the Annotated Popular Edition of




by George Chapman



Featuring complete and easy-to-read annotations.

Annotations and notes © Copyright ElizabethanDrama.org, 2018
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Tharsalio, the wooer.

The Widow's Tears by George Chapman is a schizophrenic

Lysander, his brother.

play, whose farcical first-half plot eventually gives way to a

     Cynthia, wife to Lysander.

somewhat more serious second-half one. Yet a single theme,

          Ero, waiting-woman to Cynthia.

the inconstancy of women, is shared by both tales; indeed,

     Hylus, son to Lysander, nephew to Tharsalio.

Chapman has been criticized for his rather cynical approach

to the ability of women to control their libidos. A bonus in

Eudora, the widow countess.

the play is the hilarious appearance of the highly ridiculous

          Sthenia, gentlewoman attending on Eudora.

Governor in the final scene.

          Ianthe, gentlewoman attending on Eudora.


          Clinias, a servant to Eudora.


          Lycus, a servant to Eudora.

          Argus, gentleman usher to Eudora

The text of the play is taken from Thomas Marc Parrott's

     Laodice, daughter to Eudora.

1913 collection Chapman's Comedies, fully cited below.

Rebus, a suitor to Eudora.


     Hiarbas, Friend to Rebus.

     Psorabeus, Friend to Rebus.

     Mention of Parrott, Smeak and Holaday in the annota-

tions refers to the notes provided by each of these editors

The Governor of Cyprus

in their respective editions of this play, each cited fully

Captain of the Watch


Two Soldiers

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the

footnotes immediately below. The complete list of footnotes

Arsace, a pandress.

appears at the end of this play.

Thomasin, a courtesan

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

     2. Crystal, David and Ben. Shakespeare's Words.

The Scene:

London; New York: Penguin, 2002.

Paphos, on the Island of Cyprus.

     3. Parrott, Thomas Marc. Chapman's Comedies.

London: George Routledge & Sons, 1914.

    4. Smeak, Ethel, ed. The Widow's Tears. Lincoln: The

University of Nebraska Press, 1966.

    12. Holaday, Allan. The Plays of George Chapman: The

Comedies. Urbana: U. of Illinois Press, 1970.



A Room in the House of Lysander.

Enter Tharsalio solus, with a glass in his hand,

= alone.  = mirror.

making ready.

Entering Character: our hero Tharsalio is a young man
     brimming with self-confidence. Tharsalio lives in the
     home of his brother Lysander.


Thar.  Thou blind imperfect goddess, that delights

1f: Tharsalio begins the play with a soliloquy addressed to
     personified Fortune, the goddess who controls people's
     fates, randomly raising and lowering their circumstances.
     Tharsalio criticizes her for her fickle (blind) nature.


(Like a deep-reaching statesman) to converse

2-5: Fortune only talks with fools, because she knows they

Only with fools, jealous of knowing spirits,

     will always worship her, since they never suspect how
     fickle she really is; conversely, she avoids dealing with
     the wise (knowing spirits), who recognize the futility
     of depending on her.
         jealous = suspicious.


For fear their piercing judgments might discover

= find out.1

Thy inward weakness and despise thy power,

= disdain.


Contemn thee for a goddess; thou that lad'st

6: Contemn thee for a goddess = the sense is "in their scorn,
     no longer respect your godhead."
         thou that...gold = "you who shower wealth on the
         lad'st = ie. lades, loads (as cargo).1

Th' unworthy ass with gold, while worth and merit

= ie. those persons who are deserving of good fortune.


Serve thee for nought, weak Fortune, I renounce

= nothing.

Thy vain dependance, and convert my duty

9: thy vain dependence = "my worthless (vain) connection
     or reliance on you";1 Tharsalio will no longer pay homage
     to Fortune. 
         convert = turn or switch.1


And sacrifices of my sweetest thoughts

To a more noble deity, sole friend to worth,

= ie. those who are meritorious.


And patroness of all good spirits, Confidence;

= boldness, here a sentiment more daring than plain vanilla

She be my guide, and hers the praise of these



My worthy undertakings.


Enter Lysander with a glass in his hand,

Entering Characters: Lysander is Tharsalio's brother;

Cynthia, Hylus, Ero.

     Cynthia is the wife of Lysander, Hylus their son. Ero
     is Cynthia's personal female servant.
         Lysander is also holding a mirror (glass), indicating
     that he too is preparing to go out and face the world.


Lys. Morrow, brother! Not ready yet?

19ff: the initial interaction between the brothers Lysander and Tharsalio, and Lysander's wife Cynthia, is one of good-natured teasing and humorous banter.


Thar.  No; I have somewhat of the brother in me.

21: "No. I am a bit like my brother this way."


I dare say your wife is many times ready, and you

not upSave you, sister; how are you enamoured

23: not up = not ready or awake, but also quite suggestive,
     with Cynthia being ready.
         Save you = "God save you", traditional greeting.
         sister = ie. sister-in-law. It was normal to address one's
     sister-in-law as sister, and Cynthia will in turn refer to
     her brother-in-law Tharsalio as brother.


of my presence? How like you my aspect?

= appearance.2


Cyn.  Faith, no worse than I did last week; the weather

= truly.1

has nothing changed the grain of your complexion.

= quality3 or texture.1


Thar.  A firm proof 'tis in grain, and so are not all

= that it (ie. his complexion) is ingrained, ie. unalterable.1


complexions. A good soldier's face, sister!


Cyn.  Made to be worn under a beaver.

= visor of a helmet.3


Thar.  Ay, and 'twould show well enough under a mask,



Lys.  So much for the face!


