Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica V (51-112)

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

CANTO V (51-112)

Stanzas 51-6061-7071-80 81-90 91-100101-110 111-112Heywood’s endnotes to Canto V

Back to Stanzas 1-50


Ed. Patricia DORVAL


The ram of Helle, and Europa’s bull,

Castor and Pollux, cancer’s burning sign,

Th’Herculean lion, and the virgin trull,

The scale of justice, and the scorpion’s line,

Chiron the centaur, with the hornèd skull

Of watery capricorn, next whom doth shine

   The Trojan lad, that from his laver powers,

   Last the two fishes drilling southern showers,


The 12 celestial signs






And at the year’s end, taking land in Crete,

After his tedious progress on the stream,

Queen Juno welcomes him with kisses sweet;

His subjects kneel to him as their supreme,

Five hundred steeds presenting at his feet.

But he whose thoughts harp on another theme,

   Prisons Aegeon, Ganymede sets free,

   And in his grace―save Juno―who but he?






But Juno, when his mind on Danae ran,

Showed like a crow unto a silver dove,

Rose to a blackberry, raven to a swan.

It makes him mad he cannot aid his love.

Twelve moons are filled and waned since, hapless man,

The day expired he should his valour prove,

   And now―though late―he’ll try his best endeavour

   To fetch her thence―for better late than never.



But lo, amidst his hostile preparation,

By chance a lord of Argos rode that way,

Who, known to be a stranger of that nation,

The king demands of Danae to bewray

What he hath heard: he ’gins a sad oration,

Which doth the prince’s host from waftage stay.

   “In what remote clime, if by rumour blown,”

   Quoth th’Argos lord, “was not bright Danae known,

The rest of the history of Danae





When she was Danae, and whilst Darrain tower

Enclosed earth’s beauty in her brazen hold?

But now she’s cropped, and that sweet smelling flower

Is vaded quite and withered, wrapped in mould.”

The king at this lost all his vital power.

His blood forsakes his heart, his brain grows cold,

   His thoughts confuse, his soul within him bleeds,

   When th’Argos lord of Danae thus proceeds:



Of the tower, Darrain’s strength, Acrisius guard,

Within how many gates of brass enclosed,

Of their nocturnal watch, diurnal ward,

’Twixt man and her, what strong bars interposed

To keep her chaste, what deaf man hath not heard?

Yet all these locks are with those bolts unloosed:

   O heavens! What mortal wit, what human skill

   Can keep a woman chaste against her will?






Thou jealous fool, why dost thou jail thy wife,

When Darrain’s strong tower cannot love expel?

Better thou hadst to grant her a free life.

If she be honest, she will guide it well,

If otherwise addicted, vain is strife,

Though in the circuit of brass walls she dwell:

   Immure her body fast as thou canst think,

   She’ll make thee cuckold, be’t but through a chink.



The fruits of jealousy




Perhaps her body in strict bonds thou hast,

Yet canst thou not the thoughts within her stay.

Not she that dares not sin is counted chaste;

Not she that’s matched, and cannot step astray;

Not she that fears is ’mongst the virtuous placed:

’Alone she’s chaste that will not, though she may’.

   Their natures are to covet things denied,

   And in forbidden paths to tread aside.






Oft have I seen a steed would keep no tract,

But fling and bound when he was too much reined,

But when he felt his curb and bridle slacked,

Play with the bite that he so much disdained,

And so that steed by gentle means is backed,

Which brooks no rider, being much constrained.

   So doth a sick man still, though he be chid,

   Most covet what the doctors most forbid.






Had Danae ’mongst a thousand suitors played,

And revelled in her father’s palace, then

I doubt not but she still had been a maid,

And, as she did before, despisèd men.

Her ruthless father her fresh youth betrayed,

When he enclosed her in her brazen den:

   Though thousand gates and doors her beauty smother,

   Love breaks through all to make the maid a mother.



Her time expires, her father spies her great,

And threats the beldams to consuming fire.

New guardians are appointed in this heat;

Acrisius doth by sundry means inquire

Of her and of her guard; by no entreat

Or forced torment, made to glut his ire,

   Will they confess. The ladies all dare swear,

   Save th’unsuspected pedlar, none came there,






Nor will bright Danae yet disclose her shame,

Until the long-lamented hour draw near.

Nine moons o’erpassed. Her hour of childing came.

Denial boots not, when such signs appear;

And now ’gainst Cretan Jove she ’gins t’exclaim,

And ’gainst all them that will themselves forswear.

