Monday, January 12, 2009

Tethys gives advice

In the same year that Daniel wrote his little verse epistle, he was requested to write a masque for the queen on the occasion of the Prince's investiture as a knight of the Bath.  The result, Tethys' Festival was not a success, and hardly anyone pays much attention to it, but there is a passage in which he gives pretty much the same advice (if less elegantly) to the Prince.  Tethys gives the prince a scarf that she says shows,
"Let him not passe the circle of that field,
But thinke Alcides pillars are the knot
For there will be within the large extent
Of these my waves, and watry Government
More treasure, and more certaine riches got
Then all the Indies to Iberus brought,
For Nereus will by industry unfold
A Chimicke secret, and turn fish to gold."  (F1)
The whole fishing thing sounds a lot less impressive as an alternative to imperialism but the sentiments are the same.

Daniel, Samuel. The order and solemnitie of the creation of the High and mightie Prince Henrie. London, 1610.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting...and now I know who Tethys is/was. (There are just too many Titans). I'm not exactly sure why she is giving him a scarf...? How is a scarf going to stop him venturing beyond the pillars? I'm probably missing something. The whole alchemy imagery is intriguing--I think the sound of gold fish is pretty cool! Are such alchemy/mythology allusions common, or is it a bit unusual? And isn't Tethys tempting him with a different sort of "dangerous luxury" (=gold fish), thus trying to keep him back using the same argument as those who wanted to venture forth?

    And simply because I stumbled upon it just now-- would this poem: "A Farewell Entitled to the Famous and Fortunate Generals of our English Forces" by George Peele (1556-1596) ( be an example of the "other side" i.e. hurray lets go conquer the world?