
    With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
    Now is be total gules, horridly trick'd
    With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
    That lend a tyrannous and a damned light 1535
    To their lord's murther. Roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,
    With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.'
    So, proceed you. 1540

  • Polonius: Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion. 

Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance - Jeff Dolven, 180-181

Ramist method also takes on a signature visual form which brings the discussion back around to the question of diagrams. His unfolding dichotomies were characteristically figured in schematic trees, sprouting from the seed of a single, complex concept and growing across the page by branching distinctions, until the concept's simplest parts line up against the right margin. Often the reception of the method was no deeper than this graphic format and its tell-tale brackets, which lent the appearance of dialectical rigor to any subject. William Temple's edition of the Dialecticae Libri Duo offers one of thousands of interchangeable examples, this one laying out the kinds of arguments, divided first into simple and complex, and subdivided there by strict DICHOTOMIES:

(omit illustration)
For all the superficiality of most such diagrams, what Christopher Marlowe called their 'flat dichotomies' - hardly intending the pun- betray deep currents in intellectual history. It is Ong again who offered in 1958 the much-debated but durable claim that Ramist diagrams both capture and promote a change in the way knowledge was conceived in the new age of moveable type. He saw in Ramus a 'movement away from a concept of knowledge as it had been enveloped in disputation and teaching (both forms of dialogue belonging to a personalist, existentialist world of sound) toward a concept of knowledge that associated it with a silent object world, conceived in visualist, diagrammatic terms.' Such knowledge is not unspooled in the time-bound operations of oratory, but rather is understood to be ARRANGED AS INFORMATION IN A NEUTRAL, VISUALIZED PLANE. No speaker is implied, and the time, needless to say, is taken out. It is this reorientation toward the nature of knowledge, and how knowledge is communicated, that I take to be the key to the methodizing impulse of the new Arcadia.


 Lees-Jeffries, con't:

The figure of Aeneas and its associations in Sidney's other writings (and implicitly in the Arcadia) give garden and gallery, and the ensuing action of the romance, a particular moral colour. The qualities Sidney attributes to him are those desirable in any exemplary ruler, not least in Elizabeth, and in any epic hero: the appearance of AENEAS so near the beginning of the Arcadia, albeit as a baby, transformed into a fountain in a garden of love that has been taken straight out of a romance, must surely be interpreted  with reference to Sidney's treatment of him in the Defence as well as in the historical (and even art historical ) context suggested above. Katherine Duncan-Jones has noted, furthermore, that a work dedicated to Sidney c. 1585 explicitly compared him to Aeneas: this was Abraham Fraunce's manuscript compilation of a summary of Ramist logic and a series of imprese. The binding was illustrated with a picture of Aeneas, 'a dominating figure on the departing sailing ship', clearly meant to be identified with Sidney, and Duncan-Jones suggests that 'Fraunce was bidding sidney farewell as he went off on some expedition which he himself would have liked to join, and this may be the expected mission to the Netherlands'. Aeneas here is the man of action that Sidney apparently so longed to be.


Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,

To have proved most royal
Written to Philip Herbert after the death of his brother William:

Chaffinge, Thomas, ca. 1581-1646.

Title: The iust mans memoriall Date: 1630

My Lord, let me take the boldnesse to tell you, that the eyes of the world are fastned on you; you cannot bee hid, your actions are not done in a corner, notice will be taken of all your counsels, and your counsellors, men are big with the expectation of you, and blame them not that they should be so, especially of you, who (besides others of your Illustrious Stocke and Linage well known) have had so pious and religious an AENEAS to your brother, and so famous and valiant a Hector to your Unckle.
Et Frater Aeneas, & Avunculus excitet:

Let the piety and goodnes of the one, and the valour and Chevalry of the other, serve as so many silver Watch-bels in your eares, to awaken you to all Honourable and Noble atchievements. Miltiades Trophees would not let Themistocles sleepe. Neither let the matchless Trophees and Monuments of their glory, suffer your eyes to sleepe, or your eye-lids to slumber: but bee rather as spurres to set you forward in the couragious prosecution of all good causes for Gods Glory andthe Church. O bee not idle in the Imitation of them, whose image you not onely beare, but whose part also you are; so shall not After-ages in the storying of their glorious Annals, shut up yours, with a Degeneremq: Neoptolemum.

