[Milton-L] Sacred symbols in late Renaissance poetry

Dario Rivarossa dario.rivarossa at gmail.com
Sun Jun 9 15:06:02 EDT 2013

>The dove _might_  be a worthy candidate.

Dear Matthew, this introduces a significant shift: the dove is the
opposite of the serpent as its victim rather than its conqueror. That
may well work, as Jesus triumphed exactly by dying, by letting the
'serpent' kill him.
Does Milton mention the dove in Paradise Lost? In PL 11: 185-6 "the
bird of Jove . . .  two birds of gayest plume before him drew." Ha, a
Linnean slip. I had looked for this passage in the conviction that it
dealt with a dove, probably because some parallel texts in literature
do so, but it was not the case.

What about the Lamb, that/who shares several features with the dove
and is more explicitly 'Christic'? Surely William Blake would choose a
lamb, not an eagle, to represent Jesus. But Blake was not Milton.

An animal very often linked to paradise in Renaissance art was the
deer, since it was believed to be (or is?) able to kill snakes, so it
foreshadowed Redemption from immediately after the original sin: a
truly Miltonian theological view, as such. But looks like only artists
took the deer seriously as a candidate to the seat of Christ.

Back to the main subject, Jesus makes things more interesting by
asking us to be like serpents _and_ like doves at the same time (Mt
10: 16).


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