Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica III, Notes

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)


Ed. Yves PEYRÉ



Callisto: F, Calista.

Pelasge: F, Pelage. Pelasgia, earlier name of Arcadia: see stanza 27. Back to text


Argumentum 2

Gamma: Cantos I to XI of Troia Britanica are numbered with the appropriate letter of the Greek alphabet, from alpha (Canto I) to lambda (Canto XI). See note to canto I, arg. 2, “alpha. Back to text



Quartered: divided into four continents. Back to text



Barnet Heath: the battle of Barnet (north of London) was fought in April 1471, during the War of the Roses, between Edward of York on the side of the Yorkists and the dukes of Warwick and of Oxford on the side of the Lancastrians, supporting king Henry VI. The Yorkist victory enabled Edward of York to ascend the throne under the name of king Edward IV. Back to text



Charles Howard, first earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral of England, was commander-in-chief of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Red Cross: St George’s cross, national emblem of England in the sixteenth century. Back to text



Admiral Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595), treasurer (1577), and later controller (1589) of the Royal Navy, modernised the English fleet and made it capable to resist the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Sir Martin Frobisher (1535-1594), organized three explorations to try and discover a Northwest Passage and left his name to Frobisher Bay. Like Hawkins, he was knighted for services rendered in the fight against the Armada. Back to text



Epire: Epirus. Back to text



There is no bathing scene in Caxton’s Recuyell. Heywood develops Ovid, Metamorphoses, II, 453-65. Back to text



cobweb shadow: finespun, flimsy garment. In The Faerie Queene, II, xii, 77, Acrasia “was arrayed, or rather disarrayed, / All in a veil of silk and silver thin / … / More subtle web Arachne cannot spin”. Back to text



stale: trap (usually for birds). Back to text



In Caxton’s Recuyell, Callisto is not actually metamorphosed into a bear but only called so because she goes to live in a cave. Heywood’s description of her metamorphosis follows Ovid, Metamorphoses, II, 478-88. Back to text



Hecateus: Hecateus of Miletus, Genealogies, II. Natale Conti tells the story of Callisto’s metamorphosis in the wake of a long quotation from Hecateus about her father Lycaon: Mythologia, IX, ix. Heywood probably found his reference there. Back to text



Pausanias, Description of Greece, “Arcadia”, VIII, iv, 1. Back to text



seized: F, ceasd.



Titanois: Titanids. The word comes from Caxton’s Recuyell, I, 9, and derives from Raoul Le Fèvre’s “Titanois” (Titanians), as opposed to “Saturniens” (Saturnians). Back to text



Typhon: “another had to name Typhon, and was king of Sicily and of Cyprus” (Caxton, Recuyell, I, 9).

Briareus: “the third was called Briareus and was king of Nericos” (Caxton, Recuyell, I, 9).

Nericos: Caxton’s Recuyell (I, 12) mentions “an isle of Greece named Nericos”, where Briareus fled after the battle. See also preceding note. Raoul Le Fèvre also has Nericos, which derives from Boccaccio’s Neritos or Nerithos (Genealogia, IV, xviii). Back to text



Coeon: Coeus; “the fourth was named Ceon and was king of the isle of Cea” (Caxton, Recuyell, I, 9).

Coeas: Le Fèvre and Caxton’s Cea, from Boccaccio, Genealogia, IV, ix, referring to Ceos, an island of the Cyclades, which was said to derive its name from Titan’s son Coeus (Estienne, Dictionarium). Today’s Kea.

Aegeon (or Aegaeon): “the fifth was named Egeon, king of the sea Egee and of the isle desert” (Caxton, Recuyell I, 9). Back to text



Brianchus: It is not impossible that Heywood conflates two traditions, one considering Briareus and Aegeon as distinct characters, the other identifying them (like Servius, ad Aen., VI, 287 and X, 565 or Homer, Iliad, I, 403-04). Brianchus could be a renaming of Briareus. Aegeon was thought to mean superbio, “to be proud” (Estienne, Dictionarium).

Hyperion: “the sixth was named Eperion, king of Plipheros” (Caxton, Recuyell I, 9) Back to text



Atlas: Japet’s son and Prometheus’ brother, king of Mauritania (Estienne, Dictionarium).

Hesperied: Hesperia, so transformed for the sake of the rhyme. Hesperia (sometimes taken for Italy, sometimes for Spain) was thought to derive its name from Hesperus, Atlas’ brother. Back to text



Ister: “the great river called Danubius” (Sir Thomas Elyot, Dictionary, 1538).

