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War, Liberty, and CaesarResponses to Lucan's Bellum Ciuile, ca. 1580 - 1650$
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Edward Paleit

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602988

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602988.001.0001

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Introduction: ‘An Author of Commanding Altitude’

Introduction: ‘An Author of Commanding Altitude’

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction: ‘An Author of Commanding Altitude’
Source:
War, Liberty, and Caesar
Author(s):

Edward Paleit

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602988.003.0001

Starting with an examination of two readings of Lucan in the hitherto little-known play Cinthias Revenge (1613), by the English lawyer and satirist John Stephens, the introduction argues that Lucan’s sharp rise in popularity during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and the equally pronounced revival of interest in the Bellum Ciuile amongst classics and English scholars over the last thirty years, makes a study of Lucan’s Renaissance reception timely and topical. Drawing on the ‘sociology of reading practices’ outlined by Renaissance scholars such as Anthony Grafton, Lisa Jardine, William Sherman and others, it argues that firstly responses to Lucan must be situated in relation to the reading habits and assumptions of their time, rather than read through modern accounts of his text (especially those structured teleologically around ideas like the epic tradition); but that it is also necessary to recognize the specific dynamics of individual engagements within a narrative of historical conflict and change. It stresses the importance of political experience and structures of feeling alongside political ideology for understanding Lucan’s reception.

Keywords:   Lucan, John Stephens, seventeenth-century Inns of Court, satire, renaissance drama, sublimity, reception of classical texts, Lucan’s reception, sociology of reading practices, reception theory, early modern republicanism, structures of feeling, political experience, political doctrines, epic tradition

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