[Milton-L] The War in Heaven

bberry at mail1.vcu.edu bberry at mail1.vcu.edu
Wed Jul 12 16:29:01 EDT 2006

Some time back in the middle ages, I thought Joe Summers made a fine
point about the center of the poem--between bbok 6 and 7.  More, I had
noticed how almost all forms of to permit" were predicated to (at
least once distantly) to the deity--which is why I referred to him as
a permissive parent.  The talk of the chariot struck me as a feature
of the light show which accompanies the Son's approach to the
faithful.  His presence sets the vastly disrupted heaven in booking
smiles.  As for talk of shock and awe, 1)he checked his thunder in mid
volley" and 2) it would seem that, while wrath pursued Satan and pals
down, initially they jumped.  Peering into the abyss the mostrous
sight struck them with horror backward, but far worse urged them
behind behind.  headlong themselves they threw down. . . ." 

Not surprising, a person who had lived through the killing of the wars
seems to me to take pacifist jabs at militarism.

Boyd Berry

> 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
> 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
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