Reading Homer Across the Religious Divide

Marc Bizer

in Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199731565
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918478 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Reading Homer Across the Religious Divide

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This chapter shows that whereas early humanists looked to the Greeks Odysseus and Nestor as the respective embodiments of prudence and wisdom, the Huguenot poet and scholar Jean de Sponde’s commentary on the Iliad (1583) tended to focus instead on Agamemnon and Achilles, who represented for him the poles of abusive power and its victims. Incorporating Protestant theological principles on resistance to an unjust monarch, Sponde’s commentary would help to challenge the mapping between Homeric and French contexts. Published four years earlier, the Catholic Guillaume Paquelin’s Apologeme pour le grand Homère appears doubly conservative: he was attempting to resolve a political crisis by effectively resurrecting an archaic and largely irrelevant Platonic crisis of Homeric authority, and this move was itself predicated on the idea that French monarchy’s political authority was conjoined with Homer’s textual authority on politics, yet as Sponde’s commentary corroborated, that connection had been greatly weakened.

Keywords: Homer; humanism; Plato; Jean de Sponde; Guillaume Paquelin; Agamemnon; Nestor; political science; religious tolerance France; reformation France

Chapter.  11550 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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