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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Jonson’s first two collections of poetry, Epigrams and The Forest, were instrumental in creating a new and influential style of English poetry in the early seventeenth century. This chapter explores the exemplary and satirical functions of Epigrams, reading them in the light of Jonson’s relationships with the poems’ recipients and subjects, his epideictic poetics, and his opinions on ‘the old way and the true’ to write epigrammatically. Emphasizing their circulation first as manuscript texts and subsequently as part of Jonson’s printed Works (1616), the chapter examines the importance the poems attach to ‘naming’ the virtuous and praiseworthy, and to effecting moral reformation through satire. Comparing The Forest, a shorter but more generically diverse collection than Epigrams, it shows how the two works can be read as companion pieces exploring the nature of poetry, power, and relationships.

Keywords: epigram, lyric, praise, epideictic, patronage, naming, satire, manuscript, print

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