Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica V, Notes

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

Notes to CANTO V

Ed. Patricia Dorval


Troas: Troad, i.e. Troy and the land about it. A misprint for Troos cannot be ruled out, but the name occurs again in the notes appended to Canto XV, where it definitely indicates a geographical area: “Mygdonia is a part of Phrygia, next Troas, by the River Rhindacus; of this country Prince Coroebus, that loved Cassandra, was called Mygdonides.”

Aegeon: see stanza 21.

disladed: unladed, unloaded.

Argos: the main city of Argolis in ancient Greece.

Atrids: Atridae, referring to Agamemnon and Menelaus, Atreus’ sons.

epsilon: fifth letter of the Greek alphabet corresponding to the fifth canto. Cantos I to XI of Troia Britanica are numbered with the appropriate letter of the Greek alphabet, from alpha (canto I) to lambda (canto XI). See note to canto I, arg. 2, “alpha. Back to text



Clio: the first of the nine Muses, presiding over history.

gests: notable deeds, exploits.

Melpomene: the muse of tragedy.

gules: in heraldry, the colour red.

Thalia: the muse presiding over comedy.

Euterpe: muse of music, inventress of the flute and more generally all wind instruments.

Terpsichore: muse of choral dance commonly represented with a lyre or harp. Back to text



Erato: traditionally the muse of lyric poetry playing the lyre. In making Erato the muse of geometry, Heywood may be following Thomas Rogers in Celestial Elegies of the Goddesses and the Muses (1598), citing the muses in the very same order: “Clio exerciseth her wit and skill chiefly in histories and recording the acts and monuments of worthy persons; Melpomene in tragedies and lamentable elegies; Thalia in comedies, comely gestures and sweet speeches; Euterpe in the pipe and such like instruments; Terpsichore in the cithern or lute; Erato in geometry or cosmography; Calliope in heroic verses; Urania in astrology and contemplation of the stars; and Polyhymnia in rhetoric and eloquence”. Erato is portrayed with sphere, compasses and set square on an engraving by the Dutch Hendrick Goltzius (The Nine Muses, 1592) (Guy de Tervarent. Attributs et symboles dans l'art profane. Genève: Droz, 1997, p. 197).

Calliope: she has in charge eloquence and heroic poetry.

Urania: the muse of astronomy, represented with a globe.

know: known, for the sake of the rhyme.

be: F, we. Undoubtedly a misprint.

Polyhymnia: (or Polymnia) muse of singing and rhetoric. Back to text



founder: sink. Back to text 




host: army.

Troos: Tros, king of Troy.

Elis: a region of ancient Greece in northwestern Peloponnesus.

Hippodamia: the princess of Pisa, whom Pelops won and married after having plotted her father Oenomaus’ death.

wan: won, for the sake of the rhyme. Back to text



Oenomaus: king of Pisa and father to Hippodamia. When an oracle warned him that his son-in-law would cause his death, he devised as a condition to her marriage that her suitor would carry her off in a chariot. He would then follow with his own carriage and spear the suitor to death. When Pelops set himself to win Hippodamia, he bribed the king’s chariot-driver Myrtilus, who replaced the linch-pin of Oenomaus’ cart with a wax dummy. The king’s chariot broke up, and Oenomaus got killed, leaving his daughter in the hands of Pelops.

Myrtilus: the charioteer who helped Pelops win the race against Oenomaus, and get his daughter Hippodamia as his wife.

2617/1346: corresponds to dates in Cooper’s 1560 Lanquette’s Chronicle (Part 2): “Sorares, the twenty-third emperor of Assyria, reigned twenty years. In his time the most swift horse Pegasus was found. Perseus kept war against the Persians. / Cecrops, the second of that name, king of Athens, reigned fifty years. / Pelops took to wife Hippodamia. / Mars Italus, surnamed the younger Janus, reigned amongst the Aborigines”.

Ehud: F, Eliud. Ehud, a Benjamite, slew Eglon, king of Moab, whom God had raised against Israel for eighteen years as a punishment for their evil deeds (Judges 3:17). Back to text



roast: roasted.

sod: seethed, boiled. Back to text



hight: named.

Mycene: Mycenae. Back to text



Ilion: Ilus.

Ilion: Ilium (Troy).

he: Ilus.

Palladium: a wooden image of Minerva (Pallas), which the goddess dropped down from the sky. It was said that Troy could not fall as long as the Palladium was kept safe in a temple. See canto VIII, note to stanza 57, and Heywood’s endnotes to canto VIII. Back to text



begirt: encircled, surrounded.

