Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica XI (51-103)

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

CANTO XI (51-103)

Stanzas 51-60 — 61-70 — 71-80 — 81-90 — 91-103Heywood’s Endnotes to Canto XI – The tale of Cephalus and Procris

Ed. Katherine HEAVEY




King Philomenes, envious of his fame,

A pointed spear broke on Ulysses’ face,

And stounded him; but when the bold king came

T’himself again, he quitted that disgrace:

So much did wrath his noble thoughts inflame,

He wounded him in such a speeding place,

   That had not Jove kept back his weapon’s force,

   The late victorious had dropped down a corpse.



Whilst these two kings contend, the Greeks retire,

And back into the blood-stained sea are driven,

When Thoas with his fleet doth land desire,

Now Agamemnon’s ships are all too riven

Upon the strand; his men half blood, half mire,

Tug for the shore, whilst many die unshriven;

   Next Menelaus hath unmannèd his ship,

   And from his bark doth stormy Ajax skip.



At whose approach near to the brinish brink,

Th’amazèd Trojans yield him landing free,

Beneath his ponderous arm the strongest shrink,

Before his sword th’affrighted people flee,

Their souls below the waves of Lethe drink,

Whose deeds of valour when King Perses see,

   He with a band of Moors their violence stayed,

   Making th’astonished Greeks expect more aid.



When the great Duke Palamedes descends

Upon the continent, and in his train

A thousand armèd knights, his noble friends,

Whose swords the beach with blood of Trojans stain:

Palamedes ’gainst Symagon extends

His pointed javelin, Symagon lies slain;

   A valiant Moor, to Perses near allied,

   Though strong, he by the son of Naulus died.



Now ’gainst the beaten Trojans rose loud cries,

Which puissant Hector hearing, from the town,

Issues from forth the gates, and soon applies

His fortitude, where war seemed most to frown;

His armour silver-white, his shield’s devise,

A lion gules, the field or, after known

   And dreaded ’mongst the Greeks: where’er he marches,

   The flowers and grass with blood of Greeks he parches.



Prothesilaus him encounters first,

And at his steely beaver aims his spear,

The king his staff upon his visor burst,

But from the worthy Hector passed not clear:

All that encounter him must taste the worst,

The steel-head lance from off his steed doth bear;

   The dreadless king, who rose by great endeavour,

   But Hector cleft his head quite through his beaver.









Prothesilaus slain



So passeth on strewing his way with corpses,

That in a while his smoking blade was feared,

Whome’er he meets he to the ground enforces,

His valour hath the drooping Trojans cheered,

He without riders leaves five hundred horses,

Whose broken limbs lie on the earth besmeared.

   Death marshals him the way where’er he traces,

   Paving the margent of the sea with faces.



His courser Galathee, the noblest steed

That ever knight bestrid, i’th’morning white,

In every bare place seems from far to bleed;

His valiant rider shunned no dangerous fight:

He’s flaked all o’er, and where no wounds indeed

Were hewed, great gashes grisly to the sight

   Appear upon him, Galathee still stood

   Sound, and yet stained all o’er with Grecian blood.



Nor wonder if his white steed were so painted,

When his sharp sword so many rivers shed,

This day a thousand knights beneath him fainted,

And on the verdure by his hand lie dead;

With this mortality the air is tainted,

The spacious plains with wounded Greeks are spread;

   Charon the sweat wipes from his ghastly face,

   And never wrought so hard in so short space.



Hell’s judges and the gods of darkness wonder

What’s now to do on earth, that such a throng

Of ghosts whose threads the fatal sisters sunder

Press in such multitudes for sentence; long

The princes of the vaults and regions under

Were not so troubled to judge right and wrong,

   For never in one day it hath befell,

   So great a session hath been seen in Hell.



Th’invincible Dardanian hero, tired

With purple massacre, towards night withdrew;

Horse, arms, and plumes the brightest morn admired

For whiteness, at his issue, purple grew,

And he returns vermillion all: attired

In crimson, scarce the royal Priam knew

   Great Hector from the torras where he stood,

   Seeing his onset white, retrait all blood.



