INTRODUCTION

1. The single manuscript that preserves Euribates has a concluding colophon Authore M. Cruso Caii Colle: Cantabr. Although in some older sources this individual used to be identified as John Cruso, who matriculated from Gonville and Caius College in 1632, it is now agreed that the play is earlier and that it should be credited to Aquila Cruso, who entered that College in 1610, was admitted to the B. A. in 1613/14, elected a Fellow in 1616, and commenced M. A. in 1618 (in later life he was rector of Sutton, Sussex and prebendary of Chichester Cathedral, and died in 1660). NOTE 1
2. There is evidence for the production of a comedy at Gonville and Caius College in 1616, in the form of an entry from the Bursar’s book: NOTE 2

…To Corbett the glayser, for mending the hall windowes broken at the Comedie, 14 newe quarrells, 4 foote of glasse new Leaded, 7 foote souldring and banding 3 s. …to Ashley ye free-mason, for mending the stone worke of the doore, by Mr Lucyes chamber, broken downe at ye comedie 12 d. …

The suggestion has been made that Euribates was the comedy in question, NOTE 3 and it has been remarked that “Although this year seems a bit early, since Cruso was barely twenty, it is otherwise convenient, for it neatly intersects Cruso’s B. A. and M. A. degrees,” NOTE 4 for there is a visible tendency for academic plays to have been written by M. A. students. This dating is at best tentative and it cannot be proven. But neither can it be disproven. In the first place, no argument can be based on the consideration that the ms. colophon credits Cruso with the M. A. Although he did not receive that degree until 1618, there are other examples of manuscripts which credit the author with the academic degree he possessed at the time the ms. was executed, not at the time he composed the text preserved by the ms. (ms. British Library ms. D 293, containing various poetical works by William Alabaster, illustrates this point, since he is called “Doctor Alabaster” and a number of items in the collection were written decades before he took that degree). The manuscript is signed at the end by its copyist, Thomas Holbech, who entered Emmanuel College in April 1622, NOTE 5 and during Holbech’s undergraduate years Cruso became a highly visible personage, when he was appointed University Preacher in 1623. Holbech may have known him personally, and certainly would have been aware that he possessed the M. A. In the second place, Coldeway and Copenhaver’s tentative suggestion (p. 7) that Euribates was written to be read but not acted does not convince. It is true that the play has few stage directions, but the texts of some academic plays which undoubtedly were staged (such as Abraham Cowley’s Naufragium Ioculare) are at least equally unsatisfactory in this regard. Coldeway and Copenhaver also point to the fact that:

At the end of the play, after the note ascribing the text to Cruso, and after the name Thomas Holbech, appears a message directed “Ad Lectorem” written in the same hand. Whether or not Euribates Pseudomagus was acted, then, it was surely expected to have an audience: but that audience may have consisted, as in modern times, entirely of readers.

The text of Euribates ends two-thirds of the way through the verso side of the page numbered 8, and is followed by the colophon and Holbech’s signature. The remaining blank space is filled with an address Ad Lectorem, written in a strikingly different handwriting than Holbech’s, quickly scrawled in a style that retained some letter-shapes of the Elizabethan secretarial style. It is a paragraph written to preface some previously-delivered academic oration that was about to be sent to the press. It would appear that somebody took advantage of the convenient blank space offered by this final page to scribble it out, and it has nothing at all to do with Euribates. So no particulars of the text or the manuscript can be cited as evidence the play was only meant to be read. Quite the contrary, there are couple of reasons for suspecting that the ultimate source of our text may not have been what Cruso originally wrote, but rather a version that had been shortened for performance: see the note on 473ff. and the note on 1535.
3. The most striking feature of the play is the excellence of its plot-construction and dramaturgic craftsmanship, which is all the more impressive because, unlike such other well-plotted Cambridge comedies as George Ruggle’s 1615 Ignoramus, Euribates does not appear to be based on a Classical or Continental play. Cruso introduces a bogus seer and his swindling sons, as they seem, and only gradually do we learn that they are not self-serving mountebanks but upright men, and that when he bamboozles and manipulates the other characters in the play Euribates’ intention is the benign one of restoring his own honor and fortune while arranging happy endings for all the other characters, including his archenemy Rutilianus. Perhaps the originality of his tale is the reason why he expresses an anxiety not to reveal the plot to the audience prematurely in the Prologue. Nevertheless, one can identify at least some of the sources that gave Cruso the idea for his play. Most notably, the idea of the bogus seer probably comes from Lucian’s essay Alexander the False Prophet. Surely Cruso had read this work, for at 1197ff. he mentions another such fellow named Fabullus (evidently an invention of his own), to whom he ascribes frauds markedly similar to those employed by Lucian’s Alexander of Abunoteichos. Then too, the way Cruso engineers the recognition of Euribates by his three old friends in V.ii is suggested by the recognition of the resurrected Jesus by the Apostles in the Book of Acts, with Thersagoras cast in the role of Doubting Thomas. But a third possible source of ideas can probably discounted, for the undated Cambridge comedy Pseudomagia by William Mewe was written by a distinctly younger man (Mewe was admitted to Emmanuel College in 1618 and proceeded to the B. A. in 1622), and so presumably was written after Euribates. NOTE 6
4. One remark about the play made in the course of Coldeway and Copenhaver’s Introduction (p. 7) deserves especial comment:

Throughout the play, a good deal of the verbal wit is scatological or crudely sexual. This schoolboy humor would perhaps have formed less of the text had Cruso composed the play for a different audience or later in his career.

This is a strange observation, for Euribates is almost entirely devoid of scatological or crudely sexual humor. There is, to be sure, a rather feeble joke about cuckold’s horns at 182, and a reader hell-bent on discovering such humor might fasten on the man-crazy Melissa’s exit lines at 516f., Quare ego me iam in aedes recipiam, ut huic opportune subveniam tumultui [“So I’ll return myself into the house to relieve this upset in a timely way”] as a statement of her intention to go inside and masturbate. But surely this line is liable to other and far more likely interpretations (for example, as he spoke these lines the actor could have made a tippling gesture), and it probably never entered Cruso’s head that any such construction could be placed on his words. Cruso was a member of a College which until not very long before his time had been governed by its playwrite-Master, Thomas Legge [d. 1607], who had entertained the idea that academic drama was supposed to be morally instructive and edifying. Euribates is a very moralistic play indeed, and in this sense it maintains Legge’s standards, so filth and salaciousness would have ill accorded with Cruso’s uplifting program.
5. The text of Euribates is uniquely preserved by Emmanuel College (Cambridge) ms. 3.1.17, and is available in the photographic reproduction cited in .NOTE 1 It cannot have been executed prior to 1622, when its copyist came up to Cambridge. At an early point it must have suffered damage, because two pages have been cut off at the bottom in such a way that as a line or two are lost, and these missing lines are supplied marginally by somebody else writing in a different style, which (unlike Holbech’s) retains some of the letter-shapes of the Elizabethan secretarial hand. The address Ad Lectorem (discussed above) is written in a style that also uses letter-shapes of the secretarial hand, but seems to be in a different handwriting than that of the individual who supplied the lost lines. It would therefore appear that these lines were provided by somebody with access to a second manuscript. But no advantage was taken of the opportunity to collate the text of the two manuscripts and correct the transcriptional errors of our one, the most serious of which are some mis-attributed speeches in Act V and some missing lines after 1520. The ms. text contains a number of mistake, and, even by the standards of his time, its punctuation can only be described as vile. It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that in a majority of sentences, the punctuation is either wrong or missing altogether. To document the necessary changes that have been made would create a mountain of information that most readers would regard as trivial and unwelcome. Let it therefore suffice to say that the punctuation of the text is to a large extent my own responsibility. The printed text is set in lines, as if it were poetry, but (save for songs and incantations) it is in fact prose. Elsewhere I have explained that this feature, standard in academic comedy, appears to have been no more than a writing convention designed to give plays the physical appearance of those of Plautus and Terence (which were understood to have been written in prose until Bentley demonstrated otherwise in the eighteenth century). I see no reason for perpetuating this custom, which would only lead the unwary to look for verse where none exists. In view of the text’s general paucity of stage-directions, I have added some extra ones in the translation; these are identified by square brackets.

 

Notes

NOTE 1 The principal discussions of Euribates and its author are G. C. Moore Smith, College Plays Performed in the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1923) 90, Gerald E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stages (Oxford, 1941 - 68) III.185f., and the editors’ Introduction to William Mewe, Pseudomagia, Aquila Cruso, Euribates Pseudomagus, John Chappell (?), Susenbrotus, or Fortuna, Zelotypus, Prepared with an Introduction by John C. Coldewey and Brian F. Copenhaver (Renaissance Latin Drama in England series II.14, Hildesheim, 1991) 6 - 12. In view of title of the last of these works, it needs to be pointed out that the manuscript title is Euribates, and the word Pseudomagus has been illegitimately added by the editors on the basis of the description given the title character in the Dramatis Personae list.

NOTE 2 Text reproduced at Alan H. Nelson, Cambridge (Records of Early English Drama series, Toronto, 1989) I.546.

NOTE 3 By Smith, endorsed by Bentley.

NOTE 4 Coldewey and Copenhaver, p. 6.

NOTE 5 John Venn and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses; a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900 (in ten volumes, Cambridge, University Press, 1922 - 54) II.387.

NOTE 6 Edited with an English translation by John C. Coldewey and Brian F. Copenhaver (Nieuwkoop, 1979).