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The reception and influence of Josephus's Jewish War in the late French Renaissance with special reference to the Satyre Menippée

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Surprisingly little attention has been paid to the uses of Josephus's Jewish War in Renaissance France, even though its popularity eclipsed that of Plutarch's Lives. This article charts the changes in the reception of Josephus's Jewish War over the course of the French sixteenth century as revealed by translator's prefaces and its appearance as an intertext in literary and historical works. Before 1560, its use is confined to literature of moral and religious edification in a broad sense, illustrative of such topoi as miseria hominis and farnes horribilis. After that date, however, its relevance to the French Wars of Religion, and to the sieges of Sancerre and Paris in particular, ensured that its sensational narrative, pathos, political analyses, and myth-making would be annexed by Ligueur, Huguenot, and Politique factions to their mutually incompatible aims, culminating in its satirical exploitation, with the admixture of Lucianic techniques, by the authors of the Satyre Menippée.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999

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