The case for Comus
in Spectacular Performances
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Comus exists in two quite different early states: the performing text that John Milton initially provided his employers with, and the revised and greatly elaborated version that he subsequently prepared for publication. Most discussions of Comus focus on its political or religious implications, and its status as a precursor to Milton's ethical and revolutionary thinking in his prose pamphlets and major poems. Leah Marcus has made a persuasive case for explicitly anti-Laudian elements in the masque, though these may have more to do with Milton's interests at the time than with the Earl's. William Shakespeare's version of Milton's masque is Venus and Adonis. Adonis denounces Venus as the Lady denounces Comus, as the embodiment not of love but of "sweating lust," and Venus is certainly represented as gross and unattractive.

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