Thar.  But is there no object in this suit to whet your

39-40: "can you find nothing in my clothes to tease me


tongue upon?

     about?" The phrase whet the tongue upon means to
     "sharpen one's tongue on", and suggests to "prepare
     to attack".1


Lys.  None, but Fortune send you well to wear it; for 

= "grant you success".1

she best knows how you got it.


Thar.  Faith, 'tis the portion she bestows upon younger

45-46: 'tis the…clothes = generally, the mass of the fortune 


brothers, valour and good clothes. Marry, if you ask

     of a family was passed on to the eldest son, who in this
     case is Lysander, leaving the younger sons to fend in the
     world for themselves. Tharsalio will occasionally remind
     Lysander of this circumstance, but is not really resentful
     about it.
         Marry = an oath, derived from the Virgin Mary.

how we come by this new suit, I must take time to

= with suit, Tharsalio refers to both his new outfit and a
     new woman he plans to court.


answer it; for as the ballad says, In written books I 

48-49: for as…find it = the written books refer to the account books of tailors, in which they register the names of those who owe them money.3 Tharsalio, in other words, is implying he hasn't paid for his new suit yet.
     There is another, vaguer allusion here: many ballads at the time contained lines in which the author expressly declared that the tale he has written is true, assuming that such an assertion's very existence would lead an unsophisticated reader to believe it; thus the italicized phrase also means, "since I read it, it must be true"3,20

find it. Brother, these are the blossoms of spirit; and I 

= ie. full-flowerings, prime.2


will have it said for my father's honour, that some of 

= Tharsalio's father is, of course, also Lysander's father.

his children were truly begotten.

= legitimate.


Lys.  Not all?


Thar.  Shall I tell you, brother, that I know will rejoice

= ie. "something that".


you? My former suits have been all spenders; this shall

56-7: "My former courtships (suits) have all been a waste of
     time and money (
spenders)," with a pun on suits.

be a speeder.

= success,1 referring to the newest intended target of his



Lys.  A thing to be heartily wished; but, brother, take


heed you be not gulled; be not too forward.

= fooled, deceived.  = aggressive, eager.1


Thar.  'T had been well for me if you had followed that

counsel. You were too forward when you stepped into


the world before me and gulled me of the land that my

= cheated, though Tharsalio does not intend such a bitter

spirits and parts were indeed born to.

= qualities.


Cyn.  May we not have the blessing to know the aim of


your fortunes? What coast, for Heaven's love?

= direction.1


Thar.  Nay, 'tis a project of state: you may see the

= scheme; Tharsalio won't reveal the details of his latest

preparation, but the design lies hidden in the breasts of



the wise.


Lys.  May we not know't?


Thar.  Not unless you'll promise me to laugh at it, for

without your applause I'll none.


Lys.  The quality of it may be such as a laugh will not 


be ill bestowed upon't; pray Heaven I call not Arsace 


= ie. sister-in-law; Lysander only wants assurance that


     Tharsalio doesn't intend to marry the bawd Arsace,
     whom we will meet later. The good humour between
     the brothers is pleasing.

Cyn.  What, the pandress?


Thar.  Know you (as who knows not?) the exquisite 

85f: Tharsalio ignores the last comments of Lysander and


lady of the palace, the late governor's admired widow, 

the rich and haughty Countess Eudora? Were not she a

= lofty or dignified.1  = "wouldn't she be".


jewel worth the wearing, if a man knew how to win her?


Lys.  How's that, how's that?

90: Lysander cannot believe what he is hearing.


Thar.  Brother, there is a certain goddess called

92f: Tharsalio plans to win the rich Eudora, who is
     somewhat above his class, through sheer audaciousness.

Confidence, that carries a main stroke in honourable


preferments. Fortune waits upon her, Cupid is at her

= advancements.

beck; she sends them both of errands. This deity doth

94-95: Cupid…beck = the god of love, like the goddess


promise me much assistance in this business.

     Fortune, is under Confidence's control.
         of = on.


Lys.  But if this deity should draw you up in a basket to

98-100: Lysander alludes to a story told in the Middle Ages

your countess's window, and there let you hang for all

     about the Roman poet Virgil, who was imagined to be a


the wits in the town to shoot at; how then?

     sorcerer; a lady he was wooing asked him to visit her at
     night, promising to draw him up to her tower window in
     a basket. Halfway up the tower, she ceased raising Virgil
     any further, and left him there to be the object of ridicule
     to the passersby below the next morning.19 Virgil's
     revenge is referred to below in Act I.iii.201-3.


Thar.  If she do, let them shoot their bolts and spare

= arrows with blunt heads.2

not; I have a little bird in a cage here that sings me 


better comfort. What should be the bar? You'll say,

= "What will stop me?"

I was page to the Count her husband. What of that? I

= a key part of Eudora's upcoming resistance to Tharsalio's
     courtship will be that he had been a lowly servant (page)
     to her now-deceased husband, the former governor.


have thereby one foot in her favour already. She has

= step.

taken note of my spirit and surveyed my good parts,

= ie. already had a chance to observe.  = physical qualities.


and the picture of them lives in her eye; which sleep, I

know, cannot close till she have embraced the



= ie. the real thing.


Lys.  All this savours of the blind goddess you speak of.

= ie. Confidence.


Thar.  Why should I despair but that Cupid hath one 

dart in store for her great ladyship, as well as for any 

= arrow.


other huge lady whom she hath made stoop gallant to

116: huge = great or high ranking.2,4
         she = ie. Confidence, the blind goddess.
         made stoop gallant to = the sense is "caused to be
     humble enough to".1 The phrase is a nautical one,
     meaning literally to lower or dip (stoop) one's flag
     (gallant), which one ship might do in salute or as a
     sign of respect to another.4

kiss their worthy followers? In a word, I am assured

= pursuers, suitors.


of my speed. Such fair attempts led by a brave resolve

= success.  = determination.

are evermore seconded by Fortune.

