the Annotated Popular Edition of






by Richard Edwards

First Published 1571


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.


Newly Imprinted, as the same was shewed Be-
fore the Queenes Maiestie, by the Children of her Graces
Chappell, except the Prologue that is somewhat al-
tered for the proper vse of them that hereafter
shall haue occasion to plaie it, either in
Priuate, or open Audience.
by Maister Edwards, then beynge
Maister of the Children.


The Speakers’ Names:


The Foreigners:

     Damon and Pithias is the sole surviving play by

the well-regarded poet and playwright Richard Ed-

Damon, a Gentleman of Greece.

wards (1523?-1566). The play is notable for being the

Pithias, a Gentleman of Greece.

earliest known English tragedy based on a classical

     Stephano, Servant to Damon And Pithias.

subject,3 and the first modern play to fuse seriously

dramatic and earthily comic material into a single

The Syracusans:

stage-work, often in the same scene.

     The story explores the nature of friendship, both

Dionysius, the King of Syracuse.

genuine and false, and while the protagonists, Damon

Eubulus, the King's Councillor.

and Pithias, occasionally lapse into dreary sermonizing

Aristippus, A Pleasant Gentleman.

about the beauty of their platonic love for each other,

     Will, Aristippus' Lackey.

the script actually manages to move along briskly, and

Carisophus, A Parasite.

will reward the interested reader.

     Jack, Carisophus' Lackey.

Snap, the Porter.


Gronno, The Hangman.

Grim, The Collier.

     The text of the play is adopted from John Farmer's

1906 edition of Damon and Pithias, cited below at

#3, with some of the spelling and wording from the

1571 original quarto reinstated.


     Mention of Farmer, Adams, Hazlitt, Walker and

King in the annotations refers to the notes provided

by these editors in their respective editions of our play,

each cited fully below.

     The most commonly cited sources are listed in the

footnotes immediately below. The complete list of

footnotes appears at the end of this play.

     1. Oxford English Dictionary (OED) online.

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

London, New York: Penguin, 2002.

     3. Farmer, John S. The Dramatic Writings of

Richard Edwards, Thomas Norton and Thomas

Sackville. London: the Early English Drama Society,


     4. Adams, Joseph Quincy, ed. Chief Pre-Shake-

sperean Dramas. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside

Press, 1924.

     5. Hazlitt, W. Carew. Old English Plays, Vol. IV.

London: Reeves and Turner, 1874.

     11. Walker, Greg, ed. The Oxford Anthology of

Drama. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

      13. King, Ros. The Works of Richard Edwards.

Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001.


A. Early Publishing History of Damon and Pithias.

     The earliest extant edition of Damon and Pithias is a 1571 quarto. If one carefully reads the description of the play as it appears on the title-page (the blurb is reproduced, complete with regularly decreasing font and line length, at the top of this edition), one will note that it states that the 1571 edition of Damon is "Newly Imprinted", and that the Prologue has been "somewhat altered", which suggests there existed once an earlier edition of the play that has been lost to history.
     A new edition of Damon and Pithias was published in 1582.

B. The Real Aristippus.

     Damon and Pithias features a philosopher named Aristippus who spends his days in King Dionysius' court making good money entertaining the king and his courtiers with his (Aristippus') wit.
     There was a real Aristippus (435-356 B.C.), whose lifetime coincided with that of King Dionysius of Syracuse, and thus in theory could have reasonably been imagined to have taken part in our play.
     The real Aristippus, however, lived in Athens, was a follower of Socrates, and ultimately became a leading proponent of living a life devoted to sensual pleasures, a true hedonist. He is not known to have lived in Sicily at any time.
     Edwards' Aristippus, though not a believer in a life of asceticism, is not really a hedonist; he just doesn't want to be poor. This then would be an interesting case in which a real person could be said to be more of an eccentric than, and even a caricature of, his fictional counterpart.

The information in this note is based on the entry for Aristippus in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: www.iep.utm.edu/aristip/.23

C. Settings, Scenes, Asides and Stage Directions.

     The entire play takes place in Syracuse in Sicily. All scene settings are the suggestion of the editor.
     The original quarto of Damon and Pithias did not assign scene numbers to the play; these have been added by your present editor.
     The original quarto does not indicate asides; the present edition adopts those suggested by Farmer.
     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 Farmer.



The Prologue: as was common in the earliest Elizabethan dramas, the play begins with an actor (sometimes called a Chorus) who appears on stage to introduce the story.
     Note how the Prologue speaker frequently addresses and appeals to the audience directly in the second person.
     Note also that the Prologue is written in iambic meter, though the number of iambs (feet) varies from line to line, between 6 and 8.


ON every side, whereas I glance my roving eye,

1-2: "everywhere I look, I discern (espy) a general


Silence in all ears bent I plainly do espy:

silence, as your ears are all turned (bent) attentively in this direction."

But if your eager looks do long such toys to see,

3-12: the speaker apologizes for the fact that the audience will be disappointed if it expects to see a whimsical comedy or farce, but then revises his statement, and promises to add comedy to his serious story.
     toys = pieces of fun, ie. frivolous entertainment.1 Note Edwards' repeated use of toy and its derivatives in the Prologue - 5 times to be exact.


As heretofore in comical wise were wont abroad to be,

4: as were customarily seen elsewhere (in other plays).
         in comical wise = ie. in a manner suitable for a

Your lust is lost, and all the pleasures that you sought

= "your desire will not be satisfied".3


Is frustrate quite of toying plays. A sudden change is

6: Is frustrate = "are to be frustrated", ie. will be deprived. Note the lack of grammatical agreement between pleasures and Is.
     toying = amorously sportive.4

For lo, our author's muse, that maskčd in delight,

7-8: the author's Muse is the goddess by whom a


Hath forced his pen against his kind no more such sports
     to write.

composer of written works traditionally was said to be inspired; there were 9 Muses, all sisters, in Greek mythology.
     Edwards' Muse, says the speaker, who normally could be counted on to help the writer create broad comedies, has changed her will, and now prevents Edwards from doing the same with respect to the present play.
     his kind = its (ie. the pen's) nature.4
     that masked in delight = even modern commentators disagree to what is meant here:
     (1) Walker suggests "hid himself in pleasure", which suggests that the clause describes Edwards, not his Muse;
     (2) Jeanne McCarthy, in The Children's Troupes etc.,27 asserts that the Muse is insisting to Edwards that he write something other than a masque for his audience (a masque, usually written as mask in this period, was a courtly form of entertainment, comprised of song and dance, formal recitations and allegorical figures); and
     (3) King suggests an altered combination of the above meanings: "(a) took part in courtly masques and entertainments, (b) hid itself." (p.111)13

Muse he that lust (right worshipful), for chance hath made
     this change,

9: Muse he that lust = "he who wishes may ponder or marvel (at this unexpected turn)"; note the pun with muse.
     right worshipful = a respectful form of address,1
directed at the audience.


