Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica, To the Readers

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)


The Two-fold Readers,

the Courteous and the Critic

Ed. Yves Peyré


The favourable and gracious reader I salute with a submiss congee both of heart and knee. To the scornful I owe not so much as an hypocritical entreat or a dissembled courtesy. I am not so unexperienced in the envy of this age but that I know I shall encounter most sharp and severe censurers, such as continually carp at other men’s labours and superficially perusing them with a kind of negligence and scorn, quote them by the way, thus: “This is an error, that was too much stretched, this too slightly neglected, here many things might have been added, there it might have been better followed, this superfluous, that ridiculous.” These indeed knowing no other means to have themselves opinioned in the rank of understanders but by calumniating other men’s industries. These satirists I meet thus: it were, in my opinion, more honour and honesty for them to betake them seriously to the like studies, and the time they waste in detracting others, rather spend in instructing themselves, and by some more excellent work, moulded out of their own brains, give the soil to others of less fame and consequence. This were a commendable and worthy attraction, savouring of desert; the other, a mere rancorous folly, grounded on nothing but malicious ignorance. For who more apt to call coward than the most timorous? But he only merits a name among the valiant that hath actually and personally won his reputation by some deed of fame and honour. But since these critics are a general subject in the front of every book, I am content to neglect them as those I regard not, and to the friendly, and best judging reader, thus turn my apology.

I have adventured, right courteous, to publish this poem and present it to thy general acceptance. If it be gently received and favourably censured, it may encourage me to proceed in some future labour. If any way distasted, I am so far from troubling the world with more that I shall hold this little much too much. Yet if you understandingly consider this project, you shall find included herein a brief memory or epitome of chronicle, even from the first man unto us, this second time created Britons, with a faithful register, not only of memorable things done in Troy and this island, but of many and the most famous accidents happening through the world; in whose reign and what year of the world they chanced, with which we have conferred the histories of the sacred Bible, and the truth of the times so even that whosoever will deign the perusal of these shall not only perceive such things were done, but be also satisfied in whose reign, then successively governing in the kingdom of Britain, they happened. In all which, I have tasked myself such succinctness and brevity that in the judicial of these few cantos — with the scholies annexed — as little time shall be hazarded as profit from them be any way expected.

Accept then, I entreat you, this mingled subject, as well home-born as foreign, and censure it as favourably as I have offered it freely. Though something may perhaps distaste, something again, I presume, will please the most curious palate. Let that which pleaseth mitigate the harshness of the other. He that speaks much may, excusably, speak somewhat idly, and he that, in unknown climates, travels far, may, by misadventure, wander out of the way. But where the main intent and purpose is honest and good, it is pardonable to expect the best. And in that hope, I prostrate these my barren industries to your kindest and gentle constructions. 



Critic: critical.

Submiss: submissive.

Congee: salutation.

Even: accurate.


Back to Troia BritanicaContents

Back to Troia Britanica, “the Epistle Dedicatory


How to cite

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



<< back to top >>