the Annotated Popular Edition of



by George Peele

Performed c. 1581
First Published 1584



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.




The Olympian Gods and Goddesses:

     With this, his first dramatic offering, George Peele

immediately demonstrated his superb ability to craft finely

Jupiter, king of all the gods.

lyrical verse. The Arraignment of Paris relates the famous

Juno, queen of the gods.

mythological story of the beauty contest between the

goddesses Juno, Pallas and Venus, whose winner was

Apollo, god of music, medicine and the sun.

chosen by Paris, a prince of Troy. Paris' decision in the

Bacchus, god of wine and revelry.

contest led the two losers to accuse him of unfair bias,

Diana, goddess of hunting and chastity.

resulting in his trial before all the major male gods of the

Mars, god of war.

Roman pantheon.

Mercury, Jupiter's messenger.

     Arraignment is one of the earliest "mature" Elizabethan

Neptune, ruler of the seas.

dramas, predating the plays of the era's other well-known

Pallas, goddess of war and wisdom.

authors (except perhaps those of John Lyly, whose first

Pluto, ruler of the underworld.

plays also appeared in 1584). It is also a transitional drama,

Venus, goddess of beauty.

as indicated by its mix of 5-iamb lines and old-fashioned

Vulcan, the blacksmith.

7-iamb lines, as well as the fact that it is written almost

entirely in rhyming couplets.

Minor Gods and Goddesses:


Pan, god of flocks and herdsman.

Faunus, god of fields.

     The text of the play is taken from Alexander Dyce's

Silvanus, god of forests.

1874 edition of The Arraignment of Paris, cited below

Saturn, god of agriculture.

at #3.

Pomona, goddess of orchards and gardens.

Flora, goddess of flowers and gardens.


Ate, goddess of discord.

     Mention of Dyce, Bullen, Smeaton, Benbow, Morley,

Clotho, one of the Fates.

Baskerville and Brooke in the annotations refers to the

Lachesis, one of the Fates.

notes provided by these editors in their respective editions

Atropos, one of the Fates.

of our play, each cited fully below.

The Muses, protectors of the arts.

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the

footnotes immediately below. The complete list of

A Nymph of Diana.

footnotes appears at the end of this play.

Rhanis, a nymph.

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

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


London, New York: Penguin, 2002.

     3. Dyce, Rev. Alexander. The Dramatic and Poetical

Paris, a shepherd, son of King Priam of Troy.

Works of Robert Greene and George Peele. London:

Colin, a shepherd.

George Routledge and Sons: 1874.

Hobbinol, a shepherd.

     4. Bullen, A.H. The Works of George Peele, Vol. I.

Diggon, a shepherd.

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888.

Thenot, a shepherd.

     5. Smeaton, Oliphant. The Arraignment of Paris.

London: J.M. Dent and Co., 1905.


     6. Benbow, R. Mark, ed. The Works of George Peele


(Charles T. Prouty, gen. ed.). New Haven: Yale University


Press, 1970.

     7. Morley, Henry. English Plays. London: Cassell,

Cupids, Cyclops, Shepherds, Knights, &c.

Petter, Galpin & Co. (no date).

     15. Baskerville, Charles Read, et al. editors. Elizabethan

and Stuart Plays. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston,


     16. Brooke, C.F. Tucker, and Paradise, Nathaniel B.

English Drama, 1580-1642. Boston: D.C. Heath and

Company, 1933.


A. Arraignment's Rhyming Couplets.

     Like its recent and well-known predecessors Gammer Gurton's Needle and Ralph Roister Doister, The Arraignment of Paris is written almost entirely in rhyming couplets. Unlike these earlier works, however, Peele's play is written in strictly metered verse, a strange mix of iambic pentameter (5 iambs, or feet, per line) and iambic heptameter (7 iambs per line), with the sections of pentameter and heptameter alternating almost at random.
     Importantly, three of the major speeches of Arraignment are written in blank verse (unrhymed lines), which became the standard for Elizabethan drama under its exploitation by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare; some later commentators were moved to consider the influence these passages had on Marlowe in particular (since he was the first dramatist to employ blank verse full-time), as he and his fellow playwrights slowly worked out the parameters of their poetry, ultimately leading to the explosive output of drama which continues to impress and delight audiences four and a half centuries later.

B. Peele's Alliteration.

     Peele's verse was generally noteworthy for its heavy use of alliteration. As you read Arraignment, you may wish to note the healthy proportion of lines which contain alliteration, some lines even including two sets of alliterative words.

C. Settings, Scene Breaks and Stage Directions.

     The entire play takes place in the valleys and woods of Mt. Ida, near Troy, in Asia Minor.
     The original quarto of The Arraignment of Paris 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 Dyce.



By George Peele

Performed c. 1581

First Published 1584


Prologus: the Prologue, or introduction to the play, was
     recited by a single actor, here playing the goddess Até.

Enter Até.

Entering Character: Até, the goddess of discord and mischief, travels the earth seeking to induce men and women to rash actions that will lead to their ruin.
     Angry that she was not invited to the wedding of the mortal Peleus and nymph Thestis, Até plans her revenge, initiating a series of events that will culminate in the Trojan War and the destruction of Troy.9
     We many note that Peele confounds Até with her mother, Eris, the goddess of strife, with respect to this story; it was Eris who introduced the golden ball, or apple, to the three major goddesses.
     Note also that the Prologue is written in blank (ie. unrhymed) verse, after which the play settles in to employing rhyming couplets with the start of Act I.


Condemnèd soul, Até, from lowest hell,

1: Até, sower of mischief, had been banished from Olympus by Jupiter after she had persuaded Juno (Jupiter's wife) to give to one Eurystheus the destiny to rule over the descendants of Perseus, rather than bestowing this fortune on Jupiter's favourite, Hercules.


And deadly rivers of th' infernal Jove,

2-4: a general description of Hades.
         2: there were several rivers in Hades, including the
     Styx and Acheron.
         deadly rivers = rivers flowing through the land of the
         infernal Jove = a common phrase used to refer to
     Pluto, the god of Hades.

Where bloodless ghosts in pains of endless date

= ie. souls.  = ie. lasting forever.


Fill ruthless ears with never-ceasing cries,

= pitiless.

Behold, I come in place, and bring beside

5-6: Behold…Troy! = Até carries in her hand an object -


The bane of Troy! behold, the fatal fruit,

a golden apple - which will set off the long chain of events which will lead to the fall of Troy.
     Note the extended alliteration of b- words in lines 5-6.
     fatal fruit = fruit of fate or destiny.

Raught from the golden tree of Proserpine!

7: Raught = past tense of reach, meaning "snatched".
         Proserpine = goddess of vegetation; the ascribing to
     her of a golden tree is Peele's fabrication.


Proud Troy must fall, so bid the gods above,

8f: Smeaton notes the presence in the remainder of the
     Prologue the figure of speech known as prolepsis,
     a description of future events as if they already exist
     or have already occurred.

And stately Ilium's lofty towers be racet

9: Ilium's lofty towers = Troy, also known as Ilium, was
     famous for its towers.
         racet = torn down, usually emended to razed.


