Publication Date



book index, Plutarch, John Donne


Thomas Carew's elegy on John Donne points up an important fact (and distinction); Donne little employed allusions to classical literature and learning such as authors like Edmund Spenser and John Milton did, much to the glee of teachers and the bane of students. But glosses on Donne's works also turn up relatively few contemporary or near-contemporary references to informational volumes, whether in English or in Latin. He knew Galileo's Siderus Nuncius, 1610, and he owned and used such works as Nicholas Harpsfield's Dialogi Sex contra Summi Pontificatus, Monasticae Vitae, Sanctorum, Sacrarum, Imaginum Oppugnatores, et pseudo-martyres, 1566, and jacobus Valdesius' De dignitate regum regnorumque Hispaniae et honoratiori loco eis, seu eorum legatis, a conciliis ac Romana sede jure debito, 1602. Zeus's urs of good and bad fortune, from the Iliad, 24.527, which lie behind 1.24 of the elegy "The Comparison" ("Joves best fortunes urne"), are described in Jean-Jacques Boissard's Emblematum Liber: Ipse emblemata ab auctore delineata, 1588, 1593, and Achille Bocchi's Symbolicarum Quaestionum de Universo genere, 1555, 1574, and an emblem given in either volume may have stayed in his mind, had he known either work. But clear evidence of influence from such volumes seems lacking, and without a full-scale study of such matters – beyond, for example, such articles as Josef Lederer's "John Donne and Emblematic Practice" – we can not conclude anything very meaningful.