Absalom and Achitophel


John Dryden

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Absalom and Achitophel Terms


An officer of the high court in Israel. Achitophel is a member of the Abbethdin in “Absalom and Achitophel.” read analysis of Abbethdin


Egypt is a metaphor for France in Dryden’s “Absalom and Achitophel.” Like many members of the Sanhedrin, the Pharaoh of Egypt pretends to be David’s friend, but Egypt is really exploiting Israel through… read analysis of Egypt

The Exclusion Crisis / The Exclusion Bill

A political crisis that began in England in 1679. The Exclusion Crisis was prompted by the mass anti-Catholic hysteria of the Popish Plot and involved three bills which sought to exclude Roman Catholics from royal… read analysis of The Exclusion Crisis / The Exclusion Bill

The Good Old Cause

A reference to the Puritan Rebellions of the English Civil War (1642–1651). The English Civil War pitted King Charles I, who was supported by the Catholics, against Parliament, which was supported by the Puritans, a… read analysis of The Good Old Cause


The biblical kingdom ruled by David in “Absalom and Achitophel,” which serves as an allegory for Dryden’s contemporary England. read analysis of Israel
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The Jebusites

The native inhabitants of Jerusalem in Israel. In Dryden’s poem, the Jebusites begin to lose all their rights; their taxes are raised, their land is seized, and their religion is discredited. The Jebusites are… read analysis of The Jebusites

The Jews

The inhabitants of Israel in “Absalom and Achitophel.” In Dryden’s poem, the Jews are a willful and temperamental bunch who are easily corrupted. They desire liberty beyond that which is already given to them by… read analysis of The Jews

The Popish Plot

A conspiracy engineered by Titus Oates between 1678 and 1681 in England, in which he maintained that a Catholic conspiracy to assassinate King Charles II was underway. The Popish Plot was a farce, and no… read analysis of The Popish Plot


The Jewish high council in Israel during biblical times. In Dryden’s poem, the Sanhedrin represent the English Parliament. Many members of the Sanhedrin turn against David in “Absalom and Achitophel,” just as the Whig party… read analysis of Sanhedrin

Tory / Anti-Bromingham

The political party formed in England during Dryden’s time to oppose the Whigs and the Exclusion Bill. In the “To the Reader” section, the poet refers to Tories as “anti-Brominghams,” which means those who… read analysis of Tory / Anti-Bromingham


An ancient city located in present-day Lebanon. Tyrus threatens the Jews’ trade in “Absalom and Achitophel,” and the city metaphorically represents Holland in Dryden’s poem. read analysis of Tyrus


The political party founded by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (the real-life inspiration for Dryden’s Achitophel), during the Exclusion Crisis, which sought to abolish absolute monarchy and institute constitutional monarchism in… read analysis of Whig