Eurialus and Lucretia

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William Shakespeare (attrib.) (n/a)


Historical Records

Stationers' Register

4 August 1626 (S.R. 4.164-65, CLIO)

Edward Brewster
Robert Birde.
Assigned ouer vnto them by Mistris Pavier and Consent of a full Court of Assistantes all the estate right title and Interest which Master Thomas Pavier her late husband had in the Copies here after mencioned . . . . . . . . xxviijs./

The history of HENRY the FIFT and the play of the same
Master Paviers right in SHAKESPERES plaies or any of them
Historye of HAMBLETT

(NB Follow the link above to CLIO's digitisation of the SR to see the full list of titles assigned to Brewster and Birde by Pavier's widow; the Shakespearean titles have been excerpted and reproduced here for convenience of comparison with the subsequent SR entries below, but it is only in those later entries that "Eurialus and Lucretia" becomes associated more firmly with Shakespeare.)

8 November 1630 (S.R. 4.208, CLIO)

Richard Cotes. Assigned ouer vnto him by master Bird and Consent of a full Court holden this day All his estate right and interest in the Copies hereafter menconed . . . . . . iiijs.
Yorkeshire Tragedie

6 August 1674 (S.R.2, 2.488, CLIO)

Jon. Martin
and Master
Hen. Herringman.
Entred for their copies by vertue of an assignemt under the hand and seale of ANDREW CLARK cittizen and staconer of London, executor of the last will & testamt of Elianor Coates widow, who was the relict & executrix of Richard Coates late cittizen & staconer of London aforesaid deceassed, bearing date the 18th day of June last past, and by consent of a full Court held the 3d day of this instant August, all his estate, right, title interest, property, claime and demaund, of, in and to the severall bookes or copies following vizt . . . . . . xijs vjd
Henry the Fifth.
Sr John Oldcastle.
Titus & Andronicus.
Eureolus & Lucretia.
Yorke & Lancaster.
Yorkshire Tragedy.
The Tempest.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Measure for Measure.
The Comedy of Errors.
As You Like It.
Alls Well that ends well.
Twelfe Night.
The Winters Tale.
The third part of Henry the sixth.
Henry the eighth.
Timon of Athens.
Julius Caesar.
Anthony & Cleopatra.

To wch assignemt the hand of Master Warden ROYCROFT is subscribed.
J. L. Salvo iure cuilibet.

21 August 1683 (S.R.2, 3.181-89, CLIO)

Master Robt Scott. Entred then for his Bookes or Coppyes by vertue of an assignmt under the hand and seale of MRS SARAH MARTIN, relict and executrix of the last will and testamt of John Martin late Cittizen and Stationer of London, deceased, her late husband, bearing date the fourteenth day of June Anno Dom 1681, and by order of Court of the seaventh of Novemr, 1681, these severall bookes or coppyes or parts of bookes or coppyes hereafter menconed wch did formerly belong to the said John Martin decd. Salvo jure cujuscunque, viz:
Henry the 5th
Sr John Old Castle
Titus Androneus
Eurialus & Lucretia
Yorke and Lancaster
Yorkesheire Tragedy
The Tempest
Gentlemen of Verona
Measure for measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ½.
Commedie of errors
As you like it
Alls well that ends well
Twelve nights
Winter's tale
The 3d part of Hen 6th
Hen: 8th
Timon of Athens
Julius Caesar
Anthony and Cleopatra

Theatrical Provenance

It seems virtually certain that this was not really a play (see For What It's Worth below).

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The Lucretia of the title is not that of Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece (though such confusion over her identity may explain the attribution of this title to Shakespeare). Rather, she is one half of a Sienese couple, whose story originates in De duobus amantibus by Aeneas Sylvius (later Pope Pius II), written in c.1440.

Nathaniel Wanley provides a short summary of the story in his The wonders of the little world, or, A general history of man (1678):

CHAP. VIII. Of the Passion of Love, and the effects of it in divers Persons.

1. Eurialus Count of Augusta, was a young man of extraordinary Beauty, and during the stay of the Emperour Sigismund, King of Bohemia and Hungary at Sienna, he cast his eye upon Lucretia a Virgin of that place, and at first sight fell vehemently in love with her: the Virgin also (whom in respect of her admirable form they called commonly the second Venus) was no less surprised than himself at the same instant. In a short time they became better acquainted; but at the Emperour's removal thence to Rome, when Eurialus was compelled to leave his Lady behind him, she not able to endure his absence, died under the impatience of it. Eurialus at the hearing of her death though (somewhat supported by the counsels and consolations of his Friends) he was contented to live, yet from the news of her death to the last day of his life was he never known to laugh. (105)

English translations include:

[Euryalus and Lucreatia.] [Antwerp: J. van Doesborch, 1515?] STC (2nd ed.) / 19969.8; ESTC
The goodli history of the moste noble and beautyfull Ladye Lucres of Scene in Tuskane, and of her louer Eurialus verye pleasaunt and delectablevnto ye reder [London : J. Day, 1553?]. STC (2nd ed.) / 19970; ESTC
The m[ost] excell[ent] historie, of Euryalus and Lucresia. Trans. William Braunche. London: Printed by Thomas Creede, and are to be solde by William Barley, at his shop in Gratious streete; neare Leaden Hall, 1596. STC (2nd ed.), 19974; ESTC
The historie of Eurialus and Lucretia. Written in Latine by Eneas Sylvius; and translated into English by Charles Allen, Gent. Printed at London: By Tho. Cotes, for William Cooke, and are to be sold at his shop neere Furnivalls Inne Gate in Holborne, 1639. STC (2nd ed.), 19973; ESTC

There is also a little-known version of the story in verse, held by the Library at Deene Park (ESTC), which may be the "boke intituled of ij lovers EURYALUS and LUCRESSIE plesaunte and Dilectable" entered by William Norton in 1569-70 (SR 1.189 CLIO). According to Pollard and Redgrave (STC19972.5), this octavo is the only translation in verse; it has 28 lines per page. Deene Park has two imperfect copies of sheet E only.

The story of the lovers was clearly popular. Robert Langham (or Laneham) reports in his letter describing the queen's entertainments at Kenilworth in 1575 that "Lucrece and Euryalus" was one of the favourite story-books (Laneham 37), but it's not clear which translation/edition this would be.

References to the Play

None known; information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Sibley lists this title as a lost play (48-49, Internet Archive).

Harbage and Schoenbaum gave little credence to the SR entries, noting “Euriolus (i.e. Euryalus) and Lucretia, sometimes incorrectly listed as a play.” (Index, 248).

Greg (BEPD, Θ36) notes that although "[t]his was clearly assumed to be a play when it was included among Shakespearian titles in later transfers", there is no suggestion of Shakespearean authorship or dramatic form in the assignment of 1626, "though this does include a few dramatic copies together with 'Mr. Paviers right in Shakesperes plaies or any of them'." He further observes that "[i]t is not in the list of 'thinges formerlye printed and sett over to the sayd Thomas Pavyer' on 14 Aug. 1600, which supplied a number of the copies transferred in 1626, and how he acquired his interest in it is not known." Greg lists a number of English translations of the Eurialus and Lucretia story, including one "entered by William Norton in 1569-70" (entered suggests Greg was aware of the SR entry but not of the survival of the fragments at Deene Park; see Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues above). He tentatively suggests that it may have been Thomas Creede's edition of 1596 "that somehow came into Pavier's hands", but it is difficult to see how that text might be mistaken for a play (again, see Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues above).

Wiggins assigns the title to his Appendix 2 (Works Excluded).

For What It's Worth

On balance it seems there probably never was a play called "Eurialus and Lucretia"; rather, as rights to texts passed between stationers, a copy of an English translation was mistakenly associated with Shakespeare plays and the error was subsequently perpetuated with greater force in the final SR entry quoted above. When rights were transferred, the texts in question would not need to be reinspected; the clerk would probably check the original entry or perhaps some kind of receipt listing the entered titles, hence the mistaken attribution to Shakespeare need only have been made once. This text was probably the one transferred to Richard Cotes in 1630 and printed by his brother, Thomas Cotes, in 1639 (assuming it had been in existence in another form early enough for Pavier to have owned it, and for Pavier's widow to have transferred the rights to it to Brewster and Bird in 1626).

Questions remain, however. Was the initial confusion mere callousness? Was there something about the Cotes edition (or another) that especially resembled a playbook? The prose Hystorie of Hamblett (1608) and "Agincourt" or "The history of HENRY the FIFT" (pointedly distinct from "the play of the same") were similarly bundled with Shakespeare's plays in the Stationers' Register entries. Were stationers so little interested in having an unknown work by Shakespeare that they failed to inspect it properly? Did they inspect it and continue to believe that it was Shakespearean? (In which case, what about it made it an apt inclusion in the Shakespeare apocrypha?)

Works Cited

Laneham, Robert. Laneham's Letter describing the Magnificent Pageants presented before Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle in 1575 .... Philadelphia: Hickman and Hazzard, 1822. (Internet Archive)
Pollard, A. W. and G. R. Redgrave, A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640. 2nd edn. W. A.Jackson, F. S. Ferguson, Katharine F. Pantzer. London: The Bibliographical Society, 1986.
Sibley, G. M. The Lost Plays and Masques, 1500-1642. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1932.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 07 Jan 2015.

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