Printer Friendly

Paper-doll queen.

As the child of a monarch, Elizabeth had a childhood that was in most regards particular. Taken from her mother's care at a most tender age, Elizabeth was sent to her own household in Hatfield where her humanist education began under the care of Catherine (Kate) Champernon and William Grindal. Mastery of various languages was essential to Elizabeth's curriculum. Her command of Latin, Greek, French, Italian, and Spanish was of such high caliber that she composed and conversed freely in each language. She also, of course, read texts in these languages with great ease, and was a skilled translator of Latin and Greek literature. (1) Out of her interactions with these works Queen Elizabeth I gleaned inspiration for her carefully crafted identity. Four stereotypes, domina, virgin, mater, and meretrix, constitute the skeleton of Queen Elizabeth's persona. These stereotypes offer a glimpse of Elizabeth's manipulation of classical iconography, and laid the foundation upon which she crafted her controversial, yet convincing identity. Like a paper doll, upon which one may layer a single identity one after another, the queen took various pieces of four stereotypes found in classical texts, domina-virgin-mater-meretrix, and wrapped them one upon the other to fashion her own particular voice. As both monarch and woman, Elizabeth pushed the boundaries of these stereotypes beyond the limits constructed for them in earlier texts.

Elizabeth recognized the importance of the arts and was a valiant supporter of dramatic art, literature, and fine arts. Cognizant of the influence the arts wielded over the general public, she strove to steadily maintain control of them while allowing space for creative expression. According to Sheila Ffolliott, one area in which she craved complete control was royal portraiture (166-67). She took a personal interest "in how she was represented, insisting upon the trappings and appearance of majesty taking precedence over any attempt at realism" (Weir 238). The queen had to be presented as otherworldly and never-changing; her motto after all was Semper Eadem (always the same). Traces of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix stereotypes may be found in the three portraits to be examined in this essay: the 1569 painting attributed to The Monogrammist Hans Eworth, Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses; the 1579 portrait by George Gower, The Plimpton "Sieve" Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I; and a parchment from 1603 titled Elizabethan Conceit. These works, produced over the course of Elizabeth's reign, are symptomatic of the ever-changing position of woman in the Symbolic (the dominant system of rules and codes) that traditionally suppresses the marginalized feminine voice. (2)

The theoretical foundation of this work rests upon that of Jacques Lacan, specifically his conception of the Real, Imaginary, and Symbolic as they stem from the mirror stage. The texts of Julia Kristeva, pupil of Lacan and practicing analyst, also inform the arguments which follow. Simply stated, the Imaginary is a moment in life absent from desire, absent from lack. The introduction of language draws the individual into the Symbolic order which governs all measures of subjectivity. The Real is that which can not be expressed through manipulation of the Symbolic's rules. It envelops all and is ever-present. The Symbolic is not static and may be changed, but only from within. In Revolution in Poetic Language, Kristeva discusses the semiotic and its relationship to the Symbolic. Here she calls their relationship a dialectic. The term dialectic implies a battle of sorts. The semiotic represents physical drives imprinted upon the subject, while the Symbolic names the more abstract use of language. It is important to move beyond a discussion of these in terms of a binary opposition. Kristeva stands upon the edge of this but never fills in the gap. I propose that in order to push the Symbolic toward change, the semiotic and Symbolic are part of a triangulum; the third position in this structure is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (chora). (3) Chora is the space in which something rests, and according to Plato it is a space that is not determined by categories; it may be filled with various sorts of things (22e, 23b, 52a-d, 53a, 57b, 58a, 79d, 82a, 83a). For example, woman may fill the space in the Symbolic through different means of representation while still maintaining her essential womaness. (4) The relationship is less about the struggle between semiotic/Symbolic and more about their negotiation in an attempt to fill the gaps [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] contained within the bubble-of-being. This bubble is enveloped by the Real, but the reoccurrence of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] inside the bubble signals the drive for change. Ultimately this triangulum becomes a quadralateral. This evolution occurs at the introduction of the thetic phase. The thetic marks the moment of signification and serves as a boundary between the semiotic and Symbolic. It is the instant in which the Symbolic folds back upon itself, thereby creating a space in which a new struggle of representation may occur.

In her discussion of Kristeva's theory of subject formation, Shari Benstock repeatedly uses the term "semiotic chora," (23-46). However, I consider the chora a function of the semiotic, not one in the same. The structure that results from the interaction of the Symbolic/semiotic/thetic/chora is not linear, because the Real hovers above all interactions. The result is a pyramid (Fig.A):

These positions are interdependent; they are not fixed. As a result, various pyramids unite to form a "bubble of subjectivity" that is in constant motion (Fig. B). It is impossible for these positions to exist apart from one another (Benstock 32; Kristeva 43-45, 68-71). The equation of subject formation requires their existence. Subject identity can never be reduced to simple dialectical encounters, but consists of simultaneous struggles, negotiations, and ruptures. (6) The Symbolic always re-creates the essential conditions for these struggles, but real action takes place along the edge of the bubble of subjectivity. The bubble may momentarily burst, but the Symbolic will envelope the foreign, often naming it something familiar in order to stabilize the system (domina-virgin-mater-meretrix). Woman stands along the border of subjectivity; she, the imperishable other, simultaneously accepts many labels.



The complexities of identity hinge upon the happenings within the chora, and the ever-changing composition within the chora fosters multiple faces of subjectivity. The domina-virgin-mater-meretrix labels persist across genres and literatures because they are assiduously recycled in order to fill the spaces left blank along the borders of subject formation. Each member of this group fashions a part of the multiple manifestations of woman. These spaces may be filled for a moment, but the Symbolic will change the rules and craft a new other, thereby creating new gaps. The cycle is endless, but the marginalized voice persists; without it, subjectivity's negotiation ends. This essay argues that Elizabeth I represents an embodiment of the ever-changing bubble of subjectivity. Just as the queen's persona has never been chiseled into a single image, these works of art display the various faces of woman that Elizabeth wore throughout her reign. The domina-virgin-mater-meretrix stereotypes, rooted in ancient Greek and Latin literature, infuse these portraits; they offer proof that Elizabeth's persona did not depend upon a single body of work.

The domina refers to a woman who rules her household and all others around her with unyielding force. She is not easily, if ever, swayed from her own opinion. The domina was literally the "woman of the house or domus, the matrona who ruled its domestic slaves," (Miller Latin Erotic Elegy, 4 n7). The Roman erotic elegists (Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid), (7) use this label and the power associated with it in order to establish the unbalanced nature of their love affairs. (8) Only approachable when the time is right for her, the domina may change her mind endlessly and drive men mad. For example, in poem 1.8a Propertius's domina, Cynthia, toys with the lover by proposing a holiday alone. This sort of scene is typical.
Tune igitur demens, nec te mea cura moratur?
    an tibi sum gelida vilior Illyria?
et tibi iam tanti, quicumque est, iste videtur,
    ut sine me vento quolibet ire velis?