For that to some he seemed too much in young desires to

10: "it appears that your playwright has been viewed by some as previously having shown too great a predilection toward artistically enmeshing himself in affairs of young love (in young desires)."4
     range = wander or travel.

In which, right glad to please, seeing that he did offend,

= "preferring to please his audience".


Of all he humbly pardon craves: his pen that shall amend.

= as he did in line 8 above, the speaker personifies the
     author's pen.

And yet (worshipful audience) thus much I dare avouch,

= affirm.


In comedies the greatest skill is this, rightly to touch

14-15: to touch…quick = common expression meaning "to touch or reach the core or most important part of a thing".1

All things to the quick; and eke to frame each person so,

15-16: eke…know = ie. a good playwright should also


That by his common talk you may his nature rightly know.

(eke) be able to portray his characters in such a way that when they speak, their types are immediately recognizable to the audience.

A roister ought not preach, that were too strange to hear;

= braggart, swaggerer.  = would be.


But as from virtue he doth swerve, so ought his words

= ie. virtuous behaviour or action.

The old man is sober, the young man rash, the lover
     triumphing in toys;

19: sober = moderate in behaviour or serious-minded.
     triumphing in toys = glorying in amorous sport.


The matron grave, the harlot wild, and full of wanton toys.

= unchaste sport; note the rhyming of toys with toys in
     lines 19-20.

Which all in one course they no wise do agree;

21: each character should be distinct.
     wise = manner.


So correspondent to their kind their speeches ought to be.

= in agreement with.  = nature.

Which speeches well-pronounced, with action lively framed,


If this offend the lookers on, let Horace then be blamed,

24-26: the reference here is to the celebrated 1st

Which hath our author taught at school, from whom he
     doth not swerve,

century A.D. Roman poet Horace and his influential guide to good writing, the Ars Poetica. With respect


In all such kind of exercise decorum to observe.

to drama, Horace, following Aristotle before him, preached a number of precepts to aspiring playwrights, including one instructing dramatists to clearly delineate their characters, whose manners of speech should be distinct; it is this quality to which the speaker of the Prologue alludes in lines 15-22.
     In lines 24-26, our presenter of the Prologue, speaking on behalf of Edwards, suggests that if anyone is offended by his following the rules laid out by Horace, they should blame Horace, whom Edwards, in his role as a real-life instructor at Oxford University, once taught.

Thus much for his defence (he saith), as poets erst have

= so much for.  = previously.


Which heretofore in comedies the self-same race did run.

28: the reference here, as King describes, is to the need dramatists have had even in classical times to defend themselves against accusations that their works were immoral. The prologues in the plays of the 2nd century B.C. comic dramatist Terence similarly allude to the attacks of his plays' critics (King, p.111).

But now for to be brief, the matter to express,

= "to describe the topic of our play".


Which here we shall present, is this: Damon and Pithias. 

A rare ensample of friendship true − it is no legend-lie,

= example or precedent.


But a thing once done indeed, as histories do descry


Which done of yore in long time past, yet present shall be


Even as it were in doing now, so lively it shall appear.

Lo, here in Syracusae th' ancient town, which once the
     Romans won,

35-36: Adams suggests that the scenery on the stage was likely bifurcated: one-half of the stage was made to


Here Dionysius' palace, within whose court this thing most
     strange was done.

represent the "city", and the other half the royal palace, each with its own "door" through which characters could enter and exit the stage. The Prologue actor points to the respective sides as he speaks these lines.
     Syracusae = ie. Syracuse; originally a colony of Corinth, this city on the east coast of Sicily became famous for its withstanding the siege of Athens from 405-403 B.C. The tyrant Dionysius ruled Syracuse from 406-367 B.C., but the continued glory he brought to this city was more than offset by his notorious cruelty.9
     which once the Romans won = the Romans, under the proconsul Marcellus, captured Rome more than a century after Dionysus died, in 212 B.C.

Which matter mixed with mirth and care, a just name to

37: mirth and care = amusement and grief.1
= appropriate term to give to it (ie.
     this type of play).


As seems most fit, we have it termed a tragical comedy,

= the terms tragical comedy and tragi-comedy, both of which were coined in the 1560's, describe a type of play which was popular throughout the Elizabethan era and beyond, one which contains elements of both tragedy and comedy; farcical scenes were often simply interspersed between highly serious ones. Though there were no specific rules regarding what exact elements may or may not be included in the tragic portion of such plays, a general guideline is that in tragi-comedies, no one dies.
     Various editors suggest that Edwards appears to have invented the term tragical comedy; but the term appears as early as 1551 (in Sir Thomas More's A fruteful, and pleasaunt worke of the beste state of a publyque weale, etc), though Edwards may be the first to apply the term to a play.
     For the record, the abbreviated compound word tragi-comedy appears for the first time in 1561, which also probably predates our play.

Wherein talking of courtly toys − we do protest this flat! −

= flatly, ie. plainly, bluntly.3


We talk of Dionysius’ court, we mean no court but that.

And that we do so mean, who wisely calleth to mind


The time, the place, the author, here most plainly shall
     it find.

39-42: the speaker assures the audience that any portrayal of the "court" in the play refers specifically to, and only to, that of Dionysius, and not to that of Elizabeth I!
     One can understand Edwards' need to point this out. The Tudor monarchs were prickly souls, and considering the high degree of criticism leveled at Dionysius in the play - he is the epitome of the paranoid, and hence cruel, monarch - it behooves Edwards to make sure beyond any doubt that all parties know for sure that nothing on-stage is intended to represent by proxy the English court, and that none of the criticism directed at the Greek tyrant is indirectly aimed at England's reigning queen.
     author (line 42) = printed as authors in the quarto.

Lo, this I speak for our defence, lest of others we should
     be shent:

43: of = by.
     shent = blamed, reproved harshly.4


But, worthy audience, we you pray, take things as they be

= ask, request.

Whose upright judgment we do crave with heedful ear
     and eye


To hear the cause and see th' effect of this new tragical





In Town.

Scene Settings: all scene settings are the suggestions

     of the editor.

Here entereth Aristippus.

