Homer and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance France
This book disputes the notion that humanists, classical scholars in sixteenth-century France, were ivory-tower academics detached from the world around them. Through their interpretations of Homer, they not only played the role of counselor to the king, but participated actively in national debates in their poetry, their art, their pamphlets, their plays. Because Homer was considered an authority on all subjects, including politics, he became a locus for authority issues surrounding the king. This study shows how Homer was initially used to construct the image of a monarchy which traced its origins back to Troy, but later, after the outbreak of the Wars of Religion, the Greek poet is cited in discussions critical of the monarchy. It examines not only the different hermeneutic practices of Catholics and Protestants but also their contributions to debates about sovereignty and ultimately to the development of a French national consciousness. Homer's demise at the end of the century parallels the rise of political absolutism.