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Discussion - Paradise Lost > Paradise Lost--Through Book 6

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message 1: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Just in case Everyman is off-island today, I'll put this thread up.


message 2: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Thanks Laurele.

I am confused about something. There was supposedly a battle in heaven and Milton makes Christ the winner--at the end of round three. Is this battle supposed to be allegorical for Christ's death and resurrection or is it a battle that happens at the beginning of time or at the end of time? I know the book of Revelation was taught to me as a prophecy of end times but what I don't understand is if Christ already won why does there have to be another war?


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Laurele wrote: "Just in case Everyman is off-island today, I'll put this thread up."

Not off island, just some family stuff that came up. Thanks for stepping in.


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 14, 2010 04:51PM) (new)

Dianna wrote: "Thanks Laurele.

I am confused about something. There was supposedly a battle in heaven and Milton makes Christ the winner--at the end of round three. Is this battle supposed to be allegorical ..."


Well he isn't Christ at this point, he's the annointed Son or champion of the Father and all this happens prior to the opening books of Paradise Lost, so it's sort of round one rather than round three. Or am I misunderstanding your question?

I see it as allegory. Good (temporarily) defeats Evil. And, as other people have pointed out, it parallels the Greek gods expelling the Titans from Olympus. In fact when Satan is wounded by Michael and feels horrifying pain, then heals completely I was thinking of Prometheus and how he was punished by Zeus for stealing fire and bringing it to mortals. Easy to draw an obvious parallel there between Prometheus' act and Satan's encouragement of Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge. Milton doesn't seem to limit himself to biblical texts as source material :)


message 5: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments When I said "round three" I was facetiously referring to the Argument part of the text in Book VI where it says:

...The first Fight describ'd: Satan and his Powers retire under night...second dayes Fight put Michael and his Angels to some disorder...God on the Third day sends Messiah his Son...

I see this theme of evil fighting good in so many of our modern day stories.

For example:
Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix...(those are off the top of my head.)


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Gotcha. I have to admit to laughing a bit at this whole section. First you have the angels hacking at Satan's troops but no real outcome. Satan gets pissed and invents cannon to lay waste to the angels then lolls around taunting them. The angels retaliate by picking up a mountain and dropping it on the evil secessionists. God says to the Son, "Here's all the power you need. Go end this and get rid of the riffraff before they tear my nice house apart." Yes you can reduce this part really easily to a modern movie script.


message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1743 comments I think the conventional story is that St. Michael the Archangel defeats Satan and expels him from Heaven. It's Milton's invention to have Christ do it. The fact that He does it on the third day of battle is an allusion to His resurrection on the third day, I suppose. As Dianna says, if you think about it, it kind of spoils the effect of the Last Battle in Revelation, which becomes just a rematch with the same outcome.


message 8: by Alina (new)

Alina | 28 comments Kate wrote: "Gotcha. I have to admit to laughing a bit at this whole section. First you have the angels hacking at Satan's troops but no real outcome. Satan gets pissed and invents cannon to lay waste to the..."

Kate, I had the same exact feeling! The whole of book vi was like an action movie, complete with special effects of "so spake the Sovran Voice, and clouds began/ To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll/ In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign/ Of wrath awaked..."

Dianna wrote: "I am confused about something. There was supposedly a battle in heaven and Milton makes Christ the winner--at the end of round three. Is this battle supposed to be allegorical for Christ's death and resurrection or is it a battle that happens at the beginning of time or at the end of time? I know the book of Revelation was taught to me as a prophecy of end times but what I don't understand is if Christ already won why does there have to be another war? "

There is really no Biblical support for any actual battle occuring as part of the Fall. In fact, there is also no other battle between Christ and Satan other than the battle of Armageddon and Christ's victory over death (as you already mentioned) as a result of His crucifixion and resurrection.

Basically, 2nd Peter 2:4 says that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."

The recurring battle between angels and fallen angels across the span of millennia is entirely Milton's imagination, and the idea has been enthusiastically replicated by other poets and authors since then...




But on a different note, in the previous discussion on book v, someone made a point regarding Satan's provocative statements actually representing Milton's personal doubts about the nature of God. I found that everything Satan said in book vi only reinforced this