Defensio Primaand the Latin Poets

Estelle Haan

in The Oxford Handbook of Milton

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Defensio Primaand the Latin Poets

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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This article selectively explores the ways in which John Milton's recourse to Latin poetry in Defensio Prima serves a much deeper purpose than that of merely illustrating or lending authority to his argument. Rather, it suggests, the Defensio engages with a variety of Latin intertexts, which in turn give birth to a range of dramatis personae, with whom Salmasius is ironically and somewhat kaleidoscopically equated. This methodology lends particular force to Milton's rhetoric of invective while hopefully laying to rest the fallacy that his Latin prose writings were written during a period of ‘poetic inactivity’. Salmasius's rapacity and materialism are emphasized by reference to two further characters from Latin literature: Ovid's Midas and Plautus' Euclio.

Keywords: Defensio Prima; John Milton; Latin poetry; Salmasius; Midas; Euclio

Article.  7570 words. 

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

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