[Milton-L] gastroMilton and teen angels

John K Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Tue Apr 8 14:31:13 EDT 2014


 
 
On 04/08/14, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote: 
>   
>  p { margin: 0; } 
>  
>    
>  
>  On Satan's disguises, these are typically, and often absurdly, self-defeating. (Think of the giant, phallic S of 9.) Are there other instances of adolescent angels in the poem? JD Fleming 
> 
>  
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
 James, why do you think the snake disguise absurd or self-defeating? The prelapsarian snake really was 'giant' and 'phallic' (it went upright on its circular base of coils). Satan does not add these features as gratuitous embellishments to the garden's serpent. He chooses the serpent and enters its body (not quite the same as a 'disguise') in order to appropriate its natural features to his own perverse ends. It is because the serpent is so 'subtle' that its body language lends itself so well to Satan's lies. The orator simile is a tour de force where almost every word has three levels of relevance: 1) the orator's physical gestures (one can actually see Demosthenes or Cicero or Julius Caesar standing and gesturing in Athens or free Rome, using their hands; sometimes stooping, sometimes standing at full height); 2) the 'parts' of oratory (Fowler's note is excellent on the technical terms); 3) the snake's bodily movements, as it, even more than Cicero, literally grows before our eyes as it uses the 'high' style ('to highth upgrown'). Far from finding this absurd, I think this one of the poem's great triumphs. Milton makes the talking snake entirely believable within the fiction of the poem.
 
John Leonard
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20140408/18b43365/attachment.html>


More information about the Milton-L mailing list