[Milton-L] Re: on Eikonoklastes

anttahva at mappi.helsinki.fi anttahva at mappi.helsinki.fi
Mon Nov 28 19:38:55 EST 2005


Well, after 3 versions of Eikonoklastes and 20 of Eikon Basilike, I can 
claim that "Damagogue" is almost certainly a typo by the modern editor. 
So apparently I was just wasting time, but maybe I can make amends by 
pointing out some problems with the critical interpretations of the 
passage in question. 
For example, Thomas Corns in Companion to Milton p. 103 argued that
"'Demagogue' proved a useful addition to the word stock, achieving rapid 
currency, and was picked up and adopted by Hobbes." Yet Hobbes wrote 
against 'the Demagogues' already in 1629 (it's in the preface, 'Of the 
life and history of Thucydides', in his translation of Thucydides, 'Eight 
Bookes of the Peloponnesian Warre': rest assured, I have already contacted 
the OED about this grave matter!) 
Of course, perhaps Milton never read Hobbes' work, or disapproved his use 
of the word as well. It could be that he indeed considered it a "Caroline 
neologism", but the word was also used by Marchamont Nedham, in his 
republican mode (in 'Certain Considerations Tendered in All humility, to 
an Honorable Member of the Councell of State, Aug. I 1649'; that is, some 
time between the two versions of Eikonoklastes, unless I am badly 
mistaken?) 
As a last point, although the versions of Eikon Basilike have demagogue 
with an 'e', there seems to be a lot of different forms otherwise:
'Demagoges' and so on, so at least Milton's critique on ortography seems 
well deserved!

Thanks for comments, and hoping for even more,

Antti Tahvanainen


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