By conquering hands of the victorious foe;

= ie. the Greeks.

King Priam's palace waste with flaming fire,

= Priam was the king of Troy; the Greeks would burn


Whose thick and foggy smoke, piercing the sky,

12-14: the smoke rising from the burning of Troy will let the

Must serve for messenger of sacrifice,

     gods know that Troy's destiny has been fulfilled.


T' appease the anger of the angry heavens;

And Priam's younger son, the shepherd swain,

15: Priam's second son (out of fifty) was Paris; it had been foretold that his birth would cause the destruction of Troy, so the king had ordered the newborn to be left on nearby Mt. Ida to die from the elements; however, the baby Paris was discovered, and then raised, by shepherds.
     swain = a youth or rustic, also sometimes synonymous with "shepherd".1


Paris, th' unhappy organ of the Greeks. 

= ie. agent or instrument by which the Greeks will choose to make war on the Trojans; Bullen suggests moving lines 15-16 to just before line 11, to smooth the sense of these clearly connected lines.

So, loth and weary of her heavy load,

18-20: the Trojan War will lead to the deaths of so many men, that Pluto, the god of the underworld, will complain of his burden of having to process the great multitude of souls that will arrive in hell in such a short period of time.
     Smeaton observes this is a good example of the figure of speech know as hypallage, in which two elements of a clause are exchanged, ie. Peele has written that personified Earth will complain to Pluto, when it is really Pluto who will complain to Earth.
     loth = averse, reluctant.1
     her = ie. earth's.


The Earth complains unto the hellish prince,

= Pluto, god of hell.

Surcharged with the burden that she nill sustain.

19: "weighed down with a burden that she will no longer
         nill = "will not", a favourite word of Peele's.


Th' unpartial daughters of Necessity

20-21: Th' unpartial...suit = the three Fates, the sister-goddesses who control the lifespan of mortals, join in the protest of having to process so many men in such a brief period of time.
     Necessity refers to Ananke, the goddess of fate, whose daughters were the Fates.
     unpartial = impartial.

Bin aidès in her suit: and so the twine

21: Bin aides in her suit = are helpers in Earth's petition.


That holds old Priam's house, the thread of Troy,

     21-23: the twine…cuts = Atropos was the name of the

Dame Atropos with knife in sunder cuts.

Fate who was responsible for cutting one's thread of life; the conceit is applied metaphorically to the life of the city of Troy.
     in sunder (line 23) = old expression meaning the same as "asunder"", ie. in two.1


Done be the pleasure of the powers above,

24: the fate which has been decreed for Troy must be

Whose hests men must obey: and I my part

= commands; even the gods could not alter what Fate has
     decided must happen.
         25-26: and I…vales = Até will perform her role in
     the coming tragedy in the high grounds or hills (vales)
     of Mt. Ida.
         Ida = famous mountain near Troy, which was
     located in the far north-west of Anatolia, or Asia Minor.


Perform in Ida vales. Lordings, adieu;

26: Lordings, adieu = "gentlemen, I take my leave."

Imposing silence for your task, I end,

= "my speech is done".


Till just assembly of the goddesses

28: "until the meeting of the goddesses".

Make me begin the tragedy of Troy.


[Exit Até cum aureo pomo.]

31: Até exits with her golden apple.



Pan, Faunus, and Silvanus, with their Attendants,

Entering Characters: three important pastoral gods enter

enter to give welcome to the goddesses:

the stage with their attendants, who carry gifts on their

Pan's Shepherd has a lamb, Faunus' Hunter has a

behalves to present to the goddesses (Juno, Pallas and

fawn, and Silvanus' Woodman with an oaken-bough

Venus) who are expected to arrive soon on Mt. Ida.

laden with acorns.

     As Pan is the god of flocks and shepherds, his attendant carries a lamb; Faunus is the god of fields, and so his attendant brings a fawn; and the attendant of Silvanus, the god of forests, carries the bough of an oak tree covered with acorns.


Pan.  Silvanus, either Flora doth us wrong,

1-4: Pan worries that they will be late to meet the goddesses who are expected to arrive shortly on Mt. Ida.
     1: the blame for their delay may belong to the goddess Flora, who was slow to get started, but will shortly catch up to the group.


Or Faunus made us tarry all too long,

2: or maybe it is Faunus' fault for making them wait (tarry)
     too long before they could get going.

For by this morning mirth it should appear,

3: ie. "I would guess the moment of the morning's delights
     is almost here."


The Muses or the goddesses be near.

= the nine goddesses who serve as protectors of the arts,
     and who will accompany or escort the goddesses when
     they arrive.


Faun.  My fawn was nimble, Pan, and whipt apace, −

6-7: Faunus acknowledges his fault; it took a great deal of
     effort to catch the deer he was hunting.
         whipt apace = dashed rapidly about.2

'Twas happy that we caught him up at last, −


The fattest, fairest fawn in all the chace;

= chase, ie. game-filled woods.5

I wonder how the knave could skip so fast.

6-9: note the rhyme scheme of Faunus' speech, abab,
     which briefly breaking the play's regular pattern of
     rhyming couplets.


Pan.  And I have brought a twagger for the nones,

11: twagger = this unusual word makes its only appearance in the English written record (outside of a 1582 collection word-collection) here; the OED editors guess from the context that its meaning is - a fat lamb; Benbow suggests twagger may be a misprint for twigger, which was a current term for a prolific breeder.
     for the nones = for the occasion; normally written as for the nonce by the late 16th century.


A bunting lamb; nay, pray you, feel no bones:

12: bunting = plump;1 Smeaton, however, suggests "a lamb whose horns are just beginning to show."
     pray you = please.
     feel no bones = Pan invites his companions to feel the lamp; it is fat enough that they will not be able to feel its bones.

Believe me now my cunning much I miss,

= "I am greatly off in my guess as to how clever I am".


If ever Pan felt fatter lamb than this.

14: note how the characters of the play speak frequently of
     themselves in the third person.


Silv.  Sirs, you may boast your flocks and herds that
     bin both fresh and fair,

16f: the verse changes over temporarily to iambic heptameter; the play will regularly switch back and forth between pentameter (five feet) and heptameter (seven feet). The former is normal in Elizabethan drama, the latter rare.
     bin = are.

Yet hath Silvanus walks, i-wis, that stand in
     wholesome air;

17: Yet hath Silvanus walks = ie. "yet I have my own
     sections of the forest".
         i-wis = truly.


And, lo, the honour of the woods, the gallant oaken-

Do I bestow, laden with acorns and with mast enow!

19: Do I bestow = ie. "will I give as my gift".
         mast = the fruit of certain woodland trees, here
     basically synonymous with acorns.
         enow = old plural form of "enough".


Pan.  Peace, man, for shame! shalt have both lambs
     and dames and flocks and herds and all,

21: this line has eight iambs!
         Peace = quiet.
         shalt = "we shall".
         dames = dams, ie. mothers of animals generally, and
     ewes here specifically.


And all my pipes to make the glee; we meet not
     now to brawl.

22: pipes = ie. panpipes, the wind instrument played by blowing into a series of connected pipes of increasing length, famously associated with Pan.
     glee = mirth; but Benbow wonders if make thee glee is intended here; to make one glee was a current expression for "make entertainment for one".1
     brawl = quarrel.


