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Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680$
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Christopher N. Warren

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719342

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719342.001.0001

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“A Problem from Hell”

“A Problem from Hell”

From Paradise Lost to the Responsibility to Protect

(p.203) 7 “A Problem from Hell”
Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680

Christopher N. Warren

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Milton in Paradise Lost rejects Westphalian distinctions between inside and outside and puts human jurisdiction over tyranny at the center of his epic jurisprudence. The chapter places Milton’s epic jurisprudence in the context of recent discussions in public international law and international humanitarian law concerning the “responsibility to protect.” Challenging the view that the responsibility to protect is a modern idea, however, the chapter contends that protection was a key element of Milton’s thinking on the law of nations since the early the 1630s and that Paradise Lost offers a distinctly republican analytic of protection. The chapter sheds new light on Milton’s Second Defense by attending to Milton’s activities as Latin Secretary and the legal controversies surrounding a 1653 murder committed in London by Don Pantaleon de Sá, the brother of the Portuguese Ambassador, João Rodrigues de Sá.

Keywords:   Milton, Paradise Lost, responsibility to protect, R2P, Don Pantaleon, Second Defense, sovereign impunity, epic

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