Seleo and Olympo

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Historical Records

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary


F. 11v (Greg I.22)
ye 5 of marche 1594 . . . . . . ne . . Rd at seleo & olempo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iiill
ye 2 of maye 1595 Rd at seleo & olempa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ls
ye 9 of maye 1595 Rd at selyo & olympo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxvjs


Fol. 12v (Greg I.24)
ye 1[7]9 of maye 1595 . . . . . . . . . . Rd at olimpo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiijs
ye 29 of maye 1595 Rd at olimpo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxixs
ye 7 of June 1595 Rd at olimpio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvs



Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men introduced "Seleo and Olympo" to the stage at the Rose playhouse on the 5th of March 1595. The number of performances in the run depends on an interpretation of the various spellings of "Olympo." See Critical Commentary below scholarly opinions on this question.

Probable Genre(s)

Unknown

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known, unless indeed the play used the traditional mythology in Olympian stories.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary


Malone considered "Seleo and Olympo" the same play as "Olympio and Eugenio," declaring that "Seleo ... is in a subsequent entry called Olempo and Hengens" (p. 296, n.6).


Collier, who initially spelled the title "steleo and olempo," called attention to Malone's misreading of the initial name as "Seleo," then faulted "the scribe" for repeating Malone's misreading, then settling (apparently incorrectly in Collier's opinion) on Olympio as "the real name" of the play (p. 50, n.2). At the appearance in the playlists of "olempeo and hengenyo," Collier conceded that this "Olempeo" might be "Seleo and Olympo" and that the spelling of the second name might be "Ingenio." Then, letting frustration get the better of editorial restraint, Collier added that "it is sometimes hardly possible even to guess, on account of Henslowe's ingeniously corrupt spelling" (p. 56, n.1).


Fleay, BCED had "no doubt" that "Seleo and Olympo" was "the original form" of Thomas Heywood's The Golden Age (1. #2, p. 283). Bolstering his surmise, Fleay revised the title-word, "Seleo," into "Coelo." He itemized "Olympio and Eugenio" separately (2. #143, p. 301), thereby disconnecting it from "Seleo and Olympo," but he had no further comment on its identity. In A Chronicle History (p. 114), Fleay assigned "Seleo/Coelo and Olympo" a costume ("j sewtte for Nepton," Greg, Papers, p. 114, l. 17) and a property ("Nepun forcke & garland," Greg, Papers, p. 117, l. 68).


Greg II (#70, p. 175) collapsed the entries in the diary for "Olympio and Eugenio" into those for "Seleo and Olympo." He took seriously Fleay's identification of the play as an early version of Heywood's Golden Age, wrestling (as Fleay had not) with the implications of such an identification for the stage history of that play (which advertised at its 1611 printing that it had been performed by Queen Anne's men at the Red Bull). Greg repeated Heywood's own comment (in his address to the reader of that printing) that implies an earlier stage life for the Ages plays collectively, but Greg remained skeptical of Fleay's argument as illustrated by a discomfort with the Fleay-changed title, "Coelo and Olympo," which he called "rather fantastic."


Gurr combined the entries for "Seleo and Olympo" with those for "Olympio and Eugenio", commenting only that the former was "[p]robably the play also named Olympio and Eugenio (p. 214, n.40).


Wiggins, Catalogue, #994, #995 reflects the inclination of previous theater historians in leaning toward the merger of "Seleo and Olympo" and "Olympio and Eugenio" being the same play. Toward that merger, he finds it persuasive that "Olympio and Eugenio," the later of the two play-titles to appear in Henslowe's lists, is not marked "ne" (allowing thus for its run to appear a continuation), but he finds it troubling that Henslowe gave the word common to both titles distinct spellings: "Olympo" for earlier-appearing play and "Olympio" for the later-appearing one.

For What It's Worth



Works Cited


Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.




Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 9 February 2021.