Introduction. The title of Milton's Areopagitica alludes to both the Areopagiticus of Isocrates and the story of the apostle Paul in Athens from Acts 17: 18-34. Isocrates's tract, which outlines a program for political reform, specifically mentions the degradation of the judges of the Court of the Areopagus, the highest court in Greece. Milton may fancy himself a man similar in virtue and sagacity to the old judges of the Areopagus whom Isocrates praises; following this allusion, the morally weakened judges of the Areopagus are symbolic of England's sitting Parliament. Milton doubly identifies with the voice of reform and the sober-minded leaders of a previous generation. The allusion to Paul in the book of Acts contains a similar parallel: Paul preaches to the pagan Athenians at the Areopagus (the hill where the judges once sat). In his appeal to the Athenians, Paul uses a stock phrase from a poem by Aratus, with whom the Greeks would certainly have been familiar. Paul uses a pagan idea to instruct the Athenians about Christianity.

As always, Milton divides his scholarly affections between the classical and the biblical in Areopagitica. Notice, though, that in this speech classical allusions outweigh biblical, particularly in the first half of the tract. Milton seems to be making an attempt, by way of copious example, to demonstrate just how Greek and Roman learning can reside within the boundaries of Christian morality. At first, one might be inclined to dismiss this as merely Milton's attempt to reconcile the differences between his two intellectual loves. But a closer examination of Areopagitica will reveal Milton's more cagey purpose for allowing classical references to dominate. It is a subtle attempt to flatter members of Parliament, by comparing their commonwealth to the enlightened societies of Athens and Rome. By playing off of the vanity of English politicians, who would of course like to think of themselves as the senators of a latter-day Troy, Milton hopes to reverse the opinion of the legislative body. Only an ignorant man would criticize the policies of Athens, and that city, as Milton argues, did not support licensing of books. Milton seems to express a faith that England's enlightened leaders would never embark on a policy that would demonstrate their country's inferiority to those ancient societies.

Milton's tract is a direct response to the the Licensing Order of 1643 which reinstated much the same sort of pre-publication censorship once exercised by the Star Chamber and other earlier censors, royal and ecclesiastical. Milton does not argue here for free and unregulated speech or printing, but simply that books should not be suppressed before publication. Treasonous, slanderous and blasphemous books, he allows, should be tried according to law, then suppressed and their authors punished.

The counter-examples Milton offers to those enlightened societies of Greece and Rome are the tyrannical societies of Catholic Spain and the Papacy. Milton offers the members of Lords and Commons a clear choice: either imitate Popery or institute freedom. By making the counter-example to enlightened policy Catholicism, Milton once again demonstrates an acute understanding of his audience. Parliament during Milton's time, especially the House of Commons, was largely Puritan. The thought that any of their orders might have an odor of unreformed Catholicism about it was distasteful, especially during the particularly tumultuous days surrounding the civil wars, when accusations of Catholic sympathy flew as regularly as the pigeons of Hyde Park. Areopagitica demonstrates Milton to be not only a great wordsmith and scholar, but also a brilliant political orator.

Milton's Areopagitica had virtually no political impact in its day: Parliament ignored it. However, as the first major treatise on freedom of the press, it influenced the arguments of many later advocates for the abolition of censorship. Even the United States Bill of Rights can be viewed as a direct descendent of Milton's Areopagitica. Part of the reason that it was ignored in its day may be that Milton had already challenged Parliament and popular opinion with other unorthodox arguments, such as the one presented in the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce and its defenses (Tetrachordon, Colasterion). Though he attempted to cultivate an image as a gentleman poet, Milton held radical opinions which challenged societal norms and was even accused of heresy by some of his rivals and targets. In Areopagitica we have a prime example of the nature of Milton's genius: heavily inflected with biblical and classical knowledge, but too unorthodox for mainstream acceptance, at least in his day.

Nathan Chaney and Casey Noga.

Areopagitica. Milton's title alludes to Isocrates's seventh oration, often called the Areopagitic Discourse or Areopagiticus (about 355 BCE). There, Isocrates (436-338 BCE) addresses the General Assembly of Athens on a topic of civic safety. See also the Introduction above.

Eurip. Hicetid. Euripides, The Suppliants 437-440.

States. Heads of state, either rulers or assemblies.

wanting. Lacking, not having.

successe. Outcome, result.

at other times. Milton may have experienced each of these dispositions in his seven prior works of prose, but he is most likely referring to the revised edition of Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644) and The Judgement of Martin Bucer (1644); in both he directly addresses Parliament.

it. "which of them sway'd most." If the passion Milton feels most in the moment of writing this speech is "the joy and gratulation" of those who "wish and promote their Countries liberty," then he is in an appropriate mood.

it. The antecedent of this "it" appears to be "the very attempt" of making an address to a governing body like Parliament.

beyond the manhood of a Roman recovery. A complicated locution that might be paraphrased as, "we are so far sunk in superstition and tyranny that we may be now beyond the capacity of those manly virtues inculcated by Roman ethics (courage, magnanimity, honesty, prudence, frugality) to restore us to our proper manly liberties." Milton implies that some discipline of virtue more manly even than that typical of Roman heroes must be put into practice in order to restore manly liberty to the reformed churchmen and citizens of England.

first. That is, this is the first time Milton praises Parliament in this discourse. Elsewhere he offers compliments in An Apology and, more mildly, in The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.

rescuing the employment from him. That is, taking the business of praising Parliament out of the hands of a flatterer and into Milton's hands. The flatterer he refers to is Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich (1574-1656), whose Humble Remonstrance to the High Court of Parliament (1641) gave rise to the Smectymnuan controversy. Milton's contributions to this pamphlet controversy were Animadversions (1641) and Apology Against a Pamphlet (1642). Smectymnuus was a pseudonym assumed by that group of writers who answered Bishop Hall in pamphlets so signed: SM stands for Stephen Marshall; EC for Edmund Calamy; TY for Thomas Young; MN for Matthew Newcomen; and W (UU) S for William Spurstowe.

