Sporting with the Classics focuses on the original Latin poetry of William Dillingham, a seventeenth-century editor, anthologist, and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. It does so in an attempt to dispute claims that Dillingham’s talent lay in criticism rather than in original composition and that his Latin verse shows his complete independence of the old school of classical imitation. The book highlights both the classical and the contemporary intertexts with which this poetry engages. It argues that far from constituting the leisurely product of a gentleman in rustic retirement, this is highly talented verse that “sports” with the classics in several ways: first in its self-consciously playful interaction with the Latin poets of Augustan Rome, chiefly Virgil and Ovid; second in its appropriation of a classical world and its linguistic medium to describe such seventeenth-century sports or pastimes as bowling, horticulture, and bell-ringing. It also foregrounds the pseudo romanticism surprisingly inherent in the work of a late seventeenth-century poet who, it is argued, discovered in his twilight years a neo-Latin inspirational Muse.
Estelle Haan is Professor of English and Neo-Latin Studies at the Queen’s University of Belfast. Her research interests lie mainly in links between English and neo-Latin poetry of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in particular the Latin poetry of English poets. She is the author of Classical Romantic: Identity in the Latin Poetry of Vincent Bourne (American Philosophical Society, 2007), Vergilius Redivivus: Studies in Joseph Addison’s Latin Poetry (American Philosophical Society, 2005), Andrew Marvell’s Latin Poetry: Fro Text to Context (Collection Latomus, Brussels, 2003), Thomas Gray’s Latin Poetry: Some Classical Neo-Latin and Vernacular Contexts (Collection Latomus, Brussels, 2000), and From Academia to Amicitia: Milton’s Latin Writings and the Italian Academies (American Philosophical Society, 1998). Currently she is completing an edition of Milton’s Latin and Greek poetry for Oxford University Press.