Damon and Pithias

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Henry Chettle (1600)

Historical Records

Henslowe's Diary

F. 29v (Greg I.57)

Receiued in part of paiment of [Gri] Damon and
Pythias this 16. of ffebruary 1599 ............... xxs
By me henry chettle./

F. 67v (Greg I. 118)

Layd owt for the company the 16 febrearye 1599
in earnest of a Boocke called damon &
pethyus as maye a pere some is ............... xxs
to hary chettell

F. 68 (Greg I. 119)

Lent vnto wm Birde the 10 marche 1599 to
geue harey chettell in earneste of his Boocke
called damon & pethias the some of ............... xxvjs

F. 68v (Greg, I.120)

Lent vnto harey chettell the 26 of aprell 1[59]600
in parte payment of a Boocke called damon
& pethias at the a poyntment of Robart shawe
the some of .............................. xxxs
henry Chettle./

[marginal note: 16 - 07 - 00]

payd to Harry Chettle in full payment of vjs for
his booke of Damon & Pithias xxxxiiijs ............... xxxxiiijs

F. 69 (Greg, I.121)

pd vnto the mr of the Revelles man for licensynge
of a Boocke called damon & pethias the 16 of
maye 1600 some of .............................. vijs

Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's players purchased Damon and Pithias from Henry Chettle for 120s. (£6) from February through April, 1600. This season would have been their last at the Rose, as the Fortune was under construction and the company would move to the new playhouse in the fall.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The story of Damon and Pithias, having classical origins, was broadly familiar in the early modern period. A relatively contemporary dramatic analogue was Damon and Pithias by Richard Edwards (Q1571), which, according to the title page of the quarto, was played at court by the Children of the Chapel. Contemporary references to the narrative demonstrate that the primary context was friendship. Categories of works that exploit that thread include prose narratives of the Euphuistic type (Euphues. The Anatomy of Wit [1578], Narbonus, the Laberynth of Libertie [1580]) and sermons (William Burton, 1590).

Damon and Pithias by Richard Edwards

Miscellaneous Allusions in non-Dramatic Literature

William Burton, "A sermon preached in the Cathedrall Church in Norwich, the xxi. day of December 1589 ...

The last thing that from this reason I observe, is this: that seeing as the loue of God is so free, so continuall, so vndeserved, and so vnspeakeable, that therefore vvee set more by it then by any loue in the world, Great vvas the loue of Damon & Pithias, when one offered to die for another, but it was neither free, perpetuall, nor vndeserued, for Damon loued Pithias, because Pithias loued Damon, & so one friend loued another: but God loued vs vvhen vve vvere his enemies & hated him: their loue ended with their liues, Gods loue is eternall, as himselfe: ...

References to the Play


Critical Commentary

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For What It's Worth

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Works Cited

Burton, William. A sermon preached in the Cathedrall Church in Norwich, the xxi. day of December, 1589. London: 1590.
Dorke, Walter. A Tipe or Figure of Friendship. London: 1586.
Lloyd, Lodowick. The Pilgrimage of Princes. London: 1573, 1586.
White, D. Jerry. Richard Edwards' DAMON AND PITHIAS: A Critical Old-Spelling Edition. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1980.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 17 February 2012.