the Annotated Popular Edition of



by Philip Massinger

Performed 1629
First Published 1630


Featuring complete and easy-to-read annotations.


Annotations and notes © Copyright Peter Lukacs and ElizabethanDrama.org, 2019.
This annotated play may be freely copied and distributed.





A True Hungarian History

A Tragecomedie,

As it was often presented with good
allowance, at the Globe, and Blacke
Friers Play-houses, by the Kings
Maiesties Servants.



The Hungarian Court:

     The Picture, by Philip Massinger, is a highly entertaining

drama-comedy which explores what happens to people who

Ladislaus, king of Hungary.

are unable or unwilling to control their feelings and

     Honoria, the queen.

affections: unchecked suspicion, embarrassingly

          Acanthe, maid of honour.

unrestrained adoration, and even immoderate lust, all will

          Sylvia, maid of honour.

be repaid. The Picture is likely the only Elizabethan play

Ferdinand, general of the army.

to take place in Hungary's ancient royal capital, Alba

Eubulus, an old counsellor.

Regalis, modern Székesfehérvár.

Ubaldo, a wild courtier.

Ricardo, a wild courtier.


Bohemian Characters:

     The text of The Picture is adopted from Gifford's

edition of our play, cited at #16 below, but with some

Mathias, a knight of Bohemia.

of the 1630 quarto's original spellings restored.

     Sophia, wife to Mathias.

          Hilario, servant to Sophia.


          Corisca, Sophia's woman.

Julio Baptista, a great scholar.

     References in the annotations to Gifford refer to the

notes supplied by editor W. Gifford to The Picture in his

Two Boys, representing Apollo and Pallas.

1840 collection of Massinger's work, cited at #16 below.

Two Posts, or Couriers.

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the

A Guide.

footnotes immediately below. The complete list of footnotes

Servants to the queen.

appears at the end of this play.

Servants to Mathias.

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

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

Maskers, Attendants, Officers, Captains, &c.

London; New York: Penguin, 2002.

     3. Smith, W., ed. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman


Biography and Mythology. London: John Murray, 1849.

Partly in Hungary, and partly in Bohemia.

     7. no author listed. Greek Mythology. Athens: Techni

S.A., 1998.

     15. Humphries, Rolfe, trans. Ovid. Metamorphoses.

Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.

     16. Gifford, William. The Plays of Philip Massinger.

London: William Templeton, 1840.



Settings, Scene Breaks and Stage Directions.

     The original quarto does not provide settings for the play; all this edition's indicated settings are adopted from Gifford.
     The original quarto of The Picture was divided into five Acts and multiple scenes, which organization we follow.
     Finally, as is our normal practice, some stage directions have been added, and some modified, for purposes of clarity. Most of these minor changes are adopted from Gifford.



The Frontiers of Bohemia.

Enter Mathias in armour, Sophia in a riding suit,

Entering Characters: Mathias is a knight and a Bohemian.

Corisca, Hilario, with other Servants.

He is on his way to fight on behalf of the Hungarian king in

Hungary's wars against the Turks. Mathias' wife Sophia, along with the family's servants, has accompanied him on his journey to Hungary, at least so far as it is safe for them to do so. Corisca is the couple's female servant, Hilario their male one.


Math.  Since we must part, Sophia, to pass further


Is not alone impertinent, but dangerous.

= ie. "would not only be immodest of you".

We are not distant from the Turkish camp


Above five leagues, and who knows but some party

= about three miles.2

Of his Timariots, that scour the country,

= Turkish cavalry.16 As a historical matter, the Turkish
     Ottomans had been a threat to Hungary since the 1380's.


May fall upon us? − be now, as thy name,

= "act like your name, Sophia" - which means "wisdom"
     in Greek.

Truly interpreted, hath ever spoke thee,


Wise and discreet; and to thy understanding

8-9: to thy…patience = ie. "join your understanding to

Marry thy constant patience.

     your fortitude."


Soph.                                 You put me, sir,


To the utmost trial of it.

= test.


Math.                           Nay, no melting;

= "please, no tears."

Since the necessity that now separates us,


We have long since disputed, and the reasons,

= argued about.

Forcing me to it, too oft washed in tears.


I grant that you, in birth, were far above me,

And great men, my superiors, rivals for you;


But mutual consent of heart, as hands,

Joined by true love, hath made us one, and equal:


Nor is it in me mere desire of fame,

22-28: Mathias explains the reason he must go to fight in
     the wars: not for fame or reputation, but for material gain,
     so he can support Sophia as befits her high birth. He is
     a bit ashamed that he, a poorer man, has not been able
     to do this to date.

Or to be cried up by the public voice,

23: in order to be acclaimed by the public.


For a brave soldier, that puts on my armour:

= as.

