Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica II (1-50)

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

CANTO II (1-50)

Stanzas 1-10 — 11-20 — 21-30 31-40 41-5051-100



Young Dardanus his brother Jasius slew,

And leaves the country where he sought to reign.

War ’twixt th’Epirians and Pelasgians grew,

Lycaon is by Jove exiled, not slain.

Jupiter, of Callisto taking view,

A voteress, and one of Dian’s train,

Loves and is loathed; the virgin is beguiled;

Clad like a maid, he gets the maid with child.


Argumentum 2

Th’Epirian slain; Troy’s first foundation laid;

Chaste Dian’s vows in Beta are conveyed.



O blind ambition and desire of reign,

How cam’st thou by this rule in mortal breasts?

Who gave thee this dominion o’er the brain?

Thou murderest more than plagues or fatal pests.

Thy drink, man’s blood; thy food, dead bodies slain.

Treason and Murder are thy nightly guests.

Ambition knows no law: he that aspires

Climbs by the lives of brothers, sons and sires.



Corinthus, of whom Corinth took first name,

Electra, daughter to king Atlas, married;

From Lybia hath he fetched the lovely dame,

And thence to Naples this rich purchase carried.

Corinth and Naples are indeed the same,

One city, though by time their names be varied.

These dying, left behind them, to succeed,

Two princes, lords of many a valiant deed.



Whilst Corinth there, Memnon all Egypt swayed,

In Italy Alteus; Harbon Gaul,

Hesperus Spain; the Argive king was made

Crassus; in France, King Lugdus governed all,

Arming himself ’gainst such as did invade;

Syrus in Syria; Assyria’s crown doth fall

To Mancaleus, which, whilst he maintained,

Orthopolis in Peloponnessus reigned.



Moses was born the self-same happy year

That fair Electra was made hapless queen,

Who spake with God and saw the bush burn clear,

By whom the Israelites delivered been

From Pharaoh’s bondage, whom the fiery sphere

Guided by night, when in the day was seen

The cloud to usher them. In whose blessed days,

Corinthus’ issue their proud fortunes raise.



One Dardanus, that other Jasius hight,

Who strongly for their father’s crown contend;

And to their aids assemble many a knight,

By force of arms their challenge to defend.

But arms nor bloody battle, force nor fight

Can unto this unnatural war give end,

Till, at the length, a treaty was appointed,

Which, by accord, should be the king anointed.

Dardanus and Jasius





Now Cecrops built Athens



Jasius to parley comes unarmed; his brother

Under his robes of peace bright armour wore,

And being met, his vengeance could not smother,

But slew him dead. The Lords his death deplore;

Thus piteously the one hath killed the other.

Jasius unto his sepulchre they bore,

But Dardanus, that him so basely slew,

Unto the palace royal they pursue.



The people such a traitorous practice hated,

And vow his blood shall for his murder pay;

Such as loved Jasius the rest animated,

And round begirt the place where Dardan’ lay,

Who calls such friends as on his person waited,

And in the dead of night steals thence away,

For well he knows they Jasius loved so dearly

That they his murder will revenge severely.



Before the dawn of day they shipping take;

The darkness of the night their purpose aideth,

Through the vast ocean a swift sail they make.

But as the morning riseth and night fadeth,

The stern Corinthians to their fury wake,

And every man th’unguarded house invadeth;

But when they, entering, found the brother fled,

They curse the living and lament the dead.



Long they their weary fortunes have in chase,

Still in the mercy of the seas and wind,

But where to harbour they can find no place,

Or in the sea’s wild deserts comfort find.

At length they touch at Samos isle, in Thrace,

A soil which yet contents not Dardan’s mind.

Ballast, fresh water, victuals he takes in,

And hoising sail, seeks further shores to win.



By this, the Asian seas his ships hath past,

And now within the Hellespont he rides;

The mariners the shore descry at last,

Where, calling all their sea-gods to their guides,

To their discovery they apply them fast,

And now their vessels near the coast abides.

Not long about the briny beach they hover,

But Dardan’ lands, the island to discover.



He finds it fruitful, pleasant, and a soil

Fit to inhabit; high woods, champion fields.

He holds this country worth his former toil,

The place he likes, and to this clime he yields.

And after all his travel and turmoil,

He plants himself. A city here he builds.

He casts a huge ditch first, then lays a frame,

And after calls it Dardan by his name.