Phrygians: Heywood is following Caxton in referring to Tantalus as reigning in Phrygia, east of Troad, while other sources make him a Lydian king.

emblazed: apocopated form of emblazoned. To spread or set forth one’s own fame as by means of heraldic devices. Back to text



Charon: often termed the “ferryman”, taking the dead across the river Styx to their last abode. Back to text



Plota: in Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VI, xviii, Tantalus is presented as the son of Jupiter and the nymph Plota according to Eusebius, “in secundo evangelicae preparationis” (On the Preparation of the Gospel, or Evangelica Preparatio), II. But this reference is erroneous (see note on Tantalus, endnotes to Canto III). Conti is deriving Tantalus’ parentage from Boccaccio: “Tantalus, as Lactantius says, was the son of Jove conceived by the nymph Plota. Eusebius says he was the first king of Phrygia, when Eritrius was reigning on the throne of Athens”. Boccaccio, Genealogia XII, i. Conti, however, misreads Boccaccio’s mention of Eusebius.

bare: bore. Back to text



2642/1321: F, 1642/1321, a misprint. See Cooper’s Chronicle: “Pelops, reigning in Peloponessus and in Olympus, assembled his power against Troy, and was vanquished by Dardanus.” Back to text



Arcas: son of Jupiter and Calliope, who fought alongside his father against Saturn. The line recalls Canto IV, 38: “They still pursue the slaughter, Saturn flies, / Him Arcas hotly to the sea-side chases”.

arrive: landing, arrival. Back to text



plausive: deserving of applause, laudable.

impressed: imprinted.  Back to text



respective: respectful.

son: homonymic play on “sun”.  Back to text



archers: the passage echoes Canto I, in all points deriving from Caxton’s description of Saturn’s Golden Age. “[Saturn] sees the wild birds by his archers caught, / Pierced with those shafts, whose use before he taught” (Canto I.44).

childing Tellus: child-bearing Tellus, the earth.

clime: climate, region.

seas: cf. “[Saturn] sees the vast seas, by his oars divided, / And the deep waters, without danger passed, / By art of sail and rudder, they are guided” (Canto I.45).

finèd: made pure; freed from dross or alloy. See Canto I.43: “The mineral mountain veins [Saturn] undermined, / And was the first that perfect gold refined”.  Back to text



issue: offspring, progeny, here Jupiter.

gest: tell a tale, recite a romance. Back to text



war-exploited: skilled in military art, hence war-accomplished. To exploit means to achieve, perform, and more specifically to fight (a battle).

ensigns: a body of men, troops.

Aegean: F, Aegeon.

Aegeon: see Caxton’s “the great thief Aegeon”. Le Fèvre presents him as the fifth of Titan’s children, king of the Aegean Sea and the “Isle deserte” (desert isle) (9.2). Le Fèvre has Jupiter recall how he made Aegeon and all his lineage flee at the battle of Crete (29.4). See Canto V, stanzas 37 and 47, and Canto III, 32Back to text



unprovided: unprepared. Back to text



scour: to traverse (land) in order to capture or drive away a foe. Back to text



manage: bearing; also possibly a hint at the paces of a trained riding horse.

battles: armies in battle array. Back to text



quarters: limbs, as of quadrupeds, here the Centaurs.

shrike: shriek. Back to text



raced: cut, slashed. Back to text



monomachy: a single combat.

character: imprint. Back to text



he: Jupiter.

vaward: vanguard. Back to text



Aeson’s son: Jason.

Argos: Argo, the name of the ship built by Argus on which Jason embarked with a band of the noblest Greek heroes.

rich sheep: the golden ram.

deep-spelled: deeply invested with magical properties; deep-read in magic.

wan: see stanza 5.

who: refers to Aeson who was rejuvenated by Medea, his son’s wife, hence his daughter.

hoared: grown hoary, i.e. greyish white with age. Back to text



shrunk: reduced in power. See Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens (c. 1606): “Timon is shrunk indeed” (III.ii.62). Back to text



margent: margin.

stear: steer, on account of rhyme. Back to text



Darrain’s tower: variant original spelling and grammatical forms are “Darrayne’s tower” (33), “Darrain tower” (55), “Darrain’s strength” (56), “Darrain’s strong tower” (57), “Darraine’s tower” (81) and “the tower Darraine” (102); “your Darreine strength” (Silver Age, B2) and “Darreine tower” (Silver Age, C). In a mixture of French and English, Caxton uses “tour of darrayn”, “tour of darrain”, or “tour darrain”, with no capital. Going back to Raoul Le Fèvre's original French text, one finds “une tour toute de fer et d’arain” (18.4). 12th-century “arain” gave “airain” in modern French, i.e. bronze. “Tour d’arain”, which gave “Darrain’s tower” and its variants, means “bronze tower”. Heywood’s different forms have been homogenized into “Darrain”, which is closer to the French etymology. See canto IV, stanzas 73 and 91. Back to text



mated: checkmated, hence thwarted, defeated.

cross: misfortune, adversity.