Soon was the noble Trojan missed in field,

For with his Myrmidons proudly attended

Achilles lands, and that renownèd shield

God Vulcan made, in which his art extended,

He vaunteth: yet the daunted Trojans yield,

Th’unconquered shores Hector so late defended

   Lie open to invaders, whole Greece lands,

   For ’gainst the great Achilles no man stands.



Even to the city walls the Trojans fly,

Whom the main host with hostile shouts pursued,

And had not noble Troilus heard the cry,

Paris and Deiphebus where they viewed,

So great effusion from a turret high,

They had won the town, the streets had been imbrued

   With native blood, but they in haste descend,

   Relieve th’oppressed, the city gates defend.



And issuing with three thousand knights, compel

Achilles to retreat, and when his face

Looked back from Troy-ward, there was none so fell

Upon the Grecian party, but gave place:

This day Prince Diomede was seen t’excel

In arms: him Troilus met in equal race:

   They spur their steeds that ran both swift and true,

   Encountering, both their staves to splinters flew.



Their lances broke, they try their burnished blades,

A thousand fiery stars at every rushing

Fly from their helms, with fury each invades

His opposite, their mutual armours frushing.

The big-limbed Diomede himself persuades

Young Troilus cannot match his strength, and blushing

   A beardless lad should hold him so long play,

   Doubles his blows and thinks to end the fray.



The noble youth whom Cressid’s love provokes

To all achievements, beyond mortal power,

Though young, his lofty spirit his rival yokes,

Who thought his infant virtues to devour;

He doubles and redoubles warlike strokes;

The battle lasts the best part of an hour,

   But whilst upon their helms each champion thunders,

   Night that divides the host their fury sunders.



This even the Greeks encamp, early the morrow,

They shine in armour with the rising sun,

The Trojan princes from their ladies borrow

Rich favours, and withal to horseback run;

A kind of fear begot twixt joy and sorrow,

Lives in their eyes, till the dread fight be done:

   To see their champions proudly armed they joy,

   Grieve to behold so huge a host ’fore Troy.



The second day’s battle



Now are both battles pitched, Menon appears

First from the Argive host; from Troy forth stands

Hector, who in his burnished beaver wears

Andromach’s glove, and now all Troy commands.

These two begin the battle with their spears;

They broke, they toss their bright steel in their hands;

   Hector soon hurls King Menon from his horse,

   So passes on to prove his warlike force.



The two hosts join, ruffling confusion flies

Through all Scamander field, the dying groans

Are mixed with th’applausive conquerors’ cries.

Trojans and Greeks conquer and fall at once,

Renownèd Hector this day wins the prize,

He sunders mails and armours, flesh and bones;

   His all-dividing sword was made by charm,

   No steel so wrought but shrunk beneath his arm.



Thus like a raging storm he rusheth still,

Over his plume a cloud of terror hung,

And where he rides he doth on all sides kill,

His blood-stained falchion spares nor old nor young,

Tired with his horse, his chariot mount he will,

Now up he takes a bow divinely strung,

   And shooting midst the host, not one steel-head

   Jat’d from his bow but struck a Grecian dead.



Him the King Menon and King Glaucion then,

Huge Thesus and Archilochus defy,

They in their squadron lead three thousand men,

But Hector in his chariot still sits high,

Until his brass-shod wheels are purpled, when

Their naves are drowned in blood of men that die;

   Charioted Hector these four kings assail,

   But his smart steeds spring through their armed pale.



Menon that was too forward ’bove the rest,

Pursues great Hector in his lofty car;

A dart the Trojan quivered through his breast

King Menon bids his last farewell to war.

With multitudes the Prince is over-pressed,

And yet he kills the Greeks near and from far:

   Near, with his fatal sword he cleaves their hearts,

   And afar off, with his keen shafts and darts.





King Menon slain



Unto this rescue Prince Securabor,

One of King Priam’s bastard sons soon came,

And noble Margareton thirsting for

Honour, and ’mongst the Greeks to get a name;

All Priam’s issue cowardice abhor;

Duke Menesteus, envious of their fame,

   Against them comes; now clamours fill the sky,

   Whilst about Hector’s chariot thousands lie.



