Abstract

Scattered throughout the author's prose and poetical works, kingship is a core concept in John Milton's political and literary practices. According to Milton, a king must first be a “wise and virtuous man” (Paradise Regained), and the Son is the perfect model of kingship. The possession of virtue and a “paradise within” (Paradise Lost) would enable everyone to be kingly. Tyrants like Charles I may be lawfully deposed or even beheaded by their subjects. Milton's republicanism is not only rooted in classical, biblical, and continental traditions, but is also inseparable—in my opinion—from the native British tradition, including important figures such as John of Salisbury (twelfth century) and John Ponet (sixteenth century). This essay also compares Milton's Aristotelian “virtue politics” with Confucianism represented by Confucius and Mencius, pinpointing the former's contemporary relevance.

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