Encomium. A formal or high-flown expression of praise; a eulogy, panegyric (OED2). Malignant was a term used by Parliamentarians to describe anything opposed to them during Milton's time. It carried with it the connotation of being a Royalist. Milton alleges that Bishop Hall's praise of Parliament, probably in his Modest Confutation of a Slanderous and Scurrilous Libel (1642) is nothing but flattery.

one of your publisht Orders. The specific Order Milton refers to is named below; it is the Parliamentary Order restoring the powers of press licensing to the State. See the full text of the Order.

equall. Fair, equitable, just, impartial (OED2).

trienniall Parlament. The Triennial Parliaments Act (February 16, 1641) stipulated the automatic issue of writs for a new Parliament if the king failed to summon one within three years of the closing of the previous.

cabin Counsellours. Milton refers to the period of "personal rule" when Charles I ruled without Parliaments between 1629 and 1640, relying only upon his personally chosen counselors.

Huns, Norwegians, Goths and Jutlanders. Milton often expressed the fear that northern people in general might be, because of climate, less civilized than southern Europeans. See "northern latitude" below and Paradise Lost 9. 44-46. See also the Preface to Book 2 of Reason of Church Government) where Milton may allude to Aristotle's claim that northern races lacked intelligence (Politics 1327b).

him. Isocrates was praised by Cicero for founding the art of political oratory in Athens. His Seventh Oration, Areopagiticus, advocated that the Court of the Areopagus should extend its jurisdiction from the merely criminal to become a censor of public morality. Milton argues for the removal of what he regards as excessive interference with the publishing processes.

Parlament of Athens. Milton chooses to flatter the British Parliament by comparing it to the governing body of the culture for which he has the greatest admiration, that of ancient Athens.

Siniories. A body of 'seigniors' or lords. Often with reference to Italy (OED2).

Dion Prusæus. Also known as Dion of Prusa in Bithynia and Dion Chrysostom (died about 112 CE). A rhetorician and philosopher, his "Rhodian Discourse" advises the repeal of an edict allowing the removal of original names from public monuments and the substitution of new ones. He was expelled from Rome for political reasons by Domitian.

northern latitude. In the supressed digression of his History of Britain book 3, Milton mentions the disadvantage England's northern climate presents to intellectualism: "For the sunn, which wee want, ripens witts as well as fruits." Both there, and here, he seems to be referring to a theory put forward in Aristotle's Politics 1327b, that cold climates make men slow-witted. See also "Manso" line 28 and the note above about northern peoples.

Copy. Copyright.

Order. The Licencing Order provided for other measures besides censorship. See the full text of the Order.

painfull. painstaking.

quadragesimal. Of or relating to a period of forty days. In this case Milton refers sneeringly to the Roman Catholic rules for observing Lent. See Lent in the New Catholic Encyclopedia.

Prelats expir'd. The reference is to dietary, matrimonial, and other social restrictions imposed by bishops before the abolition of bishops (episcopacy) in England in the 1640s. The control of marriage, fasting, and certain aspects of printing (including the publication of banns and marriage rites) was thought to have ended with the exclusion of bishops from the House of Lords in 1642, with the establishment of Presbyterianism (1645), and, finally, with the abolition of episcopacy.

Homily. Sermon.

violl. vial.

armed men. Milton alludes to the story of Cadmus sowing dragon's teeth in Metamorphoses 3. 101-30.

in the eye. Philo Judaeus, in his On the Creation, speaks of the image of God in man--the mind--as "like the pupil in the eye": "he made man, and bestowed on him mind par excellence, life principle of the life principle itself, like the pupil in the eye" (translated by F. H. Colson and G.H. Whitaker. 10 volumes [London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1929] 1.51).

whole impression. An entire edition or press run.

fift essence. Also known as quintessence. This is how Hamlet uses the word in Shakespeare's Hamlet 2.2.324.

Inquisition. See the article on the Inquisition in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Protagoras. According to Cicero in his On the Nature of the Gods (1. 23), the sophist Protagoras was banished from Athens (411 BCE) for the beginning lines of his treatise on the gods: "I am unable to to know whether the Gods exist or not."

Vetus Comœdia. The "Old Comedy" of Athens, as written by Cratinus, Eupolis, and Aristophanes, was characterized by the vitriolic lampooning of public figures. It had been traditional to suppose in Milton's time, due mostly to the accounts of Horace in his Ars Poetica, that Middle and New Comedy was largely free of such personal attacks due to legislation against them.

Epicurus. Epicurus (341-270 BCE) taught that all matter is composed of irreducible atoms, which are eternal, and hence were not made by a divine creator. He held that gods exist, but are indifferent to human affairs, and that pleasure (or the absence of pain) is the only good. He emphasized virtue and simple living, gaining pleasure from easily fulfilled desires, with the highest pleasure coming from freedom from painful need. His philosophy was distorted into mere hedonism by those who noted only his goal of pleasure, and not the means by which it was attained.

school of Cyrene. Milton refers to the followers of Aristippus (435-366 BCE) who advocated something much more like what we would call hedonism than did Epicurus.

the Cynick. Milton refers to the school of Antisthenes (455-365 BCE), called Cynosarges, and hence the name Cynics. One of his students, Diogenes the Cynic (died 320 BCE), developed such a reputation for inpudent and insolent rhetoric that the whole school came to be characterized by his practice.

