The Hercules myth in Renaissance poetry and prose
Rees, Compton, Jr
Doctor of Philosophy
The Hercules myth has had a long and distinguished literary history, to which this study will add another footnote. In these pages following we shall pursue the figure of Hercules from Greece to Rome to the Middle Ages and thence throughout the Renaissance world---our journey will be somewhat hasty, in the first chapters, but once within the chronological limits of 1400--1600 the text shall linger on the Herculean vistas of Renaissance Italy, France, and England. The goals of this study will be three-fold: First, to establish the traditional interpretative contexts within which Hercules was seen in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; secondly, to trace the appearances of Hercules in the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and thereby to note to what extent these interpretative contexts were applied; and lastly to suggest, in light of the evidence gathered, a tentative clarification of what the Renaissance attitudes were toward pagan mythology and why the chronological limits 1400--1600 are appropriate to designate the core of the "Renaissance." We shall here be primarily concerned with the Hercules myth as it appears in Renaissance non-dramatic poetry and prose.
Classical literature; Comparative literature; Romance literature; English literature