Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica, Proemium

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)


Ed. Yves Peyré

I hold it necessary as a preface to this general History to remember some antiquities touching the ages of the world, with the first peopling of kingdoms and of the four monarchies, which may illustrate this poem if, in any place, it appear dark and intricate. The year 1656 from the Creation, Noah entered the ark and the universe was destroyed by the Deluge, with all mankind, Noah and his family excepted. Of his three sons, Sem, Ham and Japheth, were all nations procreated. The posterity of Sem inhabited the East, by the river Euphrates; Cham, the places near Jordan and Nile, towards the Meridian; Japheth, the less Asia towards the West, whence many nations of Europe proceeded.












Sem’s sons were five: Elam, of whom came the Persians; from him Xenophon deriveth Cyrus. Assur: of him came the Assyrians. Ninus: of him the Ninivites and Babylonians. Arphaxad: of him the Chaldeans, and from his nephew Eber were derived the Hebrews—the word signifieth “travellers” or “strangers”. Of this line came Abraham, David, and the Messiah. Aram: of him the Syrians descended, of which Damasco is the metropolis; therefore it was written: “The head of Aram is Damascus”.




The posterity of Cham was Chus, of whom came the Ethiopians in the farthest coasts of Africa and the Lybians, called to this day Chirsitae. The sons of Chus were Saba, of whom the Sabaeans, and Evila, of whom the Indians descended. Nemrod first reigned in Babylon, Misraim occupied Egypt, which the Arabians and Turks to this day call Mizri. The sons of Misraim were Lydas, who peopled Lydia, a nation that after seated themselves in some parts of Italy, and Labain, of whom the sunburnt Lybians are thought to descend. Of Enamim came the Cyrenians, who built the city Cyrenaica, of who came the Mauritanians, and of him a famous river that still bears his name. Of Canaan came the Sidonians and Tyrians. Heath built Hebron, where Abraham dwelt and was buried. Iebuseus possessed Gaba and Jerusalem. Japheth’s sons were Gomer or Togorma, of whom the Cimmerians take their original; they are seated beyond Thrace, near the Meotiden Fen, where the Bosphors inhabit, not far from Cimbrica Chersonesus. Of Magog came the Scythians, and of them the Turks; and to prove the Turk to be in Gog and Magog, Ezechiel saith the Nations of Magog lie toward the south, which in the latest days, shall seek the fall of Israel. And [according to] the Apocalypse, Magog shall lastly emperize the world. Of Madai came the Medes. Of Javan, or Jabu, the Jovians, or Grecians. The sons of Javan were Elisa, of whom came the Aeolians in Asia minor. Tharsis built Tharsis, the chief city of the Cilicians. Of Cethim came the Macedonians. Of Adodanim the Dodoneans in Epire. Javan was that Janus that reigned in Italy. Of Tubal came the Hispani and Iberi. Of Mosoch came the Muscovites. Of Tyrus the Thracians. The sons of Gomer were Ascanes, Riphat, and Togorma. Of Ascanes came the Tuiscons, who after shifted themselves into other provinces, and of them came the Cimbrians, the Bythinians, the Caucones, the Caici, and Heneti. Of Riphat came the Riphei, Giants that inhabited the Riphean hills, where the Sauromats then lived. By the Heneti are meant all such as speak in the Polack tongue. From Riphat came also the Paphlagonians; these dispersed themselves into Europe, some inhabiting Russia, Lituania and Polonia, from the Adriatic shore unto Illyria. Likewise Vistula, Albis and Bohemia, where before lived the Hermaduri and Boii.












Pindarus. Herodotus. Pliny

















Apollonius in Argonautica

Iliad, 2




Justinus Historicus






Among the sons of Sem, Gether is numbered, of whom came the Getes, they were called Gotti or Goths, who inhabited Wallachia; these speak the Almain tongue and mixed themselves with the Germans, whose name is derived of Gerim” and “Ani, which signifieth “miserable strangers”. The French are called Galli, of “Wallen”, which, in the Almain tongue, signifies “Wanderers”. From Brute came the Britons, since called Angli.