Chrysostome. John Chrysostom (died 407), a father of the Eastern Orthodox Church and a patriarch of Constantinople. He was believed to have read Aristophanes's plays even though they were thought to be pagan and scurrilous.

Lycurgus. Lycurgus was generally believed to have been the founder of and law-giver to Sparta in the ninth century BCE.

Thales. Thales probably was a poet and musician of ancient Sparta.

Laconick Apothegms. The apothegms, or short maxims, favored by those of Laconia (Sparta). Laconic has become a synonym for terse.

Archilochus. Archilochus of Paros (seventh century BCE) was a lyric and satiric poet, notable for having invented the iambic trimeter and trochaic tetrameter.

Andromache. See Euripides's Andromache 590-93.

twelve Tables. A code of Roman law made in 451-450 BCE.

Pontifick College. The council of high priests which supervised the religious life of Rome, including the management of public engineering projects and the calendar and various other endeavors which required technical knowledge. Augurs were priests who determined from various omens the gods' attitude toward public activities. A flamen was a priest devoted to a particular god for whom he performed sacrifices on a daily basis.

Italy. In 155 BCE, Athens sent an embassy composed of three philosophers to Rome in order to ask for remission of a fine imposed on the city for having sacked Oropus. Among the group were Carneades, a moderate Skeptic; Critolaus, a follower of Aristotle; and Diogenes the Babylonian, whom Milton refers to as a Stoic in order to differentiate him from the Diogenes of Sinope, who was a Cynic. Their introduction of Athenian philosophy to Rome drew the opposition of Marcus Portius Cato (234-149 BCE), the public censor charged with regulating public morals, for he feared an alteration of the manners and customs of the state. Also known as Cato the Censor, He was noted for his conservative and anti-Hellenic policies, in opposition to the phil-Hellenic ideals of the Scipio family.

Sabin. Cato was raised in the Sabine territory. Milton refers to Cato's denunciation of Lucius Scipio, father of Scipio Africanus.

Nævius. Gnaeus Naevius (about 270 - about 200 BCE) wrote tragedies, comedies, and an epic. He was fond of satirizing Scipio and the patrician family of Metelli, for which he was thrown in prison until he recanted.

Plautus. Plautus (about 254 - 184 BCE) wrote many plays that were largely adaptations from Athenian comedies and had a major effect on English dramatists.

Menander and Philemon. Menander (342-292 BCE) was one of the leading Athenain "New Comedy" playwrights, and Philemon (368-264 BCE) was another.

Augustus. See Tacitus Annals 1. 72.

Lucretius. Milton refers to Lucretius's De Rerum Natura which expounds the doctrine of Epicurus and is addressed to Memmius in the opening lines. Despite Cicero's attacks on Epicurus in The Tusculan Disputations (Against Piso 69), Milton and many others believed Cicero acted as editor for the second edition of De Rerum Natura.

Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus. Lucilius (about 180- about 102 or 103 BCE) and Catullus (85-54 BCE) were known for their satirical wit, so also was Horace (65-8 BCE), whose full name was Quintus Horatius Flaccus.

Titus Livius. Milton refers to a section of Livy's History which does not survive. Milton refers Tacitus's Annals 4. 35, an account of the defence of Cremutius Cordus against the charge of libelling Tiberius by praising his enemies.

Naso. Ovid's full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. He was banished by Augustus allegedly for the immorality of his Ars amatoria (Art of Love).

Proclus. Porphyry's (234 - about 305) Against the Christians was ordered burned by Constantine, the first Christina emperor. Proclus ( 410- 485) was a neoplatonist and anti-Christian. Proclus's writings did not come under attack until fourty-four years after his death, when Justinian suppressed the Athenian philosophical schools.

Carthaginian Councel. There appears to have been no council in North Africa in 400; see the Catholic Encyclopedia. Milton quotes from Paolo Sarpi's Historie of the Council of Trent (translated by Nathaniel Brent 1620).

Gentiles. Heathens.

Padre Paolo. Paolo Servita was Pietro Sarpi's religious name. One of the leaders of the Venetian movement to abolish papal secular supremacy, his most important written works were the Historie of the Council of Trent and the History of the Inquisition. Milton calls him in Of Reformation: "the great Venetian antagonist of the Pope."

Martin the 5. Martin V (Oddone Colonna) was pope from 1417 until 1431. His bull (papal proclamation) of 1418, Inter Cunctas, was designed to suppress heretical writings, including those of pre-Reformation reformers John Wyclif and John Huss.

Wicklef. Milton bestowed much praise upon John Wyclif in his Tetrachordon: "that Englishman honor'd of God to be the first preacher of a general reformation to all Europe."

Husse. John Huss was Czech proto-reformer excommunicated in 1411 and burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415.

Leo the 10. Leo X ((Giovanni de Medici) was pope from 1513 until 1521. His Bull of May 3, 1515 broadened censorship to cover all writings.

Councell of Trent. Held at Trent from December 13, 1545 until December 4, 1563, the Council of Trent was convened to discuss and respond to the Reformation's challenge to Catholic orthodoxy, unity and ecclesiastical hegemony.

Spanish Inquisition. See the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Inquisition and on the Catholic Church's Censorship of Books.