Dardania: Troy.

now: F, “He rates him much above his kingdom’s loss, / And all Dardania mourneth for his son, / How in the guard of those that from Molosse / Came with Ixion, and on horseback run, / Jove gives command (being at sea assured) / The prisoners to be cheered, the wounded cured.” Manuscript capital letters H and N are relatively close, and the printer might easily have confused “How” with “Now”.

Molosse: apocopated form of Molossia, a part of Epirus, in Greece, so called from its first king, Molossus, Pyrrhus’ son (Servius, In Aeneidos, III, 297).

assured: made safe, secured. Back to text



bird: the eagle of stanza 24.

quaintly: with ingenious art.

scored: marked, drawn. See Spenser, The Faerie Queene: “Upon his shield the like [a bloody cross] was also scored” (I, i, 2). Back to text



waftage: vessel.

ken: know.

Aegeon: see stanza 21. Back to text



desert: see Canto III, 32. Le Fèvre's “Isle deserte”, i.e. desert isle, becomes “yle of deserte” in Caxton's translation, which explains why Heywood makes it a proper name with a capital. Le Fèvre presents Aegeon as the fifth of Titan’s children, king of the Aegean Sea and the “Isle deserte” (9.2). The actual name of the island was Aegae (Ege in Latin), as retraced by Boccaccio: “[According to Paulus] Aegeon was a very cruel, barbaric pirate, called Aegeon after a desert island of the name Aegae in the Aegean Sea. He had settled on the island because pirates cannot live in cities for their rapines. Theodontius adds that the Aegean Sea was not called after the island, but because no one in the days of Aegeon dared do anything on the sea that might displease him” (Genealogia, IV, xxvi). Back to text



hale: haul, draw the ship by force. Back to text



bands: bonds.

pointed: appointed.

beck: sign of command, hence “to be at someone’s beck” is to be at his or her command. Back to text



beak-head: the beak or prow.

waist: the middle part of a sailing ship between foremast and mainmast.

bear: pierce (OED 35). Back to text



Grenville: Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591). Elizabethan naval commander appointed vice-admiral of Thomas Howard’s fleet to waylay the Spanish treasure fleet in the Azores. In 1591 they were met by a powerful body of over fifty Spanish vessels. Howard chose not to face such odds, and retreated. But Grenville, in command of the Queen’s ship Revenge, decided to fight the far superior force alone. Inevitably, the English party was defeated. Most of the crew perished, and Grenville himself died from his wounds. The Revenge’s reckless fight became legendary.

brook: endure. Back to text



tinder: any easily inflammable substance, esp. that prepared from partially charred linen. Back to text



watchword: signal to launch an attack. Back to text



abide: suffer. Despite an obscurely compact construction, the meaning is “thou shalt bear my wrath and die”. Back to text



precedes: F, proceeds. The OED references an erroneous usage of “precede” for “proceed” (8). That “precedes” is meant instead of “proceeds” is clear from the context, although the OED is silent over this misusage.

strake: stroke. Back to text



loan: the only reference to the phrase “put to loan” in the OED is this very line from Troia Britanica, which receives no explanation. The sense is that Aegeon is giving a stroke soon paid back by Jupiter.

environs: compasses, girds. Back to text



he: Aegeon.

ground: set.

lines: latitudes. Back to text



ram: Aries. Helle (“Helles” in the original text), daughter of Athamas, king of Beotia. After the death of his first wife Nephele, the king married Ino, who demanded the sacrifice of both his children. A fabulous ram with a golden fleece appeared, sent by Nephele, and swept up Helle and her brother Phrixius over the sea. Helle fell off the ram into the straits which were called the Hellespont after her. On reaching the shore, the ram was changed into the constellation Aries. In sixteenth-century astrological periphrases, Aries is referred to as “Helle’s ram”.

bull: Taurus. Zeus took the form of a white bull as a bait to lure Europa. She climbed on his back, and he carried her off across the sea to Crete, where he revealed himself, and seduced the maid. The bull is commemorated as the constellation Taurus. Back to text

Castor and Pollux: Gemini. Zeus placed the twins Castor and Pollux in the sky as the constellation Gemini.

burning: the sign coincides with the summer solstice, when the sun culminates at the zenith of the Tropic of Cancer. A clichéd image in the Renaissance: “All the year long, only three months excepted, / Those wherein Phoebus drives his chariot, / In height of splendour through the burning cancer, / The fiery lion, and the virgin’s sign” (Iron Age, Part II); “And add more coals to Cancer when he burns / With entertaining great Hyperion” (Shakespeare’s 1609 Troilus and Cressida, II.3.194-95).

lion: the constellation Leo. After it was slain by Hercules, Zeus placed the Nemean lion in the stars as the constellation Leo. Back to text

virgin: Virgo.

trull: in the archaic sense of girl, wench.

scale: Libra.

