[Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian Cosmos

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 20:21:38 EST 2010

PS - The footnote in the Milton Reading Room to the word "season" below
cites Orgel and Goldberg, who argue that the word "seasons" here means times
of the day, rather than seasons of the year, as seasons do not begin until
after the fall.  I'm aware that that is a common theological notion, but it
would be nice to see some direct reference in PL.

This reference to seasons in book 3 indicates a change of seasons in the
usual sense of the word:

Thus with the Year [ 40 ]
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or Summers Rose,
Or flocks, or heards, or human face divine;

Satan is of course describing his fallen state, using the change of seasons
as a metaphor, but if seasons didn't change on earth...?

Then there's the voice of the Creator in bk 7:

Again th' Almightie spake: Let there be
High in th' expanse of Heaven to divide [ 340 ]
The Day from Night; and let them be for Signes,
For Seasons, and for Dayes, and circling Years,

Witness this new-made World, another Heav'n
>From Heaven Gate not farr, founded in view
On the cleer Hyaline<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_7/notes.shtml#hyaline>,
the Glassie Sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with Starr's [ 620 ]
Numerous, and every Starr perhaps a World
Of destind habitation; but thou know'st
Thir seasons: among these the seat of men,
Earth with her nether Ocean circumfus'd,
Thir pleasant dwelling place.

There's Raphael's instruction to Adam in Bk. 8:

To ask or search I blame thee not, for Heav'n
Is as the Book of
thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous Works, and learne
His Seasons, Hours, or Dayes, or Months, or Yeares:
This to attain, whether Heav'n move or Earth, [ 70 ]

Now this in Bk 10 is seems clear, and takes place after the fall:

Some say he bid his Angels turne ascanse
The Poles of Earth twice ten degrees and more
>From the Suns Axle; they with labour push'd [ 670 ]
Oblique the Centric Globe: Som
Was bid turn Reines<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#reines>
 from th' Equinoctial Rode
Like distant breadth to
the Seav'n
Atlantick Sisters, and the Spartan Twins
Up to the Tropic Crab; thence down amaine [ 675 ]
By Leo and the Virgin and the Scales,
As deep as Capricorne, to bring in change
Of Seasons to each Clime; else had the Spring
Perpetual smil'd on Earth with
Equal in Days and
except to those [ 680 ]
Beyond the Polar Circles; to them Day
Had unbenighted shon, while the low Sun
To recompence his distance, in thir sight
Had rounded still th' Horizon, and not known
Or East or West, which had forbid the Snow [ 685 ]
>From cold Estotiland<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#estotiland>,
and South as farr
Beneath Magellan<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_10/notes.shtml#magel>

As it describes a change of season sent to "each Clime" after the fall.
 This would clearly imply there was no change of seasons prior to the fall,
but does not explain references to the change of seasons prior to the fall.

Jim R

On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks much, Jeffery.  Yes, he's certainly being literal, and he is
> presenting an image of a perfect, fixed universe.  This line from book four
> throws some doubt on the sun remaining in the same constellation:
> With thee conversing<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_4/notes.shtml#conversing> I
> forget all time,
> All seasons<http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/pl/book_4/notes.shtml#seas>
>  and thir change, all please alike. [ 640 ]
> As I'd expect some mention that the seasons do not change if that was the
> case.
> Jim R
> On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 6:07 PM, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
> jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Jim Rovira asked:
>> "Do you think Fowler is speaking metaphorically, rather than literally
>> describing Milton's cosmos?"
>> I'm pretty sure that Fowler was speaking literally. For ease of checking,
>> click on the following unwieldly address:
>> http://books.google.com/books?id=vZFKAVtVlG0C&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=%22sun+remains+constantly+in+the+same+sign%22&source=bl&ots=wpDfN2Igdg&sig=-WdpsQSHNpHyczNmwRa3vm6e8iE&hl=en&ei=HMRDS_rwHYugkQXCg7HwCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22sun%20remains%20constantly%20in%20the%20same%20sign%22&f=false
>>  This is William Poole, *Milton and the Idea of the Fall*, quoting
>> Fowler's entire passage, where Fowler describes Milton's astronomy -- his
>> literal, not metaphorical astronomy.
>> Jeffery Hodges

James Rovira
Tiffin University
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