Wordsworth and the Stoics

Bruce Graver

in Romans and Romantics

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588541
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741845 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Wordsworth and the Stoics

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This chapter reconsiders Wordsworth's understanding of Roman Stoicism. This subject was last discussed by Jane Worthington some seventy years ago, and its conclusions need to be revised, in light of advances in Wordsworth scholarship, and also in light of recent discussions of Stoic theories of emotion. Wordsworth knew the basic Stoic texts on emotion — primarily the letters of Seneca and Cicero's Tusculan Disputations — earlier than Worthington thought he did, and he both incorporates Stoic ideas and modifies them in his major lyrics beginning in 1797–98. The chapter briefly considers the portrait of the Pedlar from The Ruined Cottage, and then focuses on ‘Resolution and Independence’, in which the Leech-Gatherer is presented as a bizarre, and perhaps ironic, version of the Stoic sage.

Keywords: Cicero; Resolution and Independence; The Ruined Cottage; Seneca; Stoicism; William Wordsworth; Jane Worthington

Chapter.  6514 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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