Chiron: the centaur Chiron had been granted the gift of archery by Apollo, and was set in the heavens by Zeus as the constellation Centaurus. He is thus identified with Sagittarius, the half-man, half-horse archer.

capricorn: often depicted as a goat with a fish tail. One myth identifies it with Pan, who, attacked by the monster Typhon, cast himself into the Nile, turning the lower part of his body into that of a fish, and the rest into a goat. Jove put his likeness among the constellations (Hyginus, Astronomica, II, 28). Back to text

Trojan lad: Ganymede was cup-bearer to the gods, and was set in the sky by Zeus as the constellation Aquarius, the water-carrier.

laver: a vessel, basin. Aquarius is traditionally pouring water from a jar or vase.

powers: pours.

fishes: the constellation Pisces, commonly represented as two fish. Aquarius is represented pouring water into the mouth of the southern fish.

drilling: dripping, trickling down. See “swift watery drops drill from his eye” (Canto XV, 20). Back to text



dove: see Shakespeare’s use of the same cliché: “So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows” (Romeo and Juliet, I.v.47) or “Who will not change a raven for a dove?” (A Midsummer Night's Dream, II.ii.120).

Rose to a blackberry: So F. one might logically have expected “Blackberry to a rose”. Back to text



bewray: make known.

waftage: wafting, going to sea. See stanza 37. Back to text



vaded: faded.

confuse: confused. Back to text



tract: track, way. Back to text



great: big with child.

beldams: aged women, often said of nurses. Back to text



exclaim against: blame. Back to text



loth: loath, unwilling. Back to text



threatening: the text reads “threatned”, no doubt a typo.

Ceres: In Caxton’s Recuyell, Ceres is Saturn’s sister and therefore Jupiter’s aunt. Back to text



amiss: contrary to his wishes. Back to text



scanned: perceived, judged; originally spelt “scand” for eye-rhyme. Back to text



sounds: obsolete form of “sands”. Back to text



books: favour. Back to text



milksop: a piece of bread soaked in milk, hence figuratively a spiritless person. Back to text



quaver: use trills or shakes in singing. 

divide: to execute divisions, descant, possibly with a pun on “divide”, in the sense of “part”. Back to text



bona-roba: from the Italian meaning a round, fat wench. Back to text



beteem: grant, vouchsafe.

whitely: pale.

green sickness: anaemic disease affecting girls at puberty, giving them a pale greenish complexion.

black: dark-complexioned. Back to text



Aurora: Roman goddess of dawn, often described as “saffron-robed”, an orange-yellow colour.

orient: brilliant, lustrous, in reference to the pearl of orient. Back to text



staid: settled in character; grave, sedate, hence mature. See Spenser: “But riper age such pleasures doth reprove, / My fancy eke from former follies move / To stayèd steps” (Shepherd’s Calendar, June). Back to text



Apulian: Apulia is a part of southeastern Italy, by the Adriatic Sea. This corresponds to an Italian version of the legend, according to which Danae landed on the shores of Latium, where she married Pilumnus, and founded with him the city of Ardea. 

Phoebus: the sun god. Back to text



fisherman: the fisherman was Dictys, Pilumnus’ brother. Back to text



extremity: predicament.

stears: steers, for the rhyme.

a: he. See Hamlet’s “Now might I do it pat, now a is praying, / And now I’ll do’t, and so a goes to heaven” (III.iii.73-74).

capuche: hood.

bin: been. Back to text



Pelonnus: Pilumnus. Heywood misspells Caxton’s Pilonnus (alternatively spelt Pylonnus), which is also the spelling found in Le Fèvre. The name Pelonnus is used again in Heywood’s Golden Age, V.i. and Silver Age, I.i. Back to text



intermedium: interval of time.

besot: cause to dote (on her). Back to text



Sicil: Sicily. Back to text



Taurentum: Laurentum. An ancient city regarded as the capital of Latium. Caxton uses the name “Laurence” after Le Fèvre. The name is not to be mistaken with Tarentum, an ancient Roman city in Apulia now called Taranto, which Virgil associates with Hercules (Aeneid, III, 551). Tarentum was occasionally spelt Taurentum, as in Gavin Douglas’ 1553 translation of Virgil.

Evander: the Arcadian Greek who had settled on the site of Rome before Aeneas came.

Aventine: Heywood is following Caxton but Evander is believed to have settled on Mount Palatine.

this: F, these.

