Revolution as an act of turning is a crucial yet overlooked feature of Milton’s conception of historical periods. This essay, by examining Milton’s imagery of revolution, seeks to challenge conventional associations of Milton and periodization with teleological culmination and inaugural disruption. In Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained the phrase much revolving becomes iconic of revolution as period-defining movement. Milton’s characters pivot, roll, twist, contort, resist, and return. In doing so, they show, and not simply describe, the lived experience of periodizing change. The poet dismisses understandings of historical periods as closed cycles or linear progressions that are defined by renowned individuals and monumental events. Milton reveals periods to be open-ended and helical and makes immediately sensible the quotidian events, no less apocalyptic for their familiarity, that generate history.

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