[Milton-L] moloch

Walthall, Hugh W CONTRACTOR WRAIR-Wash DC Hugh.Walthall at us.army.mil
Fri Sep 3 15:06:18 EDT 2004


"King". The sun god of the Canaanites (Ammonites?) in old Palestine and
sometimes associated with the Sumerian Baal
<http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/baal.html> , although Moloch (or
Molekh) was entirely malevolent. In the 8th-6th century BCE, firstborn
children were sacrificed to him by the Israelites in the Valleye of
Hinnom, south-east of Jerusalem (see also
<http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/gehenna.html> Gehenna). These
sacrifices to the sun god were made to renew the strength of the sun
fire. This ritual was probably borrowed from surrounding nations, and
was also popular in ancient Carthage. 
Moloch was represented as a huge bronze statue with the head of a bull.
The statue was hollow, and inside there burned a fire which colored the
Moloch a glowing red. Children were placed on the hands of the statue.
Through an ingenious system the hands were raised to the mouth (as if
Moloch were eating) and the children fell into the fire where they were
consumed by the flames. The people gathered before the Moloch were
dancing on the sounds of flutes and tambourines to drown out the screams
of the victims. 
According to some sources, the Moloch in the Old Testament is not a god,
but a specific form of sacrifice. 
 
Who fights whom in Western Epic Poetry is a fun subject.  I suspect it
is pretty much a ratings game, like scheduling the contestants in
ProWrestling.  Certainly all of the outcomes seem as "fixed" as any
lurid pay-per-view "Smack-Down".  Sometimes the opponent is not
human(oid), the Blatant Beast in Spencer, the Endriago of Amadis deGaul,
the Alien v. Predator thing.  Homer is often (still) the most
sophisticated in this regard-sometimes the opponent is a God disguised
as Ajax, sometimes Patrokolos in an Achilles costume.  You can bet the
farm that Milton knew all these clashes by heart...not to mention Virgil
& Ariosto.
That Moloch has one meaning of "KING" would also be a substantial clue
as to why Gabe himself has to bust a cap in his ass.  Gabriel seems to
have had a better time against Moloch than Allen Ginsberg did, alas.
For a deep reading of these evil v good combats I recommend Angus
Fletcher's Allegory: Theory of a Symbolic Mode  (Ithaca, 1964).   
Hugh Walthall
 
-----Original Message-----
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
[mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] 
Sent: Friday, September 03, 2004 11:55 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] moloch
 
Dear scholars, 
I have a question regarding Moloch, who of course appears in PL 1.381ff
and other places in Hell.  My question concerns his appearance in PL
6.354ff.  Why is it appropriate that Gabriel fight Moloch?  Milton could
have chosen a different rebel angel for Gabriel's combat.  I have looked
up the iconographies, footnotes, biblical references, etc.; and I am
still left puzzled. References to secondary texts or your gut instinct
much appreciated.  
May you all have a wonderful labor day weekend... even those of you not
in the U.S. 
 
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