In Lope’s Ferrara, honour is a function of public perception. The Duke has been betrayed but cannot seek justice without making his betrayal public, destroying his reputation and shattering his legitimacy to rule. Only by seeking revenge in private can he keep his honour intact. In this “politics of recognition,” personal identity and public perception are so intertwined that the Duke’s every action is mediated by the critical regime to which he is subject. When translating the play for performance in English, translators enact a similar politics: each perceives different phenomena worthy of a fresh approach, and each imputes different meanings to what is perceived; this critical gaze directs the course a translation takes. Through the illuminating discourse of the politics of recognition, and using the author’s experience of providing a “literal” translation for the Theatre Royal Bath, it argues for a renewed understanding of the critical dimension of literal translation, as a series of tactical moves and strategic decisions, taken on a private level in the service of public performance.