Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica VI (51-110)

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)

CANTO VI (51-110)

Stanzas 51-60 — 61-70 — 71-80 81-90 91-100101-110 — Heywood’s endnotes to Canto VI

Back to Stanzas 1-50

Ed. Gaëlle Ginestet



Much richer gifts in interchange of state,

Our sovereign to the lofty Spaniard gave,

The warlike constable who came of late

From Hespery a five years’ truce to crave;

More precious presents and of dearer rate,

Bore England’s Admiral, both rich and brave,

   When from King James sent with a princely train,

   He was the great ambassador for Spain.



                           The Lord High

 Admiral Ambassador

for Spain.




Jove’s branch, called the Palladium, the King placed

In Pallas’ royal temple, where it stood

Till Troy’s proud walls were quite deject and razed,

And Ilion’s lofty turrets swam in blood;

Great Ilion dies, and he that next him graced

The Trojan crown – a prince not all so good –,

  Laomedon, of whom we here will stay

  To bear the sons of Danae on their way.



Who, as they passed the desert, from afar

They might espy a goodly knight lie spread

Upon the grass; he seemed a man of war,

For he was armed at all points, save the head.

On his fair brow appeared no soldier scar,

It seems he had not arms long managèd;

  Exchanges passed of many a kind salute,

  Thus speaks the armèd knight, whilst they stand mute:



“Who hath not of the great Acrisius heard?

Acrisius, he that built the brazen tower?

Now Argos’ king no longer, but debarred

His native kingdom by his brother’s power;

His brother Pricus hath against him warred,

And all his glories reft him in an hour”.

  “Stay there”, quoth Perseus, “you have touched me nearly

  Acrisius’ wrongs, King Pricus shall buy dearly.



We are Acrisius’ grandchild, and descended

From beauteous Danae, in that fort of brass

That Lady Rumour hath so far commended,

Who in gold liquid shower drops courted was;

Oh! Where was I, Acrisius t’ have defended,

With Pricus’ blood to have stained the Argive grass:

  Both Abas’ sons, a prince frugal and thrifty,

  He, Lynceus’ son, the sole remain of fifty.



Is brotherhood abroad so light esteemed,

That kingdoms can such holy knots untie?

Let me no more Jove’s royal son be deemed

But for Acrisius’ wrongs, King Pricus die.

He that in all the world austerest seemed,

And stood upon most points of honesty,

  Hath proved the greatest hypocrite: like those

  Without precise, within, religious foes.



Assist me, noble knight, in this adventure”,

Quoth the great Gorgon-tamer; when replied

The armèd stranger: “By the firm indenture

Of honour, I am elsewhere bound to ride;

But if with me you will my voyage enter

And see what shall my chivalry betide,

  My noble task achieved, I then will lead you

  To Pricus, where my knowledge much may stead you.



When I the triple-shaped Chimera have slain,

Whose dreadful form makes all Sicilia quake,

Bellerophon will then return again,

And your attempt ’gainst Pricus undertake”.

The Princes wonder at Chimera’s name,

And that one knight his desperate life should stake

   Against such odds, asking what imposition

   Hath sent him on this dangerous expedition,









Or whether uncompelled he be so mad

To seek assured destruction, and to scale

The Devil’s den, where nothing can be had

But certain ruin. His tough skin is mail,

A terrible huge lion’s head, which drad,

A chievre’s body, and a serpent’s tail,

   Him whose vast gorge whole armies cannot fill,

   Why should one desperate knight attempt to kill?



Bellerophon replies: “by Pricus’ doom,

Not my own will, I am compelled to go.

Else in my growing years that yet but bloom,

I’d flesh my sword on a more equal foe.

But in Sicilia I must seek my tomb,

Or kill the triple monster, dreaded so”.

   Saith Perseus then: “What makes him so severe?”.

   “Attend”, quoth he, “great princes you shall hear:


King Pricus,

brother to Acrisius








Oh! Why did Nature frame these women fair?

And make their outward features angel-bright?

When their black insides stained and spotted are

With lust, with pride, contempt, disdain, and spite?

