Jean Robertson (ed.), The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia: The Old Arcadia (First Edition)
pg xvGENERAL INTRODUCTION
Edmund Molyneux, secretary to Sidney's father, stated that Sidney began to write his Arcadia soon after his return from his embassy to Germany in June 1577: 'not long after his return from that journey, and before his further employment by her majesty,1 at his vacant and spare times of leisure (for he could endure at no time to be idle and void of action), he made his book which he named his Arcadia'.2 Sidney's dedicatory letter makes it abundantly clear that the Old Arcadia was very much the Countess of Pembroke's book, 'done only for you, only to you'; and 'being done in loose sheets of paper, most of it in your presence, the rest by sheets sent unto you as fast as they were done' strongly suggests that most of it was written whilst he was staying with his sister at Wilton. George Carleton was the only one of the contemporary elegists who refer to the Arcadia to mention that it was written at Wilton.3 Much of John Aubrey's gossip about Sidney and his sister is doubtless unreliable, but there was probably some truth behind the anecdote told him by his great-uncle, Thomas Browne: 'he was often wont, as he was hunting on our pleasant plains, to take his table-book out of his pocket, and write down his notions as they came into his head, when he was writing his Arcadia (which was never finished pg xviby him).'1 Sidney was at Wilton in August, September, and December 1577, and he might have begun his Arcadia during these visits: but the evidence points to the composition of the bulk of the story when he was at Wilton and Ivy Church from March to August 1580.
Neither Thomas Moffet's attempt to suggest that all Sidney's imaginative works were adolescentia,2 nor Thomas Howell's complaint in his Devises (1581), in a rather cryptic poem 'Written to a most excellent book, full of rare invention', that 'all too long thou hid'st so perfect work',3 need be taken to imply that the Old Arcadia was completed in the 1570s. Howell's general hyperbole is consonant with the interpretation that to keep the work from circulation for a moment after its completion was an unjust deprivation of the reader. There must have been some authority for the statement in the title of the Phillipps MS. (though this copy of the Old Arcadia was made after Sidney's death) that the work was 'made in the year 1580'.4 When Sidney was back at Leicester House, he wrote to his brother Robert on 18 October 1580: 'My toyful book(s) I will send with God's help by February.'5 Whether Sidney wrote book or books,6 the reference must surely be to the Old Arcadia, written in five books or acts. David Hume of Godscroft, a member pg xviiof the Earl of Angus's train, records that after the death of his uncle Morton, Angus retired to England, where he was
honourably entertained by the bountiful liberality of that worthy queen Elizabeth … [and received] love and favour both from her Majesty's self, and her Councillors and Courtiers that then guided the state; such as Sir Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester), Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary; and more especially, he procured the liking of him who is ever to be remembered with honour, Sir Philip Sidney I mean; like disposition, in courtesy, of nature, equality of age and years, did so knit their hearts together, that Sir Philip failed not (as often as his affairs would permit him) to visit him, in so much that he did scarce suffer any one day to slip, whereof he did not spend the most part in his company. He was then in travail, or had brought forth rather (though not polished and refined it as now it is) that his so beautiful and universally accepted birth, his Arcadia. He delighted much to impart it to Angus, and Angus took as much pleasure to be partaker thereof.1
Morton was brought to the scaffold at Edinburgh on 2 June 1581, and Angus left London in August 1582.2 When, therefore, Fulke Greville wrote to Walsingham in November 1586 about the proposal to print 'Sir philip sydneys old arcadia': 'I haue sent my lady yor daughter at her request, a correction of that old one don 4 or 5 years since which he left in trust with me …',3 it seems clear that 'don 4 or 5 years since' must refer to the date of the completion of the Old, Arcadia. If we bear in mind the successive revisions revealed by the extant Old Arcadia manuscripts, the evidence suggests that the first draft was more or less completed by the spring of 1581, and that Sidney continued to tinker with his transcript during 1581–2, before starting to rework his story as the New Arcadia.
It is impossible to say when Sidney began to write poetry,4 but some of the poems included in the Old Arcadia may well have been pg xviiiwritten before the story took shape. The earliest reference to his interest in poetry is in the opening line of the poem addressed to him by Melissus (Paul Schede, librarian to the Elector Palatine) after Sidney's visit to Heidelberg in 1577:
- Sydnee Musarum inclite cultibus.1
Melissus may have encouraged Sidney's interest in experimental verse forms, including quantitative metres;2 but he had obtained some rules on the application of quantity to English verse drawn up by Thomas Drant, who died in 1578.3 These rules are first mentioned in October 1579 by Spenser in his letter to Harvey,4 and it is only in this year that there is any firm evidence of Sidney's own poetic activity.5 On 14 January 1579, when he was with Hubert Languet at Ghent, Daniel Rogers addressed a long Latin poem to Sidney, beginning with an elaborate tribute to Queen Elizabeth and the ladies of the Court, which leads to the suggestion that Sidney's and Dyer's poetic gifts were more fitted to celebrate them than his own.6Later in the same poem Rogers refers to the discussions on law, pg xixreligion, and moral philosophy that Sidney was sharing with Dyer and Greville. He does not say so, but the 'happy blessed Trinity'1may well have been writing verse as well. By the spring of 1579 Spenser had probably entered the service of Leicester; and between April and December 1579 he was writing, or at any rate revising, some of the eclogues of The Shepherds' Calendar.2 It is true that pastoral was the recognized form in which a young poet should try his wings; and, despite the eye-catching references to the 'familiarity' in which Dyer and Sidney were good enough to hold Spenser in the Spenser/Harvey correspondence, it may also be true that Sidney and Spenser 'never became well acquainted and never had any really serious discussions of the technicalities of their craft'.3Yet it surely seems likely that the experiments of the two poets in using continental verse forms and rustic or archaic words for pastoral eclogues were not made in entire ignorance of each other's labours, seeing that they were both resident in Leicester House in 1579. When Sidney retired to Wilton in the spring of 1580, he may already have had the nucleus of his four sets of Eclogues with their prose links; for by the end of the year he had nearly completed the first draft of his story.
The Spenser/Harvey correspondence makes it abundantly clear that in the matter of writing English verses in classical metres Spenser was the rather inefficient pupil; nor does he show Sidney's understanding of such continental forms as the sestina. On the other hand, his pervasive and continued use of an 'old rustic language' may have encouraged Sidney in his few experiments of this kind;4 and pg xxhis qualification to his tribute to the unnamed author of The Shepherds' Calendar may be thought to be somewhat disingenuous: 'That same framing of his style to an old rustic language I dare not allow; since neither Theocritus in Greek, Virgil in Latin, nor Sannazaro in Italian, did affect it.'1
Its title alone indicates that Sidney's work has some relation to Sannazaro's Arcadia; and this collection of eclogues with short prose links is clearly the model for Sidney's four sets of Eclogues that 'mingled prose and verse'.2 But for the story that he wrote for his sister, in which these Eclogues are interludes, he turned to another imitation of Sannazaro, the Diana of Montemayor, a prose romance with songs inserted. Sidney's debt was widely recognized and frequently acknowledged by readers of the New Arcadia. It is seen also in the Old Arcadia, where, however, the structure seems to reflect the influence of Gil Polo's continuation rather than Montemayor's work, not only in the division into five books, but also in the didactic opening of each book, and in the grouping and function of the poems.3
The Old Arcadia, in 'Five Books or Acts', is a tragicomedy, with a serious double plot and a comic underplot, based on a Terentian structure of exposition, action, complication, reversal, and catastrophe (with an unexpected anagnorisis and peripeteia at the end).4 In Book I Sidney sets the action in motion with Basilius's retirement to the country in order to avoid the disasters foretold by the oracle; the princes arrive in Arcadia, and adopt their disguise in order to get access to Basilius's daughters, with whom they have fallen in pg xxilove. In Book II the action develops, Gynecia and Basilius both falling in love with Pyrocles, disguised as the Amazon Cleophila. In Book III the complication consists of Musidorus's stratagem to get rid of Dametas and family, so that he can elope with Pamela, and Pyrocles's stratagem to get Gynecia and Basilius into bed with each other, whilst he enjoys a night with his beloved Philoclea. Book IV contains the complete reversal of the fortunes of the princes: Pyrocles and Philoclea are discovered by Dametas; Basilius is apparently dead; and Pamela and Musidorus are captured. Book V presents the catastrophe in Euarchus's condemnation of Gynecia and the princes to death, with the denouement and consequent happy ending in the restoration to life of Basilius.