Faun. There's no such matter. Pan; we are all friends
     assembled hether.

24: hether = hither, ie. here (properly "to here").
     Just as four centuries later, musician Steve Miller, in his hit song Rockin Me, was to famously rhyme suspicious with suspicious, ("Don't get suspicious / Now don't be suspicious"), Peele rhymes hether with hether in lines 24-25.

To bid Queen Juno and her feres most humbly
     welcome hether:

= companions, an ancient word.1


Diana, mistress of our woods, her presence will not

26: Diana is the goddess of the hunt, whose woods the
     characters presently occupy, and who is also expected
     to appear.
         want = be lacking.

Her courtesy to all her friends, we wot, is nothing scant.

27: courtesy = consideration.1
     wot = know.
     nothing scant = ie. abundant.


Scene II: Peele generally begins a new scene every time 
     new characters enter the stage.

Enter Pomona with her fruit.

Entering Character: Pomona is the goddess of orchards;
     she naturally brings fruit as her gift to the goddesses.


Pom.  Yea, Pan, no farther yet, and had the start of me?

1: "this is as far you've gone, and you started out well before


Why, then, Pomona with her fruit comes time enough,
     I see.

= on time.1

Come on a while; with country store, like friends, we
     venture forth:

= ie. "together with the plenty with which the countryside
     provides us".


Think'st, Faunus, that these goddesses will take our
     gifts in worth?

4: Think'st = "do you think".
         take our gifts in worth = the expression to take in
meant "to accept a thing kindly,"10 "in good
     part",4 or "at its proper value".1


Faun.  Yea, doubtless, for shall tell thee, dame, 'twere
     better give a thing,

6: shall = ie. "I shall".
     'twere = ie. it is.
     give = ie. to give.

A sign of love, unto a mighty person or a king,

= token.


Than to a rude and barbarous swain, but bad and
     basely born,

= unrefined.  = peasant, rustic.

For gently takes the gentleman that oft the clown will

9: a gentleman will usually accept a gift with grace, when
     a rustic (clown) can be expected to show disdain.


Pan.  Say'st truly, Faunus; I myself have given good
     tidy lambs

11: Say'st truly = "you tell the truth".
     given = a monsyllable here: gi'en.
     tidy = plump,1 or ready for sacrifice.14


To Mercury, may say to thee, to Phoebus, and to Jove;

12: (1) the messenger god, (2) Apollo, and (3) the king of
     the gods, respectively.

When to a country mops, forsooth, chave offered all
     their dams,

13-14: Pan describes the lack of appreciation shown to him
     by country-lasses to whom he has given gifts and for
     whom he has played music.
         mops = young girl.
         forsooth = truly.
         chave = rustic form of "I have".
         dams = ewes.


And piped and prayed for little worth, and ranged about
     the grove.

14: ie. "and played my pipe for the girl, and prayed for help
     to get her, but it was to no avail".


Pom.  God Pan, that makes your flock so thin, and
     makes you look so lean,

= ie. wasting his time chasing girls.

To kiss in corners.

17: ie. to spend his time kissing girls on the sly.


Pan.        Well said, wench! some other thing you mean.

19: with good humour, Pan suggests Pomona is actually
     being suggestive.


Pom.  Yea, jest it out till it go alone: but marvel
     where we miss

21-22: "well, you all can joke all you want, but it is sur-
     prising that we have not yet seen Flora this merry


Fair Flora all this merry morn.

         There seems to be an extra syllable in line 21.


Faun.                             Some news; see where she is.

24: "finally, some news: look, here comes Flora."


Enter Flora to the country gods.

Entering Characters: Flora, the goddess of flowers arrives.
     country = pastoral.


Pan.  Flora, well met, and for thy taken pain,

= "your efforts" or "your work".


Poor country gods, thy debtors we remain.

2: Poor country gods = ie. "we poor country gods": Pan
     speaks with a touch of modesty.
         thy debtors we remain = "we are obliged to you".


Flora.  Believe me, Pan, not all thy lambs and yoes,

4: Peele employs a dialectical form of ewes to rhyme with

Nor, Faunus, all thy lusty bucks and does,

= ie. most vigorous or powerful.


(But that I am instructed well to know

6: "Except that I have been properly taught".

What service to the hills and dales I owe,)

= duty.  = valleys; hills and dales have been paired in
     literature since at least as far back as the early 15th


Could have enforced me to so strange a toil,

8: "could have persuaded me to engage in such unusual

Thus to enrich this gaudy, gallant soil.

9: to enrich the soil usually meant "to fertilize", but Flora means she has seriously decorated the countryside around them with flowers.
     gaudy, gallant = essentially synonyms, meaning showy, fine, brilliant.


Faun.  But tell me, wench, hast done't so trick indeed,

= young lady.  = "have you done it so neatly or cleverly".3


That heaven itself may wonder at the deed?

= marvel; Flora has covered the region with a spectacular
     show of flowers, such as would impress even the gods.


Flora.  Not Iris, in her pride and bravery,

14-15: "not even Iris (the goddess of the rainbow), in her

Adorns her arch with such variety;

     splendour (pride) and finery (bravery), adorns her
     rainbow (arch) with such a variety of colours."


Nor doth the milk-white way, in frosty night,

= the Milky Way; the expression describing this bright
     region of the universe is surprisingly old, dating back
     at least to the 14th century.

Appear so fair and beautiful in sight,


As done these fields, and groves, and sweetest bowers,

= do.  = natural recesses.

Bestrewed and decked with parti-coloured flowers,

= strewn.  = adorned.  = multi.


Along the bubbling brooks and silver glide,

20: bubbling brooks = this recently introduced expression
     (1581) became very popular for authors, before turning
     into the more familiar babbling brooks in the early 18th
         glide = stream.1

That at the bottom doth in silence slide;

= the bed under the water.1


The watery-flowers and lilies on the banks,

22: watery-flowers = any of various flowers that grow in
     or near water; Dyce changed this to water-flowers, the
     more common term.
         flowers = pronounced as a single syllable here.

Like blazing comets, burgen all in ranks;

= burgeon, ie. sprout; the simile compares the blooming of
     the various rows of flowers to the brightly spraying tail
     of a comet.


Under the hawthorn and the poplar-tree,

Where sacred Phoebe may delight to be,

= alternate title for Diana, goddess of hunting, whose
     domain they are in.


The primrose, and the purple hyacinth,

= a small yellow flower.  = ie. meaning the bluebell, so
     that, as Benbow observes, all the flowers listed are of
     comparable small size.

The dainty violet, and the wholesome minth,

= ie. mint plant.


The double daisy, and the cowslip, queen

= plant with drooping umbrella- or bell-shaped flowers.

Of summer flowers, do overpeer the green;

= overlook.2  = grassy area.1


And round about the valley as ye pass,

= plural form of you.

Ye may ne see for peeping flowers the grass:

31: "there are so many flowers you cannot even see the
         ne = not.
         for = because of.


That well the mighty Juno, and the rest,

= ie. "then might well".

