[Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe

Jameela Lares Jameela.Lares at usm.edu
Wed Jan 20 04:58:34 EST 2010

Prof. Skulsky, how is your description of Milton's order different from Neoplatonism?  I ask because I don't think Milton ever again approaches the Neoplatonism of his L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.  Indeed, when I was studying Neoplatonism with Michael J. B. Allen at UCLA, he told us that the philosophy tends to flourish only in an atmosphere of religious consensus, and that the Reformation and Counter-Reformation largely depressed the movement.  Milton's "sage and serious" Spenser is of course more Neoplatonic than Milton, but I suspect that his Four Hymns are also more Neoplatonic than his Faerie Queene.

If I'm wrong, I'd love to know.

Jameela Lares
Professor of English
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5037
Hattiesburg, MS  39406-0001
601 266-4319 ofc
601 266-5757 fax
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Harold Skulsky [hskulsky at smith.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 10:07 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
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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