In Nemrod was the first Monarchy established. He lived a hundred years after the Flood; after 200 years, Ninus built Ninivy in Assyria, whose wife Semiramis after his death erected the walls of Babylon. Ninias, her son, succeeded, in whose time Abraham came into Palestine. Him succeeded Amraphel, king of Sennaar or Babylon. Of these Assyrian monarchs, Sardanapalus was the last, whose proud name we thus derive: “sar”, a captain; “dan”, a judge; “niphil”, a destroyer. He was overthrown by Phul-Belochus, a Babylonian, and Arbaces, a Medean, when Osia reigned in Juda. Phul-Belochus reigned over the Babylonians and Ninivites forty years, Arbaces over the Medes and Persians. Belochus warred upon Israel, whom succeeded his son Phul Assar, called in the Scriptures Tiglat Philassar; he reigned 23 years. Him Salmanassar succeeded, and reigned ten years; he besieged Samaria; of him Hosea speaks, chapter 10. Sennacherib succeeded Salmanassar, who besieged Jerusalem and reigned ten years; his army was overthrown by the angels. Assurhaddon next ruled, ten years. In him declined the monarchy of Assyria, and Merodach became monarch over the Chaldees. Benmerodach reigned after his father 21 [years]. After him, Nabuchadnezzar Primus, 35 [years]. He warred against Egypt. Nabuchadnezzar Magnus reigned forty [years], in Zedechia’s time; he besieged Jerusalem a year and six months. Him succeeded Evil-Merodach, who released Jeconias. He dead, Balsaar succeeded fourteen years; he was a great blasphemer. In his time, Babylon was razed and the monarchy transferred to the Persians, he himself being slain by Cyrus. The kings of Egypt in the times of this monarchy were these: Osiris with his wife Isis, who lived in the time of Abraham. Orus, Bocchoris, BusirisMiris, Sesostris, who lived in the time of Samson. Pherones, of whom all the kings of Egypt were called Pharaohs. Proteus, whom some call Cetes; to him Paris and Helen sailed in their return from Greece. Rampsinitus, Cephus, or Cheops, Cephrim, Mycerinus, Anysis. Sabacus, called in the Bible Sesach. Sethon, Psammetichus. Nechos, who overcame Josia by the city Mageddo, and was after slain. Nabuchadnezzar, Psammis, Apries, who sacked Sidon, and slew the prophet Jeremiah. Amasis, in whose time the Monarchy came to the Persians.

First Monarchy



















Isaiah 39


2 Kings: 23 /

Paralipomenon 35


Jeremy 39


Daniel 5




Diodorus Siculus





1 Kings 14


Jeremy 46


In Greece, in the time of this Monarchy, lived Japhetus, the son of Noah, after whom reigned Hellas. Now was the expedition of the Argonauts, Erechtheus, Perseus and his acts. The wars of Troy. Cadmus, with the Theban history, notorious in Oedipus and Jocasta, with the deaths of the two brothers Eteocles and Polynices. Now were the Sybils famous. Rome, in the time of this first Monarchy, was built the tenth year of Achas, king of Juda. It was governed by kings 244 yearsRomulus reigned 38, Numa 43, Tullius Hostilius 32, Ancus Martius 24, Tarquinius Priscus 37, Servius Tullius 44. In the last part of his reign began the Persian Monarchy. Tarquin the Proud, 25. He was repulsed [from] his kingdom by the consul Brutus, because his son Sextus had before ravished Lucretia, the wife of Collatine.








