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Alexander Pope Trivia

Alexander Pope Trivia Quizzes

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Pope is remembered for his mastery of the heroic couplet, exemplified by the 1711 poem 'An Essay of Criticism', and his satirical works, including 'The Rape of the Lock'. Classicists consider his translations of Homer as being a major achievement.
5 Alexander Pope quizzes and 55 Alexander Pope trivia questions.
  To Write Aright: Pope's "Essay on Criticism"   best quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Alexander Pope's work may just be the most frequently quoted in the English language following the Bible and Shakespeare. Several famous phrases and lines of his can be found in his "Essay on Criticism". Do you recognize any?
Average, 10 Qns, alaspooryoric, May 14 13
alaspooryoric gold member
390 plays
  The Ultimate Pope's Poetry Quiz   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
This general knowledge quiz does not require you to be a Pope scholar! It covers his poetry and a few facts about his life, as well as several of his most famous sayings.
Average, 15 Qns, skylarb, Dec 06 06
1000 plays
  Pope's Poetry Test Your Knowledge   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
"Finding Your Niche" challenged authors to write a quiz in a subcategory with too few submissions. Here is my contribution, on the works by Alexander Pope (1688-1744), a very frequently quoted author.
Average, 10 Qns, JanIQ, May 16 19
JanIQ gold member
May 16 19
178 plays
  The Rape of the Lock Canto 1   great trivia quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
A quiz based on the first canto of the scintillatingly satirical mock-epic which epitomizes the talent of Alexander Pope, an author of the English Restoration. Choose the right word to fill in for each quote, all multiple choice.
Average, 10 Qns, junepearl, Mar 11 19
Mar 11 19
709 plays
  "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
How well do you know Alexander Pope's "Rape of the Lock"?
Tough, 10 Qns, oborro, Jun 25 19
Jun 25 19
2073 plays
trivia question Quick Question
What poem was inspired by a man who secretly eloped with his pregnant pupil, only to be castrated at the command of her uncle?

From Quiz "Pope's Poetry"

Related Topics
  Poetry [Literature] (160 quizzes)

Alexander Pope Trivia Questions

1. For the first question, it only seems fit to ask a quote of the first line of the poem. "What ____ Offence from am'rous Causes spring".

From Quiz
The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: dire

As this poem is written in heroic couplets, I shall complete the phrase, "What dire Offence from am'rous Causes spring/What mighty contests rise from trivial Things". This opening line summarizes the entire idea of the poem, just as in the writings of Homer or Virgil (wrote true epics). It explains the rest of the poem as it is, a terrible conflict which was created because of a simple and trivial thing. (A perfect quote for this website!)

2. Who, according to Pope, "rush in where angels fear to tread"?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: fools

"Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead: / For fools rush in where angels fear to tread." This phrase has become a modern day cliché, but it originated with Pope's "Essay on Criticism," which he published at the young age of twenty-three.

3. "Messiah", one of the shortest poems by Alexander Pope, was based upon two ancient sources. One was Virgil's "Fourth Eclogue". Who provided the other source?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Isaiah

Pope wrote "Messiah" in 1709, well before all the red herrings I've mentioned. He was inspired by the style of Virgil's "Eclogues" (also known as the "Bucolica") and intermingled the theme with excerpts of the Bible book Isaiah. Let's cite verses 7-10 of Pope's "Messiah" (with capitalization of the stressed syllables): "Rapt INto FUture TIMES the BARD beGUN // A VIRgin SHALL conCEIVE, a VIRgin BEAR a SON ! // From JESse's ROOT beHOLD a BRANCH aRISE // Whose SACred FLOwer with FRAgrance FILLS the SKIES." George Frideric Handel composed an oratorio named "The Messiah", which premiered in 1741. It was based mostly on the gospels. Roberto Rosselini made a movie entitled "Il Messia" ("The Messiah") in 1975, based upon the gospels. Lizzie Mickery produced a TV series "The Messiah" (2001-2008) for which she also wrote most of the scripts. Contrary to some other TV productions with similar titles, the story is not about Christ: it is a detective series in which an English police corps tries to apprehend some serial killers.

4. Which two words complete the couplet: "Say what strange Motive, Goddess! cou'd compel/A well-bred _____ t'assault a gentle _____?"?

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: Lord, Belle

This couplet again mocks the traditional usage of a question from the great epic writers, and gives us a little bit more of a hint as to what might be going on in the poem to come.

5. What religion was Pope?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Roman Catholic

Pope's Catholicism prevented him from entering a University, but he received private tutoring from a priest and his aunt; he also taught himself.

