[Milton-L] PL and the Sabbath and classical myth

Samuel Smith samuelsmith at adelphia.net
Mon Dec 20 15:00:23 EST 2004

One superb study for working toward an answer to the second query (the fallen angels and classical myth) is Philip Gallagher's "Paradise Lost and the Greek Theogony," English Literary Renaissance 9 (Winter 1979): 121-148.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: nick dodd 
  To: 'John Milton Discussion List' 
  Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 8:26 AM
  Subject: [Milton-L] PL and the Sabbath and classical myth

  Two queries:


    1.. What was Milton's attitude to the Sabbath?  I ask this wondering about the idea that the description of Pandemonium is a satire of the building of St Peters in Rome.  Did the Puritan suspicion of temples or 'steeple houses' (as George Fox had it) extend to the Sabbath i.e. was the idea that there were no especially sacred places, because all places were equally God's creations, extended to the idea that there were no days essentially more sacred than others? 
    2.. Is it right to suggest that the procession of the Fallen Angels offers a way of reading classical myth? Does it suggest that classical myth is always the product of humanity's willingness to be seduced by the speciousness of the devils?  The pagan gods are the form in which humanity turns the devils into idols, so classical myth is the 'scripture' of humanity's mistaken worship of the devils.  If this is the case for Milton, can one then suppose that the allusions in the poem carry systematically distinct veracity?  The Biblical allusions demonstrate the true inspiration of the poem's narrator/poet, and count for more than the allusions to the natural world and the world of humanity, which in turn have more of truth, because they are a testimony to a virtuous apprehension of God's creation and the trials of a true believer within it, than the allusions to Greek and Roman Epics.

  I wonder if anyone can help me with these questions.  I am teaching Books 1 and 2 of "Paradise Lost" to sixth formers at a college in Huddersfield, England.  My students are aged 17 and 18.  I am a Milton novice, but am enjoying teaching his poetry.  Forgive me if these questions are so rudimentary as to beggar belief, but I would be grateful for clarification or for being suggested some reading that would clarify my confusion.


  All good wishes,

  Nick Dodd

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