The Arse Poetica of Thomas Hobbes: On the Composition and Reception of De Mirabilibus Pecci

in Erudition and the Republic of Letters
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

This article provides a two-part study of Thomas Hobbes’ De Mirabilibus Pecci, a Latin poem composed very early in his career. Part one examines the poem as a product of Hobbes’ participation in the recreational literary culture of Caroline England, in particular analysing the influence of mock-epic and burlesque traditions that would continue to shape Hobbes’ writings but also studying how the poem offers compelling evidence for his early preoccupation with the laws of motion, with geological processes such as the creation and erosion of stone formations, and with the philosophy of Lucretius. Part two recounts the extraordinary history of the poem’s reception in the last decades of the seventeenth century. The poem’s familiarity among Hobbes’ allies and adversaries alike helped to cement his reputation as a master of scoffing and drollery, as an opponent of the experimental science practiced by the Royal Society, and as a freethinker or atheist.

The Arse Poetica of Thomas Hobbes: On the Composition and Reception of De Mirabilibus Pecci

in Erudition and the Republic of Letters

Sections

References

  • 10

    MartinichBiography69; Skinner Reason and Rhetoric 240; compare Marjorie Nicholson Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite (1959 rpt. Seattle 1997) 65 who calls the poem an example of ‘metaphysical grotesquerie’.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16

    CamdenBritain477–478.

  • 18

    WalshamReformation397.

  • 19

    WalshamReformation96. Charles Cavendish inherited Welbeck and Bolsover from Talbot in 1612.

  • 22

    WalshamReformation262; Leah Marcus The Politics of Mirth: Jonson Herrick Milton Marvell and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes (Chicago il 1986).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25

    DraytonPolyolbion124–125; Hobbes De Mirabilibus Pecci 42–43.

  • 28

    HobbesLeviathan 27 205.

  • 29

    RaylorCavaliers121–122; on the journey poem in seventeenth-century England also see Andrew McRae Literature and Domestic Travel in Early Modern England (Cambridge 2009) 187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30

    HoraceSatire 1.5 lines 102–103 in Horace: Satires Epistles and Ars Poetica ed. and trans. H.R. Fairclough (London 1932) 72–73. On the popularity of the journey-ode in the late 1620s and 1630s see Timothy Raylor ‘A Manuscript Poem on the Royal Progress of 1634: An Edition and Translation of John Westwood’s ‘Carmen Basileuporion’. Historical Introduction’ Seventeenth Century 9 (1994) 173–178 at 173–174.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34

    Sir John Mennes‘To a friend upon a journey to Epsam Well’ in Musarum Deliciae: Or The Muses Recreation. Conteining severall select Pieces of sportive Wit (London 1656) 4–5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35

     See HobbesLeviathan 47 480–482. On Hobbes’s use of tapinosis and other rhetorical devices that debase high matters with base words see Skinner Reason and Rhetoric 423. On Hobbes’s criticism of far-fetched similes The Answer to Davenant’s Preface to Gondibert in Critical Essays ed. Spingarn 2: 65.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36

    Richard Hillyer‘Hobbes and Sex’Hobbes Studies 22 (2009) 29–48at 32.

  • 38

    HobbesLeviathan 46 463; Lucretius drn 4.416–419. On the ‘bodily landscapes’ of Etna and Atlas in Lucretius’s drn and Virgil’s Aeneid see Philip Hardie Lucretian Receptions. History the Sublime Knowledge (Cambridge 2009) 91.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39

     See PrescottImagining Rabelaisxii; 26; 36; Patricia Springborg ‘Leviathan mythic history and national historiography’ 267–297 of The Historical Imagination in Early Modern Britain ed. Donald R. Kelley and David Harris Sacks (Cambridge 1997) 290 calls Leviathan a ‘truly Rabelaisian work irreverent and mocking a burlesque in disguise of a treatise’.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40

    HobbesLeviathan 12 81.