6. In the poem, who was "shock"?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: the dog

Shock was Belinda's lapdog, first introduced in Canto 1- line 115.

7. In 1718 Alexander Pope wrote the "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day". In Roman Catholicism St. Cecilia is the patroness of music, and so Pope described a mortal mythical musician. Who was this lyre player exalted by Pope?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Orpheus

A quote will demonstrate the answer, and give you a sampling of Pope's style. Once more, I've capitalized the stressed syllables. "ReSTORE, reSTORE EuRYdiCE to LIFE // Oh TAKE the HUSband, OR reTURN the WIFE // He SUNG and HELL conSENted // to HEAR the POet's PRAYER // Stern PROserPINE reLENted // and GAVE him BACK the FAIR". Orpheus was indeed the mythical musician we were looking for. As Pope mentioned, Orpheus accompanied the Argonauts and protected them against threatening noises uttered by various spirits (including the Furies). But Orpheus is best known for the other story, the one I quoted: when Eurydice died, Orpheus went to the Underworld, and with his music pleaded to have his wife revived. Endymion was a mortal shepherd who fell in love with Cynthia, a nickname for Selene (the immortal goddess of the moon). John Keats wrote in 1818 a poem on Endymion, starting with the well-known verse "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever". Apollo was an Olympian god, responsible for (among other duties) music. As a god, he was immortal. Pan was a satyr, a minor god (and thus immortal) in Greek myth. He fell in love with the nymph Syrinx, who was turned into hollow reed at her bequest to escape Pan's amorous advances. Pan then used the reed to design a shepherd's flute.

8. Which feminine name belongs here: "_____ still her downy Pillow prest/Her Guardian Sylph prolong'd the balmy Rest"?

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: Belinda

Belinda is the main character of the poem, whom the narrator follows throughout her day and onto the social gathering where she is so horribly insulted. At this point in the canto, however, she is still asleep, with her Sylph (a magic creature which watches over maidens and children) giving her more time to dream, and enabling him to give her a warning therein.

9. This satirical poem was inspired by an incident between Lord Petre and Miss Arabella Fermor.

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: The Rape of the Lock

When Lord Petre cut off a lock of Miss Fermor's hair, it led to a lasting family feud. Pope attempted to get the two families to bury the hatchet by spoofing their feud in this mock heroic. He also used the poem as an opportunity to critique high society.

10. What do women of "soft yielding minds" become after death?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Nymphs

The four humors (predetermined dispositions) were a commonly held belief in the 13-16th centuries, and find themselves in many pieces of literature. They were divided into 4 groups: Earth (Gnomes), Fire (Salamanders), Wind (Sylphs), and Water (Nymphs). According to Pope: Nymphs were the "soft yielding minds" Salamanders were the "fiery termagants" Gnomes were the "prudes" Sylphs were the "light coquettes" Conto 1- Lines 59-66

11. One of the most famous couplets from Pope's "An Essay on Criticism" is the following: "A little learning is a dangerous thing; / drink deep, or taste not the Pierian ________" (lines 215-16). What word goes in this blank?

From Quiz To Write Aright: Pope's "Essay on Criticism"

Answer: spring

The Pierian spring is a reference to the water flowing on Mount Olympus, a spring sacred to the Muses. Thus, the Pierian spring in Pope's poem becomes a metaphor for the source of knowledge and creative inspiration. His point is this: people are prideful, as he's already established, so once they get a little bit of knowledge about something, they conceitedly become know-it-alls. They become "drunk" so to speak on the little bit of knowledge they've imbibed, so their heads swell and they suddenly think they know everything. On the other hand, if they were to drink deeply, they would discover that there is an infinite amount of knowledge and that they know hardly any of all there is to know. As Socrates suggested, the wise man understands that he really knows nothing at all. Thus, Pope advises, "Drink deep, or taste not", for the man who knows little but thinks he knows a great deal is a dangerous man. He follows this couplet with another: "There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, / And drinking largely sobers us again" (lines 217-18). Most would, of course, believe that the more one drinks, the more inebriated one becomes; this is how drinking alcohol works. However, Pope wittily points out just the opposite with knowledge; the less one drinks of it, the drunker one becomes.

12. Which unearthly creature completes this sentence: "Know then, unnumber'd _____ round thee fly/The light Militia of the lower Sky"?

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: Spirits

These are the spirits that are created when a woman dies, with the vanities of her soul which are left over. "To their first Elements their souls retire". Fiery tempered women become Salamanders, "Soft yielding minds" become water Nymphs, prudish women become earthy Gnomes, and flirty, society women become airy Sylphs, like Belinda's guardian spirit.