Why should the snowy swans in beauty rare

Have such black feet? Why should the lily white

   Bear such rank smell? Can men withstand their fates,

   When golden vessels bring in poisoned cates?


Bellerophon’s tale








I thought I might have gathered a fresh rose,

And not have pricked my finger with a thorn,

Or a sweet flower out of the garden chose,

But not a nettle in my hand have worn;

Still, next the sweetest flower, the nettle grows,

The rarest beauty hath the rudest scorn,

   The rover’s ship bears the best promising sails,

   The foulest serpents the most golden scales.



By a fair woman is my youth misspent,

My innocent youth that never love embraced,

Her devilish mind to malice wholly bent,

My fortunes hath o’erturned, my name disgraced,

And I, through her malevolent intent,

Like a poor exile from my country chased;

   Oh woman! Made of envy, pride, and lusts,

   Woe to the man that to thy weakness trusts”.



“My hopes”, quoth Perseus, “I on this have laid,

And think her heart to be her beauty’s peer,

Nor where I trusted most am I betrayed,

Andromeda I know still holds me dear”.

“The stranger knight”, quoth she, “that doth upbraid

Our sex so much, methinks is too severe,

   To blame all women, for one lady’s deeds”,

   At this all silence made, whilst he proceeds.



“In Pricus’ court my childhood I have spent,

And there the grace of many ladies gained.

But I, whose thoughts were all on knighthood bent,

Regardless of their looks, their loves disdained.

Among the rest, Queen Aurea often sent

Gifts and smooth letters, fraught with lines unfeigned;

   This beauteous queen, whose thoughts were at such strife,

   Was my dread sovereign’s spouse: King Pricus’ wife.



More than her ravishing beauty could entice,

Th’ allegiance to my king with me prevailed;

The more the wanton queen incites to vice,

The more her sighs and amorous courtships failed.

I held my name and honour of more price

Than basely yield, when womanish lust assailed;

   At last, with such hot flames her entrails burned,

   That, being disdained, her love to rancour turned.



She that before held of my person dearly

Now damns my presence to the deepest hell

And in her heart, vows to revenge severely

My loyal scorn. I know no hate so fell

As that which was once love. It touched her nearly,

Where love once lodged such poisonous hate doth dwell,

   That now she aims her envy at my head,

   Nor can she live, Bellerophon not dead.



Forthwith she cites me to King Pricus’ throne,

And as a ravisher I am accused:

She swears that when I found her all alone,

I would her royal person have abused,

And then round pearls about her eyeballs shone,

Which dropped down by her cheeks—such craft she used!

   O heaven! What cannot cunning women do

   By oaths, and tears, to win their husbands too!



I pleaded innocence, but what, God wot,

Could my weak plea against her tears prevail?

And to accuse her spouse-breach booted not,

Her whom tears helped, could protestations fail?

Besides in honour I could lay no spot

Upon her loyalty, rather bewail

   Her want of grace, and the high gods importune,

   To assist my innocence, and guide my fortune.



When I asked witness of such foul abuse,

She thus replied, commixing words with tears:

“When lustful men aim at such horrid use,

They watch, all spial eyes and listening ears;

Nor can the want of witness plead excuse,

For who, that to a woman fancy bears,

   Will, when he seeks t’ inforce her ’gainst all reason,

   First, call his witness, to such hated treason?



Rather he watcheth the most silent hour,

When man and beast is sunk in leaden slumbers

And Morpheus, he that hath on midnight power,

The world with universal darkness cumbers;

When, saving lust and murder, all the powers

Of earth lie hushed and charmed; when no man numbers

   The iron tongues of clocks; such a black time

   Should have been guilty of his more black crime.



For double witness in this case I stand;

Pricus, you are my husband and my king,

And where should Aurea, if not at your hand,

Seek Justice?”. At that word fresh sources spring

From her drowned eyes: what need the cause be scanned

With more sufficient proof? What needs she bring

   More arguments? Since every tear she spilt,

   Persuades her loyalty, my heinous guilt.



The King, though inly moved with wrath and spleen,

Yet in his calm looks moderates his ire.

