[Milton-L] I had to share this

Jeffrey Shoulson jshoulson at miami.edu
Mon May 1 14:15:30 EDT 2006

Let's not forget, however, that this misidentification of Dante and  
other Catholics as something other than Christian was very much at  
the heart of English Protestantism during Milton's time and that  
Milton was not above such an assertion.  See, for instance, the  
famous autobiographical introduction to the second book of The Reason  
of Church Government:
"That what the greatest and choycest wits of Athens, Rome, or modern  
Italy, and those Hebrews of old did for their country, I in my  
proportion with this over and above of being a Christian, might doe  
for mine: not caring to be once nam'd abroad, though perhaps I could  
attaine to that, but content with these British Ilands as my world,  
whose fortune hath hitherto bin, that if the Athenians, as some say,  
made their small deeds great and renowned by their eloquent writers,  
England hath had her noble atchievments made small by the unskilfull  
handling of monks and mechanicks."
Notice how the modern Italians are classified with the Ancient Greeks  
and Romans, i.e., the non-Christians.
Now the students in question may not have been alluding to this in  
their own assertions, but their innocent misstatements can be used as  
helpful teaching moments!
Jeffrey Shoulson

Jeffrey S. Shoulson, Ph. D.
Associate Professor of English
Director, George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies (ON LEAVE, AY  
Fellow, Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies
University of Miami
5202 University Drive
Merrick 105
Coral Gables, FL 33146

(o) 305-284-8180
(f) 305-284-8190

jshoulson at miami.edu

On May 1, 2006, at 12:21 PM, <gilliaca at jmu.edu> wrote:

>> My favorite student blooper regarding Milton occurred almost
> a decade
>> ago in a sophomore World Lit class:
>>      "Dante was a Catholic.  In contrast, Milton was a
> Christian."
>> Oh the joys of teaching in the Bible belt!
> Yes indeed. Some years ago I taught an honors seminar in
> which we read the Aeneid, the Divine Comedy, and Paradise
> Lost. One of my students complained that when we left 'that
> pagan' [Vergil] we went to a heretic [Dante]. Boy was she
> surprised at some of the things she found in PL!
> C
> Cynthia A. Gilliatt
> English Department, JMU
> JMU Safe Zones participant
> "You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people  
> you hate." Fr. John Weston
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