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Samuel Daniel's 'Complaint of Rosamond'

  • Ira Clark (a1)


While greatness could not be claimed for Daniel's ‘Rosamond,' it is a moderately complex poem, better and more unified than has been thought. The difficulty is that critics have overlooked the meaning of the celebrated casket. The central section of'Rosamond,’ as indicated by the picture on the casket, is a retelling of the myth of Io in terms of English history in order to inculcate the moral that the sin of lustful prostitution, particularly when adulterous, results in self-metamorphosis into a beast. This transformation occurs despite assurances by a procuress that a god or king can make his own morality and absolve any sin. The central allegorical myth is supported by other moralized myths of lust—those of Neptune and Amymone, Danae and Jove, Atalanta and Hippomenes, and Pasiphae and the bull.



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1 Albion's England VIII.41. See Virgil B., Heltzel, Fair Rosamond, Northwestern University Studies in the Humanities, XVI (Evanston, 1947), 127, for background and immediately subsequent accounts.

3 Rees, p. 39.

4 P. 496. Seronsy sees the casket supporting the historical and moral mirror; I argue that the casket, supported by other myths, is a metaphor of ‘Rosamond.'

5 Pp. 39, 107.

6 Similarities are listed in the new variorum edition of Shakespeare's poems, ed. Hyder E. Rollins (Philadelphia, 1938), especially pp. 425-426, Law's, R. A.Rosamondand Shakespeare,’TSE, XXVI (1947), pp. 4248 , and Seronsy's ‘Origins and Influences,’ pp. 50-51.

7 Image and Meaning; Metaphoric Traditions in Renaissance Poetry, new enl. ed. (Baltimore, 1968), pp. 58-76.

8 See Erwin, Panofsky, Studies in Iconology(Oxford, 1939), pp. 1823 ; Jean, Seznec, Survival of the Pagan Gods, trans. Barbara F., Sessions (New York, 1953), pp. 84121 ; Starnes, T. and Talbert, E. W., Classical Myth and Legend in Renaissance Dictionaries(Cha Hill, 1955), pp. 328 ; Green, R. H., ‘Classical Fable and English Poetry,’ Critical Approac to Medieval Literature, ed. Dorothy, Bethurum (New York, 1960), pp. 110133.

9 Shakespeare's Ovid; Being Arthur Golding's Translation of the Metamorphoses, ed. W. D. Rouse, Carbondale, 1961, repr.

10 See Mario, Praz, Studies in Seventeenth-Century Imagery, 2 vols., London, 1939-19.

11 London, 1585, Ai.

12 Samuel Daniel: Poems and a Defence of Ryme, ed. Arthur Colby Sprague, Cambridge, Mass., 1930, following, however, modern typographical conventions.

13 See Hyginus, CLXIX; Apollodorus's Library II.1.4; and Lactantius Placidus's annotation to Thebaid II.433.

14 The Elegies of Propertius, ed. H. E. Butler and E. A. Barber (Oxford, 1933). Diction- arium Historicum, Geographkum, Poeticum(1553, frequently revised). Benefits are also emphasized by Giraldi, , De Deis Gentium et Multiplex Historia(1548), Lyon, 1565, p. 140.

15 Besides Ovid's Metamorphoses1.583-746, Estienne lists as sources all three great Greek tragedians; also see Hyginus, cxxv; Pausanius, i.xxv, i; Propertius, II.xxviii, xxx, xxxiii, and III.xxii.

16 See Ella, Bourne, ‘The Medieval Wanderings of a Greek' Myth,JEGP, XXIV (1925), 184194.

17 Ovidius Moralizatus, transcribed D. Van Nes (Utrecht, 1962) from the popular version ascribed to Thomas Waleys (1509), pp. 42-44.

18 See 11. 323-326, with the reading of line 325 from Certaine Small Workes(1611) and the 1594 addition after line 602, 11. II 3-119.

19 P. 42. See also Vincenzo, Cartari's Le Imagini colla sposizione degli dei(1556), Venice, 1587, p. 91.

20 Mystagogus Poeticus, or the Muses Interpreter(1647); I cite the third, corrected, and enlarged edition (London, 1653), p. 208.

21 Original, Lyon, 1552; Etnblemata; Handbuch zur Sinnbildkunst des XVI. und XVII. Jahrhunderts, ed. Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schöne (Stuttgart, 1967), p. 1728.

22 Silver Poets of the Sixteenth Century, ed. Gerald Bullett (London, 1947), p. 348.

23 Likely sources are MetamorphosesVIII.136-137, 152-176; Propertius, II.xviii, III.xix, IV.vii, cited by Estienne; Virgil, Eclogue VI, AeneidVI, cited by Natale Conti, see Mythologiae sive explicationumfabularum libri X(Venice, 1581); Hyginus, XL.

24 Annotation, Aeneidvi.14. See Fulgentius's sixth-century commentary, quoted in Mythologici Latini, compiled by Jerome Commelin ([Heidelberg], 1599), p. 188; Thomas Cooper's Thesaurus Linguae Romanae&Britannicae;I refer to the London 1584 edition.

25 Geneahgie Deorum Gentilium Libri, ed. Vincenzo Romano, 2 vols. (Bari, 1951), pp. 167-168. See also Bersuire, p. 125; Natale Conti, pp. 373-374; Golding, dedicatory epistle, 11. 169-170, VIII.174-176; and George, Sandys, Ovid's Metamorphoses Englished Mythologiz'd,&Represented in Figures(Oxford, 1632), p. 289.

26 Henkel and Schöne, pp. 1594-1595.

27 II.xxxii,59-6o.

28 Estienne cites MetamorphosesIV.411, and Horace's ode, III.xvi; Lactantius Placidus's note to ThebaidVI.265, also cites Horace.

29 Fulgentius, p. 173; Conti, p. 74.

30 See Sir Thomas, Elyot, Bibliotheca Eliotae(originally 1538), the repetition in Cooper, and Ross, p. 90.

31 For Wilson, , see English Literary Criticism: The Renaissance, ed. Hardison, O. B. Jr. (New York, 1963), p. 52 ; for Lodge, Elizabethan Prose Fiction, ed. Merritt Lawlis (New York, 1967), p. 338. The tale also inspired the emblematist Corrozet with ‘Omnia subiecta auro(Danae to whom Love brings a plate loaded with money),’ Praz, 1, 91.

32 Possible sources are Hyginus, CLXXXV, and Metamorphosesx.560-680, x being chiefly tales ‘reproving most prodigious lusts,’ Golding, ‘Epistle,’ 214.

33 Pp. 155-156.

34 Laurens van Haecht Goidtsenhoven (Antwerp, 1579), Henkel and Schöne, p. 1600.

35 Pp. 525-526. Ross makes it the pollution of prostitution, p. 49 for 36.

36 P. 483.

37 A. C. Sprague was right to consign to textual notes the 1594 additions to ‘Rosamond,' for reasons besides tedious extension of Rosamond's remorse. The moral mirror for Elizabethans had already been established in myth, and to add conscience-stricken testaments in blood that ‘The spot is foule, though by a Monarch made, / Kings cannot priviledge a sinne forbade’ is superfluous. Furthermore, the addition destroys the original symmetry of the double frame around the plot. In 1592 the outer frame of Rosamond's appearance and departure from the lovesick Daniel, and the inner frame of her background and rise at court, and Henry's final lament, the funeral, and the decay of the tomb form a balanced whole; beginning and ending take up about 150 lines apiece. The addition of twenty-three seven-line stanzas after line 595 more than doubles the size of the concluding frame and disrupts the balance around the mythologizing center rather than lengthens the historicizing plot.

Samuel Daniel's 'Complaint of Rosamond'

  • Ira Clark (a1)


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