[Milton-L] Tasso, Milton, and James Cameron

Hannibal Hamlin hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
Wed Jun 22 16:20:26 EDT 2011


I'm surpised no one has yet mentioned Pandora's box. Maybe it's too obvious,
but surely that story is relevant to Milton? If Eve is God's best gift to
Adam, is it, like the gift of Pandora to Epimethues, a loaded one? Just as
Pandora is not supposed to open the box, which lets all that's evil into the
world, so Eve has a single prohibition, which will have the same result. One
could even say that the story (in some? all? versions) of Pandora closing
the box in time to keep Hope inside relates to Milton's adaptation of the
Felix culpa, the original couple setting off at the end of PL not in despair
but with hope of a better future. The combination of a superlative gift and
a powerful, dangerous temptation probably also lies behind Cameron's film,
with it's rather simple eco-message, but Milton (no surprise) seems more
interesting.

Hannibal




On Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM, John Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca> wrote:

> **
> Harold's splendid suggestion prompts me to recall some other "gifts" in PL
> that might glance at "Pandora whom the gods / Endowed with all their
> gifts".  Two candidates come to mind:
>
> 1) Adam expressing thanks for Eve: "fairest this / Of all thy gifts, nor
> enviest" (8.494).  Many critics since Empson have detected an ominous note
> in "enviest", and this possibility might be reinforced if "all thy gifts"
> makes a covert allusion to Pandora.
>
> 2) Raphael to Adam: "for God on thee / Abundantly his gifts hath also
> pour'd" (8.220).  This has exactly the notion of bounty that Harold
> mentions, and it is not a specific reference to Eve (though it of course
> includes her), so it might be the kind of thing Dario is looking for.
>
> There are no doubt other suggestive "gifts" in PL.  A concordance would
> give more.
>
> Cheers
>
> John
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* Harold Skulsky <hskulsky at smith.edu>
> *To:* John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, June 22, 2011 10:04 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Tasso, Milton, and James Cameron
>
>
> Hi, John!
>
> "Milton _did_ quote Pandora in his description of Eve in Bk 4, but not
> of planet Earth as a whole, in its innocent condition. Or, did he?"
>
> In a sense, he wouldn't need to, given his capacious hellenism. Tasso,
> after all,  was simply adopting the Aristophanic epithet for the earth (Gk
> "pandora" = "all-gifted," hence "bounteous"). This epithet for earth also
> occurs elsewhere in Greek literature probably familiar to M (Philo, I think,
> Oppian, and Pseudo-Homer), and also with the same meaning in other contexts
> . Whether he actually used it, M would surely have noticed the irony of the
> terrene epithet, given the myth and the Genesis story and his own Hesiodic
> reference. I wouldn't be surprised if there's an allusion hidden in some
> nook or cranny of the Eden landscape in PL 4.
>
> Cheers,
> Harold
>
> ------------------------------
>
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-- 
Hannibal Hamlin
Associate Professor of English
Editor, Reformation
Organizer, The King James Bible and its Cultural Afterlife
http://kingjamesbible.osu.edu/
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
Columbus, OH 43210-1340
hamlin.22 at osu.edu/
hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
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