John Milton's Poetic Style - Christian Epic

Christian Epic

Milton was not the first to write an epic poem on a Christian theme. There are some well-known precursors:

  • La Battaglia celeste tra Michele e Lucifero (1568), by Antonio Alfani;
  • La Sepmaine (1578), by Guillaume Du Bartas;
  • La Gerusalemme liberata (1581), by Torquato Tasso;
  • Angeleida (1590), by Erasmo di Valvasone;
  • Le sette giornate del mondo creato (1607), by Tasso;
  • De la creaciĆ³n del mundo (1615), by Alonso de Acevedo.

He was, on the other hand and according to Tobias Gregory:

the most theologically learned among early modern epic poets. He was, moreover, a theologian of great independence of mind, and one who developed his talents within a society where the problem of divine justice was debated with particular intensity.

He is able to establish divine action and his divine characters in a superior way to other Renaissance epic poets, including Ludovico Ariosto or Tasso.

In Paradise Lost Milton also ignores the traditional epic format, which started with Homer, of a plot based on a mortal conflict between opposing armies with deities watching over and occasionally interfering with the action. Instead, both divinity and mortal are involved in a conflict that, while momentarily ending in tragedy, offers a future salvation. In both Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, Milton incorporates aspects of Lucan's epic model, the epic from the view of the defeated. Although he does not accept the model completely within Paradise Regained, he incorporates the "anti-Virgilian, anti-imperial epic tradition of Lucan". Milton goes further than Lucan in this belief and "Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained carry further, too, the movement toward and valorization of romance that Lucan's tradition had begun, to the point where Milton's poems effectively create their own new genre".

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Famous quotes containing the words epic and/or christian:

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