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The satire originated, in literature, during the very earliest literary periods (periods of Horace and Juvenal). Later, poets such as Dryden, Pope, and Johnson, wishing to return to the classical forms, gave rebirth to the satire.
Given that the satire's purpose was to "poke fun at" the reactions and feelings people had to the political and social world around them, the Seventeenth century was a perfect place to examine people given the unrest brought about by civil war of the Seventeenth century.
While the satire was enjoyed by most (giving people the ability to laugh at themselves) the underlying message provided one by which people could examine the vices they held up.
Given that the satire included elements of irony and metaphorical language, a reader needed to be active concerning the reading given if they were not they would miss the moral, or lesson, being taught.
Overall, the satire provided a sort of comic relief for the people of the time. This being said, those the satire was written about tended to disregard the work as unimportant and many times the authors were deemed outcasts for going against the norm.
This question has already been answered elaborately right here on eNotes. Here is a link for you: http://www.enotes.com/john-dryden/q-and-a/why-did-satire-become-popular-age-john-dryden-pope-152113
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