COMMENTARY NOTES

SCENA i The setting is a street in Oxford. As was the custom in academic drama of the time, Ara Fortunae is subdivided into numbered scenes. Each of these, prefaced by a list of speaking parts in it, is precipitated either by the entrance of new characters or when the stage is momentarily cleared. As such, these scene-divisions often serve as a rather imperfect means of indicating entrances and exits, and no discontinuity of time or place is necessarily implied.
18 As John Towse, the selection committee's first choice, had already refused it (ms. p. 6).
54 We now learn that the first student is named Philarchus (“Ruler-lover”).
70 We also learn that the second student is named Misanax (“King-hater.”)
SCENA iii The scene shifts to the temple of Fortune, where it remains for the remainder of the play.
SCENA iv We are not told which of the four rebels is Misanax. My guess is that he is the fourth, the one who is most depraved.
132 An echo of Terence, Phormio 203, fortis fortuna adiuvat.
153 According to the preceding narrative (ms. p. 7), immediately after the election of Thomas Tucker, the members of the college went looking for him. Which Sir Tucker beinge then howsde not farr from the Colledge, over hearinge, kept himself close till the companye were past, and then as soone and secretly as he could gott him to his Chamber. Since he did not reside in college premises, he could humorously be termed a foreigner. (I assume the frequent ms. abbreviation Sr is to be read as “Sir,” the English equivalent of dominus, a title enjoyed by any possessor of the B. A., this same translation is found in the cast-list that accompanies one ms. of the comedy Philosophaster by Robert Burton ).
189ff. We discover that three of the rebels are a groom, a cobbler, and a wood-chopper (and therefore that the third rebel must be the disgruntled student Misanax).
206ff. The Prince’s modest and reluctant attitude reflects that of Tucker himself, reflected in the beginning of the speech he delivered immediately after his election (MS. p. 8 — his remarks at the end of the passage quoted here probably supplied the idea for the debate in scene i):

Quae beneficia (viri electores clarissimi) plus difficultatis atque oneris apportant collacta quam debite administrata poterunt honoris caute magis primo in limite credo excipienda quam aut immensae dignitatis expectatione appetenda avide, aut boni incogniti caeco appetitu apprehendenda temere. Quorum in albo (electores conscripti) cum semper dignitates istiusmodi serio retulerim, vos (pace dicam vestrae diligentiae) non tam mihi videmini gratias debere expectare, quam ipse istud onus suscepturus videor promereri. Nam illud demum gratiis excipitur beneficium (pro temporum ratione loquor) quod nec sollicitudo urget nec officium. Infinitae autem adeo sunt anxietates quae vel istam dominatus ἀνατύπωσιν circumcingunt, ut pauci velint ipsas cum dominatu lubenter amplecti, nulli possint evitare, nulli sustinere. Nam ubi veri imperii facies est repraesentanda, expectanda semper est aliqua curarum proportio. Verum cum dignitas electoria, amicitia suffragatoria, populi applausus, omnium consensus democratiae tollendae causa ad primatum evocaverint, lubens animi nostri strenue renuentis temperabo impetum, et sedulo impendam curam ut reipubicae (si vobis minus possim singulis) toti satisfaciam. Hic ego non ita existimo opportunum progressuum nostrorum adversariis, curam imperii promiscuam et indigestam collaudantibus respondere, aut status monarchici neccessitatem efferentibus assentari.

[“I am of the opinion, most distinguished electors, that benefits which confer more hardship and burden than honor when they are duly executed ought to be accepted cautiously at the very outset, rather than be eagerly sought after out of expectation of great dignity, or rashly accepted out of blind appetite for some uncertain good. Since, chosen electors, I always have seriously entered dignities of that kind into the ledger of such things (permit me to say, sparing your diligence), you do not seem to me to deserve as much thanks for their giving as I do for their acceptance, as I have earned this, being about to receive this burden. For I am of my own free will accepting this kindness — I am speaking with an eye on the circumstances of these times — which neither my concern nor my duty urge me to undertake. For the anxieties which surround this personification of rule are so countless that few men would care to accept them along with it, that no men could avoid them, that none could endure them. For when the image of genuine rule is to be represented, one must always expect some admixture of cares. But inasmuch as your electoral dignity, your friendly suffrage, the applause of the people, and the unanimous consent of everbody has summoned me to this chief position for the purpose of putting an end to democracy, I shall cheerfully moderate my mind’s strong impulse to decline, and devote my diligent care to satisfying our republic as a whole, even if I cannot satisfy you each as individuals. Here I do not think it is timely to respond to those who oppose my advancements and highly praise a promiscuous and highly chaotic management of our government, or to flatter those who speak in favor of the need for a monarchical constitution.”]

I.v According to the second narrative in the ms. (pp. 29ff.), at his official installation Tucker was created “Prince of Alba Fortunata, Lord St. Johns, high Regent of the Hall, Duke of St. Giles, Marquesse of Magdalens, Landgrave of the Grove, County Palatine of the Cloister, chiefe Bailiffe of the Beaumonts, high Ruler of Rome, Maister of the Mannor of Waltham [i. e., Walton], Governour of Gloster greene, Sole Commaunder of all Tiltes, Turnaments, and Triumphes, Superintendent in all Solemnities whatsoever.” At the same time, various other members of the college were assigned subordinate honors. Among these, Thomas Downer was made Lord High Treasurer, John Towse (who had originally been elected Prince, but had declined the honor) Lord High Chamberlain, Richard Holbrooke Comptoller Generall, and John English Chief Justice. They are represented as characters here. The philosopher, peasant, and fool are generic character-types.
261 We now learn that the Wheel of Fortune is visible as a feature of the temple. The characters come up one by one and give it a spin.
275f. He is alluding to Cicero’s definition of justice (De Inventione II.liii.16), Iustitia est habitus animi, communitatis utilitate conservata, suum cuique tribuens dignitatem.
379 He makes this exception out of respect for the prince.
391 Calling the prince the goddess’ earthly representative, and therefore a kind of earthly god, tallies exactly with James I’s idea of kingship.
415 An echo of Seneca, Thyestes 200, flecti non potest, frangi potest.