[Milton-L] early "sex"

Horace Jeffery Hodges horacejeffery at gmail.com
Tue Nov 18 16:28:30 EST 2014


Jim Rovira wrote "I get the sense the angels aren't married . . ."

But might they be paired up, such as Beelzebub with Satan (Lucifer) - an
intimacy lurking as an assumption behind my Clintonesque joke about these
two angels sleeping together, the former sleeping but the latter not . . .

Jeffery Hodges

Ewha Womans University
Seoul, South Korea


Novella: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E18KW0K (*The Bottomless Bottle of
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Doctoral Thesis: "Food as Synecdoche in the Gospel of John and Gnostic
Texts"


Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley
M.A., History of Science, U.C. Berkeley
B.A., English Language and Literature, Baylor University


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On Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 12:31 PM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Many thanks for the responses to my question.
>
> I was wondering if *Milton *would call it "sex" if it's not generative
> and doesn't require gender? Dr. Revard's answer is perhaps -the- answer, as
> the quoted text draws a direct parallel between Adam and Eve's sexual
> intimacy and angelic intimacy. I also think the parallel between angelic
> "sex" and human sex is supported by Raphael's blushes. Why be so
> embarrassed about it if it's not something like sexual intimacy?
>
> But I want to complicate this answer a bit just to see what happens, if
> that's ok.
>
> "Love" was certainly used in our sense of "sex" in this period, but "love"
> was also opposed to "pleasure" in "The Imperfect Enjoyment," "pleasure"
> here standing in for successful coitus. "Sex" (in our sense), I believe,
> was meant to serve both unitive and generative purposes going quite far
> back. Intimacy (associated with unitive purposes, I assume) is certainly
> described by Raphael, but I get the sense the angels aren't married (and
> surely Milton was aware of the NT passage to that effect) -- so are the
> rules different for angels? If it is angelic "sex," why are angels allowed
> to fornicate and humans are not? Lack of generation? But I don't get a
> sense that angels are permanently bound together through their version of
> intercourse either, so we appear to lose both generative and unitive
> purposes, so what is left of sex?
>
> What I can't accommodate, more than anything, is the blushing Raphael.
> Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed: they retired to the bower for
> intercourse, but Adam (in a somewhat childlike way) feels no shame or
> embarrassment in asking the question, which he should feel if he himself
> were embarrassed about his own sexuality. Raphael is presumably just as
> innocent, though perhaps not as naive, but I'm unsure how naivete and
> innocence can be completely separated here too: shouldn't Raphael have been
> as unembarrassed to talk about it as Adam was to ask? The blush invokes
> modesty, self awareness, the desire to cover up: these gods (so to speak)
> are perfect and ideal in form, so do not need clothing.
>
> So I might suggest a possible alternative reading: human sexual
> intercourse encourages physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual
> intimacy in PL. Angels, lacking physical bodies (ah, but again, as we saw
> in the war in heaven, they can become more or less solid at will -- so why
> not take on fully substantial bodies and then have "real" sex?),
> participate in their own versions of this intimacy, but the intimacy does
> not form a bond, as they lack physical bodies, so that their union is
> primarily "intelligential" but also involving emotion to the extent that
> angels feel it, which they do. Is this a possible argument against the use
> of the word "sex," then, to describe angelic intimacy? That their bond
> isn't sexual in any sense really extensible to human beings who, could they
> share this kind of bond, would experience perhaps greater intimacy than
> ever but also call it non-sexual? "Sex" is made possible between humans
> because of barriers (of flesh) that do not exist among angels.
>
> I hope I don't sound more insistent on this point than I am. I am trying
> out ideas among better readers of PL than I.
>
> Jim R
>
>
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