He calls to mind how faithful I have been,

Since when I served as knight, before, as squire.

Loath would he unrevengèd leave his Queen,

As loath doth he my innocent blood desire;

   Therefore, ’twixt both, this rigorous doom he gave,

   That the Chimera’s womb should be my grave”.



His tale thus ended, the two princes vow

To lend him all assistance: by their aid,

Bellerophon hath made Chimera bow,

Which done, they jointly Pricus’ realm invade;

Acrisius by their arms is raisèd now,

And Pricus slain; in Argos they are stayed

   By old Acrisius, who repents at last,

   Of Danae ’mongst the ruthless billows cast.



The noble Perseus he adopts his son,

And makes him heir apparent to the crown,

Sorry for all the spight against him done.

And now bright Danae he accounts his own,

Sending young Danaus and Bellerophon

With royal gifts, soon to the princess known,

   Showing by these his reconcilèd heart,

   But with the warlike Perseus he’ll not part,



Whom the same day he Argos King creates,

Himself in Darrain lives a life retired.

Perseus Andromeda his Queen instates

In the like pomp, a lady much admired

Five children he begat, so would the Fates

More valiant, with their father’s gifts inspired:

   Rich Sthenelus, great Bachmon, and bold Demon,

   Noble Erictreus, and fair Gorgophon.


Perseus’ issue.

Herodotus in Polymnia






This Gorgophon is held to be the first

That in those days was known to marry twice:

Her husband dead, alone this lady durst

Prove second spousals, which was held a vice;

The chastest matrons her example cursed,

Who held their constant love in sovereign price.

   Our hinder widows saint her name in heaven,

   Some four, some five, nay some have told to seven.

Pausanias in Corinthiacis








His sons take wives, Acrisius still surviving,

Who glories in his warlike grandchild’s seed,

Their honours from their father’s acts deriving,

For by their swords did many tyrants bleed;

But leave them in their deeds of valour striving,

And of Acrisius’ timeless fate proceed,

   Forgetting what was told him long agone,

   That Danae’s son must turn him into stone.



When Perseus had in Argos governed long,

Upon a night, he much desired to see

Acrisius, and to Darrain that was strong

With triple gates, alone ascended he,

There knocks; the porters had forgot his tongue

And with bold words denied him entrance free,

   At which, enraged, the prince his harpe drew,

   And at first stroke th’ ill-languaged guardian slew.



The uproar flows apace, clamours arise

From all parts of the fort: to the king’s ear

They come at last, who with the warders’ cries

Astonished, to the tumult preaseth near,

Thinking t’ appease the broil and riotise,

But, hapless man, un’wares he perished there:

   The enraged prince that mad-like laid about,

   Struck with a blow his grandsire’s lifeblood out. 









Perseus the unavoided Fates now blames,

And lays Acrisius in his marble grave,

He that on earth enjoys the high’st-styled names,

Unto their dooms must yield himself a slave.

From all delights the prince himself reclaims,

In Argos’ throne he no delight can have,

   But for his sake that th’ Argive sceptre bore,

   He leaves the province, ne’er to see it more.









His court unto Mycenae he transported,

But thither did his sorrows him pursue,

And therefore with a huge host bravely sorted,

Himself into the Orient he withdrew;

His army he with warlike phrase exhorted

’Gainst Liber Pater, whom in arms he slew,

   And where the Eastern monarch’s blood lay spilt,

   Persepolis, a stately town, he built.


Theseus in rebus Corinthiacis








He calls the province Persia by his name,

Where Bachmon in the kingdom him succeeds;

Erictreus did all the nations tame

By the Red Sea, and there his honoured deeds

Are chronicled; great Sthenelus thy fame

Lives in Mycenae: the pontific weeds

   Are for thy royalty reserved alone;

   In Thebes, remains twice-married Gorgophon.



Alcaeus and Electryon from his line

Descend; Alcaeus was Amphitrio’s sire,

Electryon as Boccac’ doth devine,

Alcmena got, whose face all eyes admire;

Alcmena and Amphitrio combine

Themselves by Hymen’s ceremonial fire;

   Of this bright Theban dame through Greece commended,

   This monster-tamer, Hercules, descended.