13. "To err is human, to forgive ____." What word is missing from this now common adage?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: divine

The complete couplet from "Essay on Criticism" reads: "Good nature and good sense must ever join; / To err is human; to forgive, divine."

14. Who adores the "sparkling cross" Belinda has on her neck?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Infidels

Pope is highlighting the fact that the cross has as much meaning to Belinda as it would to a person without any religious beliefs (i.e. NONE). In the poem, the cross is adored by the Infidels, kissed by the Jews, but no mention of Priests or Gallants (men of noble standing) is made in reference to the cross.

15. Which word belongs here: "For Spirits, freed from _____ Laws, with ease/ Assume what sexes and shapes they please"?

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: mortal

The job of the Sylphs and other spirits is to protect the honour and reputation of maidens, who, without their help would never be able to stop themselves from temptation. They are therefore able to change their shape into what they will, as they have such an important job.

16. The predominant literary device in the line "Or Stain her honor, or her new brocade" (canto 2- line 107) is:

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Zeugma

Somehow Belinda's priorities have reached a point where staining her honor (breaking the vow of chastity before marriage) is on the same level as staining her dress.

17. Alexander Pope is frequently compared to William Shakespeare. Both wrote about "star-crossed lovers". Which doomed couple (from real history) is the subject of one of Pope's poems?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Abelard and Heloise

Pope wrote the poem "Eloisa to Abelard", an apologetic epistle by Eloise after the harsh punishment for their love. Pierre Abelard (1079-1142) was a teacher at the Paris university and gave private courses to Heloise d'Argenteuil (about 1090-1164). But it didn't remain a relation between teacher and pupil: Heloise got pregnant and gave birth to a son, and a bit later the couple married in secret. But Heloise's uncle Fulbert was not amused. Abelard sent Heloise to a nunnery, but was mutilated by some of Fulbert's friends - in such a way that he would never father another child. In Pope's poem "Eloisa to Abelard", Eloisa mourned Abelard's loss and reflected on their former love life. As she had lost her true love, she felt that she would welcome death soon. Here is a quote: "Yet HERE for Ever, Ever I must STAY // Sad PROOF how WELL a LOver CAN oBEY ! // Death, ONly DEATH can BREAK the LASting CHAIN // And HERE, e'en THEN, shall MY cold DUST reMAIN; // Here ALL its FRAILties, ALL its FLAMES reSIGN // And WAIT till 'TIS no SIN to MIX with THINE." Paolo Malatesta (1246 -1285) and Francesca da Rimini (1255-1285) were illicit lovers mentioned in Dante's "Inferno". Paolo's brother Giovanni, who was also Francesca's husband, found out and killed them both. Pyramus and Thisbe were a mythical couple. They loved each other through a crack in the wall dividing their houses. According to Ovid, Thisbe fled from a lioness, leaving her veil. Pyramus assumed that Thisbe was killed by a wild beast, and committed suicide. Upon returning, Thisbe followed suit. Admetus and Alcestis were another mythical couple. In the play by Euripides, Alcestis was willing to give up her life for Admetus. Luckily Heracles was in the neighbourhood, defeated Thanatos (Death) and brought Alcestis back. 

18. Complete the couplet: "What guards the _______ of the melting Maids/In Courtly Balls and Midnight Masquerades".

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: purity

This poem is actually based on a real occurrence, when a quarrel broke out between two prominent families in England after the son of one family decided to cut off a lock of hair from the daughter of the other family's head. When you consider the amount of time and effort put into creating the elaborate hairstyles of the day, I would get pretty mad, too (although this occurrence seems to be taking it a little too far)!

19. "A little ____ is a dangerous thing." What word is missing from this famous Popeian phrase?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: learning

This is yet another phrase from Pope's " Essay on Criticism" to become a modern day adage.

20. What card game do the Baron and Belinda play?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Ombre

Being a complex game, it cannot be explained here. A complete detailing of the history and rules of Ombre (l'hombre) can be found at They are playing Ombre for most of Canto 3, until Belinda defeats the Baron.