Italus: legendary eponymous king of Italy.

Albe: the city is Albe la Longue, in English Alba Longa, located in Latium, some 12 miles southeast of Rome, in the Alban hills. Back to text



Philicis: a misprint for Caxton’s and Le Fèvre’s Philiris. Heywood uses the name with the proper spelling in the end notes of Canto XIII but confuses Philiris with Philyra, a water nymph Saturn seduced in the form of a horse, and from whom he got the centaur Chiron. In his 1635 Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels, Heywood makes the same confusion: “Chiron, from Saturn and Philiris bred, / You may perceive to lift his star-crowned head / Betwixt th’Antarctic and the Hiemal lines, / And for his justice shewed on earth there shines” (Book III). Chiron is here the sign Sagittarius. See stanza 51.

colleagued: tied, united.

bands: bonds. Back to text

Picus: a very ancient king of Latium, alternately descended from Sterculus or Saturn. He was metamorphosed into a woodpecker by the witch Circe for refusing her advances. He was known for his prophetic powers.

Faunus: Picus’ son. He was a benevolent rural divinity protecting herds and shepherds, which allowed his later identification with the Arcadian god Pan. Like his father he could prophesize. He was also a legendary king of the Latins, sometimes identified with Evander.

Latinus: Faunus’ son. He was himself King of Latium at the time of the arrival of the Trojans led by Aeneas, to whom he gave his daughter Lavinia. At the end of the war the city Laurentum was rebuilt further away and renamed Lavinium. Back to text



husbandry: agriculture, farming.

Fatua: as in Caxton while Le Fèvre calls her “Facua”. Fatua, also named Fauna, is the wife of Faunus. According to Virgil, Latinus, king of the Latini, sprang from the Laurentine water-nymph Marica and Faunus (Aeneid, VII, 47-49).

Hercules: some Greek authors believe Latinus is Fatua’s unlawful son by Hercules. See Caxton’s “Queen Fatua of whom Hercules was amorous as it shall be said in the second book”.

Amphitrite: apocopated form of Amphytrion, supposed father of Hercules and Iphicles by Alcmena. Actually Hercules was the son of Jupiter, who had spent the night with Alcmena in the shape of her lawful husband, lengthening the night out to beget a great hero. See the passage in Caxton on “How Jupiter laid with Alcmena / And how Queen Juno sent two serpents for to slay Hercules / And how Hercules strangled the two serpents” (Book I).

Nicostrate: Evander’s wife, or alternately Evander’s mother. Her name was changed into Carmenta (meaning “prophetic singer”) because of her mastery of magic spells and divination. Caxton does not mention she was in love with Jupiter. Back to text



negromantic: necromantic. See stanza 91.

sorcering: practising sorcery.

Latian: of Latium. Back to text



aunt: see stanza 64. Back to text



riot: debauchery, loose behaviour.

lord: the episode follows Caxton scrupulously but remains silent over who the lord was. Caxton relates he was called “Siccam”, after Le Fèvre’s “Sican”. The name was indeed Sican, as Boccaccio recalls in his Genealogia, X, lxii: “Sicanus, ut dicit Theodontius, antiquissimus rex fuit Siciliae et Neptuni filius. ... Dicit tamen Thedontius, huius Cererem fuisse conjugem et Proserpinam filiam, quam Jovis discere poetae” (Sican, as Theodontius says, was a king of Sicily and Neptune's son. ... According to Theodontius, he was Ceres’ husband and Proserpine’s father, although some poets make her Jove’s daughter). Back to text



Lemnos: the Greeks made Lemnos the place of Hephaestus’ smithy; an island in the Aegean Sea with a volcano on Mount Moschylus. The Romans preferred to situate Vulcan’s workshop below Mount Etna, in Sicily. 

geomancy: art of divination by means of lines or figures.

Beroutes: Brontes, the cyclope of thunder. Heywood finds the names for all three Cyclops from Caxton’s Recuyell, I, 29 (see also Troia Britanica, canto XIII, 47). He follows Caxton’s “Berroutes”, deriving from Le Fèvre’s “Berrontès”. 

Piragma: a corrupted form of Caxton’s “Pyragmon”, after Le Fèvre’s “Piragmon”. The thunderbolt cyclope is actually Pyracmon (Virgil, Aeneid, VIII, 425), sometimes called Arges (Hesiod, Theogony, 140).

Steropes: the lightning  cyclope. Heywood corrects Caxton’s corrupt “Sceropes”, where Le Fèvre had “Steropés”. Back to text



trisulc: (also trisulk) having three forks or prongs like a trident, said here of Jupiter’s thunderbolts.

divine: conjecture.

