[Milton-L] Norvegers

Salwa Khoddam skhoddam at cox.net
Sun Jan 19 13:49:35 EST 2014


Arlene,
Very interesting modern take on the floating islands who were actually whales, sea-serpents, or the Leviathan "haply slumb'ring on the Norway foam." Back to medieval times, there is *The Lyfe of Saynt Branden* which tells the story of a hugh fish that the pilgrims thought was an island and so lighted and built a fire on it! When it began moving, the travelers discovered it was actually a fish and ran back to the ship.
In Lewis's "Perelandra" the floating islands are equivalent to Paradise; it is the fixed earth that is filled of corruption.
Best to all,
Salwa



Salwa Khoddam PhD
Professor of English Emerita
Oklahoma City University
Author of *Mythopoeic Narnia:
Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses 
in The Chronicles of Narnia*
skhoddam at cox.net
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Arlene M Stiebel 
  To: John Milton Discussion List 
  Sent: Sunday, January 19, 2014 11:08 AM
  Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Norvegers


  Sea of Water, Sea of Space:


  A contemporary reference, in a 20th century epic of six volumes, is the account in Star Wars Part V, The Empire Strikes Back, where, in an episode evocative of both Jonah and Pinocchio, Han Solo, to evade the Empire's fighters, parks the Millennium Falcon in what he thinks is an asteroid only to discover it is a giant, living creature. (They escape.)


  -- Arlene


  On Jan 19, 2014, at 8:27 AM, "J. Michael Gillum" <mgillum at ret.unca.edu> wrote:


    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 
          Sent: Friday, January 17, 2014 10:55 AM
          To: John Milton Discussion List 
          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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      -- 

      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
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      Columbus, OH 43210-1340
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