Author. In 1542 Pope Paul III reformed the Inquisition, this time to have jurisdiction over books. He forbade publication unless a license had been obtained from inquisitors in advance. In 1559, following the advice of the Council of Trent, Pope Paul IV issued the first Index of Prohibited Books, as well as an Index of Expurgations, which indicated prohibited passages from books otherwise allowed to be read. In 1562 and 1563 the Council of Trent added two decrees on the cataloguing of forbidden books.

Claudius intended. 1644 has the following marginal annotation at this point: "Quo veniam daret statum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi. Sueton. in Claudio." In English (from the Loeb translation of J.C. Rolfe 1914): "[He {Claudius} is even said to have thought of an edict] allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table [having learned of a man who ran some risk by restraining himself through modesty" (Lives of the Caesars 5.32).

shav'n reverences. Milton refers sneeringly to the tonsure worn by monks, friars and some other ecclesastical officials in the Roman Catholic Church.

spunge. Eraser.

Antiphonies. Responsories and antiphonies are parts of church service in which speakers or singers respond to one another in alternating speech or song.

Lambeth house. Lambeth House (now Lambeth Palace) is the residence in London of the Archbishop of Canterbury, primate of England. The Bishop of London used to keep a residence in the precincts of St. Paul's Cathedral.

in. This word is missing in 1644; I have supplied it in order to complete the sentence.

cros-leg'd. When Jove's son Hercules was about to be born, his jealous wife Juno dispatched the goddess of childbirth to interfere with the delivery by sitting in front of the mother's door with legs and fingers crossed. See Ovid's Metamorphoses 9. 281-323.

Radamanth and his Colleagues. Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus were in classical legend, the judges of Hades.

damned. Milton compares prohibited books to damned souls. Yet, while the damned are judged after they have come into existence and lived, books prohibited by the Licensing Order are condemned without even being born into the world. Because books are not subject to a fair trial, as are souls, Milton argues that those who have wished to issue such licensing orders in the past -- that is, the Catholic Church -- have had to imagine new realms of hell that could accomodate books of Protestant countries as well the draconian methods of judgement necessary to damn them.

minorites. Followers of St. Francis called themselves Friars Minor or minorites, for short.

Lullius. Ramon Lully was a medieval mystic, logician, philosopher, poet, and martyred missionary. Though he died as a missionary, he is best remembered as an alchemist.

Moses, Daniel, and Paul. Milton appears to refer his readers to Acts 7:22, Daniel 1:17, and Acts 17:28. These are all passages where holy men were said to be familiar with pagan or gentile wisdom.

a Tragedian. The sentences Milton refers to are found in three places. In Acts 17:28, Paul quotes from Aratus; in Titus 1:12, he quotes Epimenides; and in 1 Corinthians 15:33 he quotes from Euripides, a tragedian; see Heracles 270.

Julian. Julian the Apostate (Flavius Claudius Julianus 331-63) was emperor of Rome from 361-363. The nephew of Constantine, he was originally a Christian, but eventually turned back to the worship of Roman gods. The decree Milton refers to forbade Christians to teach, or to become teachers, thus indirectly forbidding them to study the pagan learning Julian otherwise sought to promote.

Apollinarii. Apollinaris of Alexandria and his son wrote a grammar for Christians and translated books of the Bible into poetic and dramatic form.

seven liberall Sciences. Sometimes called the "seven liberal arts" and the grandfather of what we know call a liberal arts education, the seven included the medieval trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, atronomy, and music.

Socrates. Socrates Scholasticus (about 385 - about 440), a church historian.

Decius or Diocletian. The emperors Decius (249-51) and Diocletian (284-305) pursued severely anti-Christian policies.

St. Jerom. Jerome is most famous as a Bible translator, having translated the entire Bible into Latin, a Bible that later came to be known as The Vulgate and served as the authoritative scripture of the Roman Catholic Church for ages. In his Letter 22, "To Eustochium" (paragraph 30), Jerome recounts that during Lent he fell into a fever and began having visions in which he was questioned by God about the state of his soul. He replied that he was a Christian, but was told: "Thou liest; thou art a Ciceronian, for the works of that author possess thy heart." He was subsequently severely flogged by an angel and when he awoke from his dream he found lash marks all over his body.

Basil. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (370-79) who advised Christians to accept what was wise in pagan writers and also to recognize what was best to ignore.

Margites. Margites was the name of a caricature of Achilles in a mock heroic poem that passed under the name of Homer. Aristotle wrote that this work was to comedy what the Iliad and Odyssey were to tragedy (Poetics 1449a). Nothing but a few lines quoted by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics (1141a) appear to survive.

Morgante. Il Morgante Maggiore by Luigi Pulci was a mock-heroic predecessor to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso; it was published in Venice in 1481.

Eusebius. Eusebius Pamphilius was Bishop of Caesarea until about 340. Known as the father of Church history, he wrote an account of Dionysius Alexandrinus's experience of a vision from God regarding books. Eusebius's account in is his Church History 7.7.

answerable. In accordance with, or similar to Paul's teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

pure. Milton quotes Titus 1:15. But see also Raphael's teaching about knowledge by analogy to food in Paradise Lost 7.126-30.

unapocryphal vision. Milton refers to Peter's vision in Acts 10: 9-16.

Selden. John Selden (1584-1654) was a parliamentarian who was imprisoned several times by Charles I for his opposition to the extreme interpretation of the royal perogative, which Charles held. The preface of his De Jure Naturali et Gentium juxta Disciplinam Ebraeorum (1640) contains the argument that it is better to review not only opinions which support one's own ideas, but also opinions which oppose them.

repasting of our minds. Milton's Raphael also compares alimentary and mental diets in Paradise Lost 7. 126-130.

