Samson Agonistes "Evil News Rides Post, While Good News Baits"
by John Milton

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"Evil News Rides Post, While Good News Baits"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: After gaining spiritual fortitude for his coming trial of strength by rejecting the temptations symbolized by his father Manoa, his wife Dalila, and the giant from Gath, Samson obeys the Philistines' command to show off his might at the games in honor of Dagon, the Philistines' deity. Samson believes God has moved him to accept his captors' command. Not long after his departure, guarded by Philistine warriors, the Chorus and Manoa hear a hideous noise from the direction Samson has gone. As they wonder what has happened, the Chorus makes this comment about the relative speeds of good news and bad. Taken literally, the statement means that bad news travels rapidly, changing horses at regular intervals for the sake of speed, while good news stops to rest and refresh both horse and rider at intervals. That bad news is coming in this instance is made clear by the immediate appearance of a messenger:


CHORUS
Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Ebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.