The genealogy of Hercules







But how great Jove with bright Alcmena lay,

Himself transforming to Amphitrio’s shape,

Adding three nights together without day;

How Juno envious of her husband’s rape,

Alcmena’s childbirth hindered, and did stay

The unborn infants who with wonder scape

   Her Hell-born charms; how by Galanthis’ smile,

   Juno was mocked; Alcmena scaped her guile;





Galanthis, Alcmena’s nurse




How young Alcides in the cradle lying,

Checked two envenomed snakes by Juno sent

To strangle him; how Ypicleus dying

By those charmed serpents, to Elysium went;                        

And how the Jove-starr’d lad his valour trying                      

Upon th’ Olympic mount: disgracèd sent                                

   All such as came to have their valours tried,                         

   To leap, to run, to wrestle, or to ride;


Ypicleus Hercules’ twin brother and son to Amphitrio






How by the king Eristheus he was taught,

Loved beauteous Megera, and famed all Greece,

And through the world renowned adventures sought,

Conquered great Cacus and the Golden Fleece;

How Achelous he to ruin brought,

Doted on Deianira that fair piece,

   And Iole, who the more fame to win,

   Made great Alcides on a distaff spin. 





Iole daughter to Cacus.



All these we leave as tales too often told

And rubs that would our running voyage let,

Not that our thoughts despise them being old,

(For to Antiquity we owe much debt),

But because Time that hath his acts enrolled

To many a common sale his deeds hath set,

   Therefore (though no part of his worth to reave him)

   We now for matters more allied must leave him,



And now look back to Troy: Laomedon

Intends new walls about his town to rear,

But wanting coinèd gold to deal upon,

Solicits all the Gods, such as dwelt near,

Chiefly those two that rule the sea and sun:

Neptune and Phoebus money-masters were,

   Of whose rich priests for so much coin he calls,

   As may repair his city’s ruined walls.



They dispurvey their vestry of such treasure

As they may spare; the work now being ended,

Demand their sums again; but out of measure 

At their request, the monarch seems offended,

And says he means to pay them at his pleasure.

The Gods, by whom Troy was with walls defended,

   Enraged at his ingratitude, conspire

   With joint revenge to wreak their spleenful ire.








The wrathful Neptune first his billows raised

Above the high-built walls, thinking to drown

Those lofty spires whom all the world hath praised,

Hurrying his brinish waters through the town.

Now dolphins play where barbèd steeds have grazed,

In every paved street Neptune’s billows frown,

   Till being weary with the city’s sack,

   He draws himself into his channels back.



For by the Fates’ appointment the proud God

Must keep his falling ebbs as well as flow,

Else pale-faced Cynthia, at whose dreadful nod

Obedient Neptune shrinks, her rage will show,

For she commands his waves, and his abode

Is pointed by the Moon, whether below

   In his abysm, or rocks appearing higher,

   He guides his looks by her immortal fire.



But as he shrinks his waters at her beck,

He leaves much slimy filth upon the shore,

Now ’gan the god of fire his beams reflect

Upon the drownèd continent that wore

The sea-gods’ wrath, and now must bide his check,

A hot contagious stem, not known before,

   Poisons the clime, and as the heat increased,

   The infectious pest consumed both man and beast.



Half-perished Troy unable to withstand

Their double wrath, her people from her fly,

Knowing they both offended sea and land,

And to abide their vengeance must needs die;

The King himself, that wants power to command,

The all-consuming plague fears to come nigh

   The walls he reared, but must to Delphos travel,

   To excuse his pride, that with the gods durst cavil.



His due oblations ended, ’tis returned

That he must seek th’ offended gods t’ appease,

Else the hot plague – his people’s entrails burned –

Shall all the remnant of his subjects cease,

Nor must his fearful penance be adjourned;

Nothing can Neptune and Apollo please,

   But monthly to a monster of the flood

   To yield a beauteous maid of the king’s blood.



