[Milton-L] Milton's artistry
Horace Jeffery Hodges
jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 22 07:09:40 EDT 2010
Upon reflection, I recall blogging on "eating death":
From: Ernst Oor <eoor at planet.nl>
To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Wed, July 21, 2010 11:00:24 PM
Subject: [Milton-L] Milton's artistry
Dear List Members,
Some time ago the list members discussed poetry and art in connection with the
various interpretations of some passages in Paradise Lost.
I am reading Kenneth Haynes bookEnglish Literature and Ancient Languages
(Oxford University Press, 2003) and on p. 79 of his book Haynes gives a
scholarly explanation showing, in my opinion, Milton's artistry.
Take a famous grecism from Paradise Lost. Eve plucks the fruit, eats
Greedily she ingorg'd without restraint,
And knew not eating Death:
Greek may use a participle after verbs of knowledge or perception,
and the line, modelled after greek, means 'and knew not that she
ate Death'. But the unusual syntax is not limited to its Greek model;
rather it concentrates several meanings in the line: Eve did not know
(that is, she was ignorant for the last time) while she was eating
death; she did not know what she did (she ate death); she did not
know the eating, devouring power of death...
His [Milton's] most powerful writing insists on the loss of paradise, to
prevent paradise even from being imagined, except on condition of its
imminent loss. Imitations of Greek and Latin syntax and vocabulary
provided Milton with one means to accomplish this...
Though Haynes' book is not about Milton, his poetry is often discussed and the
book may be interesting to Milton scholars who have not yet read it.
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