This is the Annual Faculty Lecture sponsored by the Puget Sound Society of the Archaeological Institute of America
It is usually assumed that the radical Puritans who settled Plymouth Plantation nearly four hundred years ago were humble in both status and education and were indifferent or even hostile to classical culture. Professor David Lupher will reveal some surprises lurking in the probate inventories of the so-called “Pilgrim Fathers,” and will discuss a number of remarkable books on the shelves of two military men of the settlement: Captains Myles Standish and Thomas Willett. (A teaser: one hitherto unrecognized item was the only novel and the only work by a woman so far detected in Plymouth—a novel based on Herodotus and Xenophon, but also featuring Sappho as a character.) But the “star” of this talk is a volume that David Lupher has personally examined in Plymouth: Elder William Brewster’s copy of the prose works of Seneca translated by Thomas Lodge. His talk will trace the “pilgrimage” of this book from its publication to the present day—including the discovery of the surprising way it came into the hands of the ship captain from whom Brewster bought it. This talk reveals the no less surprising uses that Brewster’s friend Gov. William Bradford made of this book when composing key passages of his history Of Plimmoth Plantation, a classic of early American literature.