   A child is born; the lad she Perseus names,

   Clears all her maids, and on herself exclaims.






The birth of Perseus




Th’offended king hath doomed them both to die,

And, being inexorable, that doom stands.

The seas they in a mastless boat must try,

Where both th’imperious wind and wave commands.

The piteous mariners themselves apply

To their unwilling task: in their loth hands

   They Perseus take, and the fair Danae guide

   To taste the mercy of the rigorous tide.”






The Argive lord here sighs, but here Jove rages,

Threatening Acrisius, cursing his delay,

But Ganymede at length his spleen assuages,

And aims his threatening thoughts another way.

Having lost Danae quite, he now engages

His love to Juno, and beside her lay,

   Of whom he got a son; in small time after,

   From his aunt Ceres he derived a daughter.






None comes amiss to him, stranger nor kin,

Of his own nation, or of climes remote.

His daughter Venus tells him ’tis no sin

For men to practise dalliance where they dote.

Prince Ganymede that long in grace had been,

And did this looseness in his ’haviour note,

   Demanded how he could his thoughts divide

   To love so many. Thus the king replied:






“I will not in my own vain errors stand,

Nor boldly that which some condemn maintain;

The fault is great if it be truly scanned.

I knew it bad, but can it not refrain,

For madman like I strive to plough the sand,

In seeking my free humour to restrain.

   I burn, and seeking ease, run to the fire;

   I loathe my fault, and yet my guilt desire.






I want the power to govern mine own will;

My headstrong appetite bears all the sway;

I know my way’s loss, yet I wander still;

I see the path, and yet I turn astray:

Thus, like a ship misguided without skill,

Whom a stiff violent tempest bears away,

   To wrack it on some rock or shallow sounds,

   I am transported quite beyond my bounds.






I love, but yet I know not in what fashion;

I love a thousand for a thousand reasons;

My moving thoughts abide in no firm station;

My heart is subject to my blind thoughts’ treasons;

For every sundry lass I enter passion,

And am of love provided at all seasons.

   That wench is modest: O she’s in my books!

   I only love her for her modest looks.






Yon lass is bold: see, see, my heart she easeth,

I like her. She’s not like a milksop bred,

And straight this thought my apprehension seizeth:

She will be much more pliant in the bed;

This is a shrew: her sharpness my soul pleaseth,

Because no sheep; I would the damsel wed,

   And in that thought I scale her amorous fort;

   Sharp noses are all shrews, yet apt for sport.






Is she a scholar? Then her art delights me;

Is she a dunce? Her simpleness contents me;

Doth she applaud my love? Her praise incites me;

Or discommend me? Yet she represents me

With matter of new love. Admit she spites me,

I love her, for her spite no whit torments me,

   For though her words be rough, smooth is her skin,

   What in the first I lose, the last I win.







Hath she a tripping gait? Her short steps move me,

And in her quicker motion I take pride;

Takes she large steps in going? As you love me,

Let me have her: I like her for her stride;

Sings she? I am enchanted, let her prove me

I on her lips can quaver and divide;

   Is she unwieldy? Yet my heart she charms,

   And may be much more active in my arms.






Her I affect, she is so sweet a singer,

And I love her, though she can tune no note;

She plays upon the lute? That nimble finger

Would please me better in a place remote;

Yon dances? I affect a lusty springer,

And on such capering legs who could not dote?

   This cannot dance? Yet when she lies in bed,

   She will find art to have thy fancies fed.






All things enchant me that these ladies do,

And in my frozen breast bright bonfires make;

Thou art a bona-roba? And I woo

Thee for thy breadth and length, thy stature sake;

Thou art a little lass? I like thee too,

And were I sleepy, thou wouldst keep me wake.

   Not one can come amiss, I can find sport

   Both with the fat and leane, the long and short.






Yon lady manners wants? I straight suppose,

Would she learn courtship, how it would beseem her;

This courtship hath? And I must needs disclose

What love I, for her manners, can beteem her;

That hath a whitely face and a long nose?

And for them both I wondrous well esteem her;

   This the green sickness hath? I long to prove her

   This looks not green, but black, I therefore love her.






Is her hair brown? So lovely Leda’s was,

Brown trammelled locks best grace the brightest hue;

Are her locks yellow? Such Aurora’s glass

Presents in her attiring to her view;

Is hair orient bright? It doth surpass;

If chestnut coloured? Such do I pursue.

   My eyes still aim at beauty’s rare perfections,

   And I all colours love and all complexions.






