SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Since the nineteenth century, Samuel Daniel's play, The Tragedy of Philotas (1605), has been read almost exclusively in the context of the Essex affair. This essay insists on the interpretive limitations of this context, especially its inability to account for the specific type of treason Philotas commits. Philotas is convicted of treason not for an action or an utterance, but for his silence. He fails to pass on crucial information concerning a plot to murder Alexander, for which he becomes implicated in the conspiracy. While this has little to do with Essex's openly displayed act of rebellion, it does speak to a much larger legal-epistemological crux in Renaissance England: the problem of how to identify and prosecute a crime that could be committed in a conceptual space prior to action and prior to language, a problem that I term “treasonous silence.” (K. C.)