Edited By Chris Mounsey and Stan Booth
Thersites and Deformity
Shifts in the early modern interpretation of Homer’s ‘misshapen’ haranguer Thersites provide an insight into what writers meant when they wrote about deformity. Homer and his earliest English translators avoided positing a causal link between a deformed body and deformities of mental or moral character. Others, however, maintained that a crooked body and a crooked mind were inextricably linked. Pope’s Thersites is a case in point, for despite a tendency among modern critics to read empathy into Pope’s version, in fact his Thersites is the most severely burdened by somatic determinism of them all. Following a brief investigation of forma, ‘deformity’, and the early modern notion of balance in the human constitution, the study concludes with a discussion of William Hay’s principled answer to those who assume that somos determines ethos.
The Deformity of Satyr/Satire
In 1681 Thomas Durfey satirized rival playwright Thomas Shadwell in his play Sir Barnaby Whigg. The Tory satirist’s exemplary Whig, Sir Barnaby is ranting, greedy, sanctimonious, loud, corpulent, corrupt, cowardly, and inconstant. He has also been a plagiarist and a hack satirist, but now that he has run out of Molière plays to rifle and his wit has worn out, he declares he will leave poetry for music. He sings:
I got Fame by filching from Poems and Plays, But my Fidling and Drinking has lost me the Bays; Like a Fury I rail’d, like a Satyr I writ, Thersites my Humour, and...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.