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Augustan Period - English
Transcript of Augustan Period - English
Augustan literature is generally ascribed to a period in the first half of the 18th Century, during much of the reigns of:
•Queen Anne (1702 – 1714)
•King George I (1714 – 1727)
•King George II (1727 – 1760)
The term, ‘Augustan’ refers to King George I’s desire to be compared to the first Roman Emperor, Augustus Caesar, when poetry and the arts were supported and admired, and thus flourished. Anyone educated in the eighteenth century would be familiar with the original texts, since studying the classics was a central feature of the school curriculum.
Eighteenth century Augustan literature emulates the classical style, tending to be polished and shaped according to rules which governed both Roman and Greek works.
The Augustan Age, in literary terms, is a circle of mutual benefit and esteem. It can be extended to either side of the reign of Augustus himself (27 BC - AD 14). The span from 42 BC (when Virgil begins writing) to AD 17 (the death of Livy) includes also the careers of Horace and Ovid. Augustan Era Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726, amended 1735), is an excellent example of Augustan literature, characterized by parody and satire. In his work, Swift targets the empiricists who insist on individual, unyielding reason over morality and social values.
Alexander Pope was the most significant figure in poetry during the Augustan period. His witty couplets were often quoted and used as axioms. Pope took issue with other authors about what should be considered the proper subjects and nature of poetic expression. Often, he publicly attacked his contemporaries through his satiric verse, making enemies of many. Pope’s work The Dunciad (1728), held contemporary ‘dunces’ up to ridicule. He was roundly derided by similar methods in return. Work - The Romantic literary movement developed in the second half of the eighteenth century. It is characterized by a reaction against Augustan literary ideals, empiricism and the Enlightenment focus on ‘reasoning’ as a way to make authoritative conclusions.
Instead, Romanticism promoted:
•The language of the common man, rather than Latinate or elevated diction
•Feeling, rather than reasoning
•The religion of Nature, rather than empiricism
•Original expression and strong emotion, rather than wit
•The creation of terror and use of horror in medieval settings is seen in the sub-genre of the Gothic novel. A primary example is Horace Walpole’s, The Castle of Otranto (1764)
•Originality of imagination and form, rather than refining existing models
•Nationalism and political radicalism, rather than literary spats. Romantic Reaction Poetic Form - Heroic Couplets -
Rhyming : aa.bb.cc
Couplets were very common within Augustan poetry.
2 stanzas from Popes Essay On Criticism -
'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose.
'Tis with our Judgments as our Watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
In Poets as true Genius is but rare,
True Taste as seldom is the Critick's Share;
Both must alike from Heav'n derive their Light,
These born to Judge, as well as those to Write.
Let such teach others who themselves excell,
And censure freely who have written well.
Authors are partial to their Wit, 'tis true,
But are not Criticks to their Judgment too? Horace - Horace represents a new idea of the poet, similar to one later developed in another culture - China in the T'ang dynasty. In this tradition the poet is someone distanced from the immediate business of public life, free to concentrate on capturing, in the difficult craft of poetry, more lasting perceptions of the human condition.
The subjects of Horace's short but tightly packed Odes (called Carmina or 'songs' in their Latin title) are friendship, love, wry amusement at the passing scene - anything which might occur to a man living a quiet country existence but in touch with a wide circle of sophisticated acquaintances. The setting for this existence is his famous Sabine farm.
Lyric poetry is a poem used to express feelings. Lyric poems have specific rhyming schemes and are often, but not always, set to music or a beat. Horace (four books of Odes) wrote lyric poetry, which however was no longer meant to be sung, but read or recited. What remained were the forms, the lyric meters of the Greeks adapted to Latin.
Poems include -
'Integer vitae' - an amusing ode that starts as a solemn praise of honest living and ends in a mock-heroic song of love for "Lalage"
'Albi, ne doleas' - a consolation to the contemporary poet Tibullus over a lost love. Ovid - The fourth great author writing in Latin during the Augustan Age is not so much a celebrant of the emperor's achievements as a victim of his autocracy.
An early work brings Ovid success while he is young. Entitled Amores, it is a collection of love poems offering a witty account of an affair with an imaginary courtesan, Corinna. The poet goes much further in the same vein in Ars Amatoria ('Art of Love'), a manual on the techniques of seduction published in about 1 BC.
A Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of poetry, the Heroides, Amores and Ars Amatoria, and of the Metamorphoses, a mythological hexameter poem.
Ovid talks more about his own life than most other Roman poets. Information about his biography is drawn primarily from his poetry, especially Tristia 4.10, which gives a long autobiographical account of his life. Other sources include Seneca and Quintilian.
Poetry Includes -
Remedia Amoris ("The Cure for Love")
This elegiac poem proposes a cure for the love which Ovid teaches in the Ars Amatoria and is primarily addressed to men. The poem criticizes suicide as a means for escaping love and, invoking Apollo, goes on to tell lovers not to procrastinate and be lazy in dealing with love. Lovers are taught to avoid their partners, not perform magic, see their lover unprepared, take other lovers, and never be jealous. Old letters should be burned and the lover's family avoided.
Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love") - A didactic elegiac poem in three books which sets out to teach the arts of seduction and love. The first book is addressed to men and teaches them how to seduce women, the second, also to men, teaches one how to keep a lover. The third is addressed to women and teaches seduction techniques.
Amores ("The Loves") - The Amores is a collection in three books of love poetry in elegiac meter, following the conventions of the elegiac genre developed by Tibullus and Propertius. The books describe the many aspects of love and focus on the poet's relationship with a mistress called Corinna. Within the various poems are several which describe events in the relationship.