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'Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem' by John Dryden; Brief-answer Questions

Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem

John Dryden 

1. What is the purpose of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel?

Ans: The purpose of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel is to ridicule the Whigs and present favorable portraits of James' supporters.

2. What is the theme of ‘Absalom and Achitophel’?

Ans: The theme of Absalom and Achitophel is the origin of several fractions against the government and the king as the Popish plot of the Titus Oates.

3. How does Dryden open Absalom and Achitophel?

Ans: Dryden opens Absalom and Achitophel with a witty trans-valuation of Charles’ adulteries into a polygamy in the tradition of the patriarchs.

4. Who called Dryden “Golden John”?

Ans: Sir Walter Scott called Dryden “Golden John”. 

5. What is the Monmouth Rebellion?

Ans: The Monmouth Rebellion is an attempt to overthrow James II, the Duke of York, who had become King of England, Scotland, and Ireland upon the death of his elder brother Charles II on 6 February 1685.

6. What is Exclusion Bill?

Ans: Exclusion Bill is that bill of 1680 that sought to exclude the King's brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from succession to the throne because of his being Roman Catholic.

7. Who was Absalom?

Ans: Absalom was the third son of David, King of Israel.

8. Whom does Absalom represent?

Ans: Absalom represents James Scott, the 1st Duke of Monmouth. He was the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland.  

9. Who is Achitophel?

Ans: Achitophel was a counsellor of King David. In John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, the character of Achitophel stands for Earl of Shaftesbury.

10. Whom does Achitophel stand for?

Ans: Achitophel stands for Earl of Shaftesbury.

11. Who was Israel's monarch?

Ans: David was Israel's monarch.

12. Who was Michal?

Ans: Michal was Catherine of Braganza, the Queen of King David.

13. Who was Saul?

Ans: Saul was the first king of the land of Israel.

14. Whom does Saul represent in Absalom and Achitophel?

Ans: Saul represents Oliver Cromwell in Absalom and Achitophel. 

15. What is Sion?

Ans: Sion is the city of David. In Absalom and Achitophel, it symbolises London. 

16. Whom do the Jews stand for in Absalom and Achitophel?

Ans: In Absalom and Achitophel the Jews stand for the people of England.

17. Who were the Jebusites?

Ans: The Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited Jerusalem prior to its conquest by Joshua or King David.

18. Whom do the Jebusites represent?

Ans: The Jebusites represent the Roman Catholics. 

19. Who are the Adam-wits?

Ans: According to Dryden, the English are the Adam-wits.

20. What does the golden cup refer to?

Ans: The golden cup refers to the cup which was fashioned and worshiped by the followers of Moses.

21. Which is a curse to the English nation?

Ans: The Popish Plot is a curse to the English nation.

22. What is Popish plot? [NU 2016]

Ans: Popish Plot is a totally fictitious but widely believed plot in which it was alleged that Jesuits were planning the assassination of King Charles II in order to bring his Roman Catholic brother, the Duke of York, to the throne.

23. Why did the Popish Plot fail?

Ans: The Popish Plot failed because of the lack of commonsense of the plotters. 

24. How did Plato define man?

Ans: Plato defined man by saying that "Man stood upright on two legs without feathers, making him distinct from other animals."

25. What was the triple bond?

Ans: The triple bond was a triple alliance formed by England, Holland, and Sweden in 1668. 

26. When was the triple bond broken?

Ans: The triple bond was broken in 1672 through the declaration of war against Holland. 

27. What is Noah's ark?

Ans: Noah's Ark is the vessel by which God spares Noah, his family, and a remnant of all the world's animals from a world-engulfing flood.

28. Who is Jove?

Ans: Jove is another name for Jupiter, the ancient Roman king of the gods.

29. Who is Zimri?

Ans: Zimri was a king of Israel for seven days. In John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, the character of Zimri stands for the Duke of Buckingham.

30. What does 'Zimri’ symbolize?

Ans: 'Zimri’ symbolizes inconstant man.

31. How is Zimri an unqualified ruler?

Ans: Zimri is an unqualified ruler because he is inconsistent, untrustworthy, aimless and morally corrupt.

32. Who is Shimei? [NU 2016]

Ans: In the Hebrew Bible, Shimei was the second son of Gershon and grandson of Levi. In Absalom and Achitophel, Shimei refers to Sligsby Bethel, the Sheriff of London.

33. Who was Corah?

Ans: Corah is the person who rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and so against Jehovah. In Absalom and Achitophel, he stands for Titus Oates. 

34. What is Hybla?

Ans: Hybla is a famous Sicilian city famous for its bees and their honey.

35. Who was Barzillai?

Ans: Barzillai was a loyal ally of King David during the time when Absalom staged a coup against his father. In Absalom and Achitophel, he stands for Duke of Ormond. 

36. Who was Adriel?

Ans: Adriel was the son of Barzillai. In Absalom and Achitophel, he stands for John Sheffield. 

37. Who was Hushai?

Ans: Hushai was David’s friend. In Absalom and Achitophel, he stands for Lawrence Hyde.  

38. Who was King David?

Ans: King David was the first monarch of all the Israelite tribes. In John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, he stands for Charles II.

39. Who was King Solomon?

Ans: Solomon was a biblical Israelite king who is revered for his wisdom.

40. Explain the significance of the referance to 'moon' in the in the poem ‘Absalom and Achitopel’.

Ans: 'Moon' in the in the poem ‘Absalom and Achitopel’ refers to the passing of one month. The moon takes one month to show its full sphere to the earth.

41. What is Allegory?

Ans: An allegory is a work of art having at least two levels of meanings: a surface meaning and a below-the-surface meaning. 

42. How does "Absalom and Achitophel" end?

Ans: Absalom and Achitophel ends with King David’s speech in which he wants to meet the rebels according to his own convenience and crush them.