 Dionysius of Halicarnassus




The second Monarchy


The Persian kings were, first Cyrus, who reigned 29. He overcame Cresus of Lydia, besieged Babylon, and was after slain by Tomyris, Queen of Scythia. In this time, lived Thales Milesius, Pythagoras born in Samos, Solon, and Draco, who first ordered the year, divided the months, added the epact, and collected first the poems of Homer. Cambyses, the second king, who reigned 7 years, added Egypt to his Empire and covered the judgement seat with the skin of his false judge Sisamnes. The third, Darius, he [that] by the neighing of his horse was elected emperor, reigned 36 [years]. He by the craft of his friend Zopyrus, won Babylon, and added to his dominions the Getes, Cimmerians, and Sauromats. Now lived Hippias, the son of Pisistratus in Greece, and Miltiades. This Darius was the son of Hystaspes, called in the Scripture Ashuerosh, husband to Hester, called by Herodotus Artystona, as the name of Vashti was Atossa. Some refer the history of Judith to those times. Fourth, Xerxes reigned 20 [years]. He pierced Greece with an army of 10 000 000 soldiers; his chief captain was Mardonius, his chief counsellor Artabanus. He was first repulsed by Pausanias of Sparta, after expelled Greece by Themistocles. In these wars were famous Aristides and Cimon. 5, Artaxerxes with the long hand, ruled 40 [years]. He was thought to be the son of Darius and Hester. In his time lived Esdras, Haggeus, Zacharius, and Nehemiah: about the time of the Peloponnesian war. And now was Rome governed by the Decemviri, a form of government infamous in the lust of Appius to the chaste Roman lady Virginia. Darius Nothus reigned 19 [years]. In his time lived famous Alcibiades, and Sophocles and Euripides, two famous tragedians. Artaxerxes Mnemon, 40 [years]; he loved the famous lady Aspatia; the noblest Greeks in his days were Clearchus, Anaxilaus, Lysander, who conquered Athens, after governed by 30 tyrants, who were suppressed by the vertue of Thrasybulus. Now happened the wars between the Phocenses and the Locri, with Bellum Leutricum. And now flourished Conon and valiant Epaminondas in Greece, about the same time that English Brennus sacked Rome. Artaxerxes Ochus next Mnemon reigned 26 [years]. In his time happened the war which was called Bellum Sacrum. Arsames reigned four years; he was slain by Bagoas. Him Darius succeeded and in the sixth year of his reign was slain by Alexander the Great, in whom began the third Monarchy, translated to the Grecians.



Xenophon, Herodotus









































The third Monarchy


Alexander by his father Philip deriveth his birth from Hercules, by his mother Olympias from Aeacus. He conquered the world, reigned as emperor 12 years. [He died] in the 32[nd year] of his age. He dead, the Monarchy was divided into four parts, Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and Macedon. The kings of Egypt after Alexander were these: Ptolomeus, the son of Lagus; Ptolomeus Philadelphus, Evergetes, Philopator, Epiphanes, Philometor, Evergetes, Physcon, Alexander, Lathurus, Auletes, father to Cleopatra, Dionysius her brother, in whom ended the race of the Ptolemys, and now Egypt came under the jurisdiction of the Romans.



The kings of Macedon were Perdiccas, Craterus, Antipater, Cassander, Antigonus I, Antigonus II, Demetrius, Philippus, and Perseus, who was surprised by the Romans.



The kings of Syria, who after the death of Alexander possessed Babylon, Syria and Asia Minor were Antiochus Soter, Antiochus Theos, Antiochus Magnus, who had these three sons, Seleucus Philopater, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Demetrius. Demetrius, after his brother’s decease, had two sons: Demetrius Nicanor and Antiochus Sedetes. The son of Nicanor was Antiochus Gryphus. The son of Sedetes was Antiochus Cyzenius. These having slain each other, from their issue Tigranes, king of Armenia, reft the kingdom of Syria, which first Lucullus, and after, Pompeius Magnus annexed to the Roman Empire.







These in the time of the third Monarchy, were captains and governors among the Jews: Nehemiah, Jeconias, Sealthiel, Zorobabel, Resa Mesollam, Johanna Ben Resa, Judas Hircanus primus (in his dukedom, Alexander slew Darius), Josephus primus, Abner Semei, Eli Mathatia, Asar Mahat, Nagid Artaxad, Haggai, Eli, Maslot Nahum, Amos Sirach, Matathia Siloah, Josephus Junior, Janna secundus Hircanus. And then began the race of the Machabees in Matathias, whose sons succeeded him, Judas, Jonathas, Simon, Johannes Hircanus. The kings of that line were Aristobulus, son to Hercanus; Alexander Iamneus, Queen Alexandra, his wife, otherwise called Salome. The sons of Alexander were Hircanus and Aristobulus; in their death ended the line of the Machabees. Succeeding these, in the 30th year of the reign of Herod Tetrarche, was born the Saviour of the world, unto which we have studied to reduce the best known nations of the earth, leaving the fourth Monarchy among the Romans, who by this time awed the earth, whose wars and fortunes being so commonly, from many worthy writers, translated into our modern tongue, we here omit—letting this short Epitome only serve, in the front of our book, to instruct your memories and guide your thoughts through those unknown deserts in which, without this direction, many readers may lose themselves. Be this therefore their pilot to direct them to the harbour of these latter ages more familiarly known.


















The fourth Monarchy


Notes to Proemium

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How to cite

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



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