[Milton-L] Abdiel, hypocrisy, temptation

Watt, James jwatt at butler.edu
Fri Jun 27 14:42:11 EDT 2008

Excellent reminder, Patricia!  And we still can't identify hypocrisy.  Doesn't keep us from charging it all around ourselves.  And not seeing our own.  Source, one wonders, of Divine Humor after the example of bad boy Jon Stewart (Steward, that is)?

Jim Watt
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Patricia Stewart [pstewart at uga.edu]
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 1:59 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Abdiel, hypocrisy, temptation

One of the givens in PL is the inability of all creatures, save God, to spot hypocrisy:
For neither man nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth;
And oft though Wisdom wake, Suspicion sleeps
At Wisdom's gate, and to Simplicity
Resigns her charge, while Goodness thinks no ill
Where no ill seems:  . . . (3.682-689)
Thus Abdiel accepts Satan's call to meet; Uriel, "sharpest-sighted spirit of all in Heaven" and sent to guard Earth from Satan, himself gives Satan directions to the new creation, and Eve fails to perceive the disguised evil in the Serpent  and its argument.
Since they can't see disguised Evil once it appears, all are destined to be tempted at some time.  That's how the Milton universe works.
When tempted, are they soiled?  Adam says yes.  He wishes to shield Eve so that she might "avoid The Attempt itself, intended by our foe, /For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses [emphasis mine] /The tempted with dishonor foul. . ."(9.294-297)    Eve disagrees.
So I come back to the question:  does being tempted itself denigrate the tempted?  Is Abdiel less pure after facing temptation and rejecting it? is Eve soiled simply by the act of visiting the tree and listening to the Serpent's argument?

Patricia Stewart, UGa retired

More information about the Milton-L mailing list