[Milton-L] solemn pronouncing = voice _and_ physical movement. Thx Brendan Prawdzik

Brendan Prawdzik brendanprawdzik at gmail.com
Sat Jul 7 11:16:16 EDT 2012

Re: the earlier post

Really I have nothing too substantive to add, but I'll take this free
moment to try to prod the conversation alive.

(In fact, I have been deep and dirtily in the process of vacating my
apartment and moving out of Berkeley, where I've been ten years, to start
an Assistant Professorship at CBU in Memphis; we leave Wednesday on our
cross-country adventure!)

I think that J Carl Bellinger's observation here, that the "secret power"
of these Greek literary arts "seems rather to subsume them within
the rhetorical traditions of ancient Hebraic lyric," seems apt, and befits
the "tension" that I noted "runs through discourses of early modern sacred
rhetoric generally."  Just as the preacher finds Demosthenes in his blood,
so does divine poetry, notably Mitlon's, find all kinds of Helenic DNA.  To
what extent do classical oratorical and poetic arts prepare the Protestant
orator/preacher/poet to properly channel and rouse divine affect; to what
extent, and at what point, do they vitiate the rhetorical and affective
power that is supposed to be contained within the scriptures already?  Can
the poet breath grace into a Hellenic form and transform it essentially, or
must he trace their origin to Hebrew lyric?

At heart in both is a question of authenticity.  If gesture/pronunciation
raises the question of whether emotion or zeal is truly God-derived or
God-directed, here we see authenticity as based on primacy, who came first,
whose the original.  Makes sense, I suppose, in a poem so invested in

What I find particularly odd about Jesus's efforts to show "ancient Hebraic
lyric" to be the source for "ill" Helenic imitation is that its focus is on
form as opposed to passion.  Our poet is so willing to take any which genre
and rework it strenuously according to his Christianity.  Why then is his
Jesus so fixated on form and its origin?  Why must the authentic be the
original, the first?  Or is Jesus's argument here really besides the point,
is the claim that the Greeks poorly imitated the Hebrews merely an added
swipe?  Besides, his point, as it often is, seems to be that he does not
need to choose the Greek arts, especially not now, from Satan; if he goes
there, he'll do so according to his own choice.  (After all, the Apostle
Paul thought it not unfit to insert a verse of Euripides into sacred
scripture ....)

Then there's the passage from *Reason of Church Government* which I post
below signature.  Milton seems more flexible, more open to the possibility
of authentic co-minglings, than Jesus seems in the quoted passage.  I wish
that I could comment at some length, as I'd need to, but for now I need to
go paint.



Or whether those Dramatick constitutions, wherein*Sophocles* and
*Euripides* raigne
shall be found more doctrinal and exemplary to a Nation, the Scripture also
affords us a divine pastoral Drama in the Song of *Salomon* consisting of
two persons and a double *Chorus,* as *Origen* rightly judges. And the
Apocalyps of Saint *Iohn*is the majestick image of a high and stately
Tragedy, shutting up and intermingling her solemn Scenes and Acts with a
sevenfold *Chorus*of halleluja's and harping symphonies: and this my
opinion the grave autority of *Pareus* commenting that booke is sufficient
to confirm. Or if occasion shall lead to imitat those magnifick Odes and
Hymns wherein *Pindarus* and *Callimachus* are in most things worthy, some
others in their frame judicious, in their matter most an end faulty: But
those frequent songs throughout the law and prophets beyond all these, not
in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition
may be easily made appear over all the kinds of Lyrick poesy, to be
incomparable. These abilities, wheresoever they be found, are the inspired
guift of God rarely bestow'd, but yet to some (though most abuse) in every
Nation: and are of power beside the office of a pulpit, to inbreed and
cherish in a great people the seeds of vertu, and publick civility, to
allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right tune,
to celebrate in glorious and lofty Hymns the throne and equipage of Gods
Almightinesse, and what he works, and what he suffers to be wrought with
high providence in his Church, to sing the victorious agonies of Martyrs
and Saints, the deeds and triumphs of just and pious Nations doing
valiantly through faith against the enemies of Christ, to deplore the
general relapses of Kingdoms and States from justice and Gods true worship.
Lastly, whatsoever in religion is holy and sublime, in vertu amiable, or
grave, whatsoever hath passion or admiration in all the changes of that
which is call'd fortune from without, or the wily suttleties and refluxes
of mans thoughts from within, all these things with a solid and treatable
smoothnesse to paint out and describe.

On Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 10:58 AM, JCarl Bellinger <dionhalic at gmail.com>wrote:

> Many thanks [but a bit tardy] to Brendan Prawdzik for his generous and
> learned response to my query.
>    I had not been aware how closely associated in the tradition of
> rhetorical training was the art of physical expression (e.g. hand gesture)
> with that of voice performance.
>   I appreciate also Prawdik's observations re the unequal valuation of the
> arts of voice versus those of espression by motions of the body. In
>  the passage at hand from Of Education he Prawdik points out the apparent
> incongruity that whereas Milton "takes pains to reproduce these ... scenes
> of gestural instruction" he at the same time "works to tone down the
> presence of "actio..." The first holds "vigor," is masculine, the second is
> histrionic, feminized. "A similar tension" he notes "runs through
> discourses of early modern sacred rhetoric generally."
>   There is one passage in Milton that runs stunningly contrary to said
> bias, but the passage (Paradise Regained, bk 4] only supports the argument,
> it would seem, because it's the Devil that offers it speaking in one of the
> temptations. I say "it would seem" because 'Messia's" counter, so far
> from rejecting the "secret power" of these arts seems rather to subsum them
> within the rhetorical traditions of ancient Hebraic lyric.
> I'd be most grateful for observations on the passage
>            Within the walls then view
> The schools of ancient sages-his who bred
> Great Alexander to subdue the world,
> Lyceum there; and painted Stoa next.
> There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
> Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
> By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
> Aeolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
> And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
> Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
> Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.
> Thence what the lofty grave Tragedians taught
> In chorus or iambic, ...
>     Messia: Or, if I would delight my private hours
> With music or with poem, where so soon
> As in our native language can I find
> That solace? All our Law and Story strewed
> With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribed,
> Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
> That pleased so well our victor's ear, declare
> That rather Greece from us there arts derived—
> Ill imitated
> __________[ from B Prawdzik:]_____________
> Dear all,
> Some observations about the Of Education passage noted by J Carl Bellinger:
> This passage reworks two iconic scenes of oratorical education that Milton
> would have confronted in Quintilian and Plutarch, who describe the
> transformation of Demosthenes and Cicero into expert orators through the
> arts of delivery (actio/pronuntiatio, gesture).  Plutarch describes
> Cicero's training by the tragedian Aesopus and the famed comedian Roscius.
> More to the point, Plutarch describes the actor Satyrus's use of,
> specifically, texts by Sophocles and Euripides to train Demosthenes.
> In Milton's passage from Of Education, the actors and comedians
> disappear.  Moreover, where another author might see in these scenes of
> education a training in imitation, Milton emphasizes the transmission of
> authentic feeling from book to reader, and the expression of that "vigor"
> and "spirit" (protestantized) through the voice.  This seems fully in
> keeping with Areopagitica's passion-centered ethics of textuality.
> It is of interest to me that Milton both takes pains to reproduce these
> iconic scenes of gestural instruction in the concise passage from Of
> Education and at the same time works to tone down the presence of "actio"
> by obscuring the actors (esp. Roscius) and their focus on bodily gesture.
> And it would seem that "vigor" contributes to the more masculine view of
> oratorical instruction intended by Milton here.  Thus, the passage depicts
> reading and declamation as embodied and spiritual but also strives to tone
> down the presence of the histrionic, feminized body.  A similar tension
> runs through discourses of early modern sacred rhetoric generally.
> William Marshall, the artist who engraved the notorious frontispieces to
> both the 1645 Poems and the Eikon Basilike, features the scenes of Cicero's
> and Demosthenes's instruction (the latter with looking-glass included) in
> the frontispiece of John Bulwer's 1644 Chironomia which, with Chirologia,
> is Bulwer's treatise on the rhetorical gestures of the hands and fingers
> (available in EEBO).
> Best,
> Brendan Prawdzik
> On Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM, JCarl Bellinger <dionhalic at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> A number of benefits to students memorizing and pronouncing important
> texts have been listed in this thread but nothing approaching the
> radical re-wiring of mind & force Milton seems to promise in OF
> Education.
>     Query: Should we dismiss M's claim here as a hyped-up,
> rallying-the-troops-of-an-English-eduction, or some such?
>   >> and some of them got by memory,and solemnly pronounced ... would
> endue them even with the spirit and vigor of Demosthenes or Cicero,
> Euripides, or Sophocles. <<<
> -Carl
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