Ad Joannem Rousium. English translation. Back to Latin text. Open Latin text in new window.

Introduction. This poem was occasioned, as the poem clearly states, by John Rouse's request that Milton send him another copy of his 1645 collection, Poems Both English and Latin, Compos'd at Several Times. Milton had apparently sent all of his published works (up until early 1647) to the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and this volume had been lost, perhaps along the way there. Milton enclosed an MS of this poem between the English and the Latin poems in the new volume he sent to Rouse. He then published this poem in the second edition of this collection in 1673.

John Rouse was elected Bodley's Librarian in 1620, at the age of 29. he died on April 3, 1652.

The translation follows that of Walter MacKellar with a few changes based on consulting The Columbia Milton and Merritt Y. Hughes.

public library. The Bodleian Library is not and never was a public library in the way we understand the phrase today. It is the chief research library of Oxford University and its statutes forbid lending items to anyone, let alone the public. Indeed John Rouse made a stir when he refused to lend King Charles I a book from the collection, citing the statutes of the Library (Walter MacKellar 64).

Two-fold book rejoicing in a single dress. Milton's first collection of poems, published by Humphrey Moseley in 1645, was indeed a double book bound as a single volume. A special title page separated the Latin poems from the English (and a few Italian) verses that came before. See the first title page and the second title page.

seasoned poet. Milton actually presented his first publication of Poems (1645) as a collection of juvenalia. The frontispiece to the volume, published when Milton was thirty-seven years old, pretends to present a poet of twenty-one years (Vigess: Pri:). Many of the poems' titles include youthful dates as well, insisting on composition ages of sixteen and seventeen.

Ausonian shades. Milton composed some of the poems in the 1645 collection while in Italy, sometimes called Ausonia. See "To Salsilli", for example.

aloof. Before travelling in Italy between April 1638 and late summer 1639, Milton had spent five years in fairly close retirement at his father's homes, studying poetry, philosphy, history and theology. He did not take part in the political struggles dividing England until after his return from Italy. In 1641 he joined the Puritan antiprelatical campaign with the publication of Of Reformation.

Daunian quill. Italian pen, or Italian style of composition. Daunia is a part of Apulia in southern Italy.

Cerulean father. Azure-colored father. Milton refers to Oxford, even though the Thames actually begins some distance upstream from Oxford where the Isis flows into the Thames.

this accursed strife. The civil war, between Parliament and the King's supporters, broke out in 1642, four years before this poem's composition. Until Charles I surrendered to Lord Fairfax on June 24, 1646, Oxford was the royalist army headquarters.

pest of Phineus. Phineus, son of Agenor, exercised his Apollo-given gift of prophecy too boldly for Zeus who, according to Apollodorus's Library 1.9, punished him with a plague of harpies. Milton refers to royalists and prelates as just such harpies. See also Ovid's Metamorphoses 7.2-4.

Ion. Euripides's Ion 1-81 tells the story of Ion, son of Apollo by his rape of Creusa, daughter of Erechtheus. She is called Actaean for Acte is an ancient name for Attica, or Athens.

strophes. In Greek choral and lyric poetry (and imitations of them), a series of lines forming a system, the metrical structure of which is repeated in a following system called the antistrophe. "Originally the word στρφη, 'turning', was applied to the movement of the chorus from right to left, and αντιστρφη, 'counter-turn', to its returning movement from left to right; hence these terms became the designations of the portions of the choric ode sung during these movements respectively (OED 2).

epode. The part of a lyric ode sung after the strophe and antistrophe.

κατα   σχεσιν. The Greek words should have a grave accent over the second α in κατα, and acute accent over the ε in σχεσιν, a breath mark over the first α in απολελυμενα, and an acute accent over the last ε. Kata schesin means according to the system. That is, some of the verses above follow the strophe/ antistrophe system, but some do not. They are either monostrophic or apolelumena, or written at random with no prescribed meter.

Phalaeceans. Hendecasyllabic verses in which the third foot is a spondee instead of a trochee, or — —| — ∪ ∪| — ∪| — ∪.