[Milton-L] prohi-BITS / Smile, you're in hell!
dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Fri Jan 1 12:30:53 EST 2010
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL GUYS! But, if 2010 happened to look like the
same hell as before, don't forget that ---
... such wherein appeared
Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their Chief
Not in despair...
(PL I: 523-525)
Once again, Milton denies the tenets of all previous demonology.
Devils were supposed to have no joy, as well as no friendship. They
were completely in despair, and though they joined together in order
to harm mankind, they shared no inner feelings: they only cooperated
as the members of a criminal gang do. Whereas in PL they are called
“friends” exactly like the angels.
Dante, Inferno canto 21, did show us many devils laughing and joking,
but that was not real joy, it was just a cat-with-the-mouse attitude
towards the damned souls and the visitor in flesh (Dante himself). In
fact they soon proved eager to wrestle against one another.
The only Chistian writer who, before Milton, conjectured devils as
being able to have mixed feelings, even to improve their own behavior,
was Origen in the 3rd century.
It is anyway true that Milton’s Satan does not trust his followers (PL
II: 466 ff). And the joy for his successful enterprise will fade
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