May boldly think to be a welcome guest


On Ida hills, when to approve the thing,

= ie. demonstrate her welcome to the goddesses.

The Queen of Flowers prepares a second spring.


Silv.  Thou gentle nymph, what thanks shall we repay


To thee that mak'st our fields and woods so gay?


Flora.  Silvanus, when it is thy hap to see

= good fortune.

My workmanship in portraying all the three,

41: Flora has prepared portraits in flowers of the three
     expected goddesses (Juno, Pallas and Venus).
         There is an extra syllable in this line.


First stately Juno with her port and grace,

42-43: Juno is appropriately portrayed with her queenly
         port = stately bearing.1

Her robes, her lawns, her crownet, and her mace,

43: lawns = clothing of fine linen.1
     crownet = a smallish crown.1
     mace = sceptre of office.1


Would make thee muse this picture to behold,

= marvel at.2

Of yellow oxlips bright as burnished gold.

45: a plant whose flower is slightly bell-shaped.


Pom.  A rare device; and Flora well, perdy,

47: A rare device = an excellent piece of work or idea.
         perdy = "by God", from the French par Dieu,
     meaning "truly" or "certainly".1,3


Did paint her yellow for her jealousy.

48: yellow has been the colour of jealousy at least as far back as Chaucer's Knight's Tale (c. 1385).1
     Pomona is being snide here; Juno was notorious for her violent jealousy over her husband Jupiter's (aka Jove's) frequent affairs; Flora ignores the comment.


Flora.  Pallas in flowers of hue and colours red;

= variety.1

Her plumes, her helm, her lance, her Gorgon's head,

51: Flora has portrayed Pallas, the goddess of war and wisdom, with the attributes of a warrior.
     Pallas was an alternate name for the Greek goddess Athena, who was borrowed by the Romans and renamed Minerva.
     Her plumes, her helm = Pallas is wearing an elaborate helmet adorned with feathers.
     her Gorgon's head = Pallas' famous shield, the aegis, which was traditionally depicted with the head of the Gorgon Medusa on its face; the Gorgons were three mythical ladies with hair of snakes, the most famous being Medusa.


Her trailing tresses that hang flaring round,

= long locks of hair.1

Of July-flowers so graffèd in the ground,

53: July-flowers = common 16th century spelling for
     gilliflowers, or clove pink.1
         graffed = grafted, here meaning "planted".


That, trust me, sirs, who did the cunning see,

= skillful or clever work.

Would at a blush suppose it to be she.

54-55: the portrayal is so flattering that anyone who saw it
     would, at a glance (blush), recognize it to be Pallas.1


Pan.  Good Flora, by my flock, 'twere very good

57: by my flock = typical Elizabethan oath on a concrete
         'twere = ie. it was.


To dight her all in red resembling blood.

= adorn or dress.1,4


Flora.  Fair Venus of sweet violets in blue,

With other flowers infixed for change of hue;

= inserted.1  = variety.


Her plumes, her pendants, bracelets, and her rings.

Her dainty fan, and twenty other things,


Her lusty mantle waving in the wind,

= gay cloak.1

And every part in colour and in kind;

= "suitable and natural."14


And for her wreath of roses, she nill dare

= ie. would not.

With Flora's cunning counterfeit compare.

= skillfully-made portrait or image.


So that what living wight shall chance to see

= person.

These goddesses, each placed in her degree,

= "as befits her status".


Portrayed by Flora's workmanship alone,

Must say that art and nature met in one. 

= art (artificial works created by hand, or the skill required to make such objects) and nature (those things which the natural world produced) were frequently opposed or paired in the era's literature.


Sil.  A dainty draught to lay her down in blue,

= delightful picture.  = ie. "portray her".


The colour commonly betokening true.

73-74: Silvanus is ironic, as Venus was associated with anything other than the loyalty (true) of lovers; this is one of the earliest connections in print between true and blue, the phrase true blue itself not appearing until 1623.
     betokening true = representing loyalty.


Flora.  This piece of work, compact with many a

= composed.2

And well laid in at entrance of the bower,

= natural enclosure, arbour.2


Where Phoebe means to make this meeting royal,

Have I prepared to welcome them withal.

= with.


Pom.  And are they yet dismounted, Flora, say.

= could mean "stepped down from their chariots" or
     "descended from above".1


That we may wend to meet them on the way?

= "be on our way", ie. go.


Flora.  That shall not need: they are at hand by this,

84: "that won't be necessary, they are close by (at hand)
     by now.

And the conductor of the train hight Rhanis.

85: "and the one leading their procession is Rhanis."
         conductor of the train = head of the procession (no,
     Peele is not predicting the coming of the railroad).
         hight = is called or known as.
         Rhanis = one of the Diana's numerous attendant


Juno hath left her chariot long ago,

And hath returned her peacocks by her rainbow;

87: "and has sent back her peacocks by means of Iris (the
     goddess of the rainbow), her personal messenger god."
         The peacock was the most famous of Juno's attri-
     butes; they were often portrayed as pulling her chariot.


And bravely, as becomes the wife of Jove,

= nobly.  = is fitting for.

Doth honour by her presence to our grove.


Fair Venus she hath let her sparrows fly,

90: sparrows were sacred to Venus.

To tend on her and make her melody;


Her turtles and her swans unyokèd be.

92: turtles = ie., turtledoves, birds that were said to pull
     Venus' chariot.
         swans = sometimes Venus was portrayed as traveling
     on the back of a swan.

And flicker near her side for company.

= flutter.4


Pallas hath set her tigers loose to feed,

94: Pallas was sometimes associated with various big cats;
     a few ancient works of art show tigers pulling gods'

Commanding them to wait when she hath need.


And hitherward with proud and stately pace,

= towards here.

To do us honour in the sylvan chace,

= wooded hunting-ground.1


They march, like to the pomp of heaven above,

= heaven, like most two-syllable words with a median 'v',
     is usually pronounced in one syllable, with the 'v' essen-
     tially omitted: hea'en.

Juno the wife and sister of King Jove,

99: Juno was both the sister and wife of the king of the gods.


The warlike Pallas, and the Queen of Love.

98-100: note the rhyming triplet to finish off Flora's speech.


Pan.  Pipe, Pan, for joy, and let thy shepherds sing;

= an imperative, Pan calling on himself to play his pipe.

Shall never age forget this memorable thing.


Flora.  Clio, the sagest of the Sisters Nine,

105: Clio, one of the nine Muses, is the Muse of history,
     as Flora describes her in line 107.


To do observance to this dame divine,

= reverence.

Lady of learning and of chivalry,


Is here arrived in fair assembly,

= assembly is pronounced with four syllables: as-SEM-

And wandering up and down th’ unbeaten ways,

= untrod paths.


Ring through the wood sweet songs of Pallas’ praise.

= ie. fills with sound.1


Pom.  Hark, Flora, Faunus! here is melody,

A charm of birds, and more than ordinary.

= chorus or song, or blended singing.1,3,5


[An artificial charm of birds being heard within.]

115: Brooke suggests the music is made by mechanical


Pan.  The silly birds make mirth; then should we do
     them wrong,

117: silly = vulnerable or simple;1,14 references to silly
were common in the era.
         should we…wrong = ie. "we would not be doing
     the right thing".


