John Milton • 1608-1674 • One of the “three greats” • Born in London to very Protestant parents • Studied divinity at Cambridge • Debated humanist issues in Latin, disliked comedy
John Milton • 1632-1638 Self-study period • Acquired Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and Italian • Later learned Old English and Dutch
European Travels • 1638-9 Travels to France and Italy • Met Galileo, then under virtual house arrest • Returned upon hearing of the English Civil War
Commonwealth and Restoration • Wrote treatises opposing the High Church party of the Church of England • Became Secretary of Foreign Tongues (1649) and defends new Commonwealth • After 1660 Restoration, is pardoned and forced into quiet retirement • Paradise Lost: 1658-1664
Paradise Lost: Style • Latinate syntax • Epic form (in media res; hero; invocation to muses) • Dense scholarly references
Paradise Lost: Themes • Theodicy • Marriage and gender (Eve as Narcissus) • Obedience and punishment • Knowledge and innocence • Sapience and sin (Adam the greater sinner)
Paradise Lost: Structure • Twelve books (after Aeneid) • Focus on two dramas: Satan and Adam/Eve • Books V-VI give background • Argumentum
Christian Epic • Who is the hero? • Blake’s Satanic interpretation: “he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it”
Ending They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheldOf Paradise, so late thir happie seat,Wav'd over by that flaming Brand, the GateWith dreadful Faces throng'd and fierie Armes:Som natural tears they drop'd, but wip'd them soon;The World was all before them, where to chooseThir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Beginning Of Mans First Disobedience, and the FruitOf that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tastBrought Death into the World, and all our woe,With loss of Eden, till one greater ManRestore us, and regain the blissful Seat,Sing Heav'nly Muse,that on the secret topOf Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspireThat Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and EarthRose out of Chaos: Or if Sion HillDelight thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow'dFast by the Oracle of God; I thenceInvoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,That with no middle flight intends to soarAbove th' Aonian Mount, while it pursuesThings unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.