Such airy tumours take not me. You know

= immaterial and worthless concepts, ie. fame and
     reputation mean nothing to Mathias.
         airy = describes something that lacks a physical
         tumours = empty things, things of no value.1


How narrow our demeans are, and what's more,

26: narrow = limited.
          demeans = alternate spelling for demesne, meaning
    possessions,1 though Gifford suggests "means".

Having as yet no charge of children on us,

27-28: even without children, they can barely survive,


We hardly can subsist.

     though Mathias no doubt exaggerates.


Soph.                          In you alone, sir,

I have all abundance.


Math.                       For my mind's content,


In your own language I could answer you.

34: ie. "I feel the same way about you."

You have been an obedient wife, a right one;


And to my power, though short of your desert,

= ie. "of being able to treat you as you deserve".

I have been ever an indulgent husband.


We have long enjoyed the sweets of love, and though

Not to satiety, or loathing, yet

39: "not to such a level as to cause jadedness or hatred
     between us"; satiety generally is used to mean
     "overindulgence", but as here can suggest weariness
     with what one has been over-exposed to.


We must not live such dotards on our pleasures,

40-41: We must…hug them = ie. "we must not remain

As still to hug them, to the certain loss

     satisfied with what we have".
         dotards = those who are excessively fond of some-


Of profit and preferment. Competent means

= advancement.  = sufficient wealth.

Maintains a quiet bed; want breeds dissention,

= lack of material goods or wealth.


Even in good women.


Soph.                        Have you found in me, sir,

Any distaste, or sign of discontent,


For want of what's superfluous?

= lack.  = unnecessary.


Math.                                       No, Sophia;

Nor shalt thou ever have cause to repent


Thy constant course in goodness, if Heaven bless

My honest undertakings. 'Tis for thee


That I turn soldier, and put forth, dearest,

Upon this sea of action, as a factor,

= literally a purchasing agent; Mathias begins a commercial metaphor, describing himself as one heading out to sea with a ship of goods to trade, e.g., for silk, and other luxurious materials not locally manufactured, so as to be able to provide Sophia with the finest clothing possible.


To trade for rich materials to adorn

Thy noble parts, and shew them in full lustre.

= Massinger's preferred spelling for show.


I blush that other ladies, less in beauty

And outward form, but in the harmony

= looks.


Of the soul's ravishing music, the same age

60-61: the same…with thee = ie. "other women who

Not to be named with thee, should so out-shine thee

     should not be mentioned in the same breath as you".
         age = era.


In jewèls, and variety of wardrobes;

While you, to whose sweet innocence both Indies

= ie. East and West Indies.


Compared are of no value, wanting these,

= ie. lacking jewels and rich clothing.

Pass unregarded.

= unnoticed or unadmired.


Soph.                 If I am so rich, or

67-68: or / In your opinion = "or at least in your opinion
     so rich" (ie. possessing qualities other than material


In your opiniön, why should you borrow

= the sense is "obtain".

Additions for me?

= accessories that if added will help indicate Sophia's


     high rank or status.1

Math.                Why! I should be censured


Of ignorance, possessing such a jewel

= ie. "for my".

Above all price, if I forbear to give it

= "that a value cannot be set on it".


The best of ornaments: therefore, Sophia,

In few words know my pleasure, and obey me,

= common phrase: "I will give you my instructions".


As you have ever done. To your discretion

I leave the government of my family,

= ie. management of the household.


And our poor fortunes; and from these command

78-79: and from…to myself = ie. "and the servants (these)

Obedience to you, as to myself:

should obey you just as they would obey me if I was here."
     You may wish to note that Mathias and Sophia live entirely commensurately with that of an early 17th century English household: the husband has absolute authority over all matters, the wife entirely passive, unless he grants her any such power.


To the utmost of what's mine, live plentifully;

And, ere the remnant of our store be spent,

= "before what is left of our wealth".


With my good sword I hope I shall reap for you

82-84: Mathias now uses a farming metaphor to describe

A harvest in such full abundance, as

     his expectation (hope) to bring material wealth back to


Shall make a merry winter.

     Sophia from the war.


Soph.                                 Since you are not

= note that Sophia, as the wife, has been addressing her husband with the formal and respectful you, to acknowledge her lower status. She would likely be particularly careful to use you in front of other people, such as the servants, though when they are alone she might switch to thee in moments of intimacy.
     Mathias, as the more privileged member of the pair, can address Sophia as he chooses: you might suggest a more formal speech, thee a more intimate one, but he would be perfectly correct to use the familiar thee to his wife in front of the servants.

To be diverted, sir, from what you purpose,


All arguments to stay you here are useless:

= keep.

Go when you please, sir. − Eyes, I charge you waste not

= Sophia, in what is called an apostrophe, addresses her
     own eyes.


