[Milton-L] De Doc and PL

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Wed Jan 7 11:49:47 EST 2009

Thanks to Louis Schwartz for the reminder of Milton's care to allow room for
"brotherly dissimilitude"; to me, this is one of the most appealing aspects
of Milton's thought (though I recognize that his tolerance had its limits).
Might not this allowance be one of the gaps between poem and tract
identified by John Hale as the point of interest? It's not that DDC is more
Arian than PL, but that DDC is more *openly* Arian, i.e., less accommodating
of Trinitarian readers. Would a Trinitarian necessarily fall into the
category of the "grievous wolves" Michael condemns in Book 12, who turn "the
sacred mysteries of Heav'n / To thir own vile advantages" (12.509-10), even
though Milton doesn't think Trinitarianism has scriptural warrant and thinks
it tainted by association with Constantine and Nicaea?

Of course, I speak as a relative neophyte to the study of DDC, a deep pool
in which I have only begun to wade. Already John Hale has convinced me to
think more closely about the relevance of genre. Thanks to all for an
enlightening discussion.

Jason A. Kerr

On Wed, Jan 7, 2009 at 11:02 AM, Schwartz, Louis <lschwart at richmond.edu>wrote:

>  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
> *ortho*pedic 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.
> L.
> ===========================
> Louis Schwartz
> Associate Professor of English
> University of Richmond
> Richmond, VA  23173
> (804) 289-8315
> 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.
> Michael
> 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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The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

          —Czeslaw Milosz, from "Ars Poetica?"
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