"The representing of so strange a power in love": Philip Sidney's Legacy of Anti-factionalism
Sheffield Hallam University
Richard Wood." 'The representing of so strange a power in love': Philip Sidney's Legacy of Anti-factionalism". Early Modern Literary Studies Special Issue 16 (October, 2007) 4.1-20<URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/si-16/woodsidn.htm>.
to represent Sidney and the Arcadia as intellectual precursors to the Tacitean political thought beginning to emerge at the same time in the circle of Robert Devereux, the earl of Essex, who had become Greville's patron.The "Tacitean political thought" that became associated with the Essex circle in the 1590s was of a more pessimistic strain than that often associated with the reading of Tacitus before the disappointments, as Greville would have seen them, of the 1580s. Greville and other like-minded forward Protestants, including Sidney, while he was still alive, were most disappointed with Elizabeth's failure to sanction active military opposition to the forces of Catholicism on the Continent, particularly in the Low Countries. Paradoxically, the Earl of Leicester's belated and brief attempt to prosecute this very action on Elizabeth's behalf symbolised the collapse of Greville's hopes; it was during Leicester's campaign that Sidney met his death in battle, at Zutphen in 1586.
As the narrative unfolds, it is full of surprises. Books 1 and 2 have a labyrinthine structure of episodes, flashbacks and subsidiary narratives, yet incorporate most of the narrative of the equivalent books of the "Old" version. Book 3 leaves it far behind, both emotionally and geographically, replacing sexual intrigue with dark images of imprisonment and pointless conflict.It is with those "dark images of imprisonment and pointless conflict" that I particularly wish to engage: I shall illuminate my argument by reference to a much debated portion of the New Arcadia: the "captivity episode" from Book III.
her hands and fingers as it were indented one within the other, her shoulder leaning to her bed's head, and over her head a scarf which did eclipse almost half her eyes, which under it fixed their beams upon the wall by, with so steady a manner, as if in that place they might well change, but not mend, their object—and so remained they a good while after his coming in, he not daring to trouble her, nor she perceiving him; till that, a little varying her thoughts something quickening her senses, she heard him as he happed to stir his upper garment (321/30-322/2).And so their meeting begins in silent passivity. Moreover, when they do speak, Amphialus seeks to distance himself from active participation in the maintenance of the princess's captivity, preferring to resort to the trope of personified "love" as the agent of her imprisonment:
that tyrant, love, which now possesseth the hold of all my life and reason ... It is love! It is love, not I, which disobey you ... I am not the stay of your freedom, but love—love, which ties you in your own knots (323/28-33).Here Philoclea, literally Cecropia's captive, is also apparently the passive victim of her own allure, this latter, metaphorical, captivity being the work of "that tyrant love". Indeed, Amphialus is also, as he later claims, so restrained by "love" that he is unable to fulfil his mother's wishes, and so Philoclea's virtue remains intact. Philoclea's influence over Amphialus does not merely extend to maintaining her own safety: she is able to reconcile him to sparing his enemies from death. Amphialus, having captured Basilius's appointed regent, Philanax, calls for the prisoner to be brought before him with the intention "to cause him to be executed" (352/15-16). Amphialus "had not only long hated [Philanax], but now had his hate greatly increased by the death of his squire" (10-11). Nevertheless, Philoclea's influence stays Amphialus's hand:
[Philoclea's] message was delivered even as Philanax was entering to the presence of Amphialus, coming, according to the warning was given him, to receive judgement of death. ...Amphialus turned quite the form of his pretended speech, and yielded him humble thanks that by his means he had come to that happiness as to receive a commandment of his lady; and therefore he willingly gave him liberty to return in safety whither he would, quitting him not only of all former grudge, but assuring him that he would be willing to do him any friendship and service (25-36).Philanax's answer to Amphialus's leniency indicates the familial bonds that cross the divide between the two Arcadian factions:
let me now (having received my life by your grace), let me give you your life and honour by my counsel, protesting unto you that I cannot choose but love you, being my master's nephew... You know his nature is as apt to forgive as his power is able to conquer. [...] Do not urge the effects of angry victory, but rather seek to obtain that constantly by courtesy which you can never, assuredly, enjoy by violence (353/27-35).Philanax's appeal to "courtesy" reflects what Blair Worden describes as the "emollient influence" of the themes of courtesy and chivalry, widely considered to be much more evident in the New Arcadia than the Old. Worden challenges, if rather courteously, the view, posited by Richard C. McCoy and David Norbrook, that "Sidney's representation of chivalry contains the aggression and resentment characteristic of a martial nobility half-tamed by the Tudor court", and, as such, "the politeness of the New Arcadia cannot go very deep". Indeed, the politeness may not "go very deep", but, I contend, the anti-factionalism does. This is apparent in Philanax's invocation of Amphialus's family ties, which, in turn, might be what prompts Basilius's nephew to think on his cousin, Philoclea, again in response:
One might easily have seen in the cheer of Amphialus that disdainful choler would fain have made the answer for him, but the remembrance of Philoclea served for forcible barriers between anger and angry effects (353/36-354/1).However, it is important to note that Amphialus's conciliatory behaviour is not produced by his recognition of a common ancestry with his enemies. The common theme is that of Philoclea's sway, in whatever manner it is brought to bear.
