The king of Thebes is a tyrant but his young relatives, Palamon and Arcite, defend him anyway. The two ble kinsmen find their loyalty rewarded with imprisonment when they end up on the losing side of a battle with the great hero, Theseus of Athens. From the window of their jail they observe Emilia, the sister-in-law of their conqueror, whose stunning beauty shatters their vow of eternal brotherhood. Now the former friends must find a way to evade their captors and pursue the alluring princess, an undertaking that will conclude with a fight to the death. First published in 1634, this Jacobean tragicomedy features a plot derived from The Knight's Tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The play was originally attributed to both John Fletcher and William Shakespeare; its association with the latter is a longstanding source of controversy that is w generally accepted by scholarly consensus.
He was not of an age, but for all time, declared Ben Jonson of his contemporary William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Jonson's praise is especially prescient, since at the turn of the 17th century Shakespeare was but one of many popular London playwrights and none of his dramas were printed in his lifetime. The reason so many of his works survive is because two of his actor friends, with the assistance of Jonson, assembled and published the First Folio edition of 1623.