Orion: Virgil describes him as clear and bright (Aeneid, III, 517).

Bootes: A northern constellation near the Bears, also called Arctophylax. See Hyginus, Astronomica, II, iv.

Burn: F, borne. Back to text



skein: variant spelling of “skene”, an Irish knife, or dagger. Back to text



Isle of Thrace: though not an island, Thrace was limited by the Danube in the North, the Black Sea in the East and the Egean Sea in the South, and for that reason sometimes considered as a peninsula. Back to text



Erymanthian forest: Heywood conflates the stories of the Erymanthian boar and of the Nemean lion, thus endowing Typhon with Herculean features. Back to text



Flake: arrangement of parallel threads. Back to text



Looses: shots. In archery, the act of discharging an arrow.

Fly: fly away from. Back to text



Champion: champian, or champaign, battlefield. Back to text



King: Charles VI, king of France.

Dolphin: Lewis, the French Dauphin. Back to text



Oson: See Canto I, 82 and end notes. Back to text



To which her words: to whose words. Back to text



Disgraded: deposed, dethroned.

Epire king: Melliseus, whose daughters had brought up Jupiter. Back to text



Parthemians: inhabitants of Parthemia, where Jove’s sister was brought up (Canto I, 73, 84), i.e. Parthenia. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, I, xvii: “the island of Samos was before called Parthenia because Juno there grew up”; also scholia on Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica, I, 186. Giraldi, however, thought it was more probable Juno was called Parthenia from mount Parthenius, in Arcadia: De Deis Gentium, III, “De Junone”. Back to text



Alacre: Perhaps Elatria (or Elatea), the name of three Greek cities, one in Phocis, one in Thessaly, one in Thesprotia, in south-west Epirus (Estienne, Dictionarium). Here probably the last mentioned.  

Vaw: vaward, or vanguard. Back to text



Tribunal: throne. Back to text



Motive: powerful enough to prompt to action. Back to text



Bergeon: habergeon. Back to text



Obit: death, from the latin obitus, “death”. Back to text



Stud: central knob.

Pared: cut off. Back to text



twist: junction of the thighs, fork. Back to text


[Heywood’s Endnotes to Canto III]

Phurnutius, Nauphus, Thales Milesius, Helicopes: Heywood condenses Gilbert of Longueuils commentary on Callisto's transformation, which he could find in his edition of Ovids Metamorphoses (see Heywoods Library):

Phurnutus ait, Calisto venatricem ab ursa fuisse devoratam, quam venatores cum ad ursae lustrum vidissent, nec amplius existentem conspexissent, in ursam conversam dixere. Sunt autem ursae geminae in coelo (ut apud Arati interpretem lego) quarum alteram Nauphus, alteram Thales Milesius adinvenit, majorem Helicen appellant, quam Graeci spectantes navigant, unde ab Homero Helicopes vocati sunt.” (“Phurnutus says that Callisto, a huntress, was devoured by a she-bear; when the other hunters saw her enter the bear’s den to be seen no more, they said she had been changed into a bear. Moreover, there are two bears in the sky (as I read in Aratus’ scholiast [Germanicus Caesar’s scholiae on Aratus, Phenomena, 37]), the first being discovered by Nauphus, the other by Thales Milesius; The Great Bear they call Helice, by which the Greeks guide their navigation, and therefore are called Helicopes by Homer”).  

Lucius Annaeus Cornutus (or Phurnutus) flourished in A.D. 50. Freedman of Seneca, he taught philosophy and rhetoric and had Lucan and Persius among his students. His Compendium theologiae graecae went through several editions in the course of the sixteenth century, alone or bound with other mythographic texts. The rationalization of Callisto’s metamorphosis derives from Palaephatus, On Unbelievable Tales (Peri Apiston), 14: “The story about Callisto is that while she was out hunting she turned into a bear. What I maintain is that she too during a hunt found her way into a grove of trees where a bear happened to be and was devoured. Her hunting companions saw her going into the grove, but not coming out: they said that the girl turned into a bear” (Jacob Stern’s translation, 1996, p. 45). Back to text

Nauphus: Nauplius, one of the Argonauts (Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica, I, 134; II, 896).

