Gentle Labour: Jesuit Georgic in the Age of Louis XIV

Yasmin Annabel Haskell

in Loyola's Bees

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780197262849
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734588 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Gentle Labour: Jesuit Georgic in the Age of Louis XIV

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René Rapin, the father of Jesuit georgic poetry, manoeuvred his intellectual life between the ancients and the moderns with an instinct for conciliation and compromise that made him an effective apostle to the world. He is best remembered for his Horti, a classical-style didactic poem in four books that celebrated the victory of the moderns over the ancients in horticultural art. His poem, which is secular in appearance, is motivated by (mildly concealed) religion and Jesuito-political impulses, and cultural and literary impulses, particularly those of Virgil. This chapter discusses some of the developments in the Italian Renaissance georgic poetry to better understand Rapin's contribution to the early modern Latin georgic. It considers the latter Latin poems on horticulture and sericulture, which bear resemblance to the ancient model yet are considerably shorter than Virgil's. These latter georgic poems predicated on a Nature that is mild and marvellous, and centred on the artistic manipulation of Nature. In the Italian Renaissance, the ‘recreational georgics’ were dominated by pastoral ease, which is ironic, given the prominent thematic of labour in the original georgics. While the georgics were poems that celebrated nature and labour in gardens, by the turn of the eighteenth century, French Jesuits had identified the didactic genre of georgics as a flexible medium for exhibiting their modern Latinity and advertising their honnêteté.

Keywords: René Rapin; Jesuit georgic poetry; Horti; didactic poem; horticultural art; Italian Renaissance; georgic poetry; Latin georgic

Chapter.  26990 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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