In seventeenth-century Britain every debate about loyalty oaths invoked the biblical Samson. Samson's Cords argues that these loyalty tests became an unprecedentedly pervasive feature of life in Restoration England and that writers of satire and epic had no choice but to respond. Alex Garganigo examines the radically different responses of John Milton, Andrew Marvell, and Samuel Butler to the existential crises caused by this explosion of loyalty oaths. After early support, all three developed serious reservations, confronting the irony that while oaths often exclude and destroy, they also include and create. Tackling issues such as performance, ritual, religion, secularization, gender, swearing, republicanism, and citizenship, Garganigo offers original readings of Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland, The Rehearsal Transpros'd, and Hudibras.