COMMENTARY NOTES

1ff. The beginning of Pareus is modelled after the alternate proem of the Aeneid preserved by Donatus and Servius:

ille ego, qui quondam gracili modulatus avena
carmen, et egressus silvis vicina coegi
ut quamvis avido parerent arva colono,
gratum opus agricolis, at nunc horrentia Martis
arma virumque cano . . .

The Phrygian mountain is Mt. Ida.
3 Homer, of course.
8 Peele was perhaps thinking of Statius, Thebais IV.804f.:

illi per dumos et opaca virentibus umbris
devia.

10ff. This passage is modeled after Ovid, Metamorphoses II.787ff., in which Envy catches sight of Athens:

illa deam obliquo fugientem lumine cernens
murmura parva dedit successurumque Minervae
indoluit baculumque capit, quod spinea totum
vincula cingebant, adopertaque nubibus atris,
quacumque ingreditur, florentia proterit arva
exuritque herbas et summa cacumina carpit
adflatuque suo populos urbesque domosque
polluit et tandem Tritonida conspicit arcem
ingeniis opibusque et festa pace virentem
vixque tenet lacrimas, quia nil lacrimabile cernit.

17ff. In a general way, this speech is modeled on that of indignant Juno at Vergil, Aeneid I.37ff., which begins:

mene incepto desistere victam
nec posse Italia Teucrorum avertere regem?
quippe vetor fatis, Pallasne exurere classem.

19f. Cf., perhaps, Ovid, Metamorphoses II.61, qui fera terribili iaculatur fulmina dextra.
35 Peele was probably thinking of Lucretius II.801 - 5 (but why state that the dove was a Lycian one?):

pluma columbarum quo pacto in sole videtur,
quae sita cervices circum collumque coronat;
namque alias fit uti claro sit rubra pyropo,
inter dum quodam sensu fit uti videatur
inter caeruleum viridis miscere zmaragdos.

39 Since Deception is described as looking like a raddled old whore, perhaps pellibus atris are grubby furs.
40ff. This epic simile is slightly defective insofar as such a comparison would normally have a verb for Deception that would match lucet for the snake. The points of comparison are obviously that a.) both Deception and the snake were deceptively attractive and b.) both were enemies of humanity. Presumably the snake in question is the great serpent killed by Cadmus at the Castalian Spring, who in one versions of the myth was Draco, the son of Ares. Cf. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths § 58 (g).
41 In my translation I assume parare is epexegetic, to be construed with notisssimus.
46 Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII.819, seque viro inspirat. This echo indicates that the operation Deception is about to perform is based on the rather similar one of Famine (at the bidding of the offended Ceres) in Ovid when she visits the sleeping Erysichthon (ib. 815 - 22):

peragit perque aera vento
ad iussam delata domum est, et protinus intrat
sacrilegi thalamos altoque sopore solutum
(noctis enim tempus) geminis amplectitur ulnis,
seque viro inspirat, faucesque et pectus et ora
adflat et in vacuis spargit ieiunia venis;
functaque mandato fecundum deserit orbem
inque domos inopes adsueta revertitur antra.

54 It was thought that there was an entrance to the Underworld beneath Mt. Taenarum in Laconia. This and the next line are suggested by Seneca, Hercules Furens 662 - 7:

Spartana tellus nobile attollit iugum,
densis ubi aequor Taenarus silvis premit;
hic ora solvit Ditis invisi domus
hiatque rupes alta et immenso specu
ingens vorago faucibus vastis patet
latumque pandit omnibus populis iter.

56 “Ausonian” = Roman.
58 The Pope in question is that great enemy of Protestantism and champion of the Jesuits, Gregory XIII.
65 Tolomeo Galli, Cardinal Como, “the first papal secretary of state in the modern sense” (J. N. D. Kelley, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, Oxford, 1986, 271). Peele presumably is using fratrem figuratively (as is suggested by the use of frater at 221), if he was not confusing Cardinal Como with Gregory’s nephew Filippo Cardinal Boncompagni, who was responsible for administration of the Papal States.
67 According to Strabo, Geography V.213m Julius Caesar in effect refounded Comum (Como) by settling three thousand veterans there. Strabo implies that the name of the town was derived from komos, the Greek word for “village.”
84f. Peele is thinking of the English habit of publicly displaying the heads and limbs of traitors executed by the process he describes below.
90 I. e. Presbyterian-dominated Scotland.
93 Peele was evidently thinking of the image at Horace, Odes IV.iv.42 - 4:

ut Italas
ceu flamma per taedas vel Eurus
per Siculas equitavit undas.

