This popularization of Arcadia greatly reduces its length and complexity by concentrating on narrative rather than debate and removing most of the heroic sub-plots (one of which, the story of Argalus and Parthenia, was already widely available in chapbook form). Much of the text is taken verbatim, or almost so, from Sidney, but the omissions make for some very different emphases. For instance, the orations at the trial of Gynecia and the princes are subject to ruthless cutting, while the doings of Dametas and his family, which have obvious popular appeal, are more extensively retained. (See, for instance, Dametas’ combat with Clinias (pp. 53-65) and his, Miso’s and Mopsa’s deception by Dorus/Musidorus (pp. 84ff., 96ff.). The concluding part of The Famous History is derived from Beling’s Sixth Book (No. 46).
The second passage below is the much abbreviated equivalent of OA, pp. 309-18. The abbreviation is achieved by the exclusion of all elements which tend to slow the narrative or to elaborate on the characters’ feelings, including the death of the rebels and several long reflective or hortatory speeches by Pamela and Musidorus.
The address to the reader is signed ‘J.N.’
The Famous History of Heroick Acts or, the Honour of Chivalry. Being an Abstract of Pembroke’s Arcadia. Containing many strange and wonderful Adventures that happened to the two young Princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, Disguised, one under the habit of a Mazon-ian Woman, and the other in Shepherd’s Dress: With their Success in LOVE, towards the two incomparable Princesses, Philoclea and Pamela, the Arcadian King’s only Daughters. The whole being a compleat Series, interwoven with the Heroick Actions of many Valiant Men, as Kings, Princes, and Knights, of undoubted Fame;