Dedicatory epigram 1ff. One wonders about which of his previous works Watson was thinking: this allusion to the happy unrealities of pastoral may refer to the background against which the tragedy of Amyntas and Phyllis was enacted, but it is a strange description of what transpired in the foreground.
In signaling this change of subject and tone, Watson seems to be imitating the alternative 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...
2 For the locution furta iocosa cf. Horace, Odes I.x.7f.
20 This line foreshadows the later allusion to the story of the death of Hylas, related at Lamentation VI.93ff. of Amyntas: see the commentary note ad loc.
15 Surely Watson was thinking of Aeneid II.3, infandum, regina, iubes renovare dolorem.
22 The picture of the bereft turtlelove perched on his rotten branch is calculated to remind the reader of the extended simile at Amyntas, Lamentation V. 15ff.
31 Cf. Amyntas, Final Lamentation 81, et rubor in foliis, scires e sanguine nata.
32 Cf. Ovid, Heroides iv.20, et caecum pectora vulnus habent.
36 For mens una duobus cf. Amyntas, Lamentation VIII.45.
46 The Hippocrene, a fountain sacred to the Muses, was supposed to have been created by a blow of Pegasus’ hoof.
49 For this tradition about the antiquity of the Arcadians cf. Ovid, Fasti I.289f.:
Ante Iovem genitum terras habuisse feruntur
Arcades, et luna gens prior illa fuit.
Since Arcadia stands for England in Watson’s allegory, perhaps he is alluding to the tradition that Britain was settled by refugees from Troy under the leadership of the eponymous Brutus.
71 This line echoes Amyntas, Lamentation VI.34.
75f. Cf. Seneca, Hercules Furens 325f.:
Inique raro maximis virtutibus
82 Gloria ruris is a phrase that had been used at Amyntas, Lamentation VII.6.
84 For Iunonis Avernae cf. ib., Lamentation IV.18.
91 Morta was sometimes named as one of the three Fates according to Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights III.xv.11.
94 Astrophil is of course Sir Philip Sidney. Since his Astrophil and Stella was not printed until 1596, Watson (like a large number of his contemporaries) must have read it in manuscript. Hyale was his wife Frances, Walsingham’s daughter.
96 For dum fata sinebant cf. Amyntas, Lamentation I.27 with the commentary note ad loc.
97ff. Sir Philip participated in the 1596 Lowlands campaign. He was shot in the leg at the Battle of Zutphen in September, and died of his wound in the next month. His death led to a vast outpouring of national grief and elicited a corresponding effusion of eulogistic poetry. Eclogue IV of Amintae Gaudia is a memorable specimen of such literature.
100 Since Astrophil is a warrior-shepherd defending a flock, he is equipped with the sort of impromptu weaponry peasants would employ, described at Aeneid VII.513f.:
Non iam certamine agresti
Stipitibus duris agitur sudibusque praeustis.
106ff. As noted in the Introduction, these questions are meant to recall the similar ones at Amyntas, Lamentation IX.27ff. Note especially the parellel of Lamentation IX.31 - 3 to lines 112 - 5 here. The picture of an overflowing river closely imitates that of the flooding Thames at Lamentation IX.38ff.
117 A line probably suggested by Vergil, Georgics IV.414, Vesper ubi e pastu vitulos ad tecta reducit.
125ff. A bucolic equivalent of the statesmanlike way in which Neptune calms the warring winds in Book I of the Aeneid.
130 Cf. Horace, Ars Poetica 343, omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci.
135 Watson expresses a wish that the Catholic (and spectacularly vicious) Henri III would be replaced by the Protestant Henri of Navarre, the future Henri IV.
137 Cf. Amyntas, Lamentation VII.22, quantum upupae cygnis.
146 For Nature as our first parent cf. ib., Lamentation III.38f.
165 For innato with the accusative cf. Cicero, De Natura Deorum III.cxxiii.
167 Cf. the commentary note on ib., Lamentation IX.48.
171 In classical literature sinuosa volumina is a locution used of snakes (Aeneid XI.753, Statius, Thebais I.562). Here it designates the orbits of the moveable celestial bodies.
