1. This Latin translation of Sophocles’ Antigone seems to have been first written during Watson’s stay in France; from Stephen Broellmann’s poem printed at the beginning of the published volume it can be gathered that an earlier version had existed in manuscript form. Then, according to Watson’s dedicatory poem to the Earl of Arundel, he almost tore it up or consigned it to the fire out of dissatisfaction, but was urged by his friends to resume working on it.
spacer2. This account is probably more than a little elliptical. In the first place, one wonders if Watson originally entertained the more ambitious plan of translating all seven of Sophocles’ surviving tragedies into Latin. The suspicion arises because the headnotes to Passions XXXVIII, LXIII, and XCIII of the Ἑκατομπαθία contain Latin verse translations of short passages from other Sophoclean plays. These brief translations may of course have been done for the occasion, but in introducing other Passions in this cycle Watson repeatedly included quotations from unpublished and now-lost youthful works.
spacer3. His representation is also elliptical in the sense that he claims, or at least manages to convey the impression, that he has achieved a groundbreaking feat in translating the Antigone directly out of the Greek (cf. particularly line 50 of his dedicatory poem to the Earl of Arundel, Antigonen docui verba Latina loqui, “I taught Antigone how to speak Latin”). But he gives the game away when he says in a sidenote that his list of dramatis personae is taken “from Naogeorgus’ notes on Sophocles,” i. e., from the prior set of Latin translations by Thomas Kirchmeyer {Naogeorgus, 1511 - 1563], published under the title Sophoclis Tragoediae Septem, Latino carmine redditae et Annotationibus illustratae at Basel in 1558. In a recent study of Watson’s version of the Antigone, Ibrahim Alhiyari describes Watson’s work as “a retranslation of Naogeorgus’ Latin edition that would better suit the ear of the theatre-passionate, humanistic audience of the Renaissance, [and] also a recreation and a refashioning of a more melodious, vowel-intensive, and emotionally charged tragedy, such as that preserved in Sophocles’ original Greek form” (PDF p. 61). This has an essential ring of plausibility, especially because, as will be shown in the proper place, Watson’s Raptus Helenae is a similar “retranslation” of an earlier Latin translation by René Perdrier with annotations by Bernard Betrand, rather than being made directly from the original Greek.
spacer4. Alhiyari’s understanding of what is at stake seems a trifle confused, since a little later (PDF p. 63) he writes, “Although there are no known Greek poems by Watson, and although he does use Naogeorgus’ text, not Sophocles’s, as a primary source, his competence level in Greek was undoubtedly very high,” although this begs the question of why Watson would have relied on Naogeorgus rather than working directly from the Greek text. Alhiyari proceeds to subject Watson’s translation to a rather detailed comparison with that of Naogeorgus, so there is no need to do the same here. Suffice it to say that the results of this comparison point to a different conclusion than his. It would seem that Watson must have some knowledge of Greek, sufficiently so that he could look at Sophocles and make some intelligent conclusions (for instance, by making the metrics of his choruses more like the original Greek ones), but that his knowledge of that language was sufficiently limited that he was obliged to rely on the previous Latin translation as a “trot.”
spacer5. There are hints that the play had been given stage production prior to its publication. In one of his marginalia Gabriel Harvey wrote of Gascogne Jocasta, magnifice acta solleni ritu, et vere tragico apparatu, ut etiam Vatsoni Antigone: cuius pompae seriae, et exquisitae [“Gascogne’s Jocasta, magnificently acted in solemn wise with the genuine tragic equipment, and likewise Watson’s Antigone, whose pomps are serious and highly polished.”]. NOTE 1 Then too, William Camden’s gratulatory poem contains the line tu pompis Latiis nostra theatra quatis [“you shake our theaters with your Pomps”] and Camden’s academic association was with Oxford. While momentarily reserving judgment about what precisely the word nostra means, we may note that this line suggests the play, together with the extra material Watson wrote for it, had already been acted. Harvey was a Cambridge man, so the facile assumption would be that, if he did see it, it was acted there. NOTE 2 But the idea of production at that university has been rejected by Alan H. Nelson, the historian of Cambridge academic drama. NOTE 3 The objection is not so much that records of such a performance are lacking — collegiate records are not so well preserved that negative evidence counts for much — as that it is otherwise unheard-of for an Oxford man’s play to be performed at Cambridge or vice versa. NOTE 4
spacer5. Whether or not Watson himself was a member of the Inns of Court, it is likely that his friends arranged for his play to be acted there. It seems more probable that Camden and Harvey saw the play in a London performance of this kind. Camden’s words nostra theatra appear to require the generalized interpretation “England’s theater.” In addition, at least one of the contributors of gratulatory verses at the front of the book is identifiable as a member of the London legal establishment; a second was probably a close kinsman of another, and, although some were graduates of that University, there is a notable absence of contemporary Cambridge associations among them. Sophocles’ Antigone raises interesting questions about the nature of law and justice, that would commend the play to the interest of students and practitioners of the law, and to a considerable extent the appended Pomps and Themes are used to explore the implications of these issues.
spacer6. In any event, the important point that emerges is that Watson’s Antigone cannot be dismissed as a paper-exercise in translation. Nor are the following Pomps and Themes merely poetic meditations on the play for the benefit of the reader, perhaps written to enlarge the book or (as Leicester Bradner thought) NOTE 5 to display the poet’s skill at versification. They were written as performance pieces no less than the play itself.
spacer7. The Elizabethans liked long stage entertainments no less than lengthy sermons. On several occasions classical plays were padded to make them longer. Some of the English renditions of Seneca published in the 1581 Seneca, His Tenne Tragedies, Translated in English, edited by Thomas Newton, variously contain altered choruses, expanded speeches, and extra scene supplied by the individual translators. NOTE 6 A more significant and interesting literary achievement was the extra scene written for a 1592 production of Seneca’s Phaedra by William Gager of Oxford, subsequently printed under the self-mocking title Panniculus Hippolyto Senecae Tragoediae Assutus [“A Patch Sewn on Seneca’s Tragedy Hippolytus”]. Watson adopted a somewhat different strategy. First, he added a long expository prologue. This passage, printed as an Argument giving the mythological background of the play, is spoken by Nature, is comparable to the prologues and epilogues spoken by personified abstractions in a number of contemporary English academic tragedies and history plays. Literary historians will find it instructive to observe how Watson attempted to cram the Antigone into the familiar mold of Senecan tragedy, by adding this expository prologue and imposing on the play a thoroughly unconvincing five-act structure (to be fair to Watson, in his set of translations Naogeorgus had already imposed act and scene divisions on Sophocles’ plays). NOTE 7 Seneca was paradigmatic; the different aims and methods of the Attic tragedians, and the superiority of Greek tragedy, were not well understood. NOTE 8
