Exile and Restoration in John Crowne's the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian

By Neelakanta, Vanita | Philological Quarterly, Spring-Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Exile and Restoration in John Crowne's the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian


Neelakanta, Vanita, Philological Quarterly


"Banished" is banish'd from the world, And world's exile is death: then "banished" Is death mis-term'd.

(Romeo and Juliet, 3.3.19-21)

IN JANUARY 1677, The Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian, written by John Crowne in two parts, premiered at the Theatre Royal. (1) Performed by His Majesty's Servants, and later dedicated to Charles II's Catholic mistress, the Duchess of Portsmouth, the play is set against the backdrop of the siege of an insurgent Jerusalem and the capture and destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE, and tells the story of star-crossed lovers: Titus, the Roman commander soon to be emperor, and Berenice, a Jewish princess. A tale of exotic cultures in conflict, with a hero divided between the contradictory claims of desire and empire, Crowne's drama exhibits the stock elements of heroic tragedy in the style of Elkanah Settles Empress of Morocco (1673) and John Dryden's Conquest of Granada (1670-71), widely regarded as the greatest of the "love and valor" plays popular on the Restoration stage. The story of the ill-fated affair between Titus and Berenice was something of a theatrical fashion in the 1670s, with Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine in France producing plays on the subject in the same year (1670). Crowne's model was Racine, whose Berenice had been adapted by Thomas Otway for the Duke's Company only the previous year. (2)

Both parts of The Destruction of Jerusalem met with such "extravagant applause" that the play supposedly aroused the envy of Crowne's patron, the Earl of Rochester, who promptly "commenced an enemy to the bard he before had so much befriended." (3) Stuart Gillespie and David Hopkins describe it aptly as a "heroic extravaganza" replete with sieges, battles, and feats of martial valor. (4) It boasted a stellar cast, with Edward Kynaston and Charles Hart playing Titus and Phraartes, and Mrs. Marshall and Mrs. Boutell in the roles of Berenice and Clarona. The play incurred "vast expense in scenes and cloathes" with a series of magnificent sets: the lavish Temple gates, the chaotic streets of "starving Jerusalem" and "the blazing Temple sinking to destruction in a sea of fire." (5) Despite its theatrical success, The Destruction of Jerusalem has been dismissed as a cheap derivation lacking both Racine's complex psychology and Dryden's mastery of verse and dramatic structure. Consequently, scholars of Restoration drama overlook the singular achievement of Crowne's tragedy: the setting.

The Destruction of Jerusalem is the only play to set the interracial love story of Titus and Berenice in war-torn Jerusalem. Unlike the French plays and Otway's translation, which are set in Rome after the events of 70 CE, Crowne's play positions the doomed romance in Jerusalem during the fall of the Temple. (6) Historically, the two events--the siege and the affair--were not coterminous. The latter occurred a few years after, in Rome. Unlike Corneille, Racine, and Otway, who meticulously follow the historical accounts, Crowne deliberately replaces Rome with Jerusalem so that the fractured love story is superimposed upon the saga of the beleaguered city rife with conspiracy and rebellion. Furthermore, The Destruction of Jerusalem is only one of two seventeenth-century English plays--William Heminges's The Jewes Tragedy (1662) is the other--to juxtapose Roman and Jewish society in Judea. (7)

It is curious that the scholars who express bafflement at the success of Crowne's play should have neglected the import of Jerusalem. (8) The editors of Crowne's works in the nineteenth century attribute the choice of setting to the success of the Conquest of Granada, surmising that Crowne hoped to be "as successful with the Jews and Romans as the Laureate [Dryden] had been with the Moors and Spaniards." (9) Even critics who acknowledge the play's theatrical appeal tend to dismiss the setting as mere excuse for the flashy denouement. Arthur Franklin White identifies the spectacular burning of the Second Temple orchestrated with the help of William Davenant as the reason for the play's early popularity, but exhibits little interest in what Jerusalem may have signified for Crowne's audience. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Exile and Restoration in John Crowne's the Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.