In these five essays Niall Rudd presents an eclectic set of comparisons between certain ancient authors and later English writers ranging from Chaucer to Pound. He shows how five English writers consciously used and adapted classical works, and in so doing he illuminates both the classical authors and their English imitators and admirers. Readable translations and summaries of the Latin sources make these stimulating studies accessible even to scholars and students with little or no Latin.
The first essay compares Chaucer's treatment of Dido in The House of Fame and The Legend of Good Women with Virgil's presentation of Dido in the Aeneid, and Ovid's in Heroides 7. The second essay, comparing Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors with Plautus' Menaechmi, demonstrates how Shakespeare, weaving Roman farce into the framework of Hellenistic romance, developed both genres into something richer and more complex. The third essay on Pope's Epistle to Augustus shows his conversion of Horace's praise of Augustus into an anti-royalist attack on George II. In the fourth essay, Rudd discusses how much of Tennyson's Lucretius is invented and imported by Tennyson as a way of externalizing the inner conflicts he experienced in the age of doubt. The final essay, on Pound and Propertius, looks at Pound's representation of the Latin poet in Homage to Sextus Propertius, specifically in the areas of imperial politics, love, and language.
In his preface Rudd writes: 'Everyone knows of the Classical Tradition - comprehending it is another matter.' This book brings it closer to our understanding. [via]