My love can fit itself to every story:

I love a young girl and a woman staid.

Her fresh years please me, and I should be sorry

To lose her youth: who would not love a maid?

Another’s looks are matron-like: I glory

In her, and I her person must invade.

   To end, as many as the world can hold,

   M’ambitious love likes, be they young or old.”






Now to proceed of Danae and her son,

Long tossed upon the ocean’s ruthless streams:

At length her bark th’Apulian shores hath won,

About the hour when Phoebus dons his beam,

And to ascend the eastern hill begun,

When she new waked out of her horrid dreams,

   Herself half dead with cold, her babe near frozen,

   Finds that her bark hath a fair harbour chosen;






Which a poor Naples fisherman espying,

Kenning a bark that had nor oar nor sail,

He leaves the nets that on the shore were drying,

And puts to sea the mastless boat to hale,

Which boarding on the bare planks, he sees lying

A beauteous goddess, covered with a veil,

   And on her knee a babe, or dead or sleeping,

   To which she sang not, but was softly weeping.






It moved the poor man to behold her tears;

He sees th’extremity they both are in.

Her sailless boat unto the land he stears,

And her young infant that was bare and thin,

A wraps in his capuche, and softly bears

Unto his cottage, where no prince hath bin.

   He makes a cheerful fire, and in a while

   The half-starved babe doth on his mother smile,






And being refreshed with what the cottage lent,

Their native beauties repossessed their faces,

Whose rareness the poor man admiring, went

To acquaint the king with one so full of graces,

Who sends for her to court incontinent,

And having seen her beauty, Danae places

   In his throne royal, swearing by his life

   The bounteous seas have sent him this rare wife.






This king Pelonnus hight, who gently prays

To acquaint him with her birth and fortunes passed.

The blushing dame her modest eye ’gan raise,

And to his fair demand replies at last.

She tells him she hath spent her youthful days

In Argos, next how she to sea was cast,

   Of Darrain’s tower, of her untimely fate,

   Of Jupiter’s forged love, Acrisius’ hate,






Discoursing orderly the sum of all,

At which the king oft wept, her fortunes ruing,

Blaming the cause of her untimely fall,

At every intermedium love renewing.

He thinks Acrisius’ hate too great, too small

Jove’s love, that left such beauty for pursuing.

   He woos, she yields, that did the king besot,

   And married; Danaus is between them got.



Pelonnus marrieth Danae & begat Danaus




Of whom and of young Perseus forbear,

To speak of Saturn through the world notorious,

And Jupiter subduing climates near,

As Sicil, Lemnos, Cyprus, still victorious,

Piercing large Italy, and welcomed there

By Janus, for ’mongst kings his style was glorious.

   This Janus bifrons was of ancient name;

   Of him our January took first name.











Janus tells Jove King Saturn dwells them by,

Teaching rude nations tillage, there unknown,

And held in reverence for the princes nigh

Receive his exiled people as their own.

He shows him ploughs, teams, yokes and harrows lie,

And fields of ripened grain already grown.

   This king at length brought Saturn to Jove’s view,

   And by his means atonement ’twixt them grew.






Saturn & Jupiter accord




The good old Janus in Taurentum reigned,

So did Evander in Mount Aventine,

Since one of Rome’s seven hills, and proudly named

By this King Italus of ancient line.

This Italus from Syracuse constrained

Built the great city Albe, by which shine

   Bright Tiber streams. All these at once desire

   Peace and accord between the son and sire.


Janus, Evander








Saturn surrenders Crete, having erected

A city, where Rome’s Capitol now stands,

And a chaste virgin to his wife elected,

Philicis called, colleagued in nuptial bands,

Of whom he Picus got. Picus protected

That city after Saturn, and commands

   The realm adjacent. Faunus was his son,

   And from this Faunus did Latinus come.


Saturn’s second marriage




The poets make this Faunus for his care

O’er husbandry, the ancient sire and father

Of all the rural gods. His queen was fair,

And Fatua hight, who would have bedded rather

With Hercules, supposed Amphitrite’s heir.

But our dispersed story we must gather,

   And of Nicostrate, wife to Evander,

   A little speak, before too far we wander,






Who dotes on Jupiter, and laughed him charms

With Negromantic characters, in which

He expert grows, and having left off arms,

Studies the black spells of this sorcering witch,

Abandons horrid sound of shrill alarms,

Now only labours to be wise and rich,

   And leaves the Latian Kings, where long he stayed,

   After the league ’twixt him and Saturn made,






To Crete returning, where Queen Juno was

Delivered of a foul mishapen lad

Called Vulcan, Ceres of a lovely lass

Hight Proserpine.The envious queen grows sad

To see her aunt’s child in bright looks surpass

Hers in deformed foulness. Jove’s more glad

   Of Proserpine than Vulcan, which espied,

   The jealous queen doth with her husband chide.


