[Milton-L] Cromwell, Samson, and miracles [Long]

Burbery, Timothy burbery at marshall.edu
Wed Aug 3 16:09:49 EDT 2005


Hi Margaret, 

 

I'm referring to Samson's various miracles, such as carrying the gates
of Gaza on his back for about forty miles, killing thousands of men with
a donkey's jawbone, and so on.

 

I don't know if Milton ever refers to deeds of strength as being
miraculous in his prose.  Good question.  In the tragedy, the Chorus
refers to Samson's strength as "miraculous" (587), and Harapha visits
Samson precisely in order to understand if the prisoner's physical
appearance can somehow explain his "prodigious might and feats
performed/ Incredible" (1083-84).  Not that the Danites or Harapha speak
for Milton, of course, but it seems likely that he would agree with
these characterizations of Samson's exploits.  

 

Best,

 

Tim   

 

________________________________

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Arnold,
Margaret
Sent: Tuesday, August 02, 2005 8:34 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] Cromwell, Samson, and miracles [Long]

 

I came to this discussion late, and have just read Tim's comment that
Samson performed miracles.  What miracles?  Did  Milton ever refer to
deeds of physical strength as miraculous?  The sonnets to Cromwell and
Vane stress the arts of peace.  Sorry to break into the thread, but I am
somewhat puzzled.

 

Thanks!

 

Margaret Arnold

 

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu on behalf of Peter C.
Herman 
	Sent: Tue 8/2/2005 7:14 PM 
	To: John Milton Discussion List 
	Cc: 
	Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Cromwell, Samson, and miracles [Long]

	I take Carol's point. However, Judges is not Milton, and Milton
is not Judges, and if Milton alters the source text, as he does in this
case, then we ought to pay attention to the difference. Second, while
Samson in this passage ascribes his strength to God, even talking about
it as if it were separate from him ("O glorious strength / 
	Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't / Lower then bondslave!"
he talks about his strength differently in the latter passage: " such
other trial / 
	I mean to shew of my strength, yet greater." Unlike the earlier
passage, this time, Samson owns his strength, and "greater" modifies
both "strength" and "trial." Finally, unlike Judges, Milton's Samson
does not undeniably pray to God, and so we cannot assume that God
undeniably returns Samson's strength.
	
	pch
	
	At 04:57 PM 8/2/2005, you wrote:
	
	

	I think, though, Peter, that if you look at Judges 14:19 (when
"the Spirit
	of the Lord [comes] upon him" before he slays the men of
Timnath, and at
	Samson's early lament in SA, the source of his strength is
clear, even in
	Milton:
	
	. . . I seek
	17   This unfrequented place to find some ease,
	18   Ease to the body some, none to the mind
	19   From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
	20   Of Hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
	21   But rush upon me thronging, and present
	22   Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
	23   O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
	24   Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
	25   Of both my Parents all in flames ascended
	26   From off the Altar, where an Off'ring burn'd,
	27   As in a fiery column charioting
	28   His Godlike presence, and from some great act
	29   Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
	30   Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd
	31   As of a person separate to God,
	32   Design'd for great exploits; if I must dye
	33   Betray'd, Captiv'd, and both my Eyes put out,
	34   Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;
	35   To grind in Brazen Fetters under task
	36   With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
	37   Put to the labour of a Beast, debas't
	38   Lower then bondslave!
	. . .
	58   God, when he gave me strength, to shew withal
	59   How slight the gift was, hung it in my Hair.
	
	As I indicated earlier,
	
	We don't know what the rousing motions are, in Milton's
recasting (God's
	will? Samson's yearning?), nor if they come from spirit blessed
or devil
	damned; all we know is that God's power is the source of
Samson's strength,
	and that the return of the latter gives him (and us) the right
to believe
	that he has been restored to Heaven's favor.
	
	I stand by that argument, based on the above.
	
	All best,
	
	Carol Barton
	
	
	
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