spacer8. But Watson’s important addition to the Antigone was a series of four Pomps and four Themes printed at the end of the volume, comprising a total of 426 lines. These were performed as a kind of afterpiece to the play itself. Plenty of English dramas contained some sort of procession or parade, almost always in dumb-show, and occasionally these are identfied as pompae, as when, at the end of Act II, scene ii of William Gager’s tragedy Dido of 1583 a stage direction calls for a pompa larvalis or masked procession, as a procession of hunters crosses the stage. But in Renaissance Latin the word pompa has another meaning when applied to performances in which a series of speakers parade before the audience in turn and speak their pieces, for pompa is the regular Latin term used to describe a masque. Watson’s pompae are considerably more masque-like than the kind of dramatic processionals described in the preceding paragraph insofar as each individual gets to deliver a speech as he crosses, and not just a momentary interval of dumb-show, so clearly he has appropriated the dramatic technique of the composer of masques. Then too, as in some masques, the speakers are personified abstractions, and there is something palpably emblematic about them. And yet I hesitate to use the word “masque” to translate pompa in this context, because a standard Renaissance masque was an independent performance-piece and not something incorporated in a larger structure. Hence I have resisted the temptation to use this term, and have rested content with identifying them by the more neutral word Pomps.
spacer9. Watson’s four Pomps are processionals in the sense that in each one a series of emblematic personifications crosses the stage in rapid order, each delivering a small poem in iambic senarii as he or she passes. Each Pomp is devoted to the exploration of the moral qualities embodied by a character in the Antigone (Creon, Antigone, Haemon, Ismene respectively). The poems of at least the first three Pomps constitute some sort of genuine sequence, as its various participants deliver their poems. In the first, Justice is torn between the claims of Equity (merciful leniency) and Rigor (excessive harshness), hears the arguments put by both sides, and opts for Rigor. Then further personified abstractions exhibit the ruinous consequences of this decision. Thus we find the progression Obstinacy ⟶ Impiety ⟶ The Scourge ⟶ Late Repentance. In this sense, the first Pomp is a kind of miniature drama, featuring in outline form a conflict and its resolution. The second Pomp presents an exactly balanced parallel pertinent to the situation of Antigone: Lofty Spirit is torn between the stated claims of Country and Kinship. NOTE 9 Choosing to place her allegiance in Kinship, she too suffers a catastrophe traced in a further sequence of figures: Transgression ⟶ Contumacy ⟶ Hatred ⟶ Punishment. Haemon’s erotomania constitutes the subject of the third Pomp. Here a sequence of poems traces a lover’s descent from infatuation to self-destruction: Cupid ⟶ Temerity ⟶ Impudence⟶ Violent Impulse ⟶ Death. The final Pomp contains no sense of dramatic tension or progress. Rather, it is a series of poems in praise of Ismene’s meek submission.
spacer10. The play-like nature of the Pomps serves to explain the very chorus-like nature of the Themes, each of which is written in a meter employed for choruses of Senecan tragedies. These are, respectively, iambic dimeters, as at Medea 771ff.; anapaestic dimeters (Seneca’s favorite lyric meter); Sapphic stanzas, as at Medea 579ff.; and lesser Asclepiadeans, as at Hercules Furens 524ff., Medea 56ff., 93ff., and Troades 371ff. The contents of each Theme are likewise sententious in the manner of tragic choruses. Although in the book they are printed after the Pomps, in view of their nature, surely each Theme was written to be performed directly after its corresponding Pomp (by an obvious error, the third and fourth themes have been transposed: the third should pertain to Haemon, and the fourth to Ismene). No Pomp requires more than eight speakers, which is the number of speaking parts in the Antigone. Use of interspersed Themes spoken by the individual or individuals who had represented Antigone’s chorus, would allow the performers time to exchange props and perhaps also costumes for each successive Pomp. Therefore the present edition deviates from the printed text in presenting the Pomps and Themes in this way, since it is more likely to reproduce the way in which they had performed.
spacer11. So both the Pomps and Themes are concerned with the character analysis of four of the principal characters of the Antigone. These analyses and the interpretation of the play they imply will doubtless strike a modern reader as peculiar, and sometimes as more or less unacceptable. The way in which Watson weighs the rights and wrongs in the clash between Creon and Antigone will probably seem thoroughly dissatisfactory for being glib and superficial — he adjudges them both to be in the wrong and makes no attempt to arbitrate between their positions — and the praise he lavishes on Ismene’s passivity looks correspondingly unconvincing. But in reacting to his evaluations, we must bear in mind that his reading of the Antigone was heavily colored by contemporary ideas about law, government, the rights of the sovereign, and the responsibilities of the individual citizen: a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth could scarcely be expected to have come to very different conclusions.
spacer12. In the first Pomp, Justice is torn between the competing claims of Equity and Right. The context makes it clear that the Justice in question is not a personification of absolute and normative justice, but rather of the justice of the state and of the state’s machinery for legal enforcement, as is shown by the scepter he bears. Watson makes no bones about the fact that the state law in question is quite misguided. The problem goes far deeper than the excessive severity with which it is applied: Creon’s edict for the mistreatment of Polynices’ corpse is wrong. In the Prologue, Nature promises that in the course of the play Antigone will rail in ranting iambics against law that is not lawful (83 illicitam legem tumidis mordebit iambis). This valuation appears to be the author’s own, not Antigone’s, as is also suggested by the first stanza of the fourth Theme (383ff.):

