[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

Richard Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Tue Jul 11 20:14:54 EDT 2006

Some remarks from the Empson camp:

1) It's hardly useful to be informed that to rebel against a tyrant 
is good, whereas to rebel against God is bad-- when the whole issue 
is whether God (as represented in the poem and perhaps in the bible) 
is a tyrant.  (Note:  Tyrants think their will is law; tyrants are 
capricious; tyrants enjoy exercising their power.)

2) There's a large amount of nasty jeering at Satan in the poem for 
not understanding that "omnipotent" really means "stronger than 
everybody."  Hah, hah-- you lose!  (God smiting his enemies [and 
laughing them to scorn in the process] is one of the nastier strains 
in the Hebrew bible-- picked up  in some of the most unpleasant 
moments in the Christian continuation).

3) Yes, PL tries to back off from the display of Power as sheer force 
which we (undoubtedly) get at the end of the War.  Book VII gives us 
Creation, but its strong Lucretian dimension makes its picture of 
this cosmic process very different from the decree model in Genesis 
(which is the true counterpart to the  smiting alluded to above).

Just to keep things lively (since the pornography discussion died down)!

More information about the Milton-L mailing list