Still, he is indisputably one of the great early Elizabethans, and one of the first poets of what would become the English Renaissance. His younger sister, Mary Sidney, married Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and was important as a translator and as a patron of poetry; Sidney dedicated his longest work, the Arcadia, to her, and she would be a stabilizing influence all of Sidney's life. He was much traveled and highly learned. In , he traveled to France as part of the embassy to negotiate a marriage between Elizabeth I and the Duc D'Alencon.
On these travels, he met a number of prominent European intellectuals and politicians. Returning to England in , Sidney met Penelope Devereux, the future Penelope Blount; though much younger, she would become the inspiration of his famous sonnet sequence of the s, Astrophil and Stella. Her father the Earl of Essex, is said to have planned to marry his daughter to Sidney; however, the Earl died in before he could complete the arrangements. In England, Sidney occupied himself with politics and art.
He defended his father's administration of Ireland in a lengthy document. He also quarreled with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. In the aftermath of this episode, Sidney challenged de Vere to a duel, which Elizabeth forbade; he then wrote the queen a lengthy letter detailing the foolishness of de Vere.
Writing as socio-political commitment. Sir Philip Sidney’s alternative
Characteristically, Elizabeth bristled at Sidney's presumption, and he was rather swiftly retired from court. Having left the court in relative shame, Sidney would go on to achieve the artistic accomplishments that would ultimately cement his lasting fame. During his absence from the court he wrote the Arcadia and, probably, The Defence of Poesie. Somewhat earlier, he had met Edmund Spenser , who dedicated the Shepheardes Calendar to him. Other literary contacts included membership in the possibly fictitious 'Areopagus', a humanist endeavor to classicize English verse, as well as the literary patronage of his sister, who after his death completed the verse translation of the Psalms that he had begun.
By the middle of , Sidney had returned to court; that same year Penelope Devereux was married to Lord Rich, apparently against her will. Sidney was knighted in An early arrangement to marry Anne Cecil, daughter of Sir William Cecil and eventual wife of de Vere, had fallen through in ; in he married Frances Walsingham, teenage daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham.
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The next year he met Giordano Bruno who subsequently dedicated two books to Sidney. Both through his family heritage and his personal experience he was in Walsingham's house in Paris during the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre , Sidney was a keenly militant Protestant. In the s, he had persuaded John Casimir to consider proposals for a unified Protestant effort against the Catholic Church and Spain ; in the early s, he argued unsuccessfully for an assault on Spain itself.
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In , his enthusiasm for Protestant struggle was allowed full expression when he was made governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, he consistently urged boldness on his superior, the Earl of Leicester. During the siege he was shot in the thigh and died 22 days later. Already in life, but especially after his death, he became for many English people the epitome of a courtier and a gentleman: learned and politic, and also generous and brave.
Never more than a marginal figure in the politics of his time, he was memorialized as the flower of English manhood in Edmund Spenser 's Astrophel, one of the greatest of English Renaissance elegies. The most famous story about Sir Philip intended as an illustration of his noble character is that, while dying, he gave his water-bottle to another wounded soldier, saying, "Thy need is greater than mine.
In , Thomas Campbell concludes that Sidney's life was "poetry in action"; and in William Stigant wrote that "Sidney's real poem was his life, and his teaching was his example" quoted in Garrett, Sidney No better elegy for him could be given. Sidney wrote the Defence before It is generally believed that he was at least partly motivated by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright who dedicated his attack on the English stage, The School of Abuse, to Sidney in Sidney, who was no great admirer of the stage, primarily addresses more general objections to poetry and fiction in general, such as those of Plato and other philosophers, whose views he sees reflected in the opinions of Gosson and men like him.
In his essay, Sidney integrates a number of classical and Italian precepts on fiction. The essence of his defense is that poetry, by combining the liveliness of history with the ethical focus of philosophy, is more effective than either history or philosophy in rousing its readers to virtue.
Sidney, following Aristotle , writes that human action is tantamount to human knowledge. Men drawn to music, astronomy, philosophy and so forth all direct themselves to "the highest end of the mistress knowledge, referred to by the Greeks as architectonike literally, "of or for a master builder" ," which stands, according to Sidney, "in the knowledge of a man's self, in the ethic and political consideration, with the end of well doing and not of well knowing only" Leitch "Sidney" One of the themes of the Apology is the insufficiency of simply presenting virtue as an idea; the poet is needed so that men will be moved to virtuous action.
From Sidney, this view of the virtuousness of poetic imagination can be connected directly with future poets and literary figures, particularly Percy Bysshe Shelley , Samuel Taylor Coleridge , and William Wordsworth. The influence of Sidney's Apology also relates to the question of the poet's place in society. Sidney describes poetry as creating a separate reality, removed from the world of everyday nuisances.
