What does Swift think of Dryden?

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Dryden is ridiculed by Swift in his satire The Battle of the Books (1704). Swift took part to the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns with the publication of his satiric work.

The Quarrel started in the 1690s within the Academie Française. It opposed those, led by Boileau, who thought that writers should imitate the great classics of the past to those who praised contemporary authors. The debate quickly spread throughout Europe.

At the time Swift was working as a secretary to William Temple who had written an article siding with the Ancients. The Battle of the Books sided with the Ancients too. The satire conceives the quarrel as a military battle where the two sections are led by writers rather than by soldiers. Dryden is one of the leaders of the Moderns and is ridiculed as having a huge and unlikely helmet. He comes to a hand to hand with Virgil, whose works he had translated. The Moderns are ultimately defeated.

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