Dunciad

The dunce-epic, a satire by Alexander Pope. Eusden, the poet laureate, being dead, the goddess of Dulness elects Colley Cibber to be his successor. The installation is celebrated by games, the most important being the proposal to read, without sleeping, two voluminous works—one in verse and the other in prose; as everyone falls asleep, the games come to an end. King Cibber is now taken to the temple of Dulness, and is lulled to sleep on the lap of the goddess; and, during his slumber, sees in a vision the past, present, and future triumphs of the empire. Finally, the goddess, having destroyed order and science, establishes her kingdom on a firm basis; and, having given directions to her several agents to prevent thought and keep people to foolish and trifling pursuits, Night and Chaos are restored, and the poem ends. (See Dennis.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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