a polemical tract arguing for the freedom of speech and an unlicensed press.
The essay's title, “Areopagitica,” was derived from the name of a speech written by the ancient Greek orator Isocrates, Areopagitikos.
Addressed to the Parliament of England, the Areopagitica draws on a number of classical and biblical sources to support Milton's cause for the freedom of the press. One of the most obvious examples that the author uses is that of the Areopagus, a judicial council which, in ancient times, had investigated corruption in Athens.
In modern times, the Areopagitica is principally appreciated as a cornerstone in the argument for the freedom of speech.
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed
In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,