To live in the face of a glorious Court, where your eyes are daily fill'd, as with Magnificence, so with Vanity; yet you shall doe well, otherwise, to cast them aside from such Gorgeous Spectacles, and sticke them in the shrowds and winding-sheetes of the dead. Nothing shall more humble you then this, and so nothing life you neerer Heaven then this!

From <>


Fidus Achates, Pious Aeneas:

In the AENEID, Achates ("good, faithful Achates", fidus Achates as he was called) was a close friend of Aeneas; his name became a by-word for an intimate companion.

Author: Greville, Fulke, Baron Brooke, 1554-1628. ]

Title: The life of the renowned Sr Philip Sidney.

Philip's Loyal Achates:

In these termes Sir Francis [DRAKE] departs from Plimouth with his ships; vowed and resolved that when he staid for nothing but for a wind, the watch word should come post for Sir Philip. The time of the year made haste away, & Sr Francis to follow it, either made more haste than needed, or at least seemed to make more than really he did. Notwithstanding, as I dare aver that in his own element he was industrous; so dare I not condemn his affections in this misprision of time. Howsoever a letter comes post for Sir Philip, as if the whole fleet stayed onely for him, and the wind. In the mean-season the State hath intelligence that Don Antonio was at sea for England, and resolved to land at Plimouth. Sir Philip turning occasion into wisdome, puts himself into the imployment of conducting up this King; and under that veil leaves the Court without suspicion; over-shoots his father-in-law then Secretary of Estate in his own bow; comes to Plimmouth; was feasted the first night by Sir Francis, with a great deale of outward Pomp and complement.

Yet I that had the honor as of being bred with him from his youth; so now (by his own choice of all England) to be his LOVING, AND BELOVED ACHATES in this journey, OBSERVING THE COUNTENANCE of this gallant mariner more exactly than Sir Philips leisure served him to doe; after we were laid in bed, acquainted him with my observation of the discountenance, and depression which appeared in Sir Francis; as if our coming were both beyond his expectation, and desire. Neverthelesse that ingenuous spirit of Sir Philip's, though apt to give me credit, yet not apt to discredit others, made him suspend his own, & labor to change, or qualifie my judgement; Till within some few daies after, finding the shippes neither ready according to promise, nor possibly to be made ready in many daies; and withall observing some sparcks of false fire, breaking out unawares from his yoke-fellow daily; It pleased him (in the FREEDOM OF OUR FRIENDSHIP) to return me my own stock, with interest. 

 All this while Don Antonio landes not; the fleet seemed to us (like the weary passengers Inn) still to goe further from our desires; letters came from the Court to hasten it away: it may be the leaden feet, and nimble thoughts of Sir Francis wrought in the day, and unwrought by night; while he watched an opportunity to discover us, without being discovered.

From <

Pious Aeneas:


The Roman ideal of pietas ("piety, dutiful respect"), which can be loosely translated from the Latin as a selfless sense of duty toward one's filial, religious, and societal obligations, was a crux of ancient Roman morality. Throughout the Aeneid, Aeneas serves as the embodiment of pietas, with the phrase "pious Aeneas" occurring 20 times throughout the poem, thereby fulfilling his capacity as the father of the Roman people. For instance, in Book 2 Aeneas describes how he carried his father Anchises from the burning city of Troy: "No help/ Or hope of help existed./ So I resigned myself, picked up my father,/ And turned my face toward the mountain range." Furthermore, Aeneas ventures into the underworld, thereby fulfilling Anchises' wishes. His father's gratitude is presented in the text by the following lines: "Have you at last come, has that loyalty/ Your father counted on conquered the journey? 
However, Aeneas's pietas extends beyond his devotion to his father; we also see several examples of his religious fervour. Aeneas is consistently subservient to the gods, even if it is contradictory to his own desires, as he responds to one such divine command, "I sail to Italy not of my own free will."
In addition to his religious and familial pietas, Aeneas also displays fervent patriotism and devotion to his people, particularly in a military capacity. For instance, as he and his followers leave Troy, Aeneas swears that he will "take up/ The combat once again. We shall not all/ Die this day unavenged."
Aeneas is a symbol of pietas in all of its forms, serving as a moral paragon to which a Roman should aspire.

