COMMENTARY NOTES

Stage direction Both Fortune and her priestess Tolmaea appeared as characters in the preceding Ara Fortunae, and will again appear in its eventual sequel, Ira Fortunae. Surely the book carried by Fortune is a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The ms. narrative (p. 49) describes the performance of this passage:

Now for that itt was thought not to stand with the Princes state, barely to bee an actor, wth others, itt was Contriued that hee should first enter like himselfe, wth his traine, and so take his chaire as the Chiefe spectator, and then Fortune his only patronesse shuld appeare and find faulte with his still looking on, and doeing nothing himselfe, wheruppon bothe for the more Solemnity should take vppon them to bee Actors in the ensueing Tragedy, all wch was performed in manner followeing.

9 She commands the prince to indulge in an act of bibliomancy, by opening the book at random and making a play out of the passage where his eye happens to come to rest (she calls the page nostra because he finds it by chance).
14 In Ara Fortunae she had been represented as a blind goddess.
17 For the idea that tragedy supplies its own kind of pleasure cf. the Prologue to William Gager’s 1583 Dido, 10ff.:

Tulit omne punctum tristia admiscens iocis,
Ridere forsan aliquis ad fletum potest,
Idemque magna flere laetitia potest.
Iucunditates lachrimae summas habent.
Magna est voluptas flere ubi nihil est mali.

[“The comic writer who mixes sorrowful matters in with his jokes spoils the point, but somebody can laugh so hard he cries, and in the same way great joy can produce tears. Crying is highly pleasurable. There’s great delight in weeping — when nothing’s wrong.”]

I.1 The setting is in front of the royal palace of Thrace, as the characters enter from the direction of the harbor. King Tereus had gone to Athens to visit Pandion, the father of Procne and Philomela, and to fetch Philomela. Rather uncharacteristically for a tragedy, Philomela requres two onstage “houses” on either side of the stage, one representing the Thracian royal palace, and the other the hut of Faustulus and Faustula, where Philomela is concealed after her rape, and the action oscillates between the two sides of the stage, sometimes within the same act (the settings of the following comedy Philomathes are handled in the same way, with one side of the stage having a “house” at Megara and the other a “house” at Athens, as also may be those of Ira Fortunae, which features temples of Fortune and Minerva, which may be represented by the same two “houses”).
106 What Philomela means by this statement is not entirely self-evident. Perhaps her thought is that, should Tereus attempt to do her any harm, her father, king Pandion of Athens, would come to her rescue.
131ff. Tereus’ scheme for killing the servants was possibly suggested by Nero’s idea for killing his mother by sending her on the Bay of Naples in a ship specially built to collapse (Tacitus, Annales XIV.iii.).
167 In all probability this is an allusion to Halley’s comet, which made an appearance in 1607 (there is a more explicit reference to the comet at Philomathes 573.
177 I. e., his one remaining daughter.
190 Another allusion to the comet (but comets are supposed to be dire omens, so this line should be accounted the first of the numerous examples of “Sophoclean irony” with which Philomela is studded).
199 Scelerum artifex is a tag from Seneca, Troades 750.
228 The thought is rather reminiscent of such Senecan sentiments as Phaedra 721, scelere velandum est scelus.
I.v The focus of the action shifts to the other side of the stage, representing the forest and the vicinity of Faustulus’ hut.
260 With an inexactitude about family relations more characteristic of contemporary England than ancient Rome, throughout the play Philomela and Tereus refer to each other simply as “brother” and “sister.”
266 Yet another allusion to Halley’s comet.
II.i This and the following scene are set in the forest.
362ff. Cf. Met. VI.532ff.:

“o diris barbare factis,
o crudelis” ait “nec te mandata parentis
cum lacrimis movere piis nec cura sororis
nec mea virginitas nec coniugialia iura!
Omnia turbasti: paelex ego facta sororis,
tu geminus coniunx, hostis mihi debita Procne.
Quin animam hanc, ne quod facinus tibi, perfide, restet,
eripis? atque utinam fecisses ante nefandos
concubitus vacuas habuissem criminis umbras.
Si tamen haec superi cernunt, si numina divum
sunt aliquid, si non perierunt omnia mecum,
quandocumque mihi poenas dabis. Ipsa pudore
proiecto tua facta loquar. Si copia detur,
in populos veniam; si silvis clausa tenebor,
implebo silvas et conscia saxa movebo:
audiet haec aether, et si deus ullus in illo est.”

