[Milton-L] help interpret a line

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Thu Jan 22 09:06:31 EST 2004

Mr Cox:

I wasn't speaking of the success or failure of the argument to
-contemporary- audiences, but to Milton's initial audience.  And
furthermore, I wasn't speaking of the success or failure, per se, of
Milton's argument to even Milton's initial audience.

I was speaking of the -preconditions necessary for the success- of
Milton's argument, one of which is that Milton's Satan must be
believable as a "Satan" figure to Milton's initial audience.  As such,
Milton's Satan presents "reality naked," so to speak, but not the
reality of Satan as a figure existing in time, space, and history, but
the reality of Satan as a figure existing in the literary and spiritual
consciousness of Milton's audience.

I don't think you're in a position to determine how well Milton's
argument works outside the contexts delineated above, or independent of
any specific context.  Much of that depends upon the premises from which
one is proceeding. I respect that Milton's argument doesn't work for
you, but that's different from saying it cannot work at all.


Carrol Cox wrote:
> James Rovira wrote:
> >
> >
> > So while Milton's Satan is very much his own creation, for PL to "work,"
> > and especially to "justify the ways of God to men," this Satan has to
> > have something in common with current ideas about Satan during Milton's
> > time.
> I would not accept the argument that for PL to "work," it must "justify
> the ways of God to men" (or to women either for that matter). That it
> flagrantly fails to do for me (since I do not take the premise of the
> existence of god as even worth debating)  --  _unless_ one sees its
> "God" as nothing but (nor nothing less) than an element in a poem. The
> "justification" does not work "outside" the poem because its premise,
> the metaphysical worth of "free choice for the sake of free choice," is
> simply absurd as a perspective on "reality naked," however impressive as
> an element in the poem.
> Carrol
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