From <

Leonard Digges, To the Memory of the Deceased Author, Master W. Shakespeare

Shakespeare, at length thy PIOUS fellows give

The world thy works. Thy works, by which, out-live
Thy tomb, thy name must. When that stone is rent
And time dissolves thy Stratford monument,
Here we alive shall view thee still.


a virtuous man in all fortunes, as Aeneas in Virgil - Sidney, Defense of Poesy


Jan (?)1594.

From Moffett's _Nobilis_ or_ A View of the Life and Death of a
Sidney_, dedicated to WILLIAM HERBERT:

"A few, to be sure, were observed to murmur, and to envy him so great
preferment; but they were men without worth or virtue, who considered
the public welfare a matter of indifference- fitter, in truth, to hold
a DISTAFF and card wool among servant girls than at any time to be
considered as rivals by Sidney. For no one ever wished ill to the
honor of the Sidney's except him who wished ill to the commonwealth;
no one ever for forsook Philip except him whom the hope that he might
at some time be honorable had also forsaked; and no one ever injured
him except him for whom VIRTUE and PIETY had no love. He was never so
incensed, however, by the wrongs of malignant or slanderous men but
that at the slightest sign of penitence the heat of his disturbed
spirit would die down, and he would BURY ALL PAST OFFENSES UNDER A
KIND OF EVERLASTING OBLIVION. (Nobilis, Moffett, p.82)


Edward de Vere, September 1572, Letter to Burleigh

“I would to God your Lordship would let me understand some of your news which here doth ring dolefully in the ears of every man, of the murder of the Admiral of France, and a great number of noble men and worthy gentlemen, and such as greatly in their lifetimes honoured the Queen’s majesty our mistress, on whose tragedies we have an number of French AENEASES in this city, that tell of their own overthrows with tears falling from their eyes, a piteous thing to hear but a cruel and far more grievous thing we must deem it them to see.  All rumours here are but confused, of those troops that are escaped from Paris, and Rouen, where Monsieur [the Ducke of Alencon] hath also been; and like a vesper Sicilianus, as they say, that cruelty spreads all over France …

Edward de Vere, September 1572, Letter to Burleigh


"Caviare to the general"?:

Taste, Hearing, and Genre in Hamlet

Allison K. Deutermann

...Typically read as a critique of non-naturalistic acting, Hamlet's advice to the players can also be understood as a metadramatic inside joke. Through these scenes, Shakespeare references a turn-of-the-century fad for skewering a particular theatrical sound, which was becoming associated with certain kinds of plays—revenge tragedies, heroic romances, and other older but still popular forms. Shakespeare participated in this fad in A Midsummer Night's Dream, when he mocked Bottom's enthusiasm for a part to "tear a cat in." But its central participants were John Marston and Ben Jonson. The prince's criticism of players who "tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings" (3.2.9-10) points not only to Bottom's tear-cat speeches, but also to Marston's complaints in Jacke Drum's Entertainment (performed 1599 and 1600) about "mouldy fopperies of stale Poetry" that "torment your listning eares."* Perhaps even more than Marston, Hamlet ventriloquizes Ben Jonson, whose comedies persistently mock older dramatic forms, particularly revenge tragedies, for their thunderous sound. Matheo, the pretentious fop of Jonson's Every Man in His Humor (first performed 1598), so admires the "fine speeches" of Thomas Kyd's Spanish Tragedy that he reads them aloud, gushing over their literary merit: "Oh eyes, no eyes, but FOUNTAINS fraught with tears!—There's a conceit! FOUNTAINS fraught with tears!" He concludes, "Is't not simply the best that ever you heard?" And in Poetaster, which was first performed either the same year as Hamlet or the year after, the gruff soldier Tucca commands his servants to perform a pastiche of his favorite plays, including an unnamed (or unspecific) revenge tragedy ("Vindicta!" / "Timoria!" / "Vindicta!" / "Timoria!") and a burlesque of The Spanish Tragedy. He insists his servant "mouth" these lines in the very way Hamlet detests: "Now thunder, sirrah, you, the rumbling player." Like the players who "tear a passion to tatters," Tucca's servant bellows his rumbling speech in the manner of Hamlet's "town-crier" (3.2.3). This theatrical sound is mocked in Poetaster and other satiric comedies. It synecdochically stands for outdated, unsophisticated drama, the kind of production which, Jonson's play self-servingly suggests, is the distinct opposite of Poetaster itself—a cutting-edge play with a cutting-edge sound.