Pomona, if we nill bestow an echo to their song.

118: "if we do not respond with a song of our own."
     nill = will not.




[A quire within and without.]

122: there will be singing both on-stage and from off-stage.
     quire = old spelling of choir.


Gods.  O Ida, O Ida, O Ida, happy hill!

= ie. mountain.

This honour done to Ida may it continue still!

= forever.


Muses.  [Within] Ye country gods that in this Ida won,

127: Within = the Muses are understood to be singing from


Bring down your gifts of welcome,

     off-stage, as they accompany the three goddesses.

     For honour done to Ida.

         in this Ida won = live (won) on Mt. Ida.1


Gods.  Behold, in sign of joy we sing.


And signs of joyful welcome bring.

     For honour done to Ida.


Muses.  [Within]


The Muses give you melody to gratulate this chance,

= joyfully welcome this opportunity.

And Phoebe, chief of sylvan chace, commands you
     all to dance.

= ie. Diana, the goddess of the woodland hunt.


Gods.  Then round in a circle our sportance must be,

139: sportance = playful activity.1
         must be = in an interesting error, must is printed
     twice in the original edition - must must be.


Hold hands in a hornpipe, all gallant in glee.

= in a dance performed to the accompaniment of a horn-
     pipe, a now-obsolete wind-instrument.1



142: there is a time-out in the story here, as the characters

     perform a dance.


Muses.  [Within]

Reverence, reverence, most humble reverence!


Gods.  Most humble reverence!


Juno, Pallas and Venus enter, Rhanis leading

the way. Pan alone sings.




The God of Shepherds, and his mates,


With country cheer salutes your states,

Fair, wise, and worthy as you be.


And thank the gracious ladies three

     For honour done to Ida.


[The birds sing.]


The song being done, Juno speaks.


Juno.  Venus, what shall I say? for, though I be a
     dame divine,


This welcome and this melody exceed these wits of


Venus.  Believe me, Juno, as I hight the Sovereign
     of Love,

= "am called", an ancient word dating back to Old English.

These rare delights in pleasures pass the banquets of
     King Jove.

= surpass.


Pall.  Then, Venus, I conclude, it easily may be seen,

= pronounced as a two-syllable word: EAS-'ly; line 19 is
     short an iamb.


That in her chaste and pleasant walks fair Phoebe is a

20: Phoebe, again, is Diana, goddess of the hunt, whose
     domain (walks)2 the goddesses have entered. Phoebe is
     described as chaste because she was famously a virgin.


Rhan.  Divine Pallas, and you sacred dames,

22: a short line; Dyce suggests adding You at its beginning.

Juno and Venus, honoured by your names,


Juno, the wife and sister of King Jove,

Fair Venus, lady-president of love,

= presiding goddess; a favourite word of Peele's.


If any entertainment in this place,

That can afford but homely, rude, and base,

= provide.  = rustic.5


It please your godheads to accept in gree,

= divine natures.1  = occasionally used phrase, meaning

That gracious thought our happiness shall be.

     "accept graciously" or "accept kindly".1


My mistress Dian, this right well I know,

For love that to this presence she doth owe,


Accounts more honour done to her this day,

Than ever whilom in these woods of Ida;

= ie. occurred earlier, before.


And for our country gods, I dare be bold,

They make such cheer, your presence to behold,


Such jouisance, such mirth, and merriment,

= synonym for merriment and mirth, a borrowing from Old
     French;1 pronounced ZHU-i-sance.

As nothing else their mind might more content:


And that you do believe it to be so,

= so.

Fair goddesses, your lovely looks do show.


It rests in fine, for to confirm my talk,

40: "in short (in fine), it only remains (rests), in order to
     confirm what I am saying, that".

Ye deign to pass along to Dian's walk;

= condescend.


Where she among her troop of maids attends

The fair arrival of her welcome friends.


Flora.  And we will wait with all observance due,


And do just honour to this heavenly crew.


Pan.  The God of Shepherds, Juno, ere thou go,

= before.

Intends a lamb on thee for to bestow.


Faun.  Faunus, high ranger in Diana's chace.

= game-keeper.


Presents a fawn to Lady Venus' grace.


Sil.  Silvanus gives to Pallas' deity

This gallant bough raught from the oaken-tree.

= ie. taken.


Pom.  To them that do this honour to our fields,


Her mellow apples poor Pomona yields.


Juno.  And, gentle gods, these signs of your goodwill

We take in worth, and shall accept them still.


Venus.  And, Flora, this to thee among the rest, −

= ie. "I say this".


Thy workmanship comparing with the best,

Let it suffice thy cunning to have [power]

= a word is missing after have in the original quarto; later


To call King Jove from forth his heavenly bower.

     editors naturally enough insert power here to rhyme with

Hadst thou a lover, Flora, credit me,


I think thou wouldst bedeck him gallantly.

= adorn.

But wend we on; and, Rhanis, lead the way,


That kens the painted paths of pleasant Ida.

= "she who knows well".  = colourfully decorated.

         kens = the verb ken, meaning "to know", much later
     became associated primarily with the Scottish.




Enter Paris and Oenone.

Entering Characters: Paris is a son of the Priam, King of Troy (one of fifty!); when it was predicted that Paris' birth would lead to the ruin of Troy, his father commanded the shepherd Agelaus to bring the baby to Mt. Ida and abandon him to the elements (ie. to be "exposed"); after five days, Agelaus returned to find the infant still alive, being fed by a she-bear, and subsequently brought the baby home, named him Paris, and raised him with his own son.
     By this point in his history, Paris has learned of his identity, though he still frequents Mt. Ida.
     Paris is presently courting the nymph Oenone, who possesses the powers of prophecy.


Paris.  Oenone, while we bin disposed to walk.

1: Oenone = pronounced in three syllables, with the stress
     on the middle syllable: o-E-none.
         while = until.3
         bin = are.


Tell me what shall be subject of our talk?

Thou hast a sort of pretty tales in store,

= collection.  = abundance.


Dare say no nymph in Ida woods hath more:

= read as "I dare say".

Again, beside thy sweet alluring face,

= ie. in addition to.


In telling them thou hast a special grace.

= ie. "your tales".

Then, prithee, sweet, afford some pretty thing,

7: "then, please (prithee), my sweet, offer me up a nice
     one", ie. a choice story.


Some toy that from thy pleasant wit doth spring.

= trifle.


Oen.  Paris, my heart's contentment and my choice,

Use thou thy pipe, and I will use my voice;

11: Oenone asks Paris to accompany her on his pipe (a


So shall thy just request not be denied,

     recorder-like instrument)1 as she sings her story.

And time well spent, and both be satisfied.


Paris.  Well, gentle nymph, although thou do me wrong,


That can ne tune my pipe unto a song,

16: "I who am unable to play my pipe in accompaniment
     to a singer".
         can ne = cannot.

Me list this once, Oenone, for thy sake.

17: "I will choose or opt".


This idle task on me to undertake.

= foolish.


They sit under a tree together.


Oen.  And whereon, then, shall be my roundelay?