177 The adverb veridice does not exist in the classical Latin lexicon.
178 Since the point of the line is Saturn’s sluggishness, amaro seems a desirable emendation for the book’s avaro.
184 Jupiter was born to Rhea on Crete.
185 Lampada sequenti because Watson is beginning with the outermost of the moveable celestial bodies (as located in Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the universe), and working inward.
187 Jove should cease being jovial.
193 Watson alludes to the precession and recession of Venus, as it becomes the morning and evening star. Possibly we should read sed tuo tempore.
195 Mercury’s winged cap is supposed to eclipse the sun.
198 Cf. Vergil, Georgics II.478, varios lunaeque labores.
211 For spatio diffusus inani cf. Lucan, Bellum Civile III.363.
216 For discordia semina cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses I.9.
217ff. The translation here is written with an eye on Watson’s English version (189ff.):
Now set the firie Pyramids to viewe,
thy divers Idols, Candles burning bright:
Inflamed Shafts, Comets of dreadfull hewe;
Sparkles that flie, and Starres that fall by night.
Let all thy Meteors, of what ever kinde,
with terror sort them selves in full araie.
252 Vernix is not a word found in the classical Latin lexicon; its evident meaning can be deduced from the context.
257 Rubella is not a word found in the classical Latin lexicon; obviously it is used to designate some small red songbird, perhaps the robin.
267 A deliberate inversion of Vergil, Eclogue vii.48, iam lento surgens in palmite gemma.
273 Cf. Amyntas, Lamentation VII.47, lilia, et violas, casiamque, rosasque, thymumque.
277 For flebilis Eccho cf. ib. III.8.
280 Coaxatrix, a word not found in the classical Latin lexicon, may be Watson’s own neologism. Cf. also coaxando at Amintae Gaudia, Eclogue VIII.67.
290 Cf. Lucan, Bellum Civile II.681, curis animum mordacibus angit.
292f. See the note on line 82. Watson had already called the Earl of Arundel mascula gloria regni in the dedicatory poem prefacing his 1581 Antigone, line 65.
317 For the prophetic marine deity Glaucus cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses XIII.906ff.; he will play a more prominent role in Amintae Gaudia. I do not know any place in classical mythology where Glaucus is represented as the son of Nereus.
319 The serpent Lado, who guarded the garden of the Hesperides, was the son of Ceto and Phorcys in some mythological accounts: Robert Graves, The Greek Myths § 133 (b). Cf. Martial X.xciv.1, nonmea Massylus servat pomaria serpens.
321 For Melicertes’ transformation into the sea-god Palaemon see Graves § 70 (h).
322 Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses XI.253, centum mentita figuras.
323 The Carpathian Sea is a designation for the waters lying between Crete and Rhodes.
329ff. Cf. Aeneid VI.171, cava dum personat aequora concha. But the following lines are even more indebted to Ovid, Metamorphoses I.333ff.:
Caeruleum Tritona vocat conchaeque sonanti
Inspirare iubet fluctusque et flumina signo
Iam revocare dato: cava bucina sumitur illi,
Tortilis in latum quae turbine crescit ab imo,
Bucina, quae medio concepit ubi aera ponto,
Litora voce replet sub utroque iacentia Phoebo.
336f. The story of the dolphin and the boy is told by Aulus Gellius VI.viii, and that of Arion and the dolphin by Herodotus Lxxiii and Pliny, Natural History IX.viii (cf. also Vergil, Eclogue viii.46, Propertius II.xxvi(a).18 and Martial VIII.50.15).