Paul Hammer _The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political

Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597_.

...More than intellectual conceit lay behind Essex's characterisation as the heroic figure of AENEAS in his correspondence with Antonio Perex during 1595:

This analogy between Essex and Aeneas is very telling. Aeneas was particularly celebrated for his pietas, both towards the gods and towards his own ineluctable fate. In broad terms, the quality of pietas was appropriate for Essex because of the importance of his religion. However, the connotations of performing a duty owed to fate is also very illuminating. The clear implication of this analogy is that, like Virgil's hero, Essex was ultimately fated - predestined, in Calvinist terms - to draw his country to a glorious new future. Yet Aeneas's triumph was only painfully achieved and the very resort to this analogy in late 1595 powerfully evokes a sense of Essex's own feeling of thwarted destiny at that time. This is underlined by allusions to Elizabeth as Juno. By this analogy, Elizabeth's actions in 1595 seemed to Essex and Perez like those of Juno - spiteful and futile attempts to forestall a destiny which even a goddess of her power could not avoid.


In addition, it should be noted that Aeneas was also associated with the 'BRUTUS myth' of English history. According to this non-classical legend, England was seeded with the heroic blood of Troy by the arrival of Aeneas's great-grandson, Brutus.



The closest myth is Roman: the story of Junius Brutus, legendary founder of Rome, follows a similar pattern of murder and revenge. Brutus' father and brother are killed by his uncle Tarquin*; Brutus feigns stupidity to save himself and ultimately overthrows the tyrant, founding the Roman republic. The Scandinavian name "Amleth" and the Latin "Brutus" both have the same meaning ("dull," or "foolish").

*The Tarquins In Roman tradition, the Tarquins were an Etruscan family that ruled Rome from ca.657 to ca.510 B.C. The revolt that deposed the last Tarquin was brought about by his son's rape of Lucrece and her subsequent suicide--a subject Shakespeare chose for a long narrative poem.

Henry de Vere - Heroic Fame and Elysium

Henry de Vere's fame is that of a Sidneian/Essexian. A virtuous military hero met in Elysium by his noble grand-sires and Sir Philip Sidney - I assume that from a Sidneian perspective his father would have sped along the left-hand path:

Night speeds by, And we, Aeneas, lose it in lamenting. Here comes the place where cleaves our way in twain. Thy road, the right, toward Pluto's dwelling goes, And leads us to Elysium. But the left Speeds sinful souls to doom, and is their path To Tartarus th' accurst.
— Virgil, Aeneid (6.539)

Abraham Holland
...He sought no new-made Honours in the Tide
Of favour, but was borne the same he di'de.
Nor came he to the ELYSIUM with shame
That the old VERES did blush to heare his Name
Brighter than theirs: where his deserts to grace
His Grand-fathers rose up and gave him place,
And set him with the Heroës, where the Quire
Of ayrie Worthies rise up, and admire
The stately Shade: those Brittish Ghosts which long
Agoe were number'd in th'ELYSIAN throng
Ioy to behold him; SYDNEY threw his Bayes
On OXFORDS head, and daign'd to sing his praise;
While Fame with silver Trumpet did keepe time
With his high Voice, and answered his rime.

