[Milton-L] Abdiel

Jesse Swan jesse.swan at uni.edu
Wed Jun 25 14:09:56 EDT 2008


Treason law was changed in the period, quite infamously, from my view, 
to make "compassing" the king's death satisfactorily known to a court by 
securing only one person's testimony, rather than two, as before, 
leading to Sir Walter Ralegh's great consternation and, eventually, 
execution.  Milton in his PL, of course, doesn't have to worry about 
this, however, since the great judge there knows all, never mind the 
number or quality of people or other agents testifying.

jesse

Peter C. Herman wrote:
> At 10:33 AM 6/25/2008, you wrote:
>> Yes, Peter. (Under James II, I believe: he was terrified of 
>> assassination.)
>
> Actually, it happened much earlier, either under Henry VIII or 
> Elizabeth, I forget which.
>
> pch
>
>> But--
>>
>> pace Bill Hunter's blessed ghost, if we factor in Milton's definition 
>> of "sin" in DDC, the thought alone is not enough. Even sin itself "is 
>> not properly an act," if I recall his argument correctly. (It's the 
>> negation.)
>>
>> Best to all,
>>
>> Carol
>>
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Peter C. Herman" 
>> <herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu>
>> To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 1:28 PM
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Abdiel
>>
>>
>>> I do not have the precise referents at hand, but I wonder if the 
>>> changes in early modern treason law might be applicable to this 
>>> discussion. If I am remembering correctly, the law was changed to 
>>> include "compassing" the king's death. In other words, whereas all 
>>> other crimes required a guilty act and a guilty intention, treason 
>>> required only a guilty intention. Simply thinking about it was 
>>> enough for conviction. Perhaps that is the case in PL as well. Sin 
>>> may not necessarily involve an act: merely "approving" would be enough.
>>>
>>> pch
>>>
>>> At 10:10 AM 6/25/2008, you wrote:
>>>> James Rovira suggests Adam and Eve could only sin by acting against 
>>>> the sole
>>>> commandment, not by thinking. If we take Adam's statement as 
>>>> authoritative
>>>> -- "Evil into the mind of god or man / May come and go, so 
>>>> unapproved, and
>>>> leave / No spot or blame behind" -- doesn't that mean one could sin by
>>>> approving a wrong thought? If so, Adam sins with the thought, 
>>>> "Certain my
>>>> resolution is to die." Also, Satan gives birth to Sin before he 
>>>> takes overt
>>>> action. Having sex with her would then be taking "approval" up a 
>>>> notch.
>>>>
>>>> I don't find any OED senses of "approve" that quite mean "act 
>>>> upon," though
>>>> some are close.
>>>>
>>>> Could there be "spot or blame" short of the big fall and its 
>>>> consequences?
>>>> As Millicent Bell says, Milton had to endow Eve and Adam with some 
>>>> degree of
>>>> human weakness in order to motivate their actions, as God 
>>>> apparently did in
>>>> order to leave them "free to fall."
>>>>
>>>> Michael
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On 6/24/08 9:06 PM, "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> > Might want to be careful about importing Christian notions of
>>>> > fallenness into the Garden of Eden.  Thought and desire can be > sin
>>>> > even as of the Mosaic law (do not covet), and sin in thought and
>>>> > desire is emphasized in the Sermon on the Mount, but the only > 
>>>> command
>>>> > available to be broken for Adam and Eve was not to eat the fruit. 
>>>> > I
>>>> > don't think it's possible for them to have sinned until they
>>>> > physically acted.  It's also possible to commit wrong acts out of
>>>> > "right" motives -- the Genesis account ascribes the desire for > 
>>>> wisdom
>>>> > (a positive motive) to Eve in her motivation to eat the fruit. > NT
>>>> > commentators claim that by thinking this Eve was deceived. > 
>>>> Adam's sin
>>>> > is worse, then, in that he deliberately chose to sin to remain > 
>>>> with
>>>> > Eve.
>>>> >
>>>>
>>>>
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-- 
Jesse G. Swan, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of the University Faculty
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0502
319/273-2089



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