[Milton-L] Re: The War in Heaven
mgillum at unca.edu
Sat Jul 15 17:25:16 EDT 2006
Sorry if I misattributed a statement to Michael Bryson.
I think everyone agrees that there is a difference between GodR (real
in the understanding of monotheists) and GodF (fictive character in
PL), also that Milton knew his own conception of GodR would
necessarily be a partial representation of the metaphysical reality.
In speaking of "God" in reference to PL, I would always intend to
refer to GodF, the poem's Father, or the Father/Son complex, which PL
sometimes calls "God."
Michael Bryson in his essays argues vigorously for a wide,
deliberate, ironic gap between Milton's idea of GodR and GodF, and he
also seeks to pry apart the Father and the Son. It isn't necessary
even to dispute that argument directly to see that the poem presents
very clearly the ontological gap between God and Satan-- God created
Heaven, created Satan, showered him with blessings, foresaw all his
actions, etc. Also the poem presents very clearly the relation
between ontological status and legitimate power, in Adam's initial
philosophizing, Abdiel's speech, and the condemnation of Nimrod, just
to name a few spots. MB wrote in his last post:
"[H]ow is it possible that there can be any heavenly politics in
Paradise Lost that are not drawn from the categories of earthly
I'm not sure I understand the question. It may well be that Biblical
representations of God as kingly, Christ reigning, etc., originated
as shadows of earthly kingship, rather than, as James I and other
absolutists claimed, the other way around. However, Milton
represented kingship in Heaven because he found it in scripture.
According to the doctrine of accommodation, kingship would be an
appropriate way for us to think of GodR's power. Somewhere in the
political prose, Milton denies the analogy between heavenly and
earthly kingship that was used to support earthly monarchy. Likewise,
I think it is wrong to make an analogy between heavenly and earthly
kingship in order to discredit the heavenly kind. The two are
differently grounded, in that the Stuarts have set themselves up in
glory above their peers, whereas God has made everything he rules
over. That is why I keep saying the ontological gap should be taken
into account when talking about the political relationships among
Father, Son, angels, and rebels.
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