One drop of sorrow; look you hoard all up

Till in my widowed bed I call upon you,

= the sense is "empty", and need not suggest Mathias is in


But then be sure you fail not. You blest angels,

     some way dead to her.

Guardians of human life, I at this instant


Forbear t'invoke you: at our parting, 'twere

94-95: Forbear…devotion = ie. Sophia will not appeal to

To personate devotiön. − My soul

     the angels to protect Mathias; to do so at this moment
     would have the appearance of mocking true worship.


Shall go along with you, and, when you are

Circled with death and horror, seek and find you:


And then I will not leave a saint unsued to

= unentreated, ie. unprayed to.

For your protectiön. To tell you what


I will do in your absence, would shew poorly;

My actions shall speak for me: 'twere to doubt you


To beg I may hear from you; where you are

= "that I may".

You cannot live obscure, nor shall one post,

103: You…obscure = Mathias' fame will be such that it
     is not possible that news of him and his exploits will not
     spread far and wide.
         post = messenger.


By night or day, pass unexamined by me.

If I dwell long upon your lips, consider,

= ie. linger.


[Kisses him.]

107: the couple exchange a lengthy parting kiss.


After this feast, the griping fast that follows,

= gripping or squeezing feeling of starvation (from a lack


And it will be excusable; pray turn from me.

     of Mathias' affection).

All that I can, is spoken.

= ie. "I can say".


[Exit Sophia.]


Math.                           Follow your mistress.

115-7: Mathias addresses the servants, asking them to obey


Forbear your wishes for me; let me find them,

     Sophia as they would obey him.

At my return, in your prompt will to serve her.


Hil.  For my part, sir, I will grow lean with study

= effort: the speaker is Hilario, Mathias' male servant. His


To make her merry.

     metaphor of growing lean is a bit of foreshadowing.


Coris.                    Though you are my lord,

122-6: the speaker is Corisca, the couple's female attendant.

Yet being her gentlewoman, by my place


I may take my leave; your hand, or, if you please

124-6: your hand…for't = Corisca is bold; she asks for

To have me fight so high, I'll not be coy,

     Mathias' hand to kiss, or, if Mathias will indulge her,


But stand a-tip-toe for't.

     his lips instead. Such a kiss on the lips was customary

     in this era in England, even between strangers, for
     example, who have just been introduced.
         The expression stand (on) tip-toes can be traced
     back at least to Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century.1


Math.                           O, farewell, girl!


[Kisses her.]


Hil.  A kiss well begged, Corisca.

132: Hilario compliments Corisca on her success in getting

     a kiss from the handsome Mathias.


Coris.                                         'Twas my fee;

Love, how he melts! I cannot blame my lady's

= Corisca observes tears on Mathias' face.


Unwillingness to part with such marmalade lips.

There will be scrambling for them in the camp;

137: the reference is to female camp followers, which
     attended most armies in earlier times, providing any
     and all services to the soldiers. Corisca suggests they
     will be very attentive to her attractive master.


And were it not for my honesty, I could wish now

= chastity; Corisca is no doubt disingenuous.

I were his leaguer laundress; I would find

=a euphemistic expression for a camp whore,1 though


Soap of mine own, enough to wash his linen,

     she may also more specifically mean that she would

Or I would strain hard for't.

     gladly serve as Mathias' personal laundress. Her next
     line suggests she would do anything to have that job!
         leaguer = army camp.


Hil.                                  How the mammet twitters! −

= doll, or maybe pixie.1  = chatters (like a bird).


Come, come; my lady stays for us.

= is waiting.


Coris.                                           Would I had been

146-7: Corisca is shameless: she wishes she had been

Her ladyship the last night!

     in Sophia's place in Mathias' bed on his last night in



Hil.                                    No more of that, wench.


[Exeunt Hilario, Corisca, and the rest.]


Math. I am strangely troubled: yet why I should nourish

153f: Mathias immediately begins to irrationally question


A fury here, and with imagined food,

     his wife's fidelity during his absence.

Having no real grounds on which to raise


A building of suspicion she was ever

Or can be false hereafter? I in this

= unfaithful.  = ie. "in asking this question".


But foolishly enquire the knowledge of

A future sorrow, which, if I find out,

159-160: if I find out…purchase = a common dramatic


My present ignorance were a cheap purchase,

     motif of the era: a cuckold (a husband whose wife has
     cheated on him) is better off if he is ignorant of his
     wife's affairs.

Though with my loss of being. I have already

161-6: I have…follows = it turns out Mathias has been


Dealt with a friend of mine, a general scholar,

     worried for a while now about Sophia's ability or
     willingness to remain faithful to him in his absence!

One deeply read in nature's hidden secrets,


And, though with much unwillingness, have won him

= convinced.

To do as much as art can, to resolve me

= magic or sorcery.  = "inform me of".


