Further reading

Tillyard, E. M. W. The English Epic and its Background. New York: Oxford University Press, 1954.

Craig T. Fehrman

EPIGRAM The epigram—a short, sharp, topical poem that often ends with a twist—was a popular medium for Tudor satirists. In one or two stanzas, usually in rhymed iambic pentameter, epigrammatists would, as the titles of their collections claimed, expose "the abuses of our tyme, which may and ought to be put away" or create pithy, pleasant, and profitable verses for "the expert readers of quicke capacitie." Easily memorized and often viciously funny, epigrams could be a powerful verbal weapon for a middle-class wit to deploy against those with more social or economic power. Epigrams are also a rich source of information about the objects of their disdain: actors, prostitutes, drunkards, shrews, rival poets, and the socially pretentious. Collections of epigrams, often grouped in "centuries," or units of 100, remained popular until the June 1599 ecclesiastical ban on satire. See also court culture, satire.

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