Appius

Definition

Theater

  • The name given to the critic and playwright John Dennis(1657 - 1734) in Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism (1711).Dennis was the author of the unsuccessful tragedy Appius and Virginia(1709). Although a severe critic himself, he was extremely sensitive tocriticism from others, a fact alluded to in Pope's lines:
    But Appius reddens at each word you speak,
    And stares, tremendous! with a threatening eye,
    Like some fierce tyrant in old tapestry.
    True to form, Dennis took this censure to heart, replyingwith a furious attack on Pope that the latter considered "perfectlylunatic". The feud raged for some twenty years. In 1717 Popeagain satirized Dennis in the play Three Hours after Marriage,in which he appears as the character Sir Tremendous. For his part, Dennis wrote to the Daily Journal (11 June 1728):
    Pope comes from the Latin word Popa, whichsignifies a little Wart; or from Poppysma, because he was continuallypopping out squibs of wit...
    However, when Dennis was dying in poverty Pope wrote a prologuefor his benefit performance. Although Dennis's plays arenow forgotten he is remembered for his criticism and for his inventionof the 'thunder run' (see at thunder).
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