467 The English executioner had subordinate responsibilities such as performing mutilations and administering torture.
II.iii The scene shifts to the royal palace.
535 The mother of Dionysus’ opponent Pentheus, who led the Bacchantes in tearing him apart, as dramatized by Euripides in the Bacchae.
541f. Cf. Seneca, Phaedra 255 (the Nurse addresses Phaedra), Moderare, alumna, mentis effrenae impetus.
545 Silvanus was the Roman god of forests.
581 In Latin a ship (or an oar) can be called a pinus by metonymy.
592ff. This chorus is written in anapaestic dimeters.
617 The allusion is to the statement that “Truth is the daughter of Time” (by an anonymous poet quoted at Aulus Gellus, Noctes Atticae XII.xi.7).
III.i This scene is set in the forest.
III.ii The setting reverts to the palace.
665ff. The meter is Sapphic stanzas.
666 Evidently, in the absence of her corpse, they are carrying some kind of statue or similar representation of Philomela.
692 At least from a Graeco-Roman perspective, Thrace is too far to the north (although from an English perspective this is far from being the case).
697. For the Romans the letter theta (standing for θάνατος or θανατωτέον) was a baleful mark of death, cf. Oxford Classical Dictionary s. v. theta.
699f. The Romans used black stones to mark unlucky days on their calendars.
730 Other than a list of place-names and personifications at Giordano Bruno, De Compositione Imaginum II.v (where, interestingly, it stands immediately after Thrace), I can find no mention of a place called Scythonia. This cannot be a textual error for Scythia (a place with absolutely no associations with the cult of Dionysus), and trying to substitute the name of Mt. Cithaeron, a place with plenty of such associations, is impossible for metrical reasons. If we could bring ourselves to accept the idea the author of this play could allow himself to let th create positional lengthening, it might be possible to read Quin tollite ergo sacras citharas, nurus. In any event, it seems best to dismiss the appearance of Scythonia in Bruno as a read herring, to regard nurus as a vocative, and to assume that the true object of tollite lies hidden beneath this corruption.
735 Rhodope is a mountain range in western Thrace.
III.4 We are back at Faustulus’ hut in the forest.
III.5 The remainder of this Act is set at the palace.
849 As a ship is broken when it runs on a reef.
854 Liber was a cult-title of Bacchus.
930ff. The meter is anapaestic dimeters.
977 The thyrsus is a special wand used in the rites of Dionysius or Bacchus. For the compound thyrsiger cf. Seneca, Medea 110 and Phaedra 753.
IV.1 The setting is once more before Faustulus’ hut.
948ff. The meter of all four of these stanzas can be described as iambic dimeters, although the quantities of some words (such as potens, micans and gloria) is wrong. The reason is that these lines, written to be set to music, feature stress accentuation rather than the quantified verse of the rest of the play.
981ff. Cf. Met. VI.598ff.:

germanamque rapit; raptaeque insignia Bacchi
induit et vultus hederarum frondibus abdit
attonitamque trahens intra sua moenia ducit.

992 Cf. Met. VI.611f.:

“non est lacrimis hoc” inquit “agendum,
sed ferro…”

993ff. Compare such Senecan statements as Hercules Furens 208f. finis alterius mali / gradus est futuri and Thyestes 746f., Sceleris hunc finem putas? / Gradus est. Cf. also Met. VI.618f., “Magnum quodcumque paravi: / quid sit, adhuc dubito.”
997ff. Cf. the simile at Seneca, Medea 863ff.:

ut tigris orba natis
cursu furente lustrat
Gangeticum nemus.
Frenare nescit iras
Medea.

Ovid uses a tigress simile, although at another point in the story (Met. VI.636f.):

Nec mora, traxit Ityn, veluti Gangetica cervae
lactentem fetum per silvas tigris opacas.

IV.ii The setting returns to the royal palace (where it remains for the rest of the play).
1039 Lycaeus was another cult title of Bacchus.
1058 This statement of course summarizes the orthodox contemporary view about the nature of kingship.
1088 Cf. Met. VI.601ff.:

Ut sensit tetigisse domum Philomela nefandam,
horruit infelix totoque expalluit ore.
Nacta locum Procne sacrorum pignera demit
oraque develat miserae pudibunda sororis
amplexumque petit.

