Time to Begin Anew: Dryden's Georgics and Aeneis

By Tanya Caldwell | Go to book overview

Epilogue: Time To Begin Anew

Since finally Dryden offered no conclusions it seem inappropriate to do so here. Perhaps, then, the best point of departure in attempting some kind of closure is again the telling last lines of The Secular Masque:

All, all of a piece throughout;
Thy Chase had a Beast in View;
Thy Wars brought nothing about;
Thy Lover were all Untrue.
‘Tis well an Old Age is out,
And time to begin a New.

(16: 273.86–91)

As the arguments above have attempted to demonstrate, the process which led Dryden reluctantly but ultimately to this viewpoint is a long and complicated one, and his submission to historical and literary openendedness the completion of a difficult battle between history and ideology. The crises and struggles manifested in his Vergil did not, of course arise overnight—the night of James II’s ignominious flight from London. The historical, political and generic issues embedded in the translation all have roots that go at least as deep as Charles II’s troubled reign, if not to the Interregnum or further back into Stuart history. Yet the Glorious Revolution and the attendant financial revolutions in the mid1690s changed forever relationships between monarch and subject, subject and subject, author and reader, thereby rendering problematic time-honored myths of patriarchal kingship and a hierarchical universe. As the nation’s leading poet, satirist and playwright—national spokesperson in other words—Dryden was attuned from first to last to even the most subtle changes in the social and political climate and to audience and reader demands; his Georgics and Aeneis are therefore invaluable as maps of a crossroads in English literature and culture, and their neglect by scholars and teachers a lacuna in Restoration and eighteenth-century studies. The ultimate goal here, accordingly, is to point out that while Dryden’s Vergil was unable to offer 1690s readers the kind of advice the poet perhaps initially thought possible, this watershed work can offer a twenty-first-century audience new insights into

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Time to Begin Anew: Dryden's Georgics and Aeneis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Introduction: All of a Piece 11
  • 1 - On Equal Terms with Ancient Wit Engaging 27
  • 2 - Studying Nature's Laws 55
  • 3 - Towards a Carmen Perpetuum 89
  • 4 - Thy Wars Brought Nothing about 129
  • 5 - Thy Lovers Were All Untrue 179
  • Epilogue: Time to Begin Anew 221
  • Notes Introduction: All of a Piece 223
  • Bibliography 248
  • Index 260
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