In addition to having this classical five-act structure, the Italian plays of the early sixteenth century frequently contained intermezzi between the acts. This may have encouraged Sidney to include eclogues in his tragicomedy; but he integrated them far more firmly into his main structure.1 Ringler concludes that 'Sidney produced in prose a pastoral tragi-comedy before the earliest examples of the genre, the Aminta and Pastor Fido of Tasso and Guarini, were available in print'.2
Into this pastoral world Sidney introduced, though with a good deal of refinement, some of the themes of the chivalric romances. For his central situation he went to the Amadis de Gaule,3 and based the adventures of Pyrocles and Musidorus in Arcadia on those of pg xxiiAgesilan and his cousin Arlanges in Book XI of the Amadis. Agesilan falls in love with a picture of Diane, and Arlanges later falls in love with Cléophile; they go to the court of Diane disguised as female minstrels called Daraïde and Garaye. Agesilan, still disguised as Daraïde, arrives at the court of Galdap, where both King Galinides and Queen Salderne fall in love with him, just as Basilius and Gynecia fall in love with Pyrocles disguised as the Amazon Cleophila. Sidney drew also on the story in Book VIII concerning Amadis de Grèce, who, disguised as the Amazon Néreïde, woos Niquée; she, because of a prophecy, has been immured by her father, Soudan Basilique, who falls in love with Néreïde. Musidorus's disguise as the shepherd Dorus, in order to be near Pamela, may be compared with that of Florisel, who becomes a shepherd in order to woo Silvie in Book IX. The stratagem of Pyrocles, whereby Basilius spends the night with his own wife, is a variation of a stock theme;1 and many of the reported adventures of Sidney's heroes that occurred before they set foot in Arcadia are common romance material, found in Malory and Ariosto, whom Sidney would seem to bracket together: 'I dare undertake Orlando Furioso, or honest King Arthur, will never displease a soldier.'2
Like Ariosto, Sidney interjects addresses to the audience,3 and uses the technique of breaking off his narrative—in fact Sir John Harington invokes Sidney's practice in the Old Arcadia in his rebuttal of the censures of Ariosto:
One, that he breaks off narrations very abruptly, so as indeed a loose unattentive reader will hardly carry away any part of the story: but this doubtless is a point of great art, to draw a man with a continual thirst to read out the whole work, and toward the end of the book to close up the pg xxiiidiverse matters briefly and cleanly. If Sir Philip Sidney had counted this a fault, he would not have done so himself in his Arcadia.1
Doubtless Ariosto's two pairs of lovers became the model for the later prose romances, and perhaps we should note Orlando Furioso, Canto XXII, where two men disguise themselves as women to get access to their ladies; but, with Amadis de Gaule in front of him, Sidney had no cause to collect these details from Ariosto.2
Both the later books of Amadis de Gaule and the Diana drew material from Heliodorus's An Aethiopian History. In the New Arcadia Sidney not only added episodes from this source, but also recast his narrative on Heliodorus's interlocking pattern; but even in the Old Arcadia there is some direct influence. The story of Amasis and his stepmother in the Second Eclogues runs on the same lines as Cnemon's tale of the wicked devices of his stepmother Demaenete and her maid Thisbe in An Aethiopian History; but because the tale is linked with a sleeping potion and a trial,3 it seems highly probable that Sidney drew also on Apuleius's tale, in Book X of The Golden Ass, of a stepmother who tries to seduce her stepson, who attempts to flee; the frustrated stepmother turns against him, and prepares poison; her own son drinks it and dies. She complains to her husband that the stepson had tried to seduce her, and that when he failed, he poisoned her own son. The father begs the justices to condemn his son to be stoned to death; but the truth emerges at the trial, where the poison turns out to have been a sleeping potion, much as the effect of Gynecia's potion wears off, and Basilius is restored to life after sentence of death has been passed on Gynecia and the princes.4
pg xxivThe Golden Ass may also have been Sidney's model for the way in which he switches from the serious troubles of his main personages to the farce of the deceptions practised by Musidorus on Dametas, Miso, and Mopsa, so that he can elope with Pamela. After his complaints in the Defence of Poesy against the lack of decorum in tragicomedies, Sidney goes out of his way to justify Apuleius's practice:
But besides these gross absurdities, how all their plays be neither right tragedies, nor right comedies, mingling kings and clowns, not because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clown by head and shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decency nor discretion; so as neither the admiration and commiseration, nor the right sportfulness is by their mongrel tragicomedy obtained. I know Apuleius did somewhat so, but that is a thing recounted with space of time, not represented in one moment.1
In spite of the moral benefits that Sidney claimed could be derived from reading Amadis de Gaule,2 neither it nor the Greek romances had any real ethos behind the sentiment and the emotion.3Nevertheless, the faithful loves of Theagenes and Chariclea provided Sidney with an example of the edifying nature of imaginative literature, and he regarded An Aethiopian History as a heroic poem, though written in prose: '… For Xenophon who did imitate so excellently as to give us effigiem justi imperii, the portraiture of a just empire under the name of Cyrus, as Cicero saith of him, made therein an absolute heroical poem. So did Heliodorus in his sugared invention of that picture of love in Theagenes and Chariclea, and yet both these wrote in prose'.4 Here it is bracketed with Xenophon's Cyropaedia, which Sidney goes on to praise for giving a 'feigned example' that has more force to teach than the true Cyrus in Justin.5 pg xxvThe description of the upbringing and education of Pyrocles and Musidorus would seem to owe something to Xenophon's account of the early training of Cyrus; and it is possible that the idea of introducing a political theme into his romance derived from his early reading of Xenophon.1
The basis, however, for the moral and political ideas in the Old Arcadia is to be found in the Ethics and Politics of Aristotle. Sidney's education in statecraft can be traced in the correspondence with Languet; and its Aristotelian foundation is apparent. On 22 January 1574 Languet advised him next after the sacred scriptures, 'to study that branch of moral philosophy which treats of justice and injustice'.2 Sidney replied on 4 February 1574 that he only wished to learn as much Greek
as shall suffice for the perfect understanding of Aristotle. For though translations are made almost daily, still I suspect they do not declare the meaning of the author plainly or aptly enough; and besides, I am utterly ashamed to be following the stream, as Cicero says, and not go to the fountain head. Of the works of Aristotle, I consider the politics to be the most worth reading; and I mention this in reference to your advice that I should apply myself to moral philosophy.3
Later, he is able to hand on the torch to his brother:
I think you have read Aristotle's Ethics; if you have, you know it is the beginning and foundation of all his works, the good end [to] which every man doth and ought to bend his greatest actions, …4
Aristotle may be the foundation of Sidney's moral and political philosophy, as he feigns notable images of virtues and vices, or what else, with delightful teaching, in order to show the consequences of Basilius's foolish relinquishment of his duties to his dukedom, and the civil dissensions that arise from his supposed death; but it must never be forgotten that he set out to produce a story rather than a treatise. The events recounted in the Old Arcadia are the 'imaginative groundplot of a profitable invention', and the moral and political reflections arise from them. As Bacon remarked in another context: pg xxvi'Nevertheless in many the like encounters, I do rather think that the fable was first and the exposition devised than that the moral was first and thereupon the fable framed.'1 However, John Hoskyns attributed the fact that 'Men are described most excellently' in the New Arcadia in the first place to Sidney's study of Aristotle:
… he that will truly set down a man in a figured story must first learn truly to set down a humour, a passion, a virtue, a vice, and therein keeping decent proportion, add but names and knit together the accidents and encounters. The perfect expressing of all qualities is learned out of Aristode's ten books of moral philosophy, but because, as Machiavelli saith, 'Perfect virtue or perfect vice is not seen in our time', which altogether is humorous and spirting, therefore the understanding of Aristotle's Rhetoric is the directest means of skill to describe, to move, to appease, or to prevent any motion whatsoever; whereunto whosoever can fit his speech shall be truly eloquent. This was my opinion ever, and Sir Philip Sidney betrayed his knowledge in this book of Aristotle to me, before ever I knew that he had translated any part of it, for I found the two first books Englished by him in the hands of the noble, studious Henry Wotton, but lately; I think also that he had much help out of Theophrastus's Imagines.2
Hoskyns goes on to praise Sidney's method of portraying characters with 'ever a steadfast decency and uniform difference of manners observed'. In the Defence of Poesy Homer, Virgil, Xenophon, Heliodorus, Terence, and others, are praised for their creation of characters in similar terms; and I think we can accept Hoskyns's suggestion that Sidney was using the rhetorical figure of effictio (a branch of energia) in order to portray such minor exemplary personages as Philanax, Timautus, and even Euarchus, whose very names indicate that they represent particular qualities. We may even concede that Mopsa remains bounded by 'proud, ill-favoured, sluttish simplicity', and Dametas by 'fear and rudeness with ill-affected civility'; but the six main characters in the Old Arcadia are not constructed on such a frigid pattern.3
pg xxviiSidney may have turned from Aristotle to Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus for his reflections on virtue and reason, beauty and love;1 and the conception of justice and harmony in Book V of the Old Arcadia may ultimately derive from the Republic;2 but much of Sidney's Platonism probably reached him through such works as Castiglione's The Courtier and Elyot's The Governor.
