Relatively late manifestations of the European philhellene revival of Greco-Roman letters presented to readers complex, extended prose fiction in which the trials of love mask an implicit moral and political allegory. Inevitably, coming during the Reformation, Counter-Reformation and the Catholic Reformation, this cultural phenomenon was not without its religious and political dimensions. Longus, Achilles Tatius and Heliodorus were the three principal English exponents of rhetorically conscious Greco-Roman erotic romance. This book enhances the understanding of the erotic romances of Philip Sidney, Shakespeare, and Lady Mary Sidney Wroth by setting them within an integrated political, rhetorical, and aesthetic context. It investigates how Renaissance translators alter rhetorical styles, and even contents, to accord with contemporary taste, political agendas and the restrictions of censorship. Particular attention is paid to differences between the French courtly style of Jacques Amyot and François de Belleforest and the more literal translations of their English counterparts. Valuable perspective on the early translations is offered through the modern English versions in B.P. Reardon's Collected Ancient Greek Novels. The book considers the three texts of Sidney's Arcadia, as a political romance sharing many of the thematic and rhetorical concerns of the ancients. It focuses on a narrow range of Shakespeare's plays including Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. The book identifies Mary Sidney Wroth's masque-like prose allegory, The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, as philhellene Protestant political propaganda.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book enhances the understanding of the erotic romances of Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Lady Mary Sidney wroth by setting them within an integrated political, rhetorical, and aesthetic context. It demonstrates more cohesive interrelationships during the Renaissance than was possible in Margaret Ann Doody's wide-ranging The True Story of the Novel. The book explores relationships among Ludovico Annibale della Croce's De Clitophontis & Leucippes amorib[us], François de Belleforest's Les amours de Clitophon et de Leucippe, william Burton's The Most Delectable and Plesaunt History of Clitiphon and Leucippe. It considers the texts of Sidney's Arcadia, probably written between 1577 and 1584, as a political romance sharing many of the thematic and rhetorical concerns of the ancients.
Erotic romance, Middle Eastern in its provincial origins but European in its flavour, achieved a spectacular flourishing between 1579 and 1626 in the writings of Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Mary Sidney wroth. The romances of arguably the most rhetorically sophisticated and politically aware authors of the age represent the ultimate English response to lengthy, complex and rhetorically artistic Greco-Roman prose fiction. Readily available during the Renaissance was Aphthonius's Progymnasmata, the popular students' guide to the forms of artful discourse practised by rhetoricians of the Second Sophistic. Philostratus composed his series of short rhetorical exercises to provide his students with models of how to describe scenes from nature. As one of his aims is to teach the art of ecphrasis, literally 'speaking out', Philostratus incorporates scenes purporting to represent stories, paintings and sculpture.
Longus's romance is best known as the model for stories in which infants are abandoned by parents of social or political prominence, found by rustic shepherds and reared in pastoral surroundings. If Heliodorus develops the plot-line of discovery, identification and denouement in his 'life' of Charikleia, Longus doubles and complicates the conventional motif by paralleling and intertwining the biographies of Daphnis and Chloe. The survival of many sixteenth-century Greek manuscripts of Longus, as well as the manuscript of the Italian translation by Annibale Caro, which he ceased working on by 1538, indicates serious engagement with Longus. In 1599, when Amyot published his Longus and the corrected edition of Heliodorus, he returned to the partnership of printer-publishers, Longis, Groulleau and Sertenas. Angel Day abandons Amyot to insert The Shepheards Holidaie. He amplifies Amyot's religious ceremony into an extravagant pageant-masque in prose and verse, celebrating the cult of Elizabeth on Accession Day.
Achilles Tatius takes his characters through a range of adventures as they move around the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike the otherworldly pastoral of Daphnis and Chloe, Achilles Tatius's Leukippe and Kleitophon is a sexually explicit and ostensibly very human study of the harsh effects of misfortune and interruption on the course of true love. In representing the rhetorical features of his romance as a painting, Achilles Tatius offers a unique perspective on the properties of ecphrasis as a narrative device. The earliest European publication of Achilles Tatius was Ludovico Annibale della Croce's Latin translation of Books 5-8, Narrationis Amatoriae Fragmentum. The distinctive representations of Leukippe and Kleitophon by della Croce, François de Belleforest, William Burton and Anthony Hodges demonstrate that each has his preferred method for dealing with morality, rhetorical display and textual fidelity.