So, are you insane, does my care not delay you;
    Or, am I worth less to you than frigid Illyria?
And, at this point, does that guy, whoever he is,
    seem of such worth to you that you desire to go,
in any sort of wind, without me? (1-4)

The poet-lover is desperate to keep the mistress with him; nevertheless, he does not open with praise or suppliant language. He calls the mistress demens (mad). A visit to gelida Illyria (frigid/icy Illyria) does not seem like a romantic holiday. Additionally, the placement of gelida beneath demens may signal Propertius's subtle hint that Cynthia, like Illyria, is frigid and unbending. In lines 3 and 4 readers learn that the mistress is threatening to abandon Propertius in favor of a new man. One would expect the poet's resentment to build, but as the carmen unfolds, his position of servitude beneath an obstinate mistress is clear.
sed quocumque modo de me, periura, mereris,
    sit Galatea tuae non aliena viae:
nam me non ullae poterunt corrumpere, de te
    quin ego, vita, tuo limine vera querar;
nec me deficiet nautas rogitare citatos
    "Dicite, quo portu clausa puella mea est?"
et dicam "Licet Atraciis considat in oris,
    et licet Hylaeis, illa futura mea est."

But whatever you deserve from me, liar,
    may Galatea not be a stranger on your journey:
For, other girls will not be able to break me away from you;
    moreover, [my] life, I will lament truths at your door.
This will not dissuade me from asking swift sailors,
    "Say, in which port is my girl cloistered?"
and I shall say, "Although she resides on Thessalian shores,
    and although she settles with the Hylaeians,
that woman will be mine." (17-18; 21-26)

The domina of Roman elegy comes and goes as she pleases; the poet-lover remains faithful at all costs and continues to pursue the mistress through verse. Cynthia is a liar, periura, yet Propertius vows to remain steadfast (nam me non ullae poterunt corrumpere, de te). The poet exclaims in 1.8b:
Hic erit! hic iurata manet! rumpantur iniqui!
vicimus: assiduas non tulit preces.

Here she shall be! She has vowed to remain here!
     Let hostile men be destroyed! I have been victorious:
     she could not bear ceaseless prayers. (1-2)

It seems for the moment that Propertius is the victor. Cynthia has promised to stay, but as Catullus notes in poem 70.3-4, "mulier cupido quod dicit amanti,/in vento et rapida scribere oportet aqua" (what a woman says to the desirous lover, one should write on the wind and rapid water). Propertius wore her down with assiduas preces; she may change her mind when a more suitable lover comes round. The elegists construct scenes in which their beloveds entice them to travel down libidinous paths so they may torture them with rejection and promises of future liaisons. The male lover never controls the mind, body, or heart of the domina. As a matter of fact, the more the lover works to obtain the favor of the domina, the further removed from him she becomes. When Nemesis abandons the city for a country holiday, Tibullus is prepared to work as a slave in order to secure her love.
horrida villosa corpora veste tegant.
     nunc si clausa mea est, si copia rara videndi,
heu miserum, laxam quid iuvat esse togam?
     ducite: ad imperium dominae sulcabimus agros:
non ego me vinclis verberibusque nego.

A rustic body should be wrapped in a rough garment.
    Now, if my girl is shut away, if the opportunity to see [her] is
O wretched man, what use is a loose toga?
    Lead on: I will plough the fields according to the dominion of the
mistress: I do not deny myself chains and beatings. (2.3.76-80)

Under normal circumstances Roman men should never allow themselves to become subservient to a woman. However, Venus, goddess of erotic desire, assists the domina. She and Cupid/Amor help by forcing the poet to become a servus amoris (a servant of love). "The Roman elegist reduces the lover to a social level to which in real life he could not have condescended without suffering humiliation and disgrace," (Copley 295).
Cynthia prima suis miserum me cepit ocellis,
    contactum nullis ante cupidinibus.
tum mihi constantis deiecit lumina fastus
    et caput impositis pressit Amor pedibus,
donec me docuit castas odisse puellas
    improbus, et nullo vivere consilio.

With her eyes, Cynthia first captured pitiful me,
    before this [I had] been infected by no passions.
Then Love forced down my proud gaze
    and pressed my head with imposing feet,
next the perverse one taught me to loathe chaste girls
    and to live with no discretion. (Propertius 1.1-6)

In the opening poem of his collection, Propertius tells readers he has been captured (cepit), and forced into submission (deiecit, pressit, docuit). In 2.4 Tibullus reports a similar indoctrination.
Hic mihi seruitium uideo dominamque paratam:
    iam mihi, libertas illa paterna, uale.
seruitium sed triste datur, teneorque catenis,
    et numquam misero uincla remittit Amor.

At this point I see slavery and a dominatrix prepared for me:
    Now for me, farewell to this paternal freedom.
But gloomy slavery is offered, and I am held by chains,
    and Love never loosens the chains from a wretched man. (1-4)

Once the men have been enslaved, they spend all their time composing poetry as they try to win the affections of a distant, seemingly untouchable, domina. Because the poet is enslaved, he is not free to write verse that may not please the mistress. Propertius tells Ponticus (1.7) that he is unable to compose epic. This pursuit (elegy) consumes his life (hic mihi conteritur vitae modus 1.7.9);
    atque aliquid duram quaerimus in dominam;
nec tantum ingenio quantum servire dolori
    cogor et aetatis tempora dura queri.

    And so, I seek something [for use] against a hard mistress;
I am forced to serve not [my] talent as much as [my] anguish
    and to lament this tough time of life. (6-8)

Notably, the domina is regularly described in masculine terms (durus, hard) while the lover-poet is portrayed as feminine (mollis, soft). In poem 2.1 Propertius laments once more that he cannot compose epic verse, claiming in line 78: "Huic misero fatum dura puella fuit" (A tough woman was the destruction of this wretched man). (9) This sort of language establishes a new hierarchy in which women may be more powerful and therefore more masculine than their suitors. "Elegiac poets in the tradition traceable at least back to Catullus provocatively portray themselves through these terms [mollis, tenuis, tener] as 'effeminate' as part of their challenge to traditional views of Roman virtus/maleness through the inversion of traditional gender and social roles" (Myers 11).

The term virgin may seem transparent or simple to define, but classical examples shore up various faces of the virgin. Virgin means far more than abstinence. A woman in ancient Greece was considered a maiden (virgin) as long as she was not married. Certainly the expectation of abstinence was there, but it was not mandatory. Central to the concept of virginity in the ancient world was that one was not yet a mother. These youths were not liberated; nevertheless, virgins participated in public ritual and had a distinct place in the social hierarchy relevant to community service. (10) Maidens were expected to advance toward motherhood according to established traditions. These customs maintained that the maiden should be kept from public unless accompanied by attendants and that she should obey the wishes of the men to whom she belonged. Sophocles presents conflictive images of the virgin in Antigone. As the play opens, Antigone and Ismene (sisters, orphans, maidens) discuss the edict against burial of their brother. Antigone burns to defy both the law and her male guardian, Creon, by burying Polyneices. Ismene's response to her sister's plan to carry out funeral rites sums up the Athenian maiden's position.
but it is prudent to understand this, that we are
women according to nature, so we must not oppose men. (61-62)

Antigone, however, did not behave according to custom. She roamed outside the household unattended, and dared to defy the law. These actions were so disturbing to Creon that he condemned her to death. As she walks toward live entombment, Antigone draws attention to her maiden status, saying: "unlamented, without friends, unwed, I am led, in mental torment toward this sure journey" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), (877-78). Antigone's existence in Greek tragedy altered the virginal template; still, she was not the first Greek literary maiden to move rather freely outside the confines of the oikos. In the Odyssey Homer tells of Fair-armed Nausicaa, daughter of Alcinous and Arete, who carries out the household duties of a maiden and does not disobey her parents. In order to maintain the household she asks (6.58-59) if she may go to the river to wash the laundry ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). When she meets Odysseus, the maiden remains mindful of her reputation and instructs him to follow secretly rather than accompany her in the chariot (276-88). Both Antigone and Nausicaa slightly alter the types of acceptable behavior for virgins. The one difference is that Nausicaa follows the path laid for her by society, thereby securing her position as more than a virgin.

