[Milton-L] Free Will, Forgiveness

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Thu Jul 27 13:06:02 EDT 2006

Much appreciation for Prof. Herman's reply -- but wouldn't that go
against Milton's stated intent to "justify the ways of God to man?"
How does one justify God's ways to man by presenting God as unsavory,
cruel, and mendacious?  I can accept a deliberate presentation of that
kind of a God given a -different- intent by Milton, but not that one.

My guess would be that the rightness of God was presumed by Milton and
presumed by Milton to also be presumed by his audience, so his
presentation of God was to be read in that light.  The Romantic
rereading of Milton's Satan would then signify a dramatic shift in the
nature of Milton's audience.

But still, my question is sincere.  My guess is just a guess.

I appreciate Jason Kerr's reply too and feel it advances the
discussion well, and look forward to the day his email settings are

Jim R

On 7/27/06, Peter C. Herman <herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu> wrote:

>  Jim Rovira's choices repeat a paradigm that is very common in treatments of
> Milton's God. Faced with a depiction of God that goes against expectation,
> critics either attribute the anomaly to an artistic failing on Milton's part
> ("he is poorly written"), or the impossibility of the task, the assumption
> being that Milton could not possibly have meant for God to come across as a
> narrow-minded tyrant. However, as I've demonstrated elsewhere, critiques of
> God were far from uncommon in the latter seventeenth century (commentaries
> on the Book of Job, for instance, rocket during this period), and given the
> vast amount of evidence within PL that God is a deeply unsavory character,
> who is not only cruel, but mendacious, perhaps we should assume that Milton
> knew what he was doing (he did not fail artistically in other parts of the
> poem, so why here?), and deal with poem Milton wrote, not the poem we wish
> he would have written.
>  Peter C. Herman

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