Manna. See Exodus 16.

defile not. Milton quotes from Matthew 15: 17-20 and/ or Mark 7: 14-23.

perpetuall childhood. Milton echoes Paul's description of Jewish Christians who kept the law as children or immature heirs and so no better than slaves; see Galatians 4.

Salomon. Solomon; see Ecclesiastes 7:12.

Syriack. See Acts 19:19.

practiz'd. Practised the magic described in them.

Psyche. The story of Cupid and Psyche is found in Apuleius's The Golden Ass book 5. Also a 1596 English edition from Early English Books Online. Venus, Psyche's mother-in-law, expressed her jealously by pouring wheat, oats, lentils, and other seeds in a great pile and assigned the girl the seemingly impossible task of sorting them by sundown. Compassionate ants do the work for her.

knowledge. See Genesis 3:5 and 22.

wayfaring. The Thomason copy of 1644 (British Library; Wing M2092) used as copytext for this edition has the "y" in wayfaring lined through and supplies an "r" above the line to spell warfaring instead

immortall garland. Milton seems to be combining the classical with the biblical. Winners of Olympic races were presented with wreaths of wild olive. For enduring temptation, the righteous Christian receives an immortal according to James 1:12 and 2 Timothy 4: 7-8.

excrementall. Of the nature of an outgrowth or excrescence; see OED2

Spencer. See The Faerie Queene 2. 7-8 and 12.

Scotus. John Duns Scotus was a medieval philosopher and theologian. See also the article on Thomas Aquinas.

Chetiv. The Talmud is composed of both the primary (Mishnah) and secondary (Gemara) Hebraic commentaries upon Hebrew scripture, or Torah. It lays claim to an authority second only to Torah itself. Keri and Chetiv are technical terms of Masorah, the textual criticism of Hebrew Scripture. When a textual reading (Chetiv) is suspected of corruption, or makes for unseemly reading, or, like the tetragrammaton YHWH is forbidden to be pronounced aloud, the margin provides a euphemism to be read aloud, called a Keri.

Evangelick preparation. Church fathers Clement (in his Hortatory Address to the Greeks) and Eusebius (in his Evangelical Preparation) described lewd pagan rituals in order to convince Christians not to participate in them.

Irenæus, Epiphanius, Jerom. Irenaeus in Against Heresies, Epiphanius in Panarion, and Jerome in his various attacks on Origen, Pelagius, Jovinian, and Vigilantus, uncovered or exposed numerous heresies to their readers.

Petronius. According to Tacitus, Nero called his friend Petronius elegantiae arbiter, chief judge of taste and etiquette; See Annals 16.18.

Arezzo. Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) was Italian satirist born in the town of Arezzo. He led a life of adventure and wrote abusive works for hire. His derisive wit was so feared that the gifts of those who sought either to buy him or buy him off made him very wealthy. He was a friend of Titian, who painted his portrait. His comedies, such as La cortigiana and La talenta, are singular, if exaggerated, portraits of his time. His letters, in spite of their impudent coarseness, are full of verve. Ariosto called him the "scourge of princes." See his illustrated Sixteen Postures.

Vicar of hell. Anne Boleyn's cousin, Sir Francis Brian, the notoriously wicked courtier of Henry VIII.

Cataio. Cathay or China.

guide. See Acts 7: 27-31.

Sorbonists. Scholars of the Sorbonne, a center of Roman Catholic theology in Paris.

Arminius. Jacob Hermansz (1560-1609), known as Arminius, was a protestant theologian who taught (contrary to strict Calvinism) general as opposed to particular predestination, conditional election, free will, and religious toleration. Milton later adopted a version of arminianism himself.

Aristotle. See Nicomachean Ethics 1095a.

Salomon. See Proverbs 23: 9.

Saviour. See Matthew 7: 6.

want. Lack, or do without.

prevented. Come ahead of, anticipated.

Commonwealth. Milton seems to refer, perhaps with a slight sneer, to Plato's Republic here, but the rest of the sentence cites also Plato's Laws, as if Milton considered both dialogues as pretty much of a piece in imagining a well-governed state, not meaning to describe one or prescribe how one might be organized.

there also enacts. See Plato's Laws 801d.

wanton epigrams and dialogues. Perhaps Milton refers, at least in part, to Plato's famous dialogues on love and friendship that praise homoerotic relations above all others, the Symposium and the Phaedrus.

friends. Aristophanes lampooned Socrates in The Clouds.

Dorick. See Plato's Republic 398e where Socrates proposed supressing soft, effiminate music (Lydian airs), but allowed the Dorian and Phrygian styles as more martial and manly.

Frontispieces. Pictures put before the title of a book.

rebbeck. A three-stringed lute.

Monte Mayors. That is, these are the lower class equivalents to the more posh romances, such as Sidney's Arcadia and Montemayor's Diana.

Atlantick and Eutopian polities. Political sytems with no grounding in reality, like that of Plato's Atlantis (Critias 113c and Timaeus 25a) or More's Utopia.

there mentions. That is, in the Laws 643-44.

gramercy. Merit or worth.

in the motions. That is, in a puppet show.

reason is but choosing. See much the same dictum in Paradise Lost 3. 108.

powrs. Pours.

that continu'd Court-libell. Milton refers to the anti-Parliament newspaper, the Mercurius Aulicus or "Court Mercury," published from 1642-1645.

