[Milton-L] help interpret a line

Jameela Lares jlares at ocean.otr.usm.edu
Sun Jan 25 14:17:37 EST 2004

On Sun, 25 Jan 2004, John Leonard wrote, response to Diane McColley's "The
first false premise is indeed the starting point, that the fruit
itself gives wisdom.

> Is it a false premise? The fruit *does* give knowledge of death.  Before
> she ate, Eve had no answer when Satan (just six lines before the line in
> question) said:  "whatever thing death be."  After she has eaten, she
> has a new notion of death as extinction.  She says "I shall be no more"
> (9.827).  This new knowledge is not welcome to Eve, but it is new
> knowledge, and it does come right after eating the fruit.  Before the
> Fall, Adam and Eve are afraid of death but have no idea of what it is
> they fear ("whatever thing death is.  Som dreadful thing no doubt").
> After the Fall, they have an inkling of what death involves (though they
> do not immediately apprehend the full terror of the Second Death).
> Satan's tactic, at least in part, is to assure Eve that she doesn't need
> to be afraid of something she doesn't understand.

John, I'm struck by what is perhaps an unconscious conflation of knowledge
and wisdom on your part.  Cognitive input is not the same as knowing what
to do with it.  I rather think Milton would also distinguish "wisdom" from 
mere "knowledge."


Jameela Lares
Associate Professor of English
Univ. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
+601 266-6214

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