[Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe
jleonard at uwo.ca
Wed Jan 20 07:28:00 EST 2010
A characteristically excellent post from Harold Skulsky and I agree with
much of it. But I do not share Harold's view that atoms in Chaos "are
determinate in form and movement." I know that some are sharp while others
are smooth, and some are swift while others are slow, but did not Lucretius
say this too, and if he did why call the picture "faux-Lucretian"? But my
real question concerns "determinate in form." Both Milton himself as epic
narrator and Uriel describe Chaos as "formless" (3.12, 3.708). If
formlessness is "Satan's manichean delusion," he has won some august
witnesses over to it.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold Skulsky" <hskulsky at smith.edu>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 11:07 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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