Areopagitica and Liberty

Blair Hoxby

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Areopagitica and Liberty

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The title page of Areopagitica presents the pamphlet as the sort of free political speech that was an integral part of Attic citizenship and liberty. John Milton draws its epigram from a debate between Theseus and the Theban herald in Euripides' The Suppliant Women. One reason why Milton entitled his pamphlet Areopagitica was that he wanted to recall one of the most famous examples of this sort of parrhesia. In Areopagitica, he argues that the Licensing Order is an affront to Englishmen because it deprives them of their Christian and civil liberties in one go. From Areopagitica to The Readie and Easie Way, Milton never shrank from the idea that maintaining the health of the commonwealth might require careful management – and might even necessitate that a Protagoras be purged.

Keywords: Areopagitica; liberty; Attic citizenship; John Milton; Licensing Order; Readie and Easie

Article.  11248 words. 

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

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