= supported: luck favors the bold.


Cyn.  But, brother, have I not heard you say your own

= ie. Tharsalio.


ears have been witness to her vows, made solemnly to

122-4: her vows…widow's bed = Eudora had vowed never
     to remarry if her husband died first.

your late lord, in memory of him to preserve till death

= ie. Eudora's deceased husband.


the unstained honour of a widow's bed? If nothing else,

yet that might cool your confidence.


Thar.  Tush, sister! Suppose you should protest with

= vow.


solemn oath (as perhaps you have done) if ever Heaven

128-130: if ever…interred = "if God listens to your prayers
     that Lysander die before you". Tharsalio's good nature
     is endearing.

hears your prayers that you may live to see my brother


nobly interred, to feed only upon fish and not endure the

130-2: to feed…life = Tharsalio compares a life without any

touch of flesh during the wretched Lent of your

     men which a widow might vow to lead to the deprivation


miserable life; would you believe it, brother?

     and sacrifice made by those who give up meat during

     Lent; the word flesh could refer both to meat that one
     ate and the flesh of a man.


Lys.  I am therein most confident.


Thar.  Indeed you had better believe it than try it. But

= test.

pray, sister, tell me − you are a woman − do not you


wives nod your heads and smile one upon another when

ye meet abroad?


Cyn.  Smile? Why so?


Thar.  As who should say, “Are not we mad wenches,


that can lead our blind husbands thus by the noses?” Do

you not brag among yourselves how grossly you abuse


their honest credulities? How they adore you for saints,

and you believe it, while you adhorn their temples, and

= "commit adultery with other men"; this is the first of
     numerous references to the traditional horns that are
     said to grow on the foreheads of husbands whose wives
     cheat on them. Additionally, adhorn puns with both
     adore in line 146 and "adorn", and temple is meant in
     both senses of "church" (with saints in line 146) and
     the temples on one's forehead.


they believe it not? How you vow widowhood in their

148-9: How you…lifetime = "How you promise to never
     remarry if your husbands predecease you".

lifetime and they believe you, when even in the sight of



their breathless corse, ere they be fully cold, you join

= corpse.  = before.

embraces with his groom, or his physician, and perhaps

= servant.2


his poisoner; or at least, by the next moon (if you can

expect so long) solemnly plight new hymeneal bonds,

= wait.  = make new marriage vows; Hymen was the god of


with a wild, confident, untamed ruffian –



Lys.  As for example?


Thar.  And make him the top of his house and 

= ie. head of the remarried woman's household.

sovereign lord of the palace? As for example, look you,


brother, this glass is mine –

= mirror.


Lys.  What of that?


Thar.  While I am with it, it takes impression from my

164f: Tharsalio engages in a creative metaphor: just as a husband cannot stop his wife from becoming attracted to another man, so Tharsalio cannot prevent his mirror from being serviceable to another person, even as it reflects only his own face at the moment.

face; but can I make it so mine, that it shall be of no use


to any other? Will it not do his office to you or you; and

= its (its was rarely used by Elizabethans).  = function.

as well to my groom as to myself? Brother, monopolies

167-8: monopolies...down =  "monopolies are condemned


are cried down. Is it not madness for me to believe,

     (cried down)1." Tharsalio of course has the monopoly 
     of a woman by any one man in mind, but his reference is 
     a topical one.
         The Tudor monarchs had granted many monopolies as
     rewards for service or to favourite individuals; highly
     unpopular, monopolies were finally brought under
     control when James I, who ascended the throne in 1603,
     began to revoke those monopolies whose privileges were
     abused the most.5

when I have conquered that fort of chastity the great

= common military metaphor for a woman's resistance.


Countess, that if another man of my making and mettle

= character.

shall assault her, her eyes and ears should lose their


function, her other parts their use, as if Nature had made

= probably suggestive.

her all in vain, unless I only had stumbled into her



168-174: Is it not…quarters = "would it not be crazy for me

to think that if the countess, after marrying me, met another man of my looks and qualities, she would not be attracted to him, as if Nature had wasted creation on her, but for the good luck that brought me into her life?"


Cyn.  Brother, I fear me in your travels, you have drunk

too much of that Italian air, that hath infected the whole

= the English believed that travel to Italy corrupted one's


mass of your ingenuous nature, dried up in you all sap 


of generous disposition, poisoned the very essence of 


your soul, and so polluted your senses that whatsoever

180: polluted = corrupted.

enters there takes from them contagion and is to your

         180-183: whatsoever…spotless = "whatever your


fancy represented as foul and tainted, which in itself,

     senses notice you imagine to be foul and tainted, even

perhaps, is spotless.

     if it is completely pure and good (spotless)."


         fancy = imagination.