Service to one's family also meant service of the state for some Roman maidens. Young virgins from noble families in Rome, much like the parthanoi of ancient Greece, were selected to serve as Vestal Virgins. Cloistered away, these young women maintained the eternal fire of the city. This elite order was perhaps the most revered group of women in Rome. They could dispatch pardons (Suetonius, Caesar), dismiss the power of the Tribunes (Suetonius, Tiberius), and drive chariots in the city at times of day when chariots were forbidden (The Lex Julia Municipalis C.I.L., I). (11) These positions of power would usually be reserved for men, but because of the Vestals' status as virginal custodians of Rome's virility, they could exert dominion. The Vestal Virgin was not expected to live out her days as a maiden; after thirty years of service, she was free to marry or remain single. Both the Vestals and their rites embodied Rome's fertility and continued success. This imagery was long associated with the vestals connection to the earth. Simon Goldhill and Cato Worsfold recognize that the goddess Vesta, for whom Roman vestals were named, was worshipped as a mother similar to the manner in which Mary would be revered as the Virgin Mother. The Vestals were emblems of virginity, but nestled within their image was the possibility of life, so this image of the Roman virgin was delicately interwoven with the maternal promise of life's perpetual renewal. The cult of the Vestal Virgins was closely related to the worship of Hestia, virgin goddess of the hearth and as such the image of Rome's Vestal Virgins is one which embodies virginity while looking forward to the role of mater. Goldhill says that Hestia is a virgin who
  also demonstrates the other side of the representation of the female
  in Athenian thought, that we have seen so often denied or ignored,
  despite its evident and important role in some religious festivals
  and ceremonies, namely, the female as the protector and preserver
  of fertility and abundance. For in order to fulfill her role of
  ensuring permanence in time, the virgin Hestia is also strangely
  depicted as if she were a mother, the potential giver of life, like
  the earth herself, in which Hestia is rooted. Indeed, the image of
  the female as the source of life, nourishing the fruitfulness of
  the oikos and its land, begins to take shape at the center of the
  household. (72-73)

The mater was positioned at the center of the ancient household. The husband carried on business outside while she maintained order within the family. Men expected the mother of their children to be faithful. However, the term mater does not imply fidelity, loyalty, or adherence to social rules. Ancient literature offers multifaceted portraits of the mater. Penelope, the Homeric standard for Greek mothers, is faithful and provides sound advice to her child while maintaining a household that threatens collapse at the hands of lascivious suitors. Through cunning and wit she keeps the ravenous suitors at a safe distance while remaining faithful to a husband whose fate is uncertain. Although Penelope presumes to preserve her household through deceit, the suitors have a different opinion regarding her actions. Antinous blasts the following complaints at Telemachus:
  It is not the Achaean suitors who are to blame, but your own
  mother, who is more clever than all women. For three years past,
  with the fourth presently passing, she has been tricking the hearts
  in the chests of the Achaeans. To all she gives hopes, sends them
  messages and gives oaths to every man, but her mind plans other
  things. She planned this deceit; she put out a broad web of
  expensive thread in her chamber and began to weave. (2.87-95)

From the suitors point of view, Penelope is nothing more than a mere-trix or at the very least a domina who is only concerned with her own interests. The suitors may be consuming all of Odysseus's property, but they blame Penelope for their continued presence. The role of the mater/matrona, then, had the ability to extend well beyond basic domestic concerns. Penelope preserved her maternal position, but she achieved security through deceit.

Other ancient mothers were not always loyal to their husbands. Clytemnestra exemplifies an enraged mother who is capable of murdering her husband in order to avenge her daughter's death. Medea, murderous mater, brazenly slays her children after Jason decides to forsake their marriage in exchange for a more politically lucrative union (Euripides). Each of these matronae place their own desires above preservation of the household. Their sense of justice is governed by something outside the codified rules of conduct. Once Clytemnestra has been discovered with the body of Agamemnon, she fiercely attacks those who stand in judgment. "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (I, as you now, have a fearless heart), she shouts at the chorus (1402). Penelope was loyal to Odysseus above all, but Clytemnestra says she committed the murder as "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Justice [for her] child) (Aeschylus. Agamemnon 1432). Eurydice also honors her child above her husband, Creon. She commits suicide as she grieves for the loss of her final son (Sophocles). Each of these acts demonstrates the primacy of motherhood for ancient women. With the sacrifice of Iphigeneia and the death of Eurydice's final son the traditional role mater was forced to change. The mater unified her household and embodied the continuance of the family's lineage, but the actions of a matrona may not always support the wishes of the men in her life.

Meretrix is the term for Greek courtesan. These women existed outside the dominion of men in imperial Rome and also seem to have inspired the Roman elegists as they created their dominae. (12) Barbara Gold and Maria Wyke have discussed various literary and social sources of inspiration for the personae of the elegiac mistress. Whether the elegiac mistress was modeled after women in New Comedy, satire, or the lives of actual women is not the issue here. The characteristics associated with these women informed descriptions of women across genres. Sexual promiscuity was associated with this label but being a meretrix meant suitors were expected to offer lavish gifts with the hope of sexual recourse. A meretrix may receive heaps of attention from a man and still turn him down; she is a woman who is "educated, intelligent, elegant, charming, independent, sexually active independent of marriage, and perpetually demanding expensive gifts" (James 37). The elegists describe the mistress as all these things; however, they rarely receive the benefits they hope to receive by offering expensive gifts and devotion. Catullus tries to convince himself to abandon the pursuit of his mistress. He says,
nam quaecumque homines bene cuiquam aut dicere possunt
    aut facere, haec a te dictaque factaque sunt.
omnia quae ingratae perierunt credita menti.

For whatever a man is able to either say or do well for someone
     these things have been both said and done by you.
All credits have perished in that girl's ungrateful mind. (76.7-9)

The verb credo may be used to refer to monetary deposits and in this case, as Fordyce notes, Catullus's investment has gone bad (367). Catullus mocks Caelius Rufus in poem 69 because he cannot get a woman into bed. His insult is, Rufus, you will not get a woman: "non si illam rarae labefactes munere vestis/ aut perluciduli deliciis lapidis" (not even if you weaken her with a gift of rare clothing, or with glistening precious stones) (3-4). Tibullus's mistress is also a greedy girl: "illa cava pretium flagitat usque manu" (that girl continuously demands wages with an empty hand) (2.4.14).

