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Philhellene Protestantism, Renaissance translation and English literary politics

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.

Victor Skretkowicz

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.

in European erotic romance
Victor Skretkowicz

Countess of Montgomerys Urania. 1 Sir P. Sidney, A Defence of Poetry , in Miscellaneous Prose of Sir Philip Sidney , ed. by K. Duncan-Jones and J. van Dorsten (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973), p. 103. 2 H. Felperin

in European erotic romance