[Milton-L] Re: one more remark on"knewnot eatingdeath."

alan horn alanshorn at gmail.com
Wed Jul 28 13:57:23 EDT 2010

I know people like to try their hand at connoisseurship but still
don’t see the point in cases like this. No one is proposing to take
this line as a model for contemporary poetic practice (although, who
knows, could be interesting).

We can be sure that Milton was aware his syntax in this line (and
others like it) is not idiomatic. My interest in following this
discussion has been to understand the context that would make this not
a flaw but part of a desired effect.

Some here have proposed the virtues of compression and perceived added
meanings. Professor Skulsky, reading the phrase in question as a
grecism, sees allusions to a passage in Corinthians and to the Greek
concept of self-knowledge. I would further suggest that Milton’s use
of grecisms and latinisms in general were not the barbarisms they
appear to us today but quite the opposite, given the relative
standings of classical and vernacular languages in his time.

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