= ie. "on what subject".  = short song.1

For thou hast heard my store long since, dare say;

= ie. "my whole collection (of stories)"; in this speech,
     Oenone alludes to a number of well-known stories -
     myths to us - she could choose from to sing about.
         Interestingly, in the original 1584 quarto Oenone's
     catalogue of stories is numbered.


How Saturn did divide his kingdom tho

24-25: (1) Saturn, a member of the generation of gods 

To Jove, to Neptune, and to Dis below;

known as the Titans, had become king of the gods after he overthrew his father, Caelus, known as "The Sky"; Saturn in turn was overthrown by his children, the generation known as the Olympians, in a war referred to as the Battle of the Titans. The brothers Jupiter (aka Jove), Neptune and Pluto (aka Dis) divided the universe amongst themselves by lot, with Jupiter becoming the ruler of the heavens and earth (as well as assuming the role of king of all the gods), Neptune ruler of the seas, and Pluto the underworld.
     tho = an ancient and long-obsolete word meaning "at that time".1


How mighty men made foul successless war

26-27: (2) Mother Earth, angry that her son Saturn had been

Against the gods and state of Jupiter;

stripped of his rule, gave birth to a race of Giants which challenged the supremacy of the Olympians in a war known as the Battle of the Giants. It was close, but the Olympians prevailed


How Phorcys' imp, that was so trick and fair,

28-30: (3) the early god Phorcys had had a daughter, a

That tangled Neptune in her golden hair,

beautiful mortal named Medusa, the most famous of the


Became a Gorgon for her lewd misdeed, −

three sisters known as the Gorgons; Athena punished Medusa for her presumption in carrying on an affair with Neptune in one her temples, by turning Medusa's hair to snakes and her appearance into something so frightful that anyone who looked directly on her was turned to stone.
     imp (line 28) = child or offspring, with possible negative connotation.1
     trick = trim.5

A pretty fable, Paris, for to read,

31-33: Oenone warns Paris to take the lesson of the story


A piece of cunning, trust me, for the nones,

of Medusa to heart; having the gift of prophecy, Oenone

That wealth and beauty alter men to stones;

already knows that Paris will be drawn to leave her for another - the future Helen of Troy - and that his affair will lead to his own ruin.
     fable = a short story with a lesson.1
     for the nones = for the purpose (of illustrating her point).


How Salmacis, resembling idleness,

34-35: (4) allusion to the story of Aphroditus (a son of 

Turns men to women all through wantonness;

Mercury and Venus) who fell asleep at the spring of the nymph Salmacis, who in turn fell in love with Aphroditus' great beauty; he rejected the nymph's affection, but later, while he was bathing in the spring, Salmacis embraced him and prayed to the gods to let her be united to him forever; their bodies were merged, forming the first hermaphrodite.11
     wantonness = lewd behaviour.


How Pluto caught Queen Ceres' daughter thence,

36-37: (5) Pluto, with Jupiter's permission, kidnapped and

And what did follow of that love-offence;

married Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and especially grains (hence the word cereal). Ceres, having found her daughter after a lengthy search, begged the gods to have Proserpine returned to her; the gods assented, permitting her return so long as she had not yet eaten anything from the underworld. Unfortunately, Proserpine had already eaten half of a pomegranate which had been given to her by Pluto as a love-offering, and as a consequence was allowed to stay with her mother for only half of each year.


Of Daphne turned into the laurel-tree,

38: (6) oft referred-to tale of the lovely nymph Daphne who

That shows a mirror of virginity;

was chased by the amorous Apollo; calling to the gods for help, she was famously changed into a laurel tree.
     38-39: Dyce observes that Peele "had an eye to", ie. slightly borrowed, several of his couplets in this speech from Arthur Golding's (c.1536-1606) introduction to his 1567 translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses; the inspiration for lines 38-39 is the most obvious adaptation:
     As for example, in the tale of Daphne turned to bay,
     A myrror of virginitie appeere untoo us may


How fair Narcissus tooting on his shade,

40-41: (7) Narcissus was the beautiful but vain youth who 

Reproves disdain, and tells how form doth vade;

had rejected the love of both the nymph Echo and another young man Ameinias; the latter, before killing himself, prayed to the goddess Nemesis to avenge him for Narcissus' cruel spurning; Nemesis, answering the entreaty, caused Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water; unable to take his eyes away from himself, he wasted away until at length he was turned into a flower - the narcissus.
     tooting on his shade = staring at his own image, ie. reflection.14
     Reproves disdain = rebukes scorn, ie. Narcissus' story acts as a lesson not to scorn others' affections.
     form doth vade = beauty fades or disappears.1 Early drama sometimes replaced f with v when it appeared at the beginning a word, usually to indicate dialect.


How cunning Philomela's needle tells

42-43: (8) the allusion is to the gruesome story of Tereus,

What force in love, what wit in sorrow dwells;

the king of Thrace, who violently raped Philomena, the sister of his wife Procne. Tereus cut out Philomena's tongue to keep her from telling anyone what happened, and kept her locked in a shed. Philomena famously weaved her story onto a cloth, which she then was able to pass on to a friend. When Procne, who had been told by Tereus that her sister was dead, learned the truth, she, in revenge, cooked and fed Itys, her son by Tereus, to Tereus. As Tereus chased the girls with murderous intent, the gods transformed them into birds - Philomena a nightingale, and Procne a swallow.


What pains unhappy souls abide in hell,

44f: (9) Oenone will go on now to describe some famous

They say because on earth they lived not well, −

     denizens of hell, who must suffer eternal punishment
     for their earthly transgressions.
         abide = endure.15


Ixion's wheel, proud Tantal's pining woe,

46: (10) Ixion's wheel = Ixion's father-in-law tried to extort Ixion's wedding presents from him, and in revenge Ixion invited the man to his home, wherein he caused him to fall into a pit filled with fire; Ixion was pardoned by Jupiter, who invited him to a feast, but Ixion repaid his host by trying to seduce Jupiter's wife Juno. He was punished by being tied by his hands and feet to a wheel which forever spun around in the underworld.
     Ixion is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: ix-I-on.
     Tantal's pining woe = Tantalus, a son of Jupiter, revealed secrets told him by the king of the gods, and for this indiscretion was punished by being placed in a lake to suffer permanent thirst and hunger; whenever he reached for the water around him or the fruit hanging from the branches above him, they would shrink away from him. The word tantalize derives from his name.
     pining = wasting away.
     We may compare line 46 to the following line, which appears in the early (c.1561) drama Gorboduc, by the Thomases Sackville and Norton:
     To Tantal’s thirst, or proud Ixion’s wheel...

Prometheus' torment, and a many mo.

47: (11) as punishment for his having delivered fire to mankind, Jove had Prometheus bound to a pillar, where he was attacked by an eagle which gnawed out Prometheus' liver every day, the liver growing back each night; this went on for years, until Jupiter permitted Hercules to rescue him.
     mo = more.


