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date: 25 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the influence of Neo-Latin texts on Spenser's works. While Spenser's debut as ‘Immerit ô’ was The Shepheardes Calender (1579) it is important to recognize that his other long poem printed around the same time — ‘Ad ornatissimum virum’ (1580) — was in Latin, not English. Spenser moved in a bilingual world, a world in which, partly because of him, the balance between English and Latin was shifting, but also one in which Latin as a living language put him in touch not only with the culture of ancient Rome but with recent Neo-Latin writers in Britain and Continental Europe. That one of his first poetical works was in Latin rather than English testifies to the fact that the literary milieu Spenser entered as a young man remained heavily Latinate. If he ultimately set out to use English to make a nation of his own, the books in his library and the poetry he published at the beginning of his literary career suggest that he also recognized the role Neo-Latin literature continued to play in British high culture.

Keywords: Latin, British high culture, poems, Ad ornatissimum virum

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