The decorum of seventeenth-century controversy demanded that Milton reply in kind to opponents who had ridiculed the positions he championed in his prose tracts. In the Marprelate tradition he found the appropriate weapon. Milton's Animadversions (1641) and Colasterion (1645) display not only a variety of characteristics identified with the Marprelate genre, but also several Miltonic innovations in that genre. The Animadversions is structured, in Marprelate fashion, as a mock debate. Verbal ploys with moral overtones, mock logic, and a distinctive rhetorical persona find numerous analogues in the Marprelate tradition. However, the apocalyptic imagery of the Animadversions and its occasional stylistic majesty are uniquely Miltonic. Because Milton's intent in the Animadversions is satiric, he spares no pains in castigating the evil of Bishop Hall. Unlike the Animadversions, Colasterion exploits the comic possibilities of the Marprelate idiom. Milton uses Marprelate's rhetorical tricks, in addition to reiterated images and comic “scenes” of his own, to caricature his opponent as a mere scullion unfit for serious debate. The reader is called upon to share in the measure of comic delight Milton derives from rendering a fool an object of ridicule.

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