Vulcan: Heywood’s digression (stanzas 92-101) on Vulcan, and Mars and Venus, is interpolated, and does not belong to Caxton.

dandling: moving the child gently up and down in his arms. Back to text



Phaeton: Phaeton, son of Phoebus. He begged his father to let him drive the sun-chariot across the sky as a sign of his father’s affection. Phoebus conceded to the presumptuous demand. Phaeton soon lost control of the steeds, and plunged downwards, scorching the earth and wreaking havoc. Appalled by the destruction, Jupiter hurled a thunderbolt at the boy, whose blazing body fell into the River Eridanus. The episode is not in Caxton. Back to text



lights: alights.

occase: fall.

affy: take in marriage.

winged boy: Cupid born of  Venus and her lover Mars. Back to text



Paphian: from Paphos, a city of Cyprus sacred to the love goddess. Back to text



conclave: a private, inner chamber or closet. Back to text



Gallus: meaning “rooster” in Latin (the name is Alectryon in ancient Greek). Gallus was Mars’ favourite, whom the war god stationed outside his door while he and Venus indulged in unlawful sport. The youth dropped off. The sun walked in on the lovers, and blabbed of his discovery. The incensed Mars turned Gallus into a cock, to make sure that he never failed again to tell of the approaching sun. Although he does write of Venus and Mars’ intrigue, Homer makes no reference to the confident (Odyssey, VIII, 266ff.). The episode comes from Lucian’s Gallus (The Dream or the Cock), and is related in detail by Conti (II, 6: “On Vulcan”). The story of Mars and Venus is narrated again in Heywood’s translation of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, and in the notes he appends to the present canto, but no mention of Gallus is made. Back to text



smith: Vulcan. Back to text



then: the meaning is clearly “that”. Back to text



rated: chid, scolded.

instated: installed, established. See Silver Age, I: “Fair Danae’s son instated in my throne”.

drumming: beating as on a drum with a loud reverberating sound. Back to text



Hespery: Hesperia, western land, referring to Spain, from Hesper, the evening star which appears in the west. Spain is sometimes called Hesperia ultima due to its location further west.

Phorcus: father of the Gorgons. Heywood is following Caxton, who mispelt Le Fèvre’s “Phorcus” as “Porcus”. Yet the name is correctly spelt in the endnotes to the present canto. Heywood insists on Phorcus’ predatory attitude more than Caxton does: “In the land of Esperye passed out of this world a king named Porcus, a man of right great enterprise which the Esperiens called god of the sea of Spain anciently named Esperye as said is”. Caxton himself seems to be taking some freedom in translating Le Fèvre’s lines: “en Esperie trespassa de ce siecle un roy nommé Phorcus, homme de tresgrant entreprise, que les Esperiens nommerent dieu de la mer, pour ce qu'il tenoit en sa subgecion tous les rois habitans sus la mer d’Espaigne, anciennement nommee Esperie, comme dit est” (I, 30, 1). The printer may have skipped one line ― making some sort of suture between the two occurrences of the word “sea” ―  but no later edition reintroduces the seemingly missing element. Back to text



Stheno: F, Scennio. “Scenno” in Caxton, “Stenuo” in Le Fèvre.

Gorgons: Heywood confuses the Gorgons and the Graeae, echoing a long tradition dating back to Servius: “These Gorgons were three daughters of Phorcus, living at the extremity of Africa by Mount Atlas. Between them they had but one eye, which they used in turns. [According to Serenus], they were maids sharing one common beauty. When young men saw them, they were petrified with wonder” (ad Aen., VI, 289). Albricus takes up Servius’ assimilation of the Gorgons and Graeae while interpreting the only eye as one shared beauty (Allegoriae Poeticae, XIV, 1). In the 16th century, Fraunce, while following the same tradition, construed the single eye as “intellectual light”: “The borrowed and common eye, which all they use by course, is this infused light, derived from one of them unto another” (Third Part of the Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, H3r). Back to text

Dorcad Islands: Dorcades Islands. The name occurs again in stanza 105. It is neither in Caxton nor in Le Fèvre but is derived from Conti. Drawing from Menander, Conti recalls that those monsters live on the Dorcades Islands, in the Aethiopian sea. Many writers called these islands the Gorgades, which gave the name Gorgons.

