[Milton-L] Military in Heaven?

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Fri Mar 9 09:45:39 EST 2007

As I understand it, the Biblical language of ³heavenly host² means ³army.² I
assume this meaning is present in the original languages, but maybe someone
will clarify. Milton seems to intend the angelic society as a model of good
order, and I assume he is following the guidance of scripture in presenting
that order as a quasi-military one. I would think he understood the military
language as metaphoric language of ³accomodation.²

Stevie Davies, in Images of Kingship in Paradise Lost, 1983, argues that
feudal monarchy (as opposed to royal absolutism) is the model for Milton¹s
heavenly politics (130 ff). ³Satan is simply a rebel who has broken his
covenant with his feudal lord² (133). This chapter made sense to me.

Apparently, a military-style organization existed before the fall of Satan.
The bad angels follow Satan partly because he is their commander. There seem
to be mutually recognized distinctions in ³merit² among the angels which
underlie a formal hierarchy. If the feudal model is the correct one, the
hierarchical principle among angels might be morally acceptable to Milton
because (unlike human hierarchies) it is based on actual differences, it is
non-coercive, and it is softened by bonds of personal allegiance / mutual
responsibility. In rebelling, Satan of course betrays his followers as well
as his lord.


On 3/9/07 4:00 AM, "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Perhaps this question has been broached before, but why did Heaven have a
> military prior to Satan's rebellion (or did it not have)?
> Did Milton believe in a more ancient struggle with a personified Chaos and his
> forces? In the Bible, some imagery suggests that chaos was an enemy defeated
> by God. Did Milton draw upon this?
> Jeffery Hodges

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