The birth of Vulcan and Proserpine





She chases, he laughs; she blames his wanton riot,

He gives her liberal scandal a deaf ear;

She counts herself food to suffice his diet,

And tells of all his ’scapes, how, when and where,

That he is forced, to keep his queen in quiet,

To marry Ceres to a great lord there,

   With whom he gave, t’augment his name and power,

   Sicil and Syracusa for her dower.






To Vulcan he the isle of Lemnos gave,

To be instructed in hid geomancy,

In the deep bowels of the earth to rave,

To learn the force of fire in pyromancy,

Taught by Beroutes and Piragma grave,

The third, Steropes, read him negromancy,

   Himself the god of smiths, Lemnos his seat,

   Where these three Cyclopes on his anvils beat,






And frame Jove’s trisulc thunders. Some divine

Lame Vulcan in his birth was straight and fair,

And being in Jove’s lap, where planets shine

And stars like golden studs stick round his chair,

The mansion of the gods, th’heavens crystalline,

Dandling his smiling babe, he spies the air

   All in gilt flames: earth burn, the meteors drink

   The boiling seas, and heaven’s huge columns shrink,


How Vulcan became lame




For Phaeton had set the world on fire,

At which Jove rising from his throne in haste

To thunder-strike the youth that durst aspire,

Down drops his son towards earth, and falling, passed

Through all the planets, by Apollo higher

Than all the rest, so by the moon at last,

   ’Twixt heaven and earth. Who can describe the way,

   When he was falling a long summer’s day?



He lights in Lemnos, nor can Vulcan die

By this occase, being born of heavenly seed.

Though on the earth amazed the infant lie,

He breathes at last―so have the Fates decreed.

Of Vulcan’s craft and how he did affy

Venus―love’s queen―how Mars did ’twixt them breed

   Strife and dissension, how the winged boy

   Was born, belongs not to the tale of Troy.



Yet that I may not slightly let them pass

Without some small remembrance of my pen,

Whose history so oft recorded was

By ancient poets, high-renownèd men,

To Thracian Mars and the bright Paphian lass

A little space we must look back again,

   And speak how she her bridal bed did blot

   The very night young Cupid was begot,






When Mars and Venus made appoint to meet,

And to that end a private conclave found

To dally out the hours in kisses sweet

And sports, in which the love’s queen did abound,

That no sly tell-tales should their pastimes greet,

The obscure cave they first perusèd round,

   To shun disturbance till their game was done,

   Jealous of all but fearing most the Sun.






Knowing his searching eye is prying still

Through every casement, loophole, chink, or cranny,

Therefore to blind him they must use their skill:

The blabbing Phoebus they dread most of any.

A noble youth on Mars attended still,

Whose secrecy he had preferred ’bove many:

   Gallus they call him, whom God Mars will have

   To watch the Sun at th’entrance of the cave.






The lovers enter, Gallus stays behind.

All the night long, eyelids never close,

But towards the dawn, dull sleeps his senses bind

In their soft chains, his powers to rest dispose.

He neither fears fawns, nymphs, stars, moon, or wind,

Nor any other eye: the sun god rose,

   And in his mounting through th’Olympic sky,

   He that sees all things did the lovers spy.



The tell-tale Sun straight to the smith discovers

Th’adulterate practice of this amorous pair,

Who straight devised a net to catch the lovers.

Meantime Mars wakes, sees Venus lie all bare:

Both overslept themselves, for Phoebus hovers

Over their cave, and in his face doth stare.

   Th’astonished war god knows not what to think,

   Seeing the Sun still peeping through a chink.






Th’astonished god first gently Venus wakes,

Who blushed to think the Sun their stealth had spied.

Then by the curlèd locks he Gallus takes,

And thus he says: “Since then we are descried

By thy default, behold―” Poor Gallus quakes

Before his sentence, and his face would hide.

   “―Be thou transformed, thou that hast wrought our shame,

   Unto a bird that still shall bear thy name.”



This new-made bird, the cock in shape translated,

Yet in his heart his ancient thoughts retains,

For every morn the sun by him is rated.

