[Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question for john leonard

Mario A. DiCesare dicesare1 at mindspring.com
Fri Apr 11 19:52:14 EDT 2014

Dear Hannibal Hamlin,

Screw your courage to, etc., and announce loud and clear that 
Shakespeare is the greatest writer, bar none, in the history of the 
world.  I say this as one who has written extensively on Vergil, whose 
works have always buoyed me up, and who loves nothing better than 
teaching Homer, Dante, Joyce, among others.  But I keep coming back to 

Good work!

Mario A.DiCesare

On 4/11/2014 7:30 PM, Hannibal Hamlin wrote:
> I'm afraid I'm desperately far behind in this seemingly inexhaustible 
> thread. Plus, I'm writing from the SAA in St. Louis (how many here, I 
> wonder, think Shakespeare, contra Nigel Smith, is better than 
> Milton?). If the following seems out of place in light of what's gone 
> before, I apologize, but I find myself unsatisfied with the argument 
> that the fruit doesn't matter, which seems the prevailing view. I take 
> the point about the test being about obedience, but still. Milton is 
> such an obsessively gastric writer, I can't believe he doesn't think 
> the fruit itself important. Some things seem beyond absolute proof -- 
> whether the FF is of a totally different kind from the fruit of all 
> the other trees, for instance. (I suppose it might be a Cortland, 
> whereas all the others are Macs and Granny Smiths?) But the effect of 
> eating the fruit is automatic, and physiological. This particular 
> fruit, when eaten and digested, has an effect different from all the 
> others. As others have noted, it is intoxicating. It also seems an 
> aphrodisiac. And whether it's flavor is unique, it is certainly such 
> as to stimulate the appetite (think of whatever you can't eat only one 
> of -- salted peanuts, Ritz crackers, BBQ ribs). One could argue 
> perhaps that these effects are not intrinsic -- Eve's appetite is 
> unsatisfied because fallen, just as she and Adam rise from sex 
> unfulfilled. But Milton is constantly emphasizing food, digestion, 
> even excretion. Others know more than I do about Milton's 
> materialism/monism, but isn't it appropriate that the Fall of Man 
> comes about by eating something that doesn't agree with us? Of course, 
> Adam and Eve disobey God, but his prohibition is not, I think, 
> arbitrary, but connected to what this fruit does. (I know there are 
> loads of theologians who argue differently -- but they also have 
> different views on angelic sex and digestion, chaos and matter.) It's 
> interesting in this light that God's insistence that Adam and Eve must 
> be expelled from Eden describes them as a kind of waste product; what 
> they have consumed and digested has altered them physiologically 
> (though for Milton body and soul are one), so they are no longer a 
> healthy part of the "body" of Eden, but must be purged or excreted:
> But longer in that Paradise to dwell,
> The Law I gave to Nature him forbids:
> Those pure immortal Elements that know
> No gross, no unharmoneous mixture foule,
> Eject him tainted now, and purge him off
> As a distemper, gross to aire as gross,
> And mortal food, as may dispose him best
> For dissolution wrought by Sin, that first
> Distemperd all things, and of incorrupt
> Corrupted.
> Hannibal
> On Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 5:21 PM, cbartonphd1 <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net 
> <mailto:cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>> wrote:
>     Good summation,  Oydin!
>     Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S®III
>     -------- Original message --------
>     From: "Uzakova, Oydin Yashinova"
>     Date:04/11/2014 4:28 PM (GMT-05:00)
>     To: John Milton Discussion List
>     Subject: Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question
>     for john leonard
>     Perhaps the last move could be:
>     The "taste" of the fruit of the forbidden tree is "unique" only in
>     so far as it is prohibited from being known without disobeying the
>     creator, because as soon as one tastes the forbidden fruit and
>     thus has a chance to compare its flavor with other fruits, it
>     becomes impossible.  Becoming immediately postlapsarian, this
>     "new" taste cannot be accurately compared to prelapsarian Adam and
>     Eve's tastes of Eden's other fruits.
>     Also, is it completely unthinkable to rephrase God's prohibition
>     the following way: you must not eat the fruit of this particular
>     (apple) fruit tree, *growing next to the Tree of Life*, nor is
>     there any need for you to want it, since there are so many other
>     similar (apple) fruit trees in the garden.  In other words, if a
>     parent prohibits his children to taste apples from one particular
>     apple tree while allowing them to do so from all of the other
>     apple trees of the same species in the orchard, he still can say
>     "amid the choice/Of all tastes else to please their appetite." 
>     The children would still be tempted to taste the seemingly same
>     apples from that "interdicted" apple tree simply because it was
>     singled out by their parent.  That is why this particular (apple)
>     tree's location is so important since there is no other sign of
>     its difference from other trees of the same species.  That is also
>     why Eve had to be physically brought to it by Satan before she
>     realized that the fruit tree in question was in fact the forbidden
>     one.
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     *From:* milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>     <mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>
>     <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>     <mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu>> on behalf of Michael
>     Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu <mailto:mgillum at unca.edu>>
>     *Sent:* Friday, April 11, 2014 2:43 PM
>     *To:* John Milton Discussion List
>     *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] assumptions about the fruit, a question
>     for john leonard
>     I guess no one has laid out Greg's implied argument. This is how I
>     understand it:
>     "So easily obeyed amid the tastes / Of all fruits else." A&E have
>     the choice of all flavors different from the flavor of the
>     forbidden fruit. If there were multiple trees of the FF kind
>     bearing the same fruit, they would taste the same as the FF, and
>     so would be forbidden.  However, we know that God singled out one
>     particular tree for prohibition, the one growing next to the Tree
>     of Life. Therefore, it seems that there are not multiple specimens
>     of that kind.
>     I haven't figured out what Greg thinks would be Black's last move.
>     --Michael G.
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> -- 
> Hannibal Hamlin
> Associate Professor of English
> Author of /The Bible in Shakespeare/, now available through all good 
> bookshops, or direct from Oxford University Press at 
> http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199677610.do
> Editor, /Reformation/
> The Ohio State University
> 164 West 17th Ave., 421 Denney Hall
> Columbus, OH 43210-1340
> hamlin.22 at osu.edu/ <http://hamlin.22@osu.edu/>
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com <mailto:hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>
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