The Presence and Functionality of Comic Latin Sources in Some Letters by Thomas More
Detailed examination of the presence and use of Latin comic sources in Thomas More’s work has been the subject of little systematic investigation. Among other aspects, the variety of perspectives from which these sources are handled in More’s writings, and the diverse functionality that they are endowed with, make this analysis somewhat complex. The object of the article will be restricted to the analysis of some key mentions of Latin comic sources in a particularly significant letter from the point of view of More’s defense of humanism, such as the letter to Maarten van Dorp (1515). In addition, the density of allusions to Plautus and Terence is shown in a set of letters and, as a means of possible contrast, in More’s epigrammatic texts; an explanatory hypothesis of this presence is also proposed. The analysis contextualizes the place of the letter in which the aforementioned allusions occur, and examines them comparatively. It is suggested that the main functionality of the introduction of references to Latin comedians is to provide eloquent support to establish a significant part of the refutatio of the letter; these references make it possible to shed light on certain inconsistencies in the conduct of the addressee, which weaken the objectivity of his points of view and the correctness of his behavior: hence the Morean criticism of Dorp.
Latin comedy, Plautus, Terence, letters, epigrams, Thomas More, Maarten van Dorp, Gerard Geldenhouwer of Nijmegen, humanism, Renaissance
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