[Milton-L] two small queries

Miklos Peti peti_miklos at hotmail.com
Mon Dec 1 15:31:20 EST 2008

Dear Scholars,

(Forgive me if any of these have been posted before, and if so, please direct me to the appropriate archives.)

I'm teaching Book 9 of PL in these last weeks of the term, and I'd like to ask for your comment on the following two points -- that is, if they are at all problematic:

1. in line 242 Adam says to Eve "for not to irksom toile, but to delight He made us"
The question for me is: how may Adam know about the "irksomeness" of toil? 
According to a quick search I've made "irksom" appears on two other occasions in the epic: in Book 2 the fallen angels "entertain / The irksom hours", until Satan returns (lines: 526-7), and in Book 5 Eve refers to the night of her dream as "irksom nigt" (line 35). In both of the cases the use of the word is understandable: it derives from experience. But Adam has neither knowledge nor experience of "hard work" so how can he make it part of an argument?

2. This is something that one of my students called the attention to: Satan moved by Eve's beauty "gratulating" asks himself: "Thoughts, whither have ye led me, with what sweet / Compulsion thus transported to forget / What hither brought us" (lines 473-475) The use of the plural "us" might be explained on stylistical grounds (majestic plural?), but is there any other possibility to account for this shift in number?

The commentaries I have access to are silent on these points. Many thanks in advance 
for your comments and insights.

All the best,


Miklós Péti 
senior lecturer
Károli Gáspár University
Budapest, Hungary

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