Titus and Gisippus

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Anon. (1577)

Historical Records

Government Documents

Accounts of the Office of the Revels

Histories and Invencions { The Historie of the Solitarie knight showen at whitehall on Shrovesundaie at night, enacted by the Lord Howardes seruauntes
showen within the tyme aforesaid viz. { iij: viz. The Irisshe Knyght showen at whitehall on Shrovemundaie at night enacted by the Earle of warwick his seruauntes.
{ The historye of Titus and Gisippus showen at whitehall on Shrovetuysdaie at night, enacted by the Children of Pawles.
(Feuillerat 270)

Additional payments:

The Haberdasher . . . . Richard Moorer for the making of vj: Senatours Cappes of Crymsen Taffita . . . } vjs

(Feuillerat 275)

Necessaries . . . . . ffor two formes for the Senatours in the historie of Titus and Gisippus . . . } vjs

(Feuillerat 276)

Chamber Accounts, Payments to Players

To Sebastian Westcote mr of the Children of Powles vppon the Counsaille Warr' dated at Westm' xxmo Febr' 157 for p'sentinge a playe before her matie on Shrove sondaie at night vlli xiijs iiijd & further by waie of especiall reward lxvjs viijd in all . . . . . . . . . xli

(Malone Society Collections 6, p12)

Theatrical Provenance

Children of Paul's. Performed on Shrove Tuesday (19 Feb) at Whitehall in the evening.

Probable Genre(s)

History; romance.

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The story originates in the Decameron, but is also given in full by Thomas Elyot, The boke named the Gouernour, deuysed by syr Thomas Elyot knight (1537), ff.136v-152. Wiggins (#609) argues that the presence of the Senators in the play makes it unlikely that the Decameron was the immediate source. Another option for source material might be William Walter's translation of Philippus Beroaldus's Mythica historia de Tito Gisippoque, which Mike Pincombe discusses alongside Elyot's version of the story, and which he argues post-dates Elyot's text.

Wiggins offers a succinct summary of the likely plot::Sent by his father to study in Athens, Titus forms a close friendship with Gisippus, the son of his host. After Gisippus inherits his father's estate, many Athenians offer him their daughters in marriage; he woos one of them, Sophronia -- but Titus falls in love with her and becomes sick with grief. Gisippus agrees to giver her up for Titus, and, without Sophronia's knowledge, Titus substitutes himself for Gisippus at the wedding.

Titus is recalled to Rome. Gisippus' actions are exposed: he is maligned by his kinsmen and legally stripped of his inheritance. He travels to join Titus in Rome, but Titus fails to recognize him. Gisippus assumes that Titus has rejected him, and considers suicide. He shelters in a barn, and is found in his sleep by a ruffian escaping the scene of a murder. He bloodies Gisippus' knife in an effort to fix the crime on him. Gisippus is arrested and tried before the Senate, with Titus presiding. Now Titus recognizes his friend and tries to save him by falsely confessing to the murder himself. The two friends argue over which should die for the other; but their altruism shames the true murderer into confessing. Gisippus is vindicated.

Titus leads an army to Athens, takes revenge on Gisippus' oppressors, and restores his inheritance.

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Information welcome.

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Elyot, Thomas. The boke named the Gouernour, deuysed by syr Thomas Elyot knight. 1537. Print.
Malone Society Collections 6, ed. David Cook with F P Wilson (OUP, 1961 [1962])
Pincombe, Mike. "Thomas Elyot’s ‘Wonderful History of Titus and Gisippus’ (1531) as a Source for William Walter’s Titus and Gisippus (1525?)". N&Q 59.4 (Dec, 2012): 490-494.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 02 Oct 2016.