Thar.  No, sister, it hath refined my senses, and made 


me see with clear eyes, and to judge of objects as they 

186-7: and to judge…seem = Smeak has noted that Tharsalio

truly are, not as they seem, and through their mask to

is responding to Cynthia's reference to Italian air by alluding to, and varying, a point made by Machiavelli in The Prince, that a ruler must be a "great feigner and dissembler", so that "everybody sees what you appear to be", but "few feel what you are."21


discern the true face of things. It tells me how short-

lived widows' tears are, that their weeping is in truth 

189-190: their weeping…a mask = a variation of a proverb


but laughing under a mask, that they mourn in their 

composed by the 1st century B.C. writer Syrian Publius Syrus, famous for his collection of maxims and sayings: "the weeping of an heir is laughter under a mask",6 here applied to widows; a common and cynical Elizabethan sentiment.

gowns and laugh in their sleeves; all which I believe

= ie. with their faces hidden from observation.


as a Delphian oracle, and am resolved to burn in that 

= ie. as if it had been spoken by the oracle at Delphi, the
     frequently consulted and most famous seer of the ancient

faith. And in that resolution do I march to the great 

         192-3: am resolved…faith = "I will die rather than



     abandon that belief." Tharsalio's tightly-held opinion
     in this matter is compared to religious faith, for which,
     if it were considered heresy, he would gladly be burned
     at the stake. The burning of Catholic agitators was
     common through the 16th century in England, the last
     such execution for heresy not occurring until 1612.


Lys.  You lose time, brother, in discourse; by this had

196: in discourse = "in chatting away with us."
     196-7: by this had you = "by this time you could have".

you bore up with the lady, and clapped her aboard, for

197-9: with bore up, Lysander begins an extended nautical
     metaphor: to bear up means to bring a vessel into the
     wind;1 clap aboard = to bring one's ship alongside
     another, usually for fighting purposes.1


I know your confidence will not dwell long in the


= service means both (1) military service, continuing the
     maritime metaphor; and (2) a lover's courtship.1


Thar.  No, I will perform it in the conqueror's style.


Your way is not to win Penelope by suit, but by

202: Penelope = the wife of Ulysses, Penelope famously resisted the wooing of 108 suitors as she waited for the return of her husband from the Trojan War.
      suit = ie. old-fashioned courting.

surprise. The castle's carried by a sudden assault, that


would perhaps sit out a twelvemonth's siege. It would 

= ie. would otherwise.  = resist.

be a good breeding to my young nephew here, if he

= training, ie. lesson.1


could procure a stand at the palace to see with what

= ie. vantage point from which to watch Tharsalio at work.

alacrity I'll acoast her countess-ship, in what garb I will

= old form of accost,3 with its modern meaning, but also
     continuing Lysander's nautical metaphor, using the
     meaning "keep to the side of",1 together with the pun of


woo her, with what facility I will win her.

= ease.


Lys.  It shall go hard but we'll hear your entertainment

210: the sense seems to be, "it won't be easy but we will

for your confidence sake.

     listen to how you expect to manage this."


Thar.  And having won her, nephew, this sweet face,

= ie. Hylus, Lysander's son.  = ie. Hylus' face.


Which all the city says is so like me,

= ie. mine.

Like me shall be preferred, for I will wed thee

= advanced (in status).


To my great widow's daughter and sole heir,

The lovely spark, the bright Laodicè.


Lys.  A good pleasant dream!


Thar.                                   In this eye I see

221-2: In this eye…fire = Tharsalio further comments on his


That fire that shall in me inflame the mother,

     resemblance to his nephew; this eye = Hylus' eye.

And that in this shall set on fire the daughter.


It goes, sir, in a blood; believe me, brother,

= to go in a blood (here and in the next line) means to

These destinies go ever in a blood.

     "be a family trait" or "run in a family".1


Lys.  These diseases do, brother, take heed of them; 

= weaknesses or mental illnesses.2  = "beware of" or "keep
     watch for".


fare you well; take heed you be not baffled.

= exposed to ridicule, disgraced;1 Lysander is warning

     his brother to be careful.


[Exeunt Lysander, Cynthia, Hylus, Ero;

manet Tharsalio.]

= Tharsalio remains on-stage alone.


Thar.  Now, thou that art the third blind deity

= ie. Confidence, along with Love and Fortune: they are


That governs earth in all her happiness,

     blind in the sense that they act arbitrarily or randomly.1

The life of all endowments. Confidence,


Direct and prosper my intentiön.

Command thy servant deities, Love and Fortune,


To second my attempts for this great lady,

= support, back up.

Whose page I lately was; that she, whose board

= table (for eating);1 these last few lines of Tharsalio's brief
     soliloquy contain a pair of humorously dirty and punny


I might not sit at, I may board abed,

240-1: the scene ends, as scenes often do, with a rhyming

And under bring, who bore so high her head.





A Room in the House of Eudora.

Enter Lysander, Lycus.

Entering Character: though a servant of Eudora's, Lycus is
     also a trusted friend of Lysander and Tharsalio.



Lycus.  'Tis miraculous that you tell me, sir; he come to

= what.  = ie. "Tharsalio is coming".


woo our lady mistress for his wife?


Lys.  'Tis a frenzy he is possessed with, and will not be

= madness.

cured but by some violent remedy. And you shall favour


me so much to make me a spectator of the scene. But is

she, say you, already accessible for suitors? I thought


she would have stood so stiffly on her widow vow, that

= unyieldingly.

she would not endure the sight of a suitor.


Lycus.  Faith, sir, Penelope could not bar her gates

= second reference to the wife of Ulysses; see the note
     above in Scene i.202.


against her wooers; but she will still be mistress of

12-13: she will…herself = she will do as she pleases.

herself. It is, you know, a certain itch in female blood:


they love to be sued to; but she'll hearken to no suitors.

