In John Milton's poem "Lycidas," how does Milton compare and contrast Christian and pagan notions of fame?

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In his pastoral elegy titled “Lycidas,” John Milton explores both pagan and Christian notions of fame, ultimately advocating the latter as superior to the former. The mere fact that Milton writes a poem in honor of his dead fellow student Edward King shows that Milton considers worldly, earthly fame of some importance, and of course Milton himself sought to achieve such fame for himself partly by writing this poem and others. It is significant that King’s personal name is never mentioned in the poem; Milton, if he had so chosen, could have helped King become far more personally famous. Instead, King is transformed into “Lycidas,” allowing Milton to enhance his own fame by showing how skillfully he can handle the requirements of pastoral elegy, a classical literary genre.

Milton’s focus on himself becomes, if anything, even clearer when he gets to the passage in which he wonders why any person (such as himself) should work and study so hard, dedicating himself so diligently to...

(The entire section contains 571 words.)

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