The soft inticements of the Court, the smiles
Of Glorious Princes the bewitching wiles
Of softer Ladies, and the Golden State
That in such places doth on Greatnesse waite
And all the shadie happinesse which seemes
To attend Kings and follow Diadems
Were Boy-games to his minde: to see a Maske
And sit it out, he held a greater taske
Than to endure a Siege: to wake all Night
In his cold armour, still expecting fight
And the drad On-set, the sad face of feare,
And the pale silence of an Army, were
His best Delights; among the common rout
Of his rough Souldiers to sit hardnesse out
Were his most pleasing Delicates: to him
A Batter'd Helmet was a Diadem:
And wounds, his Brauerie: Knowing that Fame
And faire Eternitie could neuer claime
Their Meeds without such Hazards: but alas
That wee must say, such a Man OXFORD was,
A Hatefull Syllable which doth implie
Valour can be extinct and Vertue die. 

From <


 Author: Jones, William, b. 1581 or 2.
Title: A treatise of patience in tribulation first, preached before the Right Honourable the Countesse of Southampton in her great heauines for the death of her most worthy husband and sonne: afterward inlarged for the helpe of all that are any way afflicted crossed or troubled. By William Iones B. of D. and P. of Arraton in the Isle of Wight. Herevnto are ioyned the teares of the Isle of Wight, shed on the tombe of their most noble Captaine Henrie Earle of Southampton and the Lord Wriothesly his sonne.
Date: 1625
To the Right Honourable, HENRY, Earle of Southampton

VII. To the young Lord. [James Wriothesley]
by W. P.

BRight starre of Honour, what celestiall fires
Single illegible letter thy youthfull bloud; that thy desires
Mount vp so fast to Glories highest Spheres,
So farre beyond thine equalls and thy yeares?

Whil'st others Noblie borne, ignoblie staine
Their bloud and youth with manners base and vaine,
Thou to thy Fathers holie lessons lending
Thine eare; and to his liue's faire patterne bending
Thy steps; did'st daily learne for sport or need
Nimblie to mount and man thy barbed steed;
Fairelie thy serious thoughts to write or speake,
Stoutlie vpon thy foe, thy lance to breake.
It did not with thine actiue spirit suite
To wast thy time in fingring of a Lute,
Or sing mong'st CUPIDS SPIRITS a puling Dittie
To moue some femall Saint to loue or pittie.
T'was Musick to thine eare in ranged batle
To heare sad Drums to grone, harsh Trumpets ritle:
Or see, when clouds of bloud do rent in sunder,
The pouders lightning, and the Canons thunder.

And when thou might'st at home haue liued free
From cares and feares in soft securitie,
Thou scorning such dishonorable ease,
To all the hazards both of land and sea's,
Against Religions and thy Countries foes,
Franklie thy selfe and safetie did'd expose.

O Sacred virtue thy mild modest glances,
Rais'd in his tender heart, these amorous trances,
For thy deare loue so dearely did he weane
His youth from pleasures, and from lusts vncleane:
And so in thy straight narrow paths still treading,
He found the way to endlesse glorie leading.


From The Life of Mr. George Herbert
by Izaak Walton Cambridge we may find our George Herbert’s behaviour to be such, that we may conclude he consecrated the firstfruits of his early age to virtue, and a serious study of learning. And that he did so, this following Letter and Sonnet, which were, in the first year of his going to Cambridge, sent his dear Mother for a New-year’s gift, may appear to be some testimony.
– "But I fear the heat of my late ague hath dried up those springs, by which scholars say the Muses use to take up their habitations. However, I need not their help to reprove the vanity of those many love-poems, that are daily writ, and consecrated to Venus; nor to bewail that so few are writ, that look towards God and Heaven. For my own part, my meaning dear Mother—is, in these Sonnets, to declare my resolution to be, that my poor abilities in Poetry, shall be all and ever consecrated to God’s glory: and I beg you to receive this as one testimony."