= wooed, pursued.  = listen to, attend or regard.1


Lys.  But by your leave, Lycus, Penelope is not so wise

as her husband Ulysses, for he, fearing the jaws of the

17-18: Ulysses…her voice =  the Sirens were mythical sea


Siren, stopped his ears with wax against her voice. 

creatures who lured sailors to their deaths with their enchanting singing. In the Odyssey, Ulysses had his sailors stop their ears with wax, so they would not hear the Sirens' song, but had himself lashed to a mast without stopping his ears, so that he could hear their music without throwing away his life.
     Lysander's point is that Eudora is smarter than Penelope because she (Eudora) avoids temptation by refusing to entertain the wooing of her suitors.

They that fear the adder's sting, will not come near her


hissing. Is any suitor with her now?


Lycus.  A Spartan lord, dating himself our great 

22-23: A Spartan…kinsman = Eudora is being courted by one Rebus, a Spartan lord, who, as we shall see, uses his kinship with the Viceroy (which usually refers to a deputy king, but here is identified as no more than an unspecified position superior to the Governor of Cyprus) as a selling point.
     dating = identifying.

Viceroy's kinsman, and two or three other of his 


country lords as spots in his train. He comes armed

24: country lords = fellow Spartan nobles, perhaps nobles
     who reside in rural areas.
         spots in his train = "stains on his retinue."

with his Altitude's letters in grace of his person, with

= his Altitude was a common mock title, applied here to
     the Viceroy. It may be a humorous variation on "his


promise to make her a duchess if she embrace the

26-27: embrace the match = ie. marry him.

match. This is no mean attraction to her high thoughts;

= base, worthless.


but yet she disdains him.


Lys.  And how then shall my brother presume of

30-31: And how…acceptance = ie. if Eudora is hesitant to
     meet with one who has that much to offer, how does
     Tharsalio expect to compete against that?

acceptance? Yet I hold it much more under her

31-32: under her contentment = ie. she would be less than


contentment to marry such a nasty braggart, than under


her honour to wed my brother − a gentleman, (though I


say't) more honourably descended than that lord, who,

perhaps, for all his ancestry, would be much troubled to


name you the place where his father was born.


Lycus.  Nay, I hold no comparison betwixt your brother

and him. And the venerean disease, to which they say

39-40: the venerean…wedded = humorous description of
     Eudora's Spartan wooer allegedly suffering from syphilis.


he has been long wedded, shall, I hope, first rot him, 

ere she endure the savour of his sulphurous breath.

= ie. breath having a stench like that of sulphur, a side-effect
     of syphilis.


Well, her ladyship is at hand; y' are best take you to

your stand.

= Lycus has found Lysander a vantage point from which


     to view the ensuing scene in Eudora's house.

Lys.  Thanks, good friend Lycus!




Enter Argus, barehead, with whom another usher,

Entering Character: Argus is an attendant (usher) of the
     widow Eudora's. He enters the stage not wearing his
     uniform cap (barehead).


Lycus, joins, going over the stage.

Hiarbas and Psorabeus next, Rebus single before

51: Rebus is Eudora's Spartan suitor; Hiarbas and
     Psorabeus are his companions.


Eudora, Laodice;

52: Eudora is the widowed countess we have been hearing
     so much about, Laodice her daughter.

Sthenia bearing her train, Ianthe following.

53: Sthenia and Ianthe are female servants of Eudora.


Reb.  I admire, madam, you cannot love whom the

55-56: "I marvel (admire) that you don't love me, since the


Viceroy loves.

     Viceroy loves me."


Hiar.  And one whose veins swell so with his blood,

58-59: Hiarbas points out (no doubt for the umpteenth time)

madam, as they do in his lordship.

     how closely Rebus is related to the Viceroy. The use of


     swell and blood may also be suggestive of Rebus' sexual

Psor.  A near and dear kinsman his lordship is to his


Altitude the Viceroy; in care of whose good speed here

= anxiety over.1  = success.

I know his Altitude hath not slept a sound sleep since 


his departure.

= ie. Rebus'.


Eud.  I thank Venus I have, ever since he came.

66: "I'm grateful I have slept well, ever since Rebus arrived

here." Note how Eudora gently mocks Rebus in this conversation, even as he does not recognize the irony.
     Venus was the goddess of love, and patron goddess of Cyprus (the setting of our play), where legend has it she was born.


Reb.  You sleep away your honour, madam, if you

neglect me.


Hiar.  Neglect your lordship? That were a negligence

= would be.


no less than disloyalty.


Eud.  I much doubt that, sir; it were rather a 

74-75: Eudora cleverly suggests she is not worthy to marry

presumption to take him, being of the blood viceroyal.

     Rebus, with his supposedly high-class bloodline.


Reb.  Not at all, being offered, madam.

= ie. "since I am offering myself to you".


Eud.  But offered ware is not so sweet, you know. 

79: proverbial: "proffered service stinketh."7


They are the graces of the Viceroy that woo me, not 

your lordship's, and I conceive it should be neither

81-83: I conceive…favours = "I imagine you would not be


honour nor pleasure to you to be taken in for another

     satisfied to know that I married you solely because of

man's favours.

     your kinship to a man with the status and qualities of 
     the Viceroy."


Reb.  Taken in, madam? You speak as I had no house

85-86: with taken in in line 82, Eudora meant "received" or


to hide my head in.

     "embraced", but Rebus, without genuine humour, plays

     on the phrase's alternate meaning of  "admitted as a


Eud.  I have heard so indeed, my lord, unless it be

another man's.


Reb.  You have heard untruth then; these lords can well


witness I can want no houses.

= lack.


Hiar.  Nor palaces, neither, my lord!


Psor.  Nor courts neither!


Eud.  Nor temples, I think, neither; I believe we shall

have a god of him.


Enter Tharsalio.


Arg.  See the bold fellow! Whither will you, sir?

103: the servant Argus stops Tharsalio as he attempts to


     approach Eudora.

