[Milton-L] on Eikonoklastes

Roy Flannagan Roy at gwm.sc.edu
Sun Nov 27 16:43:29 EST 2005

Sorry, but I don't have the Yale edition at hand either, having donated my copy to the Milton Quarterly library at Oklahoma State, but I am fairly sure that "damagogues" would be a misprint, and I am not sure whether it wouldn't be a misprint in the Yale edition itself.  I wrote in the Riverside Milton that "The second edition, that of 1650, is augmented by the author and it is carefully printed and printed expensively, as befits an important piece of propaganda for a new government uncertain of itself because of the very act of regicide.  Unlike Milton's antiprelatical tracts, Eikonklastes has the authority of the government in power, though that government was rather shakily in command in 1650."  Discussing the care given the printing, I added "The compositor paid close attentiion to Milton's spelling and apparently to his comma usage" and "Capitalization is rhetorical tather than random identification of nouns."

I haven't been at this text for some time, and I did not include Chapters II-XV in my edition, where the offending "damagogue" is located, but one can see easily that Milton's preferred "Parlament" is used throughout, as with "thir" for "their," "bin" for "been," "furder" instead of "further."  In other words, Milton probably had something to say about how the pamphlet was composed, spelled, and pointed.

John Leonard may have a point that Milton is treating the word as a "goblin word," a possibly dubious Caroline neologism from Greek "demagogos," but there is no reason to misspell it intentionally, and the etymology of the "dem" part of the word would fix its spelling by the Greek "demos."  According to the OED, Milton was the second to use the word, after Eikon Basilike, and Thomas Hobbes the third, in 1651.

Roy Flannagan  

>>> jleonard at uwo.ca 11/27/05 9:56 AM >>>
This is a very interesting question.  My recollection (from memory alone, as 
I don't have a text to hand) is that Milton uses the word "orthographie" 
when he jibes at the word, though he also scoffs that the king cannot "coin 
English as he can money," or words to that effect (he certainly uses the 
word "coin").  I have always assumed that he was criticizing both the 
orthography and the neologism, saying, in effect, "this word will never 
catch on."  (Incidentally, Tom Corns has some excellent things to say about 
this moment in his book on Milton's prose style).

Please let us know what you find.  If the "a" really is "just a simple typo" 
this has significant implications for critical interpretations of this 


John Leonard

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <anttahva at mappi.helsinki.fi>
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2005 7:31 AM
Subject: [Milton-L] on Eikonoklastes

>I wonder if anyone on the list would be in a position to give me an
> insight on why the Yale edition of Eikonoklastes, in CPW vol. 3 (p. 392-
> 393), has Milton referring to "Damagogues"? I was already thinking that
> perhaps it was a pun ("damaging damagogues" or so), or a jibe to the Greek
> skills of the writer of Eikon Basilike, thus putting the "goblin word" in
> a new context. But alas, all the versions of Eikon Basilike and
> Eikonoklastes that I could find from EEBO are using "Demagogues". Is there
> a version of Eikonoklastes somewhere with the spelling "Damagogue", or is
> it just a simple typo by the editor and I am wasting everyone's time?
> Best regards,
> Antti Tahvanainen
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