CAST OF CHARACTERS
The Olympian Gods and Goddesses
Jupiter, king of all the gods. He is often called Jove.
Juno, queen of the gods.
Apollo, god of music, medicine, and the Sun.
Bacchus, god of wine and revelry.
Diana, goddess of hunting and chastity. An alternate name for Diana is Phoebe.
Mars, god of war.
Mercury, Jupiter’s messenger.
Neptune, ruler of the seas.
Pallas, goddess of war and wisdom. Pallas is Pallas Athena, whose Roman name is Minerva.
Pluto, ruler of the underworld: the Land of the Dead.
Venus, goddess of beauty and sexual passion.
Vulcan, the blacksmith god.
Minor Gods and Goddesses
Pan, god of flocks and herdsman.
Faunus, god of fields.
Silvanus, god of forests.
Saturn, god of agriculture.
Pomona, goddess of orchards and gardens.
Flora, goddess of flowers and gardens.
Até, goddess of discord.
Clotho, one of the Fates. She spins the thread of life.
Lachesis, one of the Fates. She measures the thread of life.
Atropos, one of the Fates. She cuts the thread of life. When a person’s thread of life is cut, the person dies.
The Muses, protectors of the arts.
A Nymph of Diana.
Rhanis, a nymph.
Paris, a shepherd, son of King Priam of Troy.
Colin, a shepherd.
Hobbinol, a shepherd.
Diggon, a shepherd.
Thenot, a shepherd.
Oenone,a nymph, at one time beloved by Paris.
Helen,wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. The most beautiful woman in the world.
Thestylis, a mortal woman beloved by Colin.
Cupids, Cyclopes (plural), Shepherds, Knights, etc.
The valleys and woods of Mount Ida, near Troy, in Asia Minor.
In this culture, the word “wench” was not necessarily used negatively. It was often used affectionately.
A nymph is a nature spirit who looks like a beautiful young woman. They live in natural settings such as woods.
In George Peele’s play, Até is confused with her mother, Eris, the goddess of strife. It was Eris who brought the golden ball (aka the golden apple) to the wedding of the mortal Peleus and the nymph Thetis, parents of Achilles, and caused strife.
George Peele’s play concerns the Judgment of Paris, in which Paris, Prince of Troy, judges a beauty contest among three goddesses: Venus, Juno, and Pallas. He choses Venus, causing Juno and Pallas to accuse him of bias, an accusation that leads to him being put on trial and judged by some male gods.
After the play concludes, Paris travels to Sparta, from which he runs away with Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. She, of course, becomes known as Helen of Troy.
Check out Peter Lukac’s excellent elizabethandrama.org edition of the play here:
Até, the goddess of discord, speaks now to you, the reader of this book. Consistent with her character, she regards you as a damned soul:
“Condemned soul, from lowest hell and the deadly rivers of the infernal Jove — Pluto, ruler of the Land of the Dead — where bloodless ghostly souls in pains of endless duration fill ruthless, pitiless ears with never-ceasing cries, behold, I, Até, have come to this place, and I bring in addition the bane of Troy!”
She held up a golden apple and said, “Behold, the fruit of fate, torn from the golden tree of Proserpine, goddess of vegetation!
“Proud Troy must fall, so the gods above have ordered, and stately Ilium’s lofty towers must be razed and torn down by the conquering hands of the victorious foe.”
Ilium is another name for Troy.
Atécontinued, “And King Priam’s younger son, the shepherd youth, Paris, the unhappy organ of the Greeks, must die.”
Paris, Prince of Troy, is the organ or agent of the Greeks in that he is the reason the Greeks will make war against the Trojans.
“King Priam’s Trojan palace must be laid waste with flaming fire, whose thick and foggy smoke, piercing the sky, must serve as the messenger of sacrifice, to appease the anger of the angry heavens.
“When the gods on Mount Olympus see the smoke of burning Troy, they will know that what was fated to happen has been accomplished.
“So, averse to and weary of her heavy load, and surcharged with the burden that she will no longer sustain, the Earth complains to Pluto, ruler of the hellish Land of the Dead.
“So many dead will lie on the plains of Troy that the Earth will complain to Pluto, who will then receive the dead’s ghostly souls into the Land of the Dead.
“The three Fates, who are impartial daughters of Ananke, goddess of Necessity, will be her aides in her petition complaining about the deaths of so many people in such a short period of time during the fall of Troy.
“And so the twine that holds old Priam’s house, the thread of Troy, Dame Atropos with her knife cuts asunder.”
The three Fates commanded the pulse of life; they controlled human life. Clotho spun the thread of life. Lachesis measured the thread of life, determining how long a person lived. Atropos cut the thread of life; when the thread was cut, the person died.
Até continued, “Done must be the pleasure of the powers above, whose commands men must obey, and I must perform my part in the valleys around Mount Ida.
“Lordings, adieu. Imposing silence for your task, I end my speech, until the just assembly of the goddesses makes me begin the tragedy of Troy.”
Até exited with the golden apple.
— 1.1 —
Pan, Faunus, and Silvanus, with their attendants — a shepherd, a hunter, and a woodman — stood and talked together.
Pan’s shepherd had a lamb, Faunus’ hunter had a fawn, and Silvanus’ woodman had an oak bough laden with acorns. The animals and the oak branch laden with acorns were gifts.
All of them were here to welcome three goddesses who were expected to appear soon: Juno, Pallas, and Venus.
Pan, Faunus, and Silvanus, however, were afraid that they had arrived later than they ought to in order to greet the goddesses. Pan was afraid that either Flora, the goddess of flowers and gardens,or Faunus had made them arrive late.
“Silvanus, either Flora does us wrong, or Faunus made us tarry all too long, for by this morning mirth it would appear that the Muses or the three goddesses are near,” Pan said.
The Muses are goddesses of the arts.
“My fawn was nimble, Pan, and dashed madly about,” Faunus said. “Happily we caught him up at last — he is the fattest, fairest fawn in all the woods where game animals live.I wonder how the knave could skip so fast.”
“And I have brought a twagger — a fat lamb — for the occasion, a bunting — plump — lamb,” Pan said. “Please, touch it — you will feel no bones. Believe me now that I am much mistaken if ever Pan has felt a fatter lamb than this.”
One characteristic of these gods (and the goddesses) is that they often spoke of themselves in the third person.
Silvanus said, “Sirs, you may boast about your flocks and herds that are both fresh and fair, yet Silvanus has walks in the woods, truly, that stand in wholesome air, and, look, the honor of the woods, the gallant oaken bough, I do bestow as a gift, laden with acorns and with mast enough!”
Mast is food such as nuts; in this case, the acorns.
“Peace, man, for shame!” Pan said. “Quiet! We shall have both lambs and dames and flocks and herds and all, and all my pipes to make the glee and mirth; we don’t meet now to brawl and quarrel.”
Pipes are wind instruments that can be made from wood or reed.
“There’s no problem, Pan,” Faunus said. “We are all friends assembled hither to bid Queen Juno and her companions most humbly welcome hither. The presence of Diana, mistress of our woods and goddess of the hunt, will not be lacking. Her courtesy to all her friends, we know, is not at all scanty. Her consideration for her friends is abundant.”
— 1.2 —
Pomona, goddess of orchards, arrived with her gift of fruit.
She said, “So, Pan, you have traveled no farther than this, and yet you had a head start on me? Why, then, Pomona with her fruit comes in good time enough, I see.
“Come on a while; like friends, we venture forth with the bounty of the country.
“Do you think, Faunus, that these goddesses will accept our gifts kindly and value them?”
“Yes, doubtless,” Faunus answered, “for I shall tell thee, dame, it is better to give a thing, a token of love, to a mighty person or a king than to a rude and barbarous peasant who is bad and basely born, for the gentleman gently takes a token of love that often the peasant will scorn.”
“You say the truth,” Pan said.“I may say that to thee because I myself have given good plump lambs to Mercury, to Phoebus Apollo, and to Jove. And to a country lass, indeed, I have offered all their dams — ewes — and played my pipe and prayed to no avail to get the lass, and fruitlessly I have ranged about the grove.”
Pomona said, “God Pan, your kissing in corners is what makes your flock so thin, and makes you look so lean.”
“Well said, wench,” Pan said affectionately, “but you mean some other thing.”
The “some other thing” is more advanced than kissing.
“Yeah, jest it out until it go alone,” Pomona said.
“Go it alone” indicates independent action. Pomona may have meant 1) “… jest it out until you are the only one laughing,” or 2) “… jest it out until you begin having sex with yourself by masturbating.”
“But marvel where we miss fair Flora all this merry morn,” Pomona added. “Make jokes all you like, but where is Flora?”
“I have some news,” Faunus said. “Look, and you can see where she is. She is coming.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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