[Milton-L] Directly

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 29 13:07:22 EDT 2006


I haven't yet seen the force of the argument that the
word "directly" implies that God the Father, speaking
in PL 3.89, is either dishonest or mistaken.

We last saw Satan in PL 2.1034-1055:

But now at last the sacred influence
Of light appears, and from the walls of Heav'n [1035]
Shoots farr into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn; here Nature first begins
Her fardest verge, and Chaos to retire
As from her outmost works a brok'n foe
With tumult less and with less hostile din, [1040]
That Satan with less toil, and now with ease
Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light
And like a weather-beaten Vessel holds
Gladly the Port, though Shrouds and Tackle torn;
Or in the emptier waste, resembling Air, [1045]
Weighs his spread wings, at leasure to behold
Farr off th' Empyreal Heav'n, extended wide
In circuit, undetermind square or round,
With Opal Towrs and Battlements adorn'd
Of living Saphire, once his native Seat; [1050]
And fast by hanging in a golden Chain
This pendant world, in bigness as a Starr
Of smallest Magnitude close by the Moon.
Thither full fraught with mischievous revenge,
Accurst, and in a cursed hour he hies. [1055]

[Borrowed from
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_2/index.shtml]

We take leave of Satan as he hies toward the pendant
world, i.e., the created cosmos hanging by a golden
chain, but he still has some distance to go, for the
world is far enough distant that it appears no bigger
than a star.

We next hear of Satan, as described by God in PL
3.70-92, closely approaching the world:

... [The Almighty Father] then survey'd
Hell and the Gulf between, and Satan there [ 70 ]
Coasting the wall of Heav'n on this side Night
In the dun Air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
On the bare outside of this World, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd without Firmament, [ 75 ]
Uncertain which, in Ocean or in Air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future he beholds,
Thus to his onely Son foreseeing spake. 
Onely begotten Son, seest thou what rage [ 80 ]
Transports our adversarie, whom no bounds
Prescrib'd, no barrs of Hell, nor all the chains
Heapt on him there, nor yet the main Abyss
Wide interrupt can hold; so bent he seems
On desparate reveng, that shall redound [ 85 ]
Upon his own rebellious head. And now
Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
Not farr off Heav'n, in the Precincts of light,
Directly towards the new created World,
And Man there plac't, with purpose to assay [ 90 ]
If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert;

[Borrowed from
http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_3/index.shtml]

As some have noted, "world" at that time was the usual
term for "cosmos." Given that Satan is "Coasting the
wall of Heav'n on this side Night / ... and ready now
/ To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet / On
the bare outside of this World," then the Father seems
accurate in maintaining of Satan that "now / Through
all restraint broke loose he wings his way / Not farr
off Heav'n, in the Precincts of light, / Directly
towards the new created World." At this point, Satan's
movement is direct. He has had the newly created world
in his sights since first spying it in PL 2.1051ff,
where it appeared about the size of a star, knows from
the 'rumor' in heaven that he will find mankind there,
and has been hieing his way toward it since the moment
that he first spied it.

At the time that God describes Satan in flight, he is
winging his way directly toward the newly created
world, i.e., the cosmos, if we assume that "World" in
PL 2.74 has the same referent as "World" in PL 2.89,
which seems to me a safe assumption.

Thus, "directly," as descriptive of Satan's words at
this moment in his flight, looks accurate to me.

Jeffery Hodges

University Degrees:

Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
(Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in John's Gospel and Gnostic Texts")
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University

Email Address:

jefferyhodges at yahoo.com

Blog:

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Office Address:

Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges
Department of English Language and Literature
Korea University
136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
Seoul
South Korea

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Sehan Apt. 102-2302
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