How Danaus' daughters ply their endless task,

48: (12) the Egyptian Danaus, King of Argos, had 50 daughters (known as the Danaides), whom he allowed to marry the 50 sons of his brother Aegyptus; suspecting his son-in-laws of plotting against him, Danaus ordered his daughters to slay their husbands on their wedding night; all but one did so. The Danaides' ultimate fate was to pour water into vessels full of holes for all eternity.11

What toil the toil of Sisyphus doth ask:

49: (13) Sisyphus was a king of Corinth and a shady character; for any of a number of offenses (including attacking and killing travelers with a large stone), Sisyphus was condemned to eternally push an enormous block of marble up a hill, after which the block always slid or rolled back down the hill.11


All these are old and known I know, yet, if thou wilt
     have any,

Choose some of these, for, trust me, else Oenone hath
     not many.


Paris.  Nay, what thou wilt: but sith my cunning not
     compares with thine,

53: "no no, choose whichever one you wish; but since my
     skill is not comparable to yours".
         sith = since.


Begin some toy that I can play upon this pipe of mine.

= trifle, ie. small song.14


Oen.  There is a pretty sonnet, then, we call it Cupid’s

= pleasant song.

"They that do change old love for new, pray gods they
     change for worse!"

57: Oenone, still obsessing over Paris' fidelity to her, quotes
     a line from the song. The line is a curse, really, wishing
     the gods to punish those who break their vows of love.


The note is fine and quick withal, the ditty will agree,

58-59: "the tune (note) is a fine and short one, and the

Paris, with that same vow of thine upon our poplar-tree.

     (message of the) short song is the same, Paris, as the


     vow you made to me under our poplar tree."
         note = song.
         withal = also.

Paris.  No better thing; begin it, then: Oenone, thou
     shalt see


Our music figure of the love that grows 'twixt thee
     and me.

62: the music the pair will make together, with Paris playing his pipe and Oenone singing, will represent (figure) the love

between ('twixt) them.
     The expression thee and me was a common and handsomely euphonious way of saying "you and I" or "you and me".


They sing;

and while Oenone sings, he pipes.


Oen.  Fair and fair, and twice so fair,


     As fair as any may be;

The fairest shepherd on our green,


     A love for any lady.


Paris.  Fair and fair, and twice so fair,

     As fair as any may be;


Thy love is fair for thee alone,

     And for no other lady.


Oen.  My love is fair, my love is gay,


     As fresh as bin the flowers in May,

= are.

And of my love my roundelay,


     My merry merry merry roundelay,

80: several editors suggest that one merry of the three

     Concludes with Cupid's curse, −

     should likely be deleted.


They that do change old love for new.

     Pray gods they change for worse!


Ambo. Simul.  They that do change, &c.

85: together the pair re-sing lines 82-83.



Oen.  Fair and fair, &c.

87: Oenone repeats the first verse.


Paris.  Fair and fair, &c.


     Thy love is fair, &c


Oen.  My love can pipe, my love can sing.

My love can many a pretty thing,


And of his lovely praises ring

My merry merry roundelays,


     Amen to Cupid's curse, −

They that do change, &c.


Paris.  They that do change, &c.


Both.  Fair and fair, &c.


[The song being ended, they rise.]


Oen.  Sweet shepherd, for Oenone's sake be cunning
     in this song,

105: be cunning in this song = ie. "be clever enough to
     recognize the warning or lesson of this song"; Brooke
     suggests cunning means "letter-perfect".


And keep thy love, and love thy choice, or else thou
    dost her wrong.

106: by thy love, Oenone means herself.


Paris.  My vow is made and witnessèd, the poplar will
     not start,

108: the poplar tree was a witness to the vow Paris made to Oenone; vows of betrothal were more enforceable if they were witnessed by third parties.
     the poplar…start = "the poplar tree will not tremble in token of a false vow" (Baskerville, p.213).

Nor shall the nymph Oenone's love from forth my
     breathing heart.

= ie. "start from", meaning "leave" or "flee".


I will go bring thee on thy way, my flock are here

= "accompany you"

And I will have a lover's fee; they say, unkissed unkind.

= I cannot find any evidence of this proverbial sentiment


     appearing in any other contemporary literature.




Enter Juno, Pallas and Venus.

Entering Characters: now that the entrance of the goddesses has been properly celebrated, the deities turn to childishly bickering with each other; they are particularly inclined to twit each about their indiscreet sex lives.


Venus  [ex abrupto]

= suddenly (a stage direction); we catch up with the ladies in the middle of their conversation.
         While the various editors describe the well-known stories the goddesses refer to in this confusing conversation, there is little attempt to explain why they say what they say to each other; we, however, will try to do so.


But pray you, tell me, Juno, was it so,

As Pallas told me here the tale of Echo?

= Echo was a mountain nymph who once kept Juno busily talking while Juno's husband Jove was away playing around with some other nymphs; when Juno learned of the deception, she punished Echo by robbing her of the ability to speak on her own volition, condemning her to be able to only repeat what others say.11
     Venus is rather cruel to ask Juno about this incident.


Juno.  She was a nymph indeed, as Pallas tells,

5-18: Juno, of course, reacts defensively to Venus' teasing; while acknowledging the truth of the story of Echo, she insists Jupiter is on the whole not particularly prone to cheating on her - an argument no one would ever believe.


A walker, such as in these thickets dwells;

= forest-dweller,14 but Juno seems to use the term walker in some pejorative manner; perhaps walker is intended to have the same sense as the term street-walker, referring to a prostitute (street-walker in this sense dates back to at least 1591).1

And as she told what subtle juggling pranks

7-8: "and as Pallas told of what cunning and deceitful tricks


She played with Juno, so she told her thanks:

     Echo played on Juno, so Juno thanked her appropriately
     (by punishing her)."

A tattling trull to come at every call,

9: "a tale-telling or gossiping girl or whore who comes
     whenever she is called".1


And now, forsooth, nor tongue nor life at all.

10: "and now, truly, she has neither tongue nor life at all"
     (see the story of Echo's sort-of death in the previous
     scene, at Act I.v.40-41.)

And though perhaps she was a help to Jove,


And held me chat while he might court his love,

= "kept me busily chatting away".

Believe me, dames, I am of this opinion,


He took but little pleasure in the minion;

= ie. "his mistress".

And whatsoe'er his scapes have been beside,

15: "and no matter what other affairs he has carried on
         scapes = transgressions or escapades.14


Dare say for him, 'a never strayed so wide:

16: "I dare say for Jove, he has never really strayed that far
     from me."

A lovely nut-brown lass or lusty trull

17-18: Juno acknowledges that any attractive or lascivious female has the power to catch the eye of any god, and cause him by respond by courting her aggressively.
     nut-brown = describes either hair or complexion.1
     lusty trull = sex-charged harlot.


Have power perhaps to make a god a bull.

18: Juno seems to be alluding to the story in which Jove turned himself into an attractive bull, which allowed him to seduce the beautiful maiden Europa: while she stroked him he carried her off on his back into the sea, and, after swimming to the island of Crete, raped her.
     The question is, why would she bring this story up, since it can only make her look poorly in the eyes of the other goddesses? The answer, perhaps, is that she is not referring to Europa, but rather only illustrating her point about the weakness of the male gods regarding the fairer sex; indeed, she may not not even know about Europa,12 so that her allusion is completely accidental.