Sevil. Seville was the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.

pluralities. The practice of simultaneously holding more than one (normally full-time) church appointment to increase one's income and power. Milton attacks plurality in his poem "On the New Forcers of Conscience" as a practice typical of the old days of prelacy, now persisting in the new Presbyterian system.

competency. An appointment with an income suitable for a living. See the listing for "competency" in the OED2.

ferular. A ferular, or ferula, is a teacher's whipping rod made from the fennel plant. See definition 2 for "ferula" in the OED2.

fescu. A teacher's pointer.

Palladian oyl. Pallas Athene was the goddess of wisdom. Olives were sacred to her because she taught men how to extract oil from them to burn in their lamps while studying.

punie. A freshman or junior student.

patriarchal. Milton puns here on two senses of the word, the first denoting a protracted fatherliness, and the second glancing at the Roman Catholic office of patriarch. Patriarch was the second-highest office in the Roman Church, underneath only the pope. At the time Milton was writing Areopagitica, Archbishop Laud, religious adviser to King Charles I, was tried for treason for conspiring to have himself installed as patriarch of Great Britain.

a coits distance. A coit, or quoit, was a metal ring thrown like a discus in athletic contests. See definition 1 for "quoit" in OED2.

Stationer. Printer or bookseller.

return. Reply.

such authoriz'd books are but the language of the times. A paraphrase of a line from Francis Bacon's 1589 work An Advertisement Touching the Controversies of the Church of England, which was published in the 1640s under the title A Wise and Moderate Discourse Concerning Church-Affaires.

ventrous. Adventurous or daring.

Knox. John Knox was the founder of Presbyterianism who reformed the Church of Scotland.

their dash. The crossing out of words by a licensing agent, that is censorship.

what book of greatest consequence. If not a reference to Knox's History of the Reformation (1644), probably a reference to Edward Coke's Institutes of Laws of England (1641). Both works were heavily censored before they were published.

iron moulds. Spots of rust on paper caused by such things as ink stains, which could eat a hole through the paper itself.

periods. Sentences.

monopoliz'd. Monopolies to trade in particular wares were traditionally granted by the king. Resentment of the monarchical power over monopolies was one of the catalysts for the Puritan Revolution. Though officially abolished in 1624, Charles used monopoly-granting powers to raise the money necessary to rule without Parliament from 1629 until 1640.

tickets and statutes. Both of these, by preventing the imports of certain goods, could be used effectively to guarantee a monopoly.

Philistims. In 1 Samuel 13: 19-21, we read that the Israelites are forced to go to the Philistines in order to have their tools sharpened, because their conquerors do not want them to have smiths and thus the capacity to make weapons.

staple commodity. An item which is under the jurisdiction of a corporate entity with the power to regulate trade in the item.

dettors and delinquents. Debtors in 17th century England could be thrown in prison until they paid their debts. However, until the right was abolished by Parliament in 1648, members of both houses of Parliament and their servants and relations were shielded from prosecution for debt. Debtors could also seek refuge in the precincts of defunct monasteries, where they could not be arrested. In 1643 Parliament declared all those who had fought for the king against Parliament "delinquents," and their property was confiscated. They were later pardoned, contingent on a confession of guilt, and allowed to recover their property for a small assessment.

pipe. That is, a pipe for feeding one who cannot feed him- or herself.

laick rabble. Sarcastically refers to the Laudian sentiment that the lay members of the church should not have an active role in it.

conceit. Idea or opinion.

enchiridion. A handbook or manual, a reference guide. See definition in the OED2. Milton is probably punning on the Greek word encheiridion, which means dagger.

the castle of St. Angelo. A papal prison on the Tiber River in Rome.

fustian. Bombastic, pompous, overblown speech. See definition 2 in the OED2.

Galileo. The Inquisition forced Galileo to recant the heliocentric theory he proposed in his Dialogue on the Two Principal Systems of the World. Milton claims to have visited Galileo on his Western European journey in 1638.

Franciscan and Dominican licencers. The officers and inquisitors of the Inquisition frequently were Franciscan and Dominican friars.

in time of Parlament. A contrast with the years 1629-40, when Charles I and his appointed councillors ruled without a Parliament.

Verres. Verres was a cruel and unjust praetor in Sicily from 73-71 B.C. Cicero, former quaestor of Sicily, was recalled to the island to oust Verres. Before he had finished the second of his Verrine Orations, Cicero had forced Verres into exile.

the disburdning of a particular fancie. Milton denies any peculiarly personal motivation to his argument. His critics had claimed that The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1642) was motivated by his apparently failed marriage to Mary Powell. Areopagitica also could be construed as an attempt to disburden "a particular fancie," since he fears that works like the ill-received DDD might be censored or banned.

Bishops and Presbyters. Presbyterians and other reformers claimed there was no biblical authority for any church officers other than deacons and presbyters, both parish or congregational offices. Bishop Joseph Hall warned reformers that the Presbyterian system would make each office-holder a tyrant in his own parish, regardless of what he was called. Milton gives a defense of the Presbyterian position in his Of Prelatical Episcopacy.

five or six and twenty Sees. A see is a diocese or region of episcopal authority.

mysticall. That is, of an obscure origin or authority. See definition 2 in the OED2.

who but of late cry'd down. That is, one who recently (and successfully) protested the bishops' claim to sole authority in ordinations and over parishioners in their dioceses, and that only university graduates could be ordained (in other words, a Presbyterian leader), will now assume similar tyrannical powers over books and pamplets.

Covnants. In 1638 the Scottish National Covenant opposed the forced imposition of episcopacy on Scotland by Charles I. When the English signed the Solemn League and Covenant in 1643, they pledged to reform the Church of England to eliminate episcopacy and to establish a presbyterian church organization in England.