Sidney, like Shelley and Wordsworth, sees the poet as separate from society. To Sidney the poet is not tied to any obligations other than those of his art. Like Wordsworth and many of the Romantics, Sidney affirms that the ultimate goal of poetry is to connect with nature. Here, it will be necessary to delve into the question of whether Sidney ascribed a special function to poetry, for instance the conveyance of political or socio-cultural messages.
If so, this prompts a second most interesting question: could the act of writing potentially serve as a compensation measure for Sidney after he had withdrawn from courtly affairs and, as a consequence, after he had abandoned the chance to directly shape society through his own political action and influence at Court? Finally, I do not deny in particular that any poetic act requires an act of reading and therefore calls for recipients who attribute meaning to texts. Michael G. Brennan points out that besides the Sidneys there were only few families who in retrospect might have been as influential as the Sidneys were.
As a result, several prestigious tasks were commissioned to him, culminating in the position of Lord Deputy Governor of Ireland. Hence, young Philip had to face the high hopes his family had for him, and it was probably early in his life that he realized that it would fall to him to control the fate of this ambitious family. His hopes were nourished at regular intervals when several advisers like his parents, teachers, relatives, and friends encouraged him to act according to what was expected from a future courtier.
As proof of these frequently voiced expectations, we can refer to a passage taken from an undated letter that Henry Sidney wrote to his son:. But I presume so well of you, that though a great number of us never thought in ourselves why we went [away on a journey, D. In the aftermath of the Wars of the Roses, which had been conducted in several non-continuous episodes between and , 26 Humanism rose to the position of the predominant intellectual movement of 16th century England.
In the humanist curricula, the engagement in ancient literature was of particular importance because humanists spotted a hidden, yet important didactic potential in these classical texts. According to most 16th century teachers, literature contains the whole encyclopaedia of learning. Rather, the main purpose of deep reading was to detect practical suggestions for everyday life, that is to turn the content of the text to a personal advantage or public benefit.
That is also the reason why prose fiction was regarded as eminently suitable for the purpose of moral teaching and gained importance throughout the Renaissance period in England.
Even though he is probably right in hypothesising these processes of literary interaction, he unfortunately does not offer a deeper analysis of the nexus between these three stadia. From the perspective of an artist, a pure assimilation of a source is not desirable, and writers usually strive for the creation of something unique and meaningful, too. They do not want to be repetitive, especially when taking already existing models as sources of inspiration.
Sir Philip Sidney
On the contrary, he perceived a severe misbalance between the analysis and the interpretation of literary texts when he attended classes at Oxford University. During his academic training, Sidney would have loved to spend more time on the interpretation of texts as well as on finding points of contact with reality and, conversely, less time on pure word analyses in order to imitate the style of classical writers.
As for the moment, however, it should be sufficient to realize that around Philip was adhering to the humanist zeitgeist according to which the engagement in proper literature should have a formative effect on the thoughts and actions of a person. This implies not only the fact that Philip had to memorize and obey the rules of courtesy at an early age, but also that he was trained and educated according to the distinguished principles of Humanism.
Especially his father seemed to convey to him the notion that public service offers ample opportunity for improving the public weal — a perspective which again reminds the reader of central aspects of Humanism, and especially the concept of a vita activa. Subsequently, the engagement in classical literature frequently served as an important stimulus for the young student. By presenting a plethora of virtuous and vicious behaviours as well as their consequences for both the individual person and his surroundings, literary texts were thought to expose positive character traits and actions.
By the autumn of , [ This title being more than mere protocol, as Jan van Dorsten has convincingly substantiated before, 47 Philip was able to communicate with the princes of continental Europe on equal terms and was consequently treated with enormous respect since his interlocutors certainly hoped to benefit from their acquaintanceship. Philip, D. In , for instance, parts of the country were in serious danger of descending into chaos:.
Supporters of the imprisoned Fitzgeralds [ Probably, Siebeck had in mind figures like William I of Orange who was a leader of the Dutch revolt against the Spanish rule and for whose cause Philip had campaigned. Two days after your departure our friend Wotton came to us, bringing me a letter full of kindness from Master Walsyngham. I see that your friends have begun to suspect you on the score of religion, because at Venice you were so intimate with those who profess a different creed from your own.
I will write to Master Walsyngham on this subject, and if he has entertained such a thought about you, I will do what I can to remove it; and I hope my letter will have sufficient weight with him not only to make him believe what I shall say of you, but also endeavour to convince others of the same.
In my estimation, scholars should not show complete disregard for the possibility that the monarch might have been dubious about how to assess a person who had quite unusually found pleasure in extensive conversations with proponents of both Catholicism and Protestantism. He [i.
Sir Philip Sidney
Philip Sidney] had much conversation with me, I hope not in vain, for to all appearance he was most eager. Let it be a secret. Mr Mollineax, few woordes are beste. My lettres to my Father have come to the eys of some. Neither can I condemne any but yow for it.