He by his crowing to God Mars complains,

Before the Sun is in his chair instated,

Or in his hand takes the celestial reins.

   He ’gainst his sides still with his wings is drumming,

   And tells to all the world the Sun is coming.






Of Perseus next, and of the Gorgon slain,

And of Acrisius, by young Danaus’ aid

Restored to Argos, and the tower Darrain,

And of Andromede, the lovely maid,

My muse sings next. In Hespery, called Spain,

Phorcus―supposed a sea-god―often preyed

   On harmless strangers, who their voyage bore

   Along by Spain, upon th’Hesperian shore.






This Phorcus three sweet daughters leaves: Medusa,

Euryale, and Stheno, their names, 

All fair at first: the glorious eye of day

Saw never three more bright and stately dames.

These did the spacious Dorcad Islands sway.

The eldest ’gainst Minerva war proclaims,

   At which the goddess high displeasance takes,

   And turns their golden hairs to crawling snakes.


The Gorgons






She leaves them all no more save one broad eye,

Placed in Medusa’s forehead, and to shine

Like sulphur, whose aspect infects the sky,

Parches the grass, and blasts both rose and spine.

It hath the basilisk’s true property

To kill far off. Her head is serpentine,

   And by the pest that on her forehead burns,

   All that behold her face to stones she turns.






About her palace thousand pictures stand,

Once men, now images of senseless stone.

Of all that in the Dorcad Islands land,

If by these Gorgons seen, survives not one.

More than Medea’s rod, or Circe’s wand,

Her poisonous eyeball hath transformed alone.

   Armies of men have compassed her at once,

   Armies of men her eye hath turned to stones.






Throughout her kingdom you may people see

Dispersed and taking stands in sundry places,

But neither move hand, arm, head, foot, or knee,

For they have stony limbs and marble faces,

That oft-times travellers deceived be,

To see dead stones retain such lively graces:

   Some asking them the climate, some the way,

   Others to know th’uncertain time of day.






Nay, sometimes quarrels have betwixt them grown:

Receiving to their answers no reply,

One angry fellow draws upon a stone,

And swears deep oaths he’ll make it speak or die;

Others more patient, yet displeased are gone,

And say they skill no points of honesty,

   Nor wonder if these strangers so mistook,

   When every dead face had a living look.






Here one was going, and in going spied

By adder-haired Medusa, and so stays

Even as one leg did ’fore another stride,

And as his hindmost heel he ’gan to raise

To draw it after, both his legs abide

Fixed to the earth, his arms beside him plays;

   His body forward bends, the picture showing

   The shape of one on earnest business going.






Another digging as the queen came by,

Stoops still with one hand ’bove the other placed,

The right foot fixed, the left advancèd high

To drive the dull spade in; another faced

The Gorgon monster, as his love passed by,

Who spreads his amorous arms t’infold her waist,

   And smiling in her face, his image stands,

   Laughing with half-shut eyes and broad-spread hands.



Here stands a fisher by the water’s brink,

The angle-hand stretched forward to the river,

And there a shepherd heaved his hands to drink

On his black bottle, both his lips unsever,

His head bends back, legs ’stride, and you would think

He drank still, but this draught must last forever:

   His bottle’s gone, still stands he strangely faring,

   Hands heaved, neck bent, mouth yawning, eyes broad staring.



Of marble statues many thousands more,

In field, groves, orchards, highways, houses, streets,

Some naked, others in the robes they wore,

So hardly doth she deal with all she meets.

This man she takes conferring, but before

He can conclude his tale, his spirit fleets.

   Some she finds chasing, laughing, striking, riding,

   All turned to stones in selfsame shape abiding.






I fear my pen hath with Medusa met,

For on the sudden it grows stiff and dull,

And cannot now defray my promised debt,

And with the Gorgons stain this margent full.

Here therefore this day’s journey shall be set,

And blame me not if my tired hand I pull

   From his diurnal task: at our next view,

   I bring him on this stage that Gorgon slew.





[Heywood’s endnotes to Canto V]

Ixion was king of Thessaly, who being by Jupiter taken up into heaven and comforted of certain griefs there, fell in love with Juno, which Jupiter perceiving, deceived him with a cloud, made in the likeness of Juno, of which Ixion begat the Centaurs, after adjudged by the Destinies to be tortured with the wheel in hell.

I hold Ganymede rather surprized by Jupiter in battle, than as some write to be stolen by him as his minion, and after this rape made his cup-bearer.

