[Milton-L] more on fallacious

Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM cbartonphd1 at verizon.net
Thu Apr 17 09:39:40 EDT 2014

Yes, of course it was, John. At no point in the temptation does the Serpent promise Eve better sex--nor would she have been likely to succumb, if such had been the bait. She's perfectly satisfied with Adam (pun intended) before the Fall. What she wants is the adjustment in hierarchy that the Fruit (of the Tree of KNOWLEDGE, after all) will bring: to be "more Equal"--or even sometimes superior . . . not a prescription for Viagra.

Best to all, 

Surely it was the  expectation of knowledge, rather than any hope that sex would "be better somehow", that makes the fruit "fallax",

                                                           true in our fall,
           False in our promised rising; since our eyes
           Opened we find indeed, and find we know
           Both good and evil, good lost and evil got. 
           Bad fruit of knowledge if this be to know, 
           Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void, 
           Of innocence, of faith, of purity. (9.1069-75)

Coming just 23 lines after "fallacious", the anadiplosis "fall, / False" is very clear as to what the fallacy was: the fallacious hope of "our promised rising".  I admit that "if this be to know" has overtones of carnal knowledge, especially in such close proximity to "naked", but I don't hear any hint in these lines that Adam is disappointed to find that his bold and adventurous Eve (with or without any new felicitous embellishments) is just the same old same old ("I had sorta thought it was gonna be better somehow").  Greg's misplaced trust in the flaccid demotic only reaffirms my sense that an obscene pun would add nothing to this moment in the poem.

John Leonard


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