Davies was born on April 16, 1569. He entered school at Winchester in 1580 and Queen's College, Oxford, in 1585. He left a year and a half later to read law at New Inn and then Middle Temple, where he remained. Davies was disbarred in 1598 for brawling but reinstated in 1601. After this, he had a very successful legal career.
Davies's first major work, Orchestra, or a Poem of Dancing, was dismissed as a "frivolous poem" by many of his contemporaries. Gullinge Sonnets, a satire mocking Petrarchan conventions, followed. His next undertaking, Nosce Teipsum (Know Thyself), was a philosophical piece. By this time, Davies had succeeded in impressing Queen Elizabeth I. His next major work, Hymns to Astrea, was a series of acrostic poems spelling out "Elizabeth Regina" that earned him royal gratitude.
Davies's success continued after James VI ascended the throne as James I, since the king particularly enjoyed Nosce Teipsum. Later in 1603, Davies was knighted and appointed solicitor general of Ireland. His success continued, culminating in his being appointed lord chief justice of England. Unfortunately, however, he died on December 8, 1626, one day before assuming office.
DEFENSE OF POESY, THE Sir Philip Sidney (ca. 1579-1584) This text revitalized the tradition of defenses of (or apologies for) poetry against the Greek philosopher Plato's attack, as well as contemporary attacks on poetry and art. The Defense of Poesy is arguably Sir Philip Sidney's most influential work. It highlights a quality of art that is the nub of Plato's criticism of the poet—distrust of the artist's power to move people.
Ever since Plato proposed to banish artists from his ideal state in The Republic—owing to their misrepresentation of "the nature of gods and heroes" (The Republic, book 2) and, as well, to their ability to sway not only public opinion but also conceptions of ideal and acceptable behavior while presenting poor models of godly behavior—philosophers, artists, and literary critics have attempted to justify artists' inclusion in republics, ideal or otherwise. Sidney's defense joins those of Coluccio Salutati, George Gascoigne, Richard Puttenham, Thomas Campion, and others.
Plato's first criticism is that the poet must interpret the actions of the gods as "good and just, and [ensure] that sufferers [of the gods' actions] were benefited by being punished" (The Republic, book 2). Plato makes art an instrument to be used by the state to control its citizens. He was particularly concerned because many poetic texts were used as teaching materials and thus presented impiety and immorality as acceptable. He outlines three laws that should bind those who would write or speak of gods—that the gods are perfectly good, unchangeable, and truthful. He then states that these three principles are contested by their representation in art. The poets, Plato contends, represent the gods as evil, changeable, and deceitful, and such representations threaten a social order based on the good, the perfect (the changeless), and the truthful.
A second criticism of poets is that "they have said that unjust men are often happy, and just men wretched, that wrong-doing pays if you can avoid being found out, and that justice is what is good for someone else but is to your own disadvantage" (The Republic, book 3). A third criticism concerns another form of representation: The poet puts himself into the character of another. Plato supposes that the reader also does this; thus, the reader deviates from his own character for that of another (possibly morally) suspect character. Plato's fourth criticism of the poet is his lack of primary knowledge. Poets deal in deferred knowledge and vicarious experience without recognizing it
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