Mother, O mother! Lust may well be a tyrant, but true love, where it is indeed, it is a servant...if ever I did approach her, but that I freezed as much in fearful reverence as I burned in a vehement desire. Did ever man's eye look thorough love upon the majesty of virtue shining through beauty, but that he became—as it well became him—a captive? (401/34-402/1)In both instances Amphialus attributes his behaviour to the agency of "love", a force inspired by, if not originating with, Philoclea. In the former case, when speaking to the princess, it is possible, for the sake of expediency, that Amphialus might wish to emphasise the influence that true love, rather than lust, has over his actions, and, similarly, in his conversations with Cecropia, that he is more concerned to deny, rather than admit, any suggestion of his own ineptitude. However, throughout the episode as a whole, it is clear that Amphialus's encounters with Philoclea, and her "majesty of virtue shining through beauty" effects more than a mere change in his rhetoric. Indeed, as we have already seen, Amphialus's "captivity", as he portrays it, has prevented him from assailing the princess's virtue, and his memory of her has functioned as "forcible barriers between anger and angry effects", to Philanax's benefit. Nevertheless, despite Philoclea's presence, as Katherine Duncan-Jones might put it, "the imprisonment and pointless conflict" continues. Certainly, the conflict, at least as far as the incomplete revised version of the romance is concerned, has no end: the text finishes mid-sentence, and Sidney's resolution, if indeed he intended one, remains unknown. This presents obvious problems of interpretation, particularly when determining the guiding philosophy of the New Arcadia. It does, however, have the advantage of reflecting the Elizabethan political scene as Sidney himself left it: riven by factions. This is the same political context that informed the divergent philosophies of Mary Sidney Herbert and Fulke Greville. In the worlds of the New Arcadia and Elizabethan politics, Philoclea's (or Mary Sidney Herbert's) irenical Stoicism had yet to prove a success or a failure. Yet, despite the lack of any such conclusive fictional, or historical, approval, I suggest the signs of its effectiveness are discernable in Sidney's text, even, rather paradoxically, in martial combat.
If you command your soldier to march foremost, and he for courtesy put others before him, would you praise his modesty? Love is your general. He bids you dare. And will Amphialus be a dastard? (402/12-15)Cecropia even resorts to classical exemplars of forceful action to further induce her son: "Do you think Theseus should ever have gotten Antiope with sighing and crossing his arms?" (402/15-17); "Iole had her own father killed by Hercules, and herself ravished—by force ravished" (21-22); "But above all, mark Helen, daughter to Jupiter, who could never brook her mannerly-wooing Menelaus, but disdained his humbleness and loathed his softness. But so well she could like the force of enforcing Paris that for him she could abide what might be abidden" (26-30). It is notable, particularly when determining where the balance of sympathy should fall between mother and son, that things end badly for the active parties in all of Cecropia's classical allusions.