The exaltation of poetry over philosophy and history in the Defence of Poesy is in part special pleading, for Sidney advised his brother Robert, when reading such historians as Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, 'to note the examples of virtue or vice, with their good or evil successes, … the enterings and endings of wars, and therein the stratagems against the enemy … '. He goes on to advise his brother, especially when dealing with philosophers, who sometimes embark on religious or legal discussions in the middle of their ethical or political discourses, to classify his notes under different heads, 'And so, as in a table, be it witty word, of which Tacitus is full; sentences, of which Livy; or similitudes, whereof Plutarch, straight to lay it up in the right place of his storehouse'.3 If Sidney kept such a table-book himself, it would account for the eclectic nature of the reflective comments and illustrations in the Old Arcadia.
In addition to Greek and Roman authors he also read the continental historians and political theorists. In Venice he obtained copies of Guicciardini's La Historia d'Italia (1569),4 Contarini's and Donato Giannotti's treatises on the Republic of Venice;5 but he told his brother that little wisdom could be gathered from the provinces of Italy, 'excepting Venice, whose good laws and customs we can hardly proportion to ourselves, because they are pg xxviiiquite of a contrary government, there is little there but tyrannous oppression and servile yielding to them that have little or no rule over them.'1 It is not, therefore, surprising to find that the views on monarchical government and 'mixed rule' expressed in the Old Arcadia are in line with the accepted Tudor doctrine on the hierarchy of government, as found in the works of such writers as Sir Thomas Elyot and Sir Thomas Smith.2
Sidney had, of course, ample opportunity for imbibing Languet's opinions, and some of this experienced statesman's reflections in his private letters found their way into the Old Arcadia.3 As the doubt over the attribution of the Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos (1579)4 indicates, many of Languet's convictions were shared by Duplessis-Mornay; and no doubt it was through Languet that he and his wife became close friends of Sidney when they came to England in April 1577 for eighteen months. Although Duplessis-Mornay's Traité de la vérité de la religion chrestienne was not published until 1581, Sidney may have seen it in manuscript, or discussed its contents-to-be with Duplessis-Mornay, before he wrote the final pages of the Old Arcadia.5 In Chapter xi of his treatise Duplessis-Mornay opposes to the conception of fortune, chance, or destiny, the belief that 'God governeth the world and all things therein by providence'. In common with most Elizabethan authors, Sidney permits his characters to rail against the fickleness of fortune; but at the same time one is aware throughout the Old Arcadia of a contrary conviction, culminating in his final verdict that 'all has fallen out by the pg xxixhighest providence', that human affairs are not governed by blind chance.1 Here his phraseology is often close to Duplessis-Mornay's; but this does not mean that he was trying to turn his often light-hearted tale into a Calvinistic treatise.
prose style and diction
It has become increasingly clear that, for all the anti-Ciceronian utterances,2 the model for most Elizabethan prose, including Sidney's, was the highly articulated Ciceronian period.3 Whereas Lyly concentrated on achieving balance and antithesis, the most obvious feature of Sidney's style is parenthesis; sometimes, indeed, his long involved sentences trail off as invertebrates. He is at his best in descriptions and speeches, but his control of his medium tends to falter when it comes to narration. This may be because the seemingly simple art of the story-teller is something that anyone schooled, as Sidney evidently was, in the art of rhetoric (whether Aristotle's, Cicero's, the pseudo-Ciceronian Rhetorica ad Herennium, or Quintilian's) had little opportunity to acquire. Because rhetorical training was originally directed to the spoken, as opposed to the written, word, whenever speeches are required an author is likely to work with the greater assurance. Sidney's speeches are forensic and deliberative (persuasive), and not merely epideictic (ornamental). They are constructed in accordance with Aristotle's principles; and so the arguments Philanax uses to try to persuade Basilius not to retire to the country are adjusted to his hearer's inability to be reasonable, and Pyrocles' arguments to the mutinous mob are adapted to the self-interest of his ignorant hearers. In the trial scene Philanax's oration is built on the method and divisions prescribed for a classical oration, and he shows a self-conscious awareness of what he is doing, but he transgresses against the pg xxxAristotelian principle that forensic oratory should not be directed to arousing the feelings of the audience, and there is a deliberate contrast with Euarchus who (affecting to despise the colours of rhetoric) reaches his verdict by logical reasoning and the application of general principles.1 In these speeches Sidney does not attempt to reproduce the rhythms of colloquial speech; his is a carefully studied style, and his main concern is to accommodate it to the subject-matter. He also attempts to follow Aristotle's emphasis on thought and organization; to offer 'more weight than copy'.2 Yet, although he inveighs against the abuse of eloquence 'apparelled, or rather disguised, in a courtesan-like affectation', Sidney does not write the plain style we might expect from such a theorist. Copiousness3 and eloquence are in fact ever present, manifesting themselves in the use of a wide variety of tropes and figures.4
Hoskyns's Directions on Speech and Style (c. 1600) and Fraunce's The Arcadian Rhetoric (1588) testify to the profit and delight that a contemporary reader could get from the use of rhetorical figures in the Arcadia; and the two authors take their examples from both the poetry and the prose.5 Hoskyns thought that metaphor was 'the best flower growing most plentifully in all Arcadia', and for the benefit of his young student of rhetoric, he marked the metaphors in his copy of the New Arcadia (1590) with an M in the margin. It was certainly one of the features of his style with which Sidney took considerable trouble.6 Hoskyns also comments on Lyly's use of pg xxxiagnominations and droves of similes that 'Sir Philip Sidney would not have his style be much beholding to this kind of garnish'.1 There is no indication that Sidney had read Euphues before he wrote the Old Arcadia, and his use of one, or at the most two, illustrative similes was a matter of individual choice rather than a reaction against Lyly's proliferations. When he did read it, however, his reaction was unreservedly hostile:
Now for similitudes in certain printed discourses, I think all herbarists, all stories of beasts, fowls, and fishes, are rifled up that they may come in multitudes to wait upon any of our conceits, which certainly is as absurd a surfeit to the ears as is possible. For the force of a similitude not being to prove any thing to a contrary disputer, but only to explain to a willing hearer, when that is done, the rest is a most tedious prattling, rather overswaying the memory from the purpose whereto they were applied than any whit informing the judgement already either satisfied, or by similitudes not to be satisfied.2
Whereas most of Lyly's critics objected to the 'counterfeit' nature of his similes, it will be noted that Sidney's objection is to their superfluity. Unlike Lyly or Bacon, Sidney does not use similes to prove anything, but simply for illustration and explanation. This would seem to put him in the Ramist camp, where the function of figures of speech is relegated from persuasion or proof to decoration. However, despite the Dedication to him of de Banos's Life of Ramus (1577), his patronage of Abraham Fraunce and William Temple, and their testimony to his interest, it is to be doubted whether Sidney was really much impressed by the Ramist attempts to simplify the teaching of logic and rhetoric.3 He did not need Ramus to tell him pg xxxiithat all discourse must be soundly based in dialectic. Thomas Wilson in his Art of Rhetoric (1553) had already warned English writers to have logic perfect before looking for profit from rhetoric; and Sidney could truthfully claim to be 'a piece of a logician'.
Some of the past comparisons between the style of the Old and the New Arcadia have been vitiated by the fact that the Old Arcadia passages were not taken from the two latest manuscripts. In practice, little time can have elapsed between the Old Arcadia revisions to which the St. John's College, Cambridge, and the Bodleian Library manuscripts bear witness, and the recasting of the work as the New Arcadia. The process of revision was a fairly constant one, and on small stylistic points sometimes involved the pruning of rhetorical excesses, and sometimes led to greater ornamentation. Broadly, the tendency was in the direction of elaboration, and the distaste and apologies for Arcadianism are generally based on some of the highly wrought passages in the New Arcadia; for one thing, the dramatic presentation of the Old Arcadia makes for more dialogue and less description.
