[Milton-L] Re: Strier and the deception of Satan's followers

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Fri Jul 21 09:37:44 EDT 2006

I agree with Michael Gillum that Milton really muddies the waters here; I am
generally interested in trying to understand what Peter C. Herman calls
Milton's poetics of incertitude. One of my problems with Tanner's very
illuminating book is that for all its erudition (for instance, reconciling
the allegory at the end of Book 2 to the rest of PL) it ends up seeming
tidier than Milton's poem. I seem to have been guilty of the same thing in
my post by definitively putting Satan's followers in the category of
self-deceived. That said, I still maintain that the messy chronology leaves
open the possibility that they _are_ self-deceived, while other elements of
the poem leave open the possibility that they are not. Perhaps the question
to ask is not whether or not Satan's followers are deceived, but what
implications the poem's willful lack of clarity on this point bring to the
larger questions of justice and mercy we've been debating. But I suppose
that's already being asked, if not so directly.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone for the lively discussion. This is why I want
to be a Miltonist.

Jason A. Kerr

Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 19:13:52 -0400
> From: Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu>
> Subject: [Milton-L] Re: Strier and the deception of Satan's followers
> To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> Message-ID: <a06230901c0e5bbc95439@[]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" ; format="flowed"
> With reference to Jason Kerr's first point, why should "he [Satan]
> resolv'd / With all his Legions to dislodge" not simply mean "Satan
> resolved to move out and take along the angels under his command" as
> opposed to "Satan and his followers resolved to forsake God"? He has
> Beelzebub tell them this order is from the "Most High" while
> insinuating this and that.   The troops may or may not believe the
> order came from God, may or may not understand that "fit
> entertainment" for Messiah is battle rather than feasting. I think
> Milton does everything he can to muddy up this point.
> Michael Gillum
"Den som vover mister Fodfæste et Øieblick;
den som ikke vover mister Livet."
                                    -Søren Kierkegaard
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