COMMENTARY NOTES

AD UNUM OPT. MAX. Meter: Greater Alcaics.

spacer24 Salterne’s reference to his own youth here may offer a hint as to the period of the play’s composition.

spacerI.ii Salterne’s text is slightly unclear as to whether the name Calipha signifies a title (“The Caliph”) or a personal name (“Caliph” or even “Calipha”). We might compare this ambiguity to that in Genesis, where the title “Pharaoh” appears as if as a personal name. In Pantaleon, “Caliph” appears as a title, so we may guess that Salterne intended it as such. He appears to attribute to the Caliph religious, rather than political, office, as well as magical powers (Act IV). This attribution may be founded in Pantaleon's text, where Caliphs are more than once associated with spiritual matters or religious ceremony.

spacer29 In the Latin, Salterne uses the word Lucifer. He may be referring here either to Satan or to the Morning star — in the one case to stress God's praises reaching even unto hell, and in the other, the duration of his song from sunset until morning.

spacerAD UNICAM SERENISSIMAM Meter: Fourth Asclepiadean stanzas.

spacerARGUMENTUM 2 Selim I [c. 1470 - 1520], Ottoman Sultan 1512 - 20, dubbed “Yavuz” (“the Stern”).

 

spacer4 Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawri [c. 1440 - 1516], Mamluke Sultan of Egypt from 1501 - 1516, killed fighting against the forces of Sultan Selim I at the Battle of Marj Dabiq. Salterne’s likely major source, Heinrich Pantaleon’s Militaris Ordinis Johannitarum, Rhodiorum, Aut Melitensium Equitum Rerum Memorabilium Terra Marique (Basel, 1581), calls him Campsonus Gaurius; in Richard Knolles’ Generall Historie of the Turkes (London, 1603), he is “Campson Gaurus.”

spacer6 Following Latin authors as well as many English historians of the early modern period, Salterne uses the Latinized name Tomumbeius for Al-Ashraf Tuman Bey II [c. 1476 - 1517], last Mamluke Sultan of Egypt from 1516 -17.We have retained Salterne’s Latinized names throughout the translation as they reflect not only his usage but also that of his major source texts.

spacer7 ”Seiectica” is described in Pantaleon’s Militaris Ordinis Johannitarum as a region of Egypt qui ad Cyrenaicam vergit (184); a map on p. 183 of Pantaleon’s work identifies its locus on the western side of the Nile delta. Pantaleon’s is the only work we have identified to date to use this precise name for the region. Knolles translates it as “Segesta”; we have left it in Pantaleon’s and Salterne’s Latinate form.

spacer8 Cairo. Salterne calls Cairo sometimes Alchaeyro or Alchyro, sometimes Cairo. To Pantaleon, it is always Cairo. “Alcayre” appears in Peter Ashton’s Short Treatise upon the Turkes Chronicles, based upon the work of the Italian Paulo Giovio (London, 1546).

spacer9 The figure of Albuchomar, Tomumbeius’ ambitious and scheming betrayer, appears in Pantaleon’s Militaris Ordinis Johannitarum, 184, as an Egyptian who held authority in Seiectica.

spacer17 Pharos was an island off the coast of Egypt, the site of the later Alexandria. In this play it is frequently used to designate all Egypt by synecdoche.

spacerI.i In classical mythology, the celestial virgin Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis, is a figure for Divine Justice. She was the last of the immortal deities to abandon earth for heaven, driven hence by the wickedness of human beings.  Salterne opens his play with her eagerly-awaited return to the world, bringing true justice and retribution in her wake: a return famously heralded by Virgil, Eclogues iv.6: iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.  In Elizabethan culture, Astraea was a figure for the Virgin Queen; see Introduction for commentary on her function as such in Salterne’s play.

spacer6 The allusion to seventy-five years evidently refers to the rise of the Mamluke Sultan Al-Ashraf in 1453.

spacer13 Alexander the Great of Macedon, who first conquered Egypt, to be followed by Rome in turn.

spacer21 “The sons of Hagar”: cf. Genesis 16:1 (Vulgate), sed habens ancillam Aegyptiam nomine Agar.

spacer35 The people of Syene, once a major Egyptian capital and here used to stand for the whole of Egypt.

spacer55 Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qo’it Bey [c. 1418 - 96], Mamluk Sultan of Egypt from 1468 - 96. He won a series of victories against the Ottoman Turks that ended in a truce between the two empires in 1491.

