[Milton-L] Bee similie Pandaemonium

afleck at email.sjsu.edu afleck at email.sjsu.edu
Thu May 1 09:04:52 EDT 2008

Dear Andrea,

Welcome to Milton-L and to the study of the great epic! You've already
received some good responses, I hope. But I 
thought I might add the following. Eric C. Brown has a really fine essay on
early modern thinking about bees in a 
journal called Utopian Studies (the essay is called "Insects, colonies, and
idealization in the early America"). I hope 
your library has access to that journal; if it doesn't, you may want to
request it through inter-library loan. Or you 
can find a version of it online here:

You may find the following part of the essay relevant in helping you get

By the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
metaphorical renderings akin to Shakespeare's hive [here Brown is referring
to a conceit developed in the middle of 
Act One, Scene Two of Shakespeare's Henry V] had
become commonplace in texts treating everything from
husbandry to political representation. Thomas Moffet
completed his encyclopedic Theater of Insects in 1590,
a work that combines taxonomy with effusive moral
exegeses, some twenty-two years after probably the
first English monograph on insects, Thomas Hill's
brief A Pleasant Instruction on the Parfit Ordering of
Bees (1568). But the two texts that best exemplify
early modern insect politics might be Charles Butler's
The Feminine Monarchy: or the History of Bees (1609)
and Samuel Hartlib's epistolary collection The
Reformed Commonwealth of Bees (1655). The former
celebrates the monarchy of bees as divinely ordained,
an ardently royalist view nowhere found in Hartlib's
commonwealth, where parliamentarians could rejoice
that new domestic bee hives were being invented, some
even transparent, that affirmed an agenda of reform.

You can find the texts Brown mentions through EEBO (an online database) if
your library subscribes to it. Or you may 
find some of those texts in modern facsimile reproductions (a series called
"The English Experience" has several of 
them, I believe).

As for Milton and Salmasius: as has been mentioned there is a passage in
the "First Defense" in which Milton 
accuses Salmasius of hypocrisy (an ongoing refrain in that text) because
the Frenchman had formerly criticized the 
hierarchical arrangement of the papacy (depicted elsewhere as reflecting
the "natural" hierarchy of the beehive) and 
had then attacked the English for doing away with the "natural" political
hierarchy in the execution of Charles I. You 
can find the relevant exchange in the fourth volume of the Yale Complete
Prose Works (page 348). 

Good luck with your research!


Andy Fleck

Original Message:
From: Andrea Esther Fingar fingara1 at mail.montclair.edu
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2008 17:18:16 -0400
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: [Milton-L] Bee similie Pandaemonium 

Hello all,
I've just joined the mailing list. I'm in a Milton course at MSU and am
doing a research paper. I want to do it on the 
Bee similie. I'm really a novice since I'm an undergrad. and this is my
first experience with Milton and reading 
Paradise Lost. 
There are 2 other references to the bee. In Book V and Book VII. Are these
related to the 1st "Bee" in Book I? The 
footnote to the "bee" in Book I mentions Homer and Virgil also Salmasius'
assertion that bees compare to absolute 
monarchy, etc. Can anyone elaborate or point me in the right direction to
find material on this subject.

fingara1 at mail.montclair.edu

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