'Aeneas and Isabella' was first published in 1999. At that point it was hoped that it would elicit comments and contributions from other scholars, and that I would add more material to it. As it turned out, these things did not actually happen. Although the proposed identification of Whitney as the author of two new poems did cause some reaction, mostly positive, from scholars working in the field, my idealistic hopes for avid online discussion remained unrealised. Although I continued to be interested in the wider reception of the Heroides, and especially in the idea of replying to them, the proposed new materials were never developed. For a while the project has been dormant, and at the time of writing (February 2005) there are no plans for adding to it in the foreseeable future. In addition, after presenting a paper on this material at the 2004 RSA conference, I wrote it up for a special issue of the journal Translation and Literature, 2004. This did not represent dissatisfaction with online publication, but it did mark a moment at which it seemed sensible to go back to the optimism of 'Aeneas and Isabella', and to update it or temper it as necessary. In the event, nothing in it looked obsolete, but the six-year-old beseechings needed removing, or qualifying. Rather than deleting all hopes of future discussion of what remain important new attributions, I decided to add this headnote, so that everyone reading the site might be better informed of the state of affairs. If you are moved to respond, whether to identify any of the unidentified people, or to propose an alternative attribution of the poems, please do! The issue can quickly be reopened.
Aeneas and Isabella is a collaborative project which uses the Internet as a means of allowing scholars to contribute to a developing database of comments and materals which respond to, or are inspired by, a central theme. It is based around two poems in a printed book of 1600, F.L.'s translation of Ovid's Remedia Amoris. One is a translation of Ovid's Heroides 7 (Dido to Aeneas), and the other is an original reply from Aeneas. That they are by a different author from the translation is asserted clearly by a second preface within the work, but no attempt has been made to attribute them. The first steps of the Aeneas and Isabella project are (i) to make available texts of both poems, in edited modern-spelling versions and in transcriptions from the source, and (ii) to put forward an argument which attributes them to Isabella Whitney, the first English female professional poet. A textual commentary, including a statement of editorial conventions, can be accessed from links within the texts.
This is a collaborative project for two reasons, the first being that the argument for attribution is not complete. It does not, for example, identify F.L. or connect him to Whitney or anyone who may have known her. It does not discuss the motto 'Tout seule' which follows the second poem. It does not suggest how F.L. or his printer acquired these poems if they are by Whitney. Nor does it really undertake a close stylistic analysis to determine further that they are not by the same author as the Remedia Amoris translation. The second reason for making this a collaborative Internet project is that it may prompt people to contribute comments and/or materials which lead out from these poems in various directions. I know this to be the case because I am planning to expand upon the idea of replying to Ovid's Heroides, because the 'Aeneas to Dido' poem is one of very few to attempt this, despite the importance of the Heroides. One of the first things to be included will be texts of the three neo-Latin replies written by Angelus Sabinus.
This project resides on the CERES (Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service) web pages, of which I am co-manager. We are keen to explore the ways in which the Internet might be used to facilitate informed discussion of research, and would welcome any contributions to the project. Any comments (pro- or anti-) on the attribution, or on any other aspect of the material (textual emendations, additions to the commentary, etc.), will be received gratefully, as will suggestions of further expansion. Please get in touch by e-mail, and don't worry about HTML competence: we can process submissions from Word (or equivalent) and even from e-mail.
Aeneas and Isabella Homepage
Material on the Aeneas and Isabella pages is copyright © Raphael Lyne and CERES, 1999. All use must be acknowledged.