Hoskyns took his examples from the Arcadia because he thought that it contained not only 'all the figures of rhetoric', but also 'the art of the best English'. I would like to think that the latter phrase was intended to embrace Sidney's word usage. Harington noted Sidney's use of triple rhymes; otherwise the only feature commented on by a near contemporary was his use of double epithets, praised by Joseph Hall:
- He knows the grace of that new elegance
- Which sweet Philisides fetch't of late from France,
- That well beseem'd his high-styl'd Arcady,
- Though others mar it with much liberty;
- In epithets to join two words in one,
- Forsooth, for adjectives cannot stand alone;1
Ringler2 thinks that Sidney was following classical rather than continental writers, in that in the Defence of Poesy English is said to be 'particularly happy in compositions of two or three words pg xxxiiitogether, near the Greek, far beyond the Latin, which is one of the greatest beauties can be in a language';1 but he must have been aware of the French precedents. Du Bellay and Ronsard acclaimed these words, and their use had a vast extension in La Semaine of Du Bartas, which Sidney translated.2 Later, Dryden bracketed Sidney and Sylvester, the translator of Du Bartas, together in regretting the use of compound epithets in English:
'tis evident that the English does more nearly follow the strictness of [Latin] than the freedoms of [Greek]. Connection of epithets, or the conjunction of two words in one, are frequent and elegant in the Greek, which yet Sir Philip Sidney and the translator of Du Bartas have unluckily attempted in the English; though this, I confess, is not so proper an instance of poetic licence, as it is of variety of idiom in languages.3
Although it is mainly in his poems, where they achieve a welcome concision, that Sidney uses these compounds, there are a large number of attractive examples in the prose of the Old Arcadia4— though not enough to invite comment to the exclusion of other features. I have been struck in compiling even a rudimentary glossary to the Old Arcadia by the choiceness of his vocabulary. He avoids the frequent use of outlandish terms or Latinisms, but exercises a judicious balance between innovation and conservatism that embraces both 'old rustic' words and importations. The introducer of new verse forms had also to import words such as 'sestina', 'madrigal', 'stanza', to describe them; but Sidney also has a peculiarly happy way of handling the counters of the current sixteenth-century English so as to enlarge their scope or shift their pg xxxivmeanings, and thus a word that has been used by Sidney may never be quite the same again. Many of his innovations have become assimilated into the English language. Dr. Johnson fixed Sidney's work as the boundary beyond which he made 'few excursions', and cited Sidney and Spenser as providing sufficient English words for 'the dialect of poetry and fiction'.1
the nature of the old arcadia
Considering the wide range of sources from which Sidney drew his material, it is not surprising that the Old Arcadia does not readily fall into any one category. Although the Eclogues contain pastoral poems with short prose links in the manner of Sannazaro's Arcadia, and the main story is a prose narrative with interspersed lyrics in the manner of the Diana of Montemayor and Gil Polo, the Old Arcadia is not really a pastoral romance concerned with the celebration and examination of love in an ideal world to which the heroes have retired from the world of chivalry. Arcadia is very far from being such an ideal country; it contains no magic healing centre such as the cave in Sannazaro or the temple of Diana in Montemayor.2 The lady Felicia, who resides in this temple, and to whom the lovers take their problems for resolution, and from whom they receive mysterious predictions of happiness to come, is a development of the benevolent oracle of the Greek romances,3 which, instead of threatening disaster, has 'assumed an almost contrary character and become a symbol of the second chance';4 whereas the oracle which has caused Basilius foolishly to dwell among shepherds, and to make the boorish Dametas guardian of his daughter Pamela, is an oracle of menace on the older pattern of the terrible Greek myths, and it is Basilius's attempts ('menaced by fortune') to evade the fate predicted that bring him and his to near disaster.5 No reproaches whatever are levelled at those who consult the oracle in the Greek prose romances, or directed to the unhappy lovers who resort to the lady Felicia in the Diana, but Sidney makes his disapproval of Basilius's idle curiosity ('in vain to desire to know that of which in pg xxxvvain thou shalt be sorry after thou hast known it') abundantly clear, both in his own voice, and in the unavailing sage counsel of Philanax.1
Sidney, then, has availed himself of a pastoral setting for a story of a very different kind from the Diana. Even pastoral, the lowest of the eight kinds of poetry Sidney lists in the Defence of Poesy, is defended, not by reference to the ideal world portrayed in such works as the Diana,2 but for its ability to comment on moral and political questions.3 This emphasis was determined by Sidney's desire to prove that even the humble pastoral is superior to history and philosophy in its power to teach. As 'the best and most accomplished kind of poetry', the heroical poem carried out this function most efficaciously. Under this heading Sidney included not only the Iliad, the Aeneid, and Orlando Furioso but also such prose works as Xenophon's Cyropaedia, Heliodorus's An Aethiopian History,4 and (with a note of apology) the Amadis de Gaule. Certainly the Old Arcadia is not behind Amadis in moving men's hearts 'to the exercise of courtesy, liberality, and especially courage'. In his discussion of heroic poetry Sidney emphasizes 'the functional rather than the formal aspects of the genre';5 and Aeneas, Cyrus, 'honest King Arthur', and the rest are discussed in terms of the lessons that can be drawn from their noble actions. John Hoskyns's theory of Sidney's construction of characters according to ideal types and the strictest rules of decorum is in line with this emphasis, and it works well enough for some of the minor personages,6 but even in the pg xxxviOld Arcadia the delicate discriminations between Pamela and Philoclea go much further than embodying 'wise courage in Pamela, mild discretion in Philoclea'; and 'respective and restless dotage in Gynecia's love' does scant justice to the near-tragic portrayal of the struggle of this middle-aged wife with her illicit passion. Similarly, the behaviour of the two princes, perplexed by the conflict between reason and passion, falls somewhat short of the exemplary, and in so doing makes them that much more credible as persons.
Yet Sidney makes it quite clear that Basilius ought not to have neglected his duties as a duke; that the princes have done wrong; that Gynecia ought not to have yielded to her guilty passion—but here we should note Sidney's ironic comment when she emerges with an unscathed reputation at the end of the trial scene. Apart from this, and the overthrow of Euarchus's verdict at the end of Book V,1 the Old Arcadia is very 'doctrinable'. Although we should be continually on the alert for his ironic tone, and never forget that he began his story to entertain his sister; and despite his references to the Old Arcadia as 'this idle work of mine', 'but a trifle and that triflingly handled', and 'my toyful book';2 Sidney's discussion of the earlier prose fictions that had provided material for the Old Arcadia leaves little room for doubt that his own story was intended to fulfil the function of heroic poetry.3 There is no need to deny the pastoral element, for Sidney himself allowed of mixed genres:
Now in his parts, kinds, or species, as you list to term them, it is to be noted that some poesies have coupled together two or three kinds, as the tragical and comical, whereupon is risen the tragicomical, some in the like manner have mingled prose and verse, as Sannazaro and Boethius; some have mingled matters heroical and pastoral; but that cometh all to one in this question, for if severed they be good, the conjunction cannot be hurtful.4
pg xxxviiIn the Old Arcadia we shall find all the three kinds of mingling described here. When he comes later to censure 'mongrel tragicomedy', 'mingling kings and clowns, not because the matter so carrieth it, but thrust in the clown by head and shoulders to play a part in majestical matters, with neither decency nor discretion', he exempts Apuleius because he separates his comic episodes temporally from his serious ones.1 In the Old Arcadia the sub-plot of Dametas, Miso, and Mopsa is handled with consummate decency, and the scenes of high farce are always separated from the scenes of equally high tragedy. Its Terentian structure in five books or acts, with eclogues after the first four, perhaps in imitation of the intermezzi of the Italian dramas, but, unlike them, fully integrated into the main plot, underlines the affinities of the work with the mixed (but not mongrel) kind of tragicomedy. It is clear from the words of the oracle at the very beginning that Sidney had planned his five-act drama with extreme care; and he triumphantly carried out his intentions with unflagging execution right through to the final scene.2 This firmness of structure was Sidney's most individual contribution to prose fiction, and had the Old Arcadia rather than the New Arcadia been printed in 1590, we might have been spared some of the long-winded imitations of the seventeenth century, and the criticisms of the Arcadia voiced in the eighteenth century.3
The Arcadia that had most influence on later writers was one that Sidney himself never designed: the hybrid version published in 1593, containing the New Arcadia (1590) and Books III–V of the Old Arcadia with some alterations and additions. Through this version much of the Old Arcadia material reached the public, but few had any knowledge of the story in its original and completed form. The only works of fiction that show any signs of their authors' having seen a manuscript of the Old Arcadia are the pastoral tales of Lodge and Greene, which are of modest length, fairly straightforward in structure, and interspersed with lyrics. They were working together in the 1580s, and Lodge's Forbonius and Prisceria was pg xxxviiipublished with his An Alarum against Usurers (1584), which was dedicated to Sidney. The resemblances to the Arcadia are rather slight,1 and as Prisceria is the granddaughter of Theagenes and Chariclea, one may suspect that Lodge, like Greene, turned to Heliodorus for his story material. Menaphon (1589) is Greene's most Arcadian work.2 It is true that some of the themes are also found in Amadis de Gaule3 and in the Greek romances;4 but in the place of the benevolent oracles of the latter, Greene, like Sidney, has an ambiguous one, the explanation of which, and of the true identities of the characters, by an old crone, narrowly averts the execution of the principal personages. Furthermore, without having seen the Old Arcadia, Greene would hardly have called his heroine Samela, and his two male leads Democles and Doron. Stylistically, Greene is a follower of Lyly, and it was only the posthumous editions, published long after the New Arcadia was in print, that were entitled Greene's Arcadia or Menaphon; the subtitle of the 1589 edition was 'Camilla's Alarm to the Slumbering Euphues'. Similarly, Lodge's Rosalynde (1590) is subtitled 'Euphues' Golden Legacy', and is written in a euphuistic style; although his central plot has some similarity to that of the Old Arcadia,5 and there are minor incidents that recall Sidney's story.6 Both the early dates of these romances by Lodge and Greene, and the nature of the resemblances in total effect and in detail, imply that any indebtedness there may have been was to the Old rather than to the New Arcadia.