97 Cf. Vergil, Aeneid V.363f.:

si cui virtus animusque in pectore praesens,
adsit.

106f. Cf. Aen. IX.496, invisum hoc detrude caput sub Tartara telo.
117 This detail is evidently Peele’s invention: no contemporary source I have seen mentions any such pseudonym.
119f. I. e., he would not call his son by his father’s name, since he had changed his name by Anglicising it from ap Harry to Parry. In one of his printed epigrams on Parry, William Gager also twitted him on this name-change (poem *XI.1 - 4):

cui patris obscurum nomen, genus, omnia, mater
plane ignota foret, ni notha nata foret.
Parry sibi nomen finxit, patris illud ap Harry
non placuit.

120f. Cf. Vergil, Aeneid XI.378, larga quidem semper, Drance, tibi copia fandi. It appears to have been commonly agreed that Parry was a man of considerable parts. Gager’s verdict (poem V.51f.) was to include him among that category of men:

cuicunque dotes dii dedere
ingenuas, pietate cassas.

121 Cf. Aeneid VIII.365, rebusque veni non asper egenis.
123f. Gager also alluded to Parry’s seduction of his daughter-in-law, and likewise to his attempted murder of Harry Hare,
at poem III.25 - 31:

quis iste mos est, barbare, virginum
libare saevo pectora vulnere?
privigna sensit mitiorem
cum gravidam tibi ferret alvum.

praelusit olim pugio qui tuus
in creditoris sanguine subditi
iam victimam spernens minorem
imperii caput expetebat.

125 Geniale is the alternate ablative form.
126ff. In 1580 Parry had stabbed Harry Hare, a creditor who was suing him, in the Temple. In this context I scarcely know how to translate the fancifully Romanizing ante larem. Gager also made this episode the subject of an epigram (poem *VII):

non explere sitim poterat tibi sanguinis Harus,
sanguine reginae quod cupis esse satur?
in leporem quicquid poteras audere, leonem
irritare tua non sine morte potes.

130 Parry’s royal pardon was the subject of Gager’s poem *VIII:

usuram vitae damnato quae dedit, illi
usurum vitae, quam dedit ipsa, negas?
sic bene latrones faciunt: qui liberat illos
carcere, latrones experietur eos.