Protestations. In 1641 Parliament tried the Earl of Strafford for treason. He had led an English army against Scotland to impose episcopacy there. King Charles tried every means, including the threat of force against Parliament, to protect his minister. In response, Parliament devised the Protestation, which was a pledge to defend the liberty of the people.

chop. To exchange one for the other.

Palace Metropolitan. Referring to Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

conventicle. A religious meeting or assembly of a clandestine, irregular, or illegal character, especially a religious meeting outside the proper jurisdiction or oversight of the established church.

the cruse of truth must run no more oyle. Echoes Kings 17:9-16.

Vicount St. Albans. Sir Francis Bacon. Milton quotes the first half of the sentence he quoted above.

a streaming fountain. See Proverbs 18:4 and Psalm 85:11, or possibly an allusion to the Song of Solomon 4:15.

Assembly. Westminister Assembly of Divines, which was at the time advising Parliament in their on the new structure of an established English Church.

arrant. Unmitigated, thorough-paced. See definition 3 in the OED2.

implicit faith. In contrast to explicit faith, or faith grounded in diligent study and understanding of Church doctrine (required of the clergy in medieval times), implicit faith was based upon the acceptance of Church authority (expected of the laity).

Loretto. According to popular medieval piety, angels had transported the house in which Mary was born and Jesus conceived to Loretto from Nazareth in 1291. As such, Loretto was a popular pilgrimage destination.

all mysteries. Occupations, crafts, and trades.

factor. Agent; see definition 1 in the OED2.

dividuall movable. A commodity capable of being divided and moved or transferred.

malmsey. A fine, sweet Spanish wine. Also, the wine in which Clarence is drowned in Shakespeare's Richard III 1.4. 161.

green figs. See Matthew 21:18-21 and Mark 11:12-14, where Jesus demonstrates the power of faith to his disciples.

Publicans. Custom officials who collect duties, such as tunnage and poundage taxes.

tunaging and the poundaging. English Parliaments traditionally granted the right to collect tunnage and poundage revenues to each incoming king. Tunnage was a tax on barrels (tuns) of wine, and poundage was a tax levied on the value of imports calculated in pounds sterling. Charles I's first Parliament refused to grant him this privilege.

parochiall. Referring to a minister and his parish.

Hercules pillars. Hercules is a symbol of power and moral rectitude. The pillars of Hercules were erected at the limits of his wandering, and as such serve as a symbol for the limits of human ambition.

topic folio. A folio-sized commonplace book in which a preacher would gather notes and quotations around which to build his sermons.

Harmony. A collection of similar passages from different sources, arranged so as to exhibit their agreement and account for their discrepancies; now chiefly used of a work showing the correspondences between the four Gospels and the chronological succession of the events recorded in them. See definition 4 in the OED2.

Catena. A string or series of extracts from the writings of the fathers, forming a commentary on some portion of Scripture. See entry in the OED2.

sol fa. A musical scale.

interlinearies, breviaries, synopses, and other loitering gear. Texts with translations on alternating lines, abridged versions, compendia, and other cribs or time-saving devices for the lazy student.

St. Thomas in his vestry Milton alludes to various market locations in London, named for their propinquity to certain churches, as if they traded in religious doctrines. Near the Church of St. Thomas Acon was a clothes market; the precincts of St. Martin le Grand served as a sort of grey-market center; and St. Hugh was often identified with the shoe trade.

magazin. A warehouse for merchandise or a building for military supplies. See the entry for "magazine," definitions 1 and 2 in the OED2.

impal'd. Enclosed within a palisade of stakes, or pales.

Christ urg'd it. Compare to John 18:20: "Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing."

dis-inur'd. Dis-acquainted or unaccustomed with a practice or action of some sort.

Alcoran. Al-quran, the Koran.

pitch our tent here. A reference to the Moses's final view of the Promised Land, which occurs when the Isrealites he has led there camp for the night near the river Jordan: Deuteronomy 34:1.

mortall glasse. See 1 Corinthians 13:12.

her divine Master. That is, truth and grace came with Jesus Christ; see John 1:17.

Ægyptian Typhon. Plutarch relates this allegorical myth in the story "Of Isis and Osiris" from Moralia.

Combust. Burned, scorched. See definition 1 in the OED2.

Zuinglius. Ulrich Zwingli started the Swiss Protestant Reformation in Zurich.

Calvin. John Calvin followed Zwingli as the leading proponent of the Protestant Reformation, in Geneva.

Syntagma. A collection of statements, propositions, doctrines, treatises. See definition 1 in the OED2.

golden rule. The mathematical Rule of Proportion: the first quantity is to the second quantity as the third quantity is to an unknown fourth quantity which can be calculated.

school of Pythagoras. Milton refers to the doctrine of metempsychosis, or the translation of souls from one body to another. The doctrine was thought by some to have originated among the Druids from whom Pythoagoras adopted it. Gratiano refers sarcastically to the doctrine in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice 4.1.133

Persian wisdom. Magic arts and practices were commonly thought to have originated among the Persians.

Julius Agricola. Julius Agricola was the proconsul of Britain from 78-85. He governed under three Caesars: Vespasian, TItus, and Domitian.

Transylvanian. Transylvania, now part of Romania, was ardently Protestant during its brief existence as a sovereign territory.

the Hercynian wildernes. The wooded and mountainous regian of central and south Germany.

propending. Inclining. See entry for "propend" in the OED2.

Wicklef. John Wycliffe was an English theologian and a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation; he was branded a heretic for his anti-papal views. Jan Hus was Czech reformer and follower of Wycliffe. Jerome of Prague was a later Czech reformer and a disciple of both.

City of refuge. Referring to the cities of refuge established by the Jews to harbor those who have committed unintentional manslaughter. See Numbers 35 and Joshua 20.

plates. Plates of armor.

the fields are white already. Quoted from Joshua 4:35.

a little forbearance of one another. Echoes Ephesians 4:1-3.

Pirrhus. Pyrrhus was the king of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Hereclea and remarked that he would conquer the world if he had Roman soldiers or if he were king of Rome.

house of God. An oblique reference to 1 Kings: 5-6, specifically 1 Kings 6:7.

but all the Lords people are become Prophets. See Numbers 11:27-29.

the firm root. See Romans 11:16.

maniples. Literally a "handfull," also the branches carried by soldiers as a standard, and a tactical unit in the Roman infantry. See definitions 1 and 2 for "maniple" in the OED2.

besieg'd and blockt about. Referring to November 1642 when the royalist army threatened to attack London. After the royalists were driven off, Londoners built a twelve-mile system of fortifications to put an end to any further advances. Milton's Sonnet VIII alludes to that period of threatened attack.

besieg'd by Hanibal. See Livy's History of Rome 26 for the story of Hannibal's seige of Rome.

invincible locks. A reference to Samson's initial triumphs over Delilah, who seeks the secret of his strength; see Judges 16:6-20.

muing. As a falcon moulting, see entry 4, definition 1 for "mew" in the OED2. It has also been suggested that "muing" is a misprint for "nuing" or "renuing."

purging and unscaling her long abused sight. Alludes to the conversion of persecuting Saul, who became the Apostle Paul; see Acts 9:3-22.

ingrossers. Monopolizers: see definition 1 for "engrosser" in the OED2.

abrogated and mercilesse law. Milton refers to the Roman law (abolished in 318) which gave fathers supreme power over the lives of their children.

cote and conduct. "Cote and conduct" is a tax on counties to pay for the outfitting of their military recruits. A noble is a small coin worth about 33 pence. Danegelt was the tax raised to placate the Danes, through negotatiation or war, when they harassed and occupied England in the middle ages; during Charles I's reign, it was known as ship money.

the Lord Brook. Robert Greville, the second Lord Brooke, who was killed in battle defending the parliamentary cause. He wrote A Discourse Opening the Nature of that Episcopacie, which is Exercised in England (1641).

The temple of Janus. Janus was the God with two faces in opposite directions. The doors to the temple of Janus in Rome were kept open during times of war and closed when peace reigned.

windes of doctrin. A paraphrase of Ephesians 4:14-15.

the discipline of Geneva. Presbyterianism.

to seek for wisdom as for hidd'n treasures. See Proverbs 2:4-6.

a battell raung'd. Like an army arranged for battle.

souldiership. The Thomason copy (1644) has shouldiership here; I have omitted the "h" as a misprint.

Proteus. Shape-changing sea god.

spake oracles. See Homer's Odyssey 4.385 and Virgil's Georgics 4.387-452.

as Micaiah did before Ahab. See 1 Kings 22:1-37.

adjur'd into her own likenes. Bound to an oath under penalty, as in 2 Chronicles 18:15, when Ahab is speaking to Micaiah.

those ordinances. See Colossians 2:8-17 for the full context of this passage.

this Christian liberty. Paul boasts of Christian liberty in Galatians 5:1 and Romans 8:21.

may doe either. See Romans 14:3-20.

a linnen decency. The formalistic vestments of the clergy, attacked by Milton also in his Of Reformation.

wood and hay and stubble. This echoes 1 Corinthians 3:10-13.

subdichotomies. A word Milton coined, comparable to "sub-divisions."

sever the wheat from the tares. This passage and the next few lines allude to the parables in Matthew 13:13-43.

the bond of peace. This and the preceding lines quote from Ephesians 4:3.

shakes a Kingdome. See Haggai 2:6-7.

chooses not as man chooses. Milton alludes to 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.

Chapell at Westminster. Convocation, the governing body of bishops in England, met in the Chapter house in Westminster until it was abolished and its powers assigned to the Westminster Assembly of Divines which met in Henry VIII's chapel at Westminster.

Harry the 7. Henry VII was buried in the Chapel at Westminster with some of his feudal allies.

Pharisees. Echoes a passage in Matthew 23:13.

first broke that triple ice. An image taken from Horace's Carmina 1.3.9.

our Saviour gave to young John. For the Joshua story see Numbers 11: 27-29; for the story of Jesus and John, see Luke 9:49-50.

Elders. The Greek word translated as "elder" in the Authorized Version (1611) of the Bible, is presbuteros, and may also be translated as "prebyter;" hence the term presbyterian as one who believes that the Bible offers no authority for the offices of priest and bishop.

lett. Obstruction. See definition for "lett" in the OED2.

Dominican. In other words, the Spanish Inquisition, dominated largely by members of the Domincan order of friars.

Star-chamber decree. A decree from July 11, 1637 by the Court of the Star Chamber which called for the suppression of undesired publications. The Court of the Star Chamber was abolished on July 5, 1641.

she is now fall'n from the Starres. The Court of the Star Chamber was abolished on July 5, 1641.

copy. Copyright.

divers glosing colours. Coloring or misrepresenting the truth in several ways.

procuring by petition this Order. The Stationers Company petitioned Parliament in April 1643 to re-establish the control over the press the Court of the Star Chamber had held.

Sophisms and Elenchs. Using false, sophistical arguments and false refutations for purposes of deceit.

advertisement. A warning or notification of facts. See definition 4 in the OED2.