Summa si legem iubeat potestas
Impiam, vel si violet benigna
Iura naturae, minime cuivis
spacerFrangere fas est.

[“If supreme authority should enjoin an impious statute, or if it should violate the laws of kindly Nature, it is scarce right for anyone to break its command.”]

Although the thrust of this poem is that rebellion against bad government is in any event to be rejected, Watson willingly concedes that Creon’s edict is indeed an impious statute that violates the laws of Nature.
spacer13. Even harsher things are said about Creon and his inner motivation in the first Theme. Watson writes of the tyrant’s will collapsing in the direction in which it is drawn by unbridled passion (104f.). According to the beginning of the Theme (94ff.), Creon suffers from “the insolent happiness of prosperity”; his “swollen power” sweeps him into “demented love,” and he is deprived of his wits (96f.). If one inquires about the object of his love, the answer is supplied by the Theme’s title: philautia or love of self. The result of this all is that “the authority of virtue and uprightness is dissolved, piety herself is dislodged from her position”(106f.), and immediately after these lines the Platonic image of the runaway horse pulling the soul’s chariot (Phaedrus pp. 253D - 254E) is invoked to describe Creon in this condition. Rightly or wrongly, in short, Watson diagnoses Creon as a victim of the hubris that results from excessive prosperity, that leads to overweening pride, moral blindness, and eventual catastrophe. This is grounded in nothing said about Creon by Sophocles. Rather, it is based on the Chorus’ appraisal of Oedipus in the third stasimon of the Oedipus Tyrannus (872 - 92). The modern reader may well choose to reject Watson’s reading of Creon’s character: how much of it is supported by the play itself? More plausibly, at line 250 Creon appears to be identified as a tyrant, an appraisal that finds confirmation in Watson’ sidenotes on Antigone 213 and 665, in which he is labeled such (when Creon reneges and pronounces a sentence of burial alive rather than stoning, in a sidenote Watson draws an insightful parallel with Pontius Pilate washing his hands). Here we are on solider ground: in Sophocles, Tiresias explicitly calls Creon a tyrant at 1056 and in the agon with Haemon at 633 - 765 the general tenor of his son’s argument is that he at least comes dangerously close to acting as such.
spacer14. All of this might suggest that Watson was building a case justifying Antigone’s decision to violate Creon’s decree and bury Polynices. Indeed, he alludes to grounds that could be adduced to justify her action. I have just quoted the first stanza, in which he implicitly acknowledges that the decree in question is contrary to natural law, and the entire thrust of Nature’s prologue reinforces this conclusion (75ff.):