Venus.  Gramercy, gentle Juno, for that jest;

20-21: Venus is enjoying making Juno uncomfortable.

I' faith, that item was worth all the rest.

     Gramercy = thank you, from the French grant merci.


     jest = story.1

Pall.  No matter, Venus, howsoe'er you scorn,


My father Jove at that time ware the horn.

= ie. "wore horns;" Pallas may herself be hinting at the story of Europa, as she describes Jove as literally wearing horns at the time he turned himself into a bull; but she is also using an expression which suggests Juno was cheating on Jupiter - a cuckolded husband was said to grow horns on his forehead.


Juno.  Had every wanton god above, Venus, not
     better luck,

26-27: "luckily, every lascivious god and goddess can easily
     find lovers for themselves; otherwise, heaven would be a

Then heaven would be a pleasant park, and Mars a
     lusty buck.

     great hunting ground (park), and Mars would be a lewd
     buck," ie. all the goddesses would be seducing Mars.
         Juno fights back, alluding to Venus' famous and on-
     going love affair with Mars, the god of war.


Venus.  Tut, Mars hath horns to butt withal, although
     no bull 'a shows,

29-30: Venus is not flustered, gleefully attacking back.
     Firstly, Venus, alluding to Juno's identifying Mars as a


'A never needs to mask in nets, 'a fears no jealous

buck, gives Mars the horns of a cuckold (Mars hath horns to butt withal), suggesting that she has no compunction about playing around on the god of war.
      With respect to the remainder of this brief speech (although...froes), the interpretation is a bit trickier. Literally, the lines are saying Mars does not need to turn to himself into a bull (no bull 'a shows), he never has to disguise himself as a bull ('A never...nets), and he has no need to fear any jealous women ('A fears...froes). Her meaning, then, may be thus: unlike Juno's husband, her (Venus') lover, Mars, does not have to put on disguises because he doesn't actually ever cheat on her (she makes this point again in lines 43-44 below).
     'a = he.
     to mask = to hide or disguise (himself).
     nets = neats, a common term for bovines (Benbow).
     froes = women, from the German frau.
     Benbow, however, suggests that Venus is actually saying that the disguises Jove uses when he goes after women are so transparent that he may as well be as open about his affairs as Mars is (Mars did actually father several children with women other than Venus, though he himself never married).
     There is yet another layer of meaning here: Venus' expression mask in nets is very similar to the more common phrase dance in a net or walk in a net, which is used to describe someone who thinks they are doing something in secret, but can actually be easily seen by others; so, when Venus says of Mars that he does not need to mask in nets, she may also be expressing the same idea as that suggested by Benbow, ie. that Mars does not try to conceal himself in transparent disguises.
     The problem with the interpretation of the last two paragraphs, however, is that when he is interested in a girl, Jove does not transform himself into an animal to hide from Juno; rather, he does so in order to facilitate his seduction.
     Lastly, Venus may have accidentally raised the specter of her own embarrassing incident, one she shared with Mars: when Venus' husband Vulcan was tipped off that Venus was planning a rendezvous with Mars, he set a trap and caught the couple in a net as they were in the act, to the amusement of all the other gods. Interestingly, neither of the other goddesses picks up on this slip.


Juno.  Forsooth, the better is his turn, for, if  'a speak
     too loud,

32-33: "actually, it would serve his purpose better to do so, because if he speaks too loudly (ie. is too open or obvious

Must find some shift to shadow him, a net or else a

about an affair he is carrying on), he will need to find some means (shift) to hide himself, either in a net (meaning either a neat [ie. bovine] or net) or cloud."
     The question here is whether Juno is speaking about Mars or Jove; if Juno is trying to twit Venus, she would mean Mars; Benbow, however, thinks Juno is referring to Jove, but this would mean she is being more frank about her runaround husband than we would expect, and is on the defensive rather than attacking Venus.


Pall.  No more of this, fair goddesses; unrip not so
     your shames,

34-36: Pallas chastises Juno and Venus for publicly, and
     unseemingly, bickering and discussing such private
     matters when all the world is watching.


To stand all naked to the world, that bene such
     heavenly dames.

= ie. "you who are"; bene appears to be a monosyllable,
     pronounced been.


Juno.  Nay, Pallas, that's a common trick with Venus
     well we know,

= ie. to stand naked before the world; while Pallas' use of
the expression stand all naked to the world was meant

And all the gods in heaven have seen her naked long

figuratively, Juno sneeringly applies its literal meaning to Venus, referring to the latter's lack of inhibition with respect to her sexuality; as usual, Venus is more proud than ashamed of her proclivities.


Venus.  And then she was so fair and bright, and lovely
     and so trim,

38: she = meaning herself.
     trim = fine, beautiful.1


As Mars is but for Venus' tooth, and she will sport
     with him:

42: for Venus' tooth = "to my taste", ie. liking.
     sport = entertain herself, ie. fool around.

And, but me list not here to make comparison with

43: "and except for the fact that I have no desire (list) to
     compare anyone to Jove".


Mars is no ranger, Juno, he, in every open grove.

44: metaphorically, "at least Mars doesn't run around on
     me, unlike Jove, who perpetually does so on you, Juno."
         ranger = (1) game keeper1 and (2) sexual strayer.
         grove = woodland.1


Pall.  Too much of this: we wander far, the skies begin
     to scowl;

46-47: noticing a storm approaching, Pallas suggests they
     move into a natural shelter.

Retire we to Diana's bower, the weather will be foul.

= bower is a monosyllable here.


A storm of thunder and lightning passes.


 Até trundles the ball into place,

50: Até enters and, unseen, rolls (trundles) the golden

crying "Fatum Trojae," Juno takes it up.

     apple she was carrying with her in the Prologue onto
     the stage.
         Fatum Trojae = "Fate of Troy!"
         takes = picks.


Juno.  Pallas, the storm is past and gone, and Phoebus
     clears the skies,

= Phoebus is an alternate name for Apollo, in his role as
     the sun god.


And, lo, behold a ball of gold, a fair and worthy prize!

= look!


[Venus examines the ball closely.]

56: stage direction added by editor.


Venus.  This posy wills the apple to the fairest given be;

58: Venus notices a short verse inscribed on the apple.
     posy = inscription.1
     wills = intends.

Then is it mine, for Venus hight the fairest of the three.

= is called (ie. is known to be).


Pall.  The fairest here, as fair is meant, am I, ye do me

= "as the meaning of the word fair is intended".


And if the fairest have it must, to me it doth belong.


Juno.  Then Juno may it not enjoy, so every one says

64: so every one says no = ie. "if everyone disagrees with

But I will prove myself the fairest, ere I lose it so.

= before.


[They read the posy.]

67ff: each deity will argue that fair is to be interpreted in a
     way that is naturally most advantageous to herself.
         We thought the ladies were acting childishly before,
     but the verbal sparring will get worse.


The brief is this, “Detur pulcherrimae,

= writing.3  = "given to the most beautiful".


Let this unto the fairest given be,

The fairest of the three,” − and I am she.


Pall.  Detur pulcherrimoe,


Let this unto the fairest given be.

The fairest of the three,” − and I am she.


Venus.  Detur pulcherrimoe,