Curse upon a God



One unusual result of Ben Jonson’s lifelong zest for learning was his distinctive critical method. Intensely interested in classical literature, he blended classical thought with Renaissance enthusiasm in a natural manner. He applied Horatian-Aristotelian critical theory to English literature, not as a direct imitator but as a mind thoroughly familiar with it, fusing it with his own ideas of beauty and structure. His light satire “An Execration Upon Vulcan” is a playful tongue-in-cheek curse on Vulcan, the Roman God of fire, whom Jonson accuses of intentionally burning the author’s cherished library. In both form and content the poem illustrates this coalescence of classical and Elizabethan thought, the product of a lifetime of energetic study.

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