My fate that follows. − To my wish, he's come.

= ie. "whether I can expect Sophia to cheat on me while
     I am away."


Enter Baptista.

Entering Character: Julio Baptista is a scholar; scholars
     in this era were considered competent to perform magic
     and engage in general sorcery.


Julio Baptista, now I may affirm

= the sense is, "confirm whether or not".

Your promise and performance walk together;

171: "whether what you promise and what you do are the


And therefore, without circumstance, to the point:

172-3: "so, without speaking of trivial matters, get to the

Instruct me what I am.

     point: tell me if I am a cuckold or not."


Bapt.                           I could wish you had


Made trial of my love some other way.

= "tested my friendship or loyalty to you".


Math.  Nay, this is from the purpose.

178: ie. "stick to the point."


Bapt.                                                If you can

180-1: "if you can moderate your feelings".

Proportion your desire to any mean,

     proportion = to shape or adjust.
     mean = a point or level of moderation.1


I do pronounce you happy; I have found,

By certain rules of art, your matchless wife

= "applications of magic".


Is to this present hour from all pollution

Free and untainted.


Math.                    Good.


Bapt.                             In reason, therefore,

189-191: "It is only rational that you should be satisfied


You should fix here, and make no further search

     with this knowledge, and pursue the issue no further."

Of what may fall hereafter.


Math.                                O, Baptista,


'Tis not in me to master so my passions;

194: "I cannot control my feelings"; such a failure to keep a
     tight rein on one's emotions was considered undesirable:
     such a character flaw usually led to bad results.

I must know further, or you have made good


But half your promise. While my love stood by,

= ie. "I remained close by to her".

Holding her upright, and my presence was

197-8: my presence…upon her = ie. "my very presence
     kept her faithful to me".


A watch upon her, her desires being met too

= affection.  = matched.

With equal ardour from me, what one proof

199-200: what one…untempted = "since Sophia has


Could she give of her constancy, being untempted?

     never been in a position to be able to cheat on me,
     how can I know for sure of her faithfulness?"

But when I am absent, and my coming back


Uncertain, and those wanton heats in women

= lusty passions; Mathias' stereotype of women as unable
     to control their lecherous feelings was a common one of
     the era's male characters, as well as its authors.

Not to be quenched by lawful means, and she

= ie. "satisfied by their lawful husbands".


The absolute disposer of herself,

= ie. "controller of her own actions."

Without control or curb; nay, more, invited


By opportunity, and all strong temptations,

If then she hold out −


Bapt.                     As, no doubt, she will.


Math.  Those doubts must be made certainties, Baptista,


By your assurance; or your boasted art

= skill in magic.

Deserves no admiration. How you trifle,


And play with my affliction! I am on

214-5: on / the rack = metaphorically tortured.

The rack, till you confirm me.

= assure.


Bapt.                                      Sure, Mathias,

217-9: Baptista acknowledges there are limitations to what


I am no god, nor can I dive into

     his magic can accomplish.

Her hidden thoughts, or know what her intents are;

= ie. Sophia's.


That is denied to art, and kept concealed

Even from the devils themselves: they can but guess,

221: disyllable words with a medial 'v' such as even and
     devil were often pronounced in one syllable, with the
     'v' essentially omitted: e'en, de'il.


Out of long observation, what is likely;

But positively to fortell that shall be,

= ie. what.


You may conclude impossible. All I can,

I will do for you; when you are distant from her


A thousand leagues, as if you then were with her,

= Mathias had told Sophia in the opening speech of the scene that the Turks were only a few miles away, but Baptista's assessment is more accurate: the Magyars' battles with the Turks generally took place along Hungary's southern border, the area around Belgrade in modern Serbia.

You shall know truly when she is solicited,


And how far wrought on.

= worked on.


Math.                              I desire no more.


Bapt.  Take, then, this little model of Sophia,

= portrait.

With more than human skill limned to the life;

= painted.


[Gives him a picture.]


Each line and lineament of it, in the drawing

= feature.


So punctually observed, that, had it motion,

In so much 'twere herself.

239: "it would be like Sophia herself in person."


Math.                               It is indeed


An admirable piece; but if it have not

Some hidden virtue that I cannot guess at,


In what can it advantage me?


Bapt.                                     I'll instruct you:

Carry it still about you, and as oft


As you desire to know how she's affected,

= ie. "what she is thinking (with respect to sex and love)".

With curious eyes peruse it: while it keeps

= careful.2


The figure it now has, entire and perfit,

= common alternative spelling for "perfect".

She is not only innocent in fact,


But unattempted; but if once it vary

= ie. no man has yet even tried to seduce her.

From the true form, and what's now white and red

= white and red were commonly paired to link the
     attractive paleness of a woman's skin to either its
     accompanying rosy hue or her lips.