This sort of woman was considered dangerous in Rome because she offered women proof of a comfortable lifestyle outside the confines of marriage. They also encouraged Roman men to forgo marriage in exchange for a more urbane affair with an educated, desirable woman (no legal strings attached). Roman matronae witnessed the opportunities available to those who dared to live beyond traditional codes of conduct and at times they also began to enjoy the devices of a meretrix. Propertius chastises Cynthia for going round in finery suitable for the courtesan.
Quid iuvat ornato procedere, vita, capillo
     et tenuis Coa veste movere sinus,
aut quid Orontea crinis perfundere murra,
     teque peregrinis vendere muneribus,
naturaeque decus mercato perdere cultu,
     nec sinere in propriis membra nitere bonis?
Of what use is it, [my] life, to go out with arranged hair
     and to move the thin folds of the Coan silk dress,
or what use is it to soak your hair with Syrian perfume,
     and to market yourself in foreign gifts,
or to destroy the beauty of nature with bought refinement,
     or to not allow [your] figure to glisten in its own goodness?

The influx of meretrices inspired changes in the code of conduct for women of the upper class. The meretrix had liaisons with married men or bachelors. Her primary concern was to make enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life (James 38-40). Because of this, the meretrix could quickly become lukewarm when a suitor was no longer the man with the highest bankroll. Through her management and manipulation of an assortment of lovers, the meretrix ensured that she was financially secure into old age. This was particularly important since the meretrix would not have the protection of a male authority figure that would provide for her needs. Often avarice is named as the cause for the courtesan's demands, but the meretrix would simply site economics as the force behind her levies. In order to entice the wealthiest, and therefore most educated men, the meretrix had to be intelligent.
  The elegiac woman controls her own life, engages in occupational
  extramarital sex, occasionally takes a contract with a man but
  continues to pursue her profession behind his back, fears old age,
  and perpetually needs gifts and money. She is learned enough to
  appreciate (and even write; cf. Prop. 2.3) complex, allusive
  poetry, and while she may wish to indulge her impoverished
  lover-poets, she can afford to do so only rarely--hence the intense
  sexual persuasion of those demented lovers. In other words, the
  docta puella engenders elegy precisely through her status as a
  courtesan. (James 41)

Elizabeth, I argue, embodied all of these stereotypes. She was monarch but also Woman. In the three works examined here, she is presented among the images of goddesses (Hera/Juno, Minerva/Athena, and Aphrodite/Venus) or with excerpts from literatures that call these goddesses to mind. Each goddess represents traits associated with the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix stereotypes. Just like Woman, these goddesses may simultaneously possess many or all of these qualities. Hera, protector of marriage and home, symbolizes the law of hearth and family (the movement from virginal to maternal status). Myth also clearly outlines her bad temper and frequent bouts of jealous rage. Like the domina and meretrix, she demanded fidelity from her vir (man/husband) and exploded into maddening fury when this expectation was not met. Athena was associated with justice, wisdom, war, and craftsmanship, and was often described in masculine terms. Fiercely independent, Athena sprang from the head of her father, Zeus, and according to Virgil, Athena had the unique ability to wield her father's lightning bolt. Athena represents the ultimate domina/virgin combination. Venus was the embodiment of mortal beauty and desire. Like the domina she was fickle and unruly; like the meretrix she was elegant, beautiful, and demanding. Still, Venus was a mother who doggedly fought against the adversity her son, Aeneas, endured, thereby blending amorous and maternal qualities. It is important to note that although these goddesses are frequently associated with one specific attribute, in reality they simultaneously possess the characteristics of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix.

By positioning herself alongside multiple embodiments of female power and mystery, Elizabeth I willfully presented an image of one who was aware of her gendered position and who knew how to maneuver in her specific political conditions. While it is true that from time to time Elizabeth would make negative comments regarding her gender, the presentation of the queen in these portraits is overwhelmingly feminine. Much like the goddesses discussed above, she embodied each of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix stereotypes. This suggests that Elizabeth did not disdain her gender, but embraced it, thereby establishing the image of a woman who could and did stretch boundaries. The queen's use of classical iconography helped position her as absolute monarch, the mistress of her home and kingdom.

Classical iconography was familiar to the Renaissance subject and the queen readily situated her likeness with deified embodiments of feminine power. This essay does not suggest that classical literature was the only source from which the queen and her subjects gleaned inspiration. The Renaissance subject's interest in classical texts and Greco-Roman iconography was nourished by the work of Petrarch. Others followed, embraced petrarchisms, and continued to highlight the gender/sexuality struggle born in the classical texts which served as their inspiration. Petrarch hoped to engage Greek and Roman texts on their own terms rather than through a Christian filter. His "conviction that current problems could best be solved by conscious imitation of the ancients was a powerful force throughout Renaissance civilization" (Thompson 43). Petrarch possessed an extensive personal library of Greek and Roman literature, of which many texts were copied in his own hand. (13) As J. L. Butrica has noted, many emendations of the Propertian corpus have been attributed to Petrarch. Perhaps the most famous comparison between the work of Roman elegists and that of Petrarch is the similarities between the portrayal of his affection and pursuit of Laura to the elegists' love affairs. Duane Stuart denies that all the elegiac mimesis scholars have found in Petrarch is accurate; nevertheless, he concludes that there are many common elements in each poet's body of work. The following petrarchisms are certainly rooted in Roman elegy: 1) the beloved is both adored and despised [Petrarch uses the term dolce nemica, "sweet adversary," to describe the mistress], 2) being in love is analogous to warfare, and 3) service to the mistress frees the lover from other restraints. Certainly Elizabeth I was familiar with the work of Petrarch. An excerpt of his work is contained within the Plimpton "Sieve" Portrait, which will be discussed at length.

Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses portrays the queen with Juno, Minerva, and Venus. (14) Standing with orb and scepter in hand, the queen strikes a royal pose. This work is attributed to Hans Eworth, but Roy Strong suggests it may be the work of Joris Hoefnagel. (15) He also asserts that this piece could not have been commissioned by the Queen and must have been a gift (Gloriana 69). Whatever the source, this piece was prominently displayed in Whitehall Palace, so Elizabeth must have been pleased with the content and likeness. Most scholars agree that this painting is an allegory for the Judgment of Paris. (16) However, when one considers the lines of poetry inscribed on the painting's frame other readings are possible. These lines do not cast Elizabeth as judge over the goddesses in the same sense that Paris stood in judgment concerning their beauty. The poem, written in elegiac couplets, (17) reads:
Juno potens sceptis, et mentis acumine Pallas
     et roseo Veneris fulget in ore decus:
Adfuit Elisabeth, Juno perculsa refugit,
     obstupit Pallas, erubuitque Venus.

Juno was powerful in royal dominion, Pallas possessed keen intellect,
     and grace gleamed upon Venus' rosy face:
Elizabeth stepped forward; Juno fled unnerved, Pallas became senseless,
     and Venus blushed with respect.