We have already seen that Sir John Harington found the Old Arcadia useful in his defence of the Orlando Furioso.7 The way that Sidney's story kept coming into his mind whilst he was translating Ariosto's poem may be illustrated by his comment (on Beatrice's refusal to accept Rogero as a son-in-law until she heard that he had pg xxxixbeen chosen king) that Sir Philip Sidney was well acquainted with this aspiring humour of women—
making in his Arcadia not only the stately Pamela to reject the naked virtue of Musidorus, till she found it well clothed with the title to a sceptre, but even Mistress Mopsa, when she sat hooded in the tree to beg a boon of Apollo, to ask nothing but to have a king to her husband, and a lusty one too; and when her pitiful father Dametas (for want of a better) played Apollo's part, and told her she should have husbands enough, she prayed devoutly they might be all kings: and thus much for the Moral.1
Harington had his own manuscript copy of the Old Arcadia, from which he transcribed two poems into the Arundel Harington MS.,2 and he was well aware that the 1590 edition of the New Arcadia was a different work, distinguishing at one point between the 'first Arcadia' and the 'printed book'.
Abraham Fraunce had the advantage of access to the best of the surviving manuscripts for his numerous illustrations from the Old Arcadia in his The Arcadian Rhetoric (1588).3 George Puttenham's The Art of English Poesy (1589) refers the reader to Sidney, Chaloner, and Spenser 'for eclogue and pastoral poesy'; and elsewhere mentions Sir Philip Sidney's description of his mistress 'in his book of Arcadia', indicating that the two quotations from poems in the Old Arcadia came from a manuscript of the whole work.
Some of the funeral elegies show awareness that Sidney wrote about Arcadia, but little familiarity with the contents of his book.4 Angel Day has ten lines on the pastoral poems 'In sundry metres', with the marginal note 'A book by him penned, called the Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia';5 and George Whetstone gets no further than a reference to
- His Arcadia, unmatched for sweet device,
- Where skill doth judge, is held in sovereign price.
pg xlThis is glossed in the margin 'His Arcadia a book most excellently written'.1 However, Sidney's secretary, William Temple, refers to 'Arcadiae docuit fabrica texta novae',2 thereby implying a knowledge of the existence of the older version. This confirms the impression given by Molyneux that only members of Sidney's immediate entourage had been allowed to see his Arcadia: 'few works of like subject hath been either of some more earnestly sought, choicely kept, nor placed in better place, amongst better jewels than that was; so that a special dear friend he should be that could have a sight, but much more dear that could once obtain a copy of it'.3 Molyneux does not distinguish between the two versions of the Arcadia. No doubt Greville was inspired by a desire to emphasize the greater value of the New Arcadia when he wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham (who endorsed the letter 'november 1586'):
Sir this day one ponsonby a booke bynder in poles church yard, came to me, and told me that ther was one in hand to print, Sir philip sydneys old arcadia asking me yf it were done, wz'th yor honors co[n]s[ent] or any other of his frends, I told him to m[y] knowledge no, then he advised me to give w[ar]ning of it, ether to the archebishope or doctor Cosen, who haue as he says a copy of it to pervse to that end / Sir I am lothe to reneu his memori vnto you, but yeat in this I might presume, for I haue sent my lady yor daughter [Sidney's widow] at her request, a correction of that old one don 4 or 5 years since which he left in trust with me wherof ther is no more copies, & fitter to be printed then that first which is so common, …4
The title of the Phillipps Manuscript contains the suggestion that copies of the Old Arcadia circulated more freely after Sidney's death: 'emparted to some few of his frends in his lyfe time and to more sence his vnfortunat deceasse'. Further copies besides this manuscript may have been made in the period 1586–90, but after the publication of the New Arcadia 'no incentive would have remained to justify the enormous labour of copying by hand some pg xli180,000 words'.1 The editor of the 1613 edition of the Arcadia had access to an Old Arcadia manuscript, and referred to it in these terms: 'Thus far the worthy author had revised or enlarged that first written Arcadia of his, which only passed from hand to hand, and was never printed.' This statement was reprinted in all the subsequent folio editions; but thereafter the Old Arcadia itself disappeared from view,2 until Bertram Dobell discovered and described three manuscripts.3
1 Presumably Molyneux refers to Sidney's appointment as Governor of Flushing in 1585; and his statement may be taken to cover both versions of the Arcadia—he does not mention, if he knew, that Sidney began to rewrite his book.
2 Note contributed to Stow's continuation of Holinshed's Chronicles (1587, un-censored version), iii. 1554a. As was noted by Zandvoort, 5, Molyneux may be inaccurate, for he said that Sidney was 'not above one and twenty years old' at the time of the German embassy, whereas he was in fact twenty-two.
- Arcades o saltem, soli cantare periti
- Arcades, o, vestras inter si carmina siluas
- Maiore insonuit calamo: secumque canentem
- Si summo valuit deducere Pana Lycaeo:
- Et quae Maenalio ludebant vertice, Nymphas
- Pembrochia potuit si sistere primus in aula:
- Montibus haec vestris cantabitis Arcades; imis
- Vallibus haec: siluae vobis vallesque loquentes.
Exequiae (1587), L1v–L2.) The poem was reprinted in Carleton's Heroici Characteres (1603).
1 Brief Lives, ed. Clark, ii. 248. In the expanded version in The Natural History of Wiltshire, i. 262, 311, Aubrey simply states that Sidney wrote down the dictates of the Muses 'in his table-book, though on horseback'. Either version is compatible with Sidney's known dislike of hunting; see Sir John Harington, Metamorphosis of Ajax, ed. Donno, p. 108, and Spenser's 'Astrophil', 79–82.
2 Nobilis, ed. and trans. V. B. Heltzel and H. H. Hudson (1940), pp. 73–4. Moffet was anxious to hold up Sidney as an example to his evidently already rakishly inclined nephew, William Herbert. He reports that Sidney favoured burning Astrophil and Stella, and smothering the Arcadia at birth.
3 Ed. W. Raleigh (1906), pp. 44–5. We learn from the rest of the poem that the author is young, the book is learned, and full of pleasant tunes, and though it contains
- Discourse of lovers, and such as fold sheep,
- Whose saws well mixed, shrouds mysteries deep
readers will also learn how useless it is
- To shun high powers that sway our states below
and its circulation would maintain the Countess of Pembroke's name. Devises is dedicated to her. Howell was an old Pembroke servant who had gone with Lady Anne Herbert, daughter of William, Earl of Pembroke, when she married Francis, Lord Talbot, and had returned to Wilton with Lady Katherine Talbot, the previous wife of Henry, Earl of Pembroke. Vague as the poem is, the details fit the Arcadia well enough.
