entrusted gifts. An allusion to Jesus's parable of the talents; see Matthew 25:14-31. Milton alludes to this parable quite frequently; see, for example, Sonnet 19 and Sonnet 7.

to trade with. Milton deploys this commercial metaphor for truth and knowledge frequently; see Areopagitica: "Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopoliz'd and traded in by tickets and statutes, and standards."

Ieremiah laments. Jeremiah 15:10.

burden. See the opening lines of Isaiah 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 and 23. See also the Strong's Concordance listing and definition for the Hebrew word, massa'.

mysterious book of Revelation. Revelation 10:8-10.

that place of his Tragedy. Sophocles's Oedipus Tyrannus, lines 316-17.

when God commands. Milton identifies his prophetic motivation with that of Isaiah (in Isaiah 58) and Jeremiah (in Jeremiah 4:19).

as Ieremiah did. See Jeremiah 20:8-10.

out of stomach. Meaning here out of "pride, haughtiness; obstinacy, stubbornness" (OED definition 8b).

men of high estimation. Joseph Hall, James Ussher and Lancelot Andrewes are just some of the exceedingly famous men with whom Milton explicitly argues in this tract. In 1641 Milton was relatively unknown. He had influential friends, to be sure. He had been invited to contribute to a memorial volume in 1638 for his friend Edward King—"Lycidas"; he had been commissioned to write A Maske and Arcades in the early 1630s, but he had yet to bring out a volume of his own collected poetry. He was, it should be said, much celebrated by the intelligentsia and literati of Florence, Rome and Naples; when he brought out his poems in 1645, he included excerpts from their praises.

green yeers. In December 1641, about six or eight weeks before this tract was first published, Milton had just turned thirty-three.

equal. "Fair, equitable, just, impartial" (OED definition 5).

my private studies. After taking his MA at Christ's College, Cambridge, in July 1632, Milton retired to family homes at Hammersmith, near London, and at Horton, in Buckinghamshire, to study a curriculum he set for himself. How long he expected the "full circle" of his studies to take is not known, but in 1638, he started a tour of Europe, principally Italy, and interrupted that trip early in 1639, returning to London where he started a school. Now, in 1641, he claims his studies are still incomplete, though he feels certainly up to the task in hand. In "Epitaphium Damonis" (1638), Milton claimed to be working on an Arthurian epic (lines 162-78).

sundry masters and teachers. Milton's father, John Milton, was probably his first teacher. He was an accomplished musician, probably a graduate of Oxford and a wealthy scrivener and money-lender. As a patron of music and drama at Blackfriars in London, he was invited to contribute a dedicatory poem to Shakespeare's first folio collection of his plays in 1623: "To the Memorie of M W. Shake-speare." Before enrolling at St. Paul's School in 1620 or 1621 at the age of about 12, he was tutored at home by Thomas Young, a Presbyterian Scot and member of the Westminster Assembly. At St. Paul's his teachers were Alexander Gill, senior and junior.

written Encomiums. Milton published some of these in the opening pages of the Latin verse section of Poems (1645).

for three lives. "A three-lives lease expired when all the three persons named in the lease had died. This explains why some eighteenth-century leases lasted well into the nineteenth century. Tenants often named young relatives in the hope that at least one of them would survive for many years" ("Landed Estate Records" Billmacafee.com).

that resolution. Milton appears to echo the account of Ariosto's life and poetic motivations written by Sir John Harington and published in his 1591 translation of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso from Italian into English:

At his verie entrance into this Cardinal's [Don Hippolito of Este] service, he determined, as it should seeme, to make some Poem, finding his strength to serve him to it & though he could have accomplished it very wel in Latine, yet he chose rather his native tongue, either because he thought he could not attaine to the highest place of praise, the same being before occupied by diverse, and especially Virgil and Ovid, or because he found it best agreed with his matter and with the time, or because he had a desire (as most men have) to inrich their owne language with such writings, as may make it in more account with other nations: but the first of these was the true cause indeed, for when Bembo would have disswaded him from writing Italian, alledging that he should winne more praise by writing Latine: his answer was, that he had rather be one of the principall & chiefe Thuscan writers, then scarce the second or third among the Latines. [Harington, "Life of Ariosto" in Orlando Furioso in English Heroic Verse (London 1591), pages 416-417]

Pietro Bembo was a contemporary of Arisoto's.

rules of Aristotle. Milton refers here to a rich and deep discussion, mostly by Italians, of the proper way to write heroic poetry. Probably the best of these is Torquato Tasso's Discorsi del poema eroico (Discourses on the Heroic Poem), published in 1594. Tasso also wrote a heroic poem in Italian, Gerusalemme Liberata, or The Recoverie of Jerusalem (1624), which celebrates the crusade of Godfrey of Bologna. For Aristotle's brief comments on heroic poetry, see his Poetics.

Prince of Italy. Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara from 1559 to 1597.

advers in our climat. A kind of commonplace notion that a cold and damp climate like that of England might actually militate against the flowering of poetic genius. See Paradise Lost 9.44-45.

our own ancient stories. That would be stories of ancient Britons like Arthur, or even Roman Britons whom Milton admired so much in his History of Britain.

Apocalyps of Saint Iohn. A Puritan-dominated Parliament closed the London theaters in 1642, shortly after this tract was published. Milton, though a Puritan, here suggests that "Dramatick constitutions" may be as "exemplary to a Nation" as other poetic forms. Indeed he regarded portions of scripture as dramatic poems, including Song of Solomon and Revelation.

Pindarus and Callimachus. Pindar (c. 522-443 BCE), was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Callimachus (310/305-240 BCE) was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a noted poet, critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria.

songs throughout the law and prophets. Sir Philip Sidney, in his Defence of Poesie (1595), makes similar claims for poetry's power to teach and for poetic precedents in Scripture:

Poesie therefore, is an Art of Imitation: for so Aristotle termeth it in the word mimesis, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth to speake Metaphorically. A speaking Picture, with this end to teach and delight. Of this have bene three generall kindes, the chiefe both in antiquitie and excellencie, were they that did imitate the unconceivable excellencies of God. Such were David in his Psalmes, Salomon in his song of songs, in his Ecclesiastes and Proverbes. Moses and Debora, in their Hymnes, and the wryter of Jobe: Which beside other, the learned Emanuell, Tremelius, and F. Junius, doo entitle the Poeticall part of the scripture: against these none will speake that hath the holie Ghost in due holie reverence.

in every Nation. Milton's claim, that some rare few in every nation enjoy this special gift of God, serves to align him with David, Solomon, and biblical prophets as a specially gifted prophet to the English.

such as were autoriz'd. Milton refers to the 1617 declaration of James I, usually called the Book of Sports, which authorized Sunday recreations such as dancing, archery, Maypoles, morris dances and ale festivals in Lancashire. King James declared such sports and pastimes legal across the nation in 1618. Charles I renewed this declaration in October 1633.

frequent Academies. Milton much admired the academies of Florence and Rome, private gatherings of prominent poets, intellectuals, and political leaders who met weekly or monthly for recitations, debates, and discussions. The Academia Svogliati of Florence welcomed Milton when he visited there in 1638. See Estelle Haan, From Academia to Amicitia: Milton's Latin Writings and the Italian Academies.

Salomon saith. See Proverbs 1:20-22 and Proverbs 8:1-5.

Paneguries. A panegyry is "A general assembly for religious purposes; a religious festival" (OED definition 2).

urgent reason. The present concern, the further reformation of Christ's church in England, has "pluckt" from Milton any opportunity to pursue his ambitions as divinely gifted poet and prophet to his nation.

vapours of wine. Milton's Elegy 6, to Charles Diodati in 1629, claims that "Song loves Bacchus and Bacchus loves song," but takes special pains to distinguish wine-soaked lyric poems from the more austere heroic mode: "But he who represents wars and heaven beneath a mature Jupiter and pious heroes and semi-divine rulers now sings the best in the sacred council of the gods, and now the infernal realm holding the howling dogs, let him live sparingly in the manner of the Samian teacher, and let herbs furnish his innocuous meals. Let glimmering pure water stand in a vessel made of beech, and let him drink sober draughts from the pure spring."

touch and purify the lips. See Isaiah 6:1-7.

hollow antiquities. Milton regarded the Episcopal party's incessant references to the Church Fathers as hollow antiquities; a good example of this is the collection of texts he argues with so frequently in book 1—Certain Briefe Treatises Written by Diverse Learned Men Concerning the Ancient and Modern Government of the Church (Oxford 1641).

sumpters. A sumpter is "the driver of a pack-horse" (OED).

destin'd of a child. Certainly Milton's education, his choice of university (Cambridge), college (Christ's) and curriculum of study all suggest a career in the Church. Perhaps as late as 1632, Milton may still have been considering ordination (see Sonnet 7), but since at least 1638 (see "Lycidas"), he regarded the insufficient reformation of the Church, especially under Archbishop Laud and Charles I, as an impediment to a career in the Church.

take an oath. According to the Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical...of the Church of England (1604), candidates for ordination (or for any academic post, for that matter) were required to swear an oath acknowledging, among other things, that "the Book of Common Prayer, and of Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, containeth in it nothing contrary to the Word of God, and that it may lawfully so be used, and that he himself will use the Form in the said Book prescribed in publick Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and none other" and to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of belief (Constitutions and Canons, Article 36). Milton already had taken much the same oath when he commenced B.A. and M.A. (1632) at Cambridge. He may since have decided that he could no longer subscribe to such an oath, or he may be thinking of the "Et Cetera Oath" of 1640 which includes the promise "nor will I ever give my consent to alter the government of this Church by arcbbishops, bishops, deans, and archdeacons, &c., as it stands now established, and as by right it ought to stand." Though the context suggests that this clause was meant to proscribe "popish" doctrines and innovations, a strict interpretation would certainly have proscribed the very action Milton took in writing this tract. Of course, he may have both of these oaths in mind as obnoxious to any well-educated free-thinking person.

wisdom by simplicity. See 1 Corinthians 1:17-31.

first to be last. See Mark 9:35.

that he is a servant. See 1 Corinthians 9:18-23.

of none effect. See 1 Corinthians 1:17.

the form of a servant. See Philippians 2:5-9.

Bilson. Thomas Bilson (1547-1616) was Bishop of Worcester and Bishop of Winchester. "He, along with Miles Smith, oversaw the final edit and printing of the King James Bible" (Wikipedia, Thomas Bilson). In his The True Difference between Christian Subjection and Unchristian Rebellion (1585), Bilson describes the corrupt, licentious and bawdy doings of Roman Catholic popes and prelates (111-114).

punctualist. "A person who considers or pays careful attention to points of conduct or ceremony" (OED).

Casteel, Naples, or Fountain Bleau. Castile is a central region of Spain with Madrid. a leading ecclesiastical center, as its capital; Naples was the capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies; Fontainbleu was the seat of the French court.

put under the high. See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

Christ saith in S. John. John 13:16-17.

traditions and ceremonies. See Archbishop William Laud's defense of the use of elaborate ceremonies and traditions in his dedication to A Relation of the Conference between William Lawd...and Mr. Fisher (1639). See pages *3 and following.

simplicity of saving truth. See 2 Corinthians 11:3.

apostasy that was foretold. See Matthew 24:4-51 and Mark 13. See also Revelation 12:1-6.

superstitious coaps and flaminical vestures. A cope is a liturgical vestment worn by a priest or bishop in procession. Flamens were priests in ancient Rome, so "flaminical" vestments would mean heathen religious garb. In fact most ecclesiastical vestments worn by both Roman and English clerics are versions of ancient Roman clothing, both sacred and secular. Puritans who, like Milton, desired the further reformation of the English Church, preferred much simpler ecclesiastical garb.

some worse place. Some of the high-church, or prelatical, party were said to wear the sign of the cross on their backs, or even "some worse place" under their garments. Dr. John Cosin (1594-1672), prebendary of the cathedral church in Durham, was charged in the House of Lords on March 15, 1641 with twenty-one articles of impeachment, most of which had to do with introducing Roman Catholic style (he would have called them ancient and traditional) ceremonies and vestments into the cathedral services. Article 13 charges that he bought a cope from a "convicted Jesuit," "having upon it the picture of the invisible and incomprehensible Trinity" (Diurnall Occurences, or dayly proceedings of both Houses, in this great and happy Parliament, from the third of November, 1640, to the third of November 1641, page 54).

cover her nakednesse. See Genesis 3:6-7.

corporeal resemblances of inward holinesse. Archbishop Laud argued that, though "inward" holiness and beauty was a Christian's true concern, vestments and ceremonies gave that inward holiness outward expression (A Relation of the Conference between William Lawd...and Mr. Fisher, pages *3 and following).

Church-maskers. Milton implies that high-church ceremonies and vestments are more like masques than like proper worship. Masks were a favorite pastime in Charles I's court.

cloathing upon our barenes. See 2 Corinthians 5:2-4.

saith Isaiah. See Isaiah 52:7.

spinstry. "The art or occupation of spinning; the product of spinning" (OED).

sincerity of the word. See 1 Peter 2:2.

posts by his posts. See Ezekeiel 43:6-9.

your signe. The sign of the cross; its use was scorned by Puritans because no scripture could be found to authorize it. The reformed Church of England recommended its use at baptism, believing that is had been "purged from all Popish Superstition and Error," but cautioned against any superstitious understanding of its use. See canon 30 of the Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical...of the Church of England (1604).

impious forefinger. Milton regards the sign of the cross, used at baptism, as a profane "unbaptizing."

detested their customes. See Mark 7:1-9.

which S. Paul hath set forth. See 1 Corinthians 1:25-29.

those Pathetick handmaids of the soul. That is, affections and desires as handmaids to the soul. The "Queen" in this figure is "Understanding" or reason. Milton's figure illustrates a partial theory of knowledge: between the senses and the soul there is no direct communication. All sense impressions, and therefore all truth, comes to the attention the understanding by way of "those pathetick handmaids," the affections, desires and emotions. See also the epistemology Adam teaches Eve in Paradise Lost 5:100-121, and Milton's Christian Doctrine book 1, chapter 2.

fucus. "Paint or cosmetic for beautifying the skin; a wash or colouring for the face" (OED).

sentences. Used here as a present tense verb, as in, passes judgement.

Roman censor. "The censor was an officer in ancient Rome who was responsible for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, and overseeing certain aspects of the government's finances" (Roman Censor, Wikipedia). See also Milton's discussion of the ineffectiveness of such forms of censorship in Areopagitica.

assise. "Judgement, sentence; deliverance of opinion" (OED definition 14).

episcopy. "Survey; superintendence" (OED).

saw. "A decree, command" (OED definition 3).

halings and amercements. Haling: dragging into court by force (OED). Amercement: "A discretionary penalty or fine; (originally) spec. one imposed on an offender at the discretion of the court of his or her lord, as opposed to a statutory fine" (OED).

powerful Keies. That is, the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Roman Catholics held that these "keys" were in the hands of the Pope, the successor to St. Peter; see Matthew 16:15-19.

Key-cold. Dead cold as in "stone-cold" or "cold as a key." See both senses provided by the OED.

ride upon an Asse. See Matthew 21:1-8 and John 12:12-16.

Lion of the tribe of Juda. See Revelation 5:1-6.

solecism. " An impropriety or irregularity in speech or diction; a violation of the rules of grammar or syntax; properly, a faulty concord" (OED).

cautelous. "Cautious, wary, heedful, circumspect" (OED).

Bodin. "Jean Bodin (1530-1596) was a French jurist and political philosopher, member of the Parlement of Paris and professor of law in Toulouse" (Jean Bodin, Wikipedia). Milton refers here to Les Six livres de la République (1576), translated by Richard Knolles as Six Bookes of a Commonweale (London 1606), page 638.

mulct. "A fine imposed for an offence" (OED).

mostanend. "Almost uninterruptedly, almost always, mostly, for the most part" (OED definition 3).

civil Magistrat. See Romans 13:3-4.

adopted sons. See Romans 8:14-17 and Galatians 4:1-7.

like him. See Milton's Of Education (1644): "The end then of Learning is to repair the ruines of our first Parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him."

as he pleases to expresse it. See 1 Corinthians 1:9.

grave and faithful brethren. Milton refers to the deacons, described by Paul in this letter to Timothy. See 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

Pastor. The term in the King James version of 1 Timothy 3:1 and 2 is "bishop," episcopos in Greek. Milton, in a slightly earlier tract, argues that Paul makes no distinction between the terms episcopos and presbyter; both signify an elder, (presbyteros) who supervises the work of deacons (Of Prelatical Episcopacy [1641] A1r).

tabernacle. Milton specifically draws a distinction between the rules governing worship in the ancient Hebrew tabernacle, and those of the new "tabernacle" of reformed Christian worship. He implies that veils, partitions, screens and altar rails, and special places reserved for priests and acolytes, preserve unnecessarily an ancient Hebrew legalism.

royal Priesthood. See 1 Peter 2:9.

title of Clergy. Or "priesthood" (hierateuma) as in the King James version. See 1 Peter 2:1-9.

Pope Higinus. Pope Hyginus (died c. 142 CE) was traditionally believed to be the first Christian prelate to devise ranks and orders for Christian clergy.

old temple. The Jerusalem temple, like the tabernacle that preceded it, included an innermost chamber, a Holy of Holies, into which only high priests were allowed. Milton compares rood screens and altar rails to these ancient Hebrew partitions.

rent in sunder. See Matthew 27:50-54, Mark 15:37-39 and Luke 23:44-46.

Origen. Origen Adamantius (184/185-253/254) was a scholar and early Christian theologian who was born and spent the first half of his career in Alexandria. Many of his teachings and scripture exegeses became controversial and, in 553 CE the second ecumenical council declared many of his teachings to be anathema.

Alexander of Jerusalem. Alexander of Jerusalem (died 251 CE), was Bishop of Cappadocia. "It was Alexander who permitted Origen, although only a layman, to speak in the churches. For this concession he was taken to task, but he defended himself by examples of other permissions of the same kind given even to Origen himself elsewhere, although then quite young."

Theoctistus of Cæsarea. Bishop of Caesarea who also permitted Origen to preach when he visited Palestine.

Cyprian. Bishop of Carthage (died 258 CE) whose Epistles in Latin survive. See Epistle 5.

first Nicene councel. The First Council of Nicaea was "a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom."

Golartius. Simon Goulart (1543-1628) was a French Reformed theologian, humanist and poet. His edition of Cyprian's Opera (1593) may well have been the one Milton read.

durst not for shame. See Homer's Iliad 6.440-446.

not presently shame. See Plato's Euthyphro 12b.

an esteem. See Archangel Raphael's advice to Adam in Paradise Lost 8.571-75.

fire sent from heaven. See Leviticus 9:22-24, Judges 13:19-23, I Kings 18:36-39 and 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.

Gods image upon him. See 1 Corinthians 11:7.

markt upon his forehead. See Revelation 14:1-3 and 22:1-4.

ransom'd. See Matthew 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6.

Sinai in the Gospell. Milton again scorns special consecrations and purity rites as unnecessary, even sinful, efforts to preserve or imitate old Hebrew laws and customs (Sinai) in a church that should be marked by liberty, and a filial, even amiable, relation to God Sinai was the site where Moses received the Ten Commandments, the basis of Hebrew law. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes wrote an elaborate liturgy for consecrating churches and cemeteries which was published posthumously in 1659 as The Forme of Consecration of a Church or Chappel and of the Place of Christian Buryall.

living temple. See 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

dead judaisms. Milton, like most Puritans, refers to high-church rites and ceremonies as "judaisms" and their practice as "judaizing." This, even though the ancient Hebrew rites to which he compares them—blood sacrifices, temple worship and special holy places—are not practiced by Jews and have not been part of Jewish worship since the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE.

linnen corporal. Seventeenth-century altars were often made of wood; reformers preferred to call them communion tables. A corporal was a white linen cloth upon which the elements of the eucharist would be placed for consecration in the Roman Catholic and high Anglican churches. "Flagon pot" probably refers, somewhat disparagingly, to a chalice.

sanctification and adoption. On Christian sanctification and adoption, see Hebrews 10:5-14 and Ephesians 1:3-6. See also Milton's Christian Doctrine 1.18.

royall Priesthood. See 1 Peter 2:9.

Apostles warrant us. As, the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12.

would not suffer S. Peter. See Acts 10:9-16.

Canaanitish. Canaanites were native to western Palestine before the ancient Hebrews drove them out of what they considered their "Promised Land."

gaine and fees. Fines for non-compliance with the canons of 1604.

simoniacall. Simony is buying and selling preferments and positions in the church; Milton accuses the church and its courts of promoting simony.

daily Manna. During their forty-year sojourn in the wilderness on their way out of Egypt to the Promised Land, the ancient Hebrews enjoyed daily rations of bread falling from heaven, called manna. Milton likens daily church services and sermons to manna.

Plato affirms. See Plato's Gorgias 524e-25.

mercies of wicked men are cruelties. See Proverbs 12:10.

mighty through God. The 1642 edition has this in the margin: Cor.2.10. The passage quotes, fairly accurately, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.

economicall. Having to do with household management (OED).

false-whited. See Matthew 23:27-28.

lawnie. Bishops in Milton's day wore sleeves of lawn, or fine linen.

Helena. In Euripides's Helen, Helen is in Egypt and a ghost-like imitation of her is taken to Troy.

receit of custome. Jesus's disciple, Matthew, was a publican; see Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14.

Rejecting purgatory. "Article XXII of the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion states that 'The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory...is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God'" ("Purgatory" in Wikipedia). Milton implies, probably sarcastically, that the English Church rejected purgatory because it wanted to practice extortion on sinners in this life rather than in the next.

white Horse. See Revelation 6:1-2.

open sepulchers. See Psalms 5:8-10.

that ravisher. Amnon, son of David, raped his half sister, Tamar; see 2 Samuel 13.

Lords and Commons. Milton invites us to imagine he is addressing Parliament.

merchants of Babylon. Puritans frequently referred to the Roman Church as the whore of Babylon; see Revelation 18:9-13.

boring our eares. See Exodus 21:6.

our great charters. Milton refers to Magna Carta (1215) and Carta de Foresta (1217).

pretorian band. The Praetorian guard was the bodyguard for Roman emperors.

pensionry. "A body of paid retainers" (OED).

magnacharta. In 1215, twelve bishops (and twenty abbots) were among the barons and other peers who coerced King John into agreeing Magna Carta, though Milton suspects their motives to have been less than patriotic.

from whence only comes their help. Milton alludes, ironically, to Psalm 121:1.

reducing popery. That is, bringing popery back.

tyrant custom. See the opening lines of Milton's The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1650) and The address "To the Parlament" that opens his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644).

Midas. "The most famous King Midas is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched (hand wise) into gold. This came to be called the Golden touch, or the Midas touch" ("Midas," Wikipedia).

treacle. "A medicinal compound, orig[inally] a kind of salve, composed of many ingredients, formerly in repute as an alexipharmic against and antidote to venomous bites, poisons generally, and malignant diseases" (OED).

perfect freedom. In the 1159 Book of Common Prayer, see "The seconde Collecte for Peace" that is part of the prescribed liturgy for Morning Prayer.

gargarisms. Gargarism: "A disease of the throat, which attacks swine" (OED). See also Milton's contempt for the "Scholastick grossness" from which the universities, he alleged, were "not yet well recover'd" (Of Education).

prelatical Sparta. Sparta, an oligarchy, was often in Milton's day compared unfavorably with Athens, a democracy.

Fabritii, and Curii. Gaius Fabricius Luscinus was a Roman ambassador famous for "austerity and incorruptibility" ("Gaius Fabricius Luscinus," Wikipedia). Manius Curius Dentatus was a Roman statesman famous for being "incorruptible and frugal" ("Manius Curius Dentatus," Wikipedia).

lin. Cease.

pluralities. Plurality: "The holding of two or more benefices or livings concurrently by one member of the clergy. Also: an instance of this practice; a benefice or living held concurrently with another or others" (OED definition 2a).

mediocrity. "The quality or condition of being intermediate between two extremes; an intermediate state or condition. Formerly also: a quality, position, etc., equally removed from two opposite extremes; a mean" (OED definition 1b).

in baptisme. According to the Book of Common Prayer in use in Milton's day, Godmothers and Godfathers were asked the following at a baptism: "DOEST thou forsake the devil and all his workes, the vaine pompe and glorye of the world, with al covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not folow, nor be led by them?"

not Epicurus, nor Aristippus. Epicureanism has often been mischaracterized as a doctrine that advocates the unthinking or reckless pursuit of pleasure. Epicurus taught something far more austere than that. Similarly, Aristippus, founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy, taught a pleasure-seeking doctrine that was also popularly mischaracterized as hedonistic.

savage wolves. See Habakuk 1:7-11; and Milton's "Lycidas," lines 113-31.

old patron Saint George. George, patron saint of England, according to legend, killed a Libyan dragon. In Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene (1.11), the dragon slain by the Knight of the Red Crosse is understood as emblematic of the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy.

his Collect. St George is also patron saint of the Order of the Garter. Milton here scoffs at prelates who presumed to association with this order of knighthood. The collect he refers to can be found in Peter Heylin's Historie of that most famous saint and souldier of Christ Iesus; St. George of Cappadocia (1631) on page 93. Heylin lists all the members of the order in 1631 on pages 345-47.

mighty Nazarite Samson. Samson was a judge of Israel, not a king. Nevertheless, Milton admires his temperance as appropriate for a political leader. See Judges 13-14.

Salomons harlot. See 1 Kings 3:16-27.

ten righteous persons. See Genesis 18:27-32.

not spare Sodom. See Genesis 19:24.