John Milton's Roman Sojourns, 1638-1639: Neo-Latin Self-Fashioning

Research output: Book/ReportBook


[From Book Cover]

This study examines the impact of Rome and its vibrant culture upon Milton in the course of two two-month sojourns in the city in 1638-1639. Focusing on his neo-Latin writings pertaining to that period (Ad Salsillum, the three Latin epigrams in praise of the soprano Leonora Baroni, and Epistola Familiaris 9, addressed to Lucas Holstenius), it presents new evidence of the academic, literary, and musical contexts surrounding Milton’s pro-active integration into seicento Rome. Highlighting Milton’s self-fashioning as one who was hospitably embraced by Catholic Rome, it traces his networking with distinguished Italian humanists (upon whom he left no slight an impression). We learn of his captivation by the singing of the city’s foremost soprano, of his participation in a literary vogue in her honor, of his attendance at an opera, put on, as he describes it, magnificentia vere Romana (“with truly Roman magnificence”), where English Protestant and Catholic Cardinal warmly shake hands. Not least, we read of Milton’s attested presence in the hub of Catholicism, the Vatican itself, and his language is fulsome, even excited. Perhaps continental travel and the physical encounter with the symbols, personages, and institutions of the other engendered in the Milton of the Italian journey a tolerance, or, more accurately, the manipulation of a seeming tolerance to serve poetic and cultural ends.

‘I have long followed Professor Haan’s scholarship, and this, in my judgement, is her finest work to date. It is tightly focussed on Milton’s two visits to Rome, and on the poetry that he wrote in the course of those visits … Professor Haan has an excellent command of the relevant scholarship. I particularly admired the use of Pompilio Totti’s guidebook to illuminate what visitors to Rome could see … In short, I hugely enjoyed reading the manuscript, and much admired the nuanced, scrupulous, and polished scholarship.’

Professor Gordon Campbell, University of Leicester

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
PublisherAmerican Philosophical Society
Number of pages256
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameTransactions of the American Philosophical Society


  • Rome
  • Milton
  • Neo-Latin


Dive into the research topics of 'John Milton's Roman Sojourns, 1638-1639: Neo-Latin Self-Fashioning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this