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John Milton's Areopagitica (named after a hill in Athens) is the foundation of the modern idea of freedom of the press. Milton's broad education in Latin and Greek sources allowed him to present a convincing case of the detrimental effects throughout history of censorship in any form.
Milton, a child prodigy, aimed to be the best Latin poet in Europe. He made many friends on a trip to Italy, but he was warned by Galileo himself, then under house arrest, not to let censorship happen in England as it had in Italy. This may have led Milton, on his return, to turn his pamphleteering skills from the Divorce question to the issue then before the Long Parliament - government licensing of all printed materials. Shortly after Areopagitica was published, Oliver Cromwell appointed Milton his Latin secretary.
Teachers- a Supplement Edition: Areopagitica filled with background information is available in print format at http://www.createspace.com/3674947. This provides the same text, with the same page numbering, as the student edition, with a wealth of information organized around typical student questions, plus a glossary. Here are the questions:
Preface for Teachers
Why is Areopagitica important?
Who was John Milton?
Who was in Milton's family?
What was his childhood like?
What happened during Milton's college career?
How did Milton prepare himself after college?
What happened on Milton's trip to Italy?
Did Milton change on returning to England?
Did Milton marry?
What was he writing at this time?
Why did Milton use this title?
Why did he write Areopagitica?
What was the public reaction to Areopagitica?
What did the early critics say about Milton?
Why was England in a turmoil in the 1640s?
What did King Charles expect to achieve?
What was the Long Parliament?
How did Cromwell rise to prominence?
How had the press been restricted?
What points does Milton make?
Who states the other side of the argument?
What is special about printing?
How many people could read?
Is freedom of the press the same as freedom of speech?
Is freedom of the press a dead issue?
What books were in Milton's library?
Is Milton's style important?
What do modern critics say?
Was Milton borne out by history?
What was the printing history of Areopagitica?
What happened in Milton's later life?
Notes to the text