[Milton-L] Crucifixion

Hugh Richmond hmr at berkeley.edu
Sat Apr 5 20:27:26 EDT 2014


Dear Professor Strier: Your pro-Satan anti-Christ argument is puzzling, 
both archaic yet unhistorical. You seem to be treating Satan, the Son, 
and God as human beings when they are clearly icons, not realistic 
psychologies like Adam and Eve. The epic is about the inevitability of 
subordination, and the tensions it provokes. The Son reflects a force in 
the divine more powerful than any other: the love of creativity - while 
Satan reflects the negative tension that such a superiority arouses with 
lesser elements of reality, resulting in the associated neuroses of 
egotism figured in the various other devils' symbolic identities. They 
are never complete human psychologies. The point is not that Satan is a 
braver man than the Son, but that loving creativity will always overcome 
negative feelings (hence the end of the battle in heaven, which is not 
won by Michael's more physical forces).This is how various levels of 
traditional allegory usually operate: they may have literal, even 
historical implications, but not exclusively.

As for the crucifixion, clearly The Passion shows Milton balks at full 
realization of the suffering involved, but the epic recognizes that in 
order for humanity to transcend the vast suffering resulting from the 
Free Will operating throughout the Universe, a way out requires the 
fullest experience of such suffering before transcending it becomes 
plausible. Which is what the Son offers. What validates Eve as the 
central figure in the epic is that her realistic psychology best 
illustrates the completion of this full cycle, from innocent narcissism, 
to resentful subordination, to vicious self-assertion, to repentance and 
complete self-sacrifice. Like the Son, through suffering she achieves 
heroic self-abnegation, which inspires redemptive feelings in Adam, as 
the Incarnation will do, in all humanity. Quibbles about technical 
details of theology are not relevant to the epic's main thrust, which is 
what should concern us, as it did Milton. With best wishes, Hugh 
Richmond, Director, http://miltonrevealed.berkeley.edu


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