The Milton Marathon is an event at ETSU where students, faculty and the public will read from John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost.”
The event will be held Nov. 17 in the D.P. Culp University Center, forum room 311. It will begin at 9 a.m. and will be open all day until the conclusion of the poem, which is predicted to be at around 7 p.m.
The Milton Marathon is entirely student-led, and members of the Milton class offered at ETSU have been planning this event all semester.
Since the class is offered biannually, the Milton Marathon is too. Two years ago, the attendance was 254 participants. Josh Reid, the professor of the class, said this is a large number for a university of ETSU’s size, but he hopes to break this record.
ETSU President Brian Noland will be attending the marathon and will read the opening lines to “Paradise Lost.”
“Paradise Lost” is over 10,000 lines of verse and is based on the retelling of the Bible’s book of Genesis. Milton writes about concepts such as Adam and Eve, Satan, and angels.
“When you take something like the Bible and retell it, there’s always going to be people who argue what does it mean? Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing?” said ETSU student Elena Puckett.
Puckett believes the constant discussion over Milton’s work is what makes it “one of the greatest works of literature.” She’s not the only one who thinks so either.
For Reid, the Milton Marathon is meant “to celebrate one of the greatest authors of English literature, if not literature in general.”
Not only was “Paradise Lost” the last epic written in English but also the last of European literature.
Though Milton is renowned for his poetry, he is also known for the political content he included into his works, especially “Paradise Lost.”
“His political works are many ways the foundations of our concepts of freedom of speech, our concepts of liberty, of limited government, of freedom of expression, freedom of the press,” Reid said. “There’s so much Milton in us.”
Puckett said Milton also discusses equality, gender roles, education and freedom of religion.
“For his time, he was very liberal,” Puckett said.
The Milton Marathon will offer other commodities, too. Rare books will be on display for the public to see. Some of these books are centuries old, one of them being the first version of “Paradise Lost” with illustrations dating back to the 17th century.
There will be contest drawings during the event. A $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble will be given away, including copies of “Paradise Lost” and t-shirts.
The Milton Marathon is a chance for students and the community to come together to listen and read from one of literature’s most renowned works.
Because Milton was blind when “Paradise Lost” was written, the poem was composed orally and meant to be read aloud.
“It has this special kind of magic when you hear it,” Reid said. “This is Milton’s world. We’re just living in it.”