“Strange Sight this Congress!”. Byron’s The Age of Bronze (1823) and the Congress of Verona
Byron’s satirical poem The Age of Bronze, a ‘hit’ at the Congress of Verona, targets the sycophancy of artists who celebrated the Congress and other manifestations of political power. The Age of Bronze asserts a different, more active and critical task for the artist, than the decorativeness expected within the European Congress system. “I am Diogenes”, states the poet, speaking truth to power in an age of obfuscation. Byron’s biting allusions to prominent public poetry and sculpture are selectively compared with other contemporary satire. The antisemitic terms of Byron’s critique of global financialisation are analysed, as is Byron’s self-conscious undermining of his chosen poetic form.