Rescripting classical stories of rape from page to stage
Lucrece and Callisto
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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Several of the women Thomas Heywood writes about in Gynaikeion were familiar exemplars in the arts, but less frequently embodied on stage as characters in their own right. This chapter looks at what happens when Heywood lifts two victims of rape, Callisto and Lucrece, out of the realm of example to bring them on stage in The Golden Age and The Rape of Lucrece respectively. It explores what happens in the process of enacting familiar tales of seduction, and the possible impact on the expectations of spectators, to whom the ultimate outcome is known. Rather than try to resolve contradictions between the multiple versions he draws on, Heywood plays with the dynamics this allows him in a multigeneric, empathetic approach. Through the challenge of staging a rape, Heywood also explores the ethics and challenges of staging the mythographic process.

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