Strong is correct when he says these lines claim Elizabeth has defeated the three goddesses, and I agree when he says that this painting is a "regal triumph delicately phrased in terms of a ruler's victory through the combination within herself of the attributes of her three adversaries" (Gloriana 69). The Judgment of Paris, I argue, is not the only or best interpretation of this piece. As Susan Doran notes, if this painting represents the Judgment of Paris Elizabeth must assume the position of Paris; moreover, rather than award the golden apple (in this instance the orb) to Venus, the queen keeps the prize (175). True, this interpretation does not diminish Elizabeth's dominance relative to the three goddesses, but it does discount her gender. In casting Elizabeth as Paris, scholars have detracted from her gendered position. Elizabeth's presentation is undeniably feminine; Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses fashions the queen as one who can assume the various roles of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix represented by these goddesses (Ffolloitt 168). This reading acknowledges her dominance while leaving space for Elizabeth's particular-gendered position to also be accredited. The goddesses' positions are ambiguous. Yes, Juno is in flight while Athena and Venus look on with admiration, but the scene also suggests that Juno and her companions are prepared to accept Elizabeth into their divine assemblage. In fact, their emblems of power, strewn upon the ground, seem more like offerings than oppositional arms. Juno's scepter, Athena's shield, and Venus' broken arrows litter the area around their feet, and mingle with red and white roses. It seems natural to associate the roses with Venus, but the Tudor rose should not be forgotten. Arguably, the red and white roses may represent both the Tudor rose and Venus' token of love. These items are mirrored in the Queen's pose and dress (Doran 176). Juno has laid aside her scepter; the queen holds a scepter. Athena's shield, the symbol of her force and wisdom passed on to her from her father, rests at her feet. (18) Elizabeth holds the orb, which was also passed to her through patriarchal custom. Venus' arrows of love are thrown down; the queen does not possess arms but we get the notion that the arrows of Venus and Cupid will not penetrate Elizabeth's heart and cause her to suffer the madness of love (Doran 176). At first glance, Elizabeth's dress appears "stiff" and rather lifeless when compared to the flowing, colorful robes of the goddesses (Strong Gloriana, 65). Her ensemble certainly seems severe when compared to the goddesses' attire, but close inspection reveals a mixture of colors found in the clothing of each goddess. The underskirt resembles the bodice of Juno's robe; the crosshatched embroidery on the outer-skirt is golden like Athena's skirt. Elizabeth's bodice and the hem of her outer-skirt is embroidered with what appear to be red roses like those scattered at Venus' feet, and although the goddess is nude, she sits on a robe and a red wrap (Doran 176). This image of the queen implies that she may take on the attributes exemplified by these classical icons whenever she chooses.

Elizabeth's position on the canvas also suggests that she may simultaneously align herself with or disengage herself from these icons of feminine stereotypes (domina-virgin-mater-meretrix). (19) Elizabeth stands above the goddesses with two maids-in-waiting behind. Her royal arms are visible within the room. She comes forward and has actually passed beyond the threshold while the maids linger within, engrossed in conversation. I would like to suggest that Elizabeth's movement past the confines of the hall, toward the outside realm of these classical goddesses, is an indication of her position as a monarch who would pass beyond known boundaries in order to assert her dominion. Her attention, unlike that of the maids', is turned outward, or in this case turned back toward the iconography of the ancients. Rather than remain within the cloistered halls and embrace tradition, Elizabeth is seen as a female monarch who looks beyond the confines of her walls for inspiration. She seems as if she might step down from her lofty position and join the goddesses, but being stationed slightly higher says that although she can mingle with them her royal position is best served from this place of observation. As Juno flees, she looks back toward the queen. She seems to invite Elizabeth to join her as she gestures with her right hand (20)

The Plimpton "Sieve" Portrait, perhaps one of the most famous representations of the "Virgin Queen," is far more than simple propaganda relative to Elizabeth's public virginity. Here, as in the previous work, the stereotypes domina-virgin-mater-meretrix furtively skirt the portrait in texts inspired by classical authors. At the time this painting was commissioned, the queen was forty-six and had ruled over twenty years. Secure in her domain, she calmly sits, sieve in hand, while the world rests above her right shoulder and her own emblem over the left. "Tuto vedo & molto manch" (I see everything and much is lacking), reads the text above the globe, and below Elizabeth's official seal Petrarch, who was immensely influenced by Ovid, is quoted, "Wearied rest and rested grief." This selection from Petrarch is taken from the Triumph of Love (21). In this portrait, commissioned and arranged by the queen, the images of domina-virgin-mater-meretrix skillfully intertwine to reveal the whole of Elizabeth's controversial identity. The Virgin Queen dominates the canvas. Elizabeth holds a sieve in her left hand; it is widely accepted that she was inspired to hold a sieve in order to validate her virginity. This imagery was inspired by the story of the Vestal Virgin, Tuccia, who in order to prove her chastity, carried a sieve full of water from the Tiber to the temple. (22) Tuccia would have been unable to manage the task were it not for the divine aid of Vesta. Like Tuccia, Elizabeth believed her position was divinely sanctioned. Gail Paster suggests that the sieve "is a paradoxical symbol of Elizabeth's virginity. Full of holes, the sieve refers unmistakably to the symbolically leaky, hence unreliable nature of ordinary women's bodies even as it asserts, through its link to Tuccia, the queen's transcendence as virgin monarch of ordinary women. For Elizabeth in her capacity as ruler, the sieve is an emblem not of leakiness but of discernment, of the good judgment requisite in rulers" (Body Embarrassed 50). The image of a Vestal Virgin, particularly Tuccia, worked well for Elizabeth. She wanted to be seen as a wise, educated, trustworthy maiden. Not everyone embraced this image of the queen. By assuming the position of Tuccia she seems to say that she too does not "leak." In other words, Elizabeth can also prove her chastity is intact.

Elizabeth, like the Roman Vestal, served as a central, unifying symbol of her nation's power and influence. Also like the vestals, Elizabeth maintained the image of fertility; until a late age the court held out hope for an heir. As a result of her dual roles, the terms virgin and mater became intricately intertwined in royal propaganda. Rather than maintain one image, she embraced both. We cannot deny the influence of the Marian cult upon her decision, yet insisting that this was the only root of her assumption of both virgin and mater as acceptable labels deflates the queen's agency and ignores her humanist training. Certainly her assumption of the title "Virgin Queen" was partially inspired by her desire to fill the space left after the removal of Catholic ritual. Nevertheless, the tradition of virgins and mothers standing at the center of civic custom predates the Christian faith. With these similarities in mind, Elizabeth's assumption of both titles simply continued a tradition born in antiquity and continued by the Christian ritual. (23) The prevalence of the Marian cult served the queen well, but it must not be considered the only, seminal source for Elizabeth's positions as virgin and mater.

The oral commentary accompanying this portrait at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, claims that Elizabeth was thought to have transcended the pains of an elegiac lover (present in the quotation from Petrarch), the pressure of conquest (present in the image of the globe), and the desire to maintain political balance (present in her coat of arms). Elizabeth appears as more than a virgin in this painting. I do not believe she incorporated references to love, conquest, and dominion in order to support her virginal image. These burdens (love, conquest, political dominion) seem to rest on her shoulders. Elizabeth may not be saying that she has eliminated these worries, but that she manages to keep them in balance due to her virginal state. These references also remind us that the queen has more than one persona and that she may simultaneously possess the characteristics of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix. Without doubt Elizabeth had, by this time, proven that she was capable of ruling, and she would not have allowed the inclusion of references to erotic passion, conquest, and peace unless she believed it was beneficial. These references were incorporated into the painting as a reminder that Elizabeth's identity was constructed beyond the limits of traditional gendered roles.

