Paradise Lost context

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  • Context for Paradise Lost
    • Genesis
      • Milton's Paradise Lost follows the story of the first four chapters of Genesis
        • It adds a lot more detail to the story. Even though he went to church already, it was more fun for Milton to use the Bible stories and mould them into something else. Milton faced the difficult task of adding tension to world where God would already know what was happening.
          • The God in Milton's story is cold an aloof, compared to the wise and caring God in the Bible; this makes Satan seem even more of a hero.
            • While the book of Genesis portrays Satan as an evil antagonist, Milton portrays him as more of an anti-hero; at a great cost, he gave humans knowledge, in the same way Prometheus gave humans fire, at a slightly less great cost
    • Epic poetry
      • An epic poem is a long, narrative poem that is usually about heroic deeds and events that are significant to the culture of the poet.
      • The Iliad By Homer recounts some of the significant events of the final week of the Trojan war. Achilles is the main character and the greatest warrior in the world. He leads the Myrmidons against the Trojans.
    • Republican political philosophy
      • It is a political ideology centered on citizenship in a state organized as a republic
      • Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan, and proposed opposing beliefs to Milton. He believed the only way to rule a country was through absolute monarchy
        • Absolute monarchy is the belief that the monarch holds supreme autocratic authority and is not restricted to written laws or customs
    • Milton himself
      • He wrote poetry in English, Greek, Latin and Italian, prose in Dutch, German, French and Spanish, and read Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac.
        • By 1654, Milton was completely blind. For the final 20 years of his life, he would dictate his poetry, letters and polemical tracts to a series of amanuenses – his daughters, friends and fellow poets.
        • When Milton began Paradise Lost in 1658, he was in mourning. It was a year of public and private grief, marked by the deaths of his second wife, and of England’s Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, which began the gradual disintegration of the republic. Paradise Lost is an attempt to make sense of a fallen world
    • Anti-monarchy
      • In 1649, Charles I was executed following the vicious English Civil War. Cromwell was made essentially a military dictator of the new republic
        • Milton was appointed Secretary for the Foreign Tongues, handling diplomatic correspondence in Cromwell's government
          • Following the failure of the republic, Milton was arrested in 1659 and briefly imprisoned. After his release, he was forced to move out of London and into semi-exile in the country.
      • Milton was known for writing controversial political pamphlets, his first encouraging a country run by the church to replace the corrupt crown. He said that divorce was a better option to a loveless marriage, disagreeing with the climate at the time


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