Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France

by

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ISBNs
  • 9780199731565
  • 9780199875702
At a time when the French monarchy traced its origins back to ancient Troy, Homeric epic was fated to play a significant political role. Homer came to Renaissance France packaged with an ancient interpretive tradition that made him an authority on all matters but also distinctly separate from Virgil and the Aeneid, rival Italy's foundational myth. Thus, once French humanists learned to read Homer in Greek, they quickly began putting him in the service of their king in order to teach him prudence and amplify his authority. Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France provides a stimulating perspective on how Homeric authority went from being used by humanists in the role of royal counselors to being exploited by both monarchical and anti-monarchical forces in the service of ideologies, most especially in the Wars of Religion (1562-1598). In turn, French writers of the period transitioned from being monarchical advisors to stirring crowds as actors on the larger political stage. In this study, Marc Bizer not only analyzes a number of works by key authors and humanists-including Michel de Montaigne, Joachim du Bellay, Guillaume Budé, and Jean Dorat, among others- but also examines their poetry, art, pamphlets, and plays. Although there have been several studies of the Homeric legacy in western literature and even in early modern French literature, none has analyzed the political role that Homer played in sixteenth-century France for this circle of important writers. The captivating results of this approach to the post-classical usage of Homer will appeal not only to historians and literary scholars, but also to political scientists, classicists, and art historians.
  • Oxford University Press; August 2011
  • ISBN 9780199875702
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France
  • Author: Marc Bizer
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press
Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780199731565
  • 9780199875702

In The Press

"To put it most broadly, the subtlety and sophistication of Bizer's analysis of Homer in the French Renaissance make the humanist ideal of imitatio come well and truly alive. That is a rare accomplishment." --H-France Review
"Humanist readers of Homer saw his epic works as important sources of wisdom. Marc Bizer's compelling study focuses on Homer's political messages on some of the main issues in Renaissance France: the legitimacy of monarchy, nationalism, political propaganda. The result is an original and fruitful approach to the reception of Homer." --Philip Ford, University of Cambridge
"Marc Bizer's learned and original book weaves a fascinating story: that of Homer's central role in political debate during the French Renaissance and Wars of Religion. His interdisciplinary analysis sheds a brilliant new light on the ways in which scholars and statesmen, poets and artists, Catholics and Huguenots used, appropriated and finally tried to free themselves from the creator of epic poetry. No one has written more insightfully about the politics of the classical tradition in the first modern heyday of European classicism." --Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
"Skillfully guides the reader on a journey that elucidates the intricate interweaving of humanist readings of ancient texts and their parallels in political practice... Bizer has produced a significant study in literary reception." --Renaissance Quarterly
"Bizer's great virtue lies in how he sees interpretative cruxes and engagement with Homer's texts as actively participating in a wider conversation regarding forms of governance. His reading of the much scrutinized interplay around questions of governance between Montaigne's Essays and the work of his dead friend, La Boétie, makes an entirely original and compelling contribution to understanding their famously connected writings." --George Hoffmann, University of Michigan
"A compelling argument regarding the reception of Homer in sixteenth-century France...an important contribution to the field of Classical reception studies as part of a dialogue with specialists...overall the book is informative and offers a thought-provoking take on the capacity of Homer to exert influence on political action in sixteenth-century France."--Classical Journal

About The Author

Marc Bizer is Associate Professor of French Literature, University of Texas at Austin.

Subject categories
ISBNs
  • 9780199731565
  • 9780199875702