Entering Character: Aristippus is a gentleman of

Syracuse, and a self-styled philosopher. Lately, however, Aristippus has decided to attach himself to the court of King Dionysius, where he is able to amass material rewards in return for his ability to entertain Dionysius with his wit. No ascetic lifestyle for this philosopher!
     There was a real-life philosopher Aristippus who was alive in the 4th century B.C., the time our play takes place. See the Note at the beginning of this edition of the play above.


Arist.  Too strange (perhaps) it seems to some


That I, Aristippus, a courtier am become:

A philosopher of late, not of the meanest name,

= lately, recently.  = ie. "not one with a bad reputation


But now to the courtly behaviour my life I frame.

=conform, adopt.

Muse he that lust; to you of good skill

5: Muse he…lust = "those who wish to (lust) may marvel (muse) at this change;" this clause also appeared in the Prologue at line 9.
     skill = judgment.2


I say that I am a philosopher still.

= always.

Lovers of wisdom are termed philosophy −

7: this line has attracted much attention for the apparent error of defining philosophy as lovers of wisdom; the obvious fix, it would seem, would be to emend philosophy to philosophers, but then line 7 would no longer rhyme with line 8. So, some editors instead change Lovers to Loving.
     Walker, however, notes that philosophie (the quarto's spelling) actually is Greek for "wisdom lovers", so that the original line is correct after all.


Then who is a philosopher so rightly as I?

For in loving of wisdom proof doth this try,


That frustra sapit, qui non sapit sibi.

10: "He is wise to no purpose who is not wise for himself." All Latin translations in this edition are from Adams.

I am wise for myself: then tell me of troth,

= truthfully.


Is not that great wisdom, as the world go'th?

7-12: in a bit of sophistry, Aristippus proves that he is a good philosopher because he has abandoned his philosopher's lifestyle and joined Dionysius' court:
     (1) a philosopher loves wisdom; (2) one is wise if he helps himself; (3) by joining the court, Aristippus is helping himself; (4) therefore, he is wise, and (5) thus he is a good philosopher.

Some philosophers in the street go ragged and torn,


And feeds on vile roots, whom boys laugh to scorn:

14: feeds = the "rules" of correct subject-verb agreement were frequently, as here, ignored in Elizabethan drama.
     roots = ie. root vegetables, such as turnips.1
     whom = ie. at whom.

But I in fine silks haunt Dionysius' palace,


Wherein with dainty fare myself I do solace.

= delicacies.

I can talk of philosophy as well as the best,


But the strait kind of life I leave to the rest.

= abstemious, ie. leading a life of privation as many
     ancient philosophers did.1,4

And I profess now the courtly philosophy,

= "declare my allegiance to".1


To crouch, to speak fair, myself I apply

= humbly bow,1 ie. behave obsequiously as a good
     courtier does.

To feed the king's humour with pleasant devices,


For which I am called Regius canis.

= "King's dog."

But wot ye who named me first the king's dog?

= "do you know".


It was the rogue Diogenes, that vile grunting hog.

24-25: the popular Greek cynic philosopher Diogenes

Let him roll in his tub, to win a vain praise:

(404-323 B.C.)10 was notorious for his life of extreme asceticism and abusive behaviour. Making his home in Athens, Diogenes famously lived in a large open barrel (tub), and was referred to contemptuously as a "dog".29
     The Elizabethan playwright John Lyly would make Diogenes one of the main characters of his c.1580 play Campaspe.


In the court pleasantly I will spend all my days;

Wherein what to do I am not to learn,

27: ie. "where I don't have to study how to behave".13


What will serve mine own turn I can quickly discern.

= ie. "be beneficial to me".

All my time at school I have not spent vainly,


I can help one: is not that a good point of philosophy?

= ie. one man, meaning himself.


Here entereth Carisophus.

Entering Character: Carisophus represents one of the oldest character types, the parasite; a parasite does not hold a job, or work per se, but depends on the largess of others to support him. Typically, a Parasite will run errands for wealthy men, and receive a meal in return.
     Carisophus receives his rewards directly from King Dionysius, and until recently had been the king's favourite; however, Aristippus, since his arrival, has supplanted Carisophus in this position.


Caris.  I beshrew your fine ears, since you came from

34: beshrew = curse.
         school = ie. philosopher's academy; the real
     Aristippus studied under Socrates.23

In the court you have made many a wise man a fool:


And though you paint out your feigned philosophy,

= demonstrate.

So God help me, it is but a plain kind of flattery,

= ie. "in reality an obvious".


Which you use so finely in so pleasant a sort,

= manner.2

That none but Aristippus now makes the king sport.


Ere you came hither, poor I was somebody;

= "before you arrived here (at court)".

The king delighted in me, now I am but a noddy.

= fool.


Arist.  In faith, Carisophus, you know yourself best,

= the sense is, "I didn't say it, you did".


But I will not call you noddy, but only in jest.

And thus I assure you, though I came from school

45-54: Aristippus points out that his style of service to the king is different from Carisophus': whereas the parasite plays the clown for Dionysius, he (Aristippus) regales him with a more sophisticated wit.


To serve in this court, I came not yet to be the king's fool;

Or to fill his ears with servile squirrility.

= occasionally used alternate spelling for scurrility,
     ie. buffoonery or coarseness of language.1


That office is yours, you know it right perfectly.

= position, job.

Of parasites and sycophants you are a grave bencher,

= respected judge or magistrate.1,4


The king feeds you often from his own trencher.

= plate or dish, often made of wood.1,4

I envy not your state, nor yet your great favour −


Then grudge not at all, if in my behaviour

I make the king merry with pleasant urbanity,

= sophisticated wit or sense of humour.1


Whom I never abused to any man's injury.

54: Aristippus has never hurt anyone with his brand of


Caris.  By Cock, sir, yet in the court you do best thrive,

= common euphemism for "by God".

For you get more in one day than I do in five.

= ie. gold, as a reward for his service to the king.


Arist.  Why, man, in the court do you not see

59-68: Aristippus defends his position as the king's favourite: in this new era, a refined and urbane wit is more likely to be rewarded.


Rewards given for virtue to every degree?

= people of all ranks.

To reward the unworthy − that world is done:

63: ie. no longer is baseness or depravity recompensed.


The court is changed, a good thread hath been spun

62-63: a good thread…heretofore = a sewing metaphor for the improved tone of the court: up till now, an inferior brand of entertainment, represented by the presumed coarseness of wool made from dog's hair, has been dominant.

Of dog's wool heretofore; and why? because it was liked,

= ie. enjoyed by all.


