Defensio Prima and the Latin Poets

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This chapter, in a prize-winning volume, examines ways in which 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 is argued, the defence engages with a variety of Latin intertexts (Plautus, Terence, Horace, Petronius), 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 whilst hopefully laying to rest the fallacy that his Latin prose writings were writing during a period of ‘poetic inactivity.’ For this is a prose work that is poetically as well as politically aware.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Milton Winner of the Irene Samuel Memorial Award of the Milton Society of America
EditorsNicholas McDowell, Nigel Smith
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-921088-6, 978-0-19-969788-5
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks of Literature

Bibliographical note

Chapter Number: 16

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