So I wanted to use what I learned about rhetoric to take a look at Milton’s Prolusions 1 in a new light. I decided to find instances when Milton demonstrates the persuasive appeals, Logos, Pathos, and Ethos. While I know that in rhetoric, these appeals are used a lot and often combine together, I’ll just show a few examples when he does demonstrate these appeals.
Milton displays logos when he is arguing why Night rejected Phanes’ proposal of marriage in the legend of day and night. He looks at the reasoning, and logically discerns why Night rejected Phanes and why she preferred the security of Erebus. He shows the logic by showing Night’s nature and concerns, which then leads to her course of action.
Milton displays ethos when he talks about how we shouldn’t place our entire confidence on the poets that described Greek mythology. He then goes into the history of how such ideas have become changed and twisted. Here, Milton demonstrates a character of learning and shows that he understands the extensive history of this subject, thus assuring the reader that he knows his subject well.
Milton displays pathos when he is describing how desirable the day is to all living things. He goes into beautiful details of how the birds sing joyously of the day and he talks of all different animals that greet the day and sunshine with delight and joys. The description appeals to us in that we can understand that wondrous beauty and delight of having the sun on our faces.
Milton's prolusions show his growing strength in rhetoric and persuasive writings. These examples are just a few among the many appeals he makes in his writing. It does show to be a precursor to Paradise Lost, in which Milton has mastered the art of persuasive writing. I'm excited to see more of this persuasive writing.