Unto this hostile rumour from Troy-ward,

Three kings, with noble Troilus the fourth man,

Make their incursions: King Sampitus fared

Like a fierce lion, King Machaon wan

With anger, and the king that all things dared,

Alcanus, ’gainst whom Menesteus ran

   And bore him nobly, yet alas too weak,

   Till Thesus came the Trojan ranks to break.



Troilus Menesteus singles, but his horse

Stumbled, and he enforced on foot to fight;

Five hundred Greeks begirt him, and enforce

The youthful Trojan, now debarred from flight,

To be their prisoner; many a lifeless corpse

Troilus first made, before compelled t’alight;

   When Hector heard but word of his disgrace,

   He slew on all sides till he won the place.



But first Alcanus had addressed his spear,

Against the Duke that led Prince Troilus bound,

The steel point took him twixt his cheek and ear,

And made th’Athenian duke a dangerous wound;

Sampilus seconds him: a steed was near,

On which they mounted Troilus from the ground;

   Menesteus, mad that he hath lost his prize,

   Pierced through the throng, and called for more supplies.



King Menelaus and Prothenor, knowing

Th’Athenian’s voice, press that way with their powers,

But find Hyripsus and King Hupon strowing

The earth with Greeks, at which the Spartan lowers;

These four their forces join, many yet growing,

Their swords supplant: death through the champion scours

   At whom th’Olympian gods amazèd stand,

   To see him with such quickness move his hand.



Anthenor’s son Polydamas makes on,

King Remus backs him with three thousand more;

Their spear-length through the press he had not gone

But Celidus him from his courser bore;

A fairer prince than Celidus lived none, 

By Venus’ gift he beauty’s livery wore;

   Polydamas re-mounted, soon addressed

   A second course, and pierced him through the breast.



Which Menelaus seeing, soon assails

Remus, and lays him stounded in the field,

And but that stout Polydamas prevails,

He had borne him to his tent upon his shield.

Still was not Hector idle; hills and dales

His chariot scours, to him the mightiest yield;

   For like a raging torrent after rain,

   Where’er he comes confusion fills the plain.



Now was he by the men that Ajax led

Trooped in: the Salamines thunder about him

Like Cyclopes, as if his noble head

Were Vulcan’s anvil; yet the boldest doubt him,

And seeing store of carcass ’bout him spread,

Wish in their hearts to fight elsewhere without him;

   For like a baited lion at a stake,

   He cuts them off, and makes the boldest quake.



King Theuter, somewhat rougher than the rest,

As worthy Hector kept these dogs at bay,

Finding the prince with too much task oppressed,

Against him with his courser makes swift way;

The brazen-headed staff glides by his breast,

And ’gainst his rib he feels the javelin stay:

   “King Theuter thou hast done a noble deed,

   Thou art the first that madest great Hector bleed”.



“Well was it for thee that thou stayedst not long,

Those that grow next him for thy act must fall”. 

Like a mad bull he fares the Greeks among,

And whom he hits, beneath his chariot sprawl,

The prince, the common man, the weak, the strong,

The bold, the coward, taste confusion all. 

   The sun looks pale, heaven red, the green earth blushed

   To see their bones beneath his chariot crushed.



Whose valour Thesus seeing, nobly spake:

“Great Hector, I admire thee, though my foe;

Thou art too bold, why dost thou undertake

Things beyond man, to seek thine overthrow?

I see thee breathless, wherefore dost thou make

So little of thy worth, to perish so?

   Fond man, retire thee, and recover breath,

   And being thy self, pursue the works of death”.






Prince Hector his debility now finding,

Thanks royal Thesus, and begins to pause,

And ’bout the field with his swift coursers winding,

Unto a place remote himself withdraws;

Meantime, King Menelaus the battle minding,

Won in the dangerous conflict much applause,

   Here Celidonius valiant Moles slew:

   Moles that his descent from Oreb drew.



