What I Learned today: November 23, 1644 Areopagitica

Milton visiting Galileo when a prisoner of the Inquisition. Wellcome Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org 1847 By: Solomon Alexander Hart Published: 1847.

What I learned today is a new series on Clanmother.com. The idea came out of these past months of living during the Covid19 pandemic. Our travel plans were curtailed and our movements were limited to the local area. As I was lamenting the circumstances that had befallen the world, my husband (aka techie) Don challenged me with these words: “When we stand still, the world will come to us.”

One the greatest gifts of travel is knowledge. Today, I travelled back to November 23, 1644 to meet up with Mr. John Milton. It seems that virtual travel has no limitations of location and time. Jet lag does not exist in the virtual world.

First page of Areopagitica, by John Milton, Date : 1644 Source: US Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division https://www.loc.gov/law/public/asl/images/areob.jpg Author John Milton, converted to greyscale, curves adjusted, and uploaded by gobeirne.

John Milton of Paradise Lost (1667) fame, was an English poet, writer, scholar and intellectual who was a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell. Paradise Lost is considered one of the greatest works of literature ever written. It is still on my ever growing “to be read” stack of books.

What I did not know was that John Milton wrote Areopagitica, a impassioned philosophical defence of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression. Given that 1644 was a time of great change and upheaval within the religious and political arena, the timing was right. He presented his insights in a speech to the Parliament of England on this very day in 1644.

Areopagitica continues to influence us today. Many of the expressed principles of freedom of speech and expression form the basis for the modern world of 2020.

48 Replies to “What I Learned today: November 23, 1644 Areopagitica”

    1. I was so looking forward to coming to your side of the world this past summer, Elisabeth.(Sigh) Don and Thomas have promised that we will travel again. But for now, this is the time to travel virtually and learn about the rich history and stories that can be gained from my kitchen table. I have never spent so much time in my kitchen before. Who knew it would be so exciting?!!!!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Fate had something else in store for the world. I’m sure we will travel again some day and that we will meet one day!
        We are lucky at least to live in a time where we can travel around the globe from our kitchen table. And connect with friends around the world!
        Hugs to you both 🤗

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hello!
    My Paradise Lost is gathering dust somewhere too. I hope someday it will change from to be read to currently reading.
    Hope you and yours have kept well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by Makagutu. My Paradise Lost is under a huge stack of books, but one day I will dust it off. I think I will look for an audio version to accompany the reading. Another one on my stack is Dante Alighieri’s “the Divine Comedy”. So many books, so little time, which is a comforting thought. We will never run out of books to read.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Through your precious thoughts and posts, dear Rebecca, the great world of the past is coming to me at home! I can, however, tell you that this afternoon my friends are coming and we are going to read, (wearing masks) not paradise lost, but from the Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, which is about the impressive life of MICHELANGELO! I have never heard about Areopagitica by John Milton, but I will try to find out more. Many thanks and enjoy yourelf at home:)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that book – “The agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone. I wish I could join you and your friends. One of the Irving Stone’s most profound thought from this book – one that I keep close by when I do any research into artists: “Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.” Irving Stone, The Agony and the Ecstasy. I always thought of John Milton as a writer. I had no idea of his work as a civil servant. Talk about a busy schedule – WOW! Have a wonderful time reading with you friends. I will be with you “in spirit.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I do not know much of John Milton and thank you for all our information, dear Rebecca:) I copied the following sentence of the Areopagitica, where he speaks about books “I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth”, which I thought very correct!
        Yesterday we came across the following sentece, said by Michelangelo’s stepmother: ” I have a salad for you that sings in the mouth”
        I completely agree with Irving Stone’s description of talent and dedication, which seems to be true also in our simple lives. I feel your presence in my spirit, which is very positive to me:)

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Absolutely fascinating, Rebecca! Reading what you write is always a great learning experience.

    So glad you started this new series. I’ve lost count of the number you offer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What is amazing to me, Dave, is that the struggle for freedom has always been embedded in humanity. Sometimes, we think this only occurred within the last two centuries. But then, we always think that our generation is the most progressive. I’m thinking that cats may be more advanced creatures. I’m certain that our resident philosopher, Misty, could add to this thought.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. So true, Rebecca — the struggle for freedom has always been there.