Incline to yellow, rest most confident

= yellow, the colour of jealousy, is appropriate here.

She's with all violence courted, but unconquered;

255-8:  a common dramatic metaphor of an army trying


But if it turn all black, 'tis an assurance

     to break into a defended fort representing a man

The fort, by composition or surprise,

     attempting to conquer a woman's resistance.


Is forced, or with her free consent surrendered.


Math.  How much you have engaged me for this favour,

The service of my whole life shall make good.


Bapt.  We will not part so, I'll along with you,

= common 17th century grammatical construction: in the
     presence of a verb of intent (here will), the verb of
     action (go) is omitted.


And it is needful: with the rising sun

= necessary.

The armies meet; yet, ere the fight begin,

265: the armies meet = the Hungarian and Turkish armies
     will meet in battle this day; Baptista can only know this
     by means of his sorcery.
         ere = before.


In spite of opposition, I will place you

= perhaps from Hungarian generals, who would oppose
     an outsider being given a place of honour.

In the head of the Hungarian general's troop,

= commanding general's army.


And near his person.


Math.                      As my better angel,

You shall direct and guide me.


Bapt.                                      As we ride


I'll tell you more.


Math.                 In all things I'll obey you.




Alba Regalis, Hungary.

The Scene: Alba Regalis was the ancient capital of

A State-room in the Palace.

     royal Hungary, today's Székesfehérvár.

Enter Ubaldo and Ricardo.

Entering Characters: Ubaldo and Ricardo are nobles,
     and members of the Hungarian king's court.


Ric.  When came the post?

= messenger.


Ubald.                           The last night.


Ric.                                                   From the camp?

= ie. the camp of the Hungarian army.


Ubald.  Yes, as 'tis said, and the letter writ and signed


By the general, Ferdinand.

= Ferdinand is the commanding general of the army.
     We may note the lack of Hungarian names amongst
     the Hungarian characters.


Ric.                                  Nay, then, sans question,

= without.

It is of moment.

= ie. of great importance.


Ubald.             It concerns the lives


Of two great armies.

= ie. the defending Hungarian and invading Turkish armies.


Ric.                        Was it cheerfully

16-17: ie. "did the king react well to the letter?"

Received by the king?


Ubald.                      Yes; for being assured


The armies were in view of one another,

Having proclaimed a public fast and prayer


For the good success, he dispatched a gentleman

= ie. the king.

Of his privy chamber to the general,


With absolute authority from him

To try the fortune of a day.

= test the army's fortune: the king sent a message to


     Ferdinand giving him permission to engage the Turks
     in battle.

Ric.                                    No doubt then


The general will come on, and fight it bravely.

Heaven prosper him! This military art


I grant to be the noblest of professions;

And yet, I thank my stars for't, I was never


Inclined to learn it; since this bubble honour

= Ricardo describes honour as too meaningless and

(Which is, indeed, the nothing soldiers fight for),

     abstract a concept to be pursued.


With the loss of limbs or life, is, in my judgment,

Too dear a purchase.

= expensive.


Ubald.                     Give me our court-warfare:

= humorous: Ubaldo and Ricardo prefer to fight for the


The danger is not great in the encounter

     attention of women at the court.

Of a fair mistress.


Ric.                     Fair and sound together

41-43: Fair and…found out = it is hard to find a woman
     who is both beautiful (fair) and healthy (sound); ever-
     present (and ever joked about) venereal disease is
     always on the mind of these two experienced courtiers.


Do very well, Ubaldo; but such are,

With difficulty to be found out; and when they know

43-44: when they…too high = ie. "when women who are
     healthy and beautiful realize how much they are desired,
     they become too expensive to pursue."


Their value, prized too high. By thy own report,

= ie. "you once told me".

Thou wast at twelve a gamester, and since that,

= chaser of women.


Studied all kinds of females, from the night-trader

= prostitute.

I' the street, with certain danger to thy pocket,

= ie. from being cheated or robbed.


To the great lady in her cabinet;

= high-ranking or noble lady.  = bedroom.

That spent upon thee more in cullises,

= strong broth given to the sick, but suggesting treatment
     for impotency; this speech gives the first indication of
     the slightly less-than-friendly rivalry between the two
     courtiers for the attention of the ladies and bragging
     rights over who has more success.


To strengthen thy weak back, than would maintain

= euphemism for impotency or general inability to satisfy
     a woman.

Twelve Flanders mares, and as many running horses:

= proverbially powerful horses.  = racing.


Besides apothecaries and chirurgeons' bills,

52: Ricardo suggests that Ubaldo frequently requires

Paid upon all occasions, and those frequent.

     treatment for various sexually transmitted diseases.


         chirurgeons' = surgeons'; chirurgeon was more
     commonly used than surgeon in the 17th century, but
     was also pronounced as a two-syllable word.

