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Open Access Politics and Aesthetics – Decoding Allegory in Palamedes (1625)

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Politics and Aesthetics – Decoding Allegory in Palamedes (1625)

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Chapter Summary

Many of Vondel's plays were part of the politico-religious controversies of his days. Palamedes (1625) was part of these controversies in a remarkable manner. The play is about the betrayal of the Greek army commander Palamedes, but was immediately recognised as an allegory of the execution of the former Advocate of Holland Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547-1619) in 1619. The history of Palamedes' reception shows how literary historians have felt the urge to choose between politics and aesthetics. They wanted to decide whether Palamedes was foremost a tragedy, or a political pamphlet. Th e execution of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt in 1619 is one of the major events in Dutch history. During the years preceding the publication of Palamedes, Vondel gained in-depth knowledge of the Senecan tradition of playwriting.

Keywords:aesthetics; Oldenbarnevelt; Palamedes; politics; Vondel

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