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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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Stephen Batman, Edmund Spenser, and Myth as an Art of Discernment

Stephen Batman, Edmund Spenser, and Myth as an Art of Discernment

(p.53) 2 Stephen Batman, Edmund Spenser, and Myth as an Art of Discernment
English Mythography in its European Context, 1500-1650

Anna-Maria Hartmann

Oxford University Press

Stephen Batman’s Golden Booke of the Leaden Goddes (1577) was the first English Renaissance mythography. It consists of three sections on false gods: the first on pagan deities, the second on Catholic saints, and the third on Protestant sectarians. Batman calls Roman mythology a ‘straunge entermixed strategeme’, which unites two aspects of the ancient past usually seen as contradictory: exemplary Roman virtue and the worship of idols. In contrast with the pagans, the Catholic and Protestant idols become increasingly more pernicious and more difficult to identify. The most dangerous form of idolatry is that of the Family of Love, and Batman’s Golden Booke was regarded as a work aimed at their founder in the years after its publication. The final section of this chapter looks at how Spenser’s use of mythology in Book II, Canto xii of The Faerie Queene is directly analogous to Batman’s in The Golden Booke.

Keywords:   idolatry, Protestantism, Family of Love, Stephen Batman, Edmund Spenser, discernment, imagination, allegory, Guyon, Georg Pictorius

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