Ben Jonson pp 44-61 | Cite as


  • Richard Allen Cave
Part of the English Dramatists book series (ENGDRAMA)


When at the zenith of his fortunes in the play Volpone at last has Celia all to himself and he searches for words to express his height of ecstasy, the image that comes most readily to mind is a memory of himself as a child-actor and the idol of all the female members of his audience:

I am, now, as fresh,

As hot, as high, and in as jovial plight

As when, in that so celebrated scene,

As recitation of our comedy,

For entertainment of the great Valois

I acted young Antinous; and attracted

The eyes and ears of all the ladies present,

T’ admire such graceful gesture, note and footing.

(III. vii. 157–64)1

It is an expansively lyrical moment and remarkable for its concern with the recollection of times past when the language of most of the characters in the play is preoccupied obsessively with the immediate present, the thisness of things and of people, which they each hope in the fullness of time to turn to their personal advantage.


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  1. 1.
    All references to Volpone relate to the text edited by Michael Jamieson in Three Comedies: Ben Jonson for the Penguin English Library (Harmondsworth, 1966; reprinted in Penguin Classics, 1985).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ben Jonson, Volpone, edited by John Creaser (London, 1978), p. 23.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Dennis in a letter to Congreve of 1695, cited in R. G. Noyes, Ben Jonson on the English Stage: 1660–1776 (Harvard, Cambridge, Mass., 1935, reissued New York and London: Benjamin Blom, 1966), p. 52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Allen Cave 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Allen Cave
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Holloway and Bedford New CollegeUK

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