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Chapter 11 - Palingenian Epic

Allegory, Ambition and Didacticism

from Part II - Longer Verse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2022

Victoria Moul
Affiliation:
University College London
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Summary

The tradition of unclassical scriptural paraphrase, such as that found in Du Bartas’ Sepmaines and Lucy Hutchinson’s Order and Disorder, has attracted some thoughtful critical attention in recent years. But Du Bartas’ work was modelled – albeit with elements of contention – on didactic epic of the type exemplified by Palingenius’ Zodiacus Vitae, an ubiquitous schooltext which was the very opposite of 'sub-canonical' in the seventeenth century. For the modern reader, approaching Milton's Paradise Lost via Virgil and Homer, the digressive mode of Du Bartas and the unclassical elements of Paradise Lost seem anomalous. Early modern poets and readers, however, were taught to approach the classics via approved Protestant or quasi-Protestant works composed by near contemporaries. Of these, the Zodiacus Vitae, though now largely forgotten and when remembered, almost universally misrepresented, was in England among one of the most influential. This chapter takes the achievement and allure of Palingenius’ poem seriously as a model in examining some of the very large number of examples of ‘unclassical epic’ read and composed by English authors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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A Literary History of Latin & English Poetry
Bilingual Verse Culture in Early Modern England
, pp. 447 - 496
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Palingenian Epic
  • Victoria Moul, University College London
  • Book: A Literary History of Latin & English Poetry
  • Online publication: 23 June 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108131667.015
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  • Palingenian Epic
  • Victoria Moul, University College London
  • Book: A Literary History of Latin & English Poetry
  • Online publication: 23 June 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108131667.015
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Palingenian Epic
  • Victoria Moul, University College London
  • Book: A Literary History of Latin & English Poetry
  • Online publication: 23 June 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108131667.015
Available formats
×