Absalom and Achitophel
Absalom and Achitophel is a landmark poetic political
satireby John Dryden. The poem exists in two parts. The first part, of 1681, is undoubtedly by Dryden. The second part, of 1682, was written by another hand, most likely Nahum Tate, except for a few passages---including attacks on Thomas Shadwelland Elkanah Settleas Og and Doeg---that Dryden wrote himself.
The poem is an
allegorythat uses the story of the rebellion of Absalomagainst King Davidas the basis for discussion of the background to the Monmouth Rebellion( 1685), the Popish Plot( 1678) and the Exclusion Crisis. Dryden's skill at walking a fine line between praise and condemnation of his king is extraordinary, and the poem is not only the finest satire Dryden wrote, but is probably the finest political satire ever written in English verse, even if the topicality of the satire is so intense as to obscure its value to modern readers.
The story of Absalom's revolt is told in the Second Book of
Samuelin the Old Testamentof the Bible(). Absalom rebels against his father King David. The beautiful Absalom is distinguished by extraordinarily abundant hair, which is probably meant to symbolize his pride (2 Sam. 14.26). When David's renowned advisor, Ahitophel(Achitophel in the Vulgate) joins Absalom's rebellion, another advisor, Hushai, plots with David to pretend to defect and give Absalom advice that plays into David's hands. The result was that Absalom takes the advice of the double agent Hushai over the good advice of Ahitophel, who realizing that the rebellion is doomed to failure, goes home and hangs himself. Absalom is killed (against David's explicit commands) after getting caught by his hair in the thick branches of a great oak: "His head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on" (NRSV 2 Sam. 18:9). The death of his son, Absalom, causes David enormous personal grief. The title of Faulkner's novel Absalom, Absalom!is taken from David's mourning in 2 Sam. 18:33 or 19:4.
In 1681 in
England, Charles II was in advanced years. He had had a number of mistresses and produced a number of illegitimate children. One of these was James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, who was very popular, both for his personal charisma and his fervor for the Protestantcause. Charles had no legitimate heirs, and his brother, the future James II of Englandwas suspected of being a Roman Catholic. When Charles's health suffered, there was a panic in the House of Commons over the potential for the nation being ruled by a Roman Catholic king. The Earl of Shaftesbury had sponsored and advocated the Exclusion Bill, but this bill was blocked by the House of Lordson two occasions. In the Spring of 1681, at the Oxford Parliament, Shaftesbury appealed to Charles II to legitimate Monmouth. Monmouth was caught preparing to rebel and seek the throne, and Shaftesbury was suspected of fostering this rebellion. The poem was written, possibly at Charles's behest, and published in early November of 1681. On November 24, 1681, Shaftesbury was seized and charged with high treason. A trial before a jury picked by Whig sheriffs acquitted him.
Later, after the death of his father and unwilling to see his uncle James II become King, the Duke of Monmouth executed his plans and went into full revolt. The Monmouth Rebellion was put down, and in
1685the Duke was executed.
Dryden's poem tells the story of the first foment by making Monmouth into
Absalom, the beloved boy, Charles into David (who also had some philandering), and Shaftesbury into Achitophel. It paints Buckingham, an old enemy of Dryden's (see "The Rehearsal" for one example), into Zimri, the unfaithful servant. The poem places most of the blame for the rebellion on Shaftesburyand makes Charles a very reluctant and loving man who has to be king before father. The poem also refers to some of the Popish Plotfuror.
* [http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/absalom.html Text, with notes, of the first part of "Absalom and Achitophel"]
*gutenberg|no=18517|name=Anti-Achitophel (1682): Three Verse Replies to Absalom and Achitophel
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Absalom and Achitophel — ist eine bedeutende historische Politsatire von John Dryden. Das Gedicht besteht aus zwei Teilen, von denen der erste, verfasst 1681, unzweifelhaft von Dryden stammt. Der zweite Teil, der 1682 entstand, wurde von einigen wenigen Passagen… … Deutsch Wikipedia
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Absalon Et Achitophel — (Absalom and Achitophel en anglais) est un important poème satirique en deux parties de l écrivain anglais John Dryden. La première partie, qui date de 1681, est incontestablement de Dryden. La seconde, apparue en 1682, est sans doute le travail… … Wikipédia en Français
Absalon et Achitophel — (Absalom and Achitophel en anglais) est un important poème satirique en deux parties de l écrivain anglais John Dryden. La première partie, qui date de 1681, est incontestablement de Dryden. La seconde, apparue en 1682, est sans doute le travail… … Wikipédia en Français