Ubald.  You talk, Ricardo, as if yet you were


A novice in those mysteries.


Ric.                                      By no means;

58-62: Ricardo admits his own battles with VD; but to

My doctor can assure the contrary:

     these men, venereal infections actually seem to be status
     symbols which speak to their success with women!


I lose no time. I have felt the pain and pleasure,

As he that is a gamester, and plays often,

= Ricardo puns on gamester, which could mean a gambler


Must sometimes be a loser.

     as well as a pursuer of women.


Ubald.                             Wherefore, then,

= why.

Do you envy me?


Ric.                    It grows not from my want,

= lack (of sex).


Nor thy abundance; but being, as I am,

The likelier man, and of much more experience,

= ie. the one more likely to have success with the ladies.


My good parts are my curses: there's no beauty,

70: My good…curses = "my good looks are my curse."
         70-71: there's no…summoned = women are unable
     to keep from throwing themselves at Ricardo before he
     even calls for them.

But yields ere it be summoned; and, as nature

71-72: nature…maidenheads = nature has assigned


Had signed me the monopoly of maidenheads,

     (signed) Ricardo the monopoly to service women,
     perhaps hyperbolically referring specifically to virgins.

There's none can buy till I have made my market.

73: Ricardo continues his commercial metaphor: he has first
     pick or right of refusal of all women.


Satiety cloys me; as I live, I would part with

= Ricardo is disingenuous: overabundance of sex leaves
     him full or exhausted (to cloy = to satiate or weary).1

Half my estate, nay, travel o'er the world,


To find that only phoenix in my search,

= the phoenix was used as a metaphor for the perfect or

That could hold out against me.

     most excellent example (here, of a woman) of the age.


67-77: Ricardo Answers Ubaldo's Question: Why does Ricardo envy Ubaldo? because Ubaldo is not forced to suffer as must Ricardo from the various problems described by Ricardo in his speech from the effects of being a successful lover!

Ubald.                                      Be not rapt so;


You may spare that labour. As she is a woman,

What think you of the queen?


Ric.                                      I dare not aim at


The petticoat royal, that is still excepted:

Yet, were she not my king's, being the abstract

= epitome.


Of all that's rare, or to be wished in woman,

= excellent.

To write her in my catalogue, having enjoyed her,


I would venture my neck to a halter − but we talk of

= ie. risk hanging (halter = noose).

Impossibilities: as she hath a beauty


Would make old Nestor young; such majesty

= the famous elderly Greek general of the Trojan War.

Draws forth a sword of terror to defend it,


As would fright Paris, though the queen of love

92-93: "as would frighten Paris, even if Venus (the queen

Vowed her best furtherance to him.

of love) were to assist him;" Ricardo alludes to the famous myth of the Judgment of Paris: the Trojan prince Paris had selected Venus as the most beautiful goddess out of a field of three, and she had rewarded him by helping him to capture Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, to be his paramour.
     furtherance = assistance.1


Ubald.                                          Have you observed

95ff: Ubaldo and Ricardo prepare the audience for the


The gravity of her language, mixed with sweetness?

     appearance of the king and queen: while the queen's 

     public behavior is properly modest, the king too openly
     adores her, to the point where it is an embarrassment to


Ric.  Then at what distance she reserves herself

When the king himself makes his approaches to her.


Ubald.  As she were still a virgin, and his life

= as if.


But one continued wooing.


Ric.                                   She well knows

Her worth, and values it.


Ubald.                           And so far the king is


Indulgent to her humours, that he forbears

108: humours = moods.

The duty of a husband, but when she calls for't.

         108-9: he forbears…for't = the king only sleeps 


     with the queen when she invites him to; this goes against
     everything that is expected of an omnipotent king, who
     should take his wife whenever he wants to! Note the
     implication that Ladislaus and Honoria keep separate

Ric.  All his imaginatiöns and thoughts


Are buried in her; the loud noise of war

Cannot awake him.


Ubald.                  At this very instant,

115-119: the king is so wrapped up in pleasing his wife, he


When both his life and crown are at the stake,

     doesn't even seem interested in the war against the
     Turks, which threatens his very crown.

He only studies her content, and when


She's pleased to shew herself, music and masques

= courtly staged shows, featuring music and dancing, and

Are with all care and cost provided for her.

     often gods and allegorical characters.


Ric.  This night she promised to appear.

= ie. make an appearance in court.


Ubald.                                                  You may


Believe it by the diligence of the king,

As if he were her harbinger.

= herald.2


[Enter Ladislaus, Eubulus,

Entering Characters: finally, King Ladislaus appears.


and Attendants with perfumes.]

     Eubulus is his elderly but wise advisor.