Senex misellam vitam in aerumnis aget.
Vos ergo, famuli, discite ex tantis malis
Quam sit salubre iura Naturae sequi.
Invita si sim, rite procedet nihil.

[“This old man will drag on his wretched life in sorrows. So you, my servants, learn from such great evils how wholesome it is to cleave to Nature’s laws. If I be unwilling, naught will go aright.”]

An argument could therefore be constructed that natural law takes precedence over civil law, especially the law of a tyrant, and it might seem that the selection of Nature as the speaker of the Prologue was meant to pave the way toward such a conclusion (the present analysis admittedly ignores the religious aspects of Sophocles’ play: the way Watson handles these will be discussed below). Antigone is nevertheless roundly condemned for her action. According to Watson, she is lured into rebellion by a “deceitful appearance of righteousness” (Theme II.224f.). She is seduced by an excessive concern for private sorrows, although all personal concerns must defer to the public demands of one’s country (ib. 227ff.). In the second Pomp we are shown thatm when Kinship gains the upper hand over Country in her mind, her greatness of spirit (magnanimitas) is led astray by fickle emotion (affectus levis, 156), indicative of headstrong emotionality if not downright sentimentalism (see the commentary note on line 58 of the Prologue).
spacer15. As with Creon, some of the elements of the Pomp devoted to Antigone have their basis in Sophocles. The description of Transgression overleaping all limits (185f.) may have been suggested by Creon’s question at Antigone 449, “And did you dare overstep these laws.” Contumacy’s speech at 189ff. seems to reflect the opinion of Creon at Antigone 480ff. that Antigone transgressed the law and committed a second crime by boasting of her deed. The insinuation in this same passage that she acted out of a desire for glory (193f., quasi fama studens) refers to such passages as Antigone 498ff., in which she asks how she could have possibly won greater glory than by burying her brother.
spacer16. Watson suggests that Creon’s harsh decree is a violation of natural law, and that the calamities he suffers constitute punishment for such transgression. He nevertheless considers and rejects the possibility that this violation might justify Antigone’s choice. In the second Pomp Kinship adduces the argument as he leads Antigone astray (179ff.):

Ergo petenti cede iutricem manum,
Et fac quod omnes iura naturae iubent:
Natura suadet ferre cognati opem.

[“Therefore lend a helping hand to this petitioner, and do as Nature’s laws command. Nature bids you come to the aid of your kinsmen.”]

And although Creon’s specific decree may be wrong and contrary to natural law, Watson hastens to add at the beginning of the second theme (devoted to the analysis of Antigone’s character, 206ff.):

Melius prorsum nihil invenit
Legibus aequis natura parens:
Pietas clemens stabilisque fides,
Virtusque gravis nititur illis.

Constans populi norma regendi
Ipsa est urbis vita quietae.

[“Mother Nature has invented absolutely nothing better than just laws: on these depend gentle piety, fixed faith, and great virtue. An unchanging rule of governing the people is the very life of a peaceful city.

The proper conclusion, therefore, is that, according to a scale of values ordained by Nature herself, civil law is of such paramount importance that even a violation of natural law does not warrant rebellion against established authority. As the final lines of the Prologue suggest, Nature may be capable of exacting her own vengeance, but the individual citizen has no business in assisting her work. So Watson endorses the philosophy expressed by Creon himself at Antigone 663ff. that disobedience is the worst of evils and public order the highest good.
spacer17. To illustrate the wrongness of Antigone’s position, Watson uses an image rather than an argument (the image in question is a traditional one that goes back to Livy II.xxxii and Plutarch, Life of Corolianus vi). It is instructive to observe how Watson handles this topic. On the one hand, he acknowledges that disregard of the gods is a component of Creon’s hubris, or at least of his wrongheadedness. In the first Pomp, one of the personifications that mark his progression to catastrophe is Impiety, who boasts of his disregard of the gods: with his stiletto, he is willing to injure even Jove himself. Next in the progression comes the Scourge of Jove, wreaking retribution for this attitude. Lines 118ff. of the first Theme allude to Creon’s disregard of Tiresias in the play:

Vatum piorum temnitur sacrum decus,
spacerEt clara cedit dignitas.
Quin in supremum concita impietas deum
spacerProrumpit in tetrum scelus.