My God, where is that ancient heat towards thee,
Wherewith whole shoals of martyrs once did burn,
Besides their other flames? Doth poetry
Wear Venus' livery? only serve her turn?
Why are not sonnets made of thee? and lays
Upon thine altar burnt? Cannot thy love
Heighten a spirit to sound out thy praise
As well as any she? Cannot thy Dove

Outstrip their Cupid easily in flight?
Or, since thy ways are deep, and still the fame,
Will not a verse run smooth that bears thy name!
Why doth that fire, which by thy power and might
Each breast does feel, no braver fuel choose
Than that, which one day, worms may chance refuse.

Sure Lord, there is enough in thee to dry
Oceans of ink; for, as the Deluge did
Cover the earth, so doth thy Majesty:
Each cloud distills thy praise, and doth forbid
Poets to turn it to another use.
Roses and lilies speak thee; and to make
A pair of cheeks of them, is thy abuse
Why should I women's eyes for crystal take?
Such poor invention burns in their low mind
Whose fire is wild, and doth not upward go
To praise, and on thee, Lord, some ink bestow.
Open the bones, and you shall nothing find
In the best face but filth; when Lord, in thee
The beauty lies in the discovery. 

Jonson - Epigrams

To Mrs. Philip Sydney.

 Must believe some Miracles still be,
   When Sydney's Name I hear, or Face I see:
For Cupid, who (at first) took vain delight,
   In meer Out-forms, until he lost his Sight,
Hath chang'd his Soul, and made his Object you:
   Where finding so much Beauty met with Virtue,
He hath not only gain'd himself his Eyes,
   But, in your love, made all his Servants wise.


 Sermon Preached at the Court:
 Author: Meriton, George, d. 1624.
Title: A sermon of nobilitie· Preached at VVhite-hall, before the King in February 1606. By George Meriton Doctor of Diuinity, one of his Maiesties chaplaines in ordinary; and parson of Hadleigh in Suffolke.
Date: 1607

...Est virtus Generis, et alicuius familiae con|gruens quedam facultas procreandi viros inge|nuos, et ad vertutem faciles, sucessione confir|mata. It is a power incident vnto a stocke, or a certayne congruent ability, of a house or famely, to beget an ingenuous progeny, apt
to imbrace honorable vertues, and confirmed by succession. This Kind then, is not so much in one indiuidual to be considered, as in a continued race or line of many; and such is the nature of it, as that it may, and is many times, retayned without the other three, it is not impossible to bee Noble by birth, and thereby proclive to honest, and honorable designes, and yet bad education, to fall to vice, and thereby become voyd of Morall and deuine nobility: yea and some times of that also which co~meth by Fortune. Such as be vicious staine the noblenes of their hou|ses, yet doe they not altogether extinguish there Nobility, because being noble by Na|ture, still they retaine a power, to beget others which are procline to morall honesty. For as Laban will either be a Laban, or a Nabal, or Nabal either a Nabal, or a Laban, turne them backwards, and forwards they will remaine rude rustickes, ether a foolish clowne, as Nabal, or a frowning clowne, as Laban, for Mercury cannot be carued out of euery blocke. So is it with Nobility by birth, it will not soone degenerate: as one man cannot well be sayd to get it vnto his stocke, so bee|ing once gotten, it cannot be ouerthrowne or lost, by the wicked life of one. Now as on the one side, Vice doth greatly blemish it, so on the other, Vertue in a Noble perso|nage by nature is farre more excellent and worthier estimation, then in a man by birth ignoble: for in him, it is more firme, and constant, more deepely rooted, and as it were wreathed, and strengthened with the virtues of his Auncestors, so as by a kind of necessity, he is constrayned to tread in their steps: yet in this, is virtue more admirable, more properly his, and formed in him with greater difficultie. 

