Paradise Regained "Of Whom To Be Dispraised Were No Small Praise"

John Milton

"Of Whom To Be Dispraised Were No Small Praise"

Context: Following Christ's baptism by John the Baptist, Satan decides to ruin Christ as he once ruined Adam. God announces His intention of letting Christ be tempted, and then Christ goes into the wilderness for forty days. Satan meets Him and asks Him to transform a stone into bread, which act Christ refuses to perform. Next Satan tempts Him with a magnificent banquet, as he had formerly tempted Adam with a fruit. Christ refuses the food, the symbol of luxury. Satan then offers Christ great wealth, but this is refused as a thing a man of virtue does not need. In lowest poverty Gideon, Jephthah, and David did great works. A wise man spurns riches, and likewise the rule of a kingdom is something that no wise man desires, as it brings danger, trouble, care, and sleeplessness. Satan, confounded at Christ's refusals, offers fame from either great wisdom or military glory; he points out that Alexander the Great and Scipio the Younger had both achieved great fame by the time they were of Christ's age. Christ spurns fame on the ground that the common people are undiscriminating and extol vulgar things; fame derived from them is worthless, as they do not have a clear idea of what is admirable. In fact, the wise man takes comfort in the dispraise of the multitude, as it indicates that his course of action is right and just. Christ speaks:

Thou neither dost persuade me to seek wealth
For empire's sake, nor empire to affect
For glory's sake by all thy argument.
For what is glory but the blaze of fame,
The people's praise, if always praise unmixed?
And what the people but a herd confused,
A miscellaneous rabble, who extol
Things vulgar, and well weighed, scarce worth the praise?
They praise and they admire they know not what;
And know not whom, but as one leads the other;
And what delight to be by such extolled,
To live upon their tongues and be their talk,
Of whom to be dispraised were no small praise?
His lot who dares be singularly good.
Th' intelligent among them and the wise
Are few, and glory scarce of few is raised.
This is true glory and renown, when God
Looking on the earth, with approbation marks
The just man, . . .