And not for that it was best trimmed and picked:

64: the metaphor continues: "and not because the thread of dog's hair - ie. the coarse humour of the past - was of the best quality."
     trimmed and picked = trimmed could refer to the use of dog's wool to make ribbons and the like for ornamentation; picked could refer to the ease with which dog's wool can be combed.1

But now men's ears are finer, such gross toys are not set by;

65: finer = more sensitive.1
     such gross…set by = such coarse jesting or foolishness is no longer esteemed (set by).1


Therefore to a trimmer kind of mirth myself I apply:

= finer.

Wherein though I please, it cometh not of my desert,

= "because I deserve it". Note the absence of a rhyme


But of the king's favour.

     between lines 67 and 68.


Caris.   It may so be; yet in your prosperity

Despise not an old courtier: Carisophus is he,

71: old courtier = Aristippus, fresh out of philosophy school, seems to be a younger man, Carisophus somewhat older.
     Carisophus is he = in the Elizabethan era, characters often spoke of themselves in the third person.


Which hath long time fed Dionysius' humour:

= ie. who.

Diligently to please still at hand: there was never rumour

73: Diligently…at hand = "always nearby, ready to


Spread in this town of any small thing, but I


Brought it to the king in post by and by.

     73-75: there was…by and by = Carisophus reveals his true value to the king: he is Dionysius' informer, letting him know everything that goes on - and every suspicious thing people say - in Syracuse.
     in post = quickly, in haste, as by a courier.1
     by and by = right away.1


Yet now I crave your friendship, which if I may attain,

Most sure and unfeigned friendship I promise you again:


So we two linked in friendship, brother and brother,

Full well in the court may help one another.


Arist.  By'r Lady, Carisophus, though you know not

= "by our Lady", a common oath, and reference to the Virgin Mary. Various characters will use this oath throughout the play.


Yet surely you are a better courtier than I:

= ie. more skilled in the behaviour expected of one
     who attends the king's court.

And yet I not so evil a courtier, that will seem to despise

= ie. "I am not".


Such an old courtier as you, so expert and so wise.

But where as you crave mine, and offer your friendship so


With heart I give you thanks for this your great courtesy:

Assuring of friendship both with tooth and nail,

= ie. in earnest; this still familiar expression originated


Whiles life lasteth, never to fail.

     in the early 16th century.1,3


Caris.  A thousand thanks I give you, O friend Aristippus. 


Arist.  O friend Carisophus.


Caris.  How joyful am I, sith I have to friend Aristippus

= since.


Arist.  None so glad of Carisophus' friendship as I, I make
     God a vow.

I speak as I think, believe me.

97: ie. "I really mean what I said."


Caris.  Sith we are now so friendly joined, it seemeth to me


That one of us help each other in every degree:

Prefer you my cause, when you are in presence,

101: ie. "put in a good word for me with the king when you are with him".
     Prefer = promote.
     in presence = a technical term, meaning in attendance or company of royalty.


To further your matters to the king let me alone in your

102: Carisophus promises to do the same for Aristippus
     when the latter is absent.


Arist.  Friend Carisophus, this shall be done as you would

But I pray you tell me thus much by the way,


Whither now from this place will you take your journey?

106: poetically, "where are you going?"
     whither = to where.


Caris.  I will not dissemble; that were against friendship.

108: "I will not lie to you; such behaviour would not accord with the precepts of friendship."
     The false friendship between our philosopher and parasite stands, of course, in stark contrast to that linking Damon and Pithias.

I go into the city some knaves to nip

109-110: Carisophus is going into town to try to trick


For talk, with their goods to increase the king's treasure −

someone into saying or doing something that would offend the king, in which case the victim could be arrested and punished, leading to the forfeiture of his property to the government's coffers.
     nip = have apprehended or arrested.1

In such kind of service I set my chief pleasure:


Farewell, friend Aristippus, now for a time.


[Exit Carisophus.]


Arist.  Adieu, friend Carisophus − in good faith now,

Of force I must laugh at this solemn vow.

= of necessity.


Is Aristippus linked in friendship with Carisophus?

Quid cum tanto asino talis philosophus?

119: "What has such a philosopher in common with
     such an ass?"


They say, Morum similitudo consultat amicitias;

120: "Likeness of character cements friendship;" the quarto prints consuit for consultat, which the editors correct: Aristippus, assuming he could speak Latin, could be expected, I suppose, to speak it and quote it correctly.
     Many of the Latin expressions in the quarto are surprisingly error-filled. We will assume that the educated characters - Aristippus, Damon and Pithias - could be expected to quote Latin correctly, and will emend their Latin quotations as necessary (as most editors do), but will leave any errors of Latin in place when they are spoken by any of the lower-ranked characters.

Then how can this friendship between us two come to pass?


We are as like in condition as Jack Fletcher and his bolt;

122: ie. "we are as similar as are an arrow and the craftsman who made it."
     Jack Fletcher = a fletcher was a craftsman who made arrows; the name Jack is used generically.
     bolt = arrow.

I brought up in learning, but he is a very dolt

= "I am well-educated".


As touching good letters; but otherwise such a crafty knave,

= "when it comes to learning."

If you seek a whole region, his like you cannot have:

125: "you can seek far and wide, and you will not find
     another (as cunning or devious) as is Carisophus."


A villain for his life, a varlet dyed in grain,

= a complete or pure rogue; dyed in grain was a common expression describing something dyed in colour to an extent that it cannot be washed out, ie. it is ingrained.

You lose money by him if you sell him for one knave, for
     he serves for twain:

127: for = ie. for the price of.
     serves for two = ie. is worth two.


A flattering parasite, a sycophant also,

A common accuser of men, to the good an open foe.

= ie. slanderous informer.


Of half a word he can make a legend of lies,

= ie. out of.

Which he will avouch with such tragical cries,

= swear to be true.


As though all were true that comes out of his mouth.

Where, indeed, to be hanged by and by,

133-4: even if he were to be hanged for doing so, he


He cannot tell one tale but twice he must lie.

     could not tell a tale without lying twice.5

He spareth no man's life to get the king's favour,

135: Carisophus will falsely accuse another man of traitorous behaviour, even if means the latter's death, so long as he (Carisophus) gains the good opinion of Dionysius.


In which kind of service he hath got such a savour

That he will never leave. Methink then that I

= cease (to engage in such behaviour).


Have done very wisely to join in friendship with him, lest
     perhaps I

Coming in his way might be nipped; for such knaves in

= arrested.


We see ofttimes put honest men to silence:

Yet I have played with his beard in knitting this knot:

= "deluded him".4  = "entangling him so with me."


I promised friendship; but − you love few words − I spake
     it, but I meant it not.

= to the audience: "you don't like long speeches."

