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English Mythography in its European Context, 1500-1650$
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Anna-Maria Hartmann

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198807704

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198807704.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
English Mythography in its European Context, 1500-1650

Anna-Maria Hartmann

Oxford University Press

Mythographies were books that collected, explained, and interpreted myth-related material. Extremely popular during the Renaissance, these works appealed to a wide range of readers. While the European mythographies of the sixteenth century have been utilized by scholars, the short, early English mythographies, written from 1577 to 1647, have puzzled critics. The first generation of English mythographers did not, as has been suggested, try to compete with their Italian predecessors. Instead, they made mythographies into rhetorical instruments designed to intervene in topical debates outside the world of classical learning. Because English mythographers brought mythology to bear on a variety of contemporary issues, they unfold a lively and historically well-defined picture of the roles myth was made to play in early modern England. Exploring these mythographies can contribute to previous insights into myth in the Renaissance offered by studies of iconography, literary history, allegory, and myth theory.

Keywords:   myth, mythography, myth theory, classical reception, English Renaissance, European Renaissance, allegory, Ovid

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