4 What evidence there is suggests that the other extant Old Arcadia manuscripts were not copied before 1580–2.
5 Works, iii. 132.
6 The letter at Penshurst is not holograph; it is impossible to say whether the transcriber intended -e or the abbreviation for -es at the end of book.
1 David Hume of Godscroft, The History of the Houses of Douglas and Angus (Edinburgh, 1644), pp. 361–2.
2 Ibid., pp. 356–7, 367. Sidney again entertained Angus in 1585; Walsingham wrote on 4 September: 'The poor Earl of Angus and Earl of Mar receive here little comfort otherwise than from poor Sir Philip Sidney, so as our course is to alienate all the world from us'; and again on 10 September: 'The burden of the charges of entertaining the Scottish lords will light upon Sir Philip Sidney' (Hamilton Papers, cited by Wallace, 321–2).
3 P.R.O., S.P. 12/195/33, from Ringler's transcript, 530.
4 After surveying the meagre evidence for the years 1572–5, Ringler, xxiii, concludes that 'If he had any interest in vernacular poetry, he kept it to himself. … The men who knew him best on the Continent thought of him as a young man interested in learning and religion; they did not think of him as a future poet.'
1 The poem was not printed until 1586. Dorsten, Poets, 51, takes this line as a tribute to Sidney as a poet, but Buxton, 91, as a reference to his reputation as a patron; cultus will bear either interpretation. Nor should Gabriel Harvey's address to Sidney as one 'In quibus ipsae habitent Musae, dominetur Apollo' (Gratulationum Valdinensium Libri Quatuor (1578), K3v) necessarily be taken literally, 'since he also gave him the attributes of all the other deities of the pantheon' (Ringler, lxi n.).
2 The two men kept in touch for several years (Ringler, xxv).
3 Thomas Drant had addressed adulatory remarks to Sidney in Praesul (1576), and presumably gave him his rules sometime thereafter.
4 Spenser referred to them again in April 1580: Poetical Works of Edmund Spenser, ed. de Selincourt, pp. 612, 635.
5 The Lady of May was composed for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth when she visited Sidney's uncle, the Earl of Leicester, at Wanstead. She was there during 6–16 May 1578, and again on 1–2 May 1579. 'Lady of the whole month of May', and 'Lady of this Dame Maia's month', might be thought to cover the fact that the entertainment took place after 1 May, as it did in 1578, and Ringler prefers the earlier date, as the jog-trot rhythms and nature of the characters suggest that the Old Arcadia had not yet assumed definite form; but this argument could apply equally well to May 1579. Furthermore, the additional final speech of Rombus in the Helmingham/Houghton MS. states that Master Robert of Wanstead 'is foully commaculated with the papistical enormity'. This is more appropriate to 1579, the year of the French marriage negotiations, opposed by Walsingham, Leicester, and Sidney. In May the English Catholics' hopes were high, and attacks on Leicester intensified. Simier had arrived early in January as Alençon's agent, and though he did not inform Elizabeth of Leicester's secret marriage in October 1578 to Lettice Knollys, widow of the Earl of Essex, until July, the intensity of her wrath would be accounted for if she had but recently been offered the homage of the Lady of May. I therefore incline to 1579 as the date of this pastoral entertainment.
6 Lines 51–64; the poem is printed in Dorsten, Poets, 176 ff.
1 OP 6. Greville left England on 14 February (Wallace, 204–7). The claim on the tide-page of Greville's posthumously published Works (1633) that they were 'Written in his Youth and familiar Exercise with Sir Philip Sidney' is untenable for the plays and treatises, which were written after Sidney's death; but may be true of some of the poems in Caelica.
2 It was entered in the Stationers' Register on 1 December 1579. Ringler in Renaissance News, xiv (1961), 159–61, has shown that Spenser first intended to dedicate the work to Leicester, but by October he was asking Harvey whether it were not 'too base for his excellent Lordship', and the title-page finally bore a Dedication 'To the most noble and virtuous gentleman most worthy of all titles both of learning and chivalry M. Philip Sidney'. Although E. K.'s prefatory epistle to Gabriel Harvey is dated 10 April 1579, he draws attention in it to this post-October Dedication to 'Ma. Phi. Sidney, a special favourer and maintainer of all kind of learning'.
3 Ringler, xxxiii–xxxiv.
4 Ringler, xxix, would allow that Spenser influenced the vocabulary of OA 66; I would add OA 29, 64, and 10 (where Sidney, like Spenser on occasion, seems to have turned also to Chaucer). He considers that 'The personal acquaintances most likely to have influenced him as a poet were Thomas Drant, Daniel Rogers, Fulke Greville, Edward Dyer, and Edmund Spenser'. He had not seen Rogers's poems, since printed in Dorsten, Poets; but, as he opined, these Latin commendatory verses can scarcely have influenced Sidney as an English poet. In the case of Greville, it appears that it was he who was influenced by Sidney. Dyer's name was far more regularly linked with Sidney's as a poet; but what little survives of his rather old-fashioned verse makes the praise of Dyer, by Sidney himself, and by others, a matter for surprise.
1 Defence of Poesy (Works, iii. 37).
2 Sidney's words referring to Sannazaro in the Defence of Poesy (Works, iii. 22). Examples of specific imitation of Sannazaro's Arcadia in Sidney's Eclogues are the double sestina (OA 71), the singing match with its triple rhymes (OA 7), and the fictionalized portrait of Philisides (pp. 334–5), which is clearly modelled on Sannazaro's self-portrait as Sincero. See also Kalstone, 9–101, and Davis, Map, 7–22.
4 Ringler, xxxvii–xxxviii.
1 The first three sets of 'pastoral pastimes' are attended by the ducal party as spectators, and on occasion Musidorus and Pyrocles take part in the proceedings; their past exploits are recounted in Eclogues I and II. As Ringler has shown, the first two sets are carefully matched in number and kinds of poems, and each set is related in theme to the book it concludes: the first tells of unrequited love; the second of the struggle between reason and passion; the third, following the consummation of the love of Pyrocles and Philoclea outside wedlock, celebrates the marriage of the honest shepherds Lalus and Kala 'with the consent of both parents'; and the fourth combines elegies for the supposedly dead Basilius with the laments of unrequited lovers.
2 Il Pastor Fido was composed between 1580 and 1590, when it was first printed; but the first performance of the Aminta was given on 31 July 1573 at the Este residence on the Isola Belvedere by the Gelosi Company, who gave a performance of this play in Pesaro in 1574. They were in Venice in February, and again in July, 1574. Sidney was in Venice on both these occasions, and K. M. Lea, Italian Popular Comedy (Oxford, 1934), i. 262, has suggested that he may have seen the Gelosi Company perform; it may even be that he saw them act Aminta. The mythological intermezzi were not included in the early performances; nor, it must be said, does the simple surface tale of Aminta's love for Sylvia have much in common with Sidney's Old Arcadia.
3 This is the form in which he cites the title in the Defence of Poesy, and we can assume that he used one of the editions of the French version.
1 In Book IX of the Amadis Arlande, princess of Thrace, visits Florisel in the garments of his beloved Silvie; but here Sidney is much closer to Heliodorus, i. ix–xvii, where a wife expecting a gallant is visited by her own husband. The most recent account of Sidney's indebtedness to the Amadis is John J. O'Connor's Amadis de Gaule and its Influence on Elizabethan Literature (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1970), pp. 183–201; he adds the parallel in Book VIII to those long recognized in Book XI. A. W. Osborn, Sir Philip Sidney en France (Paris, 1932) should also be consulted.
2 Defence of Poesy (Works, iii. 32). Drummond of Hawthornden reported, rather improbably, that Ben Jonson said that 'Sir Philip Sidney had ane intention to have transformed all his Arcadia to the stories of King Arthur'.
3 This was fairly common form; compare, for example, Sidney's apostrophes to the 'fair ladies' with the addresses to the 'right courteous gentlewomen' in Rich's Farewell to the Military Profession (1581).
1 Sir John Harington, 'Preface to the translation of Orlando Furioso', Elizabethan Critical Essays, ed. G. Gregory Smith, ii. 216–17.
2 F. L. Townsend, 'Sidney and Ariosto', P.M.L.A. lxi (1946), 97–108, concludes that any influence Ariosto had on Sidney was in structure rather than narrative material.
