Arts of Life: The Poetry of Inner and Outer Refinement

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

Arts of Life: The Poetry of Inner and Outer Refinement

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)


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In the ancient didactic poems, man is regularly presented as a product of cultivation or as an object of art. In the preceding chapters, Jesuit poets framed snapshots of ideal life in Virgilian terms. While there are no specific examples of classical verses and poems that dealt on the preservation of physical, mental and spiritual life, procreation, and child-rearing, Ovid's Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris provided models for poets writing conventions of sexual and social relations. However, Ovid's immoral morality poems had to be handled with great care by the didactic poets of the Society of Jesuits. In Horace, whose satire of human foibles was more chaste, the Jesuits found a perfect model for the purpose of modern moralizing. In his Ars poetica, Jesuits began to cast life as art and art as life. This chapter explores the role of art as conceived by the Society of Jesuits, including its spiritual, social, and cultural poetry. It also discusses the paradox of the paucity of the Jesuit didactics devoted to the religious life. Although the Jesuits wrote a great quantity of Latin theological and devotional verses, they nevertheless succeeded because of their preservation of its secular interior. This approach was a perfect vehicle for winning the hearts of the Catholic public for disseminating Jesuit culture in a manner that was as inoffensive as it was invisible.

Keywords: didactic poems; art; Jesuit poets; Ovid; Horace; Society of Jesuits; modern moralizing; role of art; Jesuit didactics; theological verses

Chapter.  31693 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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