COMMENTARY NOTES

spacer3 Euphrosyne was the goddess of good cheer.

spacer11 Minerva’s shield had a gorgon’s head affixed to its center.

spacer12 The blood of Venus’ slain darling Adonis produced the anemone, a flower sacred to the goddess.

spacer13f. Cf. Vergil, Eclogue i.24f.:

verum haec tantum alias inter caput extulit urbes
quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.

spacer30 Brontes was one of the Cyclopes, who served as Jupiter’s blacksmiths.

spacer44 The “bird of the Caucasus” (so described at Vergil, Eclogue vi.42, Seneca, Hercules Furens 1209 and Ps.-Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus 1378) was the vulture who continually pecked at Prometheus’ liver as he was bound to his crag on Mt. Caucasus. Bound to their rock, Rage and Pride will suffer a similar punishment.

spacerI.i Probably the setting is the throne-room of Theodosius’ palace at Constantinople. (Our author has no great sense of location and gives very few indications of the settings of his individual scenes. The locations of most of the other scenes in this play are presumably other precincts of the palace.) Theodosius appointed his son Arcadius his successor at the beginning of 383, the dramatic date of this play.

spacer47 Vertumnus was the Roman god of seasons and plant growth.

spacer52f. For the idiom limen tero cf. Martial X.x.2 and XII.xxix.1.

spacer59 Triptolemus, the darling of Ceres, went about in his magic winged chariot teaching mankind the art of agriculture.

spacer72 Mt. Hymettus (mentioned repeatedly in this play) is a mountain in Attica, famous in antiquity for its thyme honey. Pindus is a mounain range in northern Greece that was deemed sacred to the Muses.

spacerI.ii Flavius Silicho was one of Theodosius’ leading generals. Nectarius was Archbishop of Constantinople. On his first arrival at Constantinople Theodosius banished the Arian bishop Demophilus (280), and in the following year the acceptance of the Nicene Creed by the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople effectively put an end to Arianism within the Empire.

spacer116 Tiphys was the steersman of the Argo.

spacer120 Phryxus is called a fugitive because he and his sister Helle had escaped the clutches of their mad father Athamas on the back of the golden ram, which supplied the fleece later stolen by Jason.

spacer128 Memnon was the beloved dead son of Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Because of their associations with the east, the setting of the play, they are mentioned repeatedly.

spacer132f. The “Xanthian sea” is that body of water bordering the Xanthian Plain of Lycia in Asia Minor, i. e., the Aegean. The reference is to Apollo.

spacer141f. According to various passages of ancient literature, Astraea, the Roman goddess of Justice, quit the earth in disgust at human wickedness. Cf., for example, Ovid, Metamorphoses I.149f.:

victa iacet pietas, et virgo caede madentis
ultima caelestum terras Astraea reliquit.

spacerspacerI.iii Ruffinus (more properly Rufinus) was the Prefect of Theodosius’ Praetorian Guard and not, as indicated by the Dramatis Personae list, a mere courtier.

spacer164 The liver was regarded as the seat of the passions.

spacer165 Cf. such descriptions as Seneca, Medea 858f.:

Flagrant genae rubentes,
pallor fugat ruborem.

And Statius, Thebais 336f.:


quid alternus uultus pallorque ruborque
mutat?

spacer168f. Cf. Ps. - Seneca, Hercules Oetaeus 705f.:

spacerspacerspacerspacerspacervultus loquitur
quodcumque tegis.

spacer178 Arsenius was a Roman, born to a noble senatorial family, who had been made a deacon and sent to Theodosius by Pope Damasias I (in having Ruffinus disdain him as an outsider, our playwright manages to overlook the fact that the historical Rufinus was himself a Gaul by birth).

spacer179 The reference is to the prosperous kingdom of Pergamum established by Attalus I in the second century B. C. “Attalid” therefore became a synonym for “rich.”

spacer182 The “hen of Numidia” is the guinea fowl.

spacerI.iv The historical Nebridius was a nephew of the empress Flaccilla. Much later, after the death of Theodosius, Stilicho unsuccessfully schemed to make his son Eucherius Emperor, and both he and Eucherius were killed for his effort.

