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Chapter 9 - Panegyric Epic in Early Modern England

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

Several of the most remarkable political poems of the mid-seventeenth century, including Marvell’s ‘First Anniversary’ (1655) and Dryden’s ‘Astraea Redux’ (1660), belong to a genre which has not been clearly defined in English literature. These substantial poems, each of several hundred lines, derive elements from a range of panegyric forms, including the tradition of the political ode discussed in ; but the main generic model for poetry of this sort, which is little represented in English before Marvell’s ‘First Anniversary’, is the panegyric epic of the late antique poet Claudian: a genre, new to Latin when Claudian began writing, which combined the techniques of prose panegyric with contemporary (rather than mythological) epic. This chapter seeks to set the major seventeenth-century English examples of this form – as well as a handful of English-language precursors – within the wider context of a Latin genre which, though now obscure, was both widely understood and frequently composed throughout early modern Europe.

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A Literary History of Latin & English Poetry
Bilingual Verse Culture in Early Modern England
, pp. 355 - 405
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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