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This work is based on a simple premise-that in the case of a major figure like Johnson the reader should have access to all his work. Johnson himself would not have wished that in an age when very few can read the language his Latin poetry should be consigned to a separate category, closed to most educated readers.
As well as such famous works as London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, both owing much to Juvenal, Samuel Johnson wrote many poems in Latin and several in Greek. He also translated a large batch of epigrams from the Greek Anthology into Latin to while away the sleepless nights of the last winter before he died. His subjects vary from religious themes and the quality of Pembroke College beer, to a motto for a goat that circumnavigated the globe, to his own ill-health. Some pieces are entertaining squibs; others disclose his complex emotions towards people and places.
This book applies some of the procedures of modern critical theory to the interpretation of Latin poetry. The author argues for an approach that sees the meaning of a text as always and necessarily involved in the process of "reception," that is the way it has been read and interpreted from the time of its composition down to the present day. A study of its reception-history facilitates novel and more profitable ways of reading. He illustrates his approach with exemplary readings of Virgil, Ovid, Horace and Lucan.
The first book length study of the motif of impotency in poetry from early antiquity through to the late Restoration, this book explores the impotency poem as a recognisable form of poetry in the longer tradition of erotic elegy. Hannah Lavery’s central claim is that the impotency motif is adopted by poets in recognition of its potential to signify satirically through its use as symbol and allegory. By drawing together analysis of works in the tradition, Lavery shows how the impotency motif is used to engage with anxieties as to what it means to enact ‘service’ within political and social contexts. She demonstrates that impotency poems can be seen on one level to represent bawdy escapism, but on the other to offer positions of resistance and opposition to social and political concerns contemporary to a particular time. Whilst the link between the 'Imperfect Enjoyment' poems by Ovid and Rochester is well known, Lavery here looks further back to the origins of the concept of male impotency as degradation in the works of earlier Roman poets. This is an important context for considering how the impotency poem then first appears in the French and English vernaculars during the sixteenth century, leading to translations and adaptations throughout the seventeenth century. Lavery's close readings of the poems consider both the nature of the literary form, and the political and social contexts within which the works appear, in order to chart the intertextual development of the impotency poem as a distinct form of writing in the early modern period.

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