[Milton-L] Re prelaps seasons: when is a question a good one?

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 6 16:34:15 EST 2010


With all due respect, Professor Strier, while I suppose that there are times to stop -- point of diminishing returns, and all that -- I can't help but wonder about whether or not Milton's "vision of the best possible form of recognizable human life" included such things as the sun remaining forever in the sign of Aries, as Fowler suggests, or moving through the entire zodiac. Either is possible, it seems to me, if the 'ecliptic' and the celestial equator coincide, and I also think that Milton may have thought about the issue since he's imagining an entire world different from our own despite apparent correspondences and takes the trouble to inform us of such things as where Satan happened to be situated with respect to constellations. Therefore, when he refers to an "eternal spring," does that imply only that the passing days remain forever equinoctial or also that the sun remains forever in the same sign Aries? Of course, the question is recondite,
 but if we don't ask it, how will we know whether or not "Milton worried about these details"? When should one stop? When one has found an answer -- either what Milton thought, didn't think, or should have thought . . . or when the answer is, as with Satan's flight "by center, or eccentric, hard to tell."


Jeffery Hodges



________________________________
From: richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Thu, January 7, 2010 3:38:01 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Re prelaps seasons: when is a question a good one?

I guess I think that all this cranking up of brainpower is beside the point 
(though new facts, such as those Carol cited from Moishe, are nice).  I don't 
think that Milton worried about these details in the way that we are.  I think that 
he meant for Eden to be a vision of the best possible form of recognizable 
human life.  Recognizable includes all the basic variables of our experience, I 
think.  As Wittgenstein said (many times), sometimes its good to know when to 
stop.

I know this won't satisfy those looking for "solutions" to these "problems," but 
there it is.

---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2010 10:02:22 -0600
>From: John Rumrich <rumrich at mail.utexas.edu>Subject: [Milton-L] Canaries in the coal mine  
>To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>
>  Fortunately for the theodicy, avian foreknowledge,
>  however immutable, carries with it not the least
>  impulse or shadow of fate.
>  On the other hand, we are left with the edgy if not
>  blasphemous implication that bird brains partake of
>  the divine image more than human brains do.  I have
>  at times suspected as much, at least in my own case.
>  All best for a new year of seasons and their change,
>  John
>  On Jan 5, 2010, at 9:59 PM, John Leonard wrote:
>
>    "Seasons" can mean "time of day," and Eve probably
>    does use that sense when she speaks of "all
>    seasons and their change" in the same breath as
>    "breath of morn."  But it is hard to withhold the
>    sense "seasons of the year" in book 7 when Raphael
>    speaks of migrating birds "Intelligent of seasons"
>    as they embark on their "annual voyage"
>    (7.427-31).  Twenty years ago I tried to rescue
>    these lines for innocence by arguing that
>    "seasons" need not have the obvious meaning, but I
>    now find my argument desperate and unconvincing. 
>    This is a problematic moment in PL, for the
>    "intelligent" birds clearly intuit a coming Fall
>    even before Adam and Eve are created.  Maybe
>    Milton just slipped, but it is still a suggestive
>    moment.
>      
>    John Leonard
>
>      ----- Original Message -----
>      From: James Rovira
>      To: John Milton Discussion List
>      Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:52 PM
>      Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's Prelapsarian
>      Cosmos
>      Ha...yes, Jeffery, this sentence of yours sums
>      it up:
>
>      <<Yesterday, I noted that Milton seems to give
>      Adam and Eve a prelapsarian understanding of the
>      seasons that will characterize only the
>      postlapsarian world, so let us turn unto the
>      seasons that occur throughout Paradise Lost.>>
>
>      Seems like it was a theological commonplace that
>      unfallen Eden was in a perpetual Spring, though,
>      and probably still is among Evangelicals.  It
>      makes sense for God to say at creation that the
>      stars were given for the seasons.  If he said so
>      in front of the the angelic host, that would
>      distribute knowledge of the changes of the
>      seasons before they occurred.  I don't recall if
>      Raphael's use of the word "seasons" occurs
>      before or after A and E's first use of it.  But
>      we could conceivably reconstruct word of mouth
>      knowledge from God to the angels to human
>      beings.  
>
>      I'm not completely satisfied as none of these
>      characters would know what they were talking
>      about, except for God, but they seem to.
>
>      Jim R
>
>      On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 8:39 PM, Horace Jeffery
>      Hodges <jefferyhodges at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>        Thanks, Jim. Those are some of the very
>        passages that I've been puzzling over
>        recently. At the risk of cluttering this
>        listserve and tooting my own horn -- though
>        this actually litters the list less -- here
>        are my recent blog entries on this issue:
>
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>
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