ABSTRACT

A reading of Epitaphium Damonis implies a homoerotic relationship, with Diodati as the more dominantly "masculine" and Milton as the more recessively "feminine." An examination of letters and other poems, as well as what we know of Milton's biography, leads to the conclusion that Diodati and Milton had discussed male-female love and that Milton had resisted entanglement. But there was clearly some disruption in their relationship prior to the end of 1629, and during 1629–1630 Milton underwent an identity crisis. His works at this time and through 1637 evidence an unsuccessful attempt to develop heterosexual drives. The 1634 Comus and the alterations in the 1637 Comus reflect the changes in Milton's ideas of sexuality: his attitudes are more certain and less rigid by the end of 1637 than they were in 1629–1630 or 1634. The homoerotic attitude toward Diodati was dissipated, or at least repressed, by the rupture of their relationship and by sublimation. Further examination of letters, poems, and epigraphs indicates Diodati's homosexual nature and Milton's latent homosexualism, which was repressed consciously and subconsciously from becoming overt, except perhaps with Diodati. Accordingly new interpretations of the works examined emerge.

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