Samson Agonistes "Samson Hath Quit Himself Like Samson"

John Milton

"Samson Hath Quit Himself Like Samson"

Context: The play opens with the last phase of the life of Samson, the Old Testament hero. The Philistines have blinded him and hold him prisoner in Gaza. The play, modeled after a Greek tragedy, depicts the restoration of the fallen Samson to the grace of God. Samson has already been tested by God and failed the test. Having been punished and having repented his sin, he now undergoes trials of his will and integrity to prove that he is worthy to be tested a second time. Surmounting these tests, he is summoned to entertain the Philistine nobles at the feast of the pagan god Dagon. At first he refuses. However, he is prompted by God's Providence to change his mind. He leaves for the feast and is not seen again. His final triumph over the Philistines is described by a messenger, who reports the spectacular catastrophe that Samson creates by pulling down the temple of Dagon on the priests, the nobility, and himself. The Chorus praises Samson's dearly bought revenge and the rebirth of his fame. Manoa, his father, sadly glorifies the regained identity of his dead son in an exultant epitaph:

Come, come, no time for lamentations now,
Nor much more cause, Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd
A life Heroic, on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the Sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds. To Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion,
To himself and Father's house eternal fame;
And which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was feard,
But favouring and assisting to the end.