        As for Misty, he’s very much advanced when it comes to the amount of time he spends napping. 🙂 He’s napping now, and thus I can’t ask him if he wants to add anything to this discussion. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Time travel into the world of philosophy, history and humanity is a good way to deal with the physical restrictions of the current pandemic. It also gives us the opportunity to meditate and reflect on the importance of free speech. John Milton’s book would be a good starting point, as your interesting post suggested.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for traveling back in time with me Peter. I had never heard of John Milton’s impassioned speech – Areopagitica. I had to look up how to pronounce the title. I agree wholeheartedly – these past months have been an extraordinary time of reflection for all of us. I find that looking back into history allows us to see that humanity has always faced challenges. And in the face of these challenges, there has been great progress. So glad that we are connected.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I always enjoyed reading John Milton’s work. Although required in College, I still enjoyed it. I’m not surprised he was an advocate of free speech. Well done, Rebecca. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So glad that you you stopped by for a visit and for your comments. It is so easy to think that our generation is the innovator of a new idea, but when we look back, we can see that we do indeed stand on the shoulders of giants. We have big shoes to fill. And I’m trying to grow big feet!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for sharing this it is all new to me. Paradise Lost triggered my memory though and I recalled that the first Opera I performed was Dove’s The Walk from The Garden where Adam and Eve meets Paradise Lost. The plot explored the time Adam and Eve left paradise and make a journey, realising slowly what they were losing, longing for the careless days in the Garden into a future unknown. It ends with the words from Milton’s Paradise Lost so thats a lovely coincidence. Good luck with your what I learned today series ‘I’ll be back’ 😀.
    Best wishes to you
    Charlotte

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Don’s words are very wise. Whilst we’re almost stuck in a time warp with this pesky virus, the world can definitely come to us. St Augustine urged us to travel widely because “the world is a book”, but on the other hand, the author Katrina Mayer extols literature’s ability to enable us to travel without leaving the comfort of our armchair. 😃

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Time warp! That is exactly what I feel that we are in, which challenges us to find a way out. I have never heard of Katrina Mayer before so when looking for her books and found “The Mustard Seed Way” and “Wholarian Vision: How to Remember Your Connection Everything” on Kindle. I have them ready for 2021. I especially like her thought: “Each of us is made of the same “stuff,” yet we continuously see each other and the world around us as dissimilar and separate. It’s important to see ourselves as part of a greater entity.” Thank you for the introduction!!!! Sending hugs and more hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Sorry, Rebecca, for my tardy response, but I am too overloaded… however better late than never, and I can’t overlook the epoch of those times, the art, the language and the stories the music of the pictures, that you almost hear. Fantastic compensation be your exposure of this rich English history, in the Cromwell times, for our life’s shutdown, or in Don’s words, a time warp. Thank you my friend for this timeless and welcome material of which to reflect, as soon as I catch My breath!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness – I know how busy you are these day! YIKES! Thank you for stopping by – you made my day. Isn’t it interesting that the idea of freedom of speech continues to be ever evolving, building upon ideas that were debated long before we came on the scene to carry on the conversation. Take care!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This sounds like a great series already – there’s always something to learn. It’s strange times we live in and travel is probably not realistic for a while to come. I do like Don’s words and it sounds like he wants to make the most of what you got. Interesting piece of work by John Milton, and the theme of right to freedom of speech and expression is certainly prevalent in the world right now. Times are changing and the least we can do is not force each other’s beliefs on one another – and rather respect each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Freedom of speech is so very important.
    How can we learn anything from each other, if we are all afraid of being punished or ostracized for saying what we think?
    Without the promise of freedom of speech, it would soon be a very quiet world….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Mary. Freedom of speech has always been a subject of debate through the centuries. I love Voltaire’s thought: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I have found that in a world that is filled with uncertainty and confusion, it is the still small voice that we hear far above the crowd. I am delighted the you stopped by – your visits are very much appreciated and welcomed.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVED the video and song, Teagan. I especially appreciated the generosity of the singers in encouraging the audience to join in. Everyone knew the lyrics!!! Now, I have Galileo in my head too. Thank you for your visit and your comments – so very much appreciated. Sending hugs back on the wing to you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So many great groups from that part of Georgia during the late 80s and 90s… The Indigo Girls and the B52s were favorites with me, but REM, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section too — all with big, loyal followings.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Sounds like a fun series, Rebecca, and a Milton and free speech is a great post to kick it off. I love the idea of the world coming to you. All you have to do is invite it in. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How very well said, Diana! You are always always welcome – looking forward to our many conversations that are awaiting for our arrival. I continue to learn and learn and learn. And then, I relearn….

      Liked by 2 people

  12. A superlative idea by Don and thank you for bringing us along on your travels! I read part of Paradise Lost at school and lost myself in the language… absolutely breathtaking! I found myself reading aloud, an hour at a time, my soul soaring on his words, not understanding all but I didn’t need to, the intent carrying across so well. Rebecca, if nothing else just dip into his work and let it take over. I loved learning a bit more about him here and wow, fascinating to learn about his influence right into the modern era regarding freedom of speech! Brilliant! Keep the travels coming, my dear friend! Xx ❤️ Btw I saw the podcast with Hanne is out and look forward to listening to it in the next couple of days. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Go outside on a clear night, stand still, look up and the Universe comes to you.
    It’s surprising what you can see from your garden. Lovely post. Enjoyed it thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you stopped by for a visit, Mick. I appreciate your comments. I agree – the Universe comes to us and that gives me great comfort.

      Like

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