The Byron Journal

Byron and Antiquity, ‘Et Cetera - ’

The Byron Journal (2020), 48, (2), 145–156.

Abstract

Byron’s interest in the classical past is manifest throughout his life and work. Alongside citations from and references to a remarkable catalogue of writers, thinkers, and historical figures, we also have extensive poetic responses to classical places, classical architecture, and to Greek and Roman art and sculpture. Yet it is clear that Byron’s classical pretentions are by no means underpinned by a thorough grasp of classical languages. His Greek in particular was extremely poor, and his Latin compositions barely better than the average eighteenth-century schoolboy’s. As I shall go on to demonstrate, this does not mean that attending to those moments when he does stray into classical allusion or composition is uninteresting, but it is Latin and not Greek that Byron engages with most frequently. Specifically, Byron’s less than proper Latin becomes a means by which he negotiates less than proper subject matter in his poetry.

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Author details

Camilleri, Anna

Camilleri, Anna