Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
While we obviously think Samson Agonistes is a pretty big deal around here, not everyone thought so when it was first published. Why? From the Title Page, believe it or not. Samson was published along with another poem by Milton, Paradise Regain'd, and readers of Samson have felt that the title of that edition showed Samson's unimportance: "Paradise Regain'd. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is added Samson Agonistes." (source)
Milton is one of the earliest, and maybe one of the most famous, advocates of divorce. He felt so strongly about the justifications for divorce that he wrote a whole treatise called The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. You probably won't be shocked to hear that Milton did not have the happiest marriage. Sound like anyone else we know?
Think Milton is a little bit dry? Think again. He was so radical that he almost got executed. After King Charles I was executed and Oliver Cromwell took over power, Milton was a staunch supporter of the new government. This didn't turn out so well when the monarchy was reinstated under Charles II. Luckily, Milton's pal (and famous poet) Andrew Marvell helped make sure he wasn't executed. (source) and (source)
Samson wasn't the only dramatic work Milton wrote. He also wrote, probably much earlier, a masque (kind of like a small play) called Comus. Check it out. Do you see any similarities? (source)