340 Cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.531, passos laniata capillos.
359ff. Having gone through the signs of the Zodiac and the moveable spheres, Watson now enumerates the nine Orders of angels in the Celestial Hierarchy. At first sight it might appear that the antiquus vates is Dante. But Watson lists this hierarchy in the order presented by Pope Gregory I in his Homilies on the Gospels, which differs from that of the Paradiso: cf. the comparative table given in the note to Paradiso, Canto XXVII.133-5 in the Penguin translation of the Divine Comedy by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds (1962) III.308.
367 That “Principalities” is the correct translation of Princems Numerus is shown by Watson’s English version (295ff.):
Where Dominations rule and yet obaie:
where Principalities to lower powers
Deepe hidden misteries doe still bewraie.
378 Cf. Amyntas, Lamentation III.64ff.
386 Dryas represents Sir Francis’ second wife Ursula, the daughter of Henry St. Barbe and widow of Sir Richard Worsley of Appulflurcombe, the mother of Lady Frances Walsingham (Watson’s Hyale). She died in 1602.
387 The Philacia coniux is Laodamia, who committed suicide whens he heard of the death of her husband Protesilaus: Graves, The Greek Myths § 162 (d).
388 For gracilem,,,umbram cf. Ovid, Tristia IV.x.86.
389 Hyale represents Sir Francis’ daughter Frances, who had been the wife of Sir Philip Sidney, and would become in turns the wife of the Earls of Essex and Clanticarde. The English translation of Meliboeus was dedicated to her.
392f. Cf. Ovid, Amores III.vii.7f.:
Ille quidem nostro subiecit eburnea collo
Bracchia Sithonia candidiora nive.
394f. Cf. Ovid, Heroides V.47f.:
Non sic adpositis vincitur vitibus ulmus,
Ut tua sunt collo bracchia nexa meo.
396 The tiger appears on the Walsingham family crest: Fairbairn’s Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland (fourth ed. London, 1905, repr. Baltimore, 1983) 574 col. 3.
402 Elizabeth is our goddess and our oracle of truth. Evidently this characterization of the queen as a Sibyl was Watson’s own invention. He had used it the introductory poem Authoris ad Libellum Suum Protrepticon of the Ἑκατομπαθία in the lines quae Cybile coeli nostri; quae gloria regni / unica, quaeque sui sola Sybilla soli, and would do so again at Amintae Gaudia, Epistle V.64.
405f. Elizabeth was a polyglot and delighted in addressing foreign ambassadors in their own language. When Watson calls her a vates he is thinking of her characaterization as a Sibyl, but the word also means a poet.
407f. The three competitors in the contest which Paris judged. Cf. Passion XXI of the Ἑκατομπαθία, lines 7 - 9, and of course the Judgment of Paris was described in Watson’s translation of Coluthus’ Raptus Helenae.
411 The first part of The Faerie Queene had just appeared in the previous year.
416ff. Elizabeth should console herself by thinking of the surviving members of the Privy Council. “Damaetus” is Sir Christopher Hatton [1540 - 91], her Lord Chancellor.
424 “Damon” is William Cecil, Lord Burghley [1530 - 98], the Lord Treasurer. At just about this time he was also compared to Nestor by John Sanford in some occasional verse written for the royal visit to Oxford in September 1592. Cf. his In Eginae Elizabethae Auspicatissimum et Exoptatissimum Adventum, Apollonis et Musarum Εὐκτικὰ Εἰδύλλια 325ff.:
Nobilis a dextra sequitur Cecilius heros,
Vir gravis et doctus, verae pietatis amator,
Facundusque senex, aevi prudentia nostri.
A sidenote against this passage acknowledges that aevi prudentia nostri comes from Ovid, Metamorphoses XII.178, where the phrase is used of Nestor. (Sanford’s poem gives a group portrait of the Privy Council at this time, although Hatton was not present on the occasion).
431 “Aegon” is Charles Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham and Earl of Nottingham, the Lord High Admiral [1546 - 1624]. We are given no basis for identifying the various shepherds named below with individual members of the Council.