2485/1478 The first

 foundation of Troy



The time the groundsills of great Troy were laid,

Was Lacedaemon built, by computation;

In Athens, Erichthonius king was made,

And Danaus ruler o’er the Argive nation;

Hercules Dasinas Phoenitia swayed,

Egyptus Egypt; now the first foundation

Of great Apollo’s temple was begun

By young Erysicthon, king Cecrops’ son.



In process is much people there convented,

Being a city well and fairly seated;

And all such people as this place frequented

Were by him and his followers well entreated. 

No stranger from the king passed discontented,

No merchant in his traffic was defeated.

In time, his wealth and people both abound,

And here in Dardan, Dardanus lives crowned.



This Dardan on Candame got a son,

Eruton hight, who the same state maintained.

Time keeps his course, away the swift hours run.

The second king in arts and wars is trained.

Imagine seven and forty winters done,

So long Eruton in this city reigned.

Troos, his son, the kingdom doth enjoy,

And of this Troos came the name of Troy.







Troy named of king Troos



A puissant king in arms, his valour’s fame

Through all the Asian confines stretchèd far.

Kingdoms he doth subdue, invaders tame.

By him the two first kings eclipsèd are,

And the Dardanians change their ancient name,

And of king Troos, so renowned in war,

Are Trojans called, for so king Troos chargeth,

And with his fame, his new-built town enlargeth.



Now all the Grecian cities Troy outshineth,

Whose glory many neighbour kings envy,

Yet none so bold that outwardly repineth

Or dare in public terms king Troos defy.

The strongest people he by love combineth,

The weaker he by arms doth terrify.

King Tantalus, that lives in Phrygia crowned,

Most envies Troy should be so far renowned.



But leave we him in envy, Troy in glory,

For envy still looks upward, seldom down,

And turn to that which most concerns our story,

How Jupiter attained his father’s crown,

How Cybel’ joyful was, but Saturn sorry,

To hear his son’s surviving in renown,

How Titan warred on Saturn, how Jove grew,

And in his father’s aid his uncle slew.



’Twixt the Pelasgians and Epirians riseth

Contentious war. In Epire reignèd then

King Melliseus, who in arms surpriseth

Certain Pelasgians, king Lycaon’s men.

Lycaon with his warlike troops adviseth,

By policy of war, both how and when

He may await th’Epirians the like damage

And make their king unto his state do homage.

War betwixt the Epirians and Pelasgians



At length, Jove’s guardian, the great Epire king,

Unto the son of Titan offers peace,

In sign whereof they olive branches bring

To signify their hostile arms’ surcease.

Lycaon, son to Titan, whom wars sting,

Had likewise galled and spoiled his land’s increase;

Applauds the motion, swears to this accord,

Conditioned thus, to leave an Epire lord.








An Epire lord, as hostage straight they take,

And in Pelasgia with Lycaon leave him,

There to abide till they amends shall make

For all the spoils th’Epirians did bereave him.

The king the days doth watch, the nights doth wake,

Lest his Epirian hostage should deceive him.

Lycaon of his covenant nought doth slack,

The time expires the lord should be sent back.



And to that purpose Melliseus sends

Ambassadors from Epire to Pelasge,

Who to Lycaon bears his kind commends.

Lycaon, full of spleen and warlike rage,

To quit his former injury intends,

And with much pain his fury doth assuage;

Yet gives them outward welcome. They desire

Their hostage lord to bear back to Epire.



Unto a morrow’s banquet he invites them,

Saying they shall receive him at that feast.

The morrow comes, full ill the king requites them.

He makes th’Epirian to be killed and dressed,

Part to be sod, part to be roasted, which incites them

To horror and amazement. They detest

So horrible an object. Then the king

Thus says: “Behold, your hostage here I bring.”



Young Jupiter was at the table seated,

Sent, with the rest, by his great-foster father

On th’embassy; he having heard repeated

A deed so monstrous, or inhuman, rather,

As one that brooked not to be so entreated,

His lofty spirits he to his heart doth gather,

And rising from the table, draws his sword,

And bears away the mangled Epire lord.



Into the market place his load he bears,

Before the amazèd people to disclose it.

The bold, undaunted worthy nothing fears,

But bears the body and in public shows it.

Some roasted, and some sod, some baked appears,

And every soul abhors the deed, that knows it,

Who, wondering whence so vild a mischief came,

“Behold”, quoth he, “your king Lycaon’s shame.



Behold the prince the son of Titan kept,

Upon his honour, safely to deliver.”

