‘Lycidas’ and the Influence of Anxiety

Nicholas McDowell

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697885
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

‘Lycidas’ and the Influence of Anxiety

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John Milton must have been pleased with the lines that he gave to the Attendant Spirit to conclude A Maske presented at Ludlow Castle. Christopher Marlowe's debate between Hero and Leander about the value of virginity seems to have been remembered by Milton as a pagan counterpoint to the dramatic action of A Maske. The shears in ‘Lycidas’ are perhaps not simply ‘abhorred’ by those whose lives they cut short but also embody the abhorrence of Marlowe's Fates. Ovidian erotic languages, whether in Latin or the vernacular, and encompassing Marlovian language in the companion poems A Maske and ‘Lycidas’, become, in the context of the 1645 Poems, active metaphors – political as well as literary, at least by 1645 – through which Milton seeks to convey his transcendence of these languages and their foreclosed pagan vision.

Keywords: John Milton; Ludlow Castle; Lycidas; Christopher Marlowe; Marlovian language; anxiety; Ovidian erotic languages

Article.  12961 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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