[Milton-L] The TeaM: Con-Nessie-ons

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Wed Jan 12 01:54:19 EST 2011

Ha ’l regno di Norvegia il propio lago,
Che ’nvece di prodigio in sen si nutre
Orrido, spaventoso, empio serpente.

_____Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato 3.508-510

The kingdom of Norway has its own lake
Which nourishes – a wonder – in its bosom
A horrid, frightful, blasphemous snake.

Nessie and his brothers. Rumors about this kind of critters are very
old: the Loch Ness Monster itself had been “seen” sooner than the year
1000. These MC verses can probably explain, moreover, why Milton
describes the Middle Eastern / African Leviathan as quite
surprinsingly “slumb’ring on the Norway foam” in PL 1.203.
The scientific branch studying those animals that have not officially
been recognized yet is called Cryptozoology. They research and
explore: nothing to do with braggarts etc. The “professional” website
devoted to Cryptozoology, based in Columbia Britannica, Canada is

Some more Miltonian references to this issue can be found in PL 7.412 ff:
[…] There Leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, on the deep
Stretched […]

as well as PL 11.751-752:
Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelped
And stabled […].

Some brief notes from a social and cultural point of view.
- Tasso thought that many “cryptids”, namely monsters described in the
Greek and Roman mythology, had physically existed, but they did not
exist anymore. The water ones however were still there.
- In “Moby Dick” a whole chapter deals with the kraken, the giant
squid, one of the few cryptids whose real existence has been proved,
- The adjective “blasphemous”, referring to unknown beings, had a
revival in the 1920’s and 30’s thanks to HP Lovecraft’s sci-fi and
horror stories.

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