This essay examines the impassioned lecture on animal rights that John Dryden adapted from Ovid and included in Fables Ancient and Modern (1700). This lecture, which Dryden called “Of the Pythagorean Philosophy,” reflects many aspects of the contemporary debate about ethical eating and ethical killing that flourished in seventeenth-century England. Dryden joins the company of travel writers, pamphleteers, poets, scholars, and philosophers who were troubled by the pervasive mistreatment of animals in Western Europe.

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