‘Tis one thing to copy, and another thing to imitate from nature. The copier is that servile imitator, to whom Horace gives no better name than that of animal; he will not so much as allow him to be a man. Raphael imitated nature; they who copy one of Raphael’s pieces, imitate but him, for his work is their original. They translate him, as I do Virgil; and fall as short of him, as I of Virgil. There is a kind of invention in the imitation of Raphael: for though the thing was in nature, yet the idea of it was his own. Ulysses travel’d, so did Aeneas; but neither of them were the first travelers: for Cain went into the land of Nod, before they were born: and neither of the poets ever heard of such a man. If Ulysses had been kill’d at Troy, yet Aeneas must have gone to sea, or he could never have arrived in Italy. But the designs of the two poets were as different as the courses of their heroes, one went home, and the other sought a home. To return to my first similitude. Suppose Apelles and Raphael had each of them painted a burning Troy; might not the modern painter have succeeded as well as the ancient, though neither of them had seen the town on fire? for the draughts of both were taken from the ideas which they had of nature. Cities had been burnt before either of them were in being.

John Dryden