20 votes
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What is a Byronic Hero?

Byronic heroes were based off of Lord Byron's epic poem Child Harold's Pilgrimage. According to Lord Macaulay in Rupert Christiansen's Romantic Affinities: Portraits From an Age, 1780- 1830, this is a ...
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14 votes

What is a Byronic Hero?

It's complicated, but a Byronic hero tends to be rebellious, a loner, darkly romantic, and often an antihero. Shmoop's literature glossary has a short description: Cooked up by the "mad, bad, ...
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14 votes
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Meaning of "d-n" in "'T is strange—the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,' the English always used to govern d—n"

This is a very subtle piece of wordplay, so it makes for an excellent question. The meaning, believe it or not, is God, and your answer "damn". This is analysed in An Ingenious Jest in Byron's "Don ...
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8 votes

What is a Byronic Hero?

Reference has a pretty good explanation: (emphasis mine to highlight key traits) The Byronic hero is characterized as being arrogant, violent, reckless, seductive, traumatized and self-serving. ...
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8 votes
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The grammatical function of "Nor" without "Neither" or "Not" in poetry

Byron’s use of “nor” is sense 2b in the Oxford English Dictionary, where the examples make it clear that “neither” is indicated. Note the 1813 quotation showing that Byron was familiar with this sense....
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8 votes

Use of 'city' in Byron's poem "Darkness"

“City” has its usual meaning, “a large or important municipality” (OED). The tricky word here is “but”, which Byron uses in the sense “nothing but, no more than, only, merely” (OED). So the lines mean ...
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7 votes
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Apostrophes at the beginning of stanzas in Byron's "The Giaour"

It's not an apostrophe but an opening quotation mark, paired with a closing quotation mark at the end of the stanza. If I am understanding rightly, this stanza is spoken by a monk into whose monastery ...
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6 votes
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Meaning of "Where juries cast up what a wife is worth"?

It may refer to the Common Law Tort of ‘criminal conversation’, where ‘conversation’ means ‘sexual intercourse’. Criminal proceedings could be brought by a spouse, usually the husband, against a third ...
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6 votes
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Stories From the Year Without a Summer

Essentially, Yes. The other stories were abandoned. On that famous night, there were four people trying their hands at ghost stories: Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, his wife to be Mary Godwin and John ...
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5 votes
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Why is a cuckolded husband "fit for heaven" in Byron's Don Juan?

I don't know how it originated, but the idea that cuckolds go to heaven is apparently an old English proverb/saying, not one that was invented by Byron. A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in ...
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5 votes
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Meaning of "all game and bottom" in Byron's "Don Juan"

My OED (1st edition) gives under sense 14 for "bottom" the following: Physical resources, 'staying power', power of endurance; said esp. of pugilists, wrestlers, race-horses, etc. It gives five ...
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  • 3,860
5 votes
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Meaning of "Was given to her favorite, and now bore his" in Byron's Don Juan

I think it means that Catherine's barouche, which bore her crest on her trip to the Crimea in 1787, was now Don Juan's and bore his crest. (The classical name of the Crimea was Tauris, which was ...
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  • 3,860
5 votes

Why was John Keats called a poet “who was kill’d off by one critique”?

Shelley wrote, in his preface to Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, that the critique directed against Keats's poem Endymion was enough to bring about his sudden death at the age of 25: ...
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4 votes

Meaning of "from crowns to kicks" in Byron's Don Juan

'T is pleasant purchasing our fellow-creatures; And all are to be sold, ... Based on these lines, I think Byron is talking here about the variety of things that can be used to metaphorically "buy" ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "faithful to the tomb, so there were quarrels" in Byron's "Don Juan"

I think "like Achates, faithful to the tomb" means "like Achates, who was [Aeneas's] faithful friend forever". Just as Achates would join any fight Aeneas was in, so too the attorney would join any ...
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  • 3,860
4 votes

What sources influenced Byron's "Fragment of a Novel"?

Byron's "Fragment of a Novel" was based on Polidori's The Vampyre, which in turn was based on a story told verbally by Byron as part of the same competition which produced Frankenstein. The ...
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4 votes

Meaning of "d-n" in "'T is strange—the Hebrew noun which means 'I am,' the English always used to govern d—n"

This is too long for a comment, but I'd like to add to @Rand al'Thor's excellent answer a bit more about the use of "govern" in talking about grammar. Quoting from the online OED's (paywalled) ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of a stanza in Byron's Don Juan

The key to this passage is “like” meaning “to the same extent as”, but I will gloss the whole thing. When I give a numbered sense of a word, it’s from the Oxford English Dictionary. With the most ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "pig who sees the wind" in Byron's Don Juan

For a discussion of what Byron is saying here, see R.P. Lessenich's Romantic Disillusionism and the Sceptical Tradition: It is in the service of such debauched monarchs and politicians, spoiled by ...
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4 votes
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Meaning of "and those things which for an instant clip enjoyment's wings" in Byron's Don Juan

These lines are somewhat obscure, but maybe they can be understood in the context of the immediately following stanza: But soon they grow again and leave their nest.     ‘Oh!’ saith the Psalmist,...
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4 votes

Who is "Luna" in Byron's "To Mary, On Receiving Her Picture"?

Luna is another name for the Moon. Most celestial bodies have a fixed name, but "the" moon is an oddity in that regard. As it turns out, the Moon did have other names, notable among them, ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "Hounds, when the huntsman tumbles, are at fault" in Byron's Don Juan

I don't agree that this is litotes, since there is no positive to be wrung from the negative constructions. Let's parse the passage a bit more deeply. First stanza summation: The grenadiers had ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "but no one dreams of ever being short" in Byron's Don Juan

There’s a double meaning in this line. The stanza, considered on its own, describes various forms of persuasive argument, together with some satirical commentary. For example, line 4 (“For reason ...
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3 votes

Meaning of "Produced her Don more heirs at love than law"

The last paragraph of the question understands the line correctly: according to the rumour, more of Julia’s uncles and aunts were illegitimate (‘heirs at love’) than legitimate (‘heirs at law’). The ...
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3 votes
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Meaning of "So shakes the needle, and so stands the pole, as vibrates my fond heart to my fixed soul"

The "needle" is a magnetic needle, and the "pole" one of the earth's poles. This is the image that immediately springs to mind upon hearing the words "needle" and "pole" together, and it fits with ...
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3 votes

Meaning of "With Ismail's storm to soften it the more" in Byron's "Don Juan"

‘Catherine’ is empress Catherine II ‘the Great’ of Russia, and in the poem she has taken Don Juan as her lover and protégé, as she did Grigory Potemkin, Grigory Orlov, and others in reality. ‘It’ ...
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3 votes

What is the rhythm of the line 'I want a hero, an uncommon want'?

Feet are arbitrary concepts in English verse (see this answer for a detailed discussion of the issue), so when you have a line on its own, with no context, it is impossible to say what its scansion ...
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3 votes
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What does this quote in Don Juan by Lord Byron mean? "Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet The unexpected death of some old lady"

It means, "To be left money or property is sweet (pleasant/agreeable/nice) and the unexpected death of an old lady is extremely sweet (pleasant/agreeable/nice)." I'm glad to see the poem ...
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2 votes
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Meaning of "As roll the waves before the settled wind" in Byron's "Don Juan"

A "settled wind" means the same as a steady wind: one whose direction has settled. (For some reason, the best sources I can find for this are translation sites.) This is as opposed to shifting winds - ...
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