Thar.  Away! − All honour to you, madam!


Eud.  How now, base companion?

= low fellow; companion was a term of contempt.13


Thar.  Base, madam? He's not base that fights as high

= the sense is "strives (for)".4


as your lips.


Eud.  And does that beseem my servant?

112: "and is that fitting behavior for one who was once my servant?" Eudora reminds Tharsalio (not for the last time) of his modest past, as he had served as a page in her household when her husband the governor had been alive.



Thar.  Your court-servant, madam.

= punning, with a secondary meaning of a wooing
     (courting) professed lover (servant).


Eud.  One that waited on my board?

= ie. served her dinner table.


Thar.  That was only a preparation to my weight on 

= punning on wait, and not the last time Tharsalio will be

your bed, madam.

     rather risqué with the countess.


Eud.  How dar'st thou come to me with such a thought?


Thar.  Come to you, madam? I dare come to you at


midnight, and bid defiance to the proudest spirit that

= ie. for a sexual encounter.

haunts these your loved shadows, and would any way


make terrible the access of my love to you.

= make difficult, ie. obstruct.1


Eud.  Love me? Love my dog!

128: a common proverbial phrase: "if you love me, you must

     love everything about me."7


Thar.  I am bound to that by the proverb, madam.


Eud.  Kennel without with him; intrude not here. What

= "toss him in the gutter (kennel)": kennel also already

is it thou presum'st on?

     had its modern meaning of "doghouse", so Eudora's line


     is a pun.

Thar.  On your judgment, madam, to choose a man, 


and not a giant; as these are that come with titles and

= ie. "unlike these other guys here who", referring to Rebus

authority, as they would conquer or ravish you. But I

     and friends.


come to you with the liberal and ingenuous graces, love,

youth, and gentry; which (in no more deformed a person

= ie. the status of gentleman.


than myself) deserve any princess.


Eud.  In your saucy opinion, sir, and sirrah too! Get

= common address form used towards servants, again
     reminding Tharsalio of his past.

gone, and let this malapert humour return thee no more,

= impudent.2


for, afore Heaven, I'll have thee tossed in blankets.

= common humiliation practiced on those who deserve

     punishment for misbehavior.


Thar.  In blankets, madam? You must add your sheets,

and you must be the tosser.


Reb.  Nay, then, sir, y' are as gross as you are saucy.

= coarse.1


Thar.  And all one, sir, for I am neither.


Reb.  [drawing] Thou art both.

= ie. his sword.


Thar.  Thou liest; keep up your smiter, Lord Rebus.

155: thou = Tharsalio and Rebus address each other with the insulting thou to express their contempt for each other.
     keep up = keep confined.1
     smiter = humorous term for Rebus' sword.



Hiar.  Usest thou thus his Altitude's cousin?

157: "this is how you treat (use) the Viceroy's kinsman?"


Reb.  The place, thou know'st, protects thee.

159: Rebus, actually a coward, will repeatedly refuse to


     fight with Tharsalio, out of, so he says, respect for
     Eudora, whose home they are in.

Thar.  Tie up your valour then till another place turn me


loose to you. You are the lord, I take it, that wooed my

great mistress here with letters from his Altitude; which


while she was reading, your lordship (to entertain time)

straddled and scaled your fingers, as you would show

165: straddled and scaled = to straddle is to spread apart,


what an itching desire you had to get betwixt her sheets.

but the word is  usually applied to the legs; given the rest of the sentence, there is certainly some suggestive sense intended; to scale means "to peel flakes from".1
     as you would show = as if to show.


Hiar.  'Slight, why does your lordship endure him?

= by God's light, a strong oath; a statute of 1606 banned

     the explicit blaspheming use of God's name on stage.


Reb.  The place, the place, my lord!


Thar.  Be you his attorney, sir.

= Tharsalio asks Hiarbas to speak for Rebus (ie. fight in his



Hiar.  What would you do, sir?


Thar.  Make thee leap out at window at which thou

176-7: to come in the window was a euphemism for being a

cam'st in. Whoreson bagpipe lords!

= ie. long-winded talker.1 Smeak wonders if there is a swipe


     here at the recently-enthroned English King James I and
     the many countrymen of his from Scotland who seemed
     to have undesirably descended on England in his wake.

Eud.  What rudeness is this?


Thar.  What tameness is it in you, madam, to stick at

= scruple or hesitate.1


the discarding of such a suitor? A lean lord, dubbed with

182-3: A lean lord…others = the otherwise insignificant
     Rebus gains his substance from his connection to the

the lard of others! A diseased lord, too, that opening

183: diseased lord = Tharsalio alludes to Rebus' alleged


certain magic characters in an unlawful book, up start as

     suffering from syphilis.
         183-4: that opening…up start = "that by opening up
     and using a book of witchcraft, raise (up start), etc."
         characters = words.
         unlawful = in the early 16th century, witchcraft was
     still illegal.

many aches in's bones, as there are ouches in's skin.

185: aches was pronounced "aitches" at the time, punning easily with ouches; ouches refers to sores on the skin,1 which, along with the aching of Rebus' bones, allude to the symptoms of his venereal disease.


Send him, mistress, to the widow your tenant, the

virtuous pandress Arsace. I perceive he has crowns 

= Tharsalio is only partially ironic, and not at all cruel: Arsace actually was once a prosperous woman, but who has since fallen on hard times, and now pays rent in one of the countess' properties, where she seems to be running a brothel.


in's purse, that make him proud of a string; let her pluck

= the meaning of the phrase is not entirely clear, but appears several times in English writing of the day; the OED cites the phrase from a 1650 work, and suggests, since the phrase is applied to a horse, that string is a shortened form of stringhalt, a condition which causes the hind legs of a horse to contract in a spasm; since proud can mean "sexually excited", the combination could be highly suggestive.
     The punning is dense in these lines: string can also refer to the cord of a musical instrument, so there is a play on words with pluck; pluck in turn is something you do to a goose (line 189).

the goose therefore, and her maids dress him.

