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Evocations of Eloquence

Rhetoric, Literature and Religion in Early Modern France - Essays in Honour of Peter Bayley

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Edited By Nicholas Hammond and Michael Moriarty

This collection of essays by leading scholars from France, Great Britain and North America is published in honour of Peter Bayley, former Drapers Professor of French at the University of Cambridge and a leading scholar of early modern France. The volume reflects his scholarly interest in the interface between religion, rhetoric and literature in the period 1500–1800. The first three sections of the book are concerned with the early modern period. The contributors consider subjects including the eloquence of oration from the pulpit, the relationship between religion, culture and belief, and the role of theatre and ceremony during the seventeenth century. They engage with individuals such as the theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, the dramatists Molière, Racine and Corneille, and the philosophers Bayle and Pascal. The volume concludes with a section that is concerned with critical influences and contexts from the sixteenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Throughout, the authors offer stimulating new perspectives on an age that never ceases to intrigue and fascinate.

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Part IV Contexts and Intertexts

Extract

Philip Ford Of Lions, Bears and Pigs: Political Allegories of Homer in Renaissance France The reception of Homer in the French Renaissance was in many ways more concerned with the underlying messages of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and less with the more literary and human aspects of the two epics, which have tended to interest more modern readers. Pseudo-Plutarch’s characteriza- tion in the De Homero of the Iliad as demonstrating physical prowess and of the Odyssey as exemplifying nobility of the soul was taken as providing a moral steer to potential readers.1 In that context, I wish to focus here on the political implications of these remarks, looking at two authors who might not immediately appear to go together, Homer and Aristotle. I shall be ranging fairly widely in the Homeric epics, but my references to Aristotle will be limited to his succinct definition of the dif ferent forms of government in the Politics. But let us start with Homer. Given our general familiarity with the legends of Achilles and Odysseus, it is perhaps dif ficult for us now to take in the fact that Homer was lost to Western Europe throughout most of the Middle Ages. Petrarch, as so often an innovator in literary terms, appears to have been the first western reader to have access to Homer when he was presented with a manuscript of the Iliad and the Odyssey around 1353 by 1 For a modern edition of this hugely inf luential text, see [Plutarch], Essay...

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