[Milton-L] Bk 3

Richard A. Strier rastrier at uchicago.edu
Sat Oct 26 16:14:44 EDT 2013


SUPPOSED PROBLEM FOR MY VIEW:   "at line 202 [the Father] goes on to say HOWEVER, even though by grace-given penitence he [man] may live obediently, nevertheless justice demands that he and all his posterity shall
die--UNLESS ..."

MY RESPONSE:  The problem of "justice" has already been taken care of when the Father explains why man can be forgiven, but Satan not.  His point is that justice does NOT require that mankind be condemned to death, etc.

My overall point is that God's speech at the beginning of the Book -- a purely rationalistic, legalistic, and philosophical speech -- actually takes care of the problem of the fate of mankind.  I would hold that this speech is how M actually thinks, and the rest is M pretending -- perhaps to himself as well as to the world -- that he is a more normal sort of Christian than he actually was.  If M wrote CD -- which most Miltonists now seem to agree that he did -- then it's pretty clear that M was NOT a normal Christian.  The critique of the Trinity there is thoroughly rationalistic, as is the critique of Calvinism (see my piece in the New Milton Crit volume, or the earlier longer version of it in Milton Studies 38).

RS


________________________________________
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: Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:27 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3

But Richard, you seem to have stopped reading Book III at line 202.  Up to that
point God has explained why he through grace will forgive Man; but at line 202
he goes on to say HOWEVER, even though by grace-given penitence he may live
obediently, nevertheless justice demands that he and all his posterity shall
die--UNLESS "for him/ Some other able, and as willing, pay/ The rigid
satisfaction, death for death./ Say, heavenly powers, where shall we find such
love,/ Which of you will be mortal to redeem/ Man's mortal crime, and just the
unjust to save:/ Dwells in all heaven charity so dear?" (lines 210-16)

And here of course is where the Son volunteers to die for Man, saying (241ff):
"On me let Death wreak all his rage;/Under his gloomy power I shall not long/
Lie vanquished..../ But I shall rise victorious, and subdue/ My vanquisher,
spoiled of his vaunted spoil;/ Death his death's wound shall then receive, and
stoop/ Inglorious,/ Of his mortal sting disarmed..../ While by thee raised I
ruin all my foes,/ Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave."

You do notice that Milton here personifies (OOOH, Allegory, that serpent of the
Nile, rears its ghastly head!!!) Death, gives him a "sting" that is the same
one he held in Book Two?  And if you would like to see where Milton found Death
with a sting, and found him and Sin personified, you might want to read Paul's
Epistle to the Romans, especially for instance Chapter 5, verses 12 etc.


Quoting "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>:

> SUPPOSEDLY KNOCK-DOWN POINT:  "not JUST granting humans "forgiveness" but
> redeeming them from Death."
>
> It's not clear to me that these are different.  What else could divine
> forgiveness mean?
>
>
> ________________________________________
> 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 7:11 PM
> To: John Milton Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Bk 3
>
> Aieee!  you not only stepped in it, but as Molly Bloom said of a somewhat
> different activity, "up to the neck almost"!
>
> I think if you go back and READ the dialogue between Father and Son (which I
> have just done), you will see that the issue is not JUST granting humans
> "forgiveness" but redeeming them from Death, which is what the Son steps up
> to
> do by suffering death for them. Let fellow listers correct me if I am wrong,
> but this, I think, is hardly sham Christian; I think it is doctrine shared by
> Puritans and Catholics, Laudians and Calvinists. God does explain this quite
> clearly and the Son echoes and amplifies it (and incidentally, that other
> lion
> named Aslan illustrates how it works, if you want to reread the Narnia
> stories
> where C. S. Lewis invents another female version of Sin). Milton draws here
> on,
> among other narrative traditions, the Harrowing of Hell, a story that quivers
> within the Sin/Death/Satan episode but is not "realized" until God and the
> Son
> explicitly evoke it.
>
>
> Quoting "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu>:
>
> > 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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