spacer71 According to Pantaleon, Gazelles or Iamburdus Gazelles was a strong and prudent leader of the Mamluk forces (172). Knolles, translating Pantaleon, describes him thus: “Iamburd, surnamed Gazelles, (sometimes the follower of great Caitbeius) a valiant man of great honour, for his long experience in martiall affaires” (527).

spacer92 According to Pantaleon, a Eunuch and a highly experienced Ottoman commander. “The strength of the Turks” (175), he was slain at the battle for Cairo just before the action of Salterne’s play begins.

spacer123 Scipio Africanus [235 - 185 B. C.], Roman general, who successfully combated the brilliant Carthaginian Hannibal’s invasion of Italy by invading Africa in turn and drawing Hannibal back toward his homeland.

spacerI.iii As was the custom in academic drama of the time, the five Acts are subdivided into numbered scenes. Each of these, prefaced by a list of speaking parts in it, is precipitated either by the entrance of new characters or when the stage is momentarily cleared. As such, these scene-divisions often serve as a rather imperfect means of indicating entrances and exits, and no discontinuity of time or place is necessarily implied.

spacer203 Albuchomar meditates unfavourably on the origins of the Mamluke Sultanate. The Mamlukes were slave soldiers, mainly of Turkish origin, who rebelled against their masters, the Caliph Sultans, and seized power for themselves.

spacer216f. The ancient capital of Egypt; by extension, Albuchomar declares that he has pledged allegiance to the kingdom of Egypt itself and owes Tomumbeius no fealty now that he has lost control over his empire.

spacer223ff. Meter: Each line consists of a glyconic followed by two dactyls and one anapaest.

spacer243 As in his opening dedication “To the Most High,” Salterne here uses Lucifer in the Latin, leaving the meaning ambiguous: either the morning star is blotted out by human sin, or sinners embrace the darkness of Satan.

spacer373 Divan: the supreme council of the Turks.

spacer384 The traitor left behind by the Greeks to deceive the Trojans at the close of the Trojan War. See Vergil, Aeneid II.57 - 198.

spacer435ff. Although choruses are standard fare in English academic tragedy, the use of lyric passages (cantica) performed by individual actors is much less so. There is a precedent of sorts in the cantica of Roman comedy, but the real inspiration for this passage is likelier to have been provided by the solo lyric passages in the late plays of Euripides.
spacerMeter: 405 - 15: anapestic tetrameters punctuated by an Adonic at 414; 416 - 36: glyconics.

spacer467ff. Meter: First Asclepiadeans.

spacer470 Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator [c. 280 - 203 B. C.], Roman general and statesman, earned his cognomen “The Delayer” during the Second Punic War by combating Hannibal with constant skirmishes and a lengthy war of attrition rather than rushing into a pitched battle. Initially unpopular with the Roman people, these tactics proved successful in the long term. Fabius came to command after Hannibal had inflicted a great defeat on the Romans at the Battle of Lake Transimene, mentioned immediately below.

spacer478 Literally, the Acroceraunia is a rocky promontory in Epirus, jutting out into the Ionian sea; metaphorically, a place that threatens destruction.  See, for instance, Ovid, Remedia Amoris 739 and Vergil, Aeneid III.506.

spacer503 The kingfisher, named for the Greek Halcyone, who drowned herself in the sea. She and her lover, Ceyx, were transformed into birds bearing her name. They were believed to be able to calm the sea. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, XI.410-748.

spacer53 See the note on line 6.

spacer549 Pantaleon, 184, reports Gazelles’ betrayal of Tomumbeius after the general returned from Arabia with reinforcements only to find that Cairo was lost.  He records that Selimus was delighted to gain the services of a man he knew to be strong in body and in soul. Other sources, such as Giovio, report Gazelles’ surrender to the Turks, but only in Pantaleon and in his English translator, Knolles, do we find the details Salterne includes relating to the general’s Arabian allies.

spacer637 A semi-mythological, perpetually snowy mountain range mentioned by Greek and Roman writers, imagined as existing somewhere in the general region of Scythia.

spacer665ff. Meter: anapaestic tetrameters.

spacer690 A kindly centaur of Greek mythology, renowned for his healing skill; the teacher of Asclepius, god of healing.

spacerIV.ii - iii The reader must understand that these two scenes are what Tomumbeius sees in the vision conjured up by Caliph: he sits on one side of the stage and silently observes the action on the other side. This ends at line 815, and then he comments on what he has just witnessed in his speech at the end of IV.iii.

spacer789 The Mamlukes’ murder of Selimus’ messenger appears in Pant ale on, 185. I have not yet found a source for the name Salter ne gives to the messenger, Michalek.

spacer813ff. Selimus’ speech here reflects Pantaleon’s summation of the Ottoman Sultan’s reaction to the death of his messenger: Quod factum omnem Selymi patientiam abrupit (“at this event, Selimus lost all patience’) (185).

spacer823 Enceladus was one of the Titans who assaulted Mount Olympus, he was buried alive for his insolence.

spacer854ff. Meter: 1 dactylic hexameter + 1 iambic trimeter.

spacer862 Tyre. Salterne’s term is veneta urbs, literally, the blue-green city. He appears to allude to an episode, described by Machiavelli among other early modern historians, when the citizens of the seaside city of Tyre (compared by Machiavelli to Venice) killed messengers of peace from Alexander the Great and dumped their bodies into the Mediterranean. See Niccolo Machiavelli, “Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius,” The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, ed. and trans. Christian E. Detmold (Boston, 1882), 303.

spacer865 Salterne here alludes to the destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 B. C., which followed upon an insult to Roman commissioners by the Greek Achaean League gathered together at Corinth.

spacer868 The city of Syene was at the time of Selim I's invasion of Egypt nearly a ruin, having suffered numerous plagues and incursions by Nubian and other African forces. The Chorus here implies that its sufferings were a result of its sins against God.

spacer890 Tomumbeius.

spacer899 The Turks’ victory over the Mamlukes was facilitated by their superior weaponry, in particular their artillery, to which Salterne appears to allude here.  See Pantaleon 185.

spacer958ff. Meter: iambic dimeters.

spacer984ff. Meter: anapestic tetrameters.

spacer1004 In Alexander Ross’ Exposition of the Fourteen First Chapters of Genesis (London, 1626), Ross notes that the Emim (Deuteronomy 2) were defeated “in Shaneth or the plaine of Kiriathim” (p. 184). But we conjecture that Salterne alludes here to a city in Armenia Minor, originally founded by Pompey the Great and called Necopolis, which in early modern sources is most frequently called “Gianich.”  In Saint-Martin’s much later Mémoires Historiques et Géographiques sur l’Arménie (1819), this same city is described as Djaniv, nommé aussi Chaldée […], nommé par les Arméniens Djaneth, par les Géorgiens Ischanethi or Zanethi, et par les Turks Djanik.  Bohun’s Geographical Dictionary (London, 1693) notes that Gianich is on the river Ceraunia, which falls into Gensui, which in turn falls into Euphrates; this series of waterways might conceivably correspond to the roaring rivers associated with “Shaneth” in Salterne's text, being another example of a far-away river.

spacer10423 The messenger presumably compares Tomumbeius to Palinurus, Aeneas’ helmsman who succumbs to sleep and falls overboard. See the comment on this comparison in the Appendix.

spacer1044 The Greeks believed that a cave on Mt. Taenarum in Laconia provided an entrance to the Underworld.

spacer1047 A reference to Vergil, Aeneid VI.76ff, where Sybil leads the exiled Trojan hero Aeneas down to the Underworld.

spacer1048 Hercules.

spacer1049 Orpheus and Pirithous.

spacer1051 Note the proleptic tragic irony in the reference to the Stygian palus.

spacer1071 There is tragic irony in Tomumbeius’ invocation of the marsh: the Latin word palus, also used by Pantaleon, indicates both a marsh and a torture-stake.  

spacer1087 A pun occurs in Salterne’s Latin text here that cannot be rendered in English: the Latin limus signifies both mud and a mother's apron.

spacer1103f. The Republican forces under the command of Brutus were defeated by the Triumvirs at Philippi in Macedonia in 42 B. C. According to Plutarch in his Life of Brutus, Brutus received forewarning of this in a vision. Numerous Roman historians report that the assassination of Caesar was foretold by signs and by soothsayers.

spacer1116 The Latin name for Cadiz in modern Spain. Salterne’s original refers to remotis Gadibus, a recollection of Horace, Odes II.ii.9 -12: Latius regnes avidum domando / spiritum quam si Libyam remotis / Gadibus iungas et uterque Poenus / serviat uni.