Milton and Homer
"Written to Aftertimes"
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Duquesne University Press
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I thank Mary Ann Radzinowicz and Piero Pucci for early guidance on this project. I am thankful to Al Labriola, John Mulryan, Susanne Woods, Christine Perkell, John King, and John Leonard for providing forums in which I could develop the ideas in the book. ...
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This book examines how the Homeric epics figured in the composition of Paradise Lost. Miltonists in the late twentieth century tended to see the influence of Homer on Milton’s epic as minimal, at least by comparison with that of Virgil. Davis P. Harding established the contemporary orthodoxy, claiming, “it must be clear to ...
One “By Allusion Called”: Diachronic and Synchronic Intertextuality
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At the end of Paradise Regained, we are told three times within 20 lines that Satan fell from the tower where he tempted the Son: “Satan smitten with amazement fell” (4.562), “So . . . the Tempter . . . Fell” (4.569–71), “So Satan fell” (4.581). Because the word fell is repeated three times, and perhaps also because ...
Two “Dire Example”: The War in Heaven as Admonitory Exemplum
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The most explicitly Homeric portion of Paradise Lost is surely the war in heaven, narrated in books 5 and 6 of Milton’s epic. It is no surprise, then, that allusions to Homer’s epics, especially the Iliad, are frequent within these books and that the episode can therefore illustrate in a particularly comprehensive way Milton’s ...
Three “A Fabric Wonderful”: The Marvelous and Verisimilar in Milton’s Christian Epic
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In the previous chapter, I studied Milton’s relation to Homer by considering a single episode within Paradise Lost: the war in heaven. I now move to a dimension of this interpoetic relationship that manifests itself throughout the entirety of Milton’s epic. The discursive mechanism of canonization on which I focus is the phrase “Christian epic.” As Thomas Greene says, “from ...
Four “From the First”: Conceptions of Origins and Their Consequences
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One of the primary discursive mechanisms by which Paradise Lost was established and has been maintained in the literary canon is the notion of originality. At least as early as 1704, in John Dennis’s Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, Paradise Lost was being canonized on the basis of its being “an Original Poem; that is to ...
Five “Above th’Aonian Mount”: The Longinian Sublime in Paradise Lost
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Perhaps the primary discursive mechanism by which Paradise Lost came to be canonized was the term sublime. In the year of Milton’s death, Boileau published his translation of Longinus’s treatise Peri Hupsous along with his own Art of Poetry; together the two treatises are credited with initiating a critical vogue in ...
Six “Instruct Me”: Institutional Considerations in Milton’s Evolving Literary Ambitions
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In 1642, in The Reason of Church Government, Milton introduces an extended digression in which he shares with his reader his literary ambitions. He indicates his desire to “leave something so written to aftertimes, as they should not willingly let it die” and offers a consideration of the genres in which he might compose ...
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Near the end of her comprehensive consideration of the dynamics of canon formation, Barbara Herrnstein Smith summarizes, in very broad strokes, her treatment of the factors that determine a work’s canonical fortunes: “Any object or artifact that performs certain desired/able functions particularly well at a given time for some community of subjects . . . will have an immediate ...
Appendix Milton’s Homer
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Page Count: 204
Publication Year: 2011