[“He scorns the holy prestige of pious prophets, their noble dignity yields to him. Indeed, his impiety, provoked against God on high, breaks forth in foul crime.”]

The theme goes on to describe the divine vengeance this attitude invites (125f.) There appears to be a strong implication that Creon’s decree indeed does defy the will of the gods. One might expect that Watson would proceed to construct an argument about this religious aspect parallel to the one he advanced about natural law, that Creon’s decree was impious but that Antigone’s assertion that she was acting according to a religious imperative is nevertheless unjustified. But in neither the Pomp nor the associated Theme devoted to Antigone are the religious aspects of her motivation acknowledged. In Watson’s time the primary impulse that led the citizen to rebel against state authority was the exercise of individual religious conscience. At Douay, which had been founded in 1568 by William Allen, the future Cardinal, and was still personally governed by Allen during his time there, Watson undoubtedly was exposed to the Jesuitical doctrine that the Faithful had the right, indeed the obligation, to rebel against heretical sovereigns. Criticism of Antigone’s religious motives could have easily invited reading as an implied rebuke of this Catholic position, and so would have been congenial to official Anglican and governmental views. But for some unknown reason — we now know that he did not come from a Catholic family, so his personal convictions probably did not enter into the picture — Watson chose to steer tactfully clear of this subject, even at the cost of missing a chance of ingratiating himself with the Establishment.spacer
spacer18. So in his evaluation of the rights and wrongs of the quarrel between Antigone and Creon, Watson judges that they are both in the wrong, and that the guilt of the one party is no justification for the choices made by the other. Au fond his strategy is to summarize the bad things said about Creon and Antigone by each other and other speakers in Sophocles’ play, and to endorse the truth of them all. This, the modern reader will surely feel, is scarcely the response Sophocles sought to elicit; it is a reaction that dodges the responsibility of critically weighing the positions represented by Creon and Antigone, and of attempting to arrive at some kind of balance between them. Partially, this is because Renaissance notions of law, authority, and citizenship anachronistically obtrude. This is doubly so because the present work was written by a student of the law for consumption by fellow legalists.
spacer19. But there is another, equally powerful reason why Watson’s reading of the Antigone strikes us as wrong. The use of these individual Pomps and Themes as analytical tools fosters an interpretation according to which individual characters are to a large extent considered independently rather than within dramatic context and in their interactions. This approach enjoins a fragmented reading of the play, whereby each character is regarded as an isolated embodiment, almost emblematically so, of particular positive or negative moral qualities, and the characters are not assessed in terms of their relationships to each other or to their position within dramatic context. But let us postpone consideration of this subject until we have observed how the characters of Ismene and Haemon are presented.
spacer20. By process of elimination, the only course of action to which Watson is able to give his approval is Ismene’s meek submission, the quietude praised in the Pomp and Theme devoted to her. It is here that Watson has most misrepresented Sophocles. Whatever valuation that playwright may have placed on the rights and wrongs in this quarrel — fortunately, there is no need to consider that question here — surely no Athenian would have praised Ismene’s passivity as the behavior of an ideal citizen. This, however, is precisely the orthodox Renaissance view of the responsibility of the individual subject. The following passage from Act II of Matthew Gwinne’s abovementioned play Nero expresses the philosophy eloquently (1241ff.): NOTE 10

Princeps, seu bonus est seu malus, a Iove:
In paenam malus est, in pretium bonus:
Patris extra bonus, laeva manus malus.
Ornes, si bonus est; sin malus est, feras.
Cura sunt superis et bonus et malus.
Non ferinsidias Iupiter in bonum,
Defendit similem, nec iuvat in malum.
Nam non est hominum, sed Iovis ulto.
Foelix, fida, decens, rara rebellio.
Tantis proditio falsa periculis
Hinc illinc trepidans et scatet et patet.
Se prodit, properans prodere, proditor.

