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Dictionary of World Biography
Miltiades (d.c.488 BCE). Athenian general. Famous
for his great victory over the Persians at Marathon (490),
it was through his persuasion that the outnumbered
Athenian army left the doubtful protection of the city
walls and met the enemy near their landing place. By
strengthening his flanks at the expense of his centre he
achieved an encircling movement, from which few of
the enemy escaped. According to legend, news of the
victory was taken to Athens (about 240 km) by the
runner *Pheidippides, a feat commemorated by the
Marathon race at the Olympic Games.
Milton, John (1608–1674). English poet, born in
London. Son of a scrivener (i.e. a legal draftsman),
he was a precocious scholar at St Paul’s School,
London, and spent seven years at at Christ’s College,
Cambridge, graduating MA in 1632. He then spent
six years at his father’s country house at Horton,
Buckinghamshire, and in this Anglican and Puritan
household studied in preparation for his poetic
vocation. There and at Cambridge he wrote many
of his earliest works, e.g. the Hymn on the Morning
of Christ’s Nativity (1629), Il Penseroso and L’Allegro
(both 1632), the masque Comus (1634), and the great
pastoral elegy Lycidias (1637), written in memory of
his friend Edward King, drowned in the Irish Sea.
Milton travelled (1638–39) in Italy, where he met
*Galileo in prison. After returning to England he
virtually gave up writing poetry for 20 years (except
sonnets, e.g. On the late Massacre in Piedmont), and
devoted himself to parliamentary causes, writing
pamphlets against episcopacy, e.g. The Reason of
Church Government (1642). He married (1642) Mary
Powell, who left him after a few months and did
not return until 1645. During her absence Milton
wrote The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, which
advocated the dissolution of unhappy marriages. Two
other famous pamphlets are Tractate on Education
and Areopagitica (both published 1644), the latter
championing the liberty of the Press. A pamphlet
defending the execution of *Charles I was published
in 1649. As Secretary for Foreign Tongues to the State
Council 1649–59, he became an official propagandist
for *Cromwell. He suffered from glaucoma (or
retinitus pigmentosa) from 1644 and became totally
blind in 1654, continuing to work with the assistance
of his daughter and several amanuenses, including
Andrew *Marvell. After his first wife died (1652),
he married Catherine Woodcock in 1656, her death
two years later prompting the famous sonnet On His
Deceased Wife. On the fall of the Commonwealth in
1659, the blind poet was briefly imprisoned. After
*Charles II’s restoration he went into hiding but was
soon pardoned and in 1662 he married Elizabeth
Minshull, who survived him.
580
Paradise Lost (published 1667), his great epic in blank
verse, tells the story of Satan’s rebellion against God, of
the subsequent scenes in Eden and of the fall of Man.
In 1671 the 12 books of Paradise Lost were followed
by the four of Paradise Regained, which recounts
Christ’s victory over Satan after the temptation in the
wilderness. It is an allegory on a much less ambitious
scale, less highly coloured in style and language
but with a distinctive subtlety of its own. Samson
Agonistes (1671), constructed like a Greek tragedy,
gives the biblical theme a pathos and inspirational
power transcending the original. Milton’s later prose
works, e.g. the tract Of True Religion (1673), are of
less interest. Because of the majesty and sublimity of
his language Milton has generally been placed next to
*Shakespeare, but he has never moved the hearts of
the masses. Some critics have even contended that he
was a bad influence, especially on 18th-century poets,
who imitated his solemn and sonorous verse without
matching the grandeur and intensity of his thought.
Tillyard, E. M. W., Milton. Rev. ed. 1966; Wilson,
A. N., The Life of John Milton. 1983; Kewalski, B.
K., The Life of John Milton. 2003; Campbell, G., and
Corns, T., John Milton: Life, Work and Thought. 2008.
Mindszenty, Jozsef (1892–1975). Hungarian prelate.
Imprisoned (1944) by the Nazis, after World War
II ended (1945) he was appointed Archbishop and
Primate of Hungary and a cardinal in 1946. An ardent
upholder of the Church’s rights and of the national
cause, he was imprisoned by the Communists (1949).
During the revolt of 1956 he was released but, when
the Russians restored Communist power, he was
forced to take refuge in the US embassy and lived
there for 15 years. The pope retired him in 1974,
against his will. His Memoirs were published in 1975.
Ming. Chinese dynasty which ruled 1368–1644, the
last native imperial family, and the only one from the
south, founded by *Chu Yuan-chang.
Minto, 1st Earl of, Gilbert Elliot (1751–1814).
British soldier and administrator. He took part in the
impeachment of Warren *Hastings and was GovernorGeneral of Bengal 1806–13. He captured Mauritius
and Batavia during the Napoléonic Wars. His great
grandson, Gilbert John Murray Kynynmond Elliott,
4th Earl of Minto (1845–1914), had an adventurous
early career as soldier and war correspondent in
many parts of the world. (He also rode in the Grand
National five times.) In 1891 he inherited the earldom
and was Governor-General of Canada 1898–1904 in
the Klondike gold rush period. As Viceroy of India
1905–10, he initiated the Minto-*Morley reforms
which increased the numbers and powers of the central
and provincial executive and legislative councils and
introduced more Indians at all government levels. He
also banned the export of opium.
Mintoff, Dom(inic) (1916–2012). Maltese politician.
He trained as an architect and civil engineer,
practising in Britain 1941–43 and later in Malta.
He helped to reorganise the Maltese Labour Party in
1944. In 1945 he became a member of the Council of
Government and Executive Council. He was elected
to the Legislative Assembly in 1947, becoming at the
same time Deputy Prime Minister responsible for