Who marks this friendship between us two

143-4: to all outward appearances, Aristippus will seem


Shall judge of the worldly friendship without any more ado.

     to be a perfect friend to Carisophus.
         marks = observes.

It may be a right patron thereof; but true friendship indeed

= "perfect example"; patron, a French borrowing, was used in Middle English to mean "pattern".4 However, pattern is the word that appears here in the 1582 edition, and is the word inserted here by later editors.


Of nought but of virtue doth truly proceed.

= "from nothing but", ie. "only from".

But why do I now enter into philosophy


Which do profess the fine kind of courtesy?

I will hence to the court with all haste I may;

= go.


I think the king be stirring, it is now bright day.

To wait at a pinch still in sight I mean,

151: to be always available to the king at a moment's


For wot ye what? a new broom sweeps clean.

152: wot = know.
     a new broom…clean = a new day gives Aristippus a new opportunity to rise even higher in the king's estimation; Walker suggests that Aristippus means that as the newest courtier, he will be the first the king will turn to for entertainment or companionship.
     The maxim is from Heywood's Epigrams (1562): "Newe broome swepeth cleane".

As to high honour I mind not to climb,


So I mean in the court to lose no time:

Wherein, happy man be his dole, I trust that I

= "may his lot in life be one of good fortune", usually
     written as "happy man, happy dole". By his, Aris-
     tippus means "my".


Shall not speed worst, and that very quickly.

= literally "succeed badly", ie. fail.




In Town.

Here entereth Damon and Pithias like mariners.

Entering Characters: Damon and Pithias are two gentlemen from Greece; they have just disembarked from the ship which has brought them to Syracuse. According to the stage direction, they are appareled like sailors, perhaps meaning travelling outfits fit for sea-voyage.


Damon.  O Neptune, immortal be thy praise,

1-2: Damon thanks the god of the seas for their safe


For that so safe from Greece we have passed the seas

passage; note how the Greek character refers to the god by his Roman name rather than his Greek one (Poseidon).

To this noble city Syracusae, where we


The ancient reign of the Romans may see.

4: this is the second time in the play the Romans have been erroneously said to have already controlled Syracuse; see the note at line 35 of the Prologue.

Whose force Greece also heretofore hath known,


Whose virtue the shrill trump of fame so far hath blown.

6: whose power or courage (virtue) the high-pitched

trumpet (shrill trump) has proclaimed so far and wide (so far).


Pith.  My Damon, of right high praise we ought to give

To Neptune and all the gods, that we safely did arrive:


The seas, I think, with contrary winds never raged so;

I am even yet so seasick that I faint as I go;


Therefore let us get some lodging quickly.

But where is Stephano?


Here entereth Stephano.

Entering Character: Stephano is the loyal servant of the two friends; he is carrying all of their luggage at once.


Steph.  Not far hence: a pox take these mariner-knaves;

17-19: Stephano addresses the audience as he enters the stage.
     Not far hence = "I am not far from here."
     a pox…knaves = the classic Elizabethan curse, wishing plague or venereal disease on his masters.


Not one would help me to carry this stuff; such drunken

I think be accursed of the gods' own mouths.

= by.


Damon.  Stephano, leave thy raging, and let us enter

21: Syracusae = pronounced in 4 syllables, so as to
     rhyme with line 22.


We will provide lodging, and thou shalt be eased of thy
     burden by and by.

22: by and by = soon enough - but not because they
     will help him.


Steph.  Good master, make haste, for I tell you plain 

= "please hurry".

This heavy burden puts poor Stephano to much pain.


Pith.  Come on thy ways, thou shalt be eased, and that anon.

= quickly, right away.




In Town.

Enter Carisophus.


Caris.  It is a true saying, that oft hath been spoken,


The pitcher goeth so long to the water that he cometh
     home broken.

2: from Heywood's Proverbs: "...the pot so long to the water goth, / Till at last it commeth home broken."
     Carisophus' point is that he has so often been to the city and tricked people into seemingly confessing crimes which he could report to the king, that no one will talk to him anymore.
     he = ie. it.

My own proof this hath taught me, for truth, sith I

= since.


In the city have used to walk very slyly,

Not with one can I meet, that will in talk join with me, 


And to creep into men's bosoms, some talk for to snatch,

6-7: "and be taken into another man's confidence,4 so
     they will talk openly to me".

By which into one trip or other, I might trimly them catch,

= mistake.4  = neatly.


And so accuse them − now, not with one can I meet

= ie. of treasonous speech.

That will join in talk with me, I am shunned like a devil
     in the street.


My credit is cracked where I am known; but yet I hear say,

10: where people know Carisophus, his reputation is

Certain strangers are arrived, they were a good prey.

= "they would be".


If happily I might meet with them, I fear not, I,

= ie. with a little luck.  = "I have no doubt".

But in talk I should trip them, and that very finely.

= cause them to stumble, ie. fall into his trap.


Which thing, I assure you, I do for mine own gain,

Or else I would not plod thus up and down, I tell you plain.


Well, I will for a while to the court, to see

= "I will go"; note the common grammatical construction of this clause: in the presence of a verb of intent (will), the verb of action (go) is often omitted.

What Aristippus doth; I would be loth in favour he should
     overrun me;

17: doth = is doing.
     I would…overrun me = "I would hate to see Aristippus surpass me with respect to his being in greater favour at the court than I."
     overrun = outrun, overpower.1


He is a subtle child, he flattereth so finely, that I fear me

= ie. "I fear", a common expression.

He will lick all the fat from my lips, and so outweary me.

19: He will…lips = metaphorically meaning Aristippus will steal what is rightfully Carisophus'.
     outweary = exhaust or wear away to nothing, ie. consume.1,4


Therefore I will not be long absent, but at hand,

= ie. from the court.  = close by (to what is happening).

That all his fine drifts I may understand.

= intentions.




In Town.

Here entereth Will and Jack. 

Entering Characters: Will and Jack are the servants of Aristippus and Carisophus respectively.

     The boys are described as lackeys bn the list of The Speakers' Names given at the beginning of the play; the OED definition that most closely resembles the boys' function is "servile follower".


Will.  I wonder what my master Aristippus means


That he leaveth philosophy, and seeks to please

= has abandoned.

King Dionysius with such merry toys:

= trifles or nonsense,1 referring to Aristippus' witti-
     cisms, which entertain the court so.


In Dionysius' court now he only joys,

4: Aristippus now gets his pleasure by attending court.

As trim a courtier as the best,

= fine.


