Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Pandosto
  • Editor: Hardin Aasand

  • Copyright Hardin Aasand. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Robert Greene
    Editor: Hardin Aasand
    Not Peer Reviewed



    Robert Greene's Pandostois rich in romantic details and settings, elements that Shakespeare will appropriate and adjust to fit his vision of the The Winter's Tale.The romance, published in 1588, would go through at least 24 editions by 1740 and engender a number of pastoral offshoots focusing on the young lovers, Dorastus and Fawnia. While the novel is considered a "romance," there is a strong cautionary quality to the story. Pandosto, King of Bohemia, and his queen, Bellaria, are victims of the goddess of inconstancy, Fortune, who "turned her wheel and darkened their bright sun of prosperity with the misty clouds of mishap and misery." This turn of the wheel propels the story's elements of mistrust, suspected adultery, fears of illegimate births, and reunion of parent and child. Despite these broad features, Greene introduces pathos by having the grief-stricken queen die following the news of her son Garinter's death. The restoration of the daughter Fawnia to Pandosto's side fails to endure: Pandosto commits suicide following the onset of a deep melancholy prompted by his guilt.

    Greene's moralizing theme can be found in his preface to the prose narrative: "Yea, [jealousy] is such a heavy enemy to that holy estate of matrimony, sowing between the married couples such deadly seeds of secret hatred, as love being once razed out by spiteful distrust, there oft ensueth bloody revenge, as this ensuing history manifest proveth." The text below has been quietly modernized; spelling and punctuation have been adjusted for sense and syntax.