EC Rare Books
AREOPAGITICA by John Milton

AREOPAGITICA by John Milton


8vo. limp vellum. 73, (3) pages. Limited to 300 copies (Tidcombe DP12). Quotation from Euripides in Greek with English translation on title. According to on-line notes prepared by Dartmouth College, the quote is from The Supplicants, 437-40. Milton was responding to the Licensing Order of 1643, which had reinstated pre-publication censorship once exercised by the English Star Chamber court. Milton opposed such pre-publication censorship. This is true Liberty when free born men Having to advise the public may speak free, Which he who can, and will, deserv's high praise, Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace; What can be juster in a State then this? Eurip. Hicetid. Areopagitica was published originally 23 November 1644 at the height of the English Civil War. It is titled after Areopagitikos (Greek: a speech written by Athenian orator Isocrates in the 5th century BC. (The Areopagus is a hill in Athens, the site of real and legendary tribunals, and was the name of a council whose power Isocrates hoped to restore.) Like Isocrates, Milton had no intention of delivering his speech orally. Instead, it was distributed via pamphlet, defying the same publication censorship which he argued against. As a Protestant, Milton had supported the Presbyterians in Parliament but, in this work, he argued forcefully against Parliament's 1643 Ordinance for the Regulating of Printing, also known as the Licensing Order of 1643, in which Parliament required authors to have a license approved by the government before their work could be published. Before presenting his argument, Milton defends the very idea of writing a treatise such as Areopagitica. He compliments England for having overcome the tyranny of Charles I and the prelates, but his purpose is to voice his grievances. Milton defends this purpose, holding that to bring forth complaints before the Parliament is a matter of civil liberty and loyalty, because constructive criticism is better than false flattery. He concludes his introduction by encouraging Parliament to obey "the voice of reason" and to be "willing to repeal any Act" for the sake of truth and upright judgment
1935 USD
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