[Milton-L] De Doc and PL

Schwartz, Louis lschwart at richmond.edu
Wed Jan 7 11:02:11 EST 2009

I think Michael Gillum's formulation below captures the most reasonable and attentive position very clearly and elegantly.  Milton, after all, would have though of the Arian aspects of his Christology as a "brotherly dissimilitude."  That would have been his understanding of the hetero part of his heterodoxy.  The poem is not supposed to be a pair of orthopedic shoes, after all, for those who might follow any one of several paths to what he would have thought of as the same goal.  No?  He wouldn't have held that ALL paths one might imagine could lead to that goal, but he was dedicated to allowing for a reasonably wide array of possibilities, and final judgment among them was not something he'd have though anyone at any given time was capable of.


Louis Schwartz
Associate Professor of English
University of Richmond
Richmond, VA  23173
(804) 289-8315
lschwart at richmond.edu<mailto:lschwart at richmond.edu>

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Gillum
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 10:10 AM
To: milton-l
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] De Doc and PL

John, perhaps in traditional usage "esoteric" would mean the deeper or higher meaning, but I think in Harold Skulsky's analysis it refers to a subordinate meaning. Arguments about Christology are secondary to Milton's main purposes in PL, which are to affirm divine justice, to explore the nature of the Fall, etc. I suppose Milton did not want to fudge his Arian positions but neither did he want to thrust them into obvious view- not only because he wanted to avoid trouble, but also because he wanted to avoid alienating otherwise "fit" readers. So he dramatized the Son's subordination in an understated way rather than stating it overtly.


On 1/6/09 8:38 PM, "John Hale" <john.hale at otago.ac.nz> wrote:
   5. The distinction between PL's exoteric and esoteric meanings leaves me unsure.  The labels once explained two different sets of philosophical writing, exoterikoi and esoterikoi logoi, for two different readerships, whereas on this hypothesis both apply to one and the same poem.
    6. The idea certainly puts a new edge into the remark about "fit audience though few," but at the cost of an even more complicated theoretical tussle than usual about a poet's intention.  Milton would now have a twofold intention.  (All the time, or some of the time, or what?)

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