This covenanted, the Trojan king prepares

Allotted virgins; now th’ infection slakes,

At length alas—for bold Fate all things dares—

The lot the beauteous maid Hesione takes

The king’s sole daughter; Fortune nothing cares

For him whose hand th’ imperial sceptre shakes.

   The hood-winked goddess dare on all sides strike,

   Beggars and kings in lots are both alike.



Hesione, daughter to Laomedon






Imagine her with thousand virgins guided

Unto her fearful tomb, her monster-grave;

Imagine how the hulky devil slided

Along the seas’ smooth breast, parting the wave;

Alas, poor naked damsel, ill provided,

Whom millions, without Heaven’s help, cannot save;

   Yet see, help comes: behold the pride of Greece

   Decked in the conquest of the Golden Fleece.



Along the glassy Hellespont, by chance,

Alcides sailing sees upon the land

The all-despoilèd virgin in a trance,

Wailing her ruin on the briny strand;

Above the waves he sees a whale advance

His dreadful shape, at whose sight all that stand

   Upon the beach, some sounding as half dead,

   Others dismayed, back to the city fled.



Such only whom the cause concernèd most

And unto whom the virgin was allied

Attend her swallowing, on the marine coast,

For whom no mortal safety can provide.

Now great Alcides with his Greekish host

Lands on the continent unterrified,

   And while the Trojan king with terror shakes,

   The virgin’s rescue boldly undertakes.



Two barbèd steeds, the best that Asia bred,

Are by the king ordained the victor’s meed,

By whose strong hand the sea-whale shall fall dead,

The virgin live, and Troy from pest be freed;

Now falls his huge club on the monster’s head,

With such impetuous weight and violent speed

   As if heaven’s greatest column should down fall

   That bears the high roof of th’ Olympic Hall.



The hideous Augur slain and she released,

The perjured king the promised meed denies,

And seeing Troy both walled and free from pest,

Excludes the Greek for his bold enterprise,

Who sails from Greece, after few months of rest

Doth burn Larisse, and Tenedos surprise,

   Ruinates Troy, expels Laomedon,

   Beats down the walls made by the Sea and Sun.





 The first destruction of Troy



In which achievement Philoctetes fought,

Made of Alcides’ vanquished foe his friend,

The king Eristheus there for honour sought,

And Creon to this dreadful fight gave end.

The noble Theseus his assistance brought,

Theban Amphitrio did his arm extend

   ’Gainst Asia’s pride, and with the rest returning,

   Aided great Hercules in Troy’s first burning.


Creon King of Thebes







These, as they were a ship-board, having filled

The vast wombs of their barks with wealthy spoils,

Insulting in the Trojan blood they spilled,

Discoursing of their fights and dangerous broils,

And such great victories attained but seld,

Though with more labours, and insudate toils;

   Cups of Greek wine unto this conquest crowned,

   Thus King Eristheus boards the Princes round.



Now the first vigil of the night is entered,

With some discourse let’s overtake the sun,

Who flying, is by this beneath us centered,

And whilst the waking stars their courses run,

Discourse, who first the Tartar gates adventured,

And by whose hand that bold attempt was done,

   Of Orpheus and Eurydice, and in fine

   Of Pluto and the ravished Proserpine.






    Pluto and Proserpine



When Theseus thus: “Since you desire to know

The true report of these Tartarian brawls,

Which none can better than Alcides show,

Or Theseus present: by th’ Aetnean walls,

The waters of Pergusa gently flow,

And thence into the neighbouring river falls:

   Crowned with a grove, through which the lake doth run,

   Making his bows a bongrace from the sun.



Hither fair Proserpine repairing still,

With daisies, daffodils, and lilies white,

Roses and marigolds her lap to fill,

And to return home laden (a sweet sight)

Chaplets to make, or garlands by fine skill;

By chance, the god of shades in edge of night,

   In his black ebon chariot hurrying by,

   Upon the virgin casts a ravisher’s eye.



He spies, and loves, and catches up at once

Th’ affrighted virgin, who lets fall her flowers.

He bears her over hills, dales, rocks, and stones.

She calls on mother, friends, and tears she pours.

