|by Selkis (site)|
Often revolutionary and ahead of his time, John Milton already showed this feature in his early masque Comus, of 1634. Here are two interesting details. For a starter (lines 447 ff), an interpretation of the myth of Medusa as would be proposed by Sigmund Freud:
What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield
That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity. . .?
Later on (lines 768 ff), we hear a call to ecology and social justice much before Greta Thunberg:
If every just man that now pines with want
Had but a moderate and beseeming share
Of that which lewdly-pampered Luxury
Now heaps upon some few with vast excess,
Nature's full blessings would be well-dispensed
In unsuperfluous even proportion. . .
In a 1645 sonnet in praise of Henry Lawes, who wrote the music for Comus, Milton would even say:
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he wooed to sing,
Met in the milder shades of Purgatory.
That materially is a mistake because Dante met Casella not in the upper woods of the island/mountain of purgatory, but at the very beginning while still on the shore (canto 2). The mistake anyway is revealing, as Milton would find inspiration for his own Eden in Paradise Lost precisely in Dante's natural descriptions in the second cantica of the Divine Comedy.