  • 50

    Knowles‘Songs of Baser Alloy’173; Riggs Jonson 266. On the depiction of Buckingham as a gypsy see also Martin Butler ‘"We are one mans all": Jonson’s The Gypsies Metamorphosed’ in Patronage Politics and Literary Traditions in England 1558–1658 ed. Cedric C. Brown (Detroit 1991) 247–267 at 260 and Butler The Stuart Court Masque and political culture (Cambridge 2008) 229.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58

    HillyerPoetic Contemporaries176.

  • 59

    FoxOral and Literate216.

  • 61

    MartinichHobbes: A Biography88. On Jonson’s Entertainment at Welbeck and the Cavendish circle see also Cedric C. Brown Courtesies of Place and Arts of Diplomacy in Ben Jonson’s Last Two Entertainments for Royalty Seventeenth Century 9 (1994) 147–171 at 155–157.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 62

    HobbesLeviathan 44 426.

  • 63

    VirgilAeneid 6.66; 6.71 in The Works of Virgil: Containing his Pastorals Georgics and Æneis translated into English Verse by Mr. Dryden (London 1697) 364.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 64

    HobbesLeviathan 46 462; on non-belief in Purgatory see Kristen Poole Supernatural Environments in Shakespeare’s England (Cambridge 2011) 99–102 and Stephen Greenblatt Hamlet in Purgatory (Princeton nj 2001) 97–99.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 65

    HobbesLeviathan 46 463.

  • 67

    HobbesLeviathan 12 80.

  • 68

    HardieLucretian Receptions 106; compare Hardie ‘Lucretius and Later Latin literature in antiquity’ 111–127 of The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius ed. Stuart Gillespie and Philip Hardie (Cambridge 2007) 118–119.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 70

    HembryEnglish Spa22; 45; Elizabeth Lane Furdell The Royal Doctors 1485–1714: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts (Rochester 2001) 75.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 73

    Raylor‘Royal Progress’175; William Cavendish The Varietie (London 1649) 39; 31–32.

  • 74

    Adamson‘Chivalry’181; Anne Barton ‘Harking Back to Elizabeth: Ben Jonson and Caroline Nostalgia’ elh 48 (1981) 706–731 at 710.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 75

    Adamson‘Chivalry’166.

  • 80

    CamdenBritaine557–558; James Brome Travels over England Scotland and Wales giving a true and exact description of the chiefest cities towns and corporations together with the antiquities of divers other places (London 1700) 91.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 85

    BarbourReligious Culture34; Adamson ‘Chivalry’ 165–166.

  • 86

    Adamson‘Chivalry’181.

  • 87

    HobbesLeviathan 38 312.

  • 89

    VirgilAeneid 8.256–257 in The Works of Virgil trans. Dryden 441; Hardie ‘Lucretius and later Latin literature’ 119.

  • 93

    HardieLucretian Receptions76.

  • 96

    HobbesLeviathan 12 80.

  • 98

    BarbourLiterature and Religious Culture86; Adamson ‘Chivalry’ 195.

  • 105

    ParkinTaming the Leviathan202–203; Roger Lund ‘Irony and Subversion: Thomas Woolston and the Crime of Wit’ in Lund ed. The Margins of Orthodoxy: Heterodox Writing and Cultural Response 1660–1750 (Cambridge 1995) 170–194 at 171.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 108

    ParkinTaming the Leviathan134–135; Chernaik Sexual Freedom 23–24.

  • 113

    Cokain‘A Remedy for Love’ in Small Poems of Divers Sorts (London 1658) 12–13. On Cokain’s associations with Hobbes and with the Cavendish family see Raylor ‘Newcastle’s Ghosts: Robert Payne Ben Jonson and the Cavendish Circle’ in Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance ed. Claude Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (Columbia mo 2001) 92–114 at 92–96.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 115

    Cotton‘A Voyage to Ireland in Burlesque’ in Poems on Several Occasions (London 1689) 168.

  • 117

    CottonWonders27.

  • 118

    CottonWonders31.

  • 119

    CottonWonders33.

  • 120

    CottonPeak53; 65; Hobbes dmp 56–57.

