As much a work of entertainment and wit as of instruction, it affords the best insight we have into the tastes and standards of the Elizabethans. Sidney became to his contemporaries the beau idéal of the Renaissance courtier and his Arcadia embodies the highest literary aspirations of the age. Here we have a gladiatorial display of rhetoric which outshines anything achieved in English before and possibly since. Though there has been much scholarly study of Sidney over recent years, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, in the traditional form in which it was read down the centuries, is not available anywhere else. The text is accompanied by a full introduction and notes.