Absalom and Achitophel is a landmark poetic political satire by John Dryden. The poem exists in two parts. The first part, of 1681, is undoubtedly by Dryden. The second part, of 1682, was written by... More > another hand, most likely Nahum Tate, except for a few passages—including attacks on Thomas Shadwell and Elkanah Settle, expressed as Og and Doeg—that Dryden wrote himself.
The poem is an allegory that uses the story of the rebellion of Absalom against King David as the basis for discussion of the background to the Monmouth Rebellion (1685), the Popish Plot (1678) and the Exclusion Crisis.< Less
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans is a series of biographies, arranged in pairs illuminating virtues & vices. As explained in the opening of his Life of Alexander, he wasn't... More > concerned with history so much as the influence of character on life & destiny. Whereas sometimes he barely touched on great events, he devoted much space to anecdote & incidental triviality, this often telling more about his subjects than their famous accomplishments. He sought to provide rounded portraits, likening his craft to painting. Indeed, he went to great length to draw parallels between physical appearance & character. He's amongst the earliest moral philosophers. Some of the Lives, like those of Heracles, Philip II of Macedon & Scipio Africanus, are lost. Many remaining Lives are truncated, contain lacunae or have been tampered with.< Less