Verse satire by John Dryden published in 1681. The poem, which is written in heroic couplets, is about a contemporary episode in which anti-Catholics, notably the Earl of Shaftesbury, sought to bar James, Duke of York, a Roman Catholic convert and brother to King Charles II, from the line of succession in favor of the king's illegitimate (but Protestant) son, the Duke of Monmouth. Dryden based his work on an Old Testament incident recorded in II Samuel 13-19; these chapters relate the story of King David's favorite son Absalom and his false friend Achitophel (Ahithophel), who persuades Absalom to revolt against his father. In his poem, Dryden assigns each figure in the crisis a biblical name, e.g., Absalom (Monmouth), Achitophel (Shaftesbury), and David (Charles II). Despite the strong anti-Catholic tenor of the times, Dryden's clear and persuasive dissection of the intriguers' motives helped to preserve the Duke of York's position. A second part of the poem, largely composed by Nahum Tate but containing 200 lines by Dryden that were directed at his literary rivals Thomas Shadwell and Elkanah Settle, was published in 1682. -- The Merriam-Webster Encylopedia of Literature
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