Shelley, Mythology, and the Classical Tradition

Anthony John Harding

in The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558360
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Shelley, Mythology, and the Classical Tradition

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This chapter discusses Shelley's engagement with the classical tradition, showing that Shelley viewed classical culture, especially the Greek poets' ways of handling myth, as creatively liberating and a force for good. It suggests that long before visiting Italy, he had a fully awakened sense of the possibilities for intellectual and political renewal which were latent in the classical tradition. In this respect, Shelley participated in a contemporary, Europe-wide movement that began some decades before his birth, and which aimed at finding in Greek literature and history the seeds of a new intellectual order that might liberate Europe from its oppressive superstructure of monarchy, aristocracy, and religious dogma. The analysis includes works such as The Witch of Atlas, ‘Song of Apollo’, ‘Song of Apollo’, and Hellas.

Keywords: Percy Bysshe Shelley; English poets; Romantic poets; classics; Greek poets; myth; liberation

Article.  8708 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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