[Milton-L] online diagrams of Milton's cosmos?

Dennis Danielson danielso at interchange.ubc.ca
Tue Sep 18 11:16:25 EDT 2007

When it comes to the cosmos, I worry that to depict is to distort. In 
modern Standard Model (big bang) cosmology, baryonic matter--the kind 
that is potentially visible--is now estimated to make up about 4% of the 
mass of the universe. In other words, if you try to depict our physical 
cosmos in any straightforward sense of the term, you automatically leave 
out 96% of it.

Efforts to depict Milton's cosmos (I'm thinking of the diagram I believe 
W. C. Curry made, which was reprinted in the Hughes Complete Poems) 
almost inevitably make Milton more Ptolemaic than he was. Even within 
the "skin" or "crust" of the universe that Satan enters through that 
famous hatch, there are lots of Copernican/Galilean features: the moon 
and the earth are both viewed from the sun as sharing their light with 
each other (they are both stars); the stars past which Satan flies don't 
seem to be borne by crystalline spheres--at least he doesn't bump into 
any, etc.

But most dramatically, that whole cosmos ("this pendent world") is an 
almost indiscernibly small point of light when viewed from far out on 
the fringes of Chaos. Thus we need some word more encompassing than 
"cosmos" to describe Milton's heaven, hell, chaos, and (relatively 
speaking) tiny cosmos.

And if our powers of description here fail, then so too perhaps must our 
powers of depiction.

Best wishes to all,
Dennis D

Burbery, Timothy wrote:
> Dear List, 
> I'm looking for a good, easily downloaded, diagram/illustration of
> Milton's universe, which of course combines Ptolemaic and Copernican
> features. While there are a lot of good diagrams of Ptolemy's system
> online, I have yet to come across any that show Milton's particular
> combination of Ptolemy and Copernicus/Digges. I've also found some of
> Tycho Brahe's system, which is also a hybrid system, but none that
> illustrate Milton's cosmos.   
> Thanks in advance, 
> Tim Burbery
> Marshall University 
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Dennis Danielson
Professor and Head
Department of English
University of British Columbia
#397 - 1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1
telephone: 604-822-3174
Author: The First Copernican
WEB: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ddaniels/

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