Minerva: Conti relates two traditions about how Medusa’s hair was turned into snakes, and her eyes into a deadly gaze. She endured Minerva’s vexed displeasure by giving herself to Neptune right inside her temple. As a punishment, the goddess first changed Medusa’s hair, to which Neptune had been attracted, to horrible snakes. She then gave her the power to turn all who gazed at her into lifeless stones. According to another account, Medusa was so beautiful and so proud of her magnificent hair that she challenged Minerva to a beauty contest. The goddess turned the hair Medusa was so vain about into a bunch of ugly snakes. She also made sure no one would admire her hair by turning anyone that looked at her into stone (Mythologia, VII, 11: “On Medusa”). Back to text



basilisk: a legendary snake having the power to cause death with a single glance. Back to text



pictures: statues. See Heywood’s Rape of Lucrece (1608): “Thy noble picture shall be carved in brass, / And fixed for thy perpetual memory in our high Capitol” (I3).

images: statues, sculptured figures. See “Pictures” above.

once: F, ones. For eye-rhyme. Back to text



mistook: were mistaken. Back to text



fisher: fisherman.

angle-hand: the hand holding the fishing rod.

black bottle: a variation of “black jack” (or “blackjack”) for metrical reasons, i.e. a leather jug to drink in coated externally with tar, hence the colour black.

faring: behaving. Back to text



fleets: passes away. Back to text



defray: pay.

margent: the margin of a book used for notes or commentary, hence here the page itself blotted with ink. Back to text


[Heywood’s endnotes to Canto V]

Ovid: Heywood is translating Ovid’s The Art of LoveII, 531-86. This passage very closely resembles his translation of Ars Amatoria, which he may have started in the 1590s [M. L. Stapleton, Thomas Heywood’s Art of Love. The First Complete English Translation of Ovid’s Art Amatoria (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), II, 726-69]. Other passages from Heywood’s translation of Ovid’s Art of Love are quoted at the end of canto VIII.

English: translate into English.

blazed: made known as with a trumpet. See The Silver Age, III: “Through all our ebbs and tides my trump hath blazed her, / Yet can no cavern show me Proserpine”.  Back to text

unware: unaware.

polt-foot: club-foot. Lyly uses the same attribute for Vulcan in the 1578 edition of Euphues: “Venus was content to take the black smith with his polt-foot” (34), so does Greene in his 1589 Menaphon: “though he [Vulcan] was polt-footed, yet he was a god”.

smooged: smooched, made dirty.

in all post: in haste.

train: a trap or snare.

pitfall: a trap for the capture of birds, or more generally a crafty device to catch someone by surprise.

Gorgons: the passage that follows is entirely based on Natale Conti’s Mythologia, Book VII, Chapter 12: “On the Gorgons”, first published in Latin in 1567. All the authors referred to are borrowed from Conti, and are cited in the very same order. Heywood’s survey also closely follows the structure of the Italian mythography. The Latin quotations are likewise derived from MythologiaBack to text

Cetus: latinized form of Ceto, daughter of Pontus (the Sea) and Gaia (the Earth). She married her brother Phorcus, and bore the Gorgons, the Graeae, the dragon guarding the garden of the Hesperides, and the Hesperides themselves. More generally, Cetus refers to a large fish, whale or sea-monster.

Lamiae: From Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii, “De Gorgonibus” (Venice: Comin da Trino, 1581), p. 493: “Lamias has Latini apellarunt. … Pausanias tamen in Phocidis Lamiam scribit nupsisse Neptuno, et primam omnium mulierum fuisse vaticinatam, quae Sibylla dicta est ab Aphris” (“The Latin called them [Gorgons] Lamiae. … But Pausanias writes in his book on Phocis that Lamia had married Neptune and among all women was the first prophetess, called Sibyl by the Africans”). Natale Conti is quoting Pausanias, Geography, X, xii, 1, where Lamia, however, is Neptune’s daughter.

A gutturis amplitudine: F, gutteris. The Latin phrase is derived from Conti: “quae dicta est Lamia à gutturis amplitudine” (“She was called Lamia because of the capaciousness of her throat”)—from the Greek “laimos”, the gullet. Back to text

Africans: F, Aphrians.

Pemphrado: Heywood follows Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii, “De Gorgonibus(Venice: Comin da Trino, 1581), p. 493: “Has tamen Atheniensis Apollodorus libro secundo non iisdem nominibus apellavit, sed Pemphrado, Erito, Dino. Melanthes in libro de mysteriis Iaeno addidit iis quae numerantur ab Aeschylo et Hesiodo” (“However, Apollodorus of Athens does not give them the same names in his second book, but calls them Pemphrado, Erito, Dino. Melanthes, in his book of mysteries, adds Iaeno to those listed by Aeschylus and Hesiod”). Conti’s reference to Apollodorus is to The Library, II, iv, 2. Melanthes (Melanthius) does not mention Iaeno in the fragments from his book on Eleusinian Mysteries collected in Fragmenta Historicum Graecorum, vol. 4, ed. Müller (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1851), p. 444. The commentaries of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, V, 202, did mention three Gorgons, “Penaphredo, Enyo et Iaeno”: Metamorphoseon Pub. Ovidii Nasonis Libri XV (Venice: Girolamo Scotto, 1545), fol. 108—the latter, Iaeno, being a probable misprint for Dino. Back to text

Erito: F, Prito. The name is correctly spelt in Heywood’s endnotes to Canto VI.

