Cornelia

or, Pompey the Great, his Fair Cornelia's Tragedy

a tragedy by Thomas Kyd; a translation of Robert Garnier's French original “CornĂ©lie”

first published c. 1594


About the Play

Cornelia is Kyd’s translation of a French “closet drama;” a play never intended for public performance, but for private reading. This shows in the structure of the piece, which features long, narrative speeches that break out only occasionally into dialogue.

The play tells the story of Cornelia Metella, the widow of Crassus and wife of Pompey the Great. It takes place mostly during her exile, as Pompey sent her out of Rome for her own safety during his war against his fellow triumvir, Caesar.

The war between Caesar and Pompey was a popular subject for early English playwrights; for a complete list of plays published or attested to on the subject, see the entry for Caesar and Pompey (1607).


Known Editions

  • Cornelia At London : Printed by James Roberts for N.L. and John Busbie 1594

  • Pompey the Great, his faire Corneliaes tragedie : effected by her father and husbandes downe-cast, death, and fortune. Written in French, by that excellent poet Ro: Garnier; and translated into English by Thomas Kid At London : Printed for Nicholas Ling 1595

    A reissue of the 1594 edition.


References from Secondary Sources

  • Walter Wilson Gregg, A List of English Plays (1900)

    Cornelia. Iames Roberts for N. L. and Iohn Busbie. 1594. The author's name appears at the end of the play. Translated from the French of Robert Garnier. B.M. (C. 34. e). Bodl.

    Pompey the Great, his faire Corneliaes Tragedie. Effected by her Father and Husbandes downe-cast, death, and fortune. Written in French, by that excellent Poet Ro: Garnier; and translated into English by Thomas Kid. for Nicholas Ling. 1595. The sheets of the 1594 edition re-issued with a new titlepage. B.M. (C. 34. e. 50). Bodl.

  • James O. Halliwell, A Dictionary of Old English Plays (1860)

    POMPEY THE GREAT HIS FAIRE CORNELIA'S TRAGEDIE, effected by her Father and Husbandes Downecast, Death, and Fortune, by Thomas Kyd. 4to. 1595. This is a translation from an old French author, Robert Gamier, who distinguished himself as a poet during the reigns of Charles IX. Henry III. and Henry IV., and died at Mans in 1602, in the 56th year of his age. The translation is in blank verse, with only now and then a couplet, by the way of closing a paragraph or long sentence, and choruses which are written in various measures of verse, and are very long and sententious. It was first published under the title of Cornelia.

  • William Carew Hazlitt, The Play-Collector's Manual (1892)

    Cornelia: A tragedy, by Thomas Kyd. 4to, 1594; reissued, 410, 1595, as Pompey the Great his Faire Cornelia's Tragedy, effected by her Father and Husband's Downcast, Death, and Fortune.

    This is a translation from Robert Garnier, who distinguished himself as a poet during the reigns of Charles IX., Henry III., and Henry IV., and died at Mans in 1602, in the fifty-sixth year of his age. The translation is in blank verse, with only now and then a couplet, by the way of closing a paragraph or long sentence, and choruses which are written in various measures of verse, and are very long and sententious. In Hazlitt's Dodsley.

    Pompey His Fair Cornelia’s Tragedy: See Cornelia.