ABSTRACT

Some disagreement, of course, is part of the normal business of literary criticism, but problems of this magnitude suggest an aporia in theory, some fundamental operating premise that has not been thought through carefully enough. A number of poststructuralist responses to intertextuality have focused attention on a reader who in some way or other does more than passively recognize a reference embedded in a text. The reading of Paradise Lost that is strengthened by its allusive ties to the Aeneid is therefore both more and less revolutionary than the one that has Milton simply rejecting the classical tradition, in that it argues that Paradise Lost simultaneously rewrites the Aeneid by accepting its central argument, but also rewrites it by producing an “argument/Not less but more Heroic”. The growing body of scholarship in the classical tradition, however, warns the reader against doing this.