Ladis.                                 These rooms

130-1: in the days before regular bathing, fresh scents were

Are not perfumed, as we directed.

     regularly introduced into rooms to cover up the staleness


     of the air.

Eubu.                                         Not, sir!


I know not what you would have; I am sure the smoke

= perhaps from incense.

Cost treble the price of the whole week's provision


Spent in your majesty's kitchens.


Ladis.                                         How I scorn

138-9: How I scorn…comparison = the king disdains the

Thy gross comparison! When my Honoria,

     coarse and unworthy comparison between the amounts
     of money necessarily spent to please the queen and the
     cost of running the king's household!


The amazement of the present time, and envy

Of all succeeding ages, does descend

= descend here is used to refer to the appearance on earth


To sanctify a place, and in her presence

     of a divine being.1 The metaphor continues with sanctify
     and temple.

Makes it a temple to me, can I be


Too curious, much less prodigal, to receive her?

= fastidious.  = liberal in spending.

But that the splendour of her beams of beauty


Hath struck thee blind −


Eubu.                         As dotage hath done you.

= infatuation; Eubulus represents a common character type,
     the elderly and wise (and in this case caustic) counselor
     who will gladly risk his life in giving his sovereign the
     advice he does not want to hear.


Ladis.  Dotage? O blasphemy! is it in me

150-1: is it…merit = "do I have the ability to treat her as
     she deserves?" The implied answer is, "no".

To serve her to her merit? Is she not


The daughter of a king?

152: like Ladislaus himself, Queen Honoria is the offspring 

     of royalty.


Eubu.                          And you the son

Of ours, I take it; by what privilege else


Do you reign over us? for my part, I know not

156-7: I know not…lies = ie. since both the king and

Where the disparity lies.

     queen are of equally royal blood, there is no need for
     Ladislaus to treat her as if she is better than he is.


Ladis.                           Her birth, old man,


(Old in the kingdom's service, which protects thee),

160: Ladislaus excuses Eubulus' unwanted advice in light
     of his lengthy service to the state.

Is the least grace in her: and though her beauties

= least important virtue.


Might make the Thunderer a rival for her,

= common appellation for Jupiter, the king of the gods,
     whom Ladislaus describes as a potential suitor to
         Hungary had been a Christian nation since the reign of
     King Stephen in the 11th century, so the pagan allusions
     by the Hungarians are anachronistic. Massinger's
     characters will use both pagan and Christian imagery
     throughout the play.

They are but superficial ornaments,


And faintly speak her: from her heavenly mind,

= ie. do little to add to her already great worth.

Were all antiquity and fiction lost,

= myths of the past.


Our modern poets could not, in their fancy,

= imagination.

But fashion a Minerva far transcending

= "help but portray or create from her an image equal 
     to that of Minerva", the Roman goddess of arts and


The imagined one whom Homer only dreamt of.

= the 8th century B.C. author, of course, of the Iliad and

But then add this, she's mine, mine, Eubulus!



And though she knows one glance from her fair eyes

Must make all gazers her idolaters,

= worshipers.


She is so sparing of their influence,

= ie. her eyes'.

That, to shun superstitiön in others,

= prevent idolatry.


She shoots her powerful beams only at me.

= ie. "looks", a common metaphor.

And can I, then, whom she desires to hold


Her kingly captive above all the world,

= ie. more than.

Whose natiöns and empires, if she pleased,


She might command as slaves, but gladly pay

The humble tribute of my love and service,


Nay, if I said of adoration, to her,

I did not err?


Eubu.       Well, since you hug your fetters,

= "embrace your (metaphoric) chains".


In Love's name wear them! You are a king, and that

= ie. Cupid's.

Concludes you wise, your will, a powerful reason:

= "requires a conclusion that you are"; Eubulus is sly with
     his irony.


Which we, that are foolish subjects, must not argue.

= argue with.

And what in a mean man I should call folly,

= base.


Is in your majesty remarkable wisdom:

But for me, I subscribe.

= "I'll go along with you".


Ladis.                          Do, and look up,

191-2: Eubulus' sarcasm is lost on Ladislaus.


Upon this wonder.


Loud music.

Enter Honoria in state under a Canopy;

Entering Characters: Honoria is the queen; Sylvia and


her train borne up by Sylvia and Acanthe.

     Acanthe are her servants, or maids of honour; they hold

     up the queen's train, the back of her lengthy robe or
         Honoria's state refers to her entrance with full pomp
    and splendour.1


Ric.                    Wonder! It is more, sir.


Ubald.  A rapture, an astonishment.


Ric.                                              What think you, sir?


Eubu.  As the king thinks; that is the surest guard

= ie. "I think whatever the king thinks".  = protection.

We courtiers ever lie at. Was prince ever

= ie. any king.


So drowned in dotage? Without spectacles

= ie. eye-glasses.