Some were ashamed, some threatened, and some wept,

Some of their trembling hearts with terror shiver,

Which Saturn’s son espying, forth he stepped,

And saith: “Shall such a tyrant and bad liver,

Shall such a bloody and insatiate devil

Unpunished ’scape, for practise of this evil?



The infamy of this inhuman act

Stretcheth to you; it hath defamed your nation.

Where’er report shall blazon this base fact

Of our Epirian murdered in such fashion,

It will appear that you the tyrant backed,

And that it was your deed.” This short oration

Took such effect that each man blushed within,

Feeling himself touched with that horrid sin.



Much more he spake to bring the king in hate

With such his subjects as had ne’er loved him.

That fell Lycaon but usurped his state

And brought a scandal on them all, he proved him.

Thus of his murderous act he doth dilate,

To which his tyranny and rancour moved him.

His former cruelty, this bloody sight,

And Jove’s persuasions, makes them bent to fight.



Saturn’s bold son will no advantage lease,

But with his many tyrannies proceeds.

He makes such burn, whose hearts before did freeze,

At the recital of his bloody deeds.

Then bears again the corpse, which none that sees

But his heart fires with rage or inly bleeds,

Then cries aloud: “You, bound that would be free,

Cast off your servile yoke and follow me.



You, whom the bloody tyrant hath oppressed,

Now, whilst you may revenge you, arm and strike.

You that have seen th’Epirian killed and dressed,

Let him not on your bodies act the like.

Aim all your weapons ’gainst the tyrant’s breast.”

With that, this catched a javelin, that a pike,

One takes an axe, another snatched a spade,

Some swords, some staves, the palace to invade.



Their youthful captain they attend, and meet

With the fierce tyrant, armed and well prepared.

They barricado both ends of the street,

Then to the battle, where they no man spared.

By this, Jove lays Lycaon at his feet,

And there had slain him, but his spleen was barred

By one of his best captains, who did bring

Happy supply and so preserved the king.



Th’inragèd multitude esteemèd nought

The dancing courtiers when they came to blows.

They, warily, the people madly fought,

And every man his dauntless courage shows,

Whilst all about, young Jove his kinsman sought.

And still the clamour of the battle rose

So loud that it rebounded ’gainst the skies

And heaven itself did echo with their cries.



Yet Jove, triumphant, in the first rank stood.

His foes’ fixed battle he by force displaces.

It rains sharp arrows till the ground flows blood,

And yet no knight his honoured fame disgraces.

It did th’Epirians and their captains good

To see the streets paved with their enemies’ faces.

In this high tumult’s heat, Lycaon’s fled,

And sprightly Jove left conqueror ’mongst the dead.







Lycaon vanquished by Jupiter



The tyrant, when he saw his servants slain,

To save his life, works for his secret ’scape,

And to the forest flying from his train,

He strangely feels himself transformed in shape:

Both wolfish form and mind he doth retain

And in the woods he lives by spoil and rape.

He lived a tyrant whilst his kingdom stood

And, changed into a wolf, still thirsts for blood.




Hecateus Mileseus lib. 2 Genealogiarum




Where we will leave him in the desert grove,

Transformed in body but not changed in mind,

And as my story leads, return to Jove,

Who sees Lycaon fled, none left behind,

But such as, whilst they breathed, in valour strove,

And dying, to the fire their corpses resigned.

   To the Pelasgians turning, he thus says:

   “Be yours the conquest, but to Heaven the praise.”



But they his honours back to him resign,

And with a general shout their caps up fling,

Saying “O, Jove, thy valour is divine,

And thou of us Pelasgians shalt be king.”

They guard him to the palace, and in fine,

The crown and sceptre to his hand they bring.

   And after search, finding Lycaon fled,

   They Saturn’s son invested in his stead.




Jupiter made king of the Pelasgians




King Jupiter had not yet reigned an hour

But with his trusty followers searcheth round

About the palace royal for the power

Of king Lycaon, but he no man found—

Death spares the king that doth his folk devour

Yet, jealous of his state, like kings new crowned,

   To abide all future garboils and assaults,

   He searcheth all the cellars, nooks, and vaults.



And breaking up a strong-barred iron door,

He spies a goodly chamber richly hung,

Where he might see upon the careless floor,

A discontented lady rudely flung;

Her habit suiting with her grief she wore,

Her eyes rained tears, her ivory hands she wrung.

   Her robes so black were, and her face so fair,

   Each other graced, and made both colours rare.



The virgin looked out of her sad attire

Like the bright sun out of a dusky cloud.

