[Milton-L] Satan's repentance; response to Alan Rudrum

Stephen Fallon fallon.1 at nd.edu
Thu Jul 20 11:48:28 EDT 2006

Good question, Alan.  I see the force of the theological language. 
The language of ordination perhaps undermines my distinction between 
prescriptive and descriptive.  But perhaps not.  The word appears 
also in the passage at issue in Book 3:

I formed them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained
Their freedom; they themselves ordained their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived                 
By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none: in mercy and justice both,
Through Heav'n and Earth, so shall my glory excel,
But mercy first and last shall brightest shine.  (3.124-34)

This is (significantly, I think) the only use of any form of "ordain" 
in Paradise Lost in which God is not the ordainer.  The Father uses 
theological language here ironically. If the fall is ordained, as 
some claim, it is ordained by creature and not creator.  If Satan 
ordains his own fall, and if he chooses not to repent, then in a 
sense "his place [is] / Ordained without redemption, without end."

Steve Fallon

>But look at Book 5, lines 611-615:
>him who disobeys
>Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day
>Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls
>Into utter darkness, deep engulfed, his place
>Ordained without redemption, without end.
>       . . . .
>Does Steve Fallon think the word "ordained" is prescriptive, or 
>merely descriptive?
>Alan Rudrum

Stephen M. Fallon
Professor of  Liberal Studies and English
368 Decio Hall
U of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

574/631-6598 o
sfallon at nd.edu
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