[“A ruler, whether good or bad, is sent us by Jove. The bad is sent for our chastisement, the good as our reward. Our Father’s right hand is the good, His left the bad. Praise him if good, tolerate him if bad. For both the good and the bad are under God’s special protection. Jupiter tolerates no scheming against the good, for he defends him who is like himself. Nor does he aid us against the bad, for revenge belongs to Jove, not to mankind. It is a rare rebellion that is fortunate, loyal, and decent. Betrayal, confused by great perils, scatters hither and thither in panic, and becomes manifest. Thus the traitor, hastening to betray, betrays himself.”]

spacer21. This bring us, finally, to Haemon. Here too what is said about him has foundations in Sophocles, in the choral ode about Love’s power at 781 - 90. But, despite this chorus, Watson’s appraisal of Haemon as a frustrated lover seems startling. In the play, there is a visible discrepancy between the Chorus’ diagnosis of Haemon and the stage character the spectator has just seen engaging in a debate with Creon, in which he has made a number of shrewd and trenchant observations about the folly of his father’s obstinate policy. Watson makes no allusion to these aspects of his character beyond bringing on stage the figures of Temerity and Impudence, presumably referring to the unwisdom of a son being induced by love to oppose his father’s will. Haemon is employed as the archetype of the love-stricken youth — quite literally, as he is the victim of Cupids’ dart — driven by passion to self-neglect, folly, and ultimate self-destruction. One is tempted to think that the youth described by Watson has only a limited amount to with Sophocles’ Haemon, and a great deal more to do with the Petrarchan love literature that influenced him so greatly (the set of literary conventions that delineate the particular kind of erotic experience we call Petrarchism is discussed here in connection with the Ἑκατομπαθία). This is strongly suggested by the headnote to Passion XXX of Watson’s sonnet cycle, the Ἑκατομπαθία:

In the first part of this Passion the Author prooueth, that hee abideth more vnrest and hurt for his beloued, than euer did Leander for his Hero: of which two paramours the mutuall feruency in Love is most excellently set foorth by Musaeus the Greeke Poet. In the second part he compareth himselfe with Pyramus, and Haemon king Creons Sonne of Thebes, which were both true hearted louers, that through Loue they suffered vntimely death, as Ovid metam. lib. 4 writeth at large of the one. And the Greeke Tragedian Sophocles in Antig. of the other.

Even more than this, as pointed out in the General Introduction, Watson’s presentation of Haemon embodies his own view, repeatedly expressed, of love as reason’s enemy.
spacer22. Comparison of Neogeorgus’ version of the play with Watson’s shows that Watson appropriated some of his glosses, for example those against his translation of Antigone 331 - 82 and one on a missing line at Ant. 1167. But Naogeorgus’ annotations are on the whole not moralistic, nor does he attempt to dictate the reader’s evaluation of the play and its characters. This can be illustrated by his observations concerning Haemon. In a note on Haemon’s first entrance (p. 218, of his translation of Ant. 635ff.) he wrote, Venit Haemon, filius Creontis, verecundis et probus de nuptiis Antigones et nece disputavit [“Enter Creon’s son Haemon, a modest and upright young man; he disputes with his father about his marriage to Antigone, and about her death.”] And in his gloss on the chorus about the power of love (p. 234, his translation of Ant.781 - 90) is Propter Haemon Chorus amoris meminit, per locum communem. Prius enim sentiebat quod pate,r nunc autem hostiliter pene irascitur patri, propter Antigonem [“On account of Haemon the Chorus remembers love, in a locus communis. For previously he had thought the same as father; now, however, he is angered at his father, almost like an enemy, for Antigone’s sake.”] These remarks represent a balanced and unprejudiced view of Haemon. Neogeorgus did not anticipate Watson’s tactic or regarding the play’s principal characters primarily as embodiments of particular moral qualities. In this instance, he scarcely employs Haemon as the text for a sermon on the disastrous consequences of erotomania. Indeed, his words per locum communem hint that he entertained doubts whether the choral passage at Ant. 781ff., which provided Watson with his pretext for such sermonizing, has any especial applicability to Haemon.
spacer23. If we are to seek for a source of inspiration for Watson’s moralizing Pomps and Themes, we scarcely need look as far afield as Basel. Kent will suffice. The lines with which the Poet introduces the Pomps and Themes are heavily programmatic, and set forth the theory according to which the following poems are contracted. Boyle (p. 190) observed that lines 5ff. contain an echo of Sir Philip Sidney’s The Defense of Poesie:

Tamen relucet clarius nusquam, bona
Quam sub poesi, quae loquens dici potest
Pictura in hominis mente virtutem imprimens.

[“But [wisdom] never shines forth as brightly as she does in good poetry, which can speak (a talking picture), imprinting virtue in the minds of men.”]

These lines can be compared with Sidney’s observation (p. III.9 Fueirrlat), “Poesie therefore, is an Art of Imitation... A speaking Picture, with this end to teach and delight,” NOTE 11 Boyle, however, failed to consider the implications of this discovery. This was unfortunate, for the thinking in this introductory passage is identical to Sidney’s. Watson goes on to write (11ff.)

