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Historical Records

Fol. 21v (Greg 1.42)

ye 22 of June 1596 . . . . . ne . . Res at troye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxxvs
ye 2 of julye 1596 Res at troye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxxxiiijs
ye 7 of julye 1596 Res at troye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxixs
ye 16 of julye 1596 Res at troye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxjs
note: Following the entry of 8 July 1596 for a performance of the second part of Tamburlaine, Philip Henslowe's list of dates and plays was reset to 4 July 1594. Consequently, the third performance of "Troy" has the same day-date as does a performance of "The Wise Man of West Chester," and the accuracy of the 16 July date for the fourth performance is questionable.

Theatrical Provenance

"Troy" apparently belonged to the Admiral's men, who in July of 1596 were performing at the Rose playhouse.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Homer's Iliad is the obvious source of a "Troy" story, but it was of course not the only classical narrative familiar to early modern English poets. In addition to ancient works, though, Elizabethan dramatists had contemporary plays for reference. On this subject, Wiggins, Catalogue #1037 explores the works of Thomas Heywood, as filtered through his Apology for Actors, which variously addresses the story-complex of Troy. Misha Teramura, looking in detail at the repertorial offerings of the Admiral's men in the 1590s, contextualizes "Troy" in terms of early British history and the character of Brute ("Brute," 1598), in whose story "the matter of Britain was intimately and organically joined with the matter of Troy" (p. 128).

References to the Play

None known specifically, but, as is so often the case, had we the texts of plays now lost on the matter of Troy, we would surely find plausible references.

Critical Commentary

Malone makes no comment on "Troy" (p. 298), nor does Collier (p. 75). Fleay, BCED considers the play "[p]robably Heywood's Iron Age (2.304 #182). Greg II thinks the play is possibly Heywood's Iron Age but "more likely perhaps an earlier and shorter version later expanded into the two-part play" that was printed in two parts in 1632 (p. 180, #92).
Sharpe, in the following comment, seems to accept Fleay's claim about the absorption of the "Troy" play into the "Ages" plays of Thomas Heywood: "... we judge from Heywood's Four Ages published in 1611, 1613, and 1632, that he was responsible for Olimpo, Hercules, and Troy" (p. 198). Reinforcing an opinion of the Admiral's men's repertory that he is building to argue for the superiority of the Chamberlain's men's offerings, Sharpe includes "Troy" in a disdainful characterization of the fare performed by the Admiral's men:
the company's plays at court the preceding season had been unfashionable, and its 1596 repertory was disgustingly so to the elegant tastes of such courtiers as Southhampton: Chinon of England based on an outmoded romance; 2 Seven Days of the Week, bourgeois moralizing, and old-fashioned too; I Fortunatus, vulgar folk-lore; Tamar Cam, an imitation of Tamburlaine, itself passé; Phocas, probably somewhat the same type; Valteger and Stukeley, old-fashioned chronicle plays, the former mythical, the latter an old play refurbished; That Will Be Shall Be, an old play, its very title a truism; and Julian the Apostate and Nebuchodonozar, pap for Puritans! If Troy was satirical, its bias would be unpleasant to the ruling party; if not, it was outworn and naïve, suitable for the instruction of the groundlings in a set of stale allusions" (pp. 88-89).
Wiggins, Catalogue #1037, complementing observations about the relevance of Thomas Heywood and his interest in the story-complex of Troy, observes that the repertory of the Admiral's men had a "Troy cycle" in 1599 that "included Troilus and Cressida and two plays about the aftermath" ("Agamemnon" [#1186] and "Troy's Revenge" [#1202]). Noting that these three plays dramatize events at the end of the Troy complex, he muses that "a revival" of a play that dramatized the fall of the city—perhaps this 1596 "Troy"—"would have covered that part of the story."
Teramura perceives a repertorial thread to which the play of "Troy" belongs in the offerings of the Admiral's men (1595-1600) that combined "the Galfridian tradition" of English history and the epics of Homer and Virgil and thus offered "a sweeping yet disjointed survey of Britain's deep mythical prehistory and its earliest legendary rulers" (p. 129).

For What It's Worth

Works Cited

Sharpe, Robert Boies. The Real War of the Theatres. Boston: D. C. Heath & Company, 1935.
Teramura, Misha. "Brute Parts: From Troy to Britain at the Rose, 1595-1600." Lost Plays in Shakespeare's England. Ed. David McInnis and Matthew Steggle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 127–47.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson; Last updated by Rlknutson on 26 September 2022 16:59:21