[Milton-L] Sacred symbols in late Renaissance poetry

john rumrich rumrich at austin.utexas.edu
Sun Jun 9 17:19:27 EDT 2013


You know, I think I'd vote for the elephant. He intentionally uses his
rather serpentine nose to provoke innocent mirth, revealing both versatile
intelligence and sweet-natured energy devoted to augmenting pleasure.


On Sun, Jun 9, 2013 at 2:06 PM, Dario Rivarossa
<dario.rivarossa at gmail.com>wrote:

> >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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