167ff. The arguments in this passage are written to echo those advanced by Cardinal William Allen in The True, Sincere and Modest Defence of English Catholics (1584); in his confession, Parry admitted to having been inspired by this work. Its contents are summarized by Claire Cross, The Royal Supremacy in the Elizabethan Church (London - New York, 1969) 62 - 4.
170 Cardinal Como alludes to Pius V’s decree of 1570 placing England under interdict, and pronouncing anathema on Elizabeth. This papal bull released English Catholics from their obligation of loyalty to their sovereign and imposed on them the duty of opposing her. Its text is printed by Camden for the year 1570
189 The conceit of convoking a private mental senate is taken from Plautus, Epidicus I.ii.56, Mostellaria III.vii. 158, and Miles Gloriosus II.ii.41. It also figured prominently in a comedy produced at Cambridge in 1581, Edward Forsett’s Pedantius (IV.i), a play that seems to be echoed in a couple of Oxford works emanating from the literary circle to which Peele belonged, William Gager’s tragedy Meleager (1582) and Richard Eedes’Iter Boreale
(1583).
211f. As stated in the Introduction, these lines seem to refer to the expulsion from Austria of Peele’s friend and a prominent contemporary Oxford figure, the Humanist and legal scholar Alberico Gentili. But they are somewhat obscure, since they refer to an unknown incident, and also because the book’s demissus is hard to understand; it is not unlikely that we should dimissus. Then they would mean that somebody was sent from Spain, or at least from Spanish-held territory, to do some kind of injury to Peele’s friend. Evidently this person got in trouble for writing a tract against the Church hierarchy. The item in question may have been Gentili’s De Papatu Romano Antichristo Assertiones ex Verbo Dei et SS. Patribus preserved in the D’Orville ms. in the Bodleian Library and signed Alberico Gentili Italo, but I have not had the opportunity to see this work and so cannot confirm this surmise. (In 1603 all of Gentili’s works were placed on the Index.)
213f. The meaning of these lines is not exactly self-evident: perhaps it refers to the second expulsion of Catholicism upon the death of Queen Mary.
218 The book’s reading Fideque can be retained according to the assumption that this is the alternative form of the genitive found at Ovid, Metamorphoses III.341 etc.
220 Numa Pompilius, Romulus’ peaceful successor, established Rome’s religious institutions and was the first Pontifex.
225f. Caesar was deified after his death; the allusion to “ancient bards” probably refers to the account of his apotheosis at Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.746ff.
246f. Geoffrey of Monmouth and other writers fostered a tradition that New Troy (London) had been founded by a Trojan refugee, Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas, who was thus the eponymous hero of Britain.
250 Eutropius, Breviarium vii.ix, described the Roman method of executing traitors: quae poena erat talis, ut, nudus per publicum ductus, furca capiti eius inserta, virgis usque ad mortem caederetur, atque ita praecipitaretur de saxo. I would suppose that the elm mentioned here supplies the furca in which the traitor’s head is inserted.
251f. Non novus ille alter civis Comique meusque / Aemathii qui causa mihi non ultima belli requires a bit of unravelling. Aemathii…belli refers to the Civil War between the forces of Julius Caesar, the refounder of Como (cf. the Commentary note on line 67) and Pompey, brought to a conclusion at the battle of Pharsalus. For Emathius (lit. “Thessalian”) referring to Pharsalus cf. Lucan I.688 and Silius Italicus, III.400. The speaker is therefore saying, in effect, “Caesar was not the final cause of civil strife in Italy; therefore you deserve punishment more than he did.”
261f. In his confession Parry stated that during his Parisian sojourn he had recruited the Anglo-Catholic expatriates Thomas Morgan and Lord Fernehurst as members of a plot to assassinate Elizabeth and set Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne: A True and Plaine Declaration pp. 8 and 10.
280 Perhaps this admirably wierd scene was suggested to Peele by the popular ballad The Three Ravens (Child no. 24), although admittedly Child’s evidence for this ballad is distinctly later than Peele’s time.
282 For a classical example of this superstition cf. Petronius, Satyricon xxx.5.
305ff. The idea of allowing personified England to deliver this speech is derived from Cicero’s First Catilinarian Oration xi, a passage introduced by the words etenim si mecum patria, quae mihi vita mea multo est carior, si cuncta Italia, si omnis respublica loquatur.
325 Peele was of course thinking of a famous passage from the Aeneid (IV.364ff.):

nec tibi diva parens generis nec Dardanus auctor,
perfide, sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens
Caucasus Hyrcanaeque admorunt ubera tigres
.

337f. Each of these rivers represents its nation; thus Parry discoursed on the policies of France, Austria, Italy, and Spain, and how England might counteract these.
339ff. These lines seem to have suggested the conclusion of Thomas Campion’s Ad Thamesin (printed 1595), in which the nymph Thames raises the Armada-destroying storm.
349ff. This scene is invented by Peele; it is included both for its symbolic value (the snake-sealed document Parry proffers is as bogus as the assassination threat he reveals to the government, and there may be an insinuation that Parry is the proverbial snake in the grass), and also to show that Elizabeth was wont to walk in gardens with Parry, the setting in which he planned to murder her.
352 Cf. Vergil, Eclogue iii.93, o pueri (fugite hinc!), latet anguis in herba.
363ff. Compare the beginning of Gager’s poem III:

quales columbae vulturis unguibus
vix liberatae, faucibus aut lupi
iam nuper ereptae, pavores
esse solent trepidantis agnae,

tales Elisae pectora candidae
sensere nuper vulturis et lupi,
mortisque pulso vix timore
agna pavet trepidatque turtur.

Both poets seem ultimately indebted to Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.527ff.:

illa tremit velut agna pavens, quae saucia cani
ore excussa lupi nondum sibi tuta videtur,
utque columba suo madefactis sanguine plumis
horret adhuc avidosque timet, quibus haeserat, ungues.

365f. At poem V.41ff. Gager is more explicit about this same point:

sic bellicosum Clinton avum refert
Lincolniae spes, iamque patri aemulus.
cum fratre Gualterus Roberto
sic minor et Devereux patrizat.

quos inter omnes syderis in modum
fulget Philippus (grande equitum decus)
Sidneius, et vires Elisae
ingenii vovet atque dextrae.

