[Milton-L] Norvegers

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Sun Jan 19 11:27:58 EST 2014


We would also want to recall the evolution of Satan (the idea of Satan)
from myths about sea-monsters, as so ably explained by Neil Forsyth.
. . .
I first encountered the floating-island-monster in the Thousand and One
Nights (Sinbad). There is a Wikipedia page on this motif that seems very
good. It claims the story first appears in Pliny (1st CE). It seems
plausible that the Arabs got it from Pliny. The story is common in medieval
bestiaries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspidochelone


On Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM, Hannibal Hamlin
<hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com>wrote:

> Well, OK, but it really is complex, isn't it? To all of the above, there
> might also be added the long allusive background to Satan's "pine,"
> including the *pinus *Polyphemus carries in Ovid (Met. 13), back behind
> which is the club of Homer's Polyphemus (olive wood, but specifically as
> large as a mast), and the staff of the same cyclops when Aeneus see him in
> Virgil's poem (no mast simile this time, but the huge staff is now a pine,
> not an olive). This is a famous epic trope of course, and it migrates
> through the Italians to Spenser, whose Satyrane charges the giantess
> Argante with a spear that is said to have little effect, "All were the
> beame in bigness like a mast." (Much of this is in Patrick Hume's 1695 *Notes
> on Paradise Lost*.) It seems then that Milton, with his epic precursors
> in mind, wants Satan's spear to be likened to both a pine and a mast. The
> association seems conventional, since the OED lists a synechdochic use of
> "pine" for "mast," as in "Steere hither, steere, your winged Pines, All
> beaten Mariners" (William Browne, *Circe and Ulysses*, 1645). If
> England's masts, in the 17th century, are in fact pines from Norway, then
> the Norwegian reference follows, though with that come the suggestions of
> the biblical North, whaling grounds, and such that suit so well the
> Leviathan simile. (Interesting, though, that the mast Satan's spear is
> compared to is that of an Ammiral, a form of "admiral" that show the
> influence of Arabic. Is this then a Spanish ship, perhaps? The only use of
> "ammiral," spelled this way, before Milton that turns up on *EEBO *is in
> James Ussher's *Annals of the World*, where it refers to Greeks,
> Persians, and other ancients.) Given the association in PL of Satan and
> Norwegian pines, it's interesting too that in *Areopagitica *Norwegians
> are represented as proud: "the barbarick pride of a *Hunnish* and
> *Norwegian* statelines."
>
> If we want to get more arcane (and who doesn't!), in a volume called *Kraken:
> Fact or Fiction?* (Rick Emmer), I find a section on Olaus Magnus, a
> Swedish naturalist, who wrote a history of the Norse people in which he
> described the "horrible monsters found on the coasts of Norway." These
> looked, wrote Magnus, like uprooted trees. Presumably, and he also calls
> these beasts "whale-sized" not whales, he is describing squid. The biblical
> Leviathan might just as easily be linked to giant squid as whales or any
> other great sea-beast, but if squid are like giant uprooted trees, that
> provides a rather nifty link to Satan's spear, also like an uprooted tree.
> And of course trees figure rather prominently in the story Milton is
> telling, especially that one that is the "root of all our woe," uprooting
> us from our happy home in Eden.
>
> Hannibal
>
>
>
>
> On Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 9:59 AM, J. Michael Gillum <mgillum at ret.unca.edu>wrote:
>
>> But John Leonard's reminder that Satan is associated with the north is a
>> valuable point. Of course, in PL, Lucifer's barony was in the north of
>> Heaven.
>>
>>
>> On Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 6:37 PM, Carol Barton, Ph.D., CPCM <
>> cbartonphd1 at verizon.net> wrote:
>>
>>>  Ockham's Razor. Why settle for a simple explanation, when a complex
>>> one will do?
>>>
>>>
>>> Thanks, Michael, and happy new year to all!
>>>
>>> Carol Barton
>>>
>>>  *From:* Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu>
>>> *Sent:* Friday, January 17, 2014 10:55 AM
>>> *To:* John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>>> *Subject:* Re: [Milton-L] Norvegers
>>>
>>> The simple answer to why the whale is in Norway foam is that northern
>>> Norwegian waters around the island of Spitsbergen (not the Baltic) were the
>>> primary European hunting grounds for whales. British whalers and others
>>> operated there during the seventeenth century.
>>>
>>>
>>> http://www.spitsbergen-svalbard.com/spitsbergen-information/history/17th-century-whaling.html
>>>
>>>
>>> On Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM, JD Fleming <jfleming at sfu.ca> wrote:
>>>
>>>>  Dear all--here is a simple question that, perhaps, has been answered
>>>> more than once. But those answers lie buried in dusty books; so in the
>>>> spirit of our students, I would like to ask you, who know, directly:
>>>>
>>>> Why 2 references to Norway in PL 1 (203 and 293)? Why are both the foam
>>>> and the pine Norwegian? Why Norway?
>>>>
>>>> Having two grandparents from Bergen, I ask. JD Fleming
>>>>
>>>> --
>>>> James Dougal Fleming
>>>> Associate Professor
>>>> Department of English
>>>> Simon Fraser University
>>>> 778-782-4713
>>>>
>>>> "Upstairs was a room for travelers. ‘You know, I shall take it for the
>>>> rest of my life,’ Vasili Ivanovich is reported to have said as soon as he
>>>> had entered it."
>>>> -- Vladimir Nabokov, *Cloud, Castle, Lake*
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
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>>>
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>>
>>
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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/
> hamlin.hannibal at gmail.com
>
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