Although the Augustan age worshipped its classical antecedents, many intellectuals of Swift's day thought they had already outstripped them through advances in modern science and technology.
Isaac Newton, on the other hand, was one of many who begged to differ, claiming in 1676 that "if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." (He meant the shoulders of Greeks like Aristotle).
Jonathan Swift sat on the fence dividing tradition and modernity, using satire derived from Latin originals like Juvenal to mock contemporary society and the new scientists of the Royal Society founded in 1660.
With its mingling of ideas, politics, criticism, ironic comment and far-fetched traveller's tales, Gulliver’s Travels is a foundation text of the modern novel. It is hard to imagine Animal Farm without it. On the other hand, it is as hard to imagine Gulliver’s voyages without those of Odysseus and Aeneas .
[Until Lemuel Gulliver, heroes were generally brave fellows and mighty warriors. Even Don Quixote was minor nobility although his lance was in permanent rest until he read too many chivalric romances.
Lemuel Gulliver, on the other hand, is one of us, a commoner who put to sea like Odysseus to make his fortune but failed, got wrecked time and again —but learned a lot in the process. Notre semblable, notre frère.]