[Milton-L] Milton & Lilith

Zámbóné Kocic Larisa larisa at lit.u-szeged.hu
Tue Apr 19 04:55:56 EDT 2011


Dear Ryan,

 

I have for some time entertained the notion myself, but after an in-depth
research I discarded it as baseless  - the best one can come up with are
conjectures. I doubt not, that Milton knew the story, but he obviously had
no use for it in his epic.  I would say that Lilith plays greater role among
his readers, especially those of the 18th and 19th century, who certainly
wished to see Sin as prefiguring or embodying Lilith (Fuseli's painting of
the Lapland witches comes readily into one's mind, and indeed, the Night-Hag
part - "Lur'd with the smell of infant blood" - from Milton's extended
simile does resemble Lilith, however, it is worth noting that Milton is
comparing not so much Sin with the Night-Hag, but rather the Hellhounds
surround Sin with those following the Night-Hag). If you student wishes to
pursue this matter, I would recommend Amy Scerba online article on Lilth, in
which she does make a passing remark to Milton identifying his Sin ("Snakie
Sorceress [2.724]) to Lilith:

http://feminism.eserver.org/theory/papers/lilith

I hope this was of some help.

Best,

 

Larisa Kocic-Zambo

 

 

From: Ryan Paul [mailto:ryanspaul at gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 8:51 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Milton & Lilith

 

Dear E-Miltonists:

A student asked me about Lilith and whether Milton knew her story or was
influenced by it. I assume that Milton was well aware of the story, but I
have no idea if his works, PL or otherwise, make any references to her. A
scan through the index of Shoulson's Milton and the Rabbis did not turn up
any mention of her, and the only mention I could find in a (very cursory)
web search of Milton scholarship turned up a brief aside in Denis Saurat's
1922 article "Milton and the Zohar," where he suggests that perhaps the
character of Sin was based on the Lilith legend. All this suggests to me
that Milton simply wasn't interested in her story, but I wanted to check
with the list to see if any of you either knew of scholarship on the subject
or had your own theories about her role in shaping Milton's theology or
poetry.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Best,
Ryan Paul

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