Ready to answer, quick in taunts, pleasant to jest;

A lusty companion to devise with fine dames,

7-8: basically, Aristippus is an agreeable (lusty)1 person


Whose humour to feed his wily wit he frames.

to have around because he is able to shape (devise) his wit in a way that entertains the ladies of the court.


Jack.  By Cock, as you say, your master is a minion:

10: By Cock = common euphemism for "by God".
     minion = court favourite.

A foul coil he keeps in this court; Aristippus alone

= vile or unpleasant fuss.2


Now rules the roast with his pleasant devices,

12: rules the roast = is master of the situation;3 the expression morphed into the more familiar rules the roost in the 18th century.
     devices = fanciful expressions.1

That I fear he will put out of conceit my master Carisophus.

= out of favour, a common expression.1


Will.  Fear not that, Jack; for, like brother and brother,


They are knit in true friendship the one with the other;

They are fellows, you know, and honest men both,


Therefore the one to hinder the other they will be loth.

= would both hate to do.


Jack.  Yea, but I have heard say there is falsehood in

20: there is…fellowship = a common maxim of the

In the court sometimes one gives another finely the slip:

= still common expression meaning "to elude another", here referring to one friend secretly acting in a manner which causes detriment to the other.


Which when it is spied, it is laughed out with a scoff,

And with sporting and playing quietly shaken off:

= some editors emend quietly to quickly.


In which kind of toying thy master hath such a grace,

That he will never blush, he hath a wooden face.

20-25: Jack's point is that Aristippus is highly skilled at dissembling; he is capable of working, deliberately or not, against the interests of others (specifically meaning Carisophus), but if he is found out and confronted, he is a smooth-enough speaker that he can talk himself out of trouble with his accuser, never showing the slightest amount of embarrassment.
     he hath a wooden face = ie. he can keep a straight face.


But, Will, my master hath bees in his head;

= meaning either (1) is irate, upset,3 or (2) projects schemes.12 The OED suggests this common phrase's usual meaning to be having "a fantasy, an eccentric whim, a craze on some point, a ‘screw loose.’", though it does not cite this line. The expression is from Heywood's 1546 Proverbs, "their heads full of bees."

If he find me here prating I am but dead.


He is still trotting in the city, there is somewhat in the wind;

= ie. something going on.

His looks bewray his inward troubled mind.

= betray.


Therefore I will be packing to the court by and by;

= hurry.  = directly, right away.

If he be once angry, Jack shall cry, woe the pie!

31: an expression expressing regret, but the exact meaning may be lost to time; woe the pie is cited in several later collections of proverbs, but without explanation. Modern editors attempt to interpret this expression, but none do so convincingly.


Will.  By'r Lady, if I tarry long here, of the same sauce
     shall I taste,

33: By'r Lady = "by our Lady", a common oath,
         of the same…taste = a nice metaphor for "I'll
     be in trouble too."


For my master sent me on an errand, and bade me make

= instructed.

Therefore we will depart together.




In Town.

Here entereth Stephano.

1-48: unusually, Stephano's speech is not written in two-syllable feet (ie. the ubiquitous iambs, whose pattern is bah-BUM bah-BUM); rather, the lines are comprised of ten syllables, which are broken up into two groups of five syllables, each with the stress pattern buh-BUM-buh-buh-BUM (though in many of the lines an extra sixth unstressed syllable appears either at the end of the first group of five syllables or the end of the line).



Steph.  Ofttimes I have heard, before I came hether,

= ie. hither, to here; throughout this edition, we employ the modern spelling for hither and thither; however, we will use the quarto's alternate 16th century spelling - hether - when it is required to complete a rhyme, as here.


That no man can serve two masters together;

2: commonly cited proverb, from Matthew 6:24: "No ma[n] can serue two masters. For ether he shall hate the one and loue the other: or els he shall leane to the one, and despise the other: Ye can not serue God and mammon." (Coverdale Bible, 1935).

A sentence so true, as most men do take it,

= maxim.2


At any time false that no man can make it:

4: "no one can prove this proverb false;" an awkward
     sentence, written thus to rhyme with line 3.

And yet by their leave, that first have it spoken,

5-6: "yet if those who first spoke this maxim will per-


How that may prove false, even here I will open:

     mit me, I will prove right now that it is not true."

For I, Stephano, lo, so named by my father,


At this time serve two masters together,

And love them alike: the one and the other


I duly obey, I can do no other.

A bondman I am, so nature hath wrought me,

11: "I am a slave by birth".


One Damon of Greece, a gentleman, bought me.

12-13: though Stephano serves both Damon and 

To him I stand bound, yet serve I another,

     Pithias, he is technically owned by the former.


Whom Damon my master loves as his own brother:

A gentleman too, and Pithias he is named,


Fraught with virtue, whom vice never defamed.

= filled, infused.  = sullied the reputation of.

These two, since at school they fell acquainted,


In mutual friendship at no time have fainted.

= weakened.3

But lovčd so kindly and friendly each other,


As though they were brothers by father and mother.

Pythagoras' learning these two have embraced,

21: the 6th century B.C. Greek philosopher Pythagoras was believed to have left his followers a number of maxims which prescribed rules to live by in order to lead a superior life; amongst these were instructions emphasizing the importance of demonstrating loyalty to one's friends.14


Which both are in virtue so narrowly laced,

22: Damon and Pithias are united (laced)1 in virtue.

That all their whole doings do fall to this issue,

23: "that their entire code of conduct comes down to


To have no respect but only to virtue:

All one in effect, all one in their going,

25-26: Damon and Pithias do everything together.


All one in their study, all one in their doing.

These gentlemen both, being of one condition,


Both alike of my service have all the fruition:

Pithias is joyful, if Damon be pleased:


If Pithias be served, then Damon is eased.

= comforted, ie. without worry.

Serve one, serve both (so near), who would win them:

31: if anyone wants to win their friendship, treat one
     well so that you will automatically be a friend to
         so near = so close are they to each other.4


I think they have but one heart between them.

In travelling countries we three have contrived

= spent (in time).3,6


Full many a year, and this day arrived

At Syracusae in Sicilia, that ancient town,


Where my masters are lodged; and I up and down

= ie. Damon and Pithias are relaxing in their lodgings.

Go seeking to learn what news here are walking

= circulating.1


To hark of what things the people are talking.

= listen.

I like not this soil, for as I go plodding,


I mark there two, there three, their heads always nodding,

= note.

In close secret wise, still whispering together.

= in a secretive manner.


If I ask any question, no man doth answer:

But shaking their heads, they go their ways speaking;


I mark how with tears their wet eyes are leaking;

Some strangeness there is, that breedeth this musing.

= causes this thinking or pondering.