3 There is a rather feeble trial scene in Achilles Tatius's Clitophon and Leucippe, another Greek prose romance that Sidney almost certainly knew. F. A. Yates, 'Elizabethan Chivalry: The Romance of the Accession Day Tilts', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, xx (1957), 4–25, has suggested that Sidney may have been present at Woodstock (Dyer and Mary Sidney were certainly there) in September 1575, when 'The Tale of Hemetes the Hermit', an early example in English of a story combining chivalric and pastoral elements, was presented for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth by Sir Henry Lee, who may have been the author. C. T. Prouty, George Gascoigne (New York, 1942), p. 228 n., points to the possible influence of Heliodorus on this tale.
4 Some of Sidney's proper names occur also in The Golden Ass, and there, too, he may have read the tale of Psyche and Cupid. Ringler (xxiv n.) first drew attention to Sidney's indebtedness to The Golden Ass. The English translation by William Adlington, first printed in ?1569, was dedicated to the Earl of Sussex, Sidney's uncle by marriage.
1 Works, iii. 39–40.
2 'Truly I have known men that, even with reading Amadis de Gaule, which, God knoweth, wanteth much of a perfect poesy, have found their hearts moved to the exercise of courtesy, liberality, and especially courage' (Defence of Poesy, Works, iii. 20).
3 With the possible exception of Longus's Daphnis and Chloe, which is both the only truly pastoral Greek romance and also the only one to combine a love story with the theme of good government; but it had no detectable influence on the Old Arcadia.
4 Defence of Poesy (Works, iii. 10).
5 Ibid. 16–18. Sidney is much indebted to Cornelius Agrippa in the Defence of Poesy, and this example could have come from him; cf. '… Such an example hath Xenophon set out of a Cyrus, not as it was, but as it ought to be, as a resemblance and pattern of a singular good prince' (Of the vanity and uncertainty of arts and sciences, trans. James Sanford (1569)).
1 The Cyropaedia was the principal Greek text in the school curriculum at Shrewsbury. Sidney refers to it in his letter to Languet of 15 April 1574, and in his letter to his brother Robert of 18 October 1580, and mentions it no less than eight times in the Defence of Poesy.
2 Pears, 26.
3 Pears, 28.
4 Works, iii. 124.
1 The Advancement of Learning (J. E. Spingarn, Critical Essays of the Seventeenth Century, i. 8).
2 Hoskyns, 41–2. Sidney's translation of Aristotle's Rhetoric is lost. It is unlikely that Sidney read Theophrastus's Characters, for Casaubon's Latin translation was not published until 1592, and Sidney was not encouraged by Languet to continue his study of Greek. The popularity of character-books in the seventeenth century led other readers besides Hoskyns to approach the Arcadia from this angle; see John Buxton, Elizabethan Taste (London, 1963), pp. 260–1.
3 It was perhaps, in recognition of this fact that Hoskyns added, 'Sir Philip Sidney's course was (besides reading Aristotle and Theophrastus) to imagine the thing present in his own brain, that [h]is pen might the better present it to you.'
1 Brie, 151 f.; Ringler, 468, has drawn attention to echoes of J. Serranus's Introductions to the Symposium and Ion in the Defence of Poesy, and it is possible that Sidney read the Introduction to the Phaedo before he wrote the account of the conversation of Musidorus and Pyrocles on immortality in Book V of the Old Arcadia. These Introductions were printed in H. Stephanus's edition of Plato's Works, a copy of which was sent to Sidney by Stephanus in June 1579.
2 Davis, Map, 137 ff.
3 Letter of 18 October 1580 (Works, iii. 130–1). Plutarch's Moralia was one of Sidney's favourite quarries; other illustrations came from Virgil; but for the bulk of his numerous similes and metaphors from classical mythology in the Old Arcadia Sidney went to Ovid's Metamorphoses, sometimes in Golding's translation.
4 W. Godshalk, 'A Sidney Autograph', The Book Collector, xiii (1964), 65.
5 Works, iii. 81. On 29 April 1574 he began a letter to Languet with a casual reference to Machiavelli (Works, iii. 90).
1 Works, iii. 127; cf. Languet's letter to Sidney of 11 June 1574; 'But nowadays, after your Italian school, we give to vices the names of virtues, and are not ashamed to call falsehood, treachery, and cruelty, by the names of wisdom and magnanimity' (Pears, 78).
2 Although he knew Bodin's Six livres de la République (1576/7)—see Works, iii. 130, and Sargent, 49—there is no need to suppose that in the 'Ister Bank' poem Sidney set out to refute his arguments against 'mixed rule'. Further light is shed on Sidney's reading by his letter to Edward Denny of 22 May 1580 (Sotheby's Catalogue of the Bibliotheca Phillippica, New Series: Seventh Part (1971), No. 1660).
3 Rudenstine devotes his first two chapters to the influence of Languet's letters on the Old Arcadia.
4 Sidney probably read this work and George Buchanan's De Jure Regni apud Scotos (Edinburgh, 1579) whilst he was writing the Old Arcadia; see J. E. Phillips, 'George Buchanan and the Sidney Circle', H.L.Q. xii (1948), 39–45.
5 Later Sidney started to translate Duplessis-Mornay's treatise into English, and then asked Arthur Golding to take it over when he went to the Low Countries (A work concerning the trueness of the Christian religion (1587), sig. 3v). E. M. Tenison, 'Philip Sidney and Arthur Golding's Translation of Duplessis', De la vérité de la religion chrestienne', Elizabethan England, vii (1940), 145–60, considers that Golding was responsible for the whole translation as printed.
1 In writing of pre-Christian Greeks, Sidney availed himself of an accepted convention whereby, although Basilius pays his rites to Apollo, and 'the gods' are vaguely invoked, other references to the 'unsearchable wisdom' of the Almighty give a Christian tone to the theological orientation of his characters.
2 These really belong to the debate on the proper use of imitation, particularly in writing Latin prose. On 1 January 1574 Languet, probably echoing Erasmus, having advised Sidney to improve his Latin style by retranslating Cicero, added 'But beware of falling into the heresy of those who think that the height of excellence consists in the imitation of Cicero, and pass their lives in labouring at it' (Pears, 20). Sidney's letter of 18 October 1580 to his brother Robert is couched in similar terms: 'So you can speak and write Latin not barbarously, I never require great study in Ciceronianism, the chief abuse of Oxford, Qui dum verba sectantur, res ipsas negligunt' (Works, iii. 132).
3 See Wilson, 307–8.
1 See L. Challis, 'The Use of Oratory in Sidney's Arcadia', S.P. lxii (1965), 561–76.
2 P. A. Duhamel, 'Sidney's Arcadia and Elizabethan Rhetoric', S.P. xlv (1948), 134–50, has analysed a passage from Lyly's Euphues and another from the Arcadia on the method recommended by John Brinsley in Ludus Literarius (1612), placing in the left-hand column the themes (inventio), and in the right-hand column the figures. The result is that Euphues is shown to be short of argument, matter, and structure, and to be virtually all ornament; the Arcadia has far stronger arguments and greater structure; but fewer, though more varied, figures, and often of a more extended kind.
3 Erasmus's De Copia was used in grammar schools for exercises in amplification, and once the habit was acquired it would have been difficult to shake off, even if a writer had wanted to—the figure suited the verbal exuberance of the Elizabethans. Sidney may also have been influenced by the ornate style of the Greek romances and the Amadis.
4 Rubel, 156, finds that the figures most frequently used by Sidney are anadiplosis, anaphora, epizeuxis, ploce, prosonomasia, and traductio. I would add paroemia—the use of proverbs; here Erasmus's Adagia proved useful.
5 Most of Fraunce's citations are indicated in the Commentary; but not those of Hoskyns, as he refers to the New Arcadia.
6 For example, on p. 121, 22–3 the earlier OA manuscripts read 'Shall I seek [labour Cl, As] to lay colours over my galled thoughts'; this is altered in St and Bo to 'decayed thoughts'; and finally in NA the metaphor from painting over woodwork to make it look like marble is made even more explicit: 'Shall I labour to lay marble colours over my ruinous thoughts' (Works, i. 260). Cf. p. 93, 19–20, where the earlier OA manuscripts read 'as it were paint out the sharpness of the pain', and St, Bo, and 90 'hideousness', again removing the mixture of metaphors.
1 Cf. Drayton's praise of Sidney in his 'Epistle to Henry Reynolds' because he
- did first reduce
- Our tongue from Lyly's writing then in use,
- Talking of stones, stars, plants, of fishes, flies,
- Playing with words and idle similes.
