In Absalom and Achitophel, as well as in The Medal (both published in 1682), Dryden attacks the antiroyalist Whigs who wanted to exclude the Catholic James, brother and legitimate successor of Charles II, from the royal succession in favor of the Protestant Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's illegitimate son.
In Absalom and Achitophel, Dryden uses the biblical tale of the rebellion against King David led by his son Absalom to attack the Whigs' plot to exclude James from the throne.
The man who in Absalom and Achitophel growled of an unscrupulous opponent "he'll cry whore to his own mother" knew Charles for what he was: perfectly capable--with the utmost good nature--of calling black white and a square a circle, if by such falsehoods he could keep from having to "go on [his] travels again?
Absalom and Achitophel, The Medal, and MacFlecknoe--three panels of one triptych--were all printed in the early 1680s, though MacFlecknoe (his onslaught upon the hack poet and opium-eater Thomas Shadwell) could well have been written around 1676, and it became public knowledge against Dryden's will.
40) John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel
lines 781-82, available at http://eir.
2), and political allegory bordering roman-a-clef, like Gulliver's Travels, Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel
, and Animal Farm.
Absalom and Achitophel
to Cowley, and for good measure, Mac Flecknoe to
Dryden, by his dramas and political satires (especially his Absalom and Achitophel
, 1681), stands at the head of English poets of the second rank, and his works have elicited high eulogy from such judges as Pope, Scott, Macaulay, and Brougham.
The Second Part of Absalom and Achitophel, a satirical allegory of almost nine thousand words, was printed for Jacob Tonson in 1682.
Since its authorship is incontestable, an analysis of Dryden's original Absalom and Achitophel offers a retrospective validation of the procedures used in the cases already considered and an appropriate preamble to the argument that follows.
99): did Absalom and Achitophel
have no political purpose?
Both works are read against expectations: Absalom and Achitophel
as a royalist theoretical attack on natural right and resistance theory, and the Two Treatises as a contingent product of the Exclusion Crisis.