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

par 47: 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.

par 47: competency. An appointment with an income suitable for a living. See the listing for "competency" in the OED2.

par 48: ferular. A ferular, or ferula, is a teacher's whipping rod made from the fennel plant. See definition 2 for "ferula" in the OED2.

par 48: fescu. A teacher's pointer.

par 48: 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.

par 48: punie. A freshman or junior student.

par 50: 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.

par 50: 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.

par 50: Stationer. Printer or bookseller.

par 50: par 50: return. Reply.

par 50: 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.

par 51: ventrous. Adventurous or daring.

par 51: Knox. John Knox was the founder of Presbyterianism who reformed the kingdom of Scotland.

par 51: their dash. The crossing out of words by a licensing agent, that is censorship.

par 51: 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.

par 52: iron moulds. Spots of rust on paper caused by such things as ink stains, which could eat a hole through the paper itself.

par 52: periods. Sentences.

par 53: 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.

par 53: tickets and statutes. Both of these, by preventing the imports of certain goods, could be used effectively to guarantee a monopoly.

par 53: 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.

par 53: staple commodity. An item which is under the jurisdiction of a corporate entity with the power to regulate trade in the item.

par 53: 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.

par 54: pipe. That is, a pipe for feeding one who cannot feed him- or herself.

par 55: laick rabble. Sarcastically refers to the Laudian sentiment that the lay members of the church should not have an active role in it.

par 55: conceit. Idea or opinion.

par 55: 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.

par 55: the castle of St. Angelo. A papal prison on the Tiber River in Rome.

par 56: fustian. Bombastic, pompous, overblown speech. See definition 2 in the OED2.

par 56: 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.

par 56: Franciscan and Dominican licencers. The officers and inquisitors of the Inquisition frequently were Franciscan and Dominican friars.

par 57: in time of Parlament. A contrast with the years 1629-40, when Charles I and his appointed councillors ruled without a Parliament.

par 57: 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.

par 57: 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.

par 58: 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.

par 58: five or six and twenty Sees. A see is a diocese or region of episcopal authority.

par 58: mysticall. That is, of an obscure origin or authority. See definition 2 in the OED2.

par 58: 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.

par 59: 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.

par 59: 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.

par 59: chop. To exchange one for the other.

par 59: Palace Metropolitan. Referring to Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

par 59: 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.

par 60: the cruse of truth must run no more oyle. Echoes Kings 17:9-16.

par 60: Vicount St. Albans. Sir Francis Bacon. Milton quotes the first half of the sentence he quoted above.

par 61: a streaming fountain. See Proverbs 18:4 and Psalm 85:11, or possibly an allusion to the Song of Solomon 4:15.

par 62: Assembly. Westminister Assembly of Divines, which was at the time advising Parliament in their on the new structure of an established English Church.

par 62: arrant. Unmitigated, thorough-paced. See definition 3 in the OED2.

par 62: 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).

par 62: 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.

par 62: all mysteries. Occupations, crafts, and trades.

par 62: factor. Agent; see definition 1 in the OED2.

par 62: dividuall movable. A commodity capable of being divided and moved or transferred.

par 62: malmsey. A fine, sweet Spanish wine. Also, the wine in which Clarence is drowned in Shakespeare's Richard III 1.4. 161.

par 62: green figs. See Matthew 21:18-21 and Mark 11:12-14, where Jesus demonstrates the power of faith to his disciples.

par 63: Publicans. Custom officials who collect duties, such as tunnage and poundage taxes.

par 63: 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.

par 64: parochiall. Referring to a minister and his parish.

par 64: 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.

par 64: topic folio. A folio-sized commonplace book in which a preacher would gather notes and quotations around which to build his sermons.

par 64: 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.

par 64: 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.

par 64: sol fa. A musical scale.

par 64: 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.

par 64: 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 relious 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.

par 64: magazin. A warehouse for merchandise or a building for military supplies. See the entry for "magazine," definitions 1 and 2 in the OED2.

par 64: impal'd. Enclosed within a palisade of stakes, or pales.

par 65: 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."

par 67: dis-inur'd. Dis-acquainted or unaccustomed with a practice or action of some sort.

par 67: Alcoran. Al-quran, the Koran.

par 67: pitch our tent here. A reference to the Moses' 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.

par 67: mortall glasse. See 1 Corinthians 13:12.

par 68: her divine Master. That is, truth and grace came with Jesus Christ; see John 1:17.

par 68: Ægyptian Typhon. Plutarch relates this allegorical myth in the story "Of Isis and Osiris" from Moralia.

par 69: Combust. Burned, scorched. See definition 1 in the OED2.

par 69: Zuinglius. Ulrich Zwingli started the Swiss Protestant Reformation in Zurich.

