[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

jfleming at sfu.ca jfleming at sfu.ca
Wed Jul 12 09:27:47 EDT 2006

On Tue, 11 Jul 2006 19:14:54 -0500 milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:
> 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.)

I would tend to turn this around and say that, since the poem (and M's prose
works) make the rule-proving exception of God so exceptionally clear, it is
hardly useful to complain about it. The question is not whether God is a
tyrant, but whether this is the question. Satan constantly says "yes." 
JD Fleming

> 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)!
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James Dougal Fleming, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English,
Simon Fraser University,
(604) 291-4713
cell: 778-865-0926

Laissez parler les faits.

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