COMMENTARY NOTES

Britannica

Numbers in the notes are those I have assigned to poems. “P” refers to Ross’s Poems on Events of the Day. "G"= Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966), followed by Book and Chapter. Britannica is discussed at some length in my “Geoffrey among the Lawyers: Britannica (1607) by John Ross of the Inner Temple,” Sixteenth Century Journal 23 (1992) 235 - 49.

Dedication Ross alludes to the great number of poems, entertainments, and other tributes for James as he came into his new kingdom in 1603. The sentiments favoring Scottish union recur in P.

spacer2.6 The pun on olbos appears in the title of Drayton's Poly-Olbion, unpublished till 1612 but begun, according to Meres, by 1598. Drayton, who signed his preface at the Inner Temple, had strong ties to the society. See note on 4.

spacer4.31ff. See G 1.3ff. The description of London and the myth of locality, not in G, are in the manner of Drayton's Poly-Olbion (e.g., 17. 353-450).

spacer5.41 In G 2.4 - 5 Corineus does not die of shock and seems not even to know of Sabrina.

spacer6.9ff. “Ebraucus also founded the city of Alclud over in Albany; and the castle of Mount Agned, which is now called the Maidens' Castle and the Dolorous Mountai” (G 2.7).

spacer7 The spelling “Leir” appears in early MSS of Layamon and in the Paris, 1508 ed. of G (fol. XII verso). Ross adds “the First.” He also amplifies the theme of kingly neglect and civil strife in G 2.9.

spacer8 A Faustian Bladud is much amplified from G.

spacer10 Subject of Sackville and Norton's Gorboduc, where the name is also Videna, not Judon as in G 2.16.

spacer11 Much elaborated from G 2.17, especially the praise of law. On Mulmutius see Cymbeline III.i.52 - 60.

spacer12 In G “Brennius” gets Northumbria as well (3.1). Ross's spelling equates him with the actual Gallic conqueror of Rome in 390 B.C. (this identification was scarcely original to Ross, Polydore Vergil I.23 had found it necessary to discredit it).

spacer13 The Marcian or Mercian laws were incorporated by Alfred the Great (G 3.13).

spacer15 Ross enhances G’s portrait of the good king (3.16) by including such virtues as piety, peace, and wisdom often associated with James I by himself and his admirers.

spacer17 G 3.19 - 20 surveys about thirty kings, including the famous rebuilder of London's walls, Lud, whom Ross mentions briefly in the next poem.

spacer18 Caesar is nobler in G 4.1. The speech on Britain's remoteness from the warm, civilized south repeats English complaints about cisalpine boasts such as those expressed in Drayton’s Englands Heroicall Epistles, Henry Howard to Lady Geraldine, 227 - 34.

spacer19 Ross amplifies Cassibelan's answer from G 4.2, the king becoming eiron to Caesar's alazon.

spacer20 Not in G 4.3 are Caesar's fear, the images of massed British troops, and Caesar's speech.

spacer21 The famous story of the sharpened stakes (G 4.7) also appears in Nennius and Bede. G does not accuse Androgeus of treachery (4.8).

spacer22 The contemporaneity of Cymbeline with the birth of Christ is also in G 4.12.

spacer22.6 Many Neo-Latin poems contain such incomplete lines, in imitation of the unfinished ones in the Aeneid.

spacer26 G 5f. is augmented here by the political analysis, which alludes to the conspiracies and unrest of Ross's time. Ross omits G's blaming of the Picts for Basianus's fall. Following this in G 5.6, omitted in Ross, is the story of Coel or Cole and his capitulation to Rome.

spacer26.7 Antiperistasis, in ancient science and medicine, is an interchange of substances or a reciprocal reaction.

spacer27 Constantine, receiving the longest poem of any king, also represents Ross's greatest departure from G. Ross amplifies G 5.6 on Constantine's parents and tells the story of the vision of the cross, as G does not (5.7f.). He perpetuates the story of Constantine's British mother, already long disputed (e.g., Holinshed 4.23). He used a variety of sources, especially the historians Theodoretus, Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomenus (all included in Cassiodorus' Historia Tripartita), and perhaps Eusebius. His form of the message from heaven, ΕΝ ΤΟΥΤΩ ΝΙΚΑ is in Soc. Schol. 1.2. Some of Arius's sayings are in Theod. Ι.ιιι. His description of Licinius's killing by a private soldier (privati periit militis ille manu) may be due to a misreading of Soz. 1.7 (cf. Cassiod., Hist. [Paris, 1574]: privatusque Thessalonicae aliquanto tempore permanerat, ibique perimeretur), who says he was living a private life. Ross omits details unflattering to Constantine, such as his banishment of Athanasius in 336. The gory details of Arius's death at a public toilet are in Soc. Schol. Ι.38. In the next-to-last paragraph the “warlike horse” is Pegasus, another allusion to the badge of the Inner Temple: for Ross's belief in the interdependency of arms and the law see P 9 and P 52.

spacer28 Ross returns to G (5.9) after the Constantine story. St. Germanus Bishop of Auxerre and Lupus Bishop of Troyes actually enter G at 6.13.

spacer30 This poem jumps from G 6.16 to G 8.2, Book 7 of G being the prophecies of Merlin (on which see 31). In Apostrophe, the Nymph's last speech (260ff.), compares Hengist's massacre to the Gunpowder Plot.

spacer32 The “Saxon yoke” is a variant of the mythic "Norman yoke.” Verulamum is the old name of St. Alban's (G 8.23); the city did not rebel but was a center for Octa's and Eosa's forays against the Britons. Ross invents Octa's scoffing speech about Uther.

spacer33 Ross probably thought the Arthurian stories in G (Books 9 and 10) too familiar to need retelling.

spacer34 This condenses G 11.5 - 7.

spacer35 Although G 11.11 briefly sounds this elegiac note, the whole poem is mostly Ross's.

spacer36 Dinothius's speech is elaborated from G 11.12, with Ross adding, e.g., the Britons' “miserable” condition. Ethelbert has no speech in G 11.13.

spacer36.45 For “Martyrdom depends on the cause...” see P 3.

spacer37.7 In my translation I follow G 12.1 using “Salomon” rather than “Solomon.” G says nothing about Salomon's religious instruction.

spacer37.44 Pellitus (G 12.4) was a Spanish magician in Edwin's service, able to foretell Cadwallo's invasion plans.

spacer38 Freely elaborated from G 12.5, e.g., with the rhetorical question.

spacer39 - 40 Most of this is Ross's invention. G 12.6 has Cadwallo speak more narrowly regarding his circumstances.

spacer39.61ff. The image of sun and clouds may derive from Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV I.ii.185 - 91, which may also have suggested playing up the theme of youthful transgression in the poem.

spacer39.82 “The example does more harm...‘ echoes P 28 on “Example's Harm.”

spacer40 G does not give a response by Salomon as Ross does here.

spacer40.27 The Battle of Hedfield occurred 12 October 633 (G 12.8).

spacer40.41ff. Cadwallo's illness is not in G.

spacer41 G 12.15 includes a lament for Britain not in Ross, but Ross's description of famine and plague is almost all his (cf. G 12.16). Parallels with the 1603 plague are inescapable.

spacer41.75ff. The angelic voice and prophecy are in G 12.17.

spacer42.1 The speaker as returned shade is familiar in the Mirror for Magistrates tradition. Compare the description of a Virgilian hell in Thomas Sackville’s “Induction” to the collection.

spacer42.13ff. The name is from the Greek aletheia, truth, who is proverbially the daughter of time. See D. J. Gordon, “Veritas Filia Temporis: Hadrian Juknus and Geoffrey Whitney,” in his The Renaissance Imagination (Berkeley, 1975), 220 - 32.

spacer42.149 Robert Catesby, thought to be chief conspirator, was descended from the family of Richard III’s Catesby.

spacer41.153ff. Details were available from the “official” version of the story in Anon., A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings against the Late Most Barbarous Traitors (1606): 36 barrels weighed down to increase blast effects; presentation of would-be victims by rank; innocence of Prince Henry; plan for rebellion; attempt to dig under walls; James’s detective work. Ross may have given his own description of Catesby. Coke viciously attacked Sir Everard Digby at his trial, but Ross, who knew Digby’s wife, omits him.

spacer42.218ff. Coke and others remarked on Father Garnet’s learning and years during the trial (see, most notably, this passage of Coke’s indictment, quoted by the True and Perfect Relation).

spacer42.272 The fable is told by Phaedrus. The frogs petitioned Zeus for a king, and he jokingly sent them a block of wood floating on their pond. When the frogs complained Zeus sent a water snake, who devoured them all.

spacer42.360 Quoting Hesiod, Works and Days 266.

spacer42.363 There is an allusion here to the Jesuitical Doctrine of Equivocation — i. e. the idea that it was morally acceptable for Catholics to lie in the service of their religion — at which Protestants at least professed to be scandalized. See Attorney General Coke’s remarks in this passage of Coke’s indictment, quoted by the True and Perfect Relation,and see also Macbeth II.iii.9. A series of poems in Parerga (nos. 35 - 43) offer parallel sentiments on Rome.

spacer42.385f. Parerga 6 also compares Queen Mary’s flight to England with Pompey’s to Egypt.

spacer42.408ff. Cf. the “mendicant liberality” of courtiers in Parerga 118.

spacer42.424ff. For the pessimism and sense of moral decline cf. the book’s epigraph from Horace and Britannica 35 on the civil wars of the Britons.

spacer43 The opening lines refer to Ovid. Met. I.302 - 5, recounting the confusion of Deucalion's flood, in which dophins swam in the woods and the wild boar's strength could not prevail against the sea waves (silvasque tenent delphines /...nec vires fulminis apro /...prosunt).

spacerApologia 1 Ex his sunt qui in rebus calidissimis sunt frigidi, in frigidissimis calidi One is somewhat reminded of Richard Eedes’ acerb remark about a Durham preacher in his 1583 satiric travelogue Iter Borealis (405f.):

Frigidus in calido fuerat, ieiunus in amplo
Textu, quam suadet, fervens dilectio frigit.

spacerApologia 3 ubi Calgacium sic dicentem introducit The allusion is to Tacitus, Agricola xxix.

spacerApologia 3 at barbari consilio Romanorum tunc cognito Caesar, B. G. IV.xxiv.1 (followed by ib. IV.xxxiv.5).

spacerApologia 4 quod apud Lucanum Pompeius ei obiicit Lucan, Bellum Civile IV.552.

spacerApologia 4 quem Caesar sub persona Mandubratii adumbrare visus est The allusion is to B. G. V.xxii.

spacerApologia 4 ex Androgei proditione The allusion is to the fabulous tale of King Lud’s son Androgeus, who sided with Caesar, told by Geofrey of Monmouth, 3.20 and 4.1 - 11.

spacerApologia 6 tamquam regula Lesbia A Latin proverb for a yardstick or standard so flexible it can be used to prove anything (Erasmus, Adagiorum Chiliades I.v.93).

spacerApologia 6 si aequo iudicio leges illas trutinent Dunvallo Mulmutius and Martia early British lawgiver-kings; they are commemorated in poem 11 and poem 13 respectively. It is particularly the remark Ross makes here about the continued force of the Martian Laws, as emended and expanded by Albert, that makes one wonder whether his true motive for defending Geoffrey of Monmouth was a professional one: if Geoffrey were to be discredited, the fabric of British law would suffer.

spacerApologia 6 si in vaticinia Merlini oculos convertunt Geoffrey’s earliest work was Propoetiae Merlini, a collection of the supposed prophecies of Merlin. A good amount of this material was later incorporated in his British history.

spacerApologia 6 Damicano et Fagano Two British-born, Rome-educated missionaries suppsedly sent by Pope Eleutherius in response to the request of the British king Lucius in about the year 180. In some quarters they are still regarded as the original apostles to the Welsh.

spacerApologia 10 emergit quidam Gulielmus NeobrigensisWilliam of Newburgh [1336 - 1201], author of the De Rebus Anglicis sui temporis libri quinque.

spacerApologia 10 Idem testatur Baleus The antiquarian Bishop John Bale [1495 - 1563], author of Scriptorum Illustrium Maioris Britanniae...Catalogus.

spacerApologia 10 Testes adhibeamus Among the less familiar figures in the following list are Sir John Prise [Syr Sion ap Rhyns, 1502 - 1555], author of Historiae Brytannicae Defensio, and Richard White of Basingstoke [1539 - 1611], author of Historiarum Britanniae Libri XI.

spacerApologia 12 abbas sancti Albani John of Wheathampstead or John Whethamstede [d. 1465] , Abbot of St. Albans amd author of the Granarium.

spacerApologia 12 Titus Livius historiarum princeps Livy I.iii.vi.

spacerApologia 13 Iohannes Twinus Bolingdunensis John Twyne [d. 1581], author of De rebus Albionicis, Britannicis, atque Anglicis commentariorum libri duo, published posthumously ijn 1590 (his name is latinized Troinus in the next paragraph). It is somewhat embarrassing to Ross’ case that Twyne’s geological theory had gained the support of his friend William Camden: see Britannia (1607 ed.), Kent § 32.

spacerApologia 13 Credat Iudaeus Apella, non ego Quoting Horace, Sermones II.vii.65f.

spacerApologia 13 Vereor ne mea in hac re ignorantia quae plerunque valde credula est This is the weakest part of Ross’ argument: the facts of the Welsh language were easily enough ascertained, had he wished to consider Twyne’s argument openmindedly.

spacerApologia 14 et “tanquam e caelo in synagogam” prolapsum Quoting Tertullian, Adversus Marcianum IV.vii (p. 408): Sed frustra negabit Christum dixisse quod statim fecit ex parte. Prophetiam enim interim de loco adimplevit. “De coelo statim ad synagogam.” Twyne, in other words, made his pronouncements just as Marcianus had claimed Jesus had functioned, as a prophet dropped straight from heaven.

spacerApologia 15 The names on his list are Hadrianus Junius [Adriaen de Johnge, 1511 - 1575], author of the Nomenclator; George Buchanan [1506 - 1582], author of the Rerum Scoticarum Historia; Joannes Ludovicus Vives [Luan Luis Vives, 1493 - 1540], author of De Disciplinis; Polydore Vergil [Polidoro Virgilio, d. 1555], author of the Anglica Historia; and Johannes Bodinus, [Jean Bodin, 1530 - 1596], author of such works as the Universae Naturae Theatrum.

spacerApologia 17 Accedamus tandem ad Ponticum Virunnium Luigi Pontico Virunio [d. 1520], author of the Historia Britannica.

spacerApologia 18 Illi autem adstipulatur Badius Ascensius, et Ivo Cavellatus The editio princeps of Geoffrey’s Historia was edited by Ivo Cavellatus and printed by Josse Bade at Paris in 1508. At the beginning of the following paragraph Ross distinguishes this edition from a successor one printed by Bade in 1517. Of Cavellatus’ editorial work, incidentally, Acton Griscom in the introduction of his 1929 London edition of the same text (p. 12) wrote “his editorial changes, compared with available manuscript evidence, appear in most cases to be downright error.” This lengthy quote gives his account of his discovery of the four mss. on which his edition was based.

spacerApologia 22 qui dente Theonino omnia corrodunt Cf. Horace, Epistles I.xviii.82, dente Theonino circumrodi (Theon was a hypercritical ancient literary critic): this expression passed into proverbial usage (Erasmus, Adagiorum Chiliades XI.ii.55).

spacerApologia 22 quod Aulus Gellius ex Theophrasto habet Aulius Gellius, Noctes Atticae I.iii.23.