par 69: Calvin. John Calvin followed Zwingli as the leading proponent of the Protestant Reformation, in Geneva.

par 69: Syntagma. A collection of statements, propositions, doctrines, treatises. See definition 1 in the OED2.

par 69: 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.

par 70: 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

par 70: Persian wisdom. Magic arts and practices were commonly thought to have originated among the Persians.

par 70: Julius Agricola. Julius Agricola was the proconsul of Britain from 78-85. He governed under three Caesars: Vespasian, TItus, and Domitian.

par 70: Transylvanian. Transylvania, now part of Romania, was ardently Protestant during its brief existence as a sovereign territory.

par 70: the Hercynian wildernes. The wooded and mountainous regian of central and south Germany.

par 71: propending. Inclining. See entry for "propend" in the OED2.

par 71: 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.

par 72: 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.

par 72: plates. Plates of armor.

par 72: the fields are white already. Quoted from Joshua 4:35.

par 73: a little forbearance of one another. Echoes Ephesians 4:1-3.

par 73: 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.

par 74: house of God. An oblique reference to 1 Kings: 5-6, specifically 1 Kings 6:7.

par 75: but all the Lords people are become Prophets. See Numbers 11:27-29.

par 75: the firm root. See Romans 11:16.

par 75: 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.

par 76: 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.

par 76: besieg'd by Hanibal. See Livy's History of Rome 26 for the story of Hannibal's seige of Rome.

par 77: invincible locks. A reference to Samson's initial triumphs over Delilah, who seeks the secret of his strength; see Judges 16:6-20.

par 77: 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."

par 77: purging and unscaling her long abused sight. Alludes to the conversion of persecuting Saul, who became the Apostle Paul; see Acts 9:3-22.

par 78: ingrossers. Monopolizers: see definition 1 for "engrosser" in the OED2.

par 79: abrogated and mercilesse law. Milton refers to the Roman law (abolished in 318) which gave fathers supreme power over the lives of their children.

par 79: 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.

par 80: the Lord Brook. Robert Greville, the second Lord Brooke, who was killed defending the parliamentary cause in the House of Lords. He wrote A Discoruse Opening the Nature of that Episcopacie, which is Exercised in England (1641).

par 81: 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.

par 81: windes of doctrin. A paraphrase of Ephesians 4:14-15.

par 81: the discipline of Geneva. Presbyterianism.

par 81: to seek for wisdom as for hidd'n treasures. See Proverbs 2:4-6.

par 81: a battell raung'd. Like an army arranged for battle.

par 81: souldiership. The Thomason copy (1644) has shouldiership here; I have omitted the "h" as a misprint.

par 82: Proteus. Shape-changing sea god.

par 82: spake oracles. See Homer's Odyssey 4.385 and Virgil's Georgics 4.387-452.

par 82: as Micaiah did before Ahab. See 1 Kings 22:1-37.

par 82: adjur'd into her own likenes. Bound to an oath under penalty, as in 2 Chronicles 18:15, when Ahab is speaking to Micaiah.

par 82: those ordinances. See Colossians 2:8-17 for the full context of this passage.

par 82: this Christian liberty. Paul boasts of Christian liberty in Galatians 5:1 and Romans 8:21.

par 82: may doe either. See Romans 14:3-20.

par 83: a linnen decency. The formalistic vestments of the clergy, attacked by Milton also in his Of Reformation.

par 83: wood and hay and stubble. This echoes 1 Corinthians 3:10-13.

par 83: subdichotomies. A word Milton coined, comparable to "sub-divisions."

par 84: sever the wheat from the tares. This passage and the next few lines allude to the parables in Matthew 13:13-43.

par 84: the bond of peace. This and the preceding lines quote from Ephesians 4:3.

par 86: shakes a Kingdome. See Haggai 2:6-7.

par 87: chooses not as man chooses. Milton alludes to 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.

par 87: 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.

par 87: Harry the 7. Henry VII was buried in the Chapel at Westminster with some of his feudal allies.

par 88: Pharisees. Echoes a passage in Matthew 23:13.

par 89: first broke that triple ice. An image taken from Horace's Carmina 1.3.9.

par 89: 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.

par 89: 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.

par 89: lett. Obstruction. See definition for "lett" in the OED2.

par 89: Dominican. In other words, the Spanish Inquisition, dominated largely by members of the Domincan order of friars.

par 90: 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.

par 90: she is now fall'n from the Starres. The Court of the Star Chamber was abolished on July 5, 1641.

par 90: copy. Copyright.

par 90: divers glosing colours. Coloring or misrepresenting the truth in several ways.

par 90: 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.

par 91: Sophisms and Elenchs. Using false, sophistical arguments and false refutations for purposes of deceit.

par 91: advertisement. A warning or notification of facts. See definition 4 in the OED2.

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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