spacer196 The fountain Hippocrene on Mt. Parnassus, a favorite haunt of the Muses, was created by the accidental strike of Pegasus’ hoof.

spacer207 I. e., Macedonian.

spacer227 I. e., Homer.

spacer236f. For turrigero vertice cf. Lucan, Bellum Civile I.188 and Propertius III.xvii.35. Here the playwright is thinking of one of those statues which represent a city as a woman with turreted headdress.

spacer238 As a recently founded (or at least re-founded) city, Constantinople is described as taking a place among the world’s other cities, represented as old men.

spacer240ff. Theodosius had inflicted a defeat on the Sarmatians while still Dux of Moesia, and more recently entered into a treaty with the Goths, according to which they were permitted to settle along the Danube in exchange for a promise of military service.

spacer249f. He is thinking of the description of Aeolus keeping his winds encaged in Book I of the Aeneid.

spacer253f. Mimas and Briareus were two of the Giants who piled Mt. Pelion on top of Mt. Ossa in an attempt to launch an assault against the Olympian gods.

spacer259 The waters off Cape Malea (the southernmost tip of the Peloponnese) were notoriously dangerous.

spacer263 I. e., the laurel (the Castalian spring at Delphi was sacred to Apollo).

spacer266 The Romans used branches of cypress as tokens of mourning.

spacerII.1 The prominence given Spanish rivers in this scene is because Spain was the homeland of Theodosius and his dynasty.

spacer275 - 96 Meter: ithyphallics with anacrusis.

spacer291 Carystus was a town on the Euboean coast. Presumably it stands for Greece as a whole, just as the Maeander stands for Asia Minor.

spacerStage direction after 296 From this we learn that scenic feature employed to represent the rock to which Rage and Pride were bound in the Prelude to Act I was somehow employed again in this scene. It is not used again in the play.

spacer297 - 336 Meter: Sapphic stanzas.

spacer306 The Hermus (modern Gediz) was a gold-bearing river in Lydia. It was a source of its nations fabled prosperity.

spacer322 Falernian wine was highly prized by the Romans.

spacer336 Appropriating the Greek word ἕρμαιον, “a lucky find.”

spacer337 - 76 Meter: fourth Aesclepiadean stanzas.

spacer351 Aurora’s aged consort.

spacer363f. See the note on line 12.

spacer375 Doris was a sea-nymph.

spacer376 Stage direction after 376 Parthenope and Ligeia were two of the Sirens. The next idea seems to be the agreement of rivers of the East and the West (representing the two halves of the Empire) in hailing Arcadius.

spacer377 - 388 One could combine the first two lines of each stanza into a single one and then analyze these lines as dactylic tetrameters with spondaic even-numbered feet. But, judging by their stanzaic organization and the way they are written out on the ms. page, they are better regarded as lyrics for a song.

spacer397 An idiosyncracy of our author’s style is his frequent willingness to introduce a new scene in the middle of a line-break in situations where the stage is cleared, with its beginning serving as the final words of one scene and its end as the first words of a next. Even more striking, he even does this with the end of Act II and the beginning of Act III.

spacer399 The Roman goddess of childbirth.

spacer413 “Nabathian” = “Arabian.” Here this is merely a poetic way of saying “eastern.”

spacer432 Several times in the play our playwright uses the word Achates (thinking, of course, of Aeneas’ faithful follower in the Aeneid) simply to designate a constant companion.

spacer438 In speaking of Mentor he does not mean the character in the Odyssey, but rather a famous Greek silversmith mentioned, for example, by Cicero, In Verrem iv.38, Propertius III.ix.13, Martial VIII.l.2 and Juvenal viii.104.

spacer443ff. Closely modeled after Horace, Odes III.iii.1ff.:

Iustum et tenacem propositi virum
non civium ardor prava iubentium,
spacernon voltus instantis tyranni
spacerspacermente quatit solida neque Auster,

dux inquieti turbidus Hadriae,
nec fulminantis magna manus Iovis:
spacersi fractus inlabatur orbis,
spacerspacerinpavidum ferient ruinae.

