[Milton-L] Bk 3

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Fri Oct 25 19:31:40 EDT 2013

OK, now I'll really step in it.

About Book 3:  as far as I can tell, the Son's offer to bear death, etc, is completely unnecessary to Milton's conception (further proof of how far he is/was from traditional, normal Christianity).  It's all a sham, and another case (like moments that sound Calvinist) of M trying to appear/sound orthodox.  Here's why it's a sham:  Milton has already, at the very beginning of Bk 3, had God the Father (the only real God) explain that He intends to forgive man's fall on purely moral/philosophical grounds -- man was misled by another -- and contrasting this with Satan's fall, which He will not forgive.  No further mechanism or explanation for man's forgiveness is needed.  And it's all decided  on that basis.  Already.

It seems to me that the normal reading of Bks 2 and 3 in this regard has it backwards -- Satan's heroism is real (he really doesn't know what's going to happen), while the Son's is totally superfluous.  I'm not saying that Satan doesn't indulge in some manipulation and theatrics, but that he his doing something that, from the point of view of the fallen angels, really can't/won't be done otherwise.  But this is less important than the point above.  And I'm not saying that M doesn't get some of the normal experience of Christianity from the episode, just that it is not actually needed for his story and his overall position.

Coeur de Lion

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of srevard at siue.edu [srevard at siue.edu]
Sent: Friday, October 25, 2013 3:41 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] oops, I forgot one

Well asked, Alan. For instance, how about Hypocrisy, who shows up when Satan is
disguising himself as a stripling angel in order to bamboozle Uriel?

Does everyone agree that Milton carefully placed the Death/Sin/Satan drama near
the end of Book II in order to set up the opening of Book III, the poem's
doctrinal center in which the dramatic encounter of God and Son so precisely
and on so many levels contrastingly parallels that between Satan and Death?

Quoting alan horn <alanshorn at gmail.com>:

> Is all the figurative language to be stripped from the poem or just this
> one episode?
> I want to second Jim R’s suggestion to look back at Harold Skulsky’s series
> of posts from a couple of years ago explaining the genre and function of
> the passage in question and citing precedents in classical epic for
> Milton’s use of this convention.
> Alan Horn

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