Natum est poema, ut mentibus nostris ferat
Opem, vagosque ut tollat errores. In hoc

Conficta vitae debitum nostrae docet
Persona cursum: quid decet, quid non sequi.

[“A poem is born so as to bring aid to our minds, and to remove straying errors. In this genre, the fictitious character teaches the proper course of life: what is fitting, what not to pursue.”]

spacer24. This statement finds a close match in what Sidney had to say about the morally instructive functions of character in both comedy and tragedy (III.23):

...the Comedy is an imitation of the common errors of our life, which he representeth in the most ridiculous and scornfull sort that be: so as it is impossible that any beholder can be content to be such a one...So that the right use of Comedie will, I thinke, by no bodie be blamed, and much less of the high and excellent Tragedie, that openeth the greater woundes, and sheweth forth the Ulcers, that are covered with tissue, that maketh Kings feare to be Tyrants.

In another passage, speaking about characters in literature, Sidney spelled out this understanding more fully (III.14f.):

Let us but hear old Anchices, speaking in the middest of Troies flames, or see Ulisses in the fulnesse of all Calipsoes delightes, bewaile his absence from barraine and beggarly Itheca. Anger the Stoickes said, was a short madnesse: let but Sophocles bring you Ajax on a stage, killing or whipping sheepe and oxen, thinking them the Army of Greekes, with their Chieftaines Agamemnon, and Menelaus: and tell me if you have not a more familiar insight into Anger, then finding in the schoolemen his Genus and Difference. See whether wisdom and temperance in Ulisses and Diomedes, valure in Achilles, friendship in Nisus and Eurialus , even to an ignorant man carry not an apparant shining: and contrarily, the remorse of conscience in Oedipus; the soone repenting pride in Agamemnon; the selfe devouring crueltie in his father Atreus; the violence of ambition, in the two Theban brothers; the sower sweetnesse of revenge in Medea; and to fall lower, the Terentian Gnato, and our Chawcers Pander so exprest, that we now use their names, to signify their Trades: And finally, all vertues, vices, and passions, so in their owne naturall states, laide to the view, that we seeme not to heare of them, but clearly to see through them.

spacer25. The justification of drama, and of poetry more generally, against its critics is that it provides us with a parade of characters who serve as moral examples: as negative personifications of qualities to be shunned, and of positive ones to be imitated. This precisely the view set forth by the Poet at the beginning of the first Pomp. The purpose of poetry is to serve as a vehicle for the dissemination of wisdom. Indeed, poetry stamps the very Form or Idea of wisdom on the mind by providing morally instructive exempla as embodied by its fictitious characters, for our imitation and guidance.
spacer26. Watson’s programmatic introduction fails to contain an explicit defense of poetry against its critics, an essential feature of Sidney’s literary philosophy; however, an implicit defense may well be intended. In other respects it looks as if his purpose was to apply Sidney’s moralistic literary theory to the reading of a specific dramatic text, in a practical and systematic way. The Pomps and Themes are the tools he devised to do the job. He considers the play’s four principal characters seriatim. For each one, he devotes a Pomp to the dissection of what he regards as that individual’s moral virtues or defects, and then in the corresponding Theme he exhibits the lessons that the ideal spectator should learn from this analysis, spelled out as a collection of appropriate aphorisms.
spacer27. Watson’s dependence on Sidney’s treatise is especially indicated by the Poet’s words in the first Pomp (13f.):

Conficta vitae debitum nostrae docet
Persona cursum: quid decet, quid non sequi.

[“...the fictitious character teaches the proper course of life: what is fitting, what not to pursue.”]

Sidney’s philosophy of literature has the effect of focusing attention on individual characters considered in isolation rather than as they interact in an unfolding dramatic context. Each character is interesting only insofar as he or she embodies positive or negative moral values, and thus has a lesson to teach. (By this I do not mean to indicate that this how Sir Philip himself would have applied this theory to the reading of a given text — we have no idea how he would have done so — but merely that it is easy to see how his treatise could encourage such an approach by others.) This is perhaps one reason why Watson experienced no difficulty in condemning both Creon and Antigone, rather than seeking to find some some satisfactory balance between the conflicting values they embody.
 spacer28. The discovery that Watson was writing under the influence of The Defense of Poesie, incidentally, is not without historical significance. The Pomps and Themes may be the earliest written response to this document, proof that it existed by the summer of 1581.
spacer29. For the purposes of this edition, it seems supererogatory to furnish an English translation of Watson’s Latin version of a classic such as the Antigone. But all the ingredients in this volume, including Watson’s sidenotes, are translated. Watson was one of those Elizabethan poets who marked what he regarded as particularly memorable lines or passages (usually because of their sententious nature) with a reverse quotation mark; because of the exigencies of formatting text for the Web, it is easier to place these marks at the end of the line rather than the beginning, as was done in printed texts.
spacer30. Sophoclis Antigone, Interprete Thoma Watsono I. V. was printed by John Wolfe at London in 1581. Four copies are extant, owned by the British Library, the University of Chicago Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Huntington Library. The play has been photographically reproduced, in Thomas Watson; Antigone; William Alabaster, Roxana; Peter Mease, Adrastus Parentans sive Vindicta, prepared with an introduction by John C. Coldeway and Brian F. Copenhaver (Renaissance Latin Drama in England series II.iv, Hildesheim - New York, 1987). A text of the Pomps and Themes is included in the dissertation by Boyle, pp. 139 - 80, with a discussion on pp. 43 - 73.


