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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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Gods Save the King

Gods Save the King

Alexander Ross’s Civil Mythography

(p.207) 6 Gods Save the King
English Mythography in its European Context, 1500-1650

Anna-Maria Hartmann

Oxford University Press

In Alexander Ross’s Mel Heliconium (1642) and Pansebeia (1653), the ancient gods and the stories surrounding them are the product of the greatly successful civil theology of the Roman Empire. Ross’s first mythography was written to intervene, on the royalist and Laudian side, in the political and religious conflicts of the Civil Wars. In such times, the virtuous Romans and their use of religion could provide a positive example for governing England. Ross’s portrayal of Roman religion dissociates it from the disreputable beginnings of paganism and emphasizes its monotheism, rationality, moral superiority, and charity. In their undisputed political wisdom, ideal princes of the Roman Empire championed religion because they knew that this would stabilize their reign and keep people in order through the fear of God. Ross’s mythographical work attempts to re-create the ancient function of the fables, by using them to restore the people’s fear of God and king.

Keywords:   Alexander Ross, Augustine, Samuel Purchas, Virgil, Horace, Civil Wars, civil theology, royalism, Laudianism, Augustanism

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