189: goose = fool, referring to Rebus.
         maids = euphemism for Arsace's prostitutes.
         dress him = ie. prepare or cook Rebus, who is a goose;
     but dress also meant to raise or erect,1 thus adding to the


Psor.  Still, my lord, suffer him?

= ie. "you tolerate".


Reb.  The place, sir, believe it, the place!


Thar.  O, good Lord Rebus, the place is never like to be


yours that you need respect it so much.


Eud.  Thou wrong'st the noble gentleman.


Thar.  Noble gentleman? A tumour, an imposthume, he

= a festering swelling, used figuratively here, as in "swollen
     with pride".1

is, madam: a very hautboy, a bag-pipe, in whom there is

= an early oboe-like instrument, referring again to Rebus'


nothing but wind, and that none of the sweetest

= also meaning flatulence, which smells none too sweet


     (wind has been used in this way since as far back as
     1000 A.D.).1


Eud.  Quit the house of him by th' head and shoulders!

= to her servants: "toss him out of the house".


Thar.  Thanks to your honour, madam, and my lord

207-8: Tharsalio seems to be mimicking Rebus.


cousin, the Viceroy, shall thank you.


Reb.  So shall he indeed, sir.


Lycus, Arg.  Will you begone, sir?


Thar.  Away, poor fellows!


Eud.  What is he made of, or what devil sees

= ie. Rebus; Eudora is addressing Tharsalio here.

Your childish and effeminate spirits in him,

= unmanly.1


That thus ye shun him? Free us of thy sight.

Begone, or I protest thy life shall go!

= swear.


Thar.  Yet shall my ghost stay still, and haunt those beauties

= "remain here always".


And glories that have rendered it immortal.

But since I see your blood runs, for the time,

223-5: But since…agreements = Tharsalio, with typical
     chauvinism, accepts that Eudora must say "no" first
     before she eventually says "yes."


High in that contradiction that fore-runs

Truest agreements (like the elements,

225-6: like the…generate = the ancient philosophers
     recognized four elements - earth, fire, air and water -
     out of which everything in the universe was created


Fighting before they generate) and that time

226-7: that time…worth = time must be allowed, ie. patience
     is required, to attain things of great value.

Must be attended most in things most worth,


I leave your honour freely, and commend

228-231: commend…likewise = "I will dedicate (commend)

That life you threaten, when you please, to be

     my life (which you now threaten) to your service, 


Adventured in your service, so your honour

     when you are ready to accept it."

Require it likewise.


Eud.                      Do not come again.


Thar.  I'll come again, believe it, and again.

235: "I'll be back again and again", but perhaps also highly


     suggestive, as the vulgar sense of come appears to have
     originated in the early 17th century.



Eud.  If he shall dare to come again, I charge you

= direct.


Shut doors upon him.


Arg.                         You must shut them, madam,

To all men else then, if it please your honour;

= common formula of submissive deference.


For if that any enter, he'll be one.


Eud.  I hope, wise sir, a guard will keep him out.


Arg.  Afore Heaven, not a guard, an't please your

248: Argus likely emphasizes a in a guard, as in "only


     one guard?" Argus, a coward, worries that he alone is
     being assigned the job of keeping Tharsalio out of the


Eud.  Thou liest, base ass; one man enforce a guard?

= "how can one man force (enforce) his way past a guard?"


I'll turn ye all away, by our isle's goddess,

If he but set a foot within my gates.


Psor.  Your honour shall do well to have him poisoned.


Hiar.  Or begged of your cousin the Viceroy.

= begging was an English legal procedure in which a person


could apply to take wardship of an orphan or a mental incompetent, and thus control the ward's property; such a system was easily abused, and was to be abolished in England in 1660.



Before the House of Eudora.

Lysander, from his stand.

= Lysander's secret viewing area, apparently located outside
     Eudora's house.



Lys.  This braving wooer hath the success expected; 

= daring.  = that is, no success at all.


the favour I obtained made me witness to the sport,

= entertainment.

and let his confidence be sure, I'll give it him home.

= "let him know about it": Lysander intends to tease his
     brother over his failure.


The news by this is blown through the four quarters of

= by now.

the city. Alas, good confidence! But the happiness is,


he has a forehead of proof; the stain shall never stick

6: forehead of proof = an audacious invulnerability;1 the

there, whatsoever his reproach be.

     sense is, he has no sense of shame or defeat.


         6-7: the stain…reproach be = no amount of disgrace
     (stain) will stick to him, no matter how great the shame
     or insult (reproach).1

Enter Tharsalio.


[Aside] What, in discourse?

11: Lysander notices that Tharsalio is talking to himself;


Elizabethan characters frequently express their inner thoughts aloud, for the convenience of both the audience and eavesdropping characters.

Thar.  Hell and the Furies take this vile encounter!


Who would imagine this Saturnian peacock

= the peacock was sacred to Juno, the queen of the gods,
     for whom Saturnia was an alternate epithet. The peacock,
     as an emblem of pride, refers to Eudora.

Could be so barbarous to use a spirit

= treat.


Of my erection with such low respect?

= height (referring to his spirit), with obvious suggestive-

'Fore Heaven, it cuts my gall; but I'll dissemble it.