Recorder of Stratford-upon-Avon Fulke Greville:

Greville - Life of Sidney

Neither am I (for my part) so much in love with this life, nor believe so little in a better to come, as to complain of God for taking him [Sidney], and such like exorbitant WORTHYness from us: fit (as it were by an Ostracisme) to be divided, and not incorporated with our corruptions: yet for the sincere affection I bear to my Prince, and Country, my prayer to God is, that this WORTH, and Way may not fatally be buried with him; in respect, that both before his time, and since, experience hath published the usuall discipline of greatnes to have been tender of it self onely; making honour a triumph, or rather TROPHY of desire, set up in the eyes of Mankind, either to be worshiped as IDOLS, or else as Rebels to perish under her glorious oppressions. Notwithstanding, when the PRIDE of FLESH, and power of favour shall cease in these by death, or disgrace; what then hath time to register, or FAME to publish in these great mens names, that will not be offensive, or infectious to others? What Pen without BLOTTING can write the story of their deeds? Or what Herald blaze their Arms without a blemish? And as for their counsels and projects, when they come once to light, shall they not live as noysome, and loathsomely above ground, as their Authors carkasses lie in the grave? So as the return of such greatnes to the world, and themselves, can be but private reproach, publique ill example, and a fatall scorn to the Government they live in. Sir Philip Sidney is none of this number; for the greatness which he affected was built upon true WORTH; esteeming Fame more than Riches, and Noble actions far above Nobility it self.


 Gabriel Harvey,
See Venus, archegoddess, howe trimly she masterith owld Mars.
See litle CUPIDE, howe he bewitcheth lernid Apollo.
Bravery in apparell, and maiesty in hawty behaviour,
Hath conquerd manhood, and gotten a victory in Inglande.
Ferse Bellona, she lyes enclosd at Westminster in leade.
Dowtines is dulnes ; currage mistermid is outrage.
Manlines is madnes ; beshrowe Lady Curtisy therefore.
Most valorous enforced to be vassals to Lady Pleasure.
And Lady Nicity rules like a soveran emperes of all.
tymes, manners, French, Italish Inglande.
Where be y e mindes and men that woont to terrify strangers ?
Where that constant zeale to thy cuntry glory, to vertu ?
Where labor and prowes very founders of quiet and peace,
Champions of warr, trompetours of fame, treasurers of welth ?
Where owld Inglande ? Where owld Inglish fortitude and
might ?
Oh, we ar owte of the way, that Theseus, Hercules, Arthur,
And many a worthy British knight were woo'nte to triumphe in.
What should I speake of Talbotts, Brandons, Grayes, with a thousande
Such and such ? Let Edwards go ; letts blott y e remem-braunce
Of puissant Henryes ; or letts exemplify there actes.
Since Galateo came in and Tuscanismo gan usurpe
Vanity above all ; villanye next her ; Statelynes empresse,
NO MAN but minion : stowte, lowte, playne, swayne, quoth a


Pandora (1584), Southern. Dedicated to Edward de Vere
Sonnet to the Reader. /
10.THou find'st not heere, neither the furious alarmes, / Of the pride of Spaine, or subtilnes of France: / Nor of the rude English, or mutine Almanes [Germans] : / Nor neither of Naples, noble men of armes. / No, an Infant, and that yet surmounteth Knights : / Hath both vanquished me, and also my Muse. / And vvere it not: this is a lawfull excuse. / If thou hearst not the report, of their great fights, / Thou shalt see no death of any valliant soldier, / And yet i sing the beauty of a fierce warrier. / And amore alone I must strike on my Leer [cavalier's emblem], / And but Eroto [Eros = Cupid] I knowe no other Muse. / And harke all you that are lyke us amourous. / And you that are not, goe read some other where. 


Shakespeare Sonnets  153,154


CUPID laid by his brand and fell asleep:
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-FOUNTAIN of that ground;
Which borrowed from this holy fire of Love,
A dateless lively heat, still to endure,
And grew a seething bath, which yet men prove
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure.
But at my mistress' eye Love's brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast;
I, sick withal, the help of bath desired,
And thither hied, a sad DIStempered guest,
But found no cure, the bath for my help lies
Where Cupid got new fire; my mistress' eyes


The little Love-god lying once asleep,
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed;
And so the General of hot desire
Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarmed.
This brand she quenched in a cool WELL by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy,
For men DISeased; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.