21. Pope is known not only for his original works, but also for his adaptations of other authors. Whose "The Wife of Bath" did he adapt to Eighteenth Century English?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) included "The Wife of Bath's Tale" in his masterpiece "The Canterbury Tales". He probably intended to write 120 tales (and thus surpass Boccaccio's "Decamerone", containing 100 stories), but only 24 are known to mankind. According to Pope, the protagonist married five times. She explained this as follows: "For WHEN my TRANsiTOry SPOUSE, unKIND, // shall DIE, and LEAVE his WOful WIFE beHIND, // I'll TAKE the NEXT good CHRIStian I can FIND." So she spent little time in mourning. Pope's rendering of the story is more easily accessible than Chaucer's original. Here's a random excerpt from the original tale: "UnNETHE myghte THEY the STAtute HOLDE // In WHICH that THEY were BOUNden UNto ME // Ye WOOT wel WHAT I MEENE of THIS, parDEE // As HELP me GOD, I LAUGH whan I THYNKE // How PItousLY a-NIGHT I MADE hem SWYNKE !" Thomas Malory (1415-1471) is best known for "Le Morte d'Arthur", one of the first renderings of the Arthurian sagas. Venerable Bede (672-735) wrote in Latin, especially on church history. Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) came later than Pope. Scott is known for his historic novels such as "Ivanhoe" and "The Lady of the Lake".

22. Who descends into the Underworld?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Umbriel

He goes to get the weapons of womankind to help Belinda fight the Baron.

23. "Just as the ___ is bent, the tree's inclined." What's missing?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: twig

Well, if the origin of a non-Biblical proverb isn't Benjamin Franklin, then you can probably guess it's Alexander Pope! This comes from "Moral Essays," and the full couplet is: "'Tis education forms the common mind: / Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined."

24. What is NOT an item or ability brought back by the Gnome to fight the Baron?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: Punching

The Gnome gives Belinda all her womanly powers of sobbing, yelling, and tears, but he doesn't bring back the ability for her to punch. Canto 4- Lines 79-88

25. Alexander Pope also wrote a mock epic sanctifying boring people and stupidity. What was Pope's title?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: Dunciad

The "Dunciad" first appeared in 1728 as an anonymous poem in three parts ("books"). Fourteen years later, Pope published a revised version with a fourth book included. "The MIGHty MOther, AND her SON, who BRINGS // The SMITHfield MUses TO the EAR of KINGS // I SING. Say YOU, her INstruMENTS, the GREAT ! // Call'd TO this WORK by DULness, JOVE and FATE; // You, BY whose CARE, in VAIN deCRIED and CURSED // Still DUNCE the SEcond REIGNS like DUNCE the FIRST; // Say, HOW the GODdess BADE BriTANnia SLEEP, // And POUR'D her SPIrit O'ER the LAND and DEEP." Thus starts Pope's Dunciad, in which he portrayed the King of Dunces. In both versions Pope elevated one of his main critics to the "king of Dunces", and mocked several other contemporary authors who failed to evaluate Pope's works in the way as he thought to deserve. But the line "Still Dunce the Second reigns like Dunce the First" can also be interpreted as a reference to King George II, who ascended to the English throne just before the publication of the first version of the "Dunciad". "In Praise of Folly" is the English title of Erasmus' book "Laus Stultitiae" (1509). The other titles are books written well after Pope's death: Dostoevsky published "The Idiot" in 1868, and "A Confederacy of Dunces" is a posthumous publication of John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969).

26. Complete the thought: "Wounds, Charms and Ardors, were no sooner read/But all the _______ vanish'd from thy Head".

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: Vision

This is how Belinda managed to forget the warning that she had received from Ariel: she read some of the Billet-doux (love letters) from her many admirers, and the whole thing just flew out of her head.

27. In what profound undertaking did Pope attempt to "vindicate the ways of God to man"?

From Quiz Pope's Poetry

Answer: An Essay on Man

"An Essay on Man" appeared in 1733 through 1734, and in it Pope attempted to reconcile the existence of suffering with a benevolent, divine power. It was John Milton who attempted to "justify the ways of God to man" in his earlier epic "Paradise Lost."

28. According to Pope, which weighed more?

From Quiz "Rape of the Lock" by A. Pope

Answer: The hair

The hair and the wits of men are put on a balancing scale and the hair outweighs the men's wits. Since the hair goes down while the wits rise up, they are the heavier of the two objects being weighed.

29. For the last question, complete the last couplet of the canto: "Some fold her Sleeve, whilst others plait the Gown/And Betty's praised for ________ not her own".

From Quiz The Rape of the Lock Canto 1

Answer: labours

This is the last line of the canto, which tells us that Betty, who is Belinda's lady, does not actually do all the things that go into making Belinda beautiful, it is really the spirits who make her cheeks glow and her hair perfect. Man, those must be some pretty busy spirits with all they have to do! I hope you enjoyed this quiz!

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