The classical, medieval and Renaissance inheritance
in The epigram in England, 1590–1640
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This chapter outlines the tradition of the epigram in the Classical, Medieval and Renaissance periods, with particular focus on the influence of Martial, Catullus, and the Greek Anthology. Despite the genre’s reputation for licentiousness and cynicism, it came to be used for a wide variety of subjects. However, a commitment to brevity and sharpness of wit distinguished the genre regardless of subject and was often noted by Renaissance theorists. The chapter also explores some more limited influences, such as the medieval proverbial epigram, on the Renaissance use of the genre.

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