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Spenser’s Forms of History$
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Bart van Es

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780199249701

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249701.001.0001

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‘With Fayned Colours Shading a True Case’: Euhemerism and Universal History

‘With Fayned Colours Shading a True Case’: Euhemerism and Universal History

Chapter 4 ‘With Fayned Colours Shading a True Case’: Euhemerism and Universal History
Spenser’s Forms of History

Bart van Es (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the discussion of universal history and euhemerism. It explains that this intellectual tool allowed Elizabethan historiographers to reach still further back in time. It states that Euhemerism defined pagan myths as allegories, and found them in both moral and historical truths. It clarifies that as a result, Euhemerism turned mythical tales to unintended ‘dark conceits’. It adds that such a method had a curious double status for the ‘Poet historical’: on the one had it hailed the first poets as the oldest historians, on the other it condemned them as the original corrupters of truth. By examining a series of episodes, this chapter sets out Spenser's ambiguous position as both writer and reader of allegory. It stresses that that position allowed Spenser to forge connections between ancient and modern tyrants, and to construct a truly universal picture of time.

Keywords:   universal history, euhemerism, Elizabethan, pagan myths, allegories, historical truth

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