Samson Agonistes Study Guide

Samson Agonistes

Samson Agonistes by John Milton

Samson Agonistes is the story of the Biblical Hebrew hero, Samson, and his capture by the Philistines. It begins after the cutting of his hair, the source of his power, and the removal of his eyes by his captors. The play goes on to deliver Samson's experiences through the form of an epic poem. It details Samson's heroism, his relationship with his wife, and especially his intense spiritual anguish at the losses he has suffered.

  • O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse

    Without all hope of day!

    • Lines 80-82.
  • The sun to me is darkAnd silent as the moon,

    When she deserts the night,

    Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.

    • Lines 86-89.
  • To live a life half dead, a living death.
    • Line 100.
  • Ran on embattled armies clad in iron,And, weaponless himself,

    Made arms ridiculous.

    • Lines 129-131.
  • Apt words have power to suageThe tumors of a troubled mind.
    • Lines 184-185.
  • Wisest menHave erred, and by bad women been deceived.
    • Lines 210-211.
  • Just are the ways of God,And justifiable to men;

    Unless there be who think not God at all.

    • Lines 293-295.
  • What boots it at one gate to make defense,And at another to let in the foe?
    • Lines 560-561.
  • My race of glory run, and race of shame,And I shall shortly be with them at rest.
    • Lines 597-598.
  • But who is this, what thing of sea or land?Female of sex it seems,

    That so bedecked, ornate, and gay,

    Comes this way sailing

    Like a stately ship

    Of Tarsus, bound for th' isles

    Of Javan or Gadire,

    With all her bravery on, and tackle trim,

    Sails filled, and streamers waving,

    Courted by all the winds that hold them play;

    An amber scent of odorous perfume

    Her harbinger?

    • Lines 710-721.
  • Dalila : In argument with men a woman everGoes by the worse, whatever be her cause.

    Samson : For want of words, no doubt, or lack of breath!

    • Lines 903-905.
  • Fame, if not double-faced, is double-mouthed,And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds;

    On both his wings, one black, the other white,

    Bears greatest names in his wild airy flight.

    • Lines 971-974.
  • Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power,After offense returning, to regain

    Love once possessed.

    • Lines 1003-1005.
  • Love-quarrels oft in pleasing concord end;Not wedlock-treachery.
    • Lines 1008-1009.
  • The way to know were not to see, but taste.
    • Line 1090.
  • Boast not of what thou would'st have done, but doWhat then thou would'st.
    • Lines 1104-1105.
  • He’s gone, and who knows how he may reportThy words by adding fuel to the flame?
    • Lines 1350-51.
  • For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
    • Line 1538.
  • Suspense in news is torture.
    • Line 1569.
  • But he, though blind of sight,Despised, and thought extinguished quite,

    With inward eyes illuminated,

    His fiery virtue roused

    From under ashes into sudden flame,

    And as an ev'ning dragon came,

    Assailant on the perched roosts

    And nests in order rang'd

    Of tame villatic fowl.

    So Virtue, given for lost,

    Depressed and overthrown, as seemed,

    Like that self-begotten bird

    In the Arabian woods embost,

    That no second knows now third,

    And lay erewhile a holocaust,

    From out her ashy womb now teemed,

    Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous mostWhen most unactive deemed ;

    And, though her body die, her fame survives,

    A secular bird, ages of lives.

    • Lines 1687-1707
  • Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wailOr knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,

    Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,

    And what may quiet us in a death so noble.

    • Lines 1721-1724.
  • All is best, though we oft doubt,What the unsearchable dispose

    Of highest Wisdom brings about.

    • Lines 1745-1747.

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