New Books

 The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature. Volume 5: After 1880.   Edited by Kenneth Haynes. Oxford University Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780199585106. 736   pages. £140.00.

 This volume rounds off the series:Volume 1: 800–1558. Edited by Rita Copeland.

 Volume 2: 1558-1660. Edited by Patrick Cheney and Philip Hardie.

 Volume 3: 1660-1790. Edited by David Hopkins and Charles Martindale.

 Volume 4: 1790-1880. Edited by Norman Vance, Jennifer Wallace.




Tanya Pollard. Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. ISBN 9780198793113. 352 pp. £60.00 (hb).

Greek Tragic Women on Shakespearean Stages argues that ancient Greek plays exerted a powerful and uncharted influence on early modern England's dramatic landscape. Drawing on original research to challenge longstanding assumptions about Greek texts’ invisibility, the book shows not only that the plays were more prominent than we have believed, but that early modern readers and audiences responded powerfully to specific plays and themes. The Greek plays most popular in the period were not male-centered dramas such as Sophocles’ Oedipus, but tragedies by Euripides that focused on raging bereaved mothers and sacrificial virgin daughters, especially Hecuba and Iphigenia. Because tragedy was firmly linked with its Greek origin in the period’s writings, these iconic female figures acquired a privileged status as synecdoches for the tragic theater and its ability to conjure sympathetic emotions in audiences. When Hamlet reflects on the moving power of tragic performance, he turns to the most prominent of these figures: “What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba/ That he should weep for her?” 

Through readings of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists, this book argues that newly visible Greek plays, identified with the origins of theatrical performance and represented by passionate female figures, challenged early modern writers to reimagine the affective possibilities of tragedy, comedy, and the emerging genre of tragicomedy. More


Katherine HeaveyThe Early Modern Medea: Medea in English Literature, 1588-1688. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. ISBN 9781137466341. 272pp. £55.00 (hb).


The classical witch and infanticide Medea was a figure of potent interest to early modern English authors, and she was adapted or alluded to by a wealth of major and lesser-known writers in the period, including Shakespeare, Jonson, Spenser, James Shirley and Robert Greene. Medea's story was a significant one for early modern translators, but the bloody revenge she takes on her faithless husband Jason also fascinated authors of tragedy, political writing and even comedy. This is the first book-length study of early modern English approaches to Medea, in the period 1558 -1688. Read a review on this website.


Michael L. Stapleton.  Marlowe’s Ovid: The Elegies in the Marlowe Canon. Farnham, Ashgate, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4724-2494-5. 261pp. £65.00 (hb).


Many critical studies of early modern English (and European) Ovidianism tend to focus, almost exclusively, on the admittedly decisive importance of the Metamorphoses. Michael L. Stapleton’s research consistently offers an invaluable contribution to the field by usefully drawing attention to the significant impact of Ovid’s other works as well. While Spenser’s Ovidian Poetics (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2009) demonstrates the influence of the entire Ovidian corpus on Spenser’s poetics, the last chapter of Harmful Eloquence: Ovid’s Amores from Antiquity to Shakespeare (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1996) explores what Shakespeare’s Sonnets owe to Marlowe’s translation of Ovid’s Amores, which is considered here as a “formative intertext”, one that helps shape the literary characteristics of another text. Read a review on this website.



Agnès Lafont (ed.)Shakespeare’s Erotic Mythology and Ovidian Renaissance Culture.  Ashgate, 2013.  ISBN 978-1-4094-5131-0.  224p. £55.00.


Taking cross-disciplinary and comparative approaches to the volume’s subject, this exciting collection of essays offers a reassessment of Shakespeare’s erotic and Ovidian mythology within classical and continental aesthetic contexts. Through extensive examination of mythological visual and textual material, scholars explore the transmission and reinvention of Ovidian eroticism in Shakespeare’s plays to show how early modern artists and audiences collectively engaged in redefining ways of thinking pleasure.

Contributors: Ilaria Andreoli, Sarah Annes Brown, Frédéric Delord, Agnès Lafont, Jane Kingsley-Smith, François Laroque, Yves Peyré, Stuart Sillars, Marguerite Tassi, Janice Valls-Russell. More



Vincenzo Cartari’s Images of the Gods of the Ancients: The First Italian Mythography. Translated and edited by John Mulryan. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-86698-444-7.  442 + xxxvi pp.  22 ills. $90, £65.


An annotated edition of the original Italian text of Cartari’s Le Imagini de i dei de gli antichi (1556) was published in 1996 by Ginetta Auzzas, Federica Martignano, Manlio Pastore Stocchi and Paola Rigo (Neri Pozza Editore). Mulryan’s edition provides the first complete English translation of this influential work, written in Italian and illustrated with images, that circulated throughout Renaissance Europe. Mulryan’s translation is illustrated with images from the Padua 1608 edition which, the title page proclaimed, was “an extremely useful work for historians, poets, painters, sculptors, and professors of polite literature”.

More on the website of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

William WeaverUntutored Lines: The Making of the English Epyllion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.  ISBN:  9780748644650.  232p.  £65.00.


The English epyllion, the highly erotic mythological verse that swept the London  literary scene in the 1590s, is as much about rhetoric as about sex. So argues William Weaver in this fascinating study of Renaissance education and poetry. Rhetoric, moreover, is erotic. More


Sarah Carter.  Ovidian Myth and Sexual Deviance in Early Modern English Literature.  London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.  ISBN: 9780230244238.  224p.  £50.00.


Sarah Carter explores early modern culture's reception of Ovid through the manipulation of Ovidian myth by creative writers such as Shakespeare, Middleton, Heywood, Marlowe, Lyly and Marston. She analyses the strong cultural presence of particular myths and mythic characters involving potentially ideologically deviant sexual behaviour, including sexual violence, homosexuality, hermaphroditism and incest, in the myths of Philomela, Lucrece, Ganymede, Hermaphroditus, Pygmalion, Myrrha and Adonis.  Contents


Luisa Capodieci, Philip Ford (eds)Homère à la Renaissance - Mythe et transfigurations. Paris: Académie de France à Rome / Somogy Editeur, 2011. ISBN: 978-2-7572-0419-1.  470p.  €25.

The literary impact of the circulation of Homer’s poems in the 15th and 16th centuries has received more attention than their influence in the arts. This cross-disciplinary volume brings together specialists from different fields to study how Renaissance culture drew on the material of Homer’s myths. Contents

Denis KnoepflerLa Patrie de Narcisse. Paris: Odile Jacob, 2010.

This book, by a leading epigraphist (D. Knoepfler holds a chair at the Collège de France), is a fascinating, erudite and eminently readable archeological quest in search of pre-Ovidian Narcissus.

Jane Kingsley-Smith.  Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.


Covering a wide variety of material such as paintings, emblems and jewellery, but focusing mainly on poetry and drama, including works by Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe and Spenser, Kingsley-Smith illuminates the Protestant struggle to categorise and control desire and the ways in which Cupid disrupted this process. An original perspective on early modern desire, the book will appeal to anyone interested in the literature, drama, gender politics and art history of the English Renaissance.

More information on the website of CUP.

Danièle Auger and Charles Delattre, eds. Mythe et fiction.  Paris: Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2010.  ISBN 9782840160441.  410 p.  €23. Contents.

Michelle Szkilnik, Laurence Harf-Lancner and Laurence Mathey-Maille (ed.)Ovide métamorphosé, Les lecteurs médiévaux d’Ovide.  Paris: Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2009. Contents.

Recent additions to this website

Thomas Heywood:

Troia Britanica (1609). The first unabridged, annotated, modern-spelling edition.

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