Absalom and Achitophel


John Dryden

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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 form of Protestantism. The war was a victory for Parliament; Charles I was executed and the Commonwealth of England was created. In “Absalom and Achitophel,” Dryden refers to the uprising of the Jews in Israel to a revival of “the Good Old Cause” that is brought back to “raise commonwealths and ruin kings.”

The Good Old Cause Quotes in Absalom and Achitophel

The Absalom and Achitophel quotes below are all either spoken by The Good Old Cause or refer to The Good Old Cause. 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 to sin our biased nature leans,
The careful devil is still at hand with means
And providently pimps for ill desires:
The Good Old Cause revived a plot requires.
Plots, true or false, are necessary things
To raise up commonwealths and ruin kings.

Related Characters: Absalom, David, David’s Brother
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Good Old Cause Term Timeline in Absalom and Achitophel

The timeline below shows where the term The Good Old Cause 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
God, Religion, and the Divine Right of Kings Theme Icon
...mostly peaceful. Even in this relative peace, the Devil continues to work, and the “ Good Old Cause ” is brought back “to raise up commonwealths and ruin kings.” (full context)