Gorboduc (aka Ferrex and Porrex) by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville

Title: Gorboduc (or) The Tragedy of Ferrex and Porrex.
Authors: Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville.
Date: 1561.

Genre: Tragedy.
Language Difficulty Rating: 5 (moderate).
Setting: Ancient Britain, ca. 7th century B.C.

The overtly political play Gorboduc was performed for both the public and Queen Elizabeth quite early in her reign. Although Elizabeth had only two years before banned plays with political themes, the fact that her kinsman Thomas Sackville was one of the authors apparently was enough to mollify any worries she might have had on that score. This early Elizabethan drama is of great historical importance, as it is both England’s first true history play, and the first English play to utilize blank verse in iambic pentameter.

Our Story: Gorboduc, the aging King of Britain, wants to retire, and decides to divide his kingdom into two parts, each to be ruled by one of his two sons, Ferrex and Porrex. The boys are immediately both suspicious and envious of each other, and the result is tragedy for the royal family, and the whole kingdom.

Download and Read or Print Gorboduc:

On-line Reading:
Annotated Edition, pdf
Play Only, text file

White Background for Printing:
Annotated Edition, pdf

Theater Script:
Gorboduc Script, pdf


Still-Familiar Words, Phrases and Collocations that Appeared in English Literature
for the First Time
in Gorboduc:

describing thoughts as raging
describing help as timely

the following exact expressions also appeared for the first time in Gorboduc:

“broken peace”
“divided hearts”
“enfeebled/feeble/feebled limbs”
“gaping wound(s)”
“win a crown”