I can see a handsome woman, and she is so:


But yet to admiration look not on her.

Heaven, how he fawns! and, as it were his duty,

= ie. as if it.


With what assurèd gravity she receives it!

Her hand again! O she at length vouchsafes

211: her hand again! = the king repeatedly kisses the
     queen's hand.
         211-2: vouchsafes / her lip = ie. allows her lips to
     receive a kiss from him.


Her lip, and as he had sucked nectar from it,

= ie. as if.  = the drink of the gods.

How he's exalted! Women in their natures


Affect command; but this humility

= desire or love power or authority.

In a husband and a king marks her the way

= shows.


To absolute tyranny.


[The king seats her on his throne.]

218: this is actually a shocking move by the king: the king's
     own throne, as the absolute symbol of his authority, is


                              So! Juno's placed

= "Juno is"; Juno is the wife of Jupiter and queen of the

In Jove's tribunal: and, like Mercury,

221: Jove's = Jove is an alternate name for Jupiter, the 


(Forgetting his own greatness), he attends

     king of the gods.

For her employments. She prepares to speak;

         tribunal = throne.1
         221-3: like Mercury…employments = the king is
     behaving as if he were a servant of the queen's.
Mercury = the messenger god, who served Jupiter.


What oracles shall we hear now?

224: the line is sarcastic: oracles = divine pronouncements.


Hon.                                        That you please, sir,

226f: Honoria is appropriately modest as she addresses the

With such assurances of love and favour,


To grace your handmaid, but in being yours, sir,

228-9: in being yours…queen = "I am without peer only

A matchless queen, and one that knows herself so,

     in that I have you for a husband".


Binds me in retribution to deserve

The grace conferred upon me.


Ladis.                                    You transcend


In all things excellent: and it is my glory,

Your worth weighed truly, to depose myself

= value reckoned accurately.


From absolute command, surrendering up

My will and faculties to your disposure:


And here I vow, not for a day or year,

But my whole life, which I wish long to serve you,


That whatsoever I in justice may

240-2: That whatsoever…challenge = whatever obedience

Exact from these my subjects, you from me

     Ladislaus as king can demand from his subjects, so


May boldly challenge: and when you require it,

     Honoria can demand as a right (challenge) from him.

In sign of my subjection, as your vassal,


Thus I will pay my homage.

244: here Ladislaus demeans himself by kissing Honoria's



Hon.                                   O forbear, sir!

Let not my lips envy my robe; on them

= ie. her lips.


Print your allegiance often: I desire

No other fealty.

= a feudal term, meaning allegiance.2


Ladis.             Gracious sovereign!


Boundless in bounty!

252: "without limit in generosity".


Eubu.                       Is not here fine fooling!

He's, questionless, bewitched. Would I were gelt,

= without question. 
        255-6: Would I…disenchant him = "I would even
     allow myself to be castrated (gelt) if it would remove
     this spell that seems to hold the king."


So that would disenchant him! though I forfeit

256-7: though I …life for't = "though I risk execution for
     speaking my mind so boldly".

My life for't, I must speak. − By your good leave, sir –

= gracious permission.


I have no suit to you, nor can you grant one,

258: "I present you with no petition, nor have you (any
     longer) the authority to grant me any favours;" Eubulus
     sarcastically speaks to the king as if he really has given
     up his power to the queen!

Having no power: you are like me, a subject,


Her more than serene majesty being present.

= an epithet for a sovereign, like "royal".1

And I must tell you, 'tis ill manners in you,


Having deposed yourself, to keep your hat on,

= the custom in England in these times required men to 
     remove their hats in the presence of their superiors.

And not stand bare, as we do, being no king,


But a fellow-subject with us. − Gentlemen ushers,

= Eubulus instructs the court attendants to force the king to

It does belong to your place, see it reformed;

     remove his crown!


He has given away his crown, and cannot challenge

The privilege of his bonnet.

= bonnet could refer to any cap, or a woman's headdress



Ladis.                                 Do not tempt me.


Eubu. Tempt you! in what? in following your example?


If you are angry, question me hereafter,

As Ladislaus should do Eubulus,


On equal terms. You were of late my sovereign,

But weary of it, I now bend my knee


To her divinity, and desire a boon

= favour.

From her more than magnificence.


Hon.                                             Take it freely. −


Nay, be not moved; for our mirth's sake let us hear him.

= "don’t be angry", spoken to Ladislaus.


Eubu.  'Tis but to ask a question: Have you ne'er read

The story of Semiramis and Ninus?


Hon.  Not as I remember.


Eubu.                            I will then instruct you,


And 'tis to the purpose: this Ninus was a king,

= ie. the story is apropos, or has a moral applicable to this

And such an impotent loving king as this was,

= ie. "as this one here (meaning Ladislaus) was".