COMMENTARY NOTES

spacerDramatis personae In point of fact, Anaximander cannot properly be classified even as a persona muta since he does not appear onstage.

spacerI.i Most of the scenes in Basilindus fail to convey any strong sense of place, and the best that can be said is that all scenes prior to III.iii are set in and around the royal palace. III.iii is a brief scene located at the prison where Basilius is being kept, in III.iv we are back at the palace, and in III.v the setting shifts to the near vicinity of a battlefield, where it remains for the rest of the play.

spacer1 The allusion is to Hercules’ Choice: According to Xenophon, the young Hercules was confronted by two women, Virtue and Pleasure, and required to choose between them. Pleasure promised him all physical delights, but Virtue promised immortality. He opted for the the latter, and, after a life of heroic exertion, was received amongst the gods.

spacer41f. I must confess that I have no idea what these lines mean, and since they occur in the immediate vicinity of other copying mistakes, it is not difficult to conjecture that the text is defective.

spacer43ff. In the ms., there is no indication of a change of speaker here. But since the following stage direction indicates that the speaker exits immediately after delivering these lines, while Basilindus remains onstage, it is tolerably clear that they are spoken by Superbia.

spacer61f. The inventor of the Trojan Horse (in antiquity it was widely believed that the Trojans were of Phrygian stock).

spacer69 Basilindus is conducting an internal debate, going back and forth about his decision to overthrow Basilius.

spacer100 For the saying aut Caesar aut nihil cf. Plutarch’s Life of Caesar xi.

spacer115 The Greek goddess of justice. She is being confused with her Roman equivalent, Astraea (mentioned below), who quit the earth in disgust at human wickedness. Cf., for example, Ovid, Metamorphoses I.149f.:

victa iacet pietas, et virgo caede madentis
ultima caelestum terras Astraea reliquit.

spacer152 Apparently the threat is that he will read his guts like a Roman soothsayer.

spacer158 He is as unprincipled as Ulysses.

spacer277 Sero sapit was evidently a Roman proverb — cf. Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares II.xvi. See also Erasmus, Adagiorum ChiliadesI.i.28 and I.v.61.

spacer306 A proverbial expression for cleverly stealing a march on somebody else (Erasmus, ib. I.iii.75).

spacer377ff. Nisus was transformed into a sea-eagle and in that form punished his treacherous daughter Scylla (for the story, see the beginning of Book VIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses).

spacerII.iii The initial stage direction seems to indicate that both a satelles (henchman, bodyguard) and the servant figure in this scene, and the initial stage direction for the following scene also mentions a satelles. But there is no textual evidence for the presence of any such character, and if we to assume that one was visible as a nonspeaking part a major question would arise: why does he not intervene to defend Aristobulus? The proper answer can be deduced from line 498: the character identified in some (but not all) stage directions as the satelles is the same individual as the one identified as the percussor in the text.
spacerThe choice of the word percussor (translated “murderer” here) to describe this character is misleading. Strictly speaking, that word describes a back-alley thug or assassin, but there is nothing furtive or underhanded about the present character. Rather, as he states at 406f., he is an executioner sent by the king, and he comes equipped with the royal warrant (syngrapha) which is destined to play an important part in the unfolding of the plot.

spacer432 The judge of souls in the Underworld.

spacer433 The text makes it inadequately clear that the doctored warrant is to be left on the murderer’s corpse.

spacer570 Cf. Seneca, Phaedra 671f., Magne regnator deum, tam lentus audis scelera? Tam lentus vides? These lines were frequently quoted or imitated in Renaissance tragdies (e. g., Titus Andronicus IV.i.82f.).

spacer614 The Roman goddess of death.

spacer617 It is surprising that our author, otherwise a good Latinist, confuses quaero and queror both here and immediately below.

spacer637 The Tanais was the modern Don, and the Phasis was the name of the modern Rioni, the main river of western Georgia, which the ancients represented as the farthest easternmost limit of the world (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica II.1261, Vergil, Georgics IV.367, Aelius Aristides Ad Romam lxxxii, etc.).

spacer705 I am scarcely certain what “daughter-in-law of Megaera” is supposed to mean, and suspect that nurus is being used as nothing more than a synonym for filia.

spacer870 Typhoeus was a hundred-headed, dragon-shaped giant imprisoned by Jupiter in the Underworld.