[Milton-L] two small queries

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Mon Dec 1 16:19:49 EST 2008

Regarding your first question, Adam¹s powerful intellect is able to grasp
things that he has not experienced, for example that he was created by a
³great Maker² or that copulation leads to reproduction.  I suppose it¹s
through what we would call an act of imagination that he understands how the
pleasant work A&E enjoy would become irksome toil if it were accelerated
like Charlie Chaplin¹s assembly line in Modern Times.

Thanks for pointing out the ³us,² which I hadn¹t noticed and for which have
no suggestion beyond what you say. To students it will seem Gollum-ish.


On 12/1/08 3:31 PM, "Miklos Peti" <peti_miklos at hotmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> Miklós Péti 
> senior lecturer
> Károli Gáspár University
> Budapest, Hungary
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