Samson Agonistes "Eyeless In Gaza"
by John Milton

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"Eyeless In Gaza"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Twice before Samson's birth an angel appeared to say to his future parents that Samson was chosen by God to be the deliverer of the Jews. Before his betrayal by Delilah, Samson had indeed performed miracles in his feats of strength, but the opening scene of Samson Agonistes shows the hero blind, a slave of the Philistines, working like a beast for his captors. The situation leads Samson at first even to doubt God and divine prediction. There are, of course, parallels in Milton's own life to Samson's life: like the hero, Milton became blind; like Samson, he had been important to his people, serving in the Commonwealth government, which failed; and like Samson he had unhappy marital experience. One cannot help being tempted to believe that Milton was speaking through Samson about himself in this play:

Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.