 Beneath these plane trees, detained by gentle slumber, Love slept, having put his torch in the care of the Nymphs; but the Nymphs said one to another: "Why wait? Would that together with this we could quench the fire in the hearts of men." But the torch set fire even to the water, and with hot water thenceforth the Love-Nymphs fill the bath.

--attributed to Marcianus Scholasticus (5th cent. AD).

 Jonson, Epilogue, Every Man In

My Stream of Humour is run out of me.
And as our Cities Torrent (bent t' infect
The hallow'd Bowels of the Silver
Is checkt by Strength and Clearness of the River,
Till it hath spent it self e'en at the Shore;
So in the ample and unmeasur'd Flood
Of her Perfections, are my Passions drown'd

 Jonson, on Shakespeare
Sweet Swan of Avon! what a sight it were
To see thee in our WATERS yet appear,
And make those flights upon the banks of Thames,
That so did take Eliza and our James!

Macbeth - Shakespeare

If thou couldst, doctor, cast
The WATER of my land, find her disease,
And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
I would applaud thee to the very echo,
That should applaud again.--Pull't off, I say.--
What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug,
Would scour these [Poet-Apes] hence?

David Riggs, Ben Jonson: A Life, p.232-3.

 The placement of "The Famous Voyage" at the conclusion of [Jonson's]s Epigrams calls into question the upward trajectory of the sequence as a whole. The Oxford editors call it a "bad joke"; Wilson regards it as a symptom of Jonson's anal-erotic compulsions. Since the famous voyagers are themselves an example of failed transcendence - a final, hallucinatory image of two gallants who remain mired in the London underworld - the poem raises the issue of Jonson's ability to complete his personal odyssey.
In his parting tribute to William Roe, the last of his heroic exemplars, Jonson invokes the classic example of a successful descent-and-return"

This is that good AENEAS, past through fire,
Through seas, stormes, tempests: and imbarqu'd for hell,
Came back untouch'd. This man hath travail'd well.

Aeneas's safe passage through the underworld was a familiar image of the good man's ability to glean something of value from the basest regions of experience while keeping his virtue intact. Where Roe possesses this capacity to travel (or "travail") well, the protagonists of "The Famous Voyage" perform a burlesque of the Virgilian ideal as

they unfrighted passe, though many a privie
Spake to 'hem louder, then the oxe in LIVIE;
And many a sinke pour'd out her rage anenst 'hem;
But still their valour, and their vertue fenc't 'hem.

Jonson's personal enactment of the journey into the depths hovers somewhere between the mythic ideal and its scurrilous antitype. His conviction that comedy and satire should encompass the grossest aspects of everyday life led him into the nether regions of the city streets and the human anatomy. The record of his drinking bouts, his wenching, his quarrels, and his "cross business" in Paris, indicates that he did not always maintain the posture of the detached observer during his own excursions into the underworld. Yet Jonson believed (or wanted to believe) that he came back unscathed and transformed his vagrant moments into art: that he, like Roe, had the requisite inner stability "to know vice well, / And her blacke spight expell." In the words of the passage in Seneca from which he took his motto ("tanquam explorator") , Jonson "was wont to cross over even into the enemy's camp - not as a deserter, but as a scout." Whereas the protagonists of "The Famous Voyage" merely commute between the tavern and the brothel, the poet-narrator of Epigrams has gradually disengaged himself from this milieu.

On the Famous Voyage - Jonson

 No more let Greece her bolder fables tell
Of Hercules, or Theseus going to hell,
Orpheus, Ulysses: or the Latin muse,
With tales of Troy's just knigh
t, our faiths abuse:
We have a Shelton, and a Heyden got,
Had power to act, what they to feign had not.
All, that they boast of Styx, of Acheron,
Cocytus, Phlegeton, our have proved in one;
The filth, stench, noise: save only what was there
Subtly distinguished, was confused here.