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The Widow of Ephesus," the scandalous classical story behind Chapman's play, is the perfect paradigm of this fixation with a widow's performance of grief.
With its extensive borrowing from Petronius's version of the legend of the widow of Ephesus, as well as its echoes of Homer's Penelope and Ulysses, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Hamlet (and possibly Othello), (29) its fascination with suspicion and constancy also looks toward the tragicomedies of Beaumont and Fletcher.
Like the widow of Ephesus, his wife/widow Cynthia proves vulnerable to seduction despite her vows.
Synge's play, In the Shadow of the Glen, was attacked in 1905 by the Sinn Fein leader, Arthur Griffith, in the United Irishman on the grounds that it transplanted to Ireland the decadent story of The Widow of Ephesus from the Satyrica of Petronius.
When In the Shadow of the Glen was attacked for using the Widow of Ephesus theme, Yeats vigorously defended Synge.
For the Widow of Ephesus theme see Peter Ure, 'The Widow of Ephesus: Some Reflections on an International Comic Theme', Durham University Journal 18 (1956), 1-9.
Chapter 4, "Sex, Food, and Money: Low Themes versus High Scenarios," first examines Petrionius's famed Milesian tale, the story of the widow of Ephesus.