1131ff. Cf. Met. VI.601f. (Ovid makes it clearer that this is supposedly an Athenian custom she wants to introduce into Thrace):

His adhibet coniunx ignarum Terea mensis
et patrii moris sacrum mentita, quod uni
fas sit adire viro.

1152ff. Meter: Sapphic stanzas.
1172f. The reference is to the flood of Deucalion and Pyrrha, that of Noah, or both.
1194ff. Cf. Met. VI.614ff.:

“Aut ego, cum facibus regalia tecta cremabo,
artificem mediis inmittam Terea flammis,
aut linguam, aut oculos et quae tibi membra pudorem
abstulerunt, ferro rapiam, aut per vulnera mille
sontem animam expellam.”

1206 For Itys to be able to say this, Philomela must make some inarticulate noises, which Itys misunderstands and thinks is a foreign language.
1213 Cf. Met. VI.623ff.:

Ut tamen accessit natus matrique salutem
Attulit et parvis adduxit colla lacertis
mixtaque blanditiis puerilibus oscula iunxit.
mota quidem est genetrix infractaque constitit ira
invitique oculi lacrimis maduere coactis.

1225ff. Cf. ib. 637ff.:

Utque domus altae partem tenuere remotam,
tendentemque manus et iam sua fata videntem
et “mater, mater” clamantem et colla petentem
ense ferit Procne, lateri qua pectus adhaeret,
nec vultum vertit. Satis illi ad fata vel unum
vulnus erat: iugulum ferro Philomela resolvit.
Vivaque adhuc animaeque aliquid retinentia membra
dilaniant. Pars inde cavis exsultat aenis,
pars veribus stridunt: manant penetralia tabo.

1215f. Cf. Met. VI.651ff.:

“cur admovet” inquit
“alter blanditias, rapta silet altera lingua?
Quam vocat hic matrem, cur non vocat illa sororem?”

1238 Bacchus (who was born once from Semele, and a second time from the thigh of Jupiter).
1263 Cf. Met. VI.649, comites famulosque removit.
1280 A marginal stage direction indicates this should be spoken as an aside, but these words seems much more dramatically effective if addressed directly to Tereus.
1297 I. e., the Furies.
1330ff. Cf. Met. VI.651ff.:

Ityn huc accersite” dixit.
Dissimulare nequit crudelia gaudia Procne,
iamque suae cupiens exsistere nuntia cladis,
“intus habes, quem poscis” ait. Circumspicit ille
atque ubi sit quaerit
. Quaerenti iterumque vocanti,
sicut erat sparsis furiali caede capillis,
prosiluit Ityosque caput Philomela cruentum
misit in ora patris.

1343f. Cf. Met. VI.664, flet modo seque vocat bustum miserabile nati.
1346 She is thinking of Prometheus and Tityus in mythology (vultures fed on their livers).
1365 The traditional judges of the Underworld.
1367 Mention of the Furies is suggested by Met. VI.662, vipereasque ciet Stygia de valle sorores.
1406ff. This Epilogue is addressed directly to Thomas Tucker.
1412f. These lines are somewhat hard to understand. They seem to indicate in the future Tucker would play the role of some citizen who resists a tyrant. But none of subsequent plays of the cycle contain a character who matches this description (Periander, a play about a tyrant, does not come into consideration because its addition to the cycle was a last-minute decision). Was the production of some other play contemplated but eventually discarded? The manuscript mentions an intended masque about the wooers of Penelope, which was not performed. Dr. Martin Wiggins suggests to me that Tucker might have been intended to play the role of Telemachus.
1413ff. These lines anticipate Tucker’s eventual deposition (which will be dramatized in Ira Fortunae).
1415 It is only a guess based on context that the neologism reopto means “regret.”
The ms. narrative (pp. 83f.) concludes:

At the end of this Tragedy when fortune and prince were ready to enter the stage, it was rermembred that there was never an epilogue to desmisse the Company and therefore suddenly this one verse was made and put in fortunes mouth to speake

Et si ista placeant vel deae plausum date.

And so this begging of a plaudity for a god sake serv’d for other compliment which was not mist because it was thought no more was intended.