Amphialus (already tender-minded by the afflictions of love)...without staff, or sword drawn...trotted fairly to the Forsaken Knight, willing to have put off his combat, to which his melancholy heart did, more than ever in like occasion, misgive him (405/10-14).Hence, rather than leaving his "womanly" passivity behind (as Cecropia would have it), he, paradoxically, carries it into the contest.
a very rich jewel, the device whereof...was this: a Hercules made in little form, but set with a distaff in his hand (as he once was by Omphale's commandment), with a word in Greek, but this to be interpreted: "Never more valiant" (69/5-9).The image of Hercules spinning is invoked in An Apology to illustrate Sidney's case that laughter does not proceed from delight, but that they may coincide. Hercules's love for Omphale has persuaded him to undertake this action, and, for Sidney, "the representing of so strange a power in love procureth delight: and the scornfulness of the action stirreth laughter". The potential for laughter notwithstanding, Pyrocles's actions are presented in a favourable light. He is apparently "Never more valiant", and although he is wearing a sword on his thigh, as is the custom of an Amazon, "it seemed but a needless weapon, since her other forces were without withstanding" (69/11-12). It might be said that he needs nothing other than Hercules's distaff. Indeed, the same could be said of Amphialus when he is "without staff": if not "commanded" by a woman, he is certainly strongly influenced by one. He is, like Hercules spinning, another representation of that "so strange a power in love" that has the ability to "procureth delight". In the New Arcadia, Palladius scorns Pyrocles that his "effeminate love of a woman [Philoclea in this case] doth so womanize a man that, if you yield to it, it will not only make you an Amazon, but a launder, a distaff-spinner" (72/6-8). In response, Pyrocles argues against any suggestion that his transformation implies a weakening, and even charges his own sex with going against its nature:
I am not yet come to that degree of wisdom to think light of the sex of whom I have my life; since if I be anything..., I was to come to it born of a woman, and nursed of a woman. And certainly...it is strange to see the unmanlike cruelty of mankind, who not content with their tyrannous ambition to have brought the others" virtuous patience under them, like childish masters think their masterhood nothing without doing injury to them, who (if we will argue by reason) are framed of nature with the same parts of the mind for the exercise of virtue as we are (72/26-73/2).Although, as Mary Ellen Lamb observes, Pyrocles's arguments are undermined by his admissions (in his song and elsewhere) that his "poor reason's overthrow" (69/26) and his "heart is too far possessed" (75/17), the case for the "power in love", both here and in Book III, remains strong.
From the crowne of their head downe to their nose they haue a long hanging mane, which maketh them to look fearefully...These Gorgons [as Topsell categorises them] ...haue such haire about their heads as not onely exceedeth all other beastes, but also poysoneth when he standeth vpright. Pliny calleth this beast Catablepon, because it continually looketh downeward, and saith that all the parts of it are but smal excepting the head which is very heauy, and exceedeth the proportion of his body which is neuer lifted vp, but all liuing creatures die that see his eies.
Figure 1. Catoblepta from the title page of Edward Topsell's The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes (1607)
Or what els is such a mynd, than ye eye of the beast of AEgipt, which killeth those whom it looketh vpon, and it self also by ye rebounding back of his owne sight? Some in deede doo lift vp ye eye of their mynd aloft; but how farre or what see they?Here seeing the eyes and being seen by them are equally hazardous. Moreover, the suggestion that Philoclea's averted gaze, her "scarf which did eclipse almost half her eyes", and the creature's "long hanging mane, which maketh [it] to look fearefully", are means of self-preservation echoes the double-edged nature of the princess allowing Amphialus to see her: her shining virtue (her defence) becomes visible and henceforth active, but she also arouses her captor's desire.
This research was aided by a studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Awards Scheme.
 Joel Davis, "Multiple Arcadias and the Literary Quarrel between Fulke Greville and the Countess of Pembroke", Studies in Philology 101.4 (Fall 2004): 408.
 See Jean Robertson, "General Introduction" in Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The Old Arcadia), ed. Jean Robertson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), xv.
 See Victor Skretkowicz, "General Introduction" in Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The New Arcadia), ed. Victor Skretkowicz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), xvii.
 Davis, "Multiple Arcadias", 415.
 Ibid., 404.
 Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Vol. 1: The Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 83.
 Justus Lipsius, Two Bookes of Constancie, trans. Sir John Stradling (1594), ed. Rudolph Kirk, Rutgers University Studies in English, vol. 2 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1939), 83 cited in Davis, "Multiple Arcadias", 407. Although Stradling's translation did not appear until 1594, the original Latin version was available from 1584 onwards.
 Davis, "Multiple Arcadias", 408-9.
 Ibid., 420.
 Ibid., 425.
 Ibid., 421-5.
