"Princes Hate The Traitor Though They Love The Treason"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In 1594 the Countess of Pembroke started a campaign for "imaginative literature," following the precepts laid down in Apologie for Poetry (1580) by Sir Philip Sidney. She settled on the poet Samuel Daniel to provide an original English play as the model of all tragedies. It would have to be written within the neoclassical formula and have unity, with outward action pared to a minimum. With misgivings, the "sweete honey-dropping Daniel" undertook the task. He realized the need to concentrate on the character of Cleopatra, making the struggle that of the instincts of a queen against those of a mother. Scholars who have analyzed earlier versions realize how masterly were Daniel's efforts, and how well he manipulated the episodes. But the difficult task turned him into the "sober-minded Daniel" praised by Coleridge. Everyone knows the story of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and of Caesario, their son whom she tries to dismiss both for Egypt's sake and her own. The dramatist makes the repentance of her secretary Seleucus for his betrayal of her secrets to Caesar one of the high points of the action. Scholars believe that Daniel's closet drama furnishes an explanation of Shakespeare's unusual use of two climaxes when he wrote his version later: the death of Antony, followed by a long act devoted to Cleopatra. From Daniel, Shakespeare learned how much more could be made of Cleopatra than a mere "bad woman." From Daniel he got his conception of the queen as the embodiment of a love that transcended worldly obligations. At the beginning of Act IV of Daniel's play, Seleucus comes upon Rodon, tutor to Caesario, and eagerly greets him because "Never friend Rodon in a better hour/ Could I have met thee than e'en now I do,/ Having affliction in the greatest power/ Upon my soul and none to tell it to." Rodon begs him to explain what is bothering him, and Seleucus embarks upon a confession of his regret for his treachery.

Well, then thou know'st how I have liv'd in grace
With Cleopatra and esteem'd in court
As one of counsel, and of chiefest place
As ever held my credit in that fort.
Till now in this confusion of our state
When thinking to have us'd a means to climb
And fled the wretched, flown unto the great
(Following the fortunes of the present time)
Am come to be cast down and ruin'd clean:
And in this course of mine own plot undone,
For having all the secrets of the Queen
Reveal'd to Caesar, to have favor won,
My treachery is quited with disgrace,
My falsehood loath'd, and not without great reason
Though good for him, yet Princes in this case
Do hate the Traitor, though they love the treason.