[Milton-L] Bk 3

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Wed Oct 30 20:49:14 EDT 2013

 Michael E Bryson writes: Power is what wins the war. Might makes "right" in
that scenario. The scene--if taken seriously/literally--has a certain
Thrasymachean or Euthyphro-esque quailty to it, arguing that justice is
determined by the stronger, and that the just is so because the gods love
it, not because it is just in itself. So much of Paradise Lost seems to
hinge on issues of force, and the conquests that are achieved/enabled by the
possession and wielding of greater force--military force (Book 6),
persuasive force (Book 9), that it continually amazes me that any reader can
take seriously the notion that Adam and Eve (or the heavenly powers) can be
in any other than the most narrowly legalistic sense be described as
"sufficient to stand."


Milton _was_ a revolutionary, and narrowly escaped hanging & quartering for

See Marx Capital, I, 225: "The capitalist maintains his rights as a
purchaser when he tries to make the working-day as long as possible. . .
.and the labourer maintains his right as a seller when he wishes to reduce
the working day to one of definite normal duration. There is here,
therefore, an antimony, right against right, both equally bearing the seal
of the law of exchanges. Between equal rights force decides. Hence it is
that . . .the determination of what is a working-day, presents itself as the
result of a struggle, a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the class
of capitalists, and collective labour, i.e., the working class." See also
Engels, "On Authority," in Marx and Engels, Selected Works (Moscow, 1969),
II, 376-79 and The Role of Force in History, in Selected Works (Moscow,
1970), III, 377-428.

It would seem to me that the idea of something being "Just in itself" is
unsupportable in purely secular terms.


P.S. Richard s wonders if Milton "did not wish to reveal this to the public
who would read his great poem." Christopher Hill mentions that a man was
hanged for Unitarianism as late as 1690. It seems to  me that Milton had
very good reasons indeed to conceal any deviations from orthodoxy. Poets are
not required to be martyrs.

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