[Milton-L] two small queries

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Mon Dec 1 17:16:41 EST 2008

Just generally to respond to your first query, I don't think we can assume that unfallen knowledge would have had no way of apprehending the less-than-perfect.  It has been our cultural tendency since the Romantics to deny any depth or interest to goodness, but that might be a tendency worth interrogating.   

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The U. of So. Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
601 266-6214 ofc
601 266-5757 fax


>From Miklos Peti <peti_miklos at hotmail.com>
Sent Mon 12/1/2008 2:31 PM
To milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject [Milton-L] two small queries

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?

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