[Milton-L] Abdiel

Peter C. Herman herman2 at mail.sdsu.edu
Thu Jun 26 18:37:18 EDT 2008

At 01:59 PM 6/26/2008, you wrote:
>Some Thoughts
>1.  M. Bell argues for a fallen state before falling on an explicit 
>argument from cause.  Any argument that attributes a causal chain to 
>Adam's act, as she rightfully points out, must take us back to 
>God.  She does not reject causal explanations, but she should 
>have.  Causal chains are descriptions, not explanations.  If God 
>caused the fall, the poem makes almost no sense.

Well, it makes a different kind of sense. If you assume, as many on 
this list do, that Milton could not possibly think anything negative 
about God, then yes, the poem will make almost no sense. But if you 
change the governing assumption (or the interpretive paradigm), then 
other possibilities arise.

To quote a line from Blake that Joseph Wittreich is fond of, the eye 
altering alters all

Peter C. Herman

>2.  Thoughts did not cause the fall, but they are in integral part 
>of evil,  God requires voluntary service.  Adam and Eve must intend 
>what they do for it to be wrong.  Whether Eve was deceived or not is 
>less important than that she thought her way to the act.  The act 
>itself underdetermines its nature as evil (and its consequences).
>3. Abdiel's role seems to me to be as much to distinguish Christian 
>and spiritual power from political power (how Satan sees the world) 
>and to allow Satan to meditate on his origins, as Adam does in 
>Book  8.  They come to different conclusions, but as Adam says, how 
>himself beginning knew.  Neither can logically justify his 
>view.  This is one of many examples in the poem in which Milton 
>compromises if not abandons his rationalist agenda.  Otherwise his 
>role seems too small to allegorize into a moral position.
>Kim Maxwell
>Milton-L mailing list
>Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
>Manage your list membership and access list archives at 

More information about the Milton-L mailing list