Hercules, Parts 1 and 2

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Historical Records

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 11v (Greg I.22)
ye 7 of maye 1595 . . . . . . . . . ne . . Rd at the firste ꝑte of herculous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl xiijs


Fol. 12v (Greg I.24)
ye 20 of maye 1595 Rd at hercolas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl ixs
ye 23 of maye 1595 . . . . . ne . . Rd at 2 ꝑ of hercolas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl xs
ye 27 of maye 1595 Rd at j ꝑte of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iil
ye 28 of maye 1595 Rd at 2 ꝑte of herculas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl ijs
ye 12 of June 1595 Rd at the j ꝑt of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl js
ye 13 of June 1595 Rd at the 2 ꝑt of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl ijs
ye 1 of septmbʒ 1595 ————— Rd at j ꝑte of hercvlos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl iiijs
ye 2 of septmbʒ 1595 Rd at 2 ꝑte of hercvlos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijl


Fol. 13 (Greg I.25)
ye 22 of septmbʒ 1595 ————— Rd at j ꝑte of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxjs
ye 23 of septmbʒ 1595 Rd at 2 ꝑt of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiijs
ye 12 of octobʒ 1595 ————— Rd at j ꝑte of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxixs
ye 13 of octobʒ 1595 ————— Rd at 2 ꝑte of herculus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvs
ye 25 of octobʒ 1595 ————— Rd at j ꝑte of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxijs
ye 2 of novmbʒ 1595 ————— Rd at the 2 ꝑt of hercolas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxviijs


Fol. 14 (Greg, I. 27)
ye 24 of novmbʒ 1595 ———— Rd at j herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxs
ye 25 of novmbʒ 1595 Rd at 2 ꝑt of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvjs
ye 18 of desembʒ 1595 . . mr pd . . Rd at j ꝑt of herculos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiijs
ye 6 of Jenewary 1595 Rd at hurculos the j ꝑte . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxs



Payments

For playbooks in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 45v (Greg, I. 86
Lente vnto the company the 16 of maye 1598 to bye }
v boocks of martine slather called ij ꝑtes of hercolus } vijll
& focas & pethagores & elyxander & lodicke wch laste }
book he hath not yet delyuerd the some of . . . . . . }


For apparel in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 47v (Greg, I. 90
lent vnto Thomas dowton the 16 of July 1598 }
to bye a Robe to playe hercolas in the some } xxxxs/
of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . }


For miscellaneous expenses in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 95 (Greg, I. 151)
dd vnto the littell tayller to bye . . . . . }
for the playe of he[c]rcollas the 14 of desembʒ } xxs
1601 the some of . . . . . . . . . . . . }


pd vnto the littell tayller 18 of desembʒ }
1601 for divers thinges for the playe of } vs
hercolas the some of . . . . . . . . . . . . }


Inventories

Philip Henslowe's papers in the Dulwich College Library

List of Properties
See below, Critical Commentary, specifically, Fleay, BCED and Greg II.


List of Playbooks
Greg, Papers (APX. I, art. 1, p. 121, col 2. ll. 188-9)
Under the heading “A Note of all suche bookes as belong to the Stocke, and such as I have bought since the 3d of Marche 1598
1 ꝑt of Hercules
2 ꝑte of Hercoles


Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men offered the two parts of "Hercules" in serial fashion at the Rose playhouse over a nine-month period beginning in May 1595. See Critical Commentary below for claims that the play was also revived in 1598 or later.

Probable Genre(s)

Classical legend Harbage

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

No doubt the traditional resources for stories of ancient mythology and heroic legend provided the narrative material for both parts of the "Hercules" plays. Gurr specifically suggests "Jasper Heywood's translation of Seneca's Hercules Furens " (p. 214, n.41).



References to the Play

It is a good guess that Thomas Heywood was remembering one or more commercial plays featuring Hercules when he referred in "An Apology for Actors" to actions he had seen dramatized. This pair is the only one known now, but of course there could have been others, given the popularity of the Herculean character. See Wiggins below for guesses about the content of the plays based in part on Heywood's comments in the essay.

Critical Commentary

Malone asserted without identifying his evidence that "Hercules" was "written by Martin Slaughter" (p.297, n.7).


Collier also attributed the authorship of both parts to Martin Slaughter (p. 51, n.3). He claimed that the authorship was confirmed "[i]n another part of the Diary" but did not specify which part. Nonetheless, he was most probably thinking of the bulk purchase by the Admiral's men from Martin Slaughter on 16 May 1598 that included "v boocks of martine slather," two of which were "ij ꝑtes of hercolus" (Fol. 45v Greg, I.86). Collier, commenting on that bulk purchase, did not claim explicitly that Slaughter was the original author of the "Hercules" pair (or the others), but he attributed authorial activity by asserting that Slaughter "must again have had them in his hands, perhaps for alteration and addition" (p. 123, n.2).