spacer454 Scylla and Charybdis wer two sea monsters of Greek mythology who were situated on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and Italy. Charybdis was the embodiment of a great maelstrom or whirlpool.

spacer464 He quotes Horace, Epistulae I.i.52.

spacer463 Like the Hermus, the Spanish Tagus was a gold-bearing river.

spacer475f. Fearing imminent defeat, King Priam entrusted his son Polydorus to Polymnestor of Thrace, who treacherously murdered him. The story is dramatized by Euriopides in the Hecuba.

spacer482f. The homes of the rising and the setting sun.

spacer513 Oebalio is normally a poetic way of saying “Spartan,” but Spartans were proverbial for their abstemiousness, so probably the word means little more than “red, purple.” (One might be tempted to think that the playwright wrote Orbilius, referring to the Roman grammarian who served as teacher to Horace — Epode II.1.71, cf. Suetonius, Gramm. 9 — but cf. Oebaliam togam at line 75 of Basilindus, another St. Omers play evidently written by the same author.

spacer529 He recites Horace, Ars Poetica 161 - 5 (to secure a contrast between the surrounding context and this passage in my translation, I have employed the recent translation by A. S. Kline).

spacer560 Mt. Paestum in Campania was famous for its roses.

spacer609 Sinon was the treacherous inventor of the Trojan Horse.

spacer635 See the note on line 116.

spacer639 A pearl.

spacer662 Here vultum is being used as if the verb volo had a fouth principal part: the thing that has been willed by the Augustus.

spacer692 The Greek goddess of justice.

spacer703f. Cf. the Roman proverb odit cane peius et angue (employed at Horace, Epistulae I.xvii.30f.), noticed by Erasmus, Adagiorum Chiliades II.ix.63.

spacer716 See the note on line 560 (Chloris was the Greek goddess of flowers).

spacer740 The reference is to the poisoned gown given Jason’s new bride Creusa by the spurned Medea.

spacer743 I do not understand the idea of autumnal Libra possessing a treasury: is it possibliy because all the foliage turns to gold?

spacer746 This is one of those statements of an exulting character, such as Atreus’ boast at Seneca, Thyestes 885f.:

Aequalis astris gradior et cunctos super
altum superbo vertice attingens polum.

But refigo (“unfasten, abolish”) is clearly inappropriate, and must have replaced the word originally written by the author.

spacer754 Evidently this is the author’s own variant on the tradition that a favorable day was marked with a white stone on a Roman calendar (cf., e g., Martial IX.liii, diesque nobis signanda melioribus lapillis).

spacer813 At this point Arcadius’ poisoning of the cross must have been represented in dumb show.

spacer842f. A proverbial expression having its origin in Vergil, Ecloague, iii.93, latet anguis in herba.

spacer843 Thessaly was deemed to be the home of witches.

spacer855 Pylades was the constant companion of Orestes.

spacer883 The Daedali tectum is of course the Labyrinth.

spacer924 The allusion is to the Five Sacred Wounds of Christ.

spacer945 A Greek river.

spacer948f. The allusion is of course to the wily Ulysses.

spacer954 He is predicting Ruffinus’ execution by strangling.

spacer968ff. For the lover writing his beloved’s name on tree-bark cf. Vergil, Eclogue x.53f., Propertus I.xviii, and the discussion by Francis Cairns, Sextus Propertius: The Augustan Elegist (Cambridge, 2006) 161.

spacer979 I do not know what place “Eutropea” is supposed to represent (scarcely St. Tropez in France, one should imagine). In history, when Arsenius first adopted the hermetic life, he lived at Scete in Egypt.

spacer1012 Oedipus solved the riddle of the sphinx. He cannot navigate the labyrinth of Thodosius’ statements without the aid of Ariadne’s thread.

spacer1060 The Roman goddess of death.

spacer1075ff. Given the present speech, the sincerity of Ruffinus’ speeches and actions for the remainder of this scene is very much in doubt. This is especialliy so in view of the subsequent treachery of the historical Rufinus, who undermined Stilicho’s attempts to resist Alaric and the Visigoths.