Milton on Tragedy: Law, Hypallage, and Participation

Andrew Zurcher

in Young Milton

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698707
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191740756 | DOI:
Milton on Tragedy: Law, Hypallage, and Participation

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Much of Milton's poetry—including Samson Agonistes—might be called anti‐tragic. The epistemological and ontological conventions of tragedy exert a negative influence on his early thought and poetry and it structures his encounter with Platonism and possibly contributes to the development of his idiosyncratic theology. Three of his earliest extant poems—‘Naturam non pati senium’, ‘De idea platonica quemadmodum Aristoteles intellexit’, and ‘On Time’—link preoccupations with law, language, and participation that, taken together, help us contextualize Milton's early plans to write Old Testament tragedies. As a young poet responding to Spenser's hypallagic style and Platonic allegory, Milton indicates in these poems why, how, and to what ends both law and tragedy became dominant presences in his late masterpieces.

Keywords: tragedy; hypallage; Platonism; law; language; participation

Chapter.  10433 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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