Apulia, where Danae was cast upon the shore, is now a part of Italy bordering upon the Adriatic sea.

Vulcan was Jupiter’s smith, an excellent workman, on whom the poets father many rare works, among which I find one not unnecessary to be remembered, which Ovid speaks of, and I thus English.


This tale is blazed through heaven, how once unware

Venus and Mars were took in Vulcan’s snare.

The god of war doth in his brow discover

The perfect and true pattern of a lover,

Nor could the goddess Venus be so cruel

To deny Mars: soft kindness is a jewel

In any woman, and becomes her well.

In this the queen of love doth most excel:

O heaven, how often have they mocked and flouted

The smith’s polt-foot, whilst nothing he misdoubted,

Made jests of him and his begrimed trade,

And his smooged visage, black with coal-dust made,

Mars tickled with loud laughter, when he saw

Venus like Vulcan limp, to halt and draw

One foot behind another, with sweet grace

To counterfeit his lame uneven pace.

Their meetings first the lovers hide with fear

From every jealous eye and captious ear.

The god of war and love’s lascivious dame,

In public view were full of bashful shame;

But the Sun spies how this sweet pair agree.

O what, bright Phoebus, can be hid from thee?

The Sun both sees and blabs the sight forthwith,

And in all post he speeds to tell the smith.

O Sun, what bad examples dost thou show?

What thou in secret seest, must all men know?

For silence, ask a bribe from her fair treasure,

She’ll grant thee that shall make thee swell with


The god, whose face is smooged with smoke and fire,

Placeth about their bed a net of wire

So quaintly made, that it deceives the eye.

Straight, as he feigns, to Lemnos he must hie.

The lovers meet, where he the train hath set,

And both lie fast catched in a wiry net.

He calls the gods, the lovers naked sprawl,

And cannot rise, the queen of love shows all.

Mars chafes, and Venus weeps, neither can flinch,

Grappled they lie, in vain they kick and winch:

Their legs are one within another tied,

Their hands so fast that they can nothing hide.

Amongst these high spectators, one by chance

That saw them naked in this pitfall dance,

Thus to himself said: “If it tedious be

Good god of war, bestow thy place on me.”


Mars & Venus




Of the Gorgons, because there are many opinions, we will a little insist upon their particular discovery. Of them there is a double kind, some hairy, some bald, yet all born of Phorcus and Cetus. These three sisters had but one common eye and one common tooth to feed with. The Latins call them Lamiae, à gutturis amplitudine, which Lamia some think to be the daughter of Neptune, and the first prophetess, called Sibylla among the Africans. They were also called Pemphrado, Erito and Dino, to whom some have likewise added Iaeno, whose name both Aeschylus and Hesiod in their works remember. They were called Graeae, and live in the utmost islands of Iberia towards the west. Some likewise number Scylla amongst the Gorgons; others describe them not with snaky locks, but heads of dragons and girdles―about their waists―of vipers. All concluding in this, that their sight was immediate death, which Aeschylus signified in this:

 Hesiod in Theogony

Aeschylus in Prometheus

Pausanias in Phocicis

 Apollodorus of Athens, Liber 2

 MelanthesLiber de Mysteriis 


MenanderLiber  de Mysteriis





Sunt tres sorores his volucres non procul,

Serpentibus dirisque comptae Gorgones,

Quas intuens nemo diu spiraverit.


The beast Nomades in Libya hath likewise the name of Gorgon, somewhat resembling a sheep, which others describe more like a sea-calf. It is said this monster by the infection of his eyes kills what beast so ever he meets. His hair covers his brows. Many of Marius’ soldiers marching against Jugurth followed this beast, mistaking him for a sheep, and presently fell down dead. By these Graeae, Phorci, these Gorgons and monsters of the sea is understood nothing else but that knowledge and wisdom, which is acquired by experience, to purchase which it behoved Perseus to use the aid of Pallas, the helm of Pluto, and the sword of Mercury, by virtue of which he subdued those monsters, which the poets have amongst others thrust into hell.

 Alexander Myndius,

liber de jumentis

Athenaeus, liber 2


Centauri in foribus stabulant Scyllaeque biformes

Et centumgeminus Briareus ac belua Lernae,

Horrendum stridens, flammisque armata Chimaera

Gorgones Harpyiaeque et forma tricorporis umbrae.



Back to Canto V (1-50)

Notes to Canto V

On to Canto VI (1-50)

How to cite

Patricia Dorval, ed., 2012.  Troia Britanica Canto V, 55-112 (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).



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