[Milton-L] the problem of hell

John K Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Thu Oct 31 19:58:08 EDT 2013


 On 10/31/13, "J. Michael Gillum" <mgillum at ret.unca.edu> wrote: 
>   I've mentioned this before, but 3.331-33 seems to be the only reference in all of PL to humans going to Hell: "Bad men and Angels, they arraignd shall sink / Beneath thy sentence; Hell her numbers full / Thenceforth shall be forever shut." Otherwise in PL, Milton avoids the issue of eternal damnation for human beings.  
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 Michael, that is a huge claim. Are you really willing to stand by it?  Here are just a few other references, off the top of my head:
 
"his darling sons / Hurled headlong to partake with us" (Beelzebub in Hell)
 
"Hell shall unfold, / To entertain you two . . . there will be room, / Not like these narrow limits, to receive / Your numerous offspring" (Satan's second soliloquy)
 
OK, those are devils talking, and maybe not to be trusted, but what do you make of:
 
"And now without redemption all mankind / Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell" (3.322-3)? That surely is a "reference . . . to humans going to Hell", even though the narrator's point is that not "all" will suffer that fate.
 
Then there is "Smooth, easie, inoffensive down to Hell" (the bridge as highway to Hell).
 
This is just for starters. I bet a concordance could produce more examples, especially if you factored in "die" and "death" (which include the Second Death) as in "Can he make deathless Death?"--somewhere in Adam's book 10 soliloquy, where his fearful speculations extend beyond "the grave" to "some other loathsome place" which threatens torment which will "last to perpetuity" (quoting from memory, so might not be accurate). My point is that the "other loathsome place" (clearly not the grave, from which it is explicitly distinguished) is Hell, and that this is a reference to humans going to it. Sorry.
 
 
I am open to persuasion, but my BS detector instantly goes into overdrive whenever I encounter that weasel pbrase "seems to be" ("seems to be the only reference in all of PL"). Even if you are right (and I don't believe you are), the lines you quote sound unambiguous to me. One passage that just might help you is 2.596-600, where "all the damned" might be devils rather than humans, especially when we recall Milton's mortalism. Still, I think you are flogging a dead horse here.
 
 
John Leonard
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