Samson’s Cords: Imposing Oaths in Milton, Marvell, and Butler

By Alex Garganigo

© 2018

In seventeenth-century Britain every debate about loyalty oaths invoked the biblical Samson. Samson’s Cords argues that these loyalty tests became an unprecedentedly pervasive feature of life in Restoration England and that writers of satire and epic had no choice but to respond.

Alex Garganigo examines the radically different responses of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and Samuel Butler to the existential crises caused by this explosion of loyalty oaths.  After early support, all three developed serious reservations, confronting the irony that while oaths often exclude and destroy, they also include and create. Tackling issues such as performance, ritual, religion, secularization, gender, swearing, republicanism, and citizenship, Garganigo offers original readings of Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland, The Rehearsal Transpros’d, and Hudibras.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.0in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP004472

  • PUBLISHED MAY 2018

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

    ISBN 9781487500986
  • PUBLISHED APR 2018

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

Quick Overview

Samson’s Cords examines the radically different responses of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and Samuel Butler to the existential crises caused by an explosion of loyalty oaths in Britain before and after 1660.

Samson’s Cords: Imposing Oaths in Milton, Marvell, and Butler

By Alex Garganigo

© 2018

In seventeenth-century Britain every debate about loyalty oaths invoked the biblical Samson. Samson’s Cords argues that these loyalty tests became an unprecedentedly pervasive feature of life in Restoration England and that writers of satire and epic had no choice but to respond.

Alex Garganigo examines the radically different responses of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and Samuel Butler to the existential crises caused by this explosion of loyalty oaths.  After early support, all three developed serious reservations, confronting the irony that while oaths often exclude and destroy, they also include and create. Tackling issues such as performance, ritual, religion, secularization, gender, swearing, republicanism, and citizenship, Garganigo offers original readings of Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland, The Rehearsal Transpros’d, and Hudibras.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.0in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "Samson’s Cords mines a rich vein of critical discourse on seventeenth-century texts, and offers many new insights into the politics of oath-making and oath-breaking. The book represents a considerable achievement in its approach to bringing canonical literary works into dialogue with more ephemeral writings of the period."


    Alvin Snider, Department of English, University of Iowa

    "Samson’s Cords contributes to the scholarly understanding of two major writers of the seventeenth century, Milton and Marvell, to the wider appreciation of British seventeenth-century history and culture, including the writings of Samuel Butler, and to the way we understand oaths and swearing from a theoretical perspective."


    Yr Athro John Spurr, Department of History, University of Swansea
  • Author Information

    Alex Garganigo is an associate professor in the Department of English at Austin College.
  • Table of contents

    1. Samson’s Cords in Restoration England

    2. Conjuring Oaths and Identities in Hudibras

    3. Testing the Tests in The Rehearsal Transpros’d

    4. An Horatian Oath: the Horatian Ode, Secularism, and Toleration

    5. Samson’s Cords: Imposing Oaths in Eikonoklastes and Samson Agonistes

    6. Paradise Lost I: God’s Swearing By Himself

    7. Paradise Lost II: Of Apples, Oaths, and Women

    A Proposal for Emending One of Marvell’s Letters