Well, I will to my masters, and tell of their using,

= ie. will go.  = this treatment or behaviour.

That they may learn, and walk wisely together:


I fear we shall curse the time we came hether.

= hither, ie. to here.




The Palace.

Here entereth Aristippus and Will. 

Entering Characters: Will is the servant of our gen-

     tleman-philosopher Aristippus.


Arist.  Will, didst thou hear the ladies so talk of me?


What aileth them? from their nips shall I never be free?

= sharp remarks, sarcasms.1,4


Will.  Good faith, sir, all the ladies in the court do plainly

4-5: it turns out that Aristippus is not as popular with the ladies in the court as he thought; they believe Aristippus is too dependent on his ability to make fun of them to entertain the king.

That without mention of them you can make no sport:


They are your plain-song to sing descant upon;

6: literally, "they are the simple musical theme to which you provide the harmony", meaning "they are subject on which you choose to remark or comment."4
     plain-song = a simple melody accompanied by a improvised melody, or descant, which is usually a harmony or counter-point; descant also means "remark" or "comment".1

If they were not, your mirth were gone.


Therefore, master, jest no more with women in any wise;

= manner.

If you do, by Cock, you are like to know the price.


Arist.  By'r Lady, Will, this is good counsel: plainly to jest


Of women, proof hath taught me, it is not the best:

I will change my copy, howbeit I care not a quinch;

= theme, model.2  = "not a bit."1


I know the galled horse will soonest winch:

= a horse afflicted with sores or painful swellings
     (galled) will easily wince or flinch.1

But learn thou secretly what privily they talk

= find out.  = "people are privately saying".


Of me in the court: among them slyly walk,

= about.

And bring me true news thereof.


Will.  I will sir, master thereof have no doubt, for I


Where they talk of you will inform you perfectly.


Arist.  Do so, my boy: if thou bring it finely to pass,

For thy good service thou shalt go in thine old coat at

23: Walker notes this apparent witticism of Aristippus: that Will will not receive the traditional Christmas gift


this year of a new coat, ie. the servant will not be rewarded for performing this task for his master.



In Town.

Enter Damon, Pithias, Stephano.



Damon.  Stephano, is all this true that thou hast told me?


Steph.  Sir, for lies hitherto ye never controlled me.

3: "you have never had to rebuke me for having ever


O, that we had never set foot on this land,

     told a lie.1,4

Where Dionysius reigns with so bloody a hand!


Every day he showeth some token of cruelty,

= evidence.2

With blood he hath filled all the streets in the city:


I tremble to hear the people's murmuring,

I lament to see his most cruel dealing:


I think there is no such tyrant under the sun.

O, my dear masters, this morning what hath he done!


Damon.  What is that? tell us quickly.


Steph.                       As I this morning passed in the street,


With a woful man (going to his death) did I meet.

Many people followed, and I of one secretly

= ie. one of the people.


Asked the cause, why he was condemned to die.

[Who] whispered in mine ear, nought hath he done but thus,

= added by Hazlitt.  = "(the condemned man) had done
     nothing but this:"


In his sleep he dreamed he had killed Dionysius:

Which dream told abroad, was brought to the king in post,

= speedily.2


By whom, condemned for suspicion, his life he hath lost,

Marcia was his name, as the people said.


Pith.              My dear friend Damon, I blame not Stephano


For wishing we had not come hither, seeing it is so,

= to here.

That for so small cause such cruel death doth ensue.


Damon.  My Pithias, where tyrants reign, such cases are
     not new,


Which fearing their own state for great cruelty,

= appears as with, which works a little better, in the
     1582 quarto.

To sit fast as they think, do execute speedily

= ie. as securely.


All such as any light suspicion have tainted.

29-32: it is common for tyrants, who by their nature are suspicious of everyone, to summarily put to death anyone they believe may be a danger to their persons or power.


Steph.  [Aside] With such quick carvers I list not be

34: carvers = usually used to refer to either sculptors or those who cut meat at the table. Walker suggests "butchers".
     list = desire.
     Stephano continues his habit of making humorous asides to the audience.


Damon.  So are they never in quiet, but in suspicion still,

= possessed with peace of mind.  = always.

When one is made away, they take occasion another to kill:

= put to death.


Ever in fear, having no trusty friend, void of all peoples'

And in their own conscience a continual hell they prove.


Pith.  As things by their contraries are always best proved,

= contrasting positions, reasoning from the opposing


How happy are then merciful princes, of their people

= kings.  = by.

Having sure friends everywhere, no fear doth touch them:

= ie. merciful kings.


They may safely spend the day pleasantly, at night securč
     dormiunt in utramque aurem

44: "they sleep securely on either ear;" untramque
     appears as utranque in the 1571 quarto, emend-
     ed by Farmer.

O my Damon, if choice were offered me, I would choose
     to be Pithias,


As I am (Damon's friend) rather than to be King Dionysius.


Steph.  And good cause why; for you are entirely beloved
     of one,

48: of = by.

And as far as I hear, Dionysius is beloved of none.

= by.


Damon.  That state is most miserable; thrice happy are we,

= condition. = a common intensifier.


Whom true love hath joined in perfect amity:

Which amity first sprung − without vaunting be it spoken,
     that is true −

53-54: a probable planting metaphor: "our friendship began - without bragging (vaunting) I can tell this,


Of likeness of manners, took root by company, and now is
     conserved by virtue;

because it is true - from our similarity in behaviour and morals (manners), grew in strength as we spent more time together, and now is firmly maintained (conserved, which also has the sense of "kept alive") by virtue."

Which virtue always through worldly things do not frame,

55: the sense seems to be, "virtue does not bring about
     prosperity through material gain".
         frame = succeed, prosper.1


Yet doth she achieve to her followers immortal fame:

= ie. personified Virtue.

Whereof if men were careful for virtue's sake only,


They would honour friendship, and not for commodity.

= self-interest.1

But such as for profit in friendship do link,

= ie. "those who".


When storms come, they slide away sooner than a man will

60: those who profess to be your friend only out of self-interest will disappear faster than thought itself when you are in trouble, and in need of their support.

My Pithias, the sum of my talk falls to this issue,

= summary.  = conclusion.1


To prove no friendship is sure, but that which is grounded
     on virtue.

= secure.


Pith.  My Damon, of this thing there needs no proof to me,

The gods forbid, but that Pithias with Damon in all things
     should agree.


For why is it said, Amicus alter ipse,

66: "A friend is a second self;" this Latin expression appears frequently in the 16th century; references to one's friend being a second self became common in Elizabethan drama.

But that true friends should be two in body, but one in mind?