2 Defence of Poesy (Works, iii. 42–3): cf. AS 3. 7–8:
- Or with strange similes enrich each line,
- Of herbs or beasts, which Ind or Afric hold.
G. K. Hunter (John Lyly: The Humanist as Courtier (1962), p. 287) regards the 'pathetic fallacy' as Sidney uses it as his equivalent for Lyly's simile from natural history. There is a good deal more of sympathetic nature in the New than in the Old Arcadia.
3 See G. W. Hallam, 'Sidney's Supposed Ramism', in Renaissance Papers (1963), pp. 11–20; and Shepherd, 230.
1 Virgidemiarum Sex Libri, vi. i. 255–60 (The Collected Poems of Joseph Hall, ed. A. Davenport (Liverpool, 1948), p. 95). Although the 'elegance' appeared to be new to Hall, compound epithets are to be found in the works of many previous English poets, including Chaucer, and were used by most Elizabethan poets, and with notable success by Spenser and Shakespeare. See the 'Note on Compound Words' in The Poems, ed. J. C. Maxwell (New Cambridge Shakespeare), p. 155; and N. E. Osselton, The Well-Languag'd Poet (Leiden: University Press, 1970).
2 Ringler, liii.
1 Works, iii. 44.
2 The translation is lost; see Ringler, 339. Du Bartas named Sidney, More, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and Queen Elizabeth as the four pillars of the English language in the Second Semaine (1584); see Ringler, lxi. Although King James VI was influenced by Du Bellay, and invited Du Bartas to Edinburgh for a visit which lasted six months, he preferred circumlocution ('Apollo, reular of the Sunne') to 'making a corruptit worde, composit of twa dyvers simple wordis, as Apollo gyde-Sunne' ('Ane Schort Treatise … ' (1584), Elizabethan Critical Essays, ed. G. C. Moore Smith, i. 219).
3 'The Author's Apology for Heroic Poetry and Poetic Licence' (1677), Essays of John Dryden, ed. W. P. Ker (Oxford, 1926), i. 189.
4 B. Groom, 'The Formation and Use of Compound Epithets in English Poetry from 1579', S.P.E. xlix (1937), 295–322, notes their presence in Arcadia as an expected feature of rhetorical prose. Sidney uses most of the grammatical combinations listed by Groom (p. 296). Some examples are: 'promise-breaking attempt' (p. 306, 22); 'death-deserving vice' (p. 290, 25); 'long-painful late-pleasant affection' (p. 288, 28); 'long-exercised virtue' (p. 91, 16); 'hang-worthy necks' (p. 306, 31); 'yearly-used hymn' (p. 134, 6).
1 Preface to Johnson's Dictionary (see E. L. McAdam, Jr., and George Milne, Johnson's Dictionary: A Modern Selection (London, 1963), pp. 18–19).
2 See Davis, Map, chap. 1.
3 See, for example, Heliodorus, ii. 26 and 36.
4 M. M. Lascelles, 'Shakespeare's Pastoral Comedy', in More Talking of Shakespeare, ed. John Garrett (1959), p. 75.
5 As Miss Lascelles remarks, 'the point of these stories seems to be that it is a man's efforts to avert his fate which fasten it upon him'.
1 Sidney refers to the oracle as 'that impiety', and Philanax calls oracles 'these kinds of soothsaying sorceries', and suggests that the heavenly powers ought 'to be reverenced and not searched into, and their mercy rather by prayers to be sought than their hidden counsels by curiosity'.
2 The Diana is one of the few sources for the Old Arcadia that is not even mentioned in the Defence of Poesy.
3 Sidney refers to Virgil's Eclogue i and Mantuan's Eclogue ix; see Works, iii. 22.
5 A. D. Isler, 'Heroic Poetry and Sidney's Two Arcadias', P.M.L.A. lxxxiii (1968), 368–79. The only indication that the Italian debate on the epic and the romance had attracted Sidney's attention is the remark that critics say 'that even to the heroical, Cupid hath ambitiously climbed' (Works, iii. 30). Harington quoted this phrase when answering objections to 'lightness and wantonness' in the Orlando Furioso (Preface, printed in G. Gregory Smith, Elizabethan Critical Essays, ii. 209).
6 See p. xxvi. The phrases in inverted commas which follow are taken from Hoskyns. Dametas and his family fulfil the function of the servants in the comedies of Plautus and Terence. Sidney's broad humour in their delineation is quite foreign to the spirit of the Greek romances and of Sannazaro and Montemayor; it also lacks Shakespeare's sympathy for his humble characters.
2 No doubt this is an example of sprezzatura, the courtly grace which conceals a sober purpose, and is indeed the mark of consummate artistry (see Myrick, 1–45); but these phrases from the Dedication of the Old Arcadia to his sister and from his letter to his brother of 18 October 1580 should also serve as a warning that Sidney did not set out to write a Calvinist treatise on the wretchedness of man, as one might gather from F. Marenco, Arcadia Puritana (Bari, 1968).
3 Sir John Harington refers to the Old Arcadia as a work of exactly the same kind as the Orlando Furioso. Sidney's highly wrought rhetorical prose might be said to be the equivalent of the ottava rima of the Orlando Furioso; but Harington, like Sidney, is emphasizing the function rather than the style of epic.
4 Works, iii. 22.
2 Even such a feature as the sudden switching from one pair of lovers to another may not be youthful incompetence, but rather a deliberate imitation of the technique of Ariosto.
3 This is even more true of the later editions containing not only, as in 1593, Books III–V of the Old Arcadia, but also the Supplement of Sir William Alexander, and the continuation of Sir Richard Bellings.
1 They are assembled in F. L. Beaty, 'Lodge's Forbonius and Prisceria and Sidney's Arcadia', English Studies, xlix (1968), 38–45.
2 See R. Pruvost, Robert Greene et ses romans (Paris, 1938), p. 349; and G. K. Hunter, John Lyly (1962), p. 286. Other works of Greene sometimes cited as Arcadian imitations are Arbasto (1584), Pandosto (1588), and Ciceronis Amor (1589).
3 Book ix could have suggested the wife wooed by a husband under the delusion that she was his mistress; Pruvost, p. 301, gives Amadis as the source of Pandosto.
4 See Wolff, 422–45.
5 E. Greenlaw, 'Shakespeare's Pastorals', S.P. xiii (1916), 122–54, sets out the evidence for Lodge's indebtedness to the Arcadia.
6 For example, the wound received by Rosader in rescuing his sleeping brother from a lion, and the near-capture of Aliena by outlaws. The parallels are assembled in P. A. Burnett, 'Thomas Lodge, Rosalynde (1590): An Annotated Critical Edition' (Oxford B.Litt. Thesis, 1968), pp. lxxi–lxxxvi.
1 Harington, 404, Notes to Canto XLVI. The episode concerning Mopsa occurs at the beginning of Book IV of the Old Arcadia.
2 It is not possible to determine the relationship of Harington's manuscript to the surviving Old Arcadia manuscripts.
4 Arcadia is mentioned several times in Exequiae (1587) and Peplus (1587). Ringler, lxii, comments on the ignorance of the contents of Sidney's story shown by Roydon in his 'Elegy … for his Astrophil'. The possible reference to Arcadia by Jan Dousa the younger (Dorsten, Poets, 101), and the specific reference by Gruterus (J. van Dorsten in R.E.S. xvi (1965), 174–7), which could have been made in Sidney's lifetime, are equally applicable to the Old or the New Arcadia.
5 Upon the Life and Death of … Sir Philip Sidney (n.d., ent. 22 February 1587), A3v.
1 Sir Philip Sidney (n.d., ent. 15 June 1587), B2; see T. C. Izard, George Whetstone (New York, 1942), p. 287.
2 Academiae Cantabrigiensis Lachrymae (1587), p. 85.
3 Holinshed, Chronicles (1587, uncensored version), iii. 1554a; see also pp. xv ff. There are indications of possible associations with the Sidney or Pembroke family circles in some of the surviving manuscripts.
4 P.R.O., S.P. 12/195/33, from Ringler's transcription (p. 530). That a copy had already been submitted for licensing indicates how narrowly the Old Arcadia escaped printing.
1 Ringler, 367. We now know of nine copies of the complete Old Arcadia, and a study of the relationships of the surviving manuscripts indicates that at least four more copies existed in the sixteenth century.
3 The discovery was announced in The Athenaeum, 7 September 1907; and the manuscripts were described and discussed in 'New Light upon Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia', Quarterly Review, ccxi (1909), 74–100.