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Milton and the Martial Muse

Milton and the Martial Muse: Paradise Lost and European Traditions of War

JAMES A. FREEMAN
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 290
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvp3q
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  • Book Info
    Milton and the Martial Muse
    Book Description:

    Combining historical scholarship with literary criticism, James Freeman provides a comprehensive study of the pro-war tradition that dominated Renaissance thought and of John Milton's rejection of that tradition in Paradise Lost.

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5507-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. A NOTE ABOUT REFERENCES
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. ABBREVIATIONS OF MILTON’S WORKS
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-15)

    In 1638, the very year Milton reached Florence, Peter Paul Rubens sent a large painting to the grand duke of Tuscany. No one today knows what the Medicis thought aboutThe Consequences of War(Figure 1). They were, after all, descended from a famous mercenary and had commissioned other artists to celebrate their military victories. Yet the letter that accompanied Rubens’ brilliant allegory left no doubt concerning his distaste for combat:

    The Principal figure is Mars who . . . rushes forth with shield and bloodstained sword, threatening the people with great disaster. He pays little heed to Venus, his...

  8. I PUBLIC AND PERSONAL RESPONSES TO WAR
    (pp. 16-62)

    Throughout his life Milton heard respectable authorities from almost every age, tongue, and genre proclaim that war is noble and mere study a detriment to kingdoms. He felt that combat debases human beings since it involves a “waste of wealth and loss of blood” (Sonn12. 14), but his typical contemporary agreed with Francis Bacon: “the Principal Point ofGreatnessin anyState,is to have a Race of Military Men.”¹ Most ancient and modern authorities approved of war or found strong reasons to excuse it. Occasionally, some raised their voices against various abuses such as killing non-combatants or taxing...

  9. II SATAN’S SOLDIERS
    (pp. 63-112)

    The fallen angels give us the first hint that Milton will simultaneously use and criticize the venerable machinery of war. They regularly appear as military creatures throughoutParadise Lost.In obvious and subtle ways, they conform to precepts about soldiering, a conformity that is boldly original. Before Milton’s innovation, bad angels almost always appeared in mufti, while good angels (as his early poems show) went about in arms. He insists, however, that the evil are weapon-wielding campaigners and thereby effects a genuine revolution in angelology. Even a brief review of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic angel lore demonstrates that no significant...

  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  11. III SATAN THE GENERAL
    (pp. 113-185)

    To appreciate most fully the pervasive use of military topics inParadise Lost, we can outline Satan’s career. He is a general who has lost the opening battle of a war. Reacting to his defeat in the manner recommended by martial manuals, he composes himself, musters his despondent legions, harangues them optimistically, consults with his staff, announces new strategy to the assembled troops, and sets off on a scouting expedition. His manuevers in the no man's territory around Chaos and on the disputed fields of earth, like his reported behavior during the battle for Heaven, keep close dress and cover...

  12. IV WAR IN UNEXPECTED PLACES
    (pp. 186-215)

    Once a reader hears how many changes Milton rings upon the theme of war inParadise Lost, he is prepared to read the epic backward. Knowing how many allusions to reprobate spirits are martial, he can examine other passages that seem untouched by Milton’s vigorous quarrel with militarism.

    A good example is the famous bee simile that concludes Book 1. This comparison between Satan’s soldiers milling about Pandaemonium and a swarm of spring bees should affect everyone, especially those who have been sensitized to the war motif. Awaiting the Great Consult, the warrior angels

    Thick swarm’d, both on the ground...

  13. V CONCLUSION
    (pp. 216-224)

    Paradise Losthas denigrated military affairs so thoroughly that it may surprise us to read how Michael, God's faithful retainer, appears before Adam dressed like a soldier:

    th’Arch-Angel soon drew nigh,

    Not in his shape Celestial, but as Man

    Clad to meet Man; over his lucid Arms

    A military Vest of purple flow’d

    Livlier thanMelibaean, or the grain

    OfSarra, worn by Kings and Heroes old

    In time of Truce;Irishad dipt the woof;

    His starry Helm unbuckl’d show’d him prime

    In Manhood where Youth ended; by his side

    As in a glisteringZodiachung the Sword,

    Satan’s...

  14. APPENDIX
    (pp. 225-226)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 227-250)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 251-253)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 254-254)