Philip Sidney was in his early twenties when he wrote his ´Old´ Arcadia for the amusement of his younger sister, the Countess of Pembroke. The book, which he called ´a trifle, and that triflingly handled´, reflects their youthful vitality. The ´Old´ Arcadia tells a romantic story in a manner comparable to that of Shakespeare´s early comedies. It is divided into five ´Acts´, and abounds in lively speeches, dialogues, and quasi-dramatic tableaux. Two young princes, Pyrocles and Musidorus, disguise themselves as an Amazon and a shepherd to gain access to the Arcadian Princesses, who have been taken into semi-imprisonment by their father to avoid the dangers foretold by an oracle. As a vehicle for Sidney´s prophetic ideas about English versification, the ´Old´ Arcadia also includes over seventy poems in a wide variety of metres and genres. In clarity, symmetry, and coherence the ´Old´ version is greatly superior both to the ambitious but unfinished ´New´ Arcadia and the amalgamated, ´composite´ version, a hybrid monster which Sidney himself never envisaged.