Areopagitica Vocabulary & Footnotes, Part I - - - - - - - - - - - home

Areopagitica: title of Milton's Areopagitica alludes to both the Areopagiticus of Isocrates and the story of St. Paul in Athens from Acts 17: 18-34

par 1: states: Heads of state, either rulers or assemblies

par 1: wanting: Lacking, not having

par 1: successe: Outcome, result

par 1: at other times: most likely referring to the revised edition of Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644) and The Judgement of Martin Bucer (1644)

par 1: blameless, if it: 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.

par 1: gratulation which it: it. The antecedent of this "it" appears to be "the very attempt" of making an address to a governing body like Parliament.

par 2: beyond the manhood of a Roman recovery: some discipline of virtue more manly even than that typical of Roman heroes must be put into practice

par 2: first: the first time Milton praises Parliament in this discourse

par 3: rescuing the employment from him: taking the business of praising Parliament out of the hands of a flatterer and into Milton's hands. The flatterer he refers to is Jospeph Hall, Bishop of Norwich (1574-1656)

par 3: ecomium: 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

par 4: one of your publisht Orders: the Parliamentary Order restoring the powers of press licensing to the State

par 4: equall: Fair, equitable, just, impartial

par 4: trienniall Parlament: (February 16, 1641) stipulated the automatic issue of writs a new Parliament if the king failed to summon one within 3 years

par 4: cabin Counsellours: "personal rule" when Charles I ruled without Parliaments between 1629 and 1640

par 5: 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

par 5: Siniories: 'seigniors' or lords. Often with reference to Italy

par 5: Dion Prusæus: (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

par 5: northern latitude: "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

par 7: Order: Licencing Order provided for other measures besides censorship

par 7: Copy to himself: copyright

par 7: painfull: painstaking

par 7: quadragesimal: relating to a period of forty days. In this case Milton refers sneeringly to the Roman Catholic rules for observing Lent

par 7: Prelats expir'd: dietary, matrimonial, and other social restrictions imposed by bishops before the abolition of bishops (episcopacy) in England in 1646. The control of marriage, fasting, and certain aspects of printing

par 7: homily: sermon

par 8: violl: vial

par 8: armed men: cadmus sowing dragon's teeth in Metamorphoses 3. 101-30

par 8: 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"

par 9: whole impression. An entire edition or press run.

par 9: fifth essence. Also known as quintessence. This is how Hamlet uses the word in Shakespeare's Hamlet 2.2.324.

par 9: Inquisition. See the article on the Inquisition in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

par 10: 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."

par 10: Vetus Comoedia. 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.

par 11: 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. Milton harbors this interpretation, and thus his references to Epicurus are usually derogatory.

par 11: 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.

par 11: 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.

par 11: Chrysostome. John Chrysostom (died 407), a father of the Eastern Orthodox Church and a patriarch of Constantinople. He was believed to have read Aristophanes' plays even though they were thought to be pagan and scurrilous.

par 12: Lycurgus. Lycurgus was generally believed to have been the founder of and law-giver to Sparta in the ninth century BCE.

par 12: Thales. Thales probably was a poet and musician of ancient Sparta.

par 12: Laconick Apothegms. The apothegms, or short maxims, favored by those of Laconia (Sparta). Laconic has become a synonym for terse.

par 12: Archilochus. Archilochus of Paros (seventh century BCE) was a lyric and satiric poet, notable for having invented the iambic trimeter and trochaic tetrameter.

par 12: Andromache. See Euripides' Andromache 590-93.

par 13: twelve Tables. A code of Roman law made in 451-450 BCE.

par 13: 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.

par 13: 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.

par 13: Sabin. Cato was raised in the Sabine territory. Milton refers to cato's denunciation of Lucius Scipio, father of Scipio Africanus.

par 13: 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.

par 13: Plautus. Plautus (about 254 - 184 BCE) wrote many plays that were largely adaptations from Athenian comedies and had a major effect on English dramatists.

par 13: Menander and Philemon. Menander (342-292 BCE) was one of the leading Athenain "New Comedy" playwrights, and Philemon (368-264 BCE) was another.

par 13: Augustus. See Tacitus Annals 1. 72.

par 14: Lucretius. Milton refers to Lucretius' 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.

par 14: 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.

par 14: Titus Livius. Milton refers to a section of Livy's History which does not survive. Milton refers Tacitus' Annals 4. 35, an account of the defence of Cremutius Cordus against the charge of libelling Tiberius by praising his enemies.

par 14: 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).

par 15: 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' writings did not come under attack until fourty-four years after his death, when Justinian suppressed the Athenian philosophical schools.

par 15: Carthaginian Councel. There appears to have been no council in North Africa in 400; see the Catholic Encyclopedia. Milton quotes from Pietro Sarpi's Historie of the Councel of Trent (translated by Nathaniel Brent 1620).

par 15: Gentiles. Heathens.

par 15: 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."

par 16: 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.

par 16: 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."

par 16: Husse. John Huss was Czech proto-reformer excommunicated in 1411 and burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415.

par 16: 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.

par 16: 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.

par 16: Spanish Inquisition. See the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Inquisition and on the catholic Church's Censorship of Books.

