[Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 19 23:34:54 EST 2010

I understand your point, Professor Skulsky, but wouldn't the term "cosmos" be more practical and consistent with traditional conceptions if it were to refer to the world encompassed by the primum mobile? But I confess to ignorance: Does Milton use "cosmos" to refer to everything from heaven to hell along with chaos?

Jeffery Hodges

From: Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at smith.edu>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wed, January 20, 2010 1:07:47 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe

In Milton we are always well advised to beware of rigid dichotomies, like the alleged dichotomy between cosmos and chaos. 

In PL the pervasive order guaranteed by God's omnipresence reaches into all the worlds, including Chaos. That order is none other than the evolution of the One First Matter celebrated by Raphael in PL 5, an evolution that begins in God and gradually ascends to pure spirituality as it returns to its origin. 

As an early stage in the evolution of material form, the faux-Lucretian world of Chaos is well beyond inchoate; its constituent atoms are determinate in form and movement, and ready to serve as the fabric of new worlds (though impotent to create by themselves).

In short, the Chaos M shows us in PL is an integral part of Cosmos; this complicated fact doesn't protect the allegorical figure of the same name from sharing Satan's manichean delusions, but it ought to protect us from joining them. 

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