As it were, one transformed into another? which against kind

= nature.

Though it seem, yet in good faith, when I am alone,


I forget I am Pithias, methinks I am Damon. 


Steph.  [Aside] That could I never do, to forget myself; full
     well I know,

Wheresoever I go, that I am pauper Stephano: −

= poor;4 a very early use of the Latin word pauper in


But I pray you, sir, for all your philosophy,

     an English language text.

See that in this court you walk very wisely.


You are but newly come hither; being strangers, ye know

= foreigners.  = plural form of you.

Many eyes are bent on you in the streets as ye go:

= directed at.


Many spies are abroad, you can not be too circumspect.


Damon.  Stephano, because thou art careful of me, thy
     master, I do thee praise:

= anxious for.

Yet think this for a surety: no state to displease

81: for a surety = ie. "as a way to reassure yourself".
     81-82: no state…I intend = "Pithias and I have no intention to say or do anything that will offend anyone."


By talk or otherwise my friend and I intend: we will here,

As men that come to see the soil and manners of all men of
     every degree.

83: degree = rank in society.


Pythagoras said, that this world was like a stage,

84-85: there is no authority for suggesting that the common trope of the world being a stage, etc., derived from Pythagoras.
     We find an earlier formulation of this metaphor in Nicholas Udall's 1548 Paraphrase of Erasmus: "ye haue a parte to playe in the stage of the whole worlde". It would be several decades before Shakespeare's more quotable "All the world's a stage, etc." appeared.

Whereon many play their parts: the lookers-on, the sage.

= those who observe are the wise ones.


Philosophers are, saith he, whose part is to learn

The manners of all nations, and the good from the bad to


Steph.  Good faith, sir, concerning the people they are
     not gay,

89: the people = ie. the men and women of Syracuse.
     gay = cheerful.


And as far as I see, they be mummers; for nought they say,

90-91: Stephano comments on the unwillingness of the Syracusans to speak in his presence.
     mummers = actors in dumb-shows or pantomimed scenes.4
     nought they say = "they say nothing".

For the most part, whatsoever you ask them.


The soil is such, that to live here I cannot like.


Damon.  Thou speakest according to thy learning, but I say,

Omnis solum fortis patria, a wise man may live

95: properly omne solum forti patria est: "every soil is a father land to a brave man." From Ovid's Fasti, Bk.   I.493.


Therefore, my dear friend Pithias,

Let us view this town in every place,


And then consider the people's manners also.


Pith.  As you will, my Damon; − but how say you,

Is it not best, ere we go further, to take some repast?

= before.  = get something to eat.


Steph.  In faith, I like well this question, sir: for all your

103-5: the perpetually hungry servant was a recurring
     character in the era's drama.


To eat somewhat I pray you think it no folly;

It is high dinner time, I know by my belly.


Damon.  Then let us to our lodging depart: when dinner is


We will view this city as we have begun.




In Town.

Here entereth Carisophus.


Caris.  Once again in hope of good wind, I hoise up my sail,

1-2: Carisophus employs a sailing metaphor to describe his desire for better luck in finding a new victim for his schemes.


I go into the city to find some prey for mine avail: 

= advantage, benefit.1

I hunger while I may see these strangers that lately

= recently.


Arrived: I were safe, if once I might meet them happily.

4: I were…happily = "my position would be more
     secure, if I could just meet up with them"
         happily = with good luck.

Let them bark that lust at this kind of gain,

5: ie. "those who want to (lust) complain about the
     methods I use to advance myself may do so".
         bark = cry out against.1


He is a fool that for his profit will not pain:

= exert himself.

Though it be joined with other men's hurt, I care not at all:

= combined.  = harm to others.


For profit I will accuse any man, hap what shall.

= happen.

But soft, sirs, I pray you hush: what are they that comes

= "hold on, people, I beg of you, please be quiet!" - Carisophus directly addresses the audience, even suggesting that its members might be "heard" by the other characters, a flagrant breaking down of the "fourth wall".


By their apparel and countenance some strangers they

= bearing.  = foreigners.

I will shroud myself secretly, even here for a while,


To hear all their talk, that I may them beguile.

11-12: a common convention of Elizabethan drama

allowed for a character to hide and eavesdrop unnoticed on others.


Here entereth Damon and Stephano.



Steph.  A short horse soon curried; my belly waxeth thinner,

16: A short…curried = according to the Oxford Reference website,28 the meaning of this 14th century proverb is "A slight task is soon completed." Stephano is referring to his meal, which was over before it had barely begun.
     Curried means "groomed with a curry‐comb". We note that this expression also appeared in Heywood's Proverbs (1546), a much-used source of material for Edwards.
     waxeth = grows.

I am as hungry now, as when I went to dinner:


Your philosophical diet is so fine and small

That you may eat your dinner and supper at once, and not
     surfeit at all.

18-19: King notes that Damon and Pithias, as followers of Pythagoras, eat frugally as the philosopher recommends; those who in literature appear as servants of philosophers (or would-be philosophers such as Damon and Pithias) were forced to suffer the same minimal fare as did their masters, to their perpetual disenchantment.
     surfeit = overindulge in food and drink, overdo it.


Damon.  Stephano, much meat breeds heaviness: thin diet
     makes thee light.

21: Walker notes that heaviness and light mean "dullness" and "bright" respectively. Stephano, in his humorous response, takes these words in their more physical meaning.


Steph.  I may be lighter thereby, but I shall never run the

23: a heavy man who loses weight would grow more
     athletic, but in Stephano's case, if he grows lighter


     from starvation, he will be too weak to move quick-
     ly, and, as King points out, to do his errands.

Damon.  I have had sufficiently discourse of amity,


Which I had at dinner with Pithias; and his pleasant company

Hath fully satisfied me: it doth me good to feed mine eyes
     on him.


Steph.  Course or discourse, your course is very coarse;
     for all your talk

29-30: the puns come on fast and furious: course is used in line 29 to mean (1) the act of running, and


You had but one bare course, and that was pike, rise, and

(2) behaviour or custom; discourse is "conversation", (referring to Damon and Pithias' philosophical discussion) and coarse is "inferior" or "base".1
     In line 30, course refers to a course of food.
     pike, rise and walk = pike, according to Farmer, is pick, hence "your meal consisted of picking at your food, before you rose and departed." Stephano may also be suggesting that the one course of their meal consisted of fish, a pike.

And surely, for all your talk of philosophy,


I never heard that a man with words could fill his belly.

Feed your eyes, quoth you? the reason from my wisdom

33-34: the reason…starveth = Damon's reasoning and assertions are not in accord with Stephano's under-