[Milton-L] Sacred symbols in late Renaissance poetry

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Sat Jun 8 16:41:27 EDT 2013

Dear Dario,
You always have something very interesting to say and very universal and 
broad in perspective. If you mean an animal that is opposite to the Serpent 
in Milton's garden of Eden, it would depend on whether the act of the fall 
has occurred or not, then all animals share with the serprent's degeneration 
as a result. But in Renaissance literature, I think the lion represents the 
virtues of a good leader or the king. In medieval tradition, the sun, 
Christ, and the lion were linked as a triad.The astrological sign of the sun 
was Leo (lion). Gold is the metal of the sun and is linked to the color of 
the lion and his symbol as king. All these could be seen as opposed to the 
Serpent, symbol of Original Sin.
That's all that I can think of. I'm sure others have better information on 
this matter.
Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
skhoddam at cox.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dario Rivarossa" <dario.rivarossa at gmail.com>
To: <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Saturday, June 08, 2013 3:14 PM
Subject: [Milton-L] Sacred symbols in late Renaissance poetry

> It had already been mentioned, either here and elsewhere, that the
> eagle and the serpent turn out to be the main symbols both in Dante's
> Divine Comedy and in Torquato Tasso's long poem "Gerusalemme
> Conquistata" (Jerusalem Conquered, 1593).
> On the other hand, the serpent is a symbol of Christ also, as it is
> written in the Gospel of John 3: 14 and Tasso recalls in GC 20: 62. At
> bottom, everything is included in the cosmic Purusha (Man), whose
> fundamental dynamics - according to Tasso - would be entropy and
> negentropy, though of course he wouldn't call them like that, but he
> uses concrete images like ruin, death, oblivion, decadence, failure,
> and the serpent; and healing, overcoming, memory, achievement,
> miracle, grace, and the eagle. Both belong together. As the
> Spanish-Indian Christian-Hindu philosopher Raimon Panikkar would put
> it, "Reality is one, truth is manifold," i.e. inverting the approach
> that's usually followed in the Western way of thinking (truth is one,
> reality lies on different levels).
> In Tasso's poetry the clearest symbol of this entropy/negentropy
> polarity is the legendary phoenix, to which he devotes the longest
> sub-tale in his poem "Il Mondo Creato,", and it appears ubiquitously
> in GC. And the phoenix obviously means Christ, dead and risen, and
> therefore the Holy Sepulcher, the Navel of the World, that's in fact
> the goal to be reached in the poem.
> Now, the importance of the Serpent as a symbol in PL goes without
> saying. It may be wondered if the eagle plays a key-role too. In a
> way, it does: the victorious Messiah "flies" against his enemies --
> not by 'his own' wings, to be sure, or rather, yes, they _are_ his own
> wings, as he is the Head of the cosmic Body made up by the angels. But
> which (animal, etc.) symbol would Miltonists choose as representing
> the opposite of the Serpent?
> Best!
> d
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