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Gorboduc (play): Wikis


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Gorboduc, also titled Ferrex and Porrex, was an English play from 1561. It was performed before Queen Elizabeth I on January 18 1562, by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple. The authors were Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, said to be responsible for the first three Acts, and the final two, respectively.

The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on September 22, 1565. The first quarto, published by the bookseller John Day, is undated, but is thought to have been issued ca. 1571. A second quarto followed in 1590, printed by Edward Allde for the stationer John Perrin.[1]

The play is notable for several reasons: as the first verse drama in English to employ blank verse; for its political subject matter (the realm of Gorboduc is disputed by his sons Ferrex and Porrex), which was still a touchy area in the early years of Elizabeth's reign; for its manner, progressing from the models of the morality play and Senecan tragedy in the direction which would be followed by later playwrights. That is, it can be seen as a forerunner of the whole trend that would later produce King Lear.


At the play's beginning, the argument gives the following summary of the play's action: "Gorboduc, King of Britain, divided his realm in his lifetime to his sons, Ferrex and Porrex. The sons fell to dissention. The younger killed the elder. The mother that more dearly loved the elder, for revenge killed the younger. The people, moved with the cruelty of the fact, rose in rebellion and slew both father and mother. The nobility assembled and most terribly destroyed the rebels. And afterward for want of issue of the prince, whereby the succession of the crown became uncertain, they fell to civil war in which both they and many of their issues were slain, and the land for a long time almost desolate and miserably wasted."


  • Gorboduc, King of Great Britain
  • Videna, Queen and wife to King Gorboduc
  • Ferrex, Elder Son to King Gorboduc
  • Porrex, Younger Son to King Gorboduc
  • Clotyn, Duke of Cornewall
  • Fergus, Duke of Albany
  • Mandud, Duke of Leagre
  • Gwenard, Duke of Cumberland
  • Eubulus, Secretary to the king Gorboduc
  • Arostus, A Counsellour of king Gorboduc
  • Dordan, A Counsellour assigned by the king to his Eldest Son Fcrrex
  • Philander, A Counsellour assigned by the king to his younger Son Porrex
  • Hermon, A Parasite of Ferrex
  • Tyndar, A Parasite of Porrex
  • Nuntius, A Messenger of Ferrex's death
  • Nuntius, A Messenger of Duke Fergus rising
  • Marcella, A Lady of the Queen's privy Chamber
  • Chorus, Four ancient and sage men of Britain


  1. ^ E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; Vol. 3, pp. 456-7.


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