‘If an excellent man should err’
Sir Philip Sidney and stoical virtue
in Sidney's Arcadia and the conflicts of virtue
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In this chapter (and the two that follow immediately after it), I examine how the Philippist ethos that Sidney inherited from Hubert Languet informs his revision of the Arcadia, particularly as it is evident in the adventures of the character Amphialus. In this chapter in particular, I show that Languet’s Philippism informs Sidney’s invention of the apparently irredeemable Amphialus, who is not, to the alert reader, beyond redemption. By inviting his readers to adopt the moderate ethos of his mentor Sidney places himself in the role of the ‘right poet’; by the means of his ‘erected wit’ he hopes to restore humanity’s ‘infected will’. I also highlight Sidney’s assumption of a pragmatic, if not philosophically sincere, stoical position, which is particularly evident in the episodes featuring his female characters. This last aspect of Sidney’s ethical outlook is discussed in more detail in Chapters Six and Seven.


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