Dedicatory poem 1 As in the dedicatory epistole of the Antigone translation, A0nian = Boetian (Boetia was the home of Helicon and the Muses), and the dedication is appropriately replete with learned Boeotian allusions. Phocis, the territory between Boeotia and Locris, was the site of Delphi.
2 Gorgoneas aquas designates the spring Hippocrene, sacred to the Muses, because it was cregted by the blow of Pegasus’ hoof.
4 Clarius = sacred to Apollo (cf. Ovid, Ars Amatoria II.80, Metamorphoses XI.413, Vergil, Aeneid III.380, etc.).
10 Elizabeth is also called a Sibyl (presumably because of her foresightful wisdom) at Meliboeus 402, Amintae Gaudia Epistle V.64, and the poem I hope and feare anthologized in The Phoenix Nest.
11 At the time, the Earl was twenty-one.
18 Pimpleia was another Pierian spring sacred to the Muses.
20 The Muses, so-called because of their association with the Hippocrene (see above).
21f. Given the absence of a comprehensive biography of Northumberland, it is not possible for a commentator to do justice to these lines. Ostensibly they indicate that Northumberland himself had written some Amyntas poetry, or at least with a character of that name in them, but there seems to be no corroborative evidence that he wrote poetry (besides the D. N. B. and newer O. D. N. B. articles, the principal biographical treatments are Edward Barringdon de Fonblanque, Annals of the House of Percy, London, 1887, II.177 - 365, G. Brenan, A History of the House of Percy, London, 1902, especially II.31 - 4o on Northumberland’s upbringing and education, and John W. Shirley, Thomas Harriot, A Biography, index s. v. “Percy, Henry”). In view of the generally playful tone of this dedication, thease lines may conceal some private joke. This is suggested by the odd words maternis modis, as Northumberland was lived exceedingly bad terms with his mother (Brenan, II.40 - 45), perhaps an arcane allusion to a situation that was brewing in the Percy family. Northumberland was trying to engineer the marriage of his sister to his friend John Wotton, over his mother’s vehement disapproval: see her 1587 letter to Lord Burghley on the subject quoted in full by de Fonblanque II.190 - 3.
25f. Watson had previously personified the Thames as a water nymph (there the daughter of Oceanus) in Passion LXXII of the Ἑκατομπαθία. In mythology, the nymph Dryope fell in love with the boy Hylas and enticed him to fall into her pool and drown (Robert Graves, The Greek Myths § 150). Here, evidently, Thamesina is identified with Dryope and the idea seems to be that she was so entranced by Percy’s music — whatever that was — that she inadvertently shot him in the heart, making him fall in love with her.
27 Mercury was the inventor of the lyre (cf. the mention of “the Harpe of Mercurie” at line 8 of A Gratification unto Mr. John Case, written about the same time, with the commentary note ad loc.).
40 What is said here about Northumberland’s eventual marriage to an Andromeda of course depends on a pun Percy - Perseus.
42 For the old saying ab Aquilone pandetur omne malum cf. Polydore Vergil, Adagiorum Liber, proverb B303. Watson is jesting about a serious matter: the Percys were supposed to take the lead in defending England from the Scottish theat from the north, but were traditionally a fiercely independent clan and a law unto themselves. amd their loyalty to the central government frequently fell under suspicion (as Northumberland’s certainly had — he was already the object of intense governmental scrutiny).
43 A playful way of saying that the philosophically-inclined Northumberland will grow up to be a wise old man: in classical mythology Nereus was the prophetic old god of the sea.
50 For Momus see the commentary note on line 27 of the dedicatory poem prefacing the Antigone translation. For his criticism of Venus’ slipper see the commentary note on Passion VII.15 of the Ἑκατομπαθία.
53 “Phoenician years” seems to mean only “years of the Phoenix,” by a bit of verbal tomfoolery.
1 The Xanthus was a river in the Troad.
26 One can understand this line to say that Venus was the mother of Harmonia, who married Cadmus, and also that she is the mother of concord (although she does not behave that way in the poem).
32 Dictynna was a cult name for Diana.
40f. These intrusive lines are omitted from modern editions of Coluthus.
71 Mercury, son of the Pleiad Maia.
103f. Here Watson deviates significantly from his Greek original, which merely says “and the wandering Loves heard these dear maternal instructions and hastened after their nurse” (there is nothing in Perdrier’s prose translation that could have misled him here). At Amintae Gaudia Epistle III.41ff. he describes two Cupids, the one wanton and the other chaste. Perhaps he had something similar in mind when he wrote these lines, although he did not make himself entirely clear.
151 Multisagax is not a word found in the classical Latin lexicon and may be Watson’s own invention (it translates the Homeric epithet πολύμητις).
152 “White-armed Hera” is her standard epithet in Homer.
159 Here, obviously, the war-godess Bellona is identified with Minerva.
165 Presumably the ligamen amorum is the love-inspiring girdle described by Homer (Iliad XIV.214ff.), which also figures at Amintae Gaudia Eclogue IV.98 (see the commentary note ad loc.)
204ff. “The art of Daedalus” is the art of construction. Phereclus the shipbuilder is described as ruinous because the ship he builds will bring Helen to Troy.
207 Alexander = Paris.
211 The Hellespont (Phryxus was the brother of Helle).
218 “Dardanian” = Trojan, and Pergamum = Troy.
220 A Thracian lake mentioned by Herodotus VII.109.
223f. Phyllis of Thrace fell in love with Demophon. When he failed to return from the Trojan War, she pined away and was metamorphosed into an almond tree by Athena; Demophon returned too late and found only the tree: Robert Graves, The Greek Myths § 86 (a), although usually her lover is said to have been Demophon’s brother Acamas. She has nothing to do with Amyntas’ Phyllis, although their fates are contrasted at Amintae Gaudia Epistle X.77.
230 The Eurymanthus was a river in Arcadia.
231 Menelaus was a son of Atreus.
246 For this Spartan Athena cf. Pausanias, Description of Greece III.xiii.3f.
247ff. Apollo once loved the boy Hyacinth. The West Wind also fell in love with him, and once when Apollo and Hyacinth were playing with a discus, out of jealousy he made the discus strike the boy and kill him. From his blood sprang the hyacinth flower, on which his initial can still be seen: Graves, Greek Myths § 21 (m).
249 “Carneian” was Apollo’s Spartan cultic epithet.
281 Neleus was Nestor’s father, Antilochus his son.
283 Ajax was of Aeacus’ race. Peleus was the father of Achilles, and Telamon the father of Ajax. Patroclus will be familiar to any reader of the Iliad.
321 Curvipes is not a word found in the classical Latin lexicon. It translates Coluthus’ εἴλιπόδεσσιν and describes the cattle’s shambling gait, not the shape of their feet.
331ff. This description of the two gates of sleep is based on Odyssey XIX.562ff. Unless its presence here is purely ornamental, it presumably signals the author’s negative opinion of Helen’s decision to elope.
406 The Aeolian sea is the Hellespont (Helle, after whom the straight is named, was descended from Aeolus). The Cicones are a people of Thrace, mentioned by Homer.
408 Taenarum was the principal mountain of Sparta.