The importance of the English epithalamian literature in 1613

Hall, William Arden. (1974) The importance of the English epithalamian literature in 1613. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The purpose of my thesis is to reveal the epithalamion, its traditions and conventions, as a classical genre revived by the English poets of the Renaissance, especially at the time of its heyday in 1613. -- Part I of the Introduction deals with the origins and background of nuptial poetry from the first songs of Homer and Hesiod to the Roman lyrical and rhetorical renditions of Catullus and Claudian. The emphasis on the devotional epithalamia, or Christian element, is brought into the genre by the Church Fathers who stress the importance of the 'Song of Songs' and the '45th Psalm'. The Neo-Latin and continental poets imitate the primary classical models and offer poetic panegyrics to their princes. Finally, the dicta of the rhetoricians lay down the ground rules for the thematic conventions and structure necessary to create a successful epithalamion. -- Part II of the Introduction is an account of the marriage alliance of Princess Elizabeth (arranged by her father and his Council) to Count Frederick. The account concerns itself with the glorious celebration and actual ceremony of the noble union highlighted by the literary tributes of the poets and playwrights who pay homage. -- Part III is a textual introduction or brief description of the seven texts of poems I use. The texts of the major poets are edited already, and I follow these definitive editions. The poetry for the royal wedding by the minor poets is contained, except for Augustine Taylor, in an anthology of English Epithalamies and I adopt these, though they are not perfect texts, due to lack of extensive textual criticism upon them. -- Chapters II-VIII consist of the texts, a commentary on them, and an evaluation. Each author's biographical sketch includes his relationship, if any, with the Princess and his other literary works; the critical evaluation attempts to point to any influence the epithalamion under discussion has on other examples of the genre. The commentary attempts to relate together the nuptial poems for the 1613 wedding, and to show the literary and philosophical backgrounds of the classical, medieval, and early seventeenth century epithalamion. These background motifs include the pagan and Christian rituals, the definite usage of the Pantheon of gods to compare the bride and groom to, and aspects of more immediate concern, such as social customs and state occasions. The brief evaluation of each poem gauges its effectiveness and its appeal. -- Appendix A is a short history of the Valentine poem and its relationship to the Hymeneal poem. -- Appendix B is a chronological list of epithalmies from Spenser's in 1595 to Jonson's last one in 1632.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7523
Item ID: 7523
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [189]-195.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1974
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Epithalamia; English poetry--Early modern, 1500-1700--History and criticism

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