Caesar and Pompey, Parts 1 and 2

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Anon. (1594) and (1595)


Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)

F.10v (Greg I.20):
ye 8 of novemb[er] 1594
ne . .
R[d] at seser & pompie
iijll ijs

ye 14 of novemb[er] 1594
R[d] at sesor & pompie

ye 25 of novemb[er] 1594
R[d] at seser & pompey

ye 10 of desemb[er] 1594
R[d] at seser

F.11 (Greg I.21):
ye 18 of Jenewary 1594
R[d] at seaser

ye j of febreary 1594
R[d] at seaser

F.11v (Greg I.22):
ye 6 of marche 1594
R[d] at seaser

F.12v (Greg I.24):
ye 18 of June 1595
ne . . R[d] at the 2 pte of sesore
ye 25 of June 1595
R[d] at the j pte of seaser
ye 26 of June 1595
R[d] at the 2 pte of seaser

Theatrical Provenance

Part 1 was performed as new by the Admiral's Men at the Rose on Friday 8 November 1594. Afterwards, three more performances are recorded in 1594, four in 1595.

Part 2 was performed as new by the Admiral's Men at the Rose on Wednesday 18 June 1595 and staged again on 26 June 1595, the day after the company had revived Part 1.

Probable Genre(s)

Classical history (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The civil war between Caesar and Pompey was available to early modern playwrights through a plethora of sources such as Appian's Civil Wars, Plutarch's Lives, Lucan's Civil War, Suetonius's Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Cassius Dio's Roman History and Caesar's own Civil War. However, it is impossible to determine which source (or sources) may have been chosen for this two-part play.

For a summary of the main events of the conflict between Caesar and Pompey, see "Caesar and Pompey".

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Within the context of a discussion of the academic Tragedy of Caesar and Pompey, or Caesar's Revenge (c. 1595, publ. 1606) privately acted by the students of Trinity College, Oxford, Parrott (440) conjectures as follows:

The Admiral's Company in 1594 stood under the leadership of Alleyn, and were, in their choice of tragedies, dominated by the tradition of Marlowe. A glance through the pages of Henslowe's Diary for 1594 shows us what sort of tragedies they preferred; from June 3, 1594, to March 14, 1595 we have an unbroken series of plays. . . . Seser and pompie stands well up among other plays, with a record of seven performances between Nov. 8, 1594, and March 14, 1595, and was revived once more in connection with a less successful second part on June 25, 1595. . . . Now, if we may argue from the known to the unknown, have we not reason to suppose that the Admiral's play was a vigorous chronicle of the wars of Caesar and Pompey with plenty of action to tickle the groundlings, and, I fancy, a fine mouth-filling part for Alleyne [sic] as Caesar?

Gentili (18) contends that the presence of the two-part "Caesar and Pompey" in the Admiral's Men's repertory in the mid-1590s suggests that the company wanted to go back to the themes already developed in Thomas Lodge's The Wounds of Civil Wars, this time focusing on far more popular personalities than either Gaius Marius or Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

For Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador's intriguing discussion of the Admiral's Men's two-part "Caesar and Pompey", "Catiline's Conspiracy (Catiline)" (by Robert Wilson and Henry Chettle) and "Caesar's Fall" (by Michael Drayton, Thomas Middleton, Anthony Munday and John Webster) as a remarkable multi-Caesarean project, see "Caesar's Fall".

Wiggins (entry 972) is convinced that the play ended with Pompey's death, as the title of the sequel suggests that "Part 2" "evidently saw a shift of emphasis away from Pompey".

For What It's Worth

There is absolutely no reason to assume that the two-part "Caesar and Pompey" may have been an enlarged version of the likewise lost "Caesar and Pompey" (1580), that it may have been revised by George Chapman as Caesar and Pompey (c. 1604, publ. 1631) or by William Shakespeare as Julius Caesar (1599, publ. 1623), or that it may have had any kind of connection with the anonymous Caesar's Revenge (c. 1595, publ. 1606), as critics variously speculated at the beginning of the twentieth century -- a consequence of the era's tendency to lump title of plays together on no legitimate grounds.

If Feldmann and Tetzeli von Rosador are right in conjecturing that the Admiral's Men sought to produce a Caesarean dramatic cycle, then it is tempting to wonder how the two parts of "Caesar and Pompey" may have ended. If "Part 1", as Wiggins reasonably suggests (see above), finished with Pompey's death, "Part 2" may have followed Caesar in Egypt with Cleopatra and then dramatized his forays into Africa and Spain, concluding with Cato's suicide in Thapsus and Caesar's victory over Pompey's sons in Munda.

If this was the case, then the events shown in "Caesar's Fall" would have to have been essentially the same as those chronicled in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. This would also lend credibility to the hypothesis that "Caesar's Fall" may have been commissioned by Henslowe to an ensemble of accomplished playwrights in order to try both to rival and to capitalize on the success of Lord Chamberlain's Men's Caesarean dramatic offering. "Caesar's Fall" might even have been a later addition to the cycle, insofar as this might have originally ended on Caesar's final victory rather than his murder (as occurs with Chapman's Caesar and Pompey).

Works Cited

Feldmann, Doris, and Kurt Tetzeli von Rosador. "Lost Plays: A Brief Account." Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works. Ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007. 328-333.
Gentili, Vanna. La Roma antica degli elisabettiani. Bologna: il Mulino, 1991.
Parrott, Thomas Marc. "The 'Academic Tragedy' of Caesar and Pompey." Modern Language Review 5 (1910), 435-444.

Site created and maintained by Domenico Lovascio, University of Genoa; updated 27 July 2015.

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