[Milton-L] milton's all

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 20 14:43:29 EDT 2007

This discussion becomes ever more fascinating:
  "Like Plutarch and other ancient writers, Milton is a many-worlds
 cosmologist. (In his case the multiple worlds are heaven, earth, chaos, and
 hell.)" (Harold Skulsky)
  Depending on what you mean by "earth," then there may be more "worlds," for in PL 3.561-571, Satan passes by several of them as he descends toward our world:
  He views in bredth, and without longer pause
Down right into the Worlds first Region throws
His flight precipitant, and windes with ease
Through the pure marble Air his oblique way
Amongst innumerable Starrs, that shon [ 565 ]
Stars distant, but nigh hand seemd other Worlds,
Or other Worlds they seemd, or happy Iles,
Like those Hesperian Gardens fam'd of old,
Fortunate Fields, and Groves and flourie Vales,
Thrice happy Iles, but who dwelt happy there [ 570 ]
He stayd not to enquire:
  From this passage, I'd suggest that Milton uses "world" ambiguously, sometimes for the entire 'cosmos' created by the Son after the fallen angels are expelled from heaven, sometimes for 'stars' (like the earth?) within that 'cosmos'.
  But perhaps Professor Skulsky meant "heaven, the world, chaos, and hell"? -- the "world" being, in this case, the 'cosmos' created by the Son.
  Jeffery Hodges

Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at email.smith.edu> wrote:
  Teskey's interpretation of PL 7.168-173 won't work, at least as paraphrased by Machacek. If God withdraws to heaven from some sector of space, then the unqualified claim of divine omnipresence is false. 

What God the Father actually says here, on the contrary, is that space is still NOT EMPTY--he remains omnipresent--EVEN THOUGH HE "RETIRES" HIMSELF. The "retirement" in question is not his departure from a given space, but (as God explicitly glosses "retire" ad loc.) his free choice not to "act"--put forth "goodness" creatively--at a space that he nevertheless continues to occupy. He has not been brought on absurdly to compromise one of his own essential attributes.

Like Plutarch and other ancient writers, Milton is a many-worlds cosmologist. (In his case the multiple worlds are heaven, earth, chaos, and hell.) The *metacosmia* or intervals between the worlds are precisely parts of the essential substance of God ("I AM WHO fill infinitude") where he practices "retirement" by choosing (so far) not to create. In short, the universe or totality in which the Miltonic worlds are embedded is God himself, not some created matrix-cosmos or "multiverse." 

By virtue of his essential omnipresence, Milton's God is an essentially spatial (or "extended" or "material") being; but this will come as no surprise to readers of CD.

(Incidentally, the "verse" in "universe" is not etymologically a reference to the revolution of the spheres. *Universus-a-um" is an archaic Latin synonym of *omnis* "all"; the point of "versus" is that, to constitute an "all" or totality, many things need to be "turned" into one collective thing (*uni-*). As a cosmological term, *universum*--"the All" par excellence--is Latin for Gk *to pan.*)

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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

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