John Milton (1608-1674)
The son of a composer, he was a hard-working, but problematic student, going to Christ’s College, Cambridge. It’s debated whether he was suspended, or stayed home due to the plague (mor). He could speak Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, and Old English. Upon graduation, he continued studying privately five years, then traveled in Europe. As conflict began in England, he returned home. He began writing political pamphlets (letáky), and, at 35, he married a 16 year-old girl, who left him six weeks later, causing him to write several essays in favour of divorce. This got him in trouble for heresy (kacírstvo), and he continued to live with the girl until she died, age 27, after giving birth to their fourth child. When Cromwell came to power, Milton got a job in government, where he wrote many essays in defense of regicide (kráľovražda), democracy, and Puritanism. He also went blind, possibly due to all that writing. When King Charles II was restored, Milton was arrested and imprisoned, until influential friends could free him. He remarried and devoted himself to poetry, writing his magnum opus (majstrovské dielo) Paradise Lost, with the help of his daughters. Based on the format of Virgil’s Aeneid (an epic poem from ancient Rome), it tells the story of the temptation (pokúšanie) of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion (vyhnanie) from the Garden of Eden. Milton died poor but famous, and is considered one of Britain’s finest poets.