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Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France$
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Marc Bizer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731565

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199731565.001.0001

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Royal Mythography and Its Discontents

Royal Mythography and Its Discontents

Joachim Du Bellay and Etienne de la Boétie

(p.81) 3 Royal Mythography and Its Discontents
Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France

Marc Bizer

Oxford University Press

In the 1550s, Joachim Du Bellay, a member of the Pléiade and an aristocrat who sought a career in the king’s diplomatic service, made use of Homeric elements in his poetry that reveal a deep ambivalence toward the notion of royal prudence. In the same period, Etienne de la Boétie questioned monarchical authority by contesting Homer’s authority on politics, precisely because Homer and Homeric figures had become such an integral part of the political imaginary of sixteenth-century France, finding objectionable that Dorat’s teachings and the Pléiade’s verse were placed in the service of that authority. While his use of Homer amounts to a strenuous critique of civic humanism, at least as it was being practiced, it also forms an important link to the work of Montaigne, who responds to La Boétie on the question of sovereignty.

Keywords:   humanism, Homer, Odyssey, Odysseus, Joachim Du Bellay, Pléiade, Etienne de la Boétie, discourse on voluntary servitude, Jean Dorat

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