Elizabethan Conceit is not a portrait, but a parchment. This work was a gift to the queen just sixteen days prior to her death. Since the queen did not commission this piece, it makes a convincing argument for Elizabeth's success in the realm of image construction. The parchment literally folds into a small package, which must be unfolded in the proper order. The reader explicates, or more literally unfolds, layers of text as portions of the queen are revealed. In order to "know" Elizabeth the reader must first read portions of several myths. The myths are not drawn out in full, but are concisely summarized just above small sketches of each central female character. Three myths from antiquity figure into the construction of this parchment: The Judgment of Paris, The Story of Dido, and The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe. Because this was a gift to the queen, one would assume the author hoped to flatter Elizabeth by likening her to ancient heroines. Moreover, because of Elizabeth's extraordinary knowledge of ancient literature, the author could assume that she would be able to fully appreciate this gift without detailed renditions of the myths.

In The Judgment of Paris, Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena compete for the title "most lovely." Each of the goddesses offers Paris a bribe; Aphrodite wins out and is proclaimed most beautiful. It is not, however, her beauty alone that secures the prize but her coy offer of the most beautiful mortal woman, Helen. Aphrodite and Helen embody traits of both the meretrix and the domina. In this particular story, Aphrodite manipulates Paris' own desire in order to obtain what she wants, a classic move of the meretrix. Helen is an especially complex figure. Variations of her story present conflicting images and with Elizabeth's knowledge of classical languages it is likely that she knew of Helen's stories. Some present her as nothing more than an adulterous whore. In other versions there is a strong desire to deflate her agency in the affair with Paris. She is presented as a woman who is kidnapped, and some versions of the myth go so far as to have Helen whisked away, claiming she never had sex with Paris. In the Heroides, Ovid presents Helen's internal conflict as she struggles with the responsibilities of a mater and the desires of a meretrix. In poem 16 Paris reveals his feelings to Helen and initiates the affair. In poem 17 Helen's response to his invitation vacillates between disgust and excitement. She acknowledges the risks of adultery, claims she is trustworthy, and then proceeds to hint at her desire to take the risk. The poet creates an ambiguous image so the reader is left to judge. By opening with The Judgment of Paris, the author couches the theme of this parchment within the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix stereotypes. Like Helen, Elizabeth's sexual conduct (whether real or false) was regularly commented upon. Tales of chastity and promiscuity were part of the queen's mysterious identity and fascinated both the court and her subjects. Some presented her as a ruthless sex fiend (meretrix), others as a benevolent-dedicated mistress (mater). Carole Levin points out that even at the end of her reign, "by not marrying, by being both no-one's and everyone's and by presenting herself as both a virgin to be revered and a sensuous woman to be adored, Elizabeth exerted a strong psychological hold on her subjects" (87). She offered them the image of one who was self-possessed (domina) but still enjoyed flattery and seduction (meretrix).

Dido, queen of Carthage, had a tumultuous rise to power. Deceived and abandoned by her own family, she traveled to Africa where she established her realm by means of her own intellect. However, according to Virgil, Dido fell in love with Aeneas and was driven to suicide because of her desire. Dido was a widow. Until she met Aeneas, she had been interested in no other man; in fact, she continued to mourn the loss of her husband. Dido represents more than a scorned lover who kills herself for love. Before being consumed by passion, Dido was a tremendously successful monarch. Virgil describes her city as one characterized by rapid development with magnificent architecture and fine art. Dido, like the domina and meretrix, was considered a threat to traditional rules. A woman may be independent in the ancient world, but she would certainly not be monarch. It is easy to see Elizabeth's relationship to Dido relative to her political position. Both women ruled alone. Dido, however, offers an interesting contrast to Elizabeth. She fell for Aeneas and lost her kingdom. This was a fear that played out again and again concerning foreign suitors. All were in a rush to have the queen marry, but everyone cringed at the thought of being ruled by a foreign court. For years many had begged her to marry. Some believed she preferred Robert Dudley, who was already married. The queen was especially close to Dudley, but made no moves toward union with him. She preferred to hold onto her position as the domina of her kingdom. The story of Dido also served as a reminder that Elizabeth, unlike Dido, could not be persuaded to jeopardize her kingdom for the sake of amorous affairs. Also, Dido was not a maiden. This myth does not directly deal with Elizabeth's virginity. Perhaps the Virgin Queen was able to resist the lure of eros. Dido had been married, had passed through maidenhood. Elizabeth was unique in that even though she was an elderly woman, she was also a virgin. Semper Eadem (Always the Same), she was not susceptible to libidinous destruction. (24)

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe was a common inspiration for tragic love stories. Two lovers must hide their affair because their families do not want them to marry; their only communication is through a crack in the wall that separates their households. The lovers plan to meet; fate causes one to suspect the other's death, which results in a double suicide. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is the tale of young, naive love and the desperate measures two will take in order to be together. The lovers are glorified and those who keep them apart seem out of line. I believe this myth acknowledges Elizabeth's status as the Virgin Queen. Thisbe dies before she has the opportunity to consummate her relationship with Pyramus. Elizabeth, like Thisbe, will die a virgin. These references to Elizabeth's persistent virginity may be considered flattery, or they are symptomatic of her subjects' anxiety. It was the queen's responsibility to produce an heir. Even though Elizabeth called herself the mater of her subjects, it may not have erased tensions surrounding the threat of future conflict relative to the crown. The queen refused the court's requests that she marry and produce an heir; she insisted upon playing the domina. Louis Montrose's article dealing with Elizabethan portraiture, "Idols of the Queen: Policy, Gender, and the Picturing of Elizabeth I," suggests that art offered subjects a means of manipulating or altering their untouchable-dominant monarch. He also points out that the regime may have one thing in mind when crafting an official image, but the mob is free to interpret this image according to their particular measure of truth. Still, even if the creator of these works of art was uncomfortable with Elizabeth's persona, he continued to recycle images of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix as he struggled to frame the queen.

These three works represent Elizabeth's continued use of the domina-virgin-mater-meretrix types as her identity evolved throughout her reign. Spanning the years 1569-1603, Elizabeth maintained her image relevant to classical heroines until death. The importance of the manipulation of these images is that through them the queen demonstrated that a woman could break free from the roles traditionally extended to the "weaker-sex." Elizabeth is claimed by Spain's Calendar of State Papers to have said, "I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king," but visual likenesses portray her as wholly woman (Calendar of letters 4:131). There is no definitive reading of these pieces of art and there is certainly no single identity for Elizabeth I. Particular roles and positions were laid out for Renaissance women; Queen Elizabeth both embraced and rejected these standards of behavior. Elizabeth's interpretation and use of the labels domina-virgin-mater-meretrix position her as a "woman-in-the-feminine" (Benstock 3-4).