par 16: 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.

par 17: Claudius. 1644 has this 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).

par 19: shav'n reverences. Milton refers sneeringly to the tonsure worn by monks, friars and some other ecclesastical officials in the Roman Catholic Church.

par 19: spunge/sponge. Eraser.

par 19: Antiphonies. Responsories and antiphonies are parts of church service in which speakers or singers respond to one another in alternating speech or song.

par 19: 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.

par 20: 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.

par 20: Radamanth and his Colleagues. Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus were in classical legend, the judges of Hades.

par 20: 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.

par 20: minorites. Followers of St. Francis called themselves Friars Minor or minorites, for short.

par 21: 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.

par 22: 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.

par 22: 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.

par 22: 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.

par 22: Apollinarii. Apollinaris of Alexandria and his son wrote a grammar for Christians and translated books of the Bible into poetic and dramatic form.

par 22: 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.

par 22: Socrates. Socrates Scholasticus (about 385 - about 440), a church historian.

par 22: Decius or Diocletian. The emperors Decius (249-51) and Diocletian (284-305) pursued severely anti-Christian policies.

par 23: 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.

par 23: 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.

par 23: 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 Illiad and Odyssey were to tragedy (Poetics 1449a). Nothing but a few lines quoted by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics (1141a) appear to survive.

par 23: Morgante. Il Morgante Maggiore by Luigi Pulci was a mock-heroic predecessor to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso; it was published in Venice in 1481.

par 24: Eusebius. Eusebius Pamphilius was Bishop of Caesarea until about 340. Known as the father of Church history, he wrote an account of Dionysius Alexandrinus' experience of a vision from God regarding books. Eusebius' account in is his Church History 7.7. par 24: answerable. In accordance with, or similar to Paul's teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

par 24: pure. Milton quotes Titus 1:15.

par 25: unapocryphal vision. Milton refers to Peter's vision in Acts 10: 9-16.

par 25: 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.

par 25: repasting of our minds. Milton's Raphael also compares alimentary and mental diets in Paradise Lost 7. 126-130.

par 26: Manna. See Exodus 16.

par 26: defile not. Milton quotes from Matthew 15: 17-20 and/ or Mark 7: 14-23.

par 26: 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.

par 26: Salomon. Solomon; see Ecclesiastes 7:12.

par 26: Syriack. See Acts 19:19.

par 26: practiz'd. Practised the magic described in them.

par 27: Psyche. The story of Cupid and Psyche is found in Apuleius' The Golden Ass book 5. 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.

par 27: knowledge. See Genesis 3:5 and 22.

par 27: wayfaring. The Thomason copy of 1644 (British Library; Wing M2092) used as coytext for this edition has the "y" in wayfaring lined through and supplies an "r" above the line to spell warfaring instead

par 28: 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.

par 28: excrementall. Of the nature of an outgrowth or excrescence; see OED2

par 28: Spencer. See The Faerie Queen 2. 7-8 and 12.

par 28: Scotus. John Duns Scotus was a medieval philosopher and theologian. See also the article on Thomas Aquinas.

par 29: 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.

par 29: 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.

par 29: 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.

par 30: Petronius. According to Tacitus, Nero called his friend Petronius elegantiae arbiter, chief judge of taste and etiquette; See Annals 16.18.

par 30: Arezzo. Pietro Aretino (1492­1556) 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 I Sonetti Lussoriosi, Erotic Sonnets.
par 30: Vicar of hell. Anne Boleyn's cousin, Sir Francis Brian, the notoriously wicked courtier of Henry VIII.

par 30: Cataio. Cathay or China.

par 31: guide. See Acts 7: 27-31.

par 31: Sorbonists. Scholars of the Sorbonne, a center of Roman Catholic theology in Paris.

par 31: Arminius. Jacob Hermans (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.

par 33: Aristotle. See Nicomachean Ethics 1095a.

par 33: Salomon. See Proverbs 23: 9.

par 33: Saviour. See Matthew 7: 6.

par 34: want. Lack, or do without.

par 34: prevented. Come ahead of, anticipate.

par 36: 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.

par 36: there also enacts. See Plato's Laws 801d.

par 36: 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.

par 36: friends. Aristophanes lampooned Socrates in The Clouds.

par 37: 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.

par 37: Frontispieces. Pictures put before the title of a book.

par 37: rebbeck. A three-stringed lute.

par 37: Monte Mayors. That is, these are the lower class equivalents to the more posh romances, such as Sidney's Arcadia and Montemayor's Diana.

par 39: 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.

par 39: there mentions. That is, in the Laws 643-44.

par 40: gramercy. Merit or worth.

par 40: in the motions. That is, in a puppet show.

par 43: that continu'd Court-libell. Milton refers to the anti-Parliament newspaper, the Mercurius Aulicus or "Court Mercury," published from 1642-1645.

par 43: Sevil. Seville was the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.

paragraphs 44 - 91 to be continued...

These supplemental definitions were pulled off the Dartmouth Online Milton and modified by your peer. Please be advised to double-check. This list is meant to be a suggestion only. Your interpretation counts.

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