Reflections of Narcissus

Maggie Kilgour

in Milton and the Metamorphosis of Ovid

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199589432
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738500 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Reflections of Narcissus

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Chapter 3 argues that the failure of the Revolution deepened Milton's reading of Ovid. In Paradise Lost, the act of revision enables Milton to approach the problem of political change. By working within traditions, with stories and figures whose fates are already well known, Milton is able to explore the limits of freedom and change. The use of the figure of Ovid's Narcissus especially demonstrates the problem of free will and determination. While critics have noted the presence of Narcissus as a subtext for the stories of Sin and Eve, Ovid's episode is central to the poem as a whole. Showing first that Ovid's story is a central statement about the nature of desire and creativity, this chapter follows its adaptation in Elizabethan literature, and then shows how Narcissus and related stories, such as those of Daphne and Pomona, help Milton understand creativity and its relation to change.

Keywords: Narcissus; Sin; Daphne; Pomona; Eve; Paradise Lost; Revolution; Paradise Lost

Chapter.  29247 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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