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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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While the Winds Breathe, Adore Echo

While the Winds Breathe, Adore Echo

Henry Reynolds between Neo-Platonic and Protestant Poetics of Myth

Chapter:
(p.163) 5 While the Winds Breathe, Adore Echo
Source:
English Mythography in its European Context, 1500-1650
Author(s):

Anna-Maria Hartmann

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198807704.003.0006

Henry Reynolds’s Mythomystes (1632) is a dynamic response to the tensions between Neo-Platonic claims for the divinity of ancient poetry and a Protestant poetics that rejected syncretism and sought to set the truth of Christianity apart. Reynolds draws on Pico della Mirandola to emphasize the divine knowledge of the ancient pagan poets, who were ‘iointrunners’ with Moses and used fables for the secret communication of wisdom. But in other parts of the book Reynolds carefully separates the pagan and Christian traditions in everything but natural knowledge. These different perspectives can be explained by the rising and falling rhetorical pitch of the mythography and can be compared to Philip Sidney’s practice in his Defence of Poetry. In the end, Reynolds’s mythography returns to a Neo-Platonic conception of the ancient fables, and offers a version of the Narcissus myth that rests upon a Pythagorean symbol.

Keywords:   Henry Reynolds, Michael Drayton, Pico della Mirandola, Ficino, Neo-Platonism, prisca theologia, Pythagorean symbols, Narcissus, Philip Sidney, Renaissance poetics

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