Strephon and Phillis are archetypal Arcadian shepherds, who appear in numerous poems and prose works, including Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia of 1593, which provides a highly idealised version of the shepherds’ life.
Long after Henry Fielding’s time, the pair formed the centrepiece of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera Iolanthe, which premiered at London’s Savoy Theatre in 1882. The opera satirises the House of Lords, as a bastion of the ineffective, privileged and dim-witted. In this telling, Strephon is the son of the fairy Iolanthe and her human husband. Strephon is in love with the Lord Chancellor’s ward of court, the beautiful Phyllis. Their wish to marry brings the House of Lords and the fairy world into an angry showdown, which is happily resolved with a merging of the species.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, and dramatist.
In 41, the Emperor Claudius banished him to Corsica on a charge of adultery. He spent his exile in philosophical and natural study, and wrote the Consolations. In 49, he was recalled to Rome to tutor the 12 year old Nero, who went on to become Emperor on Claudius' death in 54. From 54 to 62, Seneca acted as Nero's advisor. As Nero grew older and more entrenched in his position, Seneca’s influence declined. In 62 he retired and returned to a life of study and writing. However, in 65 he was accused of being involved in a plot to kill Nero, and committed suicide on Nero's orders.
In 328 BC Alexander gave the satrapy of Bactria to Cleitus. The night before he was to set out to take possession of his government, Alexander organised a banquet in his honour. However, an angry brawl erupted at the banquet. Alexander announced that Cleitus was to take an army and fight the steppe nomads in Central Asia. Cleitus was less than thrilled, and said so. Alexander threw an apple at Cleitus's head and called for a dagger. Efforts to separate the two friends were futile, and insults flew between them, until Alexander grabbed a javelin and killed Cleitus on the spot.
Roundhead was the name given to the supporters of the Parliament (or Parliamentarians) during the English Civil War. They opposed King Charles I and the tradition of absolute monarchical power and the divine right of kings. The Roundheads sought greater powers for Parliament, and a constitutional monarchy. England's many Puritans and Presbyterians generally supported the roundheads. Some of the Puritans wore their hair closely cropped (in contrast to the long ringlets worn by men of courtly fashion), and the term appears to have derived from this distinction.
'Hanover rats' refers to the House of Hanover, and King George I of Great Britain (1660-1727), who ruled from 1714 to 1727. George was born in Hanover, in what is now Germany, and inherited the titles and lands of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg from his father and uncles. In 1708 he became prince-elector of Hanover.
After the death of Queen Anne of Great Britain, he ascended the British throne, as the first monarch of the House of Hanover. Over fifty Roman Catholics bore closer blood relationships to Anne, but the Act of Settlement 1701 prevented Catholics from inheriting the British throne. George, as Anne's closest living Protestant relative, got the crown. The Jacobites tried, without success, to depose George and replace him with Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Stuart.
Ancient Greek sources record Thespis of Icaria as the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character, in 6BC. Aristotle described Thespis as a singer of dithyrambs, songs about stories from mythology. He is credited with introducing a new style in which one singer or actor performed the words of individual characters, distinguishing between them with the aid of different masks. Thespis also invented theatrical touring, touring cities with his costumes, masks and other props.
Actors are commonly referred to as thespians, in recognition of this trail-blazing entertainer.
David Garrick (1717-1779) was an English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who had a great influence over most aspects of theatrical practice during the 18th century. His role as Richard III in Shakespeare’s play of that name was his first major breakthrough. On the strength of his performance, he was engaged for a season at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He remained with the Drury Lane company for the next five years and purchased a share of the theatre. He went on to manage Drury Lane for 29 years, raising it to prominence as one Europe’s leading theatres.
As an actor, he promoted realistic acting that departed the bombastic style common when he first made his name. As theatre manager, he influenced audience behaviour, and production management.
While he was not a particularly good playwright, he brought Shakespeare to contemporary audiences, and also adapted many older plays, including many from the Restoration era.
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC), also known as Scipio the Elder and Scipio the Great, was a Roman statesman and a general in the Second Punic War. He was lauded as one of the greatest commanders in military history.
He joined the war against the Carthaginians at an early age, at a time when Rome had seen a string of defeats. From the time Scipio took command at the age of 25, he never lost a battle. His bravery and patriotism were widely lauded, and he was elected to a Senate office in his early 20s, despite being under the age threshold for Senate membership.
In 210 BC, he led a Roman offensive to Hispania (Iberia). No other candidates sought the office – it was considered a death sentence. Scipio however led a successful military campaign, and greatly expanded Rome's territory in Iberia.
In 205 BC, he was elected consul at the age of 31. In 203 BC, he destroyed the combined armies of the Carthaginians and Numidians, with a volunteer army. His defeat of Hannibal at Zama was the final battle of the Second Punic War, and paved the way for Carthage's eventual destruction in 146 BC.
Scipio was known as a man of great intellect and culture, a graceful orator, and a humane and fair leader. He was influenced by Greek styles, religion and culture – earning him condemnation from more conservative Romans, who feared that Greek influence was making Roman men effeminate.
Scipio is supposed to have been possessed of "second sight", and is said to have had prescient dreams in which he saw the future.
Scipio and Gaius Laelius were childhood friends. Laelius accompanied Scipio on his Iberian campaign, and contributed to Scipio's victories.
Alcibiades (450BC – 404BC) was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He played a major role in the second half of the Peloponnesian War, as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician – changing sides several times during the war. He began his military and political career in Athens, but fled the city for Sparta in the early 410s BC, after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In Sparta, he supervised several major campaigns against Athens, to Athens’ great detriment. He then defected to Persia, where he served as an adviser before being reconciled with the ruling powers in Athens, and serving as an Athenian General for several years. He played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories against Sparta. He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation. However, he had a habit of making powerful enemies, and was eventually exiled a second time from Athens.
Alcibiades appears as a character in several Socratic dialogues.