Polyglottia and the Vindication of English Poetry: Abraham Fraunce's Arcadian Rhetorike

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Abstract

This article is an analysis of Abraham Fraunce's Arcadian Rhetorike, published in 1588 and owing much to Ramus's rhetoric treatises. After an introductory section on the diffusion of Ramism in England and particularly in the Cambridge intellectual circle of which Sir Philip Sidney was one of the leaders, special consideration is given to the composition of the Arcadian Rhetorike as an act of homage on the part of Fraunce to Sidney, his powerful patron and friend. Then the use of quotations in Fraunce's work is analyzed. Fraunce, as was the common practice at the time, intersperses his work with quotations from the great poets of classical Rome and Greece (Homer, Virgil), as well as citing the most celebrated poets of his time (Tasso, Du Bartas). The inclusion of lines from Sidney's works, and particularly from the Arcadia, answers a double purpose: the recognition of English as a literary language, on the same level as Italian, French and Spanish, and the diffusion among Sidney's friends of excerpts from the yet unpublished Arcadia – an extreme homage to the recently mourned friend.

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