Milton and Augustine
Patterns of Augustinian Thought in Milton's Paradise Lost
Peter Amadeus FioreThe first complete study of the influence of Augustine—"the most judicious of all the Church Fathers" —on Milton's epic of the Fall of Man, this book presents a detailed investigation of the principal dogmatic concepts in Paradise Lost studied against the background of Augustinian theology. Professor Fiore shows how Milton—unlike most other Puritans, and like Augustine—always emphasized the hope in "God's infinite mercy." Both men were fundamentally optimists. This study concentrates mainly on Augustine's and Milton's teaching on the Fall of the Angels, preternatural Adam and Eve, Original Sin, The Incarnation, Christology, and Redemption. Man, despite Original Sin, "still retained an intellect which could judge right from wrong, and a freedom whereby he could choose between right and wrong." Just as man, like Lucifer, was free to fall, so too is he free to choose salvation. This pattern of free will dominates the whole of Milton's epic, and is, Fiore argues, very Augustinian. Fiore concludes that Milton, like many humanists, Christian philosophers, Reformers, and theologians of every variety in the early seventeenth century, drew widely from Augustine and that such indebtedness gave a richer and fuller theological dimension to his epic of lost paradise and enhanced the meaning of the poem.
Peter A. Fiore received his PhD from University College, London University, and conducted research for this book in the British Museum. Professor and Chairman of the English department at Siena College, he is a contributor to The Milton Encyclopedia and the contributing editor of Just So Much Honor (essays on Donne).