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Fulke Greville and the Culture of the English Renaissance$
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Russ Leo, Katrin Röder, and Freya Sierhuis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823445

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823445.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 October 2021

‘These Ancient Forming Powers’

‘These Ancient Forming Powers’

Fulke Greville’s Dialectic of Idolatry

(p.227) 13 ‘These Ancient Forming Powers’
Fulke Greville and the Culture of the English Renaissance

Ethan John Guagliardo

Oxford University Press

Fulke Greville has often been described as a Calvinist and even an ‘ultra-Calvinist’, but this pole of his work stands in tension with the neo-Stoical elements of his thought, in which nature is held out as an ideal against artificiality. This chapter reassesses Greville’s political and religious poetry in light of this tension to argue that Greville uses nature as a platform to critique sovereignty as a poetic artefact, which like the idol hides its artificiality in colours of divinity. Further, Greville implicates orthodox Christianity itself in the ideology of sovereign authority, insofar as its denigration of nature serves to obviate the ‘ancient forming powers’ of sovereignty’s human creators. Nevertheless, Greville’s critique, insofar as it is based on a suspicion of art, turns against itself, such that nature, while held out as an ideal, can never be acted upon without betraying and corrupting it.

Keywords:   sovereignty, idolatry, political theology, nature, authority, poiesis, divine right kingship, neostocism, scepticism, Calvinism

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