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SAMSON AGONISTES,

A DRAMATIC POEM.

THE AUTHOR

JOHN MILTON.

Τραγῳδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας, &c.

Aristot. Poet. cap. vi.

Tragoedia et imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam et metum perficiens talium affectuum lustrationem.

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OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM WHICH

IS CALLED TRAGEDY.

TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems; therefore said by Aristotle to be of power, by raising pity, and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion, for so in physic things of melancholic hue and quality are used against melancholy, sour against sour, salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the text of holy scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33, and Paræus, commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole book, as a tragedy, into acts, distinguished each by a chorus of heavenly harpings and song between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have laboured not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that

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