[Milton-L] help interpret a line

diane mccolley dmccolley at earthlink.net
Sun Jan 25 14:33:55 EST 2004

But is it the fruit itself or the act of disobedience that gives "new 
knowledge"?  And would that knowledge have ranked as wisdom if the
disobedience had not occurred?  Is the mortality of the tree's "mortal
taste" in the tree or in the act of tasting?

From: "John Leonard" <jleonadr at uwo.ca>
To: "'John Milton Discussion List'" <milton-l at koko.richmond.edu>
Subject: RE: [Milton-L] help interpret a line
Date: Sun, Jan 25, 2004, 1:50 PM

Diane McColley wrote:

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).  Satans tactic, at least in part, is to
assure Eve that she doesnt need to be afraid of something she doesnt

John Leonard

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