[Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe

John Rumrich rumrich at mail.utexas.edu
Wed Jan 20 12:41:48 EST 2010


The surging waves of Chaos are described as actually assaulting (as  
opposed to its surge being characterized as an assault via a speaker's  
choice of figures) only one created structure in this poem:

			Satan went down
The causey to Hell gate; on either side
Disparted Chaos overbuilt exclaimed,
And with rebounding surge the bars assailed,
That scorned his indignation.			(10.414-18; see also 10.307-11, esp.  
the simile that figures Death as the tyrant Xerxes)

There's no question that, as John Leonard's apt quotation indicates,  
Milton's creatures tend to register Chaos as a threat to created  
order, but Michael Gillum's argument nonetheless makes good sense to me.

John




On Jan 20, 2010, at 10:27 AM, John Leonard wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Gillum
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 10:54 AM
> Subject: Re: Re: [Milton-L] Milton's Cosmos and Universe
>
> This is a tangent, but it's a significant point that Milton, unlike  
> Shakespeare and others, doesn't seem to fear chaos. The physical  
> domain Chaos in PL doesn't threaten to invade or overturn created  
> Nature.
>
> O no?  Setting aside book 2, which might be dismissed as "Satan's  
> perspective" (convenient fall guy, Satan), look at 7 210-15, which  
> is Raphael's perspective:
>
>  On heav'nly ground they stood, and from the shore
> They view'd the vast immeasurable Abyss
> Outrageous as a Sea, dark, wasteful, wilde,
> Up from the bottom turn'd by furious windes
> And surging waves, as Mountains to assault
> Heav'ns highth, and with the Center mix the Pole.
>
> If that is not Chaos threatening to invade ("as Mountains to  
> assault") then I do not know what is.
>
> John Leonard
>
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