Dino, Iaeno: See note on Pemphrado above.

Graeae: signifying “grey ones”. They were wrinkled grey-haired old women from birth, eyeless and toothless, but for one eye and tooth which they shared between them.

utmost Island of Iberia:Drawn from Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii, p. 493: “Hae in extremis Iberiae partibus ad occidentem ab Hesperidibus haud procul distantes habitare dictae sunt” (“They were said to live in the furthest part of Iberia towards the west, not far from the Hesperides”). Back to text

Scylla:From Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii, p. 494: “Maenander in libro de Mysteriis Scyllam etiam memorat inter Gorgones à nonnullis numeratam fuisse” (“Menander, in his book on Mysteries, says that Scylla was counted among the Gorgons by a certain number of authors”)—a reference that remains unidentified.

Hesiod: Theogony, 270-81.

Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound, 792-800.

Pausanias in Phocicis: F, Pausonias in Phoricis, after Conti’s Latin “Pausanias ... in Phocicis”. The reference is to Pausanias’ description of Phocis in The Description of Greece, X, 12, 1: “There is a rock rising up above the ground. On it, say the Delphians, there stood and chanted the oracles a woman, by name Herophile and surnamed Sibyl. The former Sibyl I find was as ancient as any; the Greeks say that she was a daughter of Zeus by Lamia, daughter of Poseidon, that she was the first woman to chant oracles, and that the name Sibyl was given her by the Libyans” (trans. W.H.S. Jones).

Apollodorus of Athens: The Library, II, 4, 2.

Melanthes, Lib. de Mysteriis: see reference to Natale Conti’s Mythologia in note to Pemphrado, above. Back to text

Menander, Lib. de Mysteriis: see note to Scylla above.

Nymphodorus and Theopompus: Nymphodorus of Syracuse, Theopompus of Chios. From Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii, “De Gorgonibus” (Venice: Comin da Trino, 1581), p. 494. See Fragmenta Historicum Graecorum, vol. 2, ed. Müller (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1848), p. 379 (F. 13). Back to text

Polemon: F, Polemo. See Hesiod’s Shield of Heracles, 234-35.

Sunt tres sorores his volucres non procul, / Serpentibus dirisque comptae Gorgones, / Quas intuens nemo diu spirauerit: “Not far, there are three sisters, the winged Gorgones, with dreadful snakes in their hair; no one who looks at them stays alive long”, Natale Conti’s Latin interpretation of Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 798-800 (Mythologia, VII, xii, p. 494). Back to text

Alexander Myndius, liber de jumentis: F, Mindius. Heywood misconstrues Natale Conti, who writes that in Libya, the nomads called Gorgon an animal resembling a sheep or a calf, whose sight was deadly: Mythologia, VII, xii (Venice: Comin da Trino, 1581), p. 494. Conti’s reference to Alexander Myndius is from Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists (V, lxiv), a work he had translated into Latin (1556): see above, canto IV, note to Hermesianax. 

Athenaeus, liber 2: F, Atheneus. Heywood draws the story of Marius’ encounter with the Gorgon during his expedition against Jugurtha from Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii. Conti found in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae, V, lxiv: see note on Alexander Myndius, above. Back to text

Jugurth: Jugurtha.

Graeae: Heywood mistranslates Natale Conti’s Mythologia, VII, xii (Venice: Comin da Trino, 1581), p. 494: “Fuerunt qui Graeas Phorci et marini monstri filias, nihil aliud esse arbitrarentur, quam cognitionem & prudentiam illam, quae per experientiam acquiritur” (“Some thought that the Graeae, daughters of Phorcys and a sea monster, were nothing more than the knowledge and the wisdom that come of experience”).

Virgil: F, Centauri in foris stabulant, scillaeq; biformes. / Et centum geminus Briareus, ac belua Lernae / Horrendum stridens, flammisq; armata chimaera / Gorgones Harpiaeq; & forma tricorporis umbrae. Aeneid, VI, 286-89 (“Centaurs and double-shaped Scyllas, and the hundredfold Briareus, and the beast of Lerna, hissing horribly, and the Chimaera armed with flame, Gorgons and Harpies, and the shape of the three-bodied shade”), trans. Rushton Fairclough (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999). Heywood borrows the quotation from Natale Conti, Mythologia, VII, xii.  Back to text


Back to Canto V (1-50)

Back to Canto V (51-112)

How to cite

Patricia Dorval, ed., 2012.  Troia Britanica Canto V, Notes (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).



<< back to top >>