= spirit capable of resenting insult.1  = despite the repulse,


     Tharsalio will act as if he is not discouraged at all.

Lys.  What, my noble lord?


Thar.  Well, sir, that may be yet, and means to be.


Lys.  What means your lordship, then, to hang that head

23-24: to hang…erected = Lysander continues the double-


that hath been so erected; it knocks, sir, at your bosom 

     entendre begun by Tharsalio.

to come in and hide itself.

= ie. from shame.


Thar.  Not a jot!


Lys.  I hope by this time it needs fear no horns.

= "I trust you are not married yet"; by not being married,
     Tharsalio need not worry about being cheating on!


Thar.  Well, sir, but yet that blessing runs not always in

31-32: to run in a blood means to be a family trait; hence,


a blood.

     Tharsalio is saying that being cheated on doesn't always
     run in a family, ie. just because Lysander's wife may be
     unfaithful doesn't mean Tharsalio's own wife would be.


Lys.  What, blanketed? O the gods! Spurned out by

34: blanketed? = "have you been tossed in a blanket?" ie.
    humiliated; see the note at Act I.ii.144.
         Spurned = kicked.

grooms, like a base bisogno! Thrust out by th' head and

= servants.  = beggar.1




Thar.  You do well, sir, to take your pleasure of me. −

38: "go ahead and tease me."

[Aside] I may turn tables with you ere long.

39: he may get his revenge on Lysander yet for these jibes.


Lys.  What, has thy wit's fine engine taken cold? Art

= cleverness'.1  = ingenuity or cunning.1


stuffed in th' head? Canst answer nothing?


Thar.  Truth is, I like my entertainment the better that

44: ie. "as a matter of fact, I prefer my treatment (from

'twas no better.

     Eudora) this way."


Lys.  Now the gods forbid that this opinion should run


in a blood!


Thar.  Have not you heard this principle, “All things by

50-51: All things by strife engender: the sense is generally

strife engender”?

that "strife is a creative force," suggesting that conflict necessarily precedes success.
     Chapman had used this idea before: in his famous translation of the Iliad, in Book XIX, line 90, he wrote, "All things are done by strife." R.W. Dent, in his Proverbial Language in English Drama etc., cites an early 16th century appearance of the following line: "All thyngs are create in maner of stryfe".23


Lys.  Dogs and cats do.

53: dogs were associated with living a life of strife; the


Roman poet Martiall, in his tenth collection of epigrams, alluded to the "strife of dogs". Lysander humorously alludes to the reproductive habits of dogs and cats.

Thar.  And men and women too.


Lys.  Well, brother, in earnest, you have now set your

= "seriously now".


confidence to school, from whence I hope't has brought

home such a lesson as will instruct his master never 


after to begin such attempts as end in laughter.

= ie. Tharsalio's failure is a source of amusement for those
     who have learned of it.


Thar.  Well, sir, you lesson my confidence still; I pray

= meaning both (1) instruct, and (2) admonish.1

heavens your confidence have not more shallow ground

         62-64: I pray…so: Tharsalio's revenge begins: he


(for that I know) than mine you reprehend so.

     plants the first seed of doubt in Lysander's mind that he 

     should not be so confident in the fidelity of his wife,


Lys.  My confidence? In what?


Thar.  May be you trust too much.


Lys.  Wherein?


Thar.  In human frailty.

72: frailty was used to suggest female weakness of the flesh.


Lys.  Why, brother, know you aught that may impeach

= anything.

my confidence, as this success may yours? Hath your

75f : Hath your… = Lysander takes the bait.


observation discovered any such frailty in my wife (for

that is your aim I know) then let me know it.


Thar.  Good, good! Nay, brother, I write no books of

79: good, good! = these words may be an aside, as Tharsa- 


observations; let your confidence bear out itself, as mine

     lio may be expressing pleasure that he has touched a raw

shall me.

     nerve in Lysander.
 79-80: books of observations = non-fiction works in
     the 16th and 17th centuries frequently used the word
     Observations in their titles or section headings: the
     first decade of the 17th century, for example, saw books
     entitled Obseruations vpon the fiue first bookes of
(1600) and Holy Observations (1607), and
     numerous other books with subtitles and section
     headings with the word.


Lys.  That's scarce a brother's speech. If there be 

83: That's scarce…speech = "that's not how one should
     speak towards ones brother."


aught wherein your brother's good might any way be

questioned, can you conceal it from his bosom?

= ie. brought into question.


Thar.  So, so! Nay, my saying was but general. I

87-88: Tharsalio has not yet actually suggested anything


glanced at no particular.

     specifically about Cynthia.

         Tharsalio's "So, so!" may be an aside, as was "Good,
     good!" in line 79 above.


Lys.  Then must I press you further. You spake (as

to yourself, but yet I overheard) as if you knew some


disposition of weakness where I most had fixed my

92-93: where I…trust = ie. in Cynthia, his wife.

trust. I challenge you to let me know what 'twas.


Thar.  Brother, are you wise?


Lys.  Why?


Thar.  Be ignorant. Did you never hear of Actӕon?

= a mythological youth who accidentally stumbled across


the goddess Diana while she was naked and bathing; she turned him into a stag, and he was torn to death by his own dogs.

Lys.  What then?


Thar.  Curiosity was his death. He could not be content 


to adore Diana in her temple, but he must needs dog her

to her retired pleasures, and see her in her nakedness.


Do you enjoy the sole privilege of your wife's bed? 

Have you no pretty Paris for your page? No young

107-8: Tharsalio speculates as to whether Cynthia has any


Adonis to front you there?

attractive young men around her to stimulate her interest.