[Milton-L] Milton and the crucifixion, etc

Arnold, Margaret mjarnold at ku.edu
Mon Aug 7 16:05:40 EDT 2006

This is not a reply to the fine posting on this subject.
Please check to make sure that I am still enrolled in the list.  Our system just went through a revision, and I have received no Milton-L posts for a week.  Anyway,
subscribe mjarnold at ku.edu
Margaret Arnold


From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu on behalf of srevard at siue.edu
Sent: Sun 7/30/2006 5:36 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton and the crucifixion, etc

The Son's role in the war in Heaven is parallel to that which Diane McColley has
shows that he plays in the creation. He restores and purges heaven of the chaos
Satan has unleashed.  God notes that the "war weared" have performed "what war
can do" and "to disorder'd rage let loose the reins"  (6.695-6), which makes
"wild work in Heav'n."  To the Son he assigns the role "Of ending this great
War, since none but Thou / Can end it" (6.702-3).
Mounting the chariot (which is itself an emblem and revelation of the glory and
majesty of his godhead), the Son commends first the faithfulness of the loyal
angels to his cause.  He then points out that the war is his to end-not theirs.

. . . not you [the loyal angels] but mee they have despis'd,
Yet envied; against mee is all thir rage,
Because the Father, t'whom in Heav'n supreme
Kingdom and Power and Glory appertains,
Hath honor'd me according to his will,
Therefore to mee thir doom he hath assign'd

The collective emphasis on mee (parallel to the Son's use of me when he offers
to save mankind in book 3) cannot leave much doubt about his crucial role he
plays.  Envy of the Son incited Satan's pride (Milton combines the two
motivations).  The war is launched against the Son as king. Therefore the Son
ends it.  Had Satan and his angels accepted him as he approaches in the chariot,
they would have been saved by that very glory they reject.  Instead  they become
obdurant.  Raphael takes care to describe this exact moment-which is relevant to
the previous discussion of obdurancy.
In heav'nly Spritis could such perverseness dwell?
 . . . They hard'n'd more by what might most reclaim,
Grieving to see his Glory (6.788-92)

At the center of the poem (as a good many critics have pointed out) the Son
assumes a role that prefigures the roles he is to take on earth in the first and
second comings.

I have said all this elsewhere in greater detail--and recently have
argued for the Son's status as king looking forward to his
assumption of kingship at the millennium when Satan is again

Stella Revard

Quoting Diane McColley <dmccolley at earthlink.net>:

> When the Son is anointed head of the angels he is brought into a closer
> relationship to created beings  When Satan rebels he remembers a
> previous prophecy in heaven that God intended to create ""another
> world, and some new race called Man . . . ."  (Bk. II.345-48).  But the
> agent of that creation is the Son, "the omnific Word," who goes forth
> with Spirit and with the golden compasses marks the bounds and says
> ""This be thy just Circumference, O World.  Thus God the Heav'n
> created, thus the Earth" [which answers another question).  Book Seven
> is all about the work of the Son, called "the Creator" (7.551) and "the
> Filial Power" (7. 585.")  That doesn't seem to me nothing to do.  If
> you want to say that the Father could have used his own voice to call
> each creature into being, rather than sending the Son,  in order to
> maintain that the Son's six days' work  is not a necessary role, I
> would say argue not the need, it's a matter of not distancing the
> natural from the spiritual,  of the Son as related to the lives of all
> the creatures from the beginning, a matter of love.
> On Jul 28, 2006, at 12:26 PM, Richard Strier wrote:
> >  (The Son in PL has no necessary role, except to serve as an irritant
> > to Satan. 

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