Selected Papers from the IAUPE Malta Conference in 2010
Plato, Poetic ‘Praxis’,and Renaissance Censorship: Richard A. McCabe
Plato, Poetic ‘Praxis’, and Renaissance Censorship Richard A. McCabe Merton College, Oxford When Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558 expectations were high, and literary expectations particularly so. The new queen was a poet and a published author with well-known interests in humanist learning, philosophy, and theology.1 She had actively cultivated this image as a princess and continued to develop it as queen. In compiling The Queen’s Majesty’s Passage through the City of London to Westminster the Day before her Coronation, Richard Mulcaster duly records that when she approached St Paul’s School, one of the boys stepped forward and addressed her (in Latin) as follows: The divine philosopher Plato left this observation for posterity…that a state would be most for- tunate if its princes should be interested in matters favourable to wisdom and conspicuous for their virtues. And if it seems to us that he was right (and he was indeed entirely right), why should Britain not rejoice? Why should this day not be marked (as they say) with a white stone? A day when we have with us a prince whose like was never seen by our ancestors … She is most learned in Greek and Latin literature, and outstanding in intellectual gifts. Under her rule religion will flourish, England will prosper, the Golden Age will return.2 The Platonic allusion is to the fifth book of the Republic where Socrates fa- mously declares that ‘untill philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading...
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