By Mandon, King Cedonius lost an eye,

A Grecian admiral Sadellus kills,

And Ajax Telamonius doth defy

Prince Margareton; King Menestheus spills

The Gaul’s red blood, Prothenor low doth lie

By Samuel’s spear; renownèd Hector fills

   The field with wonder, he his car forsakes,

   And milk-white Galathee again he takes.



At his first entrance he espies his friend

Polydamas by thirty soldiers led,

Amongst whom spurring, they themselves defend,

But scarce one man hath power to guard his head,

Unto their days great Hector’s sword gave end,

And freedom to Polydamas, nigh dead;

   With shame and wrath, next to the battle came

   King Thoas to redeem the Argives’ fame;



With him the King Philotas, who addressed

Themselves ’gainst two of Priam’s bastard sons,

Young Cassilanus puts his spear in rest,

And with great fury against Thoas runs;

He broke his staff, but Thoas sped the best,

As to their bold encounter Hector comes,

   He sees his young half-brother he held dear,

   Through-pierced, alas, by Thoas’ fatal spear.



High-stomached Hector with this object mad,

Hurries though the thick press, and there had slain

Whole thousands for the death of that young lad,

But his red wrath King Nestor did restrain,

For with six thousand knights in armour clad,

He fortifies the late forsaken plain;

   ’Gainst whom marched Philon, of the part of Troy;

   Their battles join, each other they destroy.



Polydamas and Hector taking part

With Philon, aged Nestor grows too weak,

For Cassilanus’ death the Greeks must smart,

They through their flanks, wings, ranks and squadrons break;

When Ajax Telamon spied what huge wreak,

The Trojan worthy made, his men take heart,

   And with King Menelaus them dispose,

   To rescue Nestor, and assault their foes.



’Gainst them Aeneas with the host arrives,

And joins with Hector; on the Argive side,

Philoatas with three thousand soldiers strives,

All provèd Greeks, whose valours had been tried;

Aeneas and great Ajax gauge their lives

To equal conflict, whom their troops divide;

   Philoatas on great Hector thinks to prove him,

   In vain: he from his saddle cannot move him.



But him the worthy stounded with a blow,

A flatling blow that on his beaver glanced;

Ulysses and Humerus next in row,

With twice five thousand knights on Hector chanced,

But Paris happened with as many moe

On Hector’s part, where numbers lie entranced;

   Paris a keen shaft from his quiver drew,

   Whose fatal point the king of Cyprus slew.



This Cyprian, kinsman to Ulysses was,

In whose revenge the Ithacan defies

Prince Paris, who in archery did surpass;

These two in field against each other rise,

And with their mutual blood they stain the grass,

But parted by the tumult, they devise

   On further massacre; near to this place,

   Troilus, Ulysses meets, and wounds his face.



Nor ’scaped the Trojan wound-free; in this stour

Was Galathee beneath Prince Hector slain,

And he on foot, the Greeks with all their power

Begirt him, and assault the prince amain;

But he whose fame above the clouds must lower,

From all their battering strokes still guards his brain;

   Till Dynadorus, Priam’s bastard son,

   Against well mounted Polixemus run.



A strong barbed horse the noble Greek bestrid,

A worthier master now the steed must have,

The bastard youth ’gainst Polixemus rid,

Unhorsed him, and his steed to Hector gave,

Who mounted, far more deeds of honour did,

Leaving the Greeks most corpses to ingrave:

   A troop of archers Deiphobus brings,

   Who expel the Greeks with arrows, darts, and slings.



At the first shock the prince King Theuter hit,

And carved a deep wound on his armèd face;

The well steeled point his sword-proof beaver split,

And now th’assaulted Greeks are all in chase,

Some save themselves by swiftness, some by wit,

Young Quinteline, of Priam’s bastard race,

   And King Moderus have surprised by force,

   Thesus, and spoiled him both of arms and horse.



Whom when the Dardan worthy saw surprised,

He calls to mind the cur’sie to him done,

By whom nigh breathless, he was well advised,

The future eminence of war to shun,

King Thesus whom his victors much despised,

Hector released, and by the glorious sun,

   Swears not to leave him, till he see him sent,

   With safe conduct unto his warlike tent.



