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Title: 'Strange appearance' : the reception of Homer in Renaissance England
Author: Demetriou, T.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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Abstract:
This thesis investigates the presence of Homer in the literary culture of Renaissance England. It seeks to identify how the Iliad and the Odyssey, virtually unread by anyone in early 16th-century England, went on to become well-known texts by the mid-17th century. The thesis focuses on literary texts in which I believe Homer’s influence begins to make itself extensively felt. I explore the nature and reasons behind such imitation in the cases of three authors—Spenser, Shakespeare and Chapman—identifying what the ‘discovery’ of Homer’s texts involved in the very different practice of each. I argue that Spenser’s reading and use of Homer was motivated and shaped by Homer’s connection to other authors that were of key importance to Spenser, like Virgil. I then assess the impact on Shakespeare, of a culture where Homer is becoming increasingly visible, particularly when his dramatist-colleague Chapman publishes a successful partial translation of Homer in 1598. I examine Shakespeare’s possible interaction with this culture by looking at moments when Homer makes a surprising difference to his reading and transformation of other literary sources. I focus on Troilus and Cressida, which, I believe, engages closely with Chapman’s 1598 Homer, refracted through Ovid’s imitation of Homer. Finally, I turn to Chapman’s translations of Homer over the years 1598-1614. These show Chapman developing a very eccentrically conceived methodological rigour, by which he attempts to understand the Homeric texts almost on their own terms alone. Each of these authors’ imitation is read through and against contemporary reading and interpretative practices relevant to Homer. These trace the outlines of the broader cultural trend that was the 16th-century reception of Homer, a literary and intellectual ‘discovery’ taking place on the continent just before England.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.598491  DOI: Not available
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