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date: 05 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article demonstrates aspects of the executive political culture to which John Milton belonged, and in which he was still immersed when he began sustained work on Paradise Lost towards the end of the 1650s, and suggests some ways in which it informed the poem. In doing so, it may be that a less familiar – and less congenial – image of Milton comes into view. Unlike Lipsius and Bacon, Milton was utterly averse to the idea of using violence to enforce religious belief. He was thus surprisingly at ease with a humanist ethos that tolerated violence, slavery, fraud, and falsehood. The language and the events of Defensio Secunda resonate with the politics of the 1650s.

Keywords: John Milton, Paradise Lost, executive political culture, Lipsius, Bacon, violence, slavery, fraud, falsehood

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