Spenser and Classical Philosophy

Andrew Escobedo

in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227365
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Spenser and Classical Philosophy

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Spenser saw both overlap and difference between classical philosophy and Christian theology. Spenser's interest in the philosophers was not identical to ours — he did not care whether the Timaeus was a product of Plato's middle or late period — but we can nonetheless grant, without denying his poetic wrigglings, that he recognized the presence of ‘problems’ within the philosophical works he read, and that in his poetry he uses these problems to help shape the contours of his fictional landscape. This article focuses on three such problems — eudaimonia, akrasia, and mutability — that stem from questions that most readers would agree are central to Spenser's art: Should we be happy? Why do we lose control over ourselves? What does change mean?

Keywords: Christian theology; philosophers; poetry; eudaimonia; akrasia; mutability

Article.  8681 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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