[Milton-L] Satan

Matthew Stallard ms493101 at ohio.edu
Wed Feb 16 10:57:40 EST 2005

	I tend to read the generous development of Satan's character taking place 
early in the epic diegesis as a means for Milton to mitigate the 
sinful/"missing the mark" actions of Adam and Eve. The Hebrew text of the 
Genesis narrative by contrast, aside from Satan's brief but dense 
rhetorical flourish in Genesis chapter three, does nothing to suggest the 
appearance of nobility (faux or vrai) in the serpent. I suppose one could 
make a case that the serpent's designation "more subtil than anie beast of 
the field" suggests a cautious and perhaps disingenuous spirit. "Subtil" is 
a rendering of ARUWM which suggests a qualitative cunning, craftiness, or 
	More likely, though, the glosses of the 1530 Geneva Bible do more to 
condition the response of the Calvinist reader. On verses 1-5: "As Satan 
can change himselfe into an Angel of light, so did he abuse the wisdome of 
the serpent to deceaue man. God suffered Satan to make the serpent his 
instrument and to speake in him. In douting of Gods threatning, she yelded 
to Satan. This is Satans chiefest subtiltie, to cause vs not to feare Gods 
threatenings. As thogh he shulde say, God doeth not forbid you to eat of 
the frute, saue that he knoweth that if you shulde eat thereof, you shulde 
be like to him."


Matthew Stallard
Ohio University
Department of English
347 Ellis Hall
Athens, OH 45701
matthew.s.stallard.1 at ohio.edu

--On Tuesday, February 15, 2005 4:27 PM -0500 James Rovira 
<jrovira at drew.edu> wrote:

> I suspect that just as Milton could assume the majority of his audience
> would be repulsed by Satan from the start, so can Ms. Ostriker assume
> that her audience will at least understand attaction to Satan from the
> start.  We do spend a great deal of time with Satan at the beginning of
> Paradise Lost before meeting any other characters -- without a prior
> commitment to rejecting the Satanic as evil this, by itself, could be
> enough.  But I think the distinction between assumption and demonstration
> is a good one.
> Jim Rovira
> Angelica Duran wrote:
>> Dear scholars,
>> Someone on this list recommended Alicia Ostriker's _Dancing at the
>> Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic_.  Thank you
>> for the reference: there are so many important books to read, and we
>> can't be aware of all of them. I would recommend the slim book: very
>> interesting. The book, however, left me still wanting an account of the
>> attraction to Satan in _Paradise Lost_.
>> Angelica Duran
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