[Milton-L] Under a Platan (PL 4.478)

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Tue Apr 1 12:37:13 EDT 2014


The "apples" in "To Penshurst" could be generic fruits, as they are not
contrasted with any other fruits. But in that poem there is a list of other
fruits which does not include apples. Being able to distinguish fruits does
not preclude the generic use of "apple."

As Jeffery points out, the key detail for PL's forbidden fruit is "downy,"
which rules out the fruit we call apples. Downiness enhances the sensuous
appeal of the fruit but does not positively identify the fruit as a peach.
I don't think Milton wanted us to know for sure what it was, any more than
we can botanically identify the Tree of Life. Perhaps they only grew in
Paradise and ended up in the haunt of seals and orcs and the sea-mews'
clang.

Michael


On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 8:54 AM, Stackhouse, Amy <AStackhouse at iona.edu>wrote:

> But Jonson is quite capable of distinguishing fruits in To Penshurst.
>
> On Apr 1, 2014, at 8:53 AM, "Horace Jeffery Hodges" <
> horacejeffery at gmail.com<mailto:horacejeffery at gmail.com>> wrote:
>
> The word "apple" still had a very broad meaning in the 17th century,
> including fruits we would never consider apples, and when Eve brings the
> fruit to Adam, it is described as "downy."
>
> Jeffery Hodges
>
> Ewha Womans University
> Seoul, South Korea
>
> Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (The Bottomless Bottle of
> Beer)
>
>
> Facebook:
> https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bottomless-Bottle-of-Beer/204064649770035(The Bottomless Bottle of Beer)
>
> Blog: http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ (Gypsy Scholar)
>
>
> Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
> Texts"
>
>
> Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
> M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
> B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University
>
>
> Home Address:
>
>
> Dr. Sun-Ae Hwang and Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges
> Gunyoung Apt. 102-204
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>
>
> On Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 9:41 PM, John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca<mailto:
> jleonard at uwo.ca>> wrote:
>
>
> On 03/31/14, Stella Revard <srevard at siue.edu<mailto:srevard at siue.edu>>
> wrote:
> .
> Of course the PL "platan" tree cannot have been the Tree of Knowledge (had
> it been, Milton would have made sure we knew that), and I see therefore no
> way of identifying any fruit it may have borne as that which Eve and Adam
> so disastrously plucked and
> ate.
>
>
> The question of just what kind of fruit was forbidden in PL comes up
> periodically on this list, where many people express the view that it must
> have been something more exotic than a common apple, even though Satan
> twice uses that very word (9.585, 10.487). Undeterred, Miltonists tell us
> that Satan is not to be trusted or that "apples" could mean "pineapples."
> Often forgotten is this line from PR:
>
> Alas how simple, to these cates compared,
> Was that crude apple that diverted Eve! (2.348-9)
>
> True, 'crude' there means 'uncooked', but the antithesis with 'cates'
> suggests that the 'apple' was conspicuously unexotic or (in the narrator's
> words) 'simple'. I have no opinion about Genesis, but I think that Milton
> thought of the fruit as an apple.
>
> John Leonard
>
>
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