367 Like the Ausonius latro in line 377, the Latius praedo is of course the Pope.
370 Cf. Gager’s poem IV.13, Iupiter regum pater atque custos. This line epitomizes a good deal of contemporary thinking about the nature of kingship.
379 Cf. Vergil, Aeneid IX.256, meriti tanti non immemor umquam. Peele presumably knew William Gager’s Meleager (1582), in which Atalanta says (921f.):

ubicunque vivam, nullus oblitam tui
meriti videbit, nullus ingratam dies.

381ff. This sequence of events and the motives attributed to Parry and Neville are manufactured by Peele. The documents printed in A True and Plaine Declaration (including Parry’s own confession) do not mention Elizabeth promising her favor to Parry or any resulting vacillation on his part; nor is there any testimony that Parry recruited Neville as a means of bucking up his own courage. Quite to the contrary, Edmund Neville’s account of the way Parry had enlisted him seems to attest his resolution (Declaration p. 8) was Not long after viij or x dayes (as I remember) Parry comming to visit me at my lodging in Herns rents in Holborne, as he often used, we walked foorth into the fields, where he renewed againe his determination to kill her Maiestie whome he saide he thought most unworthie to live, and that he wondered I was scrupulous therein. A remark by Parry in his own confession shows that Neville was scrupulous, not about regicide in principle, but merely about its methodology (Declaration p.18): Master Nevil hath (I thinke) forgotten that hee did sweare to me at divers times…that though hee woulde not lay hand upon her in a corner, his hart served him to strike off her head in the fielde. But there is an undeniable historical truth to Peele’s inventions: by their own admission, the two conspirators discussed the Queen’s assassination over the space of no less than five months without achieving anything, and so it is likely that one or both of them was guilty of irresolution. Quite likely Neville peached on Parry out of fear that Parry was about to do the same to him (this is hinted at 423 below), and was all too eager to blacken Parry by representing him as more decisive than he actually was.
383f. Cf. Gager’s poem III.21ff.:

crudele mentem robur et aes triplex
communiebant et ilices tuam,
tam molle pectus cum parabas
horribili terebrare ferro?

389 For artisque Pelasgae (i. e. the arts of Greek treachery) cf. Vergil, Aeneid II.106 and 152.
390ff. This simile may have been inspired by the fate of Oeneus in Act V of Gager’s Meleager of 1592. Cf. 1849ff.:

est turris alta, cuius e fastigio
caelo videtur proxima ostendi via,
despectat omnem regiae partem domus.
furibundus hanc conscendit, et tanquam manus
inferret astris, inde pulsurus deos,
dissiluit amens, pondere illisum iacet
deforme corpus.

402ff. Edmund Neville (1560? - 1618), Parry’s “cousin,” co-conspirator, and ultimate betrayer. There is a life in the D. N. B. In his confession he stated that the plan was to murder Elizabeth in a Thames-side garden and then escape by barge (though in his own confession Parry alleged that they had planned to make the attempt while she was riding in St. James’ Park). Cf. A True and Plaine Declaration, pp. 9 and 18 respectively. If the interpretation of the subjunctives in 405ff. is right, in Peele’s version Parry was to act so as to conceal his guilt after the assassination. (The quotation marks in 407 are inserted in accordance with this understanding.)
427ff. Similarly,
one of Gager’s subsequent cycle of odes on the Babington Plot (poem XXV) is addressed to the Protestant rulers of Europe. It begins:

salvete reges, progenies deum
et certa proles, imperium quibus
caelo secundum, vestra virtus
et superi faciles dederunt:

servate cauti sceptra, satellites
fidi coronent, proditio furit.
en sanguinis vestri nefanda
quae subiit sitis hauriendi?

438ff. Telesinus was a Samnite general during the Social War in the early first century B. C., who fought a battle against Roman forces led by Sulla near the Colline gate. Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome II.xxvii, calls him vir domi bellique fortissimus penitusque Romano nomini infestissimus. His speech is an expansion of that reported by Velleius: circumvolans ordines exercitus sui Telesinus dictitansque adesse Romanis ultimum diem vociferabatur eruendam delendamque urbem, adiiciens numquam defuturos raptores Italicae liberatis lupos, nisi silva, in quam refugere solerent, esset excisa. The Marsi were an old Italic tribe.
460 If this sentiment represents anything more than immodest rhodomontade (as thought by Tucker Brooke, in a passage quoted in the Introduction), it perhaps indicates that, like William Alabaster after him, Peele briefly entertained the idea of writing a Great Patriotic Epic in the Vergilian manner.