Here Thoas, by whom Cassilanus fell,

Is by great Hector beaten from his steed,

Who razing off his helm, to send to hell

A soul he so much hated, was soon freed

By Menesteus, who makes on, pell-mell

With a huge host, and rescues with all speed

   Th’astonished king; not long the day he tried,

   Till Paris with an arrow pierced his side.



Humerus glanced a javelin through the sight

Of Hector’s beaver, that it razed the skin;

Th’enragèd prince on proud Humerus light

And with one stroke he cleft him to the chin;

Proceeding on, he still pursues the fight,

The Grecians lose, and now the Trojans win,

   They beat them to their tents, where some enquire

   For pillage, while the rest the navy fire.



In this pursuit, Hector and Ajax meet,

Who, after interchange of hostile blows,

Part on even terms, and with kind language greet,

For the two kinsmen now each other knows:

Ajax entreats the prince to spare their fleet,

And save their tents, whose flame to heavenward grows;

   Which courteous Hector swears to undertake,

   For Ajax and his aunt Hesione’s sake.



Oh ill-starred Hector! Thou hast overseen

A victory, thou canst not reach to more!

Hadst thou to him inexorable been

Thou hadst saved Troy, and freed the Dardan shore;

Duke Ajax’ prayer hath wrought Troy’s fatal teene

And hath the power lost Grecia to restore;

   O, hadst thou ta’en the advantage of this day,

   All Greece had perished, that now lives for aye.



But there’s a fate in all things: Hector blows

His well-known horn, his soldiers all retreat;

The Greeks to quench their fleet themselves dispose,

And re-instore their tents, whose spoil was great.

The next day from the camp to Priam goes

A herald, to surcease all hostile heat,

   Demanding truce till they the dead have grounded,

   And both of camp and city cured the wounded.



’Tis granted, from the towns with coffins come

Pale widows, wimpled in their mourning weeds,

To fetch their husbands’ corpses cold and numb,

To whom they offer solemn funeral deeds;

The children fetch their sires, and fathers some

Their slaughtered sons, which general mourning breeds.

   The Greeks likewise their fellow-mates desire,

   And yield their bodies to the hallowed fire.



But whilst these odoriferous piles they rear,

And sacrificed their friends in holy flames,

And in perfumèd boxes, prizèd dear,

Coffin their precious ashes, lest their names

Should die in Lethe, novel broils appear,

And Ate through the camp discord proclaims;

   But now to truce our spirits we have intention,

   Before ’twixt them we move a new dissension.


[Heywood’s endnotes to canto XI]

To omit all our English worthies, whose names we have only memorised, not having room to insert their deeds in so little a compass as we have prescribed to our history, we rather covet to touch matter more foreign, and less familiar to some, with whom our book must necessarily traffic.

In the description of Fame, we have rather imitated Ovid than Virgil, his Fama malum quo non etc.

In the description of King Priam’s state, we must needs imagine it great, where so many foreign kings assembled in his aid, in whose names we have conferred Dares, the Trojan Dictys, the Greek Homer, Virgil, and others, who though in some particular things—not momentarily—they differ, yet they generally concur in this, that such princes with such populous and almost invincible assistance succoured Troy.

Telephus, joined in commission with Achilles to sail to the land of Messe, was son to Hercules, whom Theutram (having before in the battle received his death wound) voluntarily adopted his successor, for the great love that he, for many benefits formerly received, had borne to his father Hercules.

The passages of love betwixt Troilus and Cressida, the reverent poet Chaucer hath sufficiently discoursed, to whom I wholly refer you, having passed it over with little circumstance.

The description of the first battle’s service, disordered and confused, we must excuse, with this necessity, that being to remember so many, and employ them all, we could not do it with a directer method than to set down things done without order disorderly, and actions happening by accident accidentally, and confused things, confusedly.

King Prothesilaus was the first king that perished before Troy, for though it were foretold by oracle that he that first set foot ashore should perish by the sword of Hector, yet he, fearless of death, first landed, and in his too much valour made the fair Laodamia a desolate widow.

