‘The scene lies in Hel’
The world of Lucian in Thomas Heywood’s stage poetry
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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This chapter considers Thomas Heywood’s relationship to the Greek satirist and prose writer Lucian of Samosata. It looks at Heywood’s translation of nine of Lucian’s dialogues in Pleasant Dialogues and Dramma’s. Lucian’s Dialogues offered Renaissance dramatists an arresting vision of what it meant for the classical gods to be on stage, influencing Heywood in a play like The Silver Age. The philosophical and religious implications of Lucian’s irreverence towards the gods, which earned him popularity with the humanists, also fascinated Heywood, who introduced Lucian’s hell in The Hierarchie of Blessed Angells. This chapter argues that Lucian provided Heywood with an imaginative structure that allowed him to create dramatic worlds where classical myths collide with early modern theologies in the moment of their realisation on stage. The resulting drama offered a clash of registers, and this productive dissonance enabled Heywood to develop hellish scenes that he shaped for his own dramatic purposes.

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