  • 121

    CottonWonders29.

  • 125

    CottonWonders27; for a similar reading of Cotton’s response to Hobbes see Edwards ‘Derbyshire’ 10–11.

  • 127

    ParkinTaming the Leviathan217.

  • 128

    Jan Blits‘Hobbesian Fear’Political Theory 17 (1989) 417–431at 417.

  • 129

    HobbesLeviathan 12 76.

  • 130

    CottonWonders76. A marginal note next to these lines reads ‘+ Mr. Hobbs his de Mir. Pec’.

  • 131

    Edwards‘Derbyshire’4. The term ‘roisterer’ is drawn from Andrews Pooles Hole fol. 166; both Edwards and Martinich ‘Francis Andrewes’ believe it refers to Hobbes.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 132

    CottonWonders17 30.

  • 133

    CottonWonders30.

  • 134

    SkinnerReason and Rhetoric211; Collins Discourse 43.

  • 137

    HobbesLeviathan 34 279; Swift Tale of a Tub 153–156; on Swift’s engagement with Hobbes see Sarah Ellenzweig The Fringes of Belief. English Literature Ancient Heresy and the Politics of Freethinking 1660–1760 (Stanford ca 2008) 99–101.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 138

    HardieLucretian Receptions128.

  • 143

    BromeTravels over England6.

  • 148

    WoodwardAn essay toward a natural history147.

  • 149

    HobbesLeviathan 37 301.

  • 151

    CottonWonders49; Thomas and Edward Browne Journey in Browne Works ed. Wilkin 1: 28.

  • 156

    BromeTravels over England91–93.

  • 157

    BromeTravels over England92; compare Lazarus Ercker Fleta minor: the laws of art and nature in knowing judging assaying fining refining and inlarging the bodies of confin’d metals trans. John Petty (London 1683) 84–85 who argues that the Devil’s Arse is actually a disused mine whose name derives from a corruption of Ars (art) or Arx (castle).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 158

    BromeTravels over England92–93.

  • 160

    LeighNatural History of Lancashire25; he is referring to A General Collection of Discourses of the Virtuosi of France Upon Questions of all Sorts of Philosophy and other Natural Knowledg published in two volumes in London in 1664–1665. The society presided over by Theophraste Renaudot (1586–1653) was a model for England’s Royal Society; on the French virtuosi see Adrian Johns ‘Reading and Experiment in the early Royal Society’ in Reading Society and Politics in Early Modern England ed. Kevin Sharpe and Steven N. Zwicker (Cambridge 2003) 264–265.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 162

    The Prize Question. L.D. 1722in The Diarian Repository; Or Mathematical Register: Containing A complete Collection of all the Mathematical Questions Which have been published in The Ladies Diary from The Commencement of that Work in 1704 to the Year 1760 (London 1774) 162–164.

  • 165

    Jon Parkin‘Hobbism in the Later 1660s: Daniel Scargill and Samuel Parker’The Historical Journal 42 (1999) 85–108at 106 91; Parkin Taming of Leviathan 251–252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 166

    TenisonCreed44 56 210.

  • 170

    DefoeTour3: 61.

  • 171

    DefoeTour3: 60 73.

  • 173

    MintzHunting15–16. For Hobbes’s account of his twin birth with Fear (Metus) see his Vita Carmine Expressa in Thomae Hobbes Malmesburiensis Opera philosophica quae latine scripsit omnia ed. William Molesworth 5 vols. (London 1839–1845) 1: lxxxvi: ‘Atque metum tantum concepit tunc mea mater / Ut pareret geminos’.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Figures

  • View in gallery

    Charles Cotton, The Genuine Poetical Works (London, 1734), 302.

  • View in gallery

    Charles Cotton, Scarrönnides, or Virgil Travestie, in The Genuine Works of Charles Cotton (London: R. Bonwicke, 1715), 6: ‘Aeolus at ye request of Juno raises a storm to wreck ye Trojans’.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 97 96 2
Full Text Views 240 240 0
PDF Downloads 11 11 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0