[Milton-L]: "that sure was worse"

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Sat May 20 15:59:46 EDT 2006

Apologies if any of you receive this twice: it has not shown up in my "in"
box, so I am assuming that it was lost in cyberspace, and sending again . .

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carol Barton" <cbartonphd at earthlink.net>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Saturday, May 20, 2006 12:42 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L]: "that sure was worse"

> Jeffrey, I think you (and your daughter) are reading the line with the
> (modern) usage and emphasis, and no, I don't think Milton intended any
> of humor whatsoever here.
> The "sure" doesn't mean what it does in the modern context of "I sure I am
> hungry" (difficult to translate, but something like "I'm REALLY hungry").
> means "of a certainty": Belial is arguing that they have already
> what it means to suffer worse, BUT HE'S WRONG (except in human terms,
> bodily suffering--physical torture--is the worst thing we can imagine). In
> _Dr. Faustus_, the title character is surprised that Mephistopheles has
> "escaped" from hell because he doesn't show any of the physical (Dantean)
> signs of damnation that Faustus expects to see: but the demon responds
> this is hell, nor am I out of it." Eternal separation from God is the
> any created being can suffer, as Satan himself will tell you in his
> invocation to the Sun [Son] in Book IV, he suffers supremely, perhaps
> because he alone understands fully and completely what he has lost: God's
> "eternal wrath" translates to his own "eternal despair" of grace, his
> eternal rejection from the heavenly Paradise, his eternal separation from
> all that is good and right and happy. Indeed, there is "Hell within him,
> with him Hell /
> He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell / One step no more than from
> himself can fly / By change of place" (4.20-23). Think of Claudius, with
> crown and his queen in _Hamlet_--he has everything he ever wanted, and
> things he wanted enough to commit not only murder, but fratricide to
> them . . . yet he cannot be happy, because in his heart, he understands
> price he has paid, is paying, and will pay forevermore.
> Belial and Mammon have not yet learned to feel the torment that Satan does
> . . or to understand the futility of their machinations . . . though
> unwittingly comes close: "what can be worse/
> Then to dwell here, driv'n out from bliss, condemn'd/
> In this abhorred deep to utter woe" is to "dwell here, driv'n out from
> bliss" *understanding* the immutability of that woe--of that
> that excommunicaton.
> As for the question regarding the "eternall anarchie" of Chaos--I think
> should be read as "from its inception without end," rather than as deeply
> you and Salwa are trying--in good faith--to interpret it. Stanley Fish has
> likened Chaos to God's Home Depot--which sounds irreverent until you think
> about it. It's the place where God (being a prudent manufacturer) stores
> raw materials, elements he hasn't assembled into anything meaningful. It
> and ever shall be a place of "nothingness" in the sense of meaningful
> substance, though it is more than "nothing." I don't think there's any
> implication intended as to its being co-original with God. It is "eternal"
> in the sense of waiting eternally in the expectation that Mr. or Ms. Right
> (or Godot?) is going to come . . . not "eternal" in the sense that God is.
> That's my two cents on the subject(s), anyway.
> Best to all,
> Carol Barton

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