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The AntiquaryJohn Aubrey's Historical Scholarship$
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Kelsey Jackson Williams

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784296

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198784296.001.0001

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Ovid in the West Country

Ovid in the West Country

The Ancient Origins of Folk Custom

(p.117) 5 Ovid in the West Country
The Antiquary

Kelsey Jackson Williams

Oxford University Press

In the Remaines of Gentilisme Aubrey attempted to find the origins of early modern English folklore and folkways in the rituals and customs of ancient Rome, Greece, and beyond. This chapter places these attempts within his larger project to identify links between modern England and the ancient world and discusses his different treatments of folk customs, magic, and natural religion within the work. Heavily influenced by Thomas Hobbes, Aubrey tended to see all forms of ritual, religious and otherwise, as socially constructed and, as such, the Remaines could at times stray into heterodoxy. At the same time, however, it is suffused with an almost mystical belief in the lingering presence of the ancient world within the modern and has its origins as much in Aubrey’s memories of the trauma of the Civil Wars as in more abstract scholarly investigations.

Keywords:   Civil Wars, folk customs, folklore, folkways, memory, natural religion, Thomas Hobbes

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