 It is known that Sidney began a translation of Mornay's De la vérité de la religion Chrestienne, but it seems unlikely that the published work was a completion of what Sidney started, as Golding claimed, due to its consistent deviation from Sidney's known style; see Katherine Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1991), 251-2.
 Martin N. Raitière, Faire Bitts: Sir Philip Sidney and Renaissance Political Theory, Duquesne Studies in Language & Literature, ser. 4 (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1984), 128, 125.
 Ibid., 124-9.
 Ibid., 128n. Golding's translation of the same passage retains Mornay's meaning: "Morall Philosophie subdeweth many diuers passions and affections vnto one reason, in one man. Howsholdgouernment bringeth many men to the obeying of one householder: Ciuillgouernment reduceth many households into one Commonweale, which is nothing but an vnitie of many people, whether it be vnder one Lawe or vnder one magistrate; insomuch that eue[n] the most popular Comonweales haue (in their extremities) taken a Dictator, and in their ordinarie course of gouernment a Consull, the one after the other. Nowthen all that euer man conceiueth, inuenteth and disposeth, doth leade vs alwayes to an vnitie. Where vnitie is lost, there things goe to wrecke, Artes are confounded, and Commonweales are dissolued"; see A Woorke concerning the trewnesse of the Christian Religion, written in French... By Philip of Mornay Lord of Plessie Marlie. Begunne to be translated into English by Sir Philip Sidney Knight, and at his request finished by Arthur Golding. London: John Charlewood and George Robinson for Thomas Cadman, 1587, 19.
 Davis, "Multiple Arcadias", 430.
 Richard C. McCoy, Sir Philip Sidney: Rebellion in Arcadia (Hassocks: Harvester Press, 1979), 216.
 Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet, 261.
 The relationship between Neostoicism (whether of the kind associated with Mary Sidney Herbert or Fulke Greville) and anti-factionalism is potentially slippery, and may be differently inflected elsewhere in Sidney's works. Nevertheless, I maintain, the close association between the two concepts holds with reference to Book III of the New Arcadia, and, by extension, as significant for reading the revised romance as an incomplete whole.
 Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The New Arcadia), ed. Victor Skretkowicz (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 317; lines 5 and 11-12. Further references are contained within the text in the following form: 317/5, 11-12.
 Duncan-Jones, Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet, 265.
 Ibid., 264.
 In the phrase, "his pretended speech", "pretended" means "intended"; see "Glossary", in Skretkowicz (ed.), New Arcadia, 594.
 Blair Worden, The Sound of Virtue: Philip Sidney's Arcadia and Elizabethan Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 359-60n.
 Ibid., 360n; see: Richard C. McCoy, The Rites of Knighthood: the Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), ch. 3; Richard C. McCoy, "Sir Philip Sidney and Elizabethan Chivalry", in Sir Philip Sidney's Achievements, eds. M. J. B. Allen, Dominic Baker-Smith, and Arthur F. Kinney (New York: AMS Press, 1990), 32-41; and David Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 106-7.
 "Distaff." Oxford English Dictionary Online, 3.b.
 Thomas Moffett, Nobilis or A View of the Life and Death of a Sidney and Lessus Lugubris, ed. Virgil B. Heltzel and Hoyt H. Hudson (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1940), 82 cited in Margaret P. Hannay, Philip's Phoenix: Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (Oxford: OUP, 1990), 81.
 Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry or The Defence of Poesy, ed. Geoffrey Shepherd (London and Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1965; reprint, Manchester: MUP, 1973), 136/34-6.
 Sidney, An Apology for Poetry, 136/36-8.
 Mary Ellen Lamb, Gender and Authorship in the Sidney Circle (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 84; Lamb refers to the corresponding episode from the Old Arcadia, but her argument remains relevant to the revised version.
 Title page of Edward Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes London: William Jaggard, 1607.
 Edward Topsell, The historie of foure-footed beastes, 262-3.
 A Woorke concerning the trewnesse of the Christian Religion, 299.
 Victor Skretkowicz observes that the catoblepta is "sure to be aroused to its most dangerous state by seeing night approaching in the form of Amphialus' impresa"; see "Commentary" in Sir Philip Sidney, The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The New Arcadia), 573.
 Worden, The Sound of Virtue, 359-60n.
 Joel Davis, Renaissance Neostoicism and the Sidney Family Literary Discourse (PhD diss., University of Oregon, 1999), 56.