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Brute Parts: From Troy to Britain at the Rose, 1595–1600

  • Misha Teramura
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)

Abstract

One of the arguments that Thomas Heywood invokes to defend the theatre industry in his Apology for Actors is that plays have served a vital public function: providing audiences with an education in English history.

Keywords

National History British History Political Relevance Historical Imagination Greek Drama 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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    As the antiquarian John Layer wrote: “I could never learn how these hills came to be called Gogmagog hills, unless it were from a high and mighty portraiture of a giant wch the schollars of Cambridge cut upon the Turf or superficies of the earth within the said trench”. Qtd. in W. M. Palmer, John Layer (1586–1640) of Shepreth, Cambridgeshire: A Seventeenth-Century Local Historian (Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes, 1935), 110. For the restrictions against “plays and games”,Google Scholar
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    Greg, Diary, 2.195–6; Andrew Gurr, Shakespeare’s Opposites: The Admiral’s Company 1594–1625 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 238n. The main argument for lumping is that no earlier records give the title “Brute Greenshield”. Of course, that is not quite proof: several days earlier, Henslowe recorded payments for the licensing of “a boocke called the 4 kynges” (f. 54), the first and only entry of that title in the Diary. Google Scholar
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    Philip Schwyzer, “Thirteen Ways of Looking Like a Welshman: Shakespeare and his Contemporaries,” Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly, ed. Willy Maley and Philip Schwyzer (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), 33.Google Scholar
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    The identification of this play with Dido, Queen of Carthage by Marlowe and Nashe has been rejected on the grounds that no “tome of Dido”, such as that recorded in a properties inventory of March 1598, appears in the extant play: see Greg, Diary, 2.190 and Henslowe Papers (London: A. H. Bullen, 1907), 116n. For the opposite view, see Andrew Gurr, “The Great Divide of 1594,” Words That Count: Essays on Early Modern Authorship in Honor of MacDonald P. Jackson, ed. Brian Boyd (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2004), 30–1. The January 8 performance is specifically recorded by Henslowe as having taken place “at nyght”, suggesting to some that it must have been a private performance, perhaps even at court: see Gurr, “Great Divide”, 31; Gurr, Shakespeare’s Opposites, 231n. It is possible the play may also have been performed at the Rose.Google Scholar
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    Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, ed. Michael D. Reeve, trans. Neil Wright (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 2007), 14.Google Scholar
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    For Lydgate and Caxton as sources for Heywood’s 2 Iron Age, see John S. P. Tatlock, “The Siege of Troy in Elizabethan Literature, Especially in Shakespeare and Heywood,” PMLA 30 (1915): 721–5 and Inga-Stina Ewbank, “‘Striking too short at Greeks’: The Transmission of Agamemnon to the English Renaissance Stage,” Agamemnon in Performance 458 bc to ad 2004, ed. Fiona Macintosh et al. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 37–52, esp. 45.Google Scholar
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    James Simpson, Reform and Cultural Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 95.Google Scholar
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    See, recently, Martin Wiggins, in association with Catherine Richardson, British Drama, 1533–1642: A Catalogue. Volume 3, 1590–1597 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 284, 286 andGoogle Scholar
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  34. 54.
    British Library Add. MS 10449, fol. 5; transcribed in W. W. Greg, Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1931), vol. 2, document V. Lineation will refer to Greg’s transcription. For Greg’s commentary, including arguments for identification, see Dramatic Documents, 1.138–43.Google Scholar
  35. 61.
    If, that is, the extant “platt” for 2 Seven Deadly Sins dates from the late 1590s, as David Kathman has suggested: “Reconsidering The Seven Deadly Sins,” Early Theatre 7.1 (2004): 13–44. For Andrew Gurr’s counterargument and Kathman’s rebuttal, see “The Work of Elizabethan Plotters, and 2 The Seven Deadly Sins,” Early Theatre 10.1 (2007): 67–87, and “The Seven Deadly Sins and Theatrical Apprenticeship,” Early Theatre 14.1 (2011): 121–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 64.
    Wallace Notestein, The House of Commons, 1604–1610 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), 78–85. During the parliamentary debates surrounding the name “Britain”, the argument of its etymological connection with Brute was raised and dismissed.Google Scholar
  37. See James Spedding, The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon, 7 vols. (London, 1861–74), 3.194 (“he would be King of Britany — as Brutus and Arthur were, who had the style and were kings of the whole island”); and April 23, 1604, Journals of the House of Commons: Volume 1 (London, 1802), 955 (“A mere Fiction, Brittaine to take the Name of Brutus”). Google Scholar
  38. 65.
    Parry, “Ancient Britons”; Tristan Marshall, Theatre and Empire: Great Britain on the London Stages under fames VI and I (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000);Google Scholar
  39. Lisa Hopkins, “We were the Trojans: British National Identities in 1633,” Renaissance Studies 16 (2002): 36–51. On the idea of Britain in earlier literature, see the essays inCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare, Spenser, and the Matter of Britain (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).Google Scholar

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© Misha Teramura 2014

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  • Misha Teramura

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