Milton Among the Romans: The Pedagogy and Influence of Milton's Latin Curriculum

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Duquesne University Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 210 pages
In the 1640s, John Milton led a group of students through an extensive curriculum of ancient Latin authors. Together, they read works by ten Roman authors, including the four major agricultural writers (Cato, Varro, Columella, and Palladius), the naturalist Pliny, the architect Vitruvius, and the epic poets Lucretius and Manilius. While scholars have long known about Milton's academy, no one, until now, has undertaken to thoroughly examine the implications of its curriculum for our understanding of Milton's poetry. Here, Richard J. DuRocher provides the first such scholarly study of Milton's Latin tutorial. DuRocher's analysis works on at least two levels. First, this study establishes the pedagogical innovation of the curriculum itself. DuRocher argues that Milton's choice of the Roman texts indicated his emphasis on teaching practical skills, such as how to raise crops or build dwellings. However, at the same time, Milton followed the Romans in subordinating technical training to an encompassing moral vision, most notably of respect for the living Earth. Moreover, Milton's curriculum supported his twin educational aims as set forth in Of Education: to prepare students for lives of public service, and to lead them to knowledge of the divine by "orderly conning over" discreet elements of Creation. Second, Milton Among the Romans uncovers fresh sources and contexts for passages--many of them crucial ones--in Milton's own writings. For example, Roman agricultural manuals illuminate Milton's baffling depiction of the undying heavenly flora, "immortal Amaranth," in Paradise Lost. Reading Vitruvius may account for the surprisingly positive architectural features of the demonic temple, Pandemonium. Astrological metaphors drawn from Manilius's neglected epic, the Astronomica, provide heavenly precedents for both divorce in Milton's divorce tracts and for the mysterious spiritual marriage of Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost. Drawing upon this previously unexamined evidence from Milton's classical curriculum, Milton Among the Romans takes a genuinely new approach to Milton as a teacher, scholar, and poet.

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Reading the Romans
ONE Conning the Creature
Two Careful Plowing

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