Mother nor friend can hear her shrieks and groans.

Through pools and lakes the god of Tartar scours,

   He yerks his hot steeds with his wiry strings,

   And from his coach wheels rusty darkness flings,



And calls his jetty stallions by their names,

Whose hard hoofs make the vaulted centre sound; 

His rattling chariot, through the air proclaims

His fear and flight, with burnished brass shod round.

Nor once looks back the dreadful god of flames,

Or thinks his rape safe on the upper ground;

   But with his ebon mace the earth enforces,

   Which cleft, sinks him, his chariot, and his horses.



The Queen of Plenty, she that crowns the land

With several grain and Neptune’s kingdom bounds,

Searches about, but cannot understand

Of her fair daughter; yet the world she rounds,

And day by day she takes this task in hand,

But in her bootless search herself confounds.

   Aurora finds her in her travels rising,

   The setting sun still sees her, ease despising.







But in our labours we our pen must rest,

Lest in her search, we our invention lose,

Which finding tired with travel, we hold best

A while to cherish, therefore rest we choose.

Here therefore let us breathe, ere we digest

Troy’s second fall, as that which next ensues:

   Our Muse with Phoebus sets, and with the sun

   Tomorrow rising, is our task begun.


[Heywood’s endnotes to Canto VI]

The Gorgons were called by other names, Pemphrado, Erito and Dino, to whom was added a third Iaeno.

Pegasus taking his flight out of Helicon, striking the earth with his hooves, there presently sprung out the pleasant fountain Hippocrene, after consecrate to the Muses. Some moralize this winged horse to a swift-sailed ship, in which Perseus sailed in all his foreign adventures.

Aurea Mala, which the Latins conster golden apples, the Greeks call golden sheep, the word importing so much.

Atlas for his exquisite skill in astronomy was said to bear heaven on his shoulders.

Of this sea-monster Saint Augustine speaks in his book De Civitate Dei, affirming that one of the bones was in his time still unconsumed and kept.

The monster Chimera described with a lion’s head, a goat’s belly, and a serpent’s tail, was a mountain in Sicily, whose top was full of wild lions, the middle of goats, and the foot and lower part swarmed with serpents; this hill Bellerophon by the aid of Perseus, cleared of all these savages, and after made it habitable.

Where Jupiter is said to put three nights into one, some have ingeniously imagined it to be about that time when, at Joshua’s prayer, the Sun stayed his diurnal course (till he had the slaughter of his enemies) which being kept away from a country far remote, must of force lengthen the night by his absence, as it prolonged the day by his presence.

Galanthis by her craft deceiving Juno, was by her after in her anger transformed into a weasel.

Philoctetes son to Paean, and after his surprisal, companion with Hercules in all his travels, to whom at his death he gave his arrows, poisoned in the blood of Hydra.

The length of that night before mentioned may else be alluded to that in the 2. Kings, Chap. XX where Hezekiah being promised by God fifteen years’ life after his extreme sickness, and craving a sign, God commanded the shadow of the Sun to go back ten degrees, which was incontinently performed in the Dial of Ahaz, as it was promised by Isaiah the Prophet.

The Nereides with whom Andromeda was compared were the daughters of Nereus, the son of Oceanus and Thetis; his daughters were nymphs of the sea: he had by the nymph Doris these three children, Halia, Spio, Pasithae and Ligea, with others to the number of fifty, whose names Hesiodus remembers, and Apollodorus.

Laomedon, besides Hesione, whom he best loved, had 3 daughters more, Aethasa, Astioche, and Medicastes, but Hesione being dearest to him, Neptune and Apollo chose her to be devoured of the sea-monster.

Apollodorus Atheniensis,

Lib. 2,


Lib. De Mysteriis 








St Augustine















Ovid, Metamorphoses











Hesiod in Theogony







Apollodorus Atheniensis

The end of the sixth canto.

Back to Canto VI (1-50)

Notes to Canto VI

On to Canto VII


How to cite

Gaëlle Ginestet, ed., 2012.  Troia Britanica Canto VI, 51-110 (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-).




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