[Milton-L] Free Will, Forgiveness, "Directly"

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Thu Jul 27 21:28:31 EDT 2006

>  [PCH wrote] Satan then looks down "with wonder at the sudden view / 
>Of all this World at once" (3.543-44), but by "world," the narrator 
>means "th'Earth" (3.528). In sum, when God says that Satan wings his 
>way toward "the new created World," the reference is to Earth, not 
>the entire universe.

--The description of the "World" that Satan sees from the stairs 
sweeps from Libra to Andromeda (3.558-59). He is looking into our 
whole cosmos.  There is no mention of Earth or the sun except in a 
simile expressing the explorer's relief and delight. Again, the whole 
cosmos or "pendent World" (2.1052) was the visual target of Satan's 
navigation which the Father described as "Directly toward the new 
created World." Earth, with Man placed there, is of course included.

>  [PCH wrote]Third, Satan "scal'd by steps of Gold to Heav'n Gate" (3.542).

--Satan didn't scale the steps; rather the steps scale above him 
toward Heaven. He stands on a lower step  and looks through the 
aperture to view the interior of our cosmos.

Satan from hence now on the lower stair
That scaled by steps of gold to heaven's gate
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at once. (3.542-45)

--It is true that  Satan doesn't know  exactly where Paradise is, but 
he knows it is within the "pendent World," and he heads there as 
directly as he can. I don't see any reason to accuse the Father of 
dissembling with the word "directly."

Michael Gillum

>>  And God does not let Satan in to heaven to speak with Uriel.
>The description of the stairs (ll.500 ff.) says otherwise. They are, 
>so the narrator reminds us, sometimes "drawn up to Heav'n" (3.516), 
>and while it is true that nobody is quite sure who exactly lets the 
>stairs down, the choice the narrator gives us once more leaves no 
>doubt as to where the stairs lead: "whether to dare / The fiend by 
>easie ascent, or aggravate / His sad exclusion from the dores of 
>Bliss" (3.525-26). Third, Satan "scal'd by steps of Gold to Heav'n 
>Gate" (3.542). Satan then looks down "with wonder at the sudden view 
>/ Of all this World at once" (3.543-44), but by "world," the 
>narrator means "th'Earth" (3.528). In sum, when God says that Satan 
>wings his way toward "the new created World," the reference is to 
>Earth, not the entire universe.
>>   Uriel inhabits the sun, itself a part of the "new created world." 
>>Satan does see the sun from the stairs, but he is not admitted to 
>That's not clear, because Satan does not try to enter through the 
>"dores of Bliss." Perhaps they would have been closed to him, 
>perhaps not. Satan voluntarily remains on the outskirts, because he 
>is not, I think, looking to get back into Heaven. He wants Eden, and 
>despite God's earlier assertion, Satan does not know the location of 
>Eden, which is why Satan must find someone "who might direct his 
>wandring flight" (3.632). By saying that Satan "wings his way / .../ 
>Directly toward the new created World," God erases from his account 
>both Uriel's partial responsibility (he gave Satan the right 
>directions) and the responsibility for the unknown agent who let 
>down the stairs in the first place. Which leads me to Prof. Fallon's 
>next point:
>>I'm troubled more by the implication that God, not to be judged 
>>cruel, must do everything he can do to prevent our temptation.
>I don't know about "everything," but certainly, according to the 
>story the narrator gives us, God could have done a great deal more 
>to prevent the Fall than He does, and the narrative He gives in Book 
>3, a narrative that is all about blame, carefully elides all those 
>moments that make apparent God's contributions to the chain of 
>events leading up to the Fall.
>Peter C. Herman
>Milton-L mailing list
>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
>Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
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