Gorboduc

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Title page of The Tragedie of Gorboduc (1565)

The Tragedy of Gorboduc is the earliest English tragedy in blank verse.[1] It was written by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton. The writers took the story of the play from Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1138). The play premiered before Queen Elizabeth I on 18 January 1561. It was first printed in 1565. It was printed again in 1570 as The Tragedy of Ferrex and Porrex.

The play is about a good king named Gorboduc. He gives his kingdom away during his lifetime to his sons. The sons quarrel over the throne. Porrex, the younger son, kills his brother, Ferrex. Their mother, Queen Videna, avenges the death of her older son by murdering Porrex. Gorboduc and Videna are then killed by their horrified former subjects.

Norton wrote the first three acts; Sackville wrote the last two. The playwrights took the tragedies of the Latin writer Seneca as their model, but ignored the classical unities of time and place. They used Classical elements such as the Chorus and the Messenger, but added non-Classical elements such as dumb shows (pantomimes) before each act.

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