Fleay, BCED had a different opinion of Martin Slaughter's relationship to the "Hercules" plays. Using the bulk purchase moment as his focus, he declared that Slaughter "had been a sharer with Alleyn in the properties and plays" of the Admiral's men, and he had a "right to plays acted before then [sic.?], but he was certainly not the author of them" (2.303, #166). Stepping thus on Collier's supposition, Fleay offered another, identifying the first part of "Hercules" as "probably [Thomas] Heywood's Silver Age and the second part as "[p]robably Heywood's 'Brazen Age'" (2.304, #167). In his Chronicle History (p. 114), Fleay assigned the following properties in Henslowe's inventory lists to the "Hercules" plays:

for "1 Hercules" (which he considered a forerunner of Heywood's Silver Age):
Iris's head and rainbow ("Ierosses head, & raynbowe" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 117, l. 70)
Cerberus's three heads ("Serberosse iij heades" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 117, l. 73)
the Caduceus ("j Cadeseus" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1., p. 117, l. 74)
Mercury's wings ("Mercures wings" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1., p. 117, l. 80)
for "2 Hercules" (which he considered a forerunner of Heywood's Brazen Age):
the Golden Fleece ("j gowlden flece" (Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 116, l. 63)
the boar's head ("j bores heade" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 117, l. 73)
Hercules's limbs ("Hercolles limes" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 114, l. 25)
the chain of dragons ("j chayne of dragons" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 118, l. 82)

Greg II followed Fleay in identifying these plays with Thomas Heywood's pair, The Silver Age and The Brazen Age, asserting there could be "little doubt." However, like Fleay, he presented no evidence beyond the presumed common subject matter (#'s 71 & 72, p. 175). In Papers, Greg added the following properties to the list generated by Fleay:

for "1 Hercules"
the lion skin ("j lyone skin" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 117, l. 66)
the altar ("j littell alter" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 117, l. 70)
the bull's head ("j bulles head" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 118, l. 83)
for "2 Hercules"
Juno's coat ("Junoes cotte" Greg, Papers, APX. I, art. 1, p. 119, l. 122)


Gurr repeats the assertion of Malone and Collier that Martin Slater (Slaughter) was the author of the two "Hercules" plays (p. 102); he appears to be making their same assumption, namely that the bulk sale of five plays to the Admiral's men on 16 May 1598 was evidence not only that the plays were Slater's property but also his authorial handiwork (in another context, however, Gurr refers to the purchase as "old manuscripts in Slater's possession:" [p. 214, n.41]). Concerning the "Hercules" plays in production, Gurr claims that Thomas Downton "took on Hercules and probably other [Edward] Alleyn parts in 1598" (p. 278), apparently generalizing from Henslowe's payment to Downton of 20s. to buy a robe "to playe hercolas" in July 1598 (see above, Greg, I, 47v). Claiming also that the "Hercules" plays were "planned" as a pair, he offers the opinion that "the twelve labours were divided equally between the two plays" (p. 185). If he is right, the division of properties across the two plays provided by Fleay and Greg do not apply (they thought all of the labors were dramatized in part 1).



Wiggins, Catalogue (#999, #1001), influenced by Heywood's references to one or more "Hercules" plays, follows also the opinion of Collier and Greg in assigning the twelve labors to part 1 of "Hercules" (see #999 for the complications that "fighting monsters ... [offer] ... problems of staging"). Wiggins suggests that part 2 began with the search for the golden fleece and ended with the death of Hercules at the hands of his wife, Dejanira, and the robe she soaked in the blood of Nessus (see #1001 for Wiggins' plot choices based on Henslowe's inventory of properties). Wiggins respects the opinion of Fleay and Greg sufficiently to refer readers to his own entries for The Silver Age (#1645) and The Age of Brass (#1653).

For What It's Worth

The two-part "Hercules" appears to be the oldest of the plays listed in Henslowe's inventory of playbooks, which is dated 3 March 1598. The next oldest play appears to be "The Umers," or The Comedy of Humours (or A Humourous Day's Mirth), which was new on 11 May 1597.

Works Cited

Fleay, Frederick Gard. A Chronicle History of the London Stage, 1559-1642 . 1890. New York: Burt Franklin, 1964.
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposities: The Admiral's Company, 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009



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