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Title: A Study of Natalis Comes' Theory of Mythology and of its influence in England together with an English translation of Book I of the Mythologia and of the Introductions to the other books
Author: Carman, Barbara Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 6201
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 1966
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The influence of Natalis Comes' Mythologia on English literary figures of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries has never been properly evaluated. Since the twenties critics have been aware of the debt owed to Comer-, by such authors as George Chapman and Francis Bacon. They hive not, however, recognized the nature of this debt. These critics, seeing only a random choice of myths from vast reservoirs of material in mythological dictionaries, failed to discover system in the Renaissance writer's approach to mythology. According to them, this material was used superficially either for mere ornamentation, or as a vehicle of controversial philosophies hidden under the guise of the wisdom of the ancients. Consequently, using Schoell's phrase, they see unrelated myths "hurled pele-mele" into the works of English Renaissance poets, prose writers, mythographers, and literary theorists. Had critics analysed the nature of the Mythologia in mythic tradition, they would have found a unique system treating standard theories formulated to explain the function of myth centred on the idea that all the dogmas of philosophy are contained in ancient fables. Comes stressed both the natural and moral philosophy derived from myth. Sharing his systematic approach, Bacon, the experimental scientist, was most influenced by naturalistic interpretations which Comes gave to creation myths. Chapman, the moralist, emphasized their moral aspect almost exclusively. Reynolds, the literary theorist, recognized both methods of interpreting myth, and condemned contemporaries limiting, myths' function in literature to tie teaching of "meere manners". This study considers and assesses various trends in mythological interpretation and assesses them, not in the light of present-day concepts of the ancient myths, but as writers of the late Renaissance valued them. It reveals the differences resulting from the fusion of a common source material with each author's individual attitude to life. In each, case, an understanding of mythology as the source of all wisdom is essential to their philosophies, and finds systematic expression in their art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available