Absalom and Achitophel


John Dryden

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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 opposed the monarchy in Dryden’s own time.

Sanhedrin Quotes in Absalom and Achitophel

The Absalom and Achitophel quotes below are all either spoken by Sanhedrin or refer to Sanhedrin. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Absalom and Achitophel published in 2001.
Absalom and Achitophel Quotes

But when should people strive their bonds to break
If not when kings are negligent or weak?
Let him give on till he can give no more;
The thrifty Sanhedrin shall keep him poor,
And every shekel which he can receive
Shall cost a limb of his prerogative.
To ply him with new plots shall be my care,
Or plunge him deep in some expensive war,
Which, when his treasure can no more supply,
He must with the remains of kingship buy.
His faithful friends our jealousies and fears
Call Jebusites and Pharaoh’s pensioners,
Whom, when our fury from his aid has torn,
He shall be naked left to public scorn.

Related Characters: Achitophel (speaker), Absalom, David, David’s Brother
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sanhedrin Term Timeline in Absalom and Achitophel

The timeline below shows where the term Sanhedrin appears in Absalom and Achitophel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Absalom and Achitophel
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
...to give all he has to the people. Once all the money is gone, the Sanhedrin will make sure that David remains poor, and any bit of money he wants will... (full context)
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
...well be ruined. Where are our ethics, the poet further asks, if the masses and Sanhedrin alike are “infected with this public lunacy” and look “to murder monarchs for imagined crimes”? (full context)
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
...over the “western dome” and leads the “prophets’ sons.” Adriel is a member of the Sanhedrins, but he is true to David. There is also Jotham and Hushai, whose allegiance to... (full context)
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
God, Religion, and the Divine Right of Kings Theme Icon
...look on with sadness as the rebels try to take down the “lawful government.” The Sanhedrins try to strip David of his “regal rights” and attempt to disrupt the “true succession”... (full context)
Politics, Allegory, and Satire Theme Icon
Power and Ambition Theme Icon
...believe that Absalom is really a “patriot” but more of a “fool.” As for the Sanhedrins, David reminds them that he is still part of the government. The Sanhedrins need David... (full context)