Heliodorus's complex account of the love, separation, loss and reunion of Theagenes and Charikleia may well be 'the longest comic plot in history'. An Ethiopian Story contains Charikleia's biography from the moment of conception, literally ab ovo. To Renaissance translators, the devotion, self-governance, ethics and morality of Theagenes and Chariklea, coupled with the exemplary kingship of Hydaspes, epitomise the qualities of the ideal representative monarch. Melanchthon's blessing increased the significance of Warschewiczki's edition, and An Ethiopian Story, to generations of philhellene Protestants. The first English appearance of An Ethiopian Story was in James Sanford or Sandford's The Amorous and Tragicall Tales of Plutarch. Heliodorus first appears in English verse in 1591, tucked into the end of Abraham Fraunce's volume of trademark hexameter verse, The Countess of Pembroke's Ivychurch.
In using Annius's pseudo-Berosus legend of Samothes to politicise his Old Arcadia, Sir Philip Sidney appears to be unique among creative writers of the European Renaissance. Sidney uses erotic romance to demonstrate how all sense of political and social responsibility can be eroded by passion. Sidney and Hubert Languet were selective monarchomachists. While neither was motivated by Tsar Ivan IV the Terrible's savagery in Russia, both shared William of Orange's objection to Spanish Catholic tyranny, brutally enforced in the Netherlands. In 1590 Ponsonby published Fulke Greville's edition of the long, substantially revised first section of Sidney's working papers, referred to as the New Arcadia. In the New Arcadia, Sidney delicately develops the interplay between Philoclea's emotions. The symbolism of Philoclea's smock is both self-referential and directed at the reader.
This chapter presents William Shakespeare's adaptations of Greco Roman material within an English philhellene rhetorical, cultural and political context, not incompatible with his Catholic origins. Shakespeare's perception of the Greek erotic romances, and of Plutarch's Lives and Morals, was coloured by the editions and translations available to him. Coriolanus, a critique of Jacobean representative government, provides a rare glimpse into the way Shakespeare exhibits his normally obscured links with the Amyot-North Plutarch. Nine years before writing Coriolanus, in Julius Caesar, Shakespeare is as much concerned as any translator with the stylistic elegance of Greco-Roman historians, including Plutarch. Shakespeare's purpose is to employ rhetorical style as a signifier of political difference. In France, Robert Garnier adapted the political and personal conflicts surrounding Antony and Cleopatra to criticise the needless destruction of war in Marc-Antoine.
The fictional politics of Mary Sidney Wroth's The Countess of Montgomery's Urania overcomes many of the obstacles to fulfilling the philhellene Protestant aspiration of European integration. In reality, despite the efforts of Sidney, Mary Sidney Herbert and other philhellene Protestants, following Emperor Mathias's death on 20 March 1619, the Catholic status quo was bolstered by the election on 28 August 1619 of Ferdinand II. The politics of Urania are subsumed within Sidney Wroth's intimate revelations of her unfulfilled devotion to Herbert, and his intermittent but intense feelings for her. Urania is obsessed with romantic attachment, self-interest, political marriage and restitution of status to the dispossessed. Nonetheless, the narrative defies the conventions of both ancient and European erotic romance by concentrating on the author's multiple personae, rather than on the eponymous heroine.
European erotic romance offered Amyot the opportunity to teach his stylised Greco-Roman language and rhetoric, and, through it, Christian ethics, morality, and personal and political governance. It became the tool of nationalists. More theoretical politicisation of the genre occurred, initially by monarchomachist Protestant publishers and translators of Heliodorus, then by adapters such as Sir Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Mary Sidney wroth. Sidney's Defence of Poetry contains a parallel argument that clearly differentiates between an ideal factual history and a fictional allegory. If European erotic romance could contain semi-biographical personae, it was on the understanding that they should be heavily idealised to conform to the model characters created by the ancient sophists. Translators' and publishers' dedications by Protestant monarchomachists connected erotic romance with characters exhibiting political, cultural and intellectual superiority.