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Areopagitica (Version 2)

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By: (1608-1674)

The noblest and most extensive defense of freedom of the press in English. Although Milton was sufficiently practical to serve as a censor of books himself when his opposition to this practice was ignored by the government, he never lost his conviction that the best way to battle falsehood was to let it have its say and be defeated by the superior power of truth. Strangling infants in the cradle was simply not his style. In this long essay, in the form of a five-part Classical oration addressed to Parliament (the counterpart of the Areopagus or council of elders in ancient Athens), he brings to bear on this subject a wide variety of arguments, including antique precedents, philosophical and religious considerations, and his own experience as a published author. The document presents the portrait of the idealistic core of the British republic struggling against the political expediency that upholds the government.

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This is true liberty, when free born men, Having to advise the public, may speak free, Which he who can, and will, deserves high praise; Who neither can, nor will, may hold his peace: What can be juster in a state than this?

Euripid. Hicetid.

They, who to states and governors of the Commonwealth direct their speech, High Court of Parliament, or, wanting such access in a private condition, write that which they foresee may advance the public good; I suppose them, as at the beginning of no mean endeavour, not a little altered and moved inwardly in their minds: some with doubt of what will be the success, others with fear of what will be the censure; some with hope, others with confidence of what they have to speak. And me perhaps each of these dispositions, as the subject was whereon I entered, may have at other times variously affected; and likely might in these foremost expressions now also disclose which of them swayed most, but that the very attempt of this address thus made, and the thought of whom it hath recourse to, hath got the power within me to a passion, far more welcome than incidental to a preface... Continue reading book >>

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