The not-so-classical tradition
Mythographic complexities in 1 Iron Age
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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While Thomas Heywood was a fine classicist, his staging of the Trojan War in 1 Iron Age relied on non-Homeric sources, especially William Caxton’s The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1473/74). After considering mythological scholarship and literary historiography, the discussion focuses on Recuyell’s influence, providing a medieval, retrospective, pessimistic viewpoint on Troy that Heywood translated into the play’s obsession with predictions and posterity. Finally, the chapter traces how Heywood handled the contradictions arising both from within Caxton’s collection and from his combination of it with Homer’s Iliad and Ovid’s Heroides and Metamorphoses. While he reverted to classical sources to supplement Recuyell, his interweaving is not seamless. Heywood was both learned and experienced enough to have deliberately introduced such jarring juxtapositions, which were part of his poetics. In 1 Iron Age, they may also invite the spectator and reader to take a critical look at classical culture and heroism.


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