Palamon and Arcite
John Dryden

Part 3 out of 3

20 434. uncertain place. It is uncertain in the sense that the drunkard
has difficulty in finding it.

21 493. forelays. Awaits before, a survival of an old English compound.

21 495. thrids. Threads, as in the phrase, "threads the mazes of
the dance."

21 498. Saturn, seated in a luckless place. A second reference to
the planet of his nativity and its unlucky position in heaven at the hour
of his birth.

21 500. Mars and Venus in a quartil move. Mars and Venus are
here the planets. When their longitudes differ by 90 they move in a
quartile. It was regarded in astrology as an omen of ill.

23 545. slumbering as he lay. As he lay slumbering. A favorite
inversion with Chaucer.

23 547. Hermes. Lat. Mercury, son of Jupiter. One of his chief
duties, to act as a messenger of Jupiter to carry sleep and dreams to

23 550. sleep-compelling rod. Hermes carried a staff, the caduceus,
given him by Apollo, about which two serpents were twined. Its touch
induced sleep.

23 552. Argus. He had a hundred eyes and was sent by Juno to
guard the cow into which lo had been transformed. He was killed by
Mercury at the command of Jupiter, and Juno transferred his eyes to
the tail of her peacock.

24 573. A labouring hind in show. In appearance a laboring

24 590. Philostratus. In Chaucer written Philostrate, and so in
Shakspere's _Midsummer Night's Dream_, the characters of which
plainly followed Chaucer.


26 10. And May within the Twins received the sun. In May the
sun is in the sign of the zodiac known as Gemini, or the Twins. Dryden
here copies a favorite phrasing of Chaucer, though not used by him
in this particular instance.

26 16. Notice the enjambment,i.e., the overflow of this verse into
the next. It very rarely occurs in Dryden's later poems.

27 34. Style. Pen, from _stylus_.

27 55. Graces. Three sisters, Aglaia (the brilliant), Euphrosyne
(cheerfulness), and Thalia (bloom of life). They were the daughters
of Jupiter and Aurora.

27 58. The sultry tropic fears. At the end of May the sun,
approaching the summer solstice, gives the longest days; hence its

28 78. roundelay. It is technically a lyric in which a phrase or idea
is continually repeated.

28 84. Friday. Named from Frigga, a Teutonic goddess, identified
with Venus. This day of the week among the Latin races is still named
from Venus. Italian, _Venerdi_; French,_Vendredi_.

28 93. Cadmus. He was the son of Agenor, king of Phoenicia. His sister
Europa had been carried off by Jupiter and he suffered from the
consequent jealousy of Juno. While searching for his sister he founded
Thebes, with the aid of Minerva, and was its first king. The legend of
Cadmus indicates the introduction of written language from the East, the
Theban city was. Compare "_Ilium fuit_" of Virgil, Aeneid, Bk. II., 325.

30 153. Our arms shall plead the titles of our love. We will make
good our right to love by strife in arms.

31 165. pawn. Pledge,i.e., each has pledged his faith.

31 182. hopes. Hopes for, syncope.

32 196. foin. To thrust with a weapon, a term used in fencing.
32 228. lively. Bright, like the living green of vegetation.

32 329. the tuneful cry. Compare _Midsummer Night's Dream,_
Act IV., Sc. I.

33 232. goddess of the silver bow. Diana, goddess of the chase,--
her symbol, the crescent moon; hence the silver bow.

33 237. forth-right. Straight forward; an archaism.

33 245. strook. Archaic for struck.

33 258. listed field. A field properly arranged for a tournament.

35 313. quire. Group. This is the proper spelling, not choir; see
Bk. I., v. 41.

35 314. contended maid. The maid contended for.

36 344, 347. In these verses Dryden follows Chaucer, but states the
thought more forcibly. He was undoubtedly glad of the chance to slap
the powers that were.

38 400. share a single bed. Two lovers cannot marry the same

38 414. From out the bars. Beyond the barriers,i.e., out of the lists.

38 415. recreant. Acknowledging defeat.

39 445. degrees. With the seats raised in tiers.

39 461. myrtle wand. The myrtle was sacred to Venus.

39 465. Queen of Wight. Diana, because she was goddess of the

39 467. oratories. Places for prayer.

40483. Sigils. Literally, a seal or sign; here an occult sign or mark
in astrology, another evidence of Dryden's leaning toward that
so-called science, for Chaucer makes no such statement here.

40 498. Idalian mount. Idalium, a town in Cyprus sacred to Venus;
here, as often, confused with Mount Ida.

40 498. Citheron. Cythera, not Citheron, is the island near which
Venus rose from the sea, and a famous seat of her worship. Cithaeron
is a mountain in Boeotia sacred to Zeus.

41 505. Medea's charms. Medea, daughter of Aetes, king of Colchis,
was a famous sorceress of antiquity. She aided Jason to get the
golden fleece, and fled with him. Deserted by him, she subsequently
became involved with Theseus and Hercules, eventually going to Asia.
From her sprung the Medes.

41 505. Circean feasts. A mythical sorceress, who feasted mariners
landed on her shores, and by charmed drinks changed them to swine.
Ulysses spent a year with her, and frustrated her arts.

41 515. bare below the breast. Bare from the shoulders to a point
below the breasts.

41534. scurf. Scaly matter on the surface,--scum.

42 536. knares. Knots on, a tree; an archaism.

42 544. bent. A declivity or slope.

42 558. tun. A huge cask for holding wine, ale, etc.

43 590. overlaid. Lain upon by the nurse to smother it.

44 604. Mars his ides. The Ides of March, the date of Caesar's
assassination. The month was named from the god.

44 607. Antony, Infatuated with Cleopatra, he lost his empire.
Dryden had previously told the story in his best play,_All for Love_.

44 614. geomantic. Pertaining to geomancy, the art of divining
future events by means of signs connected with the earth. The figure
here represents two constellations, Rubeus, which signifies Mars
direct, Puella, Mars retrograde.

44 616. direct... retrograde. The motion of a planet is direct
when it seems to move from west to east in the zodiac, and retrograde
when its apparent motion is reversed.

44 623. Calisto. Properly Callisto, one of Diana's nymphs. Jupiter
loved her and changed her to a bear to escape the notice of Juno;
but the latter discovered the ruse, and caused Diana to kill the bear.
Thereupon Jupiter transferred her to heaven as the constellation of
Arctos, in which is the pole-star.

44 631. Peneian Daphne. Daughter of the river-god Peneus.
Loved by Apollo and pursued by him, she prayed for assistance,
and was changed into a laurel tree. Thenceforth the laurel became
Apollo's favorite tree.

44 634. Calydonian beast. A huge boar sent by Diana to devastate the
territory of Aeneus, king of Calydon in Atolia, because he had not paid
her due honor. Theseus, Jason, Peleus, Telamon, Nestor, all the famous
heroes gathered to destroy the beast, and with them the swift-footed
maiden Atalanta. Her arrow gave the first wound. The story is
exquisitely told by Swinburne in Atalanta in Calydon.

44 635. Aenides. Meleager, son of Aeneus, who actually killed the
boar. He loved Atalanta and gave to her the head and hide of the
animal as a trophy. Jealously attacked by his uncles, he slew them.
At his birth, the fates had prophesied his death when a certain brand
upon the hearth should have burned. Thereupon his mother plucked
it from the fire, quenched it, and put it away. Angered by the death
of her brothers, she throws this brand upon the fire. It is consumed,
and Meleager dies.

45 639. The Volscian queen. Camilla, an Amazon, allied with
Turnus in his strife with Aeneas in Italy. She was treacherously
killed by Aruns, while pursuing a fleeing enemy. As Aruns was
stealthily withdrawing, he was slain by an arrow, fired by one of
Diana's nymphs.

45 654. Lucina. The name given to Diana as one of the goddesses
who presides at childbirth.

45 661, 662. Inserted by Dryden, a satirical reference to the wretched
Whig poets then in favor, and to his own removal from royal patronage.


47 28. juppon. A light coat worn over armor, reaching to mid-thigh
and finished in points at the bottom.

47 31. Pruce. Prussia.

47 35. jambeux. Armor for the legs, from the French _jambe_, leg.

47 39. Lycurgus. King of Thrace; he persecuted Bacchus, and
was made mad by that god. In his madness he slew his son under the
impression that he was cutting down vines. The country now produced
no fruit, and the inhabitants carried the impious king to Mount
Pangaeus, where he was torn to pieces by horses.

48 63. Emetrius. A creation of Chaucer's whom Dryden follows.
Notice the poet's unusual representation of an Indian prince with fair
complexion and yellow hair.

48 88. Upon his fist he bore. It was customary in the time of
Chaucer to hunt with tame falcons, which were carried perched upon
the wrist when not after quarry.

49 99. So Bacchus through the conquered Indies rode. Bacchus,
a son of Jupiter, was the god of wine. His birth and up-bringing were
attended with dangers bred by the jealousy of Juno. When full grown,
Juno drove him mad, and in this state he journeyed over the earth.
He spent several years in India, introducing the vine and elements of
civilization. It was on his return that he was expelled from Thrace by

49 103. prime. Early morning, the first hour after sunrise.

49 109. harbinger. One who provides or secures lodgings for another,
from the Old French herbegtsr, whence harbor.

49 120. Phosphor. Light bringer, from phos and phero.

49 124. preventing. With the literal significance of the word, coming
before,i.e., he rose before day.

50 134. Thy month. May referred to as the month of Venus, since
it is, in the poets, particularly a season for love-making.

50 145. gladder. Thou who makest glad.

50 146. Increase. Offspring of Jove.

50 147. Adonis. A beautiful youth, loved by Venus, with whom he
spent eight months of the year. When he was killed by a boar, so
great was the sorrow of the goddess, that the deities of the nether
world allowed her to possess him for half of each year.

51 164. Notice the force of Palamon's request. He cares not so
much for glory of conquest as for the delights of possession. His
prayer is answered, for, though conquered, he eventually weds Emilia.

51 168. your fifth orb. The heavens werel supposed to consist of
concentric hollow spheres called orbs, and the sun, moon, stars, and
planets moved in their respective orbs, the planet Venus in the fifth.

51 169. clue. Thread.

51 172. And let the Sisters cut below your line. The sisters are the
three Fates. Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis held it, and
Atropos cut it. Palamon is willing that the Fates end his life, if they
will first allow him to enjoy love.

51 191. Cynthia. Another name for Diana, from Mount Cynthus,
her birthplace.

51 193. Vests. Vestments, robes.

52 200. Uncouth. Literally, unknown, hence strange.

52 205. Well-meaners think no harm. Compare the famous epigram
adopted by the Order of the Garter: "_honi soit qui mal y pense_"
(shamed be he who thinks evil of it). This order was founded during
Chaucer's life, and this sentiment may have been in his mind.

52 208. mastless oak. Oak leaves without acorns,i.e., without the
fruit, hence an appropriate garland for a maid.

52 212. Statius. A Latin author who died 96 A.D. Among his
works was an heroic poem in twelve books, embodying the legends
touching the expedition of the Seven against Thebes.

52 231. Niobe. She was the mother of seven sons and seven
daughters, and so thought herself superior to Latona, who had given
birth to only two, Apollo and Diana. To avenge their mother, they
slew all of Niobe's children with their darts. Hence the "devoted"
children, i.e., devoted to death.

53 231. gust. The sense or pleasure of tasting, hence relish; more
common form, gusto.

53 232. thy triple shape. Diana is often confused with Hecate, a
most mysterious divinity. Hecate is represented with three heads and
three bodies, and possessed the attributes of Luna in heaven, of Diana
on earth, and of Proserpina in the lower world.

53 238. frowning stars. If the stars at her birth were such and so
placed that they boded ill, they might be said to frown.

53 250-260. The omen foretells the event. One altar seems extinguished
and then relights when the other goes out entirely. So Palamon seems to
fail, but eventually wins Emilia after the death of Arcite.

54 290. planetary hour. This was the fourth hour of the day.

54 291. heptarchy. A rule by seven. It refers here to the seven
great gods, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Mars, Vulcan, Apollo, Mercury.

55 297. Hyperborean. Beyond the North. Applied originally to a
blessed people who dwelt beyond the north wind.

55 320. Vulcan had thee in his net enthralled. Vulcan, the husband
of Venus, once discovered improper relations between her and
Mars, and he entrapped the guilty pair in the meshes of an invisible
net and exposed them to the laughter of the gods. This passage would
appeal to the taste of Dryden's Restoration readers, and is developed
with a light grace, characteristic of the period.

55 325-332. In these verses the poet brings out the character of
Arcite, a more mannish man than Palamon.

56 355, 356. Arcite prays for victory; nothing else will satisfy. He
obtains his prayer, but loses Emily.

57 389. trined. An astrological term, meaning that the planets
Saturn and Venus were distant from each other 120 , or one-third of
the zodiac, a benign aspect.

57 390. with stern Mars in Capricorn was joined. Both Mars and
Saturn were in the sign of the zodiac, Capricorn.

58 401. watery sign. The so-called watery signs of the zodiac
were Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. When Saturn is in one of these
signs, look out for shipwreck.

58 402. earthy. The so-called earthy signs were Taurus, Virgo,
and Capricornus. When Saturn is in one of these signs, look out for
the dungeon.

58 408, 409. Though these verses are taken from Chaucer, they
fitted Dryden's times and sentiment; for he had seen his own king,
James II., ousted from his throne and supplanted by William and
Mary. He was not in sympathy with the Revolution.

58 410. housing in the lion's hateful sign. Saturn in the sign Leo
was regarded as baleful.

58 411. This verse is Dryden's own, and contains satirical reference
to Whig disloyalty at the time of the Revolution of '88.

58 418. pestilence. Both Chaucer and Dryden had experienced
great plagues in London, the Black Death in the fourteenth century
and the Great Plague of 1665.

58 432. gladded. Made glad.

59 452. morions with their plumy pride. A helmet with a crest of

59 453. retinue. Here accented on the penult.

59 459. palfrey. A small horse in contrast with the mighty war horse.

59 463. clowns. The peasants, the common people.

60 480. double-biting axe. Two-edged battle-ax.

60 489. Armed cap-a-pe. From head to foot. From the old
French, _de cap a pie_.

60 497. king-at-arms. The chief of the heralds, an important
office in the Middle Ages.

61 512. The turney is allowed but one career. The two bands of
knights shall rush together on horseback but once.

61 516. at mischief taken. Caught at a disadvantage.

63 569. equipage. So well equipped.

63 590. justling. An archaism for jostling.

64 603. Hauberks. A part of mail armor, originally intended to
protect neck and shoulders; later it reached to the knees.

65 669. the rightful Titan failed. The Titans were the six sons
and six daughters of Ccelus and Terra. One of them, Saturn, indignant
at the tyranny of his father, dethroned him with the others' aid.
The Titans then ruled in heaven with Saturn at their head. A prophecy
to the effect that one of his children would dethrone him caused him
to swallow each one as it was born; but Jupiter was concealed at his
birth and grew to manhood. He compelled Saturn to disgorge his
brothers and sisters, and in company with them waged a ten years' war
against the Titans. They were overcome and hurled to the depths
below Tartarus, while Jupiter usurped the throne of heaven.

66 697, 698. A touch of light satire in Chaucer which Dryden repeats
with gusto, for it tallied well with the sentiments of his day.

67 709. lanced a vein. The sovereign remedy in the olden time
was blood-letting.

67 726. charms. They played an important part in medical practice,
not only in Chaucer's time, but later even than Dryden.

68 750. leech's cares. Leech was a common name for doctor.

68 755. breathing veins nor cupping. Two different methods of
bleeding. To breathe a vein was to open the vein directly. To cup
was to apply the cupping glass, which, being a partial vacuum, caused
the flesh to puff up in it, and then the lancet was used.

68 772. against right. Arcite is said to have gained Emily against
right, because Palamon, having seen and loved her first, had priority of

72 877 Aegeus. According to the generally accepted legend,
Aegeus, Theseus' father, had died when Theseus returned from Crete,
years before.

72 889, 890. These verses are an insertion by Dryden, and are another
reference to the change of dynasty at the Revolution of 1688,
when James II. was dethroned, and William, Prince of Orange,
succeeded him.

72 898. conscious laund. Knowing lawn or glade, i.e., the spot that had
been familiar with their first encounter. Laund is, of course, an archaism.

72 905. Sere-wood. Modern form, searwood, wood dry enough to
burn well.

72 905. doddered oaks. Oaks covered with dodder, that is, with
parasitic plants, and therefore dead or dying.

72 908. Vulcanian food. Food for fire, Vulcan being the god of

73 940. master-street. Main street of the town.

74 953. Parthian bow. The Parthians were famous bowmen.

74 955. fathom. A fathom is a measure of six feet.

74 956. strowed. Archaism for strewn.

75 998. wakes. A wake is, literally, an all-night watch by the body
of the dead, sometimes attended by unseemly revelry. Here it refers
to the celebration of funeral rites for Arcite.

75 1007. Theseus held his parliament. Theseus is reputed to
have introduced constitutional government in Attica.

76 1031. The principle of the indestructibility of matter, a result
of scientific investigation, which in Dryden's time was attracting
much attention.

76 1039. suborn. To procure by indirect means.

77 1076. vegetive. Growing, having the power of growth.

78 nil. annoy. Annoyance.

79 1114. while we live, to live. To live happily while life lasts.

79 1144. Eros and Anteros. Both different names for the god of
love, Eros signifying direct, sensual love, and Anteros, return love.

79 1146. long-attending Hymen. Hymen, the god of marriage,
had waited long to consummate this match.

80 1154, 1155. This couplet is original with Dryden, and forms a


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