Pompey the Great

a tragedy, a translation of Pierre Corneille's French original “La mort de Pompée”, attributed to Edmund Waller, Charles Sackville, Charles Sedley and Sidney Godolphin

first published 1664


About the Play

This play was published in 1664, just one year after Katherine Philips’ popular translation of the same Corneille tragedy, La Mort de Pompée. The translation, in the published edition, is listed as being by “certain persons of honour.” Act one is understood to be by the poet Edmund Waller, act four is thought to be by Charles Sackville, the Earl of Dorset, and the remainder is generally attributed to Charles Sedley and to the poet Sydney Godolphin, who died in 1643.

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

  • Pompey the Great : a tragedy as it was acted by the servants of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, translated out of French by certain persons of honour London : Printed for Henry Herringman 1664


References from Secondary Sources

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

    POMPEY THE GREAT. A tragedy, by Edmund Waller. 4to. 1664. This is a translation of the same play as the foregoing, and was acted by the Duke of York's servants. Waller, who translated only one act, was assisted in it by the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, Sir Charles Sedley, and Godolphin.

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

    Pompey the Great: A tragedy by Edmund Waller. 4to, 1664.

    This is a translation of the same play as the foregoing [“the Pompée of Corneille”], and was acted by the Duke of York’s servants. Waller, who translated only one act, was assisted in it by the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, Sir Charles Sedley, and Sydney Godolphin.