Helicopes: “Helice: The sign called Ursa major, or Charles’ Wain”, John Florio, A World of Words, 1958; “Elice or Helice: A star called Callisto or the Great Bear”, John Florio, Queen Anne’s New World of Words, 1611. It was called so of helice, “spiral”, because it unfolds round the north pole. Homer does use the adjective helicopida (Iliad, I, 98), but it is to describe Chryses’ bright eyes. He refers to the Great Bear twice, Iliad, XVIII, 486-89 and Odyssey, V, 273-77.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, I, 152-53. The text given by Heywood, “Ass. classe  ferunt regnum cœleste gigantes, / Attaq; congestes struxisse ad sidera mantes”, is garbled. We have replaced it by Frank Justus Miller’s version (Loeb), translating thus: “they say that the Giants essayed the very throne of heaven, piling huge mountains, one on another, clear up to the stars”. Golding writes:

Men say that giants went about the realm of heaven to win,

To place themselves to reign as gods and lawless lords therein.

And hill on hill they heaped up aloft unto the sky. (I, 173-75). Back to text

Creditious: that were to his credit?

Ovid, Metamorphoses, V, 346-48: “The huge island of Sicily had been heaped upon the body of the giant, and with its vast weight was resting on Typhoeus, who had dared to aspire to the heights of heaven” (Frank Justus Miller, Loeb). Arthur Golding gave:

Because the giant Typhon gave presumptuously assays

To conquer heaven, the hugy isle of Trinacris is laid

Upon his limbs, by weight whereof perforce he down is weighed.

Heywood’s latin text, “Vasta Gyganteis Iuierta est insula memoris, / Tynacris & magnis subiectum moribus vrgit, / Ætheras ausum sperare ledes”, is corrupt.

et sic deinceps: and so forth. Back to text

Japetus: commonly identified with Noah’s son Japheth (Genesis, 5: 32, 6:10) whom some took to be Noah’s eldest son: according to Sabinus, Fabularum Ovidii Interpretatio (1584), p. 6, “Japetus fuit Japhet, Noae filius major natu” (“Japetus was Japheth, Noah’s eldest son”). Heywood follows another exegetic tradition, also widespread. Among other examples, Philippe de Mornay, De la vérité de la religion chrétienne (1583), translation started by Sir Philip Sidney and ended by Arthur Golding, The Trueness of the Christian Religion (1587), p. 461, “Japhet is none other than the Japetus of the poets”. Or Holinshed, Chronicles (1587 edition), I, I, “Of Noah and his three sons”: “Japhet, the third son of Noah, of some called Japetus …”

Tantalus: Tantalus is not mentioned in the third canto. He will appear in Canto IV as king of Phrygia. Heywood’s notes on Tantalus are borrowed from Natale Conti, Mythologia, VI, xviii, where Tantalus is presented as the son of Jupiter and the nymph Plota according to Eusebius, “in secundo evangelicae preparationis” (On the Preparation of the Gospel, or Evangelica Preparatio, II) or of Jupiter and the nymph Pluto according to John the Deacon and Didymus—the three references being erroneous: see John Mulryan and Steven Brown’s ed. of Conti’s Mythologia, p. 531, note 115. Back to text

Imolus: So for Tmolus. Heywood reproduces Natale Conti’s spelling. The reference to Tzetzes, Chiliades, V, x, 444 is also borrowed from Conti.

Lucian: The Dipsads, 6, describes a tomb in Lybia, on which was engraved a man like Tantalus, who, although surrounded by water, dies of thirst under the effect of a dipsad’s bite: “Such were also the torments, I think, of Tantalus, born of Aethon, / Never to alleviate the hot venom of torturing thirst”. Heywood reproduces the text of the latin version given by Natale Conti: “Such [torments], I think, Tantalus, Aethon’s son, underwent / Who could not quench his thirst at any fountain”. Back to text

Pindar: Olympian Odes, I, 26-27, quoted by Natale Conti, Mythologia, VI, xviii.

Lycophron: Alexandra, 155-62. Heywood takes the reference from Conti, omitting the reference to the story of Neptune’s desire for Pelops.

Isacius: Isaacius (i.e. Tzetzes), in his scholia to Lycophron, 152, also referred to by Natale Conti.

Broteus: or Broteas; Natale Conti adds a fourth child, Bascylus, that Heywood omits. Back to text


Back to Canto III (1-50)

Back to Canto III (51-100)

How to cite

Yves Peyré, ed., 2012.  Troia Britanica Canto III, Notes (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).



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