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Reading by Pieces: Heliodorus, Sir Philip Sidney, and the Model of Romance

McIlwraith, Fraser; (2022) Reading by Pieces: Heliodorus, Sir Philip Sidney, and the Model of Romance. The Review of English Studies , 73 (310) pp. 411-428. 10.1093/res/hgab093. Green open access

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Abstract

In The Model of Poesy, William Scott asserts that Sir Philip Sidney ‘did imitate’ Heliodorus’s Aethiopika in ‘the general gate of conveyance’ when he wrote The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. Sidney’s engagement with Heliodorus’s fourth-century prose fiction has long been recognized, especially in relation to the revised and composite versions of the Arcadia that appeared in print during the 1590s. Nevertheless, the close relationship between Heliodorus and Sidney’s text has rarely been viewed in the broader context of the Aethiopika’s sixteenth-century reception and has never been taken seriously as an instance of literary imitation. This essay returns to Renaissance debates over the propriety of prose epic to explore the background to Sidney’s Defence of Poesy and Arcadia and examines neglected sources on the Aethiopika which shed new light on how Heliodorus was reconciled with existing systems of poetics. The discussion explores how Sidney’s education in European Protestant circles taught him to think about literary imitation in ways that made him especially receptive to other sixteenth-century approaches to the Aethiopika, and proposes that he saw imitatio and mimēsis as closely connected. In addition, it considers how Scott used Heliodorus’s text as a critical tool with which to read the Arcadia, and suggests that Martin Crusius may have exerted a subtle yet significant influence on the Model. Finally, in showing how the Arcadia adapts the narrative form of Heliodorus’s text, the essay assesses the intricacy of Sidney’s imitative technique.

Type: Article
Title: Reading by Pieces: Heliodorus, Sir Philip Sidney, and the Model of Romance
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/res/hgab093
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgab093
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10149152
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