Literary Dimensions Seminar
Abstract: When describing his intellectually back-breaking studies in a letter dated September 23, 1637, to his friend Charles Diodati, John Milton states that he has ‘by uninterrupted reading brought the affairs of the Greeks to the point when the Greeks ceased to be Greek' (Graecorum res continuata lectione deduximus usquequo illi Graeci esse sunt desiti). But when do the Greeks cease to be Greek? In this talk, Dr Tomos Evans will discuss his ongoing research for a chapter of his monograph-in-progress, Milton's Hellenism, which examines the remarkable shift in Milton's attitudes towards contemporary Greece. In the late-1630s, Milton evinces indifference and even condescension towards modern Greeks, yet, by the early-1650s, Milton passionately expresses his advocacy for the liberation of Ottoman-ruled Greece. The talk will outline the intellectual, political, and religious contexts of the growth of Milton's Philhellenism: a political aspiration which did not become prevalent in England until the late-18th century. A key figure in Dr Evans' talk will be the Greek diplomat and scholar, Leonard Philaras, to whom Milton first expressed his wish that Greece be liberated in a letter dated June 1652. Dr Evans will share his archival research from the Netherlands, Italy, and the UK on Philaras and discuss Milton's place within Philaras's network which spanned from Venice to Moscow and Philaras's own extraordinary efforts to bring about a revolutionary uprising in Ottoman-ruled Greece.
Speaker Bio: Dr. Tomos Evans is a Hellenic Research Fellow at California State University, Sacramento, and an Associate Fellow of the Warburg Institute. He is a member of the editorial board of the new, third edition of John Milton's Complete Shorter Poems in the Longman Annotated English Poets series. His main areas of research are the life and works of Milton, Neo-Latin Literature, and the reception of Greek texts in the Early Modern period.