Renaissance England's representations of Rome

Wednesday 10 December 2014 18.00

Andrew Hadfield (Sussex) presents a Society for Renaissance Studies lecture

Renaissance England’s representations of Rome

‘In this lecture I will explore the ways in which sixteenth and seventeenth-century English writers represented Rome – as the eternal city; the centre of ancient republicanism; the home of the papacy and centre of international Catholicism; the storehouse of many of the world’s greatest art treasures; and a modern city with all the attendant vices. I will ask whether travellers had very different perspectives from those who actually travelled to Rome and how Rome was compared to London, another flourishing and expanding city that, like Rome, faced the constant threat of the plague. In times that imagined the Apocalypse was an ever-present reality London and Rome were often seen as equally corrupt and decadent versions of Babylon. Travel writers I will discuss will include Fynes Moryson, Thomas Coryat, Wiliam Lithgow, John Evelyn. Authors discussed will include Edmund Spenser, Thomas Nashe, John Donne, William Shakespeare and John Milton. All have an intense relationship with Rome in their writings, but only Milton actually saw the city.’