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Slanted histories, Hesperian fables: material form and royalist prophecy in John Ogilby's The Works of Publius Virgilius Maro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-555
Number of pages25
JournalSeventeenth Century
Early online date14 Aug 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Jul 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2017
DatePublished (current) - 18 Oct 2018


This article considers the status of John Ogilby’s Virgil translations as royalist texts. The paratextual material to the 1649 and 1654 editions provides a framework which invites a royalist reading; the translation promotes this by manipulating Virgil’s text and contemporary typographic conventions. These factors combine in passages that depict the death of kings. The volume follows the Virgilian precedent of foretelling events that had already occurred by presenting the passage on the death of Priam in such a manner to imply that it anticipated Charles I’s execution. This allowed Ogilby to grant a sense of inevitability to the prophecies his translation offers regarding events that he hoped lay in the near future. The 1654 edition subtly draws on Caroline-era royalist literary tropes to suggest a permanent revival of the monarchy under Charles II. Ogilby’s contributions to Charles II’s coronation celebrations draw on the Virgil translations in vindication of such prophecies.

    Research areas

  • John Ogilby, Virgil, translation, royalism, typography, prophecy

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    Licence: CC BY-NC


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