[Milton-L] The TeaM: "Sive"?

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Wed Jan 26 01:15:06 EST 2011

[…] O pur son anco
L’opere di Natura opre divine?
E ’l magistero di Natura è l’arte
Del Fattor primo, ond’è fattura e figlia
La gran madre Natura; e ’n lei s’onora
E ’n lei si riconosce e si contempla
Il saper e il poter che tutto avanza
De l’altro Re, ch’è suo Fattore e Padre.

_____Torquato Tasso, Il Mondo Creato 3.588-595

[…] Or are, in fact,
The works of Nature divine works?
And Nature’s skill is the art
Of the first Maker, whose creature and daughter
Is the great mother Nature; it is honored
In her, in her recognized and admired
The all-surpassing science and power
Of the high King, her Maker and Father.

If you find these verses to be a little muddled, it happens because
they are. Tasso, as it’s been mentioned above, was against Giordano
Bruno’s pantheist philosophy; on the other hand, he was clearly
inclined to follow the same path, as the very writing of a poem like
Il Mondo Creato shows. More than once he will try to find an answer to
the question: “Are God and Nature the same?”.
His solution, in theory, is that God is above Nature, and Nature’s
works are just a device to make God’s “all-surpassing” will. But, in
practice, things are much more complex than that. Every phenomenon is
in fact traced back to some plain natural cause. The only exception
being the Salvation of mankind after the Fall (the subject matter of
PL!), which however is just alluded to in some scattered passages.

In these verses, anyway, Tasso saves himself at the eleventh hour by
quoting Dante, Inferno 3.5-6 and especially the explanations in
Inferno 11.97-105. Ipse dixit.

In Baruch Spinoza’s philosophy, “Deus sive Natura” will become a tenet.
As for Milton, he did not run the risk of turning into a pantheist,
because – I think – he had a greater interest in the process of
Salvation than in God as Creator; or, the Creation was directly linked
to the Salvation. In PL, e.g., the angels modify the laws of Nature
after the Fall; while in Tasso the “mistakes” of Nature are not a
secondary effect, they belong to the created world as such. It would
need an essay to support the following thesis, anyway I just enunciate
it: in general, Pantheism or Deism at least (God as a detached Mover
of universe) were more likely to appear within a Catholic-Aristotelian
context than in a Protestant-intimist one. Dante himself has sometimes
been styled as a modern naturalist thinker.

Both Tasso and Milton, however, as well as Dante, succeeded in writing
long poems in which the Whole keeps all of its elements: Nature,
Christian Revelation, philosophy, science, soul etc. without
dissolving any of them. Not giving "one simple and easy" solution, but
showing the "tensile" structure of reality.

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