These women, as Benstock has noted, function within the finitude of the phallic economy and beneath the pressure to react against the law. Produced in a phallic economy, this fantasy "figure marks (out) a horizon of figurability that is also the vanishing point of representation" (4). This vanishing point marks the chora, a necessary space that can only be filled by the Symbolic's residue. Women-in-the-feminine are residues of the fantasies posited along the bubble's rim just beneath the Real. They are glimpses of the Otherness which rests outside the knowable. Women-in-the-feminine struggle for voice in this thetic phase. They agitate the Symbolic, causing the bubble to stretch till it nearly bursts (thetic phase), but the Symbolic intervences, thereby constructing another chora which must be filled. One should note that women-in-the-feminine are both product of and producer of these gaps insofar as they are in many ways a function of the semiotic. "The semiotic," Benstock says in her discussion of Kristeva's theory of subjectivity, "represents all that the symbolic cannot order according to its terms, what is excluded (and therefore necessary) to its founding principles. The semiotic is not, however, a separate discursive place in which an alternative symbolic order (feminine, rather than masculine, for instance) might establish itself. It cannot signify as such but operates within and through the symbolic, from which it cannot be disengaged" (24-25).

As a woman-in-the-feminine, Elizabeth represented both accepted and profane manifestations of woman. The queen worked within the codified system to carve space for her particular identity. She called herself the Virgin Queen but dressed in finery (much like the meretrix). She named herself the mater of her people but ruled with an unyielding, sometimes cold resolve (like the domina). Moreover, Elizabeth did not pass from one identity to the next along a timeline established by social custom. Shattering most of the rules of conduct, she remained single when she should have born children (just as the meretrix) and continued courtships past an age at which most people would have been ashamed to carry on love affairs. A husband never figures into these portraits; Elizabeth wanted to rule alone. The paintings and parchments that represented the multifaceted identity of the queen had to represent both her stability as monarch and her ability to shift accepted ideologies. Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses, The Plimpton "Sieve" Portrait, and Elizabethan Conceit incorporated classical references in order to showcase each of the stereotypical roles (domina, virgin, mater, meretrix) Elizabeth I utilized throughout her reign.


(1.) Her tutor, Roger Ascham, commented that she read "more Greeke euery day, than some Prebendarie of this Chirch doth read Latin in a whole weeke" (Ziegler 23). With such an impressive command of classical languages, the queen had the ability to read scores of texts. "She had read the New Testament in Greek, the orations of Isocrates and the tragedies of Sophocles, amongst other works ... and throughout her life she would try to set aside three hours each day to read historical books" (Weir 14).

(2.) This is a term coined by Jacques Lacan. See the following works for thorough treatment of Lacan's theory of subjectivity: Lacan, The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, and Toril Moi, Sexual Textual Politics.

(3.) See Plato's Timaeus: 22e-23c; 52-53a; 57b-58a; 79d; 82-83a.

(4.) I am not arguing that the chora which serves as a germination bed for woman may not also foster other representations of being, but that this place is a function of the interactions between semiotic drives and Symbolic discourse. For more on this see Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language (19-31).

(5.) This structure also offers an explanation for the location of das ding. Lacan, in The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960, offers various locations for das ding. Time and again he notes that the Thing is both within and exterior, that it is the center of our drive. Specifically when discussing the placement of das ding he says that, "das Ding has to be posited as exterior, as the prehistoric Other that it is impossible to forget--the Other whose primacy of position Freud affirms in the form of something entfremdet, something strange to me, although it is at the heart of me, something that on the level of the unconscious only a representation can represent" (71). The "bubble of subjectivity" provides a trace of this relationship.

(6.) Plato has a similar discussion in the Timaeus (52d) concerning [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Being, Place, and Becoming, in which he positions [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Heaven and the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Nurse of Creation in geometric relation to one another. Note the necessity of four points governed over or managed by a fifth. This discussion progresses into Plato's treatment of the Four Kinds (fire, earth, water, air). The point of interest is that Plato returns time and again to structures composed of joined angles, culminating in a three dimensional unit composed of varied forms of sameness intertwined with difference (53c-58c). Space does not permit a full reading of this text, but, arguably, Plato's use of language concerning the creation of the universe figures into the background of both Lacan and Kristeva's articulations of subject formation.

(7.) For detailed treatment of the Roman domina, see the works of Georg Luck, R. O. A. M. Lyne, Paul Allen Miller, and David Ross.

(8.) Frank Copley and R. O. A. M. Lyne ("Servitium Amoris") have discussed the roots of the Roman domina in Greek literature. Space does not permit a full explication of their fine work. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that the Roman elegists may have found evidence of gender reversal and power struggle in earlier literature.

(9.) Paul Allen Miller has noted that this poem deals with the struggle of both gender and genre. The poet and elegy (both mollis) are no match for the beloved who is described in more epic (durus) terms (Latin Erotic Elegy 136).

(10.) Parthenoi, virgins, participated in cults for young women. These girls were referred to as "untamed fillies" who must be trained so that they may become docile wives (Zaidman 341). The Arrephoroi were sacred casket bearers who carried containers upon their heads which held items they were forbidden to look upon. Their rituals were associated with Athena and Aphrodite. The festival of the Plynteria, a cult whose function was to serve Athena by cleaning her peplos, was carried out by plyntrides, who washed the peplos or aletrides who prepared sacrificial cakes. The cult of the Little Bears consisted of around one hundred girls who were instructed to act like she bears. This ritual, according to Zaidman, appears to have been designed as an exorcism of the "she-bear in every little girl" as a preparation for marriage (343). A young woman could also serve as a kanephoros; her duty was to carry a container of barley to be placed upon the altar with sacrificial victims. Girls also participated in choral performances during festivals. These ceremonial roles traced their progression along the road to adulthood and marriage. Emphasis was placed upon virginity for all who participated in these rituals.

(11.) The original Latin text of the Tabula Heracleensis, also called the Lex Julia municipalis, has been posted by Aleandr Koptev at:

Also, a brief summary of the Tabula Heracleensis by William Smith, which originally appeared in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, ed. (London: 1875), may be read at:*/Lex_Julia_Municipalis.html.

(12.) This statement is based on the research of Gordon Williams, R. O. A. M. Lyne, Georg Luck, Paul Allen Miller, and Sharon James. All acknowledge the importance of the meretrix to the genre, but they disagree as to whether the dominae were fashioned after actual women or were simply "types." In our case, it does not matter whether the characters in the elegies were actual women. It is only important that the stereotype, meretrix, existed, and this lifestyle was mimicked by Roman matronae.

(13.) For a detailed summary of many works contained in Petrarch's collection, see the work of B. L. Ullman.

(14.) Classical myth was a popular topic for Renaissance artists. The queen certainly had the opportunity to see various painters' representations of legendary scenes. Moreover, emblem books contained a catalogue of images from myth and would have been available to both Elizabeth I and her artists-in-residence. These books contain many references to variants of the Venus/Cupid relationship and may have influenced portraits of the goddess that placed more emphasis on her matronly rather than erotic attributes. In his seminal work, Edgar Wind discusses the manner in which emblem books served to transmit Pagan mysticism alongside Christian ideology. The Pennsylvania State University's collection of online samples of Renaissance emblem books may be viewed here:

(15.) See Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture, 144-45 and Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, 68.

(16.) For an overview of this debate, see Strong, Gloriana, 65-69. See also, John N. King, "Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen"; and Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, The Myth of Elizabeth.

(17.) Roman erotic elegy was also written in elegiac couplets. Interestingly, the meter used to describe the scene is the same meter used to craft the image of the domina.

(18.) Athena's shield, which was also her father's shield, was normally portrayed in ancient art with the head of Medusa or with an owl at the center. The Medusa represented warlike fury while the owl represented Athena's association with wisdom. Several examples of Athena in full armor may be found at the following Web site:

(19.) Sheila Ffolliott suggests that the three goddesses are positioned beneath Elizabeth in order to establish her authority over them (168).

(20.) Roy Strong says Juno points toward heaven in order to validate this reinterpretation of the Judgement of Paris (Gloriana 69).

(21.) To see these poems in Latin, visit Peter Sadlon's Web site,

(22.) Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, De Civitate Dei. Petrarch, Canzoniere Trionfi.

(23.) In the Parliament of 1559, Elizabeth is accused of living as a Vestal Virgin. The Parliament's primary concern was that Elizabeth marry and produce an heir, so likening the queen to a vestal was not a compliment.

(24.) I do not believe that Elizabeth was really a virgin. However, her political image was often virginal, so in this regard her position as the Virgin Queen may have been perceived as a trait that would make her superior to Dido.

Works Cited

Aeschylus. Agamemnon. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Augustine, Saint, Bishop of Hippo. De Civitate Dei. Trans. R. W. Dyson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.

Benstock, Shari. Textualizing the Feminine: On the Limits of Genre. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma UP, 1991.

Butrica, J.L. "Editing Propertius." The Classical Quarterly 47.1 (1997): 176-208.

Calendar of letters, despatches, and state papers relating to the negotiations between England and Spain 1485-1558, preserved in the Archives at Simancas and elsewhere. Ed. G. A. Bergenroth et al. London: Longman, Green, 1862-1954.

Copley, Frank Olin. "Servitium amoris in the Roman Elegist." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 78 (1947): 285-300.

Doran, Susan, and Thomas S. Freeman, eds. The Myth of Elizabeth. New York: Palgrave, 2003.

Elizabethan Conceit (March 8, 1603). Folger MSV.b.319.

Euripides. Medea, Hippolytus, Electra, Helen. Ed. James Morwood. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

Ffolliott, Sheila. "Portraying Queens: The International Language of Court Portraiture in the Sixteenth Century." Elizabeth I: Then and Now. Ed. Georgianna Ziegler. Washington, DC: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 2003. 164-75.

Fordyce, C.J. Catullus: A Commentary. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1961.

Gold, Barbara. "'But Ariadne Was Never There in the First Place': Finding the Female in Roman Poetry." Feminist Theory and the Classics. Ed. N. S. Rabinowitz and A. Richlin. London: Routledge, 1993. 75-101.

Goldhill, S. Reading Greek Tragedy. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986.

Gower, George. The Plimpton "Sieve" Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. 1579. ART 246171.

H[ans] E[worth], attrib. Elizabeth I and the Three Goddesses (1569). RCIN 403446. The Royal Collection (c) 2002, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Homer. Odyssey. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998.

James, Sharon L. Learned Girls and Male Persuasion. Berkeley: California UP, 2003.

King, John N. "Queen Elizabeth I: Representations of the Virgin Queen." Renaissance Quarterly 43.1 (1990): 30-74.

Koptev, Aleandr. Tabula Heracleensis. From tablets in the Naples Museum, discovered near Heraclea, Italy, in 1732 and 1734. Cours/Ak/Leges/heracleensis_crawford.html.

Kristeva, Julia. Revolution in Poetic Language. New York: Columbia UP, 1984.

Lacan, Jacques. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959-1960. New York: Norton, 1992.

Levin, Carole. "The Heart and Stomach of a King": Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania UP, 1994.

Luck, Georg. The Latin Love Elegy. Methuen: London, 1969.

Lyne, R. O. A. M. The Latin Love Poets: From Catullus to Horace. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.

--. "Servitium Amoris." The Classical Quarterly 29.1 (1979): 117-30.

Miller, Paul Allen. "Why Propertius is a Woman: French Feminism and Augustan Elegy." Classical Philology 96.2 (2001): 127-46.

--. Latin Erotic Elegy: An Anthology and Reader. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Moi, Toril. Sexual Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory. London: Routledge, 1985.

Montrose, Louis A. "Idols of the Queen: Policy, Gender, and the Picturing of Elizabeth I." Representations 68 (1999): 108-61.

Myers, K. Sara. "The Poet and the Procures: The Lena in Latin Love Elegy." The Journal of Roman Studies 86 (1996): 1-21.

Newberry Library. Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend the Exhibit. September 30, 2003-Janu-ary 17, 2004.

Ovid. Heroides. Trans. Harold Isbell. New York: Penguin, 1990.

Paster, Gail Kern. The Body Embarrased: Drama and the Disciplines of Shame in Early Modern England. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993.

Petrarch, Francesco. Canzoniere Trionfi. London: Nichols & Sons, 1887.

Propertius. Elegies. Ed. G. P. Goold. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990.

Ross, David. Backgrounds to Augustan Poetry. London: Cambridge UP, 1975.

Saint Augustine. The City of God. New York: Modern, 1994.

Smith, William. "Tabula Heracleensis": A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities [online source] Ed. John Murray. London: 1875. Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMI GRA*/Lex_Julia_Municipalis.html.

Sophocles. Antigone. Ed. Mark Griffith. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.

Strong, Roy. The English Icon: Elizabethan and Jacobean Portraiture. London: Routledge and Keagan, 1969.

--. Gloriana: The Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. London: Pimlico, 2003.

Stuart, Duane Reed. "Petrarch's Indebtedness to the Libellus of Catullus." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Asssociation 48 (1917): 3-26.

Suetonius. Suetonius: Volumes 1 and 2. Harvard: Harvard UP, 1998.

Tibullus. Tibullus Elegies: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Notes. Ed. Guy Lee. 3rd ed. Francis Cairns, 1990.

Thompson, Stephen, ed. Renaissance Literature. Detroit: Greenhaven, 2001.

Ullman, B. L. "Petrarch's Favorite Books." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 54 (1923): 21-38.

Weir, Alison. The Life of Elizabeth I. New York: Ballantine, 1998.

Williams, Gordon. The Nature of Roman Poetry. London: Oxford UP, 1970.

Worsfold, T. Cato. The History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome. London: Rider, 1934.

Wyke, Maria. "The Elegiac Woman at Rome." PCPS 213 (n.s. 33) (1987): 153-78.

Zaidman, Louise Bruit. "Pandora's Daughters and Rituals in Grecian Cities." In A History of Woman Vol. 1: From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints. Ed. Pauline Schmitt Pantel. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997. 338-76.

Ziegler, Georgianna, ed. Elizabeth I: Then and Now. Washington, DC: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 2003.

Christel Johnson

COPYRIGHT 2007 Texas Tech University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Johnson, Christel
Date:Mar 22, 2007
Previous Article:Who gives a fig (tree a name)?: chronotopic conflicts in Plutarch's Romulus.
Next Article:A Boring Story: Chekhov and Germany.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters