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

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

CANTO XI (1-50)

Stanzas 1-10 — 11-20 — 21-30 — 31-40 — 41-50 — 51-103

Ed. Katherine HEAVEY


The Grecians land, Prothesilaus falls

By Hector’s sword, King Diomede is sent

With wise Ulysses to debate their brawls,

And fetch the Spartan to her husband’s tent;

Helen denied: the Greeks begirt Troy walls,

But are by Hector raised incontinent;

   Troylus and Diomede in arms contend

   For Cressida, so the first battles end.


Argumentum 2

Our English worthies, Fame and her rich crown,

With Troy’s confedered kings, Lambda sets down.



O can we foreign worthies memorize,

And our own native champions quite forget,

Whose fame swift clangour hath through-pierced the skies,

To whom due honour still remains in debt?

How many true victorious peers arise

From this fair garden, midst the ocean set;

   How many an English knight hath borne his head

   As high as those, whom Troy or Greece hath bred?



Achilles, Ajax, Diomede, or those

Whom Homer hath extolled with golden praise,

Have not done greater spoil upon their foes

Than some that have survived even in our days,

And had I spirit but like the least of those

That writ the Grecian acts, my pen should raise

   Our British champions, and their acts proclaim,

   Above the Greeks in the high tower of Fame.




What could Achilles more than British Bren,

That after many dangerous battles won,

Foraged France, Denmark, Germany, and then

Sacked Rome, and high Parnassus over-run,

And by the aid of his bold Englishmen,

Laid siege unto the temple of the sun;

   Or what bold Grecian dare ’gainst Nennius stand,  

   That fought with twice-foiled Caesar hand to hand.













Renownèd Arthur, famous in his age,

In his round table, and his thirteen crowns,

High Rome’s imperious Senate felt his rage,

And paid him homage in their purple gowns,

His Camelot knights their hardiments engage,

Through all the world to purchase their renowns;

   Of noble Edgar, my dull Muse next sings,

   Rowed on the Thames by eight commanded kings.












Bold Edmund, surnamed Ironside, him succeeds,

A braver spirit breathed not vital air,

The bastard William’s son, Duke Robert’s deeds

Ask the next place, for his attempts were rare,

By Curthose many a tyrant paynim bleeds,

By whom the Christians re-invested are:

   And whilst high Sion’s towers triumphant stand,

   He chosen monarch o’er the holy land.



Edmund Ironside


Robert of Normandy,

surnamed Curthose



Richard the first that Coeur-de-lion hight,

And Edward surnamed Longshanks, without peer,

Was never Dardan prince or Argive knight,

That in their ages more admirèd were.

Edward the third that conquered France by fight,

And Edward the Black Prince to England dear,

   He foraged France, for Pedro won all Spain,

   Which after John of Gaunt subdued again. 



Richard Coeur-de-lion

Edward Longshanks

Edward III

Black Prince invested Don Pedro in Spain

John of Gaunt



Henry the fifth, than whom the world ne’er bred

A worthier prince; Bedford and Talbot bold,

Who in their foreign regency so sped,

That puissant France was by their powers controlled,

Edward the fourth (though wantonly misled)

Won ten set battles: the third Richard sold

   His name to scandal, else his warlike merit,

   Might with the rest, a worthy’s name inherit.







Edward IV

Richard III



The valiant Earl of Surrey often stayed

The Northern enemies from filching here:

In the eighth Henry’s days Charles Brandon made     

England renowned, by his victorious spear,

And those whose worths these late times have displayed,

Howard, Grey, Norris, Sidney, Essex, Vere:

   These, had they lived in agèd Priam’s days,

   Had dimmed the Greeks’, and matched the Trojans’ praise.



Earl of Surrey


Charles Brandon



Now to our hostile preparations, we

Must arm our pen. The Greeks are under sail;

There is a place from earth, sea, heaven, stands free,

And equally removed from them all:

In the world’s navel, fixed where concaves be,

And hollow-sounding vaults through crannies small;

   Where the reports and rumours of all sounds

   Give shrill reverberate echoes and rebounds.




Here Fame her palace builds by wondrous skill,

Seating herself in her most lofty tower,

Yet is her house erected on a hill,

A thousand loopholes are within her bower,

A thousand doors and windows open still,

Transparent every late and early hour,

   Full of big-bellied vaults, and the walls such,

   Of sounding brass that rings with every touch. 






Whose empty womb continual murmur yields,

And iterates again each word it hears;

Within this place no tongueless silence builds,

No solitary dumbness spares the ears:

A whistling wind flies round about the fields,

Which shakes the trembling branches, but forebears

   All violent gusts: about this hollowed ground,

   There are perpetual calms, no tempests found.




And though no silence, yet no clamours rise,

Only a whispering murmur like the seas

Heard afar off, or when the troubled skies,

With remote thunder moved, soft showers appease,

The courts are thronged with multitudes of spies,

Light, giddy people tattling what they please,

   Who, in and out, through every chamber pass,

   Whispering sometimes what is, and what ne’er was.




Infinite couriers, pursevants, and posts,

Ambassadors, and such as hurry news,

Heralds—such men as traffic between hosts—

Walk to and fro, and no man tales eschews;

One speaks of wars, of combats, and rude boasts,

Another serious talk of peace pursues;

   All, as they are disposed: this man is telling

   Of buying land, that other speaks of selling.




Some talk of this man’s honours, that man’s shames,

Others of storms, and many a boisterous flaw,

Some men of their success and chance in games,

One what he heard, another what he saw,

Some men of knight-adventurers, some of dames,

Others how long their suits have hung in law:

   Toys with things serious pass, grave things with babbles,

   Lies mixed with truths, and truths discoursed with fables.




Numberless rumours through the palace fly,

In every nook they make their free intrusion,

Here bashful truth doth face the bold-faced lie,

To fend and prove begets a mere confusion,

Whilst some th’attentive ear with news supply,

Others report stale things, and in conclusion,

   Adds of his own, which bandied without ceasing,

   From every several tongue receives increasing.




Here you may see a dwarf-like rumour grow,

Even in an instant to a giant’s size;

Whether the nature of the winds that blow

Retains the power to make the tumours rise

Or whether Fame all tidings apt to know

Gives to her train such bombast liveries,

   Their growth is strange, whom I compare aright,

   Unto the mushroom, statured in a night. 




Here dwells credulity, rash error, fear,

Doubt, volubility, and quick belief,

There is no voice hath power to pierce the ear,

But fame of bruits and rumours, queen and chief,

Shrieks through the world; from hence the Trojans hear

Th’Atrides’ rage, King Menelaus’ grief,

   Their expedition, and their naval power,

   Ready the threatened enemy to devour.




Their frontier towns that border next the waves

Are fortified; three distant leagues from Troy

Stands Tenedos, whom, with imperious braves

The Argive fleet assault, raze, and destroy:

The wrathful Greek not one poor Phrygian saves,

But to their ruins all their powers employ;

   This done, by general council ’tis decreed,

   Two kings to Priam shall on message speed.





Tenedos subverted



Into the hall where th’agèd king then sat,

Attended with his captains, sons, and peers,

And such confedered kings as to the fate

Of threatened Troy, brought horsemen, bows and spears,

On this high business to deliberate,

And rid their hearts from all invasive fears,

   In, throngs Ulysses and bold Diomed’,

   Two princes armed at all points save the head.




Here sat the king Pandrastus, king Pandore,

And the king Galior, that to Priam’s aid,

Brought each of them a thousand knights and more;

Four kings that from Tholosson waftage made,

Carras, Amasius, Nestor dreaded sore,

And stout Amphimachus: these kings displayed

   Their warlike ensigns, in all dreadful fights,

   Bringing along five thousand valiant knights. 













Next these seven kings, King Glaucus took his place,

Three thousand bold squires he from Lycia brought;

His son Sarpedon of the Trojan race,

In all King Priam’s battles bravely fought,

Next whom Eusemus sat, distant a space,

Who with three thousand knights Troy’s honour sought,

   Lyconians all, Lyconia’s realm he guided,

   Since into several parted crowns divided.









Two puissant kings to make the jury full,

Came from Larissa, these had in their train

Knights fifteen hundred: Mystor, whose tough skull

The Argive princes bruised; Capidus slain

In battle too, about the Spartan trull,

Never to see her native clime again;

   On a rich bench fast by King Priam’s state,

   These twelve bold kings upon the right hand sate.









Upon the left, from Thabory that came,

King Remus, who besides three thousand men,

Brought four great dukes, seven earls of noble fame

All clad in azure arms, well noted then;

The king of Trachy, whom some Pylex name,

Was placed next him, this royal monarch, when

   He entered Troy, had in his princely train,

   Eleven hundred valiant knights, all after slain.










With him Duke Achamas the Trojans aided,

By whom Pessemus the Pannonian king

Was seated; him great Hector had persuaded

Unto these wars three thousand knights to bring,

All expert archers, with whom Stupex traded,

A valiant duke, and in his youthful spring;

   Next him sat three Boetian dukes, Fortunus,

   Duke Samnus, and the bold Duke Ausernumus.












These led twelve hundred knights, next whom took place

Two brother-kings, the bold Boetes first,

The other Epistemus, of one race,

Both princes, in the realm of Burtia nursed,

They brought a thousand knights the Greeks to chase,

Men of great spirit, and such as all things durst:

   Next them was set a giant, dreaded sore,

   Philemus, of the realm of Paphlagore. 












The Ethiopian Perseus, raven-black,

And the King Thiclion of the self-same hue,

With Symagon, in whom there was no lack

Of heart or skill his foe-men to pursue:

These kingly Moors that Priam come to back

Next to the lofty giant sit in view,

   Three thousand sunburnt knights, that bravely fought

   From Ethiopia they to Phrygia brought.








This state was full: and lower one degree,

Another longer bench runs ’cross the hall,

Where mixed with Priam’s valiant sons, you see

More of these leaguèd knights in order fall:

First of the rank was Hector, next him, be

Two potent knights, Thelemus high and tall,

   And young Archilochus a valiant boy;

   These with a thousand good knights strengthen Troy.












Paris next them, and by his amorous side,

Two princes reigning in Argrestes land,

They brought twelve hundred knights to see them tried,

Next these was Troilus placed on the left hand,

And Deiphobus full of war-like pride.

Mixed among these, a king of great command,

   Epistrophus, that beyond Scythia came,

   Twixt Greece and Troy his valour to proclaim.




Two kings from Argrest







He brought a thousand knights, and a strange beast

Half horse, half man, two perfect shapes divided,

A Sagittary called, not dreaded least,     

An expert archer; his strong shafts were guided

With wondrous aim and cunning, which increased

His dread among the Greeks, at first derided;

   Next great Epistropus, ranked by their years,

   Sat Priam’s bastard sons, next them his peers.








Next them a prince in jewels rich, and gold,

That many knights brought from Meander flood,

The barbarous Meones, Duke Nastes told,

By whom, upon a costly foot-pace stood

Tentumidas, by some surnamed the Bold,

Now agèd in his prime, a soldier good;

   By him Prince Pandarus advanced his head,

   Next him Hyrtacides in Sestos bred.












Adrestus, Amphius, Merops, princes three,

Are rankèd then, by whom Ennonius sits,

And Chronius, under whom the Mysians be;

Pylemen the next empty place well fits,

Prince o’er the Paphlagonian chivalry;

Pyrechmes next, whose fiery horses’ bits

   The Peons manage. Good Euphemes then

   Who the Ciconians led, all expert men.












Ascanius and Dius, who doth guide

The Halizonians, next in order fall;

Then Pyrous who his Thracian soldiers tried,

And warlike Mnemon, boldest of them all;

Pyleus and Hypothous them beside:

These the Pelasgians unto battle call;

   Warlike Aeneas of the noblest race,

   Next whom, the lords and barons take chief place;











Antenor, with Polydamas his son.

The glistering ladies keep another state.

Above them all, Priam’s high throne begun

To lift itself where he in glory sat;

Benches of dukes and earls from all sides run,

Apparelled in rich robes of greatest rate;

   Thus was the king prepared, when the two Greeks,

   Press forward to his throne with blushless cheeks.




At their approach, the lords amazèd rise,

And at their bold intrusion musing stand,

Upon these two, the kings fix all their eyes,

Prepared for some strange novel, when his hand

Ulysses wafts for silence, and applies

His speech to Priam thus: “He whose command

   Ravished from Sparta great Atrides’ wife,

   Forfeits to Greece, his country, crown and life.



Ulysses’ and Diomede’s embassy



“If thou beest he whom all these lords adore,

I summon thee in Agamemnon’s name,

Back to her lord, Queen Helen to restore,

With full amends done to the ravished dame,

And to present thy lustful son before

The bench of Argive kings, t’abide such shame

   That he in after times to our successors,

   Be made a terror to the like transgressors.




“Else shall th’enragèd princes spoil thy towns,

Thy matrons in their husbands’ arms deflower,

Slaughter thy sons and bury their renowns,

And with thy people’s blood the channels scour,

Of these confederate kings seize all the crowns,

When death that swallows them must thee devour.

   Say, wilt thou, to prevent this and much more,

   Punish thy son, and Helen back restore?”




To this th’incensèd King replies again,

“Th’unable Greeks, alas, are much too weak,

Wanting the power thy proud vaunts to maintain,

Or to make good what thou dost rashly speak;

They ravished our fair sister, whom in vain

We re-demanded, her despites to wreak;

   Our son, the amorous Paris, crossed the deep,

   To fetch thence Helen, whom the boy shall keep.




“Have they not slain our father, spoiled our city,

Pillaged our people, wives nor matrons spared,

Even babes and infants mangled without pity,

And in their barbarous rigour all things dared?

Then in fair Helen’s rape what wrong commit I,

Since not the least of these Greece hath repaired;

   Since while our sister leads a strumpet’s life,

   Helen is graced to be young Paris’ wife.”




“You shall repent”, King Diomede replies,

“This insolence, which we will punish dearly;

By us the General of the Greeks defies

Priam and Troy whom we’ll chastise severely,

Unto whose ruins seventy princes rise,

Whose forces shall begirt you late and early”.

   These words promised, the Trojans so disdain them,

   That many drew their falchions to have slain them.




But ever-honoured Hector qualified

The sudden uproar, and appeased the brawl;

Their passage by the multitude denied,

Hector makes free, and ushers them through all,

Yet many proud braves passed on either side

’Twixt the strange kings and them i’ the palace hall.

   At their departure casting up his eye,

   King Diomede by chance doth Cressid spy,




As she with Hecuba and Hector’s wife,

Creusa and Polyxena, was placed,

Him thought he never saw in all his life

A lady better formed, or sweetlier graced.

His mutinous thoughts are in themselves at strife,

To see a face so fair, an eye so chaste:

   Beauty so full of charm, with which enchanted,

   He craves her name by whom he seems so danted.




When up starts nettled Troilus, and thus says,

“Her name is beauteous Cressid whom you seek,

And Troilus’ mistress! To whose heavenly praise

My soul hath been devoted many a week,

And if thou aimest my graces thence to raise,

I challenge thee the combat, valiant Greek”.

   He would accept it, but he needs must part,

   His body goes, he leaves behind his heart.




The dauntless Trojans now prepare for war,

Whilst to th’incampèd host the legate kings

Relate King Priam’s answer, and how far

He stands from peace. The Grand-Duke now begins

Like a good captain to foresee what bar

May lie ’twixt him and safety; with swift wings

   Achilles is dispatched to cross the seas,

   With Telephus, the son of Hercules.




Because the Messean land where Theutram reigned

Was fertile, they from thence demand supply

Of victual for the host, but he disdained

T’assist them, therefore him the Greeks defy.

The king’s high blood Achilles’ falchion stained,

Theutram, alas, by him is forced to die,

   And Telephus crowned king, from whose rich coast,

   With store, and victual he relieves the host.






Twelve moons were passed since first the Greeks took land,

When Duke Palamedes at th’host arrives,

Whose absence murmured long, yet the command

Of the whole army, with the princes’ lives,

Are made his charge, none seeming to withstand

His principality; this Duke derives

   His birth from Naulus, and is made the head

   Of the stout Greeks, in Agamemnon’s stead.




But in disaster hour, Ulysses’ friend,

To Agamemnon by his crafty fraud,

Both to his life and his command gave end;

He that but late the Argive princes awed,

And foiled the common foe, cannot defend

His own dear life, but whilst the host applaud

   Atrides’ honour, in unhappy season,

   Is forced to perish for suspected treason.




Tenedos sacked, the Greeks insult upon’t,

And from that place made level with the plain,

The fleet disanchors, whose proud naval front,

Prothesilaus proudly doth maintain,

Hoysing the first sails in the Hellespont,

A hundred ships whose flags and pendants stain

   The air with various colours, he commands,

   And twice repulsed, upon the beach he lands.



The first battle



His ship’s tough ribs upon the sand he brake,

And many Greeks, some drowned, some landing, fall,

As well the boldest that the ship forsake

As those that keep aboard must perish all,

Only the bold king makes the Trojans quake,

Who, whilst his maimèd train for rescue call,

   Makes good the place, till with an hundred more,

   Archelaus and Prothenor mans the shore.




Now grows the battle hot, for the rude rout

Of the disordered Trojans madly flock

To impeach their landing, who with courage stout

Leap on the shore, and there abide the shock

Of the proud foe, who murder all about,

And with rude taunts their proud invasion mock;

   But Askalus and Agabus draw near,

   Two kings, whose landed soldiers change their cheer.




Yet at the length into the sea driven back,

Till Nestor seconds them with fresh supply,

And now th’astonished Trojans suffer wrack,

Yet still make good the shores with fresh supply;

Again repulsed, the Greeks made good the lack

Of more armed men; Ulysses’ ships pressed nigh,

   Whose dreaded ensigns on the margent spread,

   Conquer the beach, the whilst the Trojans fled.




Back to Canto X

Notes to Canto XI 

On to Canto XI (51-103)

How to cite

Katherine Heavey, ed., 2016.  Troia Britanica Canto XI (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).


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