[Milton-L]: "that sure was worse" and "Eternal Anarchie"

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Sat May 20 13:29:22 EDT 2006

"that sure was worse"

Carol Barton wrote:

>>Jeffrey, I think you (and your daughter) are reading
the line with the wrong (modern) usage and emphasis,
and no, I don't think Milton intended any kind of
humor whatsoever here. The "sure" doesn't mean what it
does in the modern context of "I sure am hungry"
(difficult to translate, but something like "I'm
REALLY hungry"). It means "of a certainty":<<

(Actually, it's "Jeffery.")

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, I realize that "sure" means something like
"really" or "of a certainty."

(And I'm not sure that my daughter was reacting to
"sure" in the way that a native speaker of English
might, for she uses Korean a lot more than she does
English, but you may be correct.)

I thought that there might be some dark humor anyway,
an implicit ridicule of Moloch's view.

>>Belial is arguing that they have already experienced
what it means to suffer worse, BUT HE'S WRONG (except
in human terms, where bodily suffering -- physical
torture -- is the worst thing we can imagine) ....
Eternal separation from God is the worst 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, for 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)....<<

I recognize that from the Christian perspective (which
Milton shares), the fallen angels are in the worst
possible state, i.e., eternally separated from God.

However, within that state, there are various possible
conditions that could be better or worse. In terms of
hell's conditions, being chained to a burning lake is
worse than being free of those chains.

Christian tradition has also recognized the different
conditions among the eternally damned. Think of
Dante's circles of hell or of the Church's teachings
on Limbo. (If I recall, even Erebus found a place in
Medieval Christian thought.)

Of couse, Milton in his radical Protestantism might
reject any such thinking, but he seems to imply that
the future holds worse in store for the fallen angels,
i.e., the final judgement.


"Eternal Anarchie"

Carol Barton wrote:

>>As for the question regarding the "eternall
anarchie" of Chaos--I think that should be read as
"from its inception without end," rather than as
deeply as you and Salwa are trying -- in good faith --
to interpret it.<<

Your suggestion would be similar to but better
expressed than speculation number 3 of my original
query (posted here and on my blog):


How is Milton using the word "Eternal" here?

Does he mean: (1) Endlessly into past and future? (2)
Endlessly into the past from the point that Satan
first gazes into Chaos? (3) Endlessly into the future
from the point that Satan first gazes into Chaos? (4)
In a metaphorical sense of "eternal" as "incessant"?
(5) Or does Milton mean "timeless" -- time, after all,
is lost here (line 894).

I'd now alter number 3 (to read more as you've put
it): "Endlessly from its inception."

I'm not yet committed to any one of these four, merely

I'm trying -- unsuccessfully -- to recall if Milton
states anywhere that God creates chaos. Could anyone
help me on this?

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



Office Address:

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

Home Address:

Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
Sehan Apt. 102-2302
Sinnae-dong 795
Seoul 131-770
South Korea

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