Poem 189 – A Casus Imperi?

We mean to hold what anciently we claim
Of deity our empire

Milton, Paradise Lost, Book V, 723-724

You seek a reason for our power? A casus imperi?
Here it is – we have always held it.
Our empire rose with the first sun,
And will fall with the world.
From that distinguished pedigree,
Noble beyond all measure,
We claim our right
And from that past we have gained power,
From the power we gain more right
To rule; so from tradition, power;
From power, permanence;
From permanence a regency that will never fade.


Dear readers,

Sometimes I wonder whether Milton intended to make God seem like a bit of an unpleasant person. Here God claims that the main reason for his reign is simply that he has always reigned. This seems like a poor justification – and also, by coincidence, the basis of traditional philosophical conservatism; that change is a risk, and should not be made lightly.

I also apologise for the poor Latin in the title – I intend to allude, of course, to the idea of a Casus Belli. If my Latin is wrong, please correct me.

Kind regards,

The Hapless Neo-Romantic


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