Her first aspect set the king’s heart afire,

Who, vailing first his bonnet, he low bowed,

And to have seized her fingers preaseth nigher,

But she, at sight of strangers, weeps aloud,

   Her drownèd eye she to the earth directeth,

   And no man, save her own sad woes, respecteth.



The youthful prince, whom amorous thoughts surprise,

With comfortable words the lady cheers,

Supports her by the arm, entreats her rise,

And from her bosom to remove her fears.

Yet will not she erect her downcast eyes,

Nor to his smooth-sweet language lend her ears,

   Till from the earth he raised her by the arm,

   And thus, with words, begins her grief to charm:



“Bright damsel, did you know the worth of all

Those precious drops you prodigally spill,

You would not let such high-prized moisture fall,

Which from your heart your conduit-eyes distil.

O, spare them, though you count their value small!

To have them spared, I’ll give you, if you will,

   Although not in full payment, yet in part,

   A prince’s favour, and a soldier’s heart.



You dim those eyes that sparkle fire divine,

By whom this melancholy room is lighted;

The place were dark, and but for their bright shine,

We in this dungeon should be all benighted.

O, save your beauty then and spare your eyen!

Why should you at our presence be affrighted?

   We come not with our weapons drawn to fear you,

   But with our comfortable words, to cheer you.



But say our hostile weapons were all bent

Against your breast, yet why should you be mated?

Beauty’s sword-proof; no forcible intent

But with a face so fair is soon rebated.

Your beauty was unto your body lent

To be her secretary. Where instated,

   It is as safe as if a wall of iron,

   Impregnable, your person should environ.”



With that, the woeful maid uplifts her eye,

And fixed it first upon the prince’s face,

But there it dwelt not long, for by and by,

It wandered wildly round about the place.

Yet, coming to herself, when she gan spy

Herself ’mongst strangers, with a modest grace,

   Having her raging grief awhile restrained,

   Thus blushing, she her sad estate complained:



“My father, O my father, where is he,

To whom these subjects should of right belong?

You are the limbs, the head I cannot see.

O, you have done the king some violent wrong!

What stranger’s this, that doth solicit me?

How dare you thus into my chamber throng,

   And fright me, being a princess, with your steel?

   Or where’s the king, that to this youth you kneel?



If king Lycaon live, why do you bow

Unto a stranger, he surviving still?

If he be slain, why am I hindered now

Upon his corpse my funeral tears to spill?

I may lament by law. No laws allow

Subjects by treason their liege lords to kill.

   My tears are natural, and come in season.

   Your treacherous act is mere unnatural treason.”



By these her words, the amorous prince doth gather

This lady to be king Lycaon’s daughter.

It grieves him now he hath exiled her father,

And once again of favour he besought her,

But she, all sorrow now, entreats him rather

To leave the chamber, since his coming brought her

   Nothing but news of death, and words of care,

   Her father’s ruin, and her own despair.



By many fair persuasions the prince moves her

To stint her passion and to stop her tears.

He whispers in her ear how much he loves her,

But all in vain; his tongue he idly wears.

By all rhetoric and art he proves her,

Which makes her, at the length, lend her chaste ears

   And thus reply: “I cannot love until

   You one thing grant me”. The prince swears he will.



“Remember”, quoth the lady, “you have sworn.

Being a prince, to break an oath were base.

Were’t in a peasant, it were hardly borne,

But in a prince, it seems a worse disgrace.

The greater y’are, the greater is your scorn,

If you should taint your honour in this case.

   ’Tis nothing if a poor star’s beams be clouded,

   But we soon miss the moon in darkness shrouded.



Princes are earthly gods and placed on high

Where every common man may freely gaze

On them. The people’s universal eye

Is hourly fixed to scan their works and ways.

They look through spectacles your deeds to spy,

Which makes the letters of your shame or praise

   Grosser to be discerned and easier scanned:

   A king should be a light to all his land.”



These words sighed out have fanned the amorous fire

Which did the breast of Saturn’s son enflame.

He, that at first her beauty did admire,

Now wonders at the wisdom of the dame

And museth how, from such a devilish sire

As king Lycaon, such an angel came.

   Now he entreats her ask with spirit undaunted,

   For as he is a prince, her suit is granted.


Back to Canto I (1-50 & 50-103)

On to Canto II (51-100)

Notes to Canto II


How to cite

Janice Valls-Russell, ed., 2014.  Troia Britanica Canto II, 1-50 (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).



<< back to top >>