Ate, goddess of revenge or strife, she is called by Homer one of Jove’s daughters, Lesio. Homerus Iliad 7.

Presba dios thugater ate H pantas a-atai,

Ate prisca Jovis proles quae leserit omnes



The tale of Cephalus and Procris, because I have omitted in my former cantos, especially in that which seems to inveigh against jealousy, I think not altogether unnecessary to insert in this scholia, knowing that which was ill forgot, cannot be amiss remembered at any seasonable opportunity. Here therefore—though out of his rank—I intend to admit him.


Beneath Hymettus hill well clothed with flowers,

A holy well her soft springs gently pours,

Where stands a copse, in which the wood-nymphs shrove,

No wood, it rather seems a slender grove,

The humble shrubs and bushes hide the grass,

Here laurel, rosemary, here myrtle was,

Here grew thick box, and tam’rix, that excels,

And made a mere confusion of sweet smells:

The trifoly, the pine, and on this heath

Stands many a plant that feels cool Zephyr’s breath.

Here the young Cephalus, tired in the chase,

Used his repose and rest alone t’embrace,

And where he sat, these words he would repeat,

“Come Air, sweet Air come, cool my heat:

Come gentle Air, I never will forsake thee,

I’ll hug thee thus, and in my bosom take thee”.

Some double dutious tell-tale happed to hear this,

And to his jealous wife doth straight-way bear this.

Which Procris hearing, and with all the name,

Of Air, sweet Air, which he did oft proclaim,

She stands confounded, and amazed with grief,

By giving this fond tale too sound belief,

And looks as do the trees by winter nipped,

Whom frost and cold, of fruit and leaves hath stripped;

She bends like cornel, when too rank it grows,

Or when the ripe fruits clog the quince-tree boughs:

But when she comes to herself, she tears

Her garments, and her eyes, her cheeks, and hairs,

And then she starts, and to her feet applies her,

Then to the woods, stark wood, in rage she hies her.

Approaching somewhat near, her servants they

By her appointment in a valley stay,

Whilst she alone with creeping paces steals

To take the strumpet whom her lord conceals.

What meanest thou Procris in these groves to hide thee?

What rage of love doth to this madness guide thee?

Thou hopest the Air he calls in all her bravery,

Will straight approach, and thou shalt see their knavery;

And now again it irks her to be there,

For such a killing sight her heart will tear,

No truce can with her troubled thoughts dispense,

She would not now be there, nor yet be thence;

Behold the place, her jealous mind foretells,

Here do they use to meet, and nowhere else:

The grass is laid, and see their true impression,

Even here they lay: aye, here was their transgression.

A body’s print she saw, it was his seat,

Which makes her faint heart ’gainst her ribs to beat.

Phoebus the lofty eastern hill had scaled,

And all moist vapours from the earth exhaled;

Now in his noon-tide point he shineth bright,

It was the middle hour twixt noon and night;

Behold, young Cephalus draws to the place,

And with the fountain water sprinks his face.

Procris is hid, upon the grass he lies,

And “Come sweet Zephyr, come sweet Air”, he cries.

She sees her error now from where he stood,

Her mind returns to her, and her fresh blood,

Among the shrubs and briars she moves and rustles,

And the injurious boughs away she justles,

Intending, as he lay there to repose him,

Nimbly to run, and in her arms enclose him.

He quickly casts his eye upon the bush,

Thinking therein some savage beast did rush,

His bow he bends, and a keen shaft he draws.

Unhappy man, what dost thou? Stay and pause,

It is no brute beast thou wouldst ’reave of life;

O man unhappy, thou hast slain thy wife.

“O Heaven”, she cries, “O help me, I am slain,

Still doth thy arrow in my wound remain;

Yet though by timeless fate, my bones here lie,

It glads me most, that I, no cuck-quean die”:

Her breath, thus, in the arms she most affected,

She breathes into the Air—before suspected.

The whilst he lifts her body from the ground,

And with his tears doth wash her bleeding wound.


The tale of Cephalus and Procris


The end of the eleventh




Back to Canto XI (1-50)

Notes to Canto XI 

On to Canto XII

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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