"Wisdom, Which Alone Is Truly Fair": Education and Government in Milton's Prose Tracts and Paradise Lost




Smith, Erika

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While the character of Milton’s republicanism has been the subject of long debate, this study focuses on Milton’s privileging of wisdom as the characteristic which makes rulers fittest to govern and subjects most deserving of liberty. In The Readie and Easie Way, Milton draws on distinctions between tutelage, which is designed for overseeing young children, and teaching, which is designed to prepare youths for adulthood, to describe the importance of education in the nation under monarchies and republican commonwealths respectively. Through the lens of this same focus on maturation and wisdom, Of Education and Areopagitica demonstrate Milton’s sustained interest in cultivating wisdom in the people by teaching decorum through poetry and temperance through the government’s restraint from instituting pre-publication censorship. Finally, Milton’s Paradise Lost explores the importance of wisdom in Adam and Eve’s relationship and by extension educates the reader in cultivating temperance through reading and through activity at home and in politics.



John Milton., Paradise Lost., Seventeenth-century poetry., Government., Education.