Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica, Epistle Dedicatory

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

To the Right Honourable Edward Earl of

Worcester, Lord of Chepstoll, Ragland, and

Gower, Knight of the most noble order of the

Garter, Master of the Horse, and one of the King’s

most honourable Privy Counsel.


Ed. Yves Peyré


To you, whose favour gave my Muse first breath

To try in th’air her weak, unable wing

And soar this pitch, who else had tasted death

Even in her birth, from the Castalian spring

She dedicates her labours, as they are,

Though, as you see, poor, featherless and bare.


Your noble hand, to her, supportance gave,

Even in her penless age about to fall.

Her cradle, then, had been her infant grave,

Had not your power and grace kept her from thrall.

Then, by the Muse by your high bounty raised,

Y’are by your merit and my duty praised.


Her power, though weak, yet to her sickly strength

Is willing your past graces to record;

Though smothered long, yet she finds time at length

To show her office to her Patron-Lord,

Wishing, for your sake, that upholds her still,

Her worth had correspondence to her will.


Then had her theme, that treats of foreign deeds,

Been only tuned to your desert and merit;

And you, from whom her nonage art proceeds,

Should, by her pen, eternity inherit.

But since, great Lord, her best fruits are but words,

Prize what her heart, not what her art, affords.


’Tis fit those lords, which we from Troy derive,

Should in the fate of Troy remembered be;

For since their grandsire virtues now survive,

And with the spirits of this age agree,

It makes us fill our cantoes with such men

As, living now, equalled their virtues then.


Homer, long since, a chronicler divine,

And Virgil, have redeemed old Troy from fire,

Whose memory had with her buildings’ line

In desolate ruin, had not their desire

Snatched her fair title from the burning flame,

Which, with the town, had else consumed her name.


Had they survived in these our flourishing days,

Your virtues from the ancient heroes drawn,

In spite of death or black oblivion’s rage,

Should live for ever in Fame’s glorious fawne.

Ranked next to Troy, our Troynovant should be,

And next the Trojan peers, your places free.


Nor let your Honour my weak style despise,

That strives to register your names with theirs;

For could my numbers like blind Homer’s rise,

I would create you Fame’s eternal heirs.

Accept my strength, my weakness I bewray.

Had I like art, I would as much as they.


Your Honour’s ever faithfully devoted,

Thomas Heywood


Notes to the Epistle Dedicatory

Worcester: Edward Somerset, fourth Earl of Worcester (1553-1628), played a prominent role in the trial of Essex and in the enquiry into the Gunpowder Plot. In 1601, he was given Essex’s post of Master of the Horse and sworn of the privy council. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire (1602), Earl Marshal (1603) and Lord Privy Seal (1616). He was the patron of a company of actors which became Queen Anne’s Men after 1603 and played Heywood’s Golden Age in 1610.

Chepstoll: Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

Castalian: the Castalian fountain, situated at the foot of Mount Parnassus, was the Muses’ fountain: whoever drank its water acquired poetic inspiration.

Penless: wingless, as well as without a pen.

Line: lain.

Fawne: fane (or phane), a temple.

Bewray: declare, expose.


Back to Troia Britanica: Contents

On to Troia Britanica, “To the Two-Fold Readers, the Courteous and the Critic


How to cite

Yves Peyré, ed., 2013.  “Epistle Dedicatory”, Troia Britanica, (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).



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