spacerNOTE 1 G. C. Moore Smith, Gabriel Harvey’s Marginalia (Stratford-upon-Avon, 1913) 166, misquoted the words in such a way as to make it appear quite definite that Harvey had seen the play. See the devastating appraisal of Smith’s accuracy by L. Chubb, “Gabriel Harvey and the two Thomas Watsons,” Renaissance News 19 (1996) 113 - 17, that Smith had never actually seen the marginal note in question, as well as V. Stern, Gabriel Harvey, a Study of his Life, Marginalia, and Library (Oxford, 1979) 174 n. 72.

spacerNOTE 2 So Boyle p. 54 and the Introduction to the 1987 photographic reprint, p. 2.

spacerNOTE 3 Alan H. Nelson, Records of Early English Drama (Toronto, 1989) II.938f.

spacerNOTE 4 So Boyle p. 54. Boyle, Coldeway - Copenhaver, and Nelson all assert that Harvey’s marginal comment tends to show that the Antigone was enacted ca. 1583, i. e., after its appearance in print. It is impossible to see why. In the first place, the comment in question is found in a copy of Gascoigne’s Posies (1575) acquired by Harvey in September 1577 according to a notation on the title page. Neither C. G. Moore Smith nor Virginia F. Stern in her Gabriel Harvey, His Life, Marginalia and Library (London, 1979) give any reason for thinking that Harvey’s comment necessarily supports such a late dating. Neither does either authority suggest any general methodology for determining the dates of Harvey’s individual marginalia beyond the obvious one of ascertaining when he acquired the various books in which they are written. Above all, the evidence Camden’s gratulatory poem must be taken into account.

spacerNOTE 5 Musae Anglicanae 45.

spacerNOTE 6 Discussed by Evelyn Mary Spearing, The Elizabethan Translation of Seneca’s Tragedies (Cambridge U. K., 1912) 16, 27f., and 39.

spacerNOTE 7 This five-act scheme could only be imposed at the cost of some strange anomalies: for example, the long chorus at 335ff. is not regarded as act-ending or possessing any structural significance, and Haemon is enters at the end of Act II (as indicated by a sidenote) but does not speak until the beginning of Act III.

spacerNOTE 8 Watson’s translation has a certain interest for its close imitation of Sophocles’ original lyric meters, in an experiment somewhat anticipatory of Milton’s Ad Ioannem Rousium (although, unlike Milton, Watson seems not to have grasped the organizational principle of strophic corresponsion which governed the construction of Greek tragic choruses).

spacerNOTE 9 The balance is underscored by at least one verbal parallel. Compare I.67 tutusque nemo iura calcabit mea with II.175, ab hoste calcari sines?

spacerNOTE 10 A passage that impressed William Gager so strongly that he appropriated it for his 1608 poem on the Gunpowder Plot, Pyramis (1195ff.), written for the personal consumption of King James. This kind of thinking, highly typical of Tudor political doctrine, of course has a considerable history: very notably, see the volume that first appeared under Edward VI and was repeatedly reprinted under Elizabeth, Certayne Sermons appoynted by the Kings/Queenes Maiestie to be declared and read by all persons, vicars, and Curates, every Sonday and holy daye, in theyr Churches, containing among its homilies An Exhortation Concerning Good Order and Obedience to Rulers and Magistrates. This, together with I Samuel, ought to be required reading for all students of Tudor political theory.

spacerNOTE 11 Poetry and painting, to be sure, were often equated: cf. R. W. Lere, “Ut Pictura Poesis: The Humanistic Theory of Painting, Art Bulletin XXII (1940) 197ff. (the Renaissance theory is based on such classical sources as Simonides ap. Plutarch, Glory of Athens iii and Horace, Ars Poetica 361). The significant common denominator between the two quotations juxtaposed here is the linkage of this equation with the theory that poetry is supposed to inculcate virtue.