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The Augustan Age
Study Questions
Millennium I p. 153
1. What does the term “Augustan Age” imply ?
• It implies nostalgia for the old virtues of ancient Rome and the attempt of British
people to model their lives on those of ancient Romans under the emperor
2. Was the first part of the century characterized only by a return to
• No, it wasn’t. Although Neoclassicism became a style of life, the age was also
characterized by such modern phenomena as the diffusion of newspapers and
magazines and the rise of the novels, as well as by a new sensibility, which was
marked by a tendency to be easily and strongly affected by emotions.
3. Explain in which way Neoclassicism could be considered a style of life?
• The British ruling class saw themselves as the true heirs of the Roman Empire
and typically Roman virtues like fortitude, perseverance, and self-control were
considered the prerequisites of the true British gentleman. Neoclassicism was
reflected in architecture, painting, sculpture, and even in gardening and town
4. What did the great Augustan writers share.
• They shared a strong belief in reason and in the superiority of intelligence and
good sense over fancy and impulse.
5. What became their favourite form of expression in literature?
• Satire became a means to attack abuses and to promote good sense and
correct behaviour in social life. Augustan writers criticized by means of satire
both the new social order introduced by the rise of the middle class with its bad
taste and cult of money and the corruption of the aristocracy and the political
6. What position did rational thinkers take?
• Locke’s empiricism developed into Hume’s scepticism; orthodox religion
was rejected by the Deists who favoured natural “religion” instead of the
“revealed” religion and by Berkley who combined religious faith with reason.
7. What role did upper-class women acquire in the 18th century?
• The literary saloons of upper-class women became meeting points where
politics, literature and the new ideas of freedom for the individual could be
8. Why were newspapers and magazines important?
• Because they became a means of education for the middle class.
9. What was the role of clubs and coffee-houses?
• They became a place to meet and discuss current events.