Lady Mary Wroth (1587-1651) 
Pamphilia to Amphilanthus

Wroth was part of a literary family.  Her uncle was Sir Philip Sidney.  She married Sir Robert Wroth.  After his death, she had a long-term affair with her cousin, William Herbert, having 2 children by him.  (Does Jerry Springer know about this?  She wrote a romance in prose, Urania, which also included a sonnet sequence, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus.  These 103 sonnets are Elizabethan in tone, but they depart from tradition in that her series has the woman speaking to the man.  Normally sonnets were written from the man to the woman.

Pamphilia means "all-loving."  She loves him wholeheartedly.  We'll call her Pam for short.
Amphilanthus means "loving 2."  He runs around on her.  We'll call him Phil.

Sonnet 1

2 "sleep, deathe's image" - Poets have a long tradition of comparing sleep to death.

2-3 "did my senses hire / From knowledge of myself" = sleep makes us lose consciousness.


"one heart flaming more than all the rest
The goddess held, and put it to my breast.
"Dear son, now shut," said she: "thus must we win."
Love (Venus & Cupid) conquers her.  When Virgil wrote "omnia vincit Amor" ("love conquers all") (Eclogues 10. 69), he did not mean that love overcomes all the obstacles in our way.  He meant that love conquers all of us.  Love conquers Pam most of all.
She hoped it was only a dream, but she has been in love ever since.  Passion has conquered reason in her

Sonnet 16

We again see the theme that love has conquered her.  Apollonius of Rhodes coined the term "Love the Destroyer."  Pam sees her love for Phil in these terms.
She declares herself free from love (11-12) only to discover that she is still its prisoner (13-14).

Sonnet 40

1-4 "False hope" is the hope Pam has that Phil will love her back.


This is a simile comparing false hope in love to false tyrants who advance certain favorites only to kill them in the end.  Such a fate was not uncommon.  Those who lived by royal favor could die by royal disfavor.

Sonnet 77

Sonnets 77-91 form a set.  Their theme is different from the rest of the series, for here Love is a just monarch.

1  She is lost in a labyrinth (a maze) & doesn't know where to turn.

2  She is confronted with many paths (ways), but doesn't know the right one (way).

3-8  She runs through the possibilities: forward, left, right, back, stand still.  None seem valid options.

13-14  The answer is to take the thread of love.  Theseus went into the Labyrinth in Crete, killed the Minotaur that lived in it, and found his way out by following the string Ariadne had given him, which he had unrolled on the way in.  Ariadne gave him the string because she loved him.  He took her away in his boat & left her stranded on a deserted island. So much for happy endings.