Titus Andronicus

Presumed to have been written from 1587-92 and entered at the Stationer’s Office on the 6th of February 1594 (Q1), subsequent editions were 1600 (Q2), and 1611 (Q3). The literary sources include 1623 (F1) A chapbook of “Titus Andronicus” sold by chapmen published anonymously in 1584. Certainly inspired by Ovid (43 BC- AD18) form his “Metamorphoses” (that is Arthur Golding’s English translation in 1567). Lucius Annaeus Seneca, (4. BC-AD65), his “Thyestes” (English translation in 1560). Charlton Ogburn suggests a play entitled “The Historie of Titus & Gisippus” was performed at court in February 1577 and written by the Earl of Oxford. Titus Andronicus was first performed in 1592, along with Henry VIth (parts I, II, III), Romeo & Juliet and Richard III and the entire texts of these early plays were printed for the public up to the period until 1598, all without William Shakespeare’s name on them. This is the same year of the Witchcraft Trials and the first time Shakespeare’s name appears in print because a certain Cuthbert Burby (?-1607), a member of the Stationer’s Office, took it upon himself to publish two other books; “Palladis Tamia-A Wit’s Treasury”, an anthology of quotations and maxims edited or compiled by Francis Meres (1565-1647). Francis was a graduate of Oxford who worked as a bookseller in London, then later became rector of Wing, Rutland, while the second occasion was the text of a play entitled: “A Pleasant and Conceited Comedie entitled Love’s Labours Lost“, where the author’s name is mentioned simply as W. Shakespeare. The name contains no hyphen, if that is in any sense significant, but the hyphenated version appeared much later, perhaps to affirm that it was a pseudonym, to emphasise its symbolic meaning or define its deeper cryptic associations with the goddess, Pallas Athena-“the spear-shaker”? The question that needs to be answered is why would an aspiring actor from the provinces, not wish to have his name on his first dramatic works? Apparently there are three quarto editions of Titus Andronicus each one with variations due to corruptions, omissions and additions. The first printed on 23rd of January, 1594 and recorded by Phillip Henslowe as performed by the Earl of Sussex’s Men on the 28th January and 6th of February. We know that John Danter entered a copy of the play at the Stationer’s Office on the 6th of February, 1594 with the title “The Most Lamentable RomaineTragedie of Titus Andronicus” including the ballad; “Titus Andronicus’s Complaint”. This was offered for sale by Edward White and Thomas Millington at their bookstore in St. Paul’s. Henslowe also recorded a performance on the 5th and 12th June in the same year by the Admiral’s and Lord Chamberlain’s Men at the Newington Butts Theatre. However, there is also a record of a private performance by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men on the 1st of January 1596 at the Rutland Manor of Sir John Harrington of Exton, the translator of Ariosto, (1591) and for some time close friend and confidant of Queen Elizabeth. Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso influenced the first ever recorded revenge tragedy play by Thomas Kyd (1558-94) written in 1589, first performed in 1592 with the illustrious and popular part of Hieronimo.

The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Pathenogenesis” are as follows:


Website: www.qudosacademy.org

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