[Milton-L] Directly

Susan Holtz susanholtz at gmail.com
Sun Aug 20 03:52:21 EDT 2006


I disagree that "directly" is a word without disparate meanings.  In fact,
the word could mean  simply that Satan flew at right right angles to the
surface. The OED cites an example from Fulke's Meteors, giving a not
unexpected meteorological image ("the Sunnes beames strike directly against
the earth"). However, although this image from Fulke is suggestive of
Satan's own path to earth, "directly" seems instead to mean "immediately, at
once"   Other imagery in preceding lines that refer to Satan's movement are
of thwarted or indirect movement:  at lines 70-4 Satan is "coasting" and
"ready now/ to stoop with wearied wings, and  willing feet...."   In other
words, land.  At lines 80-1, the Father points out that "rage / Transports
our adversary" (Satan is passive, his movement is here metaphorical).
Furthermore, the Father observes to the Son that Satan is "bent" on revenge
that eventually "shall redound / Upon his own rebellious head."  In
contrast, only a few lines earlier the Father "bent down his eye":
Now had th' Almighty Father from above,
>From the pure Empyrean where he sits
High Thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view ...(56-9)
The word "bent," used only 25 lines apart and so differently, can only draw
attention to Satan's indirect actions (guile) and the perverted fruits of
his labour.
When the Father uses the word "directly," it is in a line that begins by
drawing the Son's attention to time  ("And now....").   Even  here  Satan
is  not  travelling  a clear path but "Through all restraint."   When does
Satan do anything "directly"?
Thus I read the line, "And now ...he wings his way...directly [at once]
towards the world, with purpose to assay Man" (and here Satan's intentions
are further described with suggestions of perverted direction and lies, more
"bent" behaviour).

On 7/31/06, shaw at ulm.edu <shaw at ulm.edu> wrote:
>
>
> I think Milton's God the Father has all the traditional attributes but
> at the same time is immensely creative.  Foreseeing the fall, he
> creates the Son not only to create the world and redeem it but also as
> another self through whom He may recreate Himself--in his own
> image--when the fall threatens to change his very nature of being all
> just and all loving at the same time.
>
> Is this a traditional reading?
>
> Best,
> Julia Guernsey-Shaw
>
> Quoting James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>:
>
> > If Milton is intentionally portraying a God who has made a minor
> > inaccuracy, then he is portraying a God who is either mendacious or
> > lacks omniscience.
> >
> > Is it plausible that Milton would intentionally present such a God?
> >
> > My inclination is to say no, esp. given the stated intent of PL, but I
> > think this argument needs to be made from Milton's other works.  My
> > impression of Milton is that God the Father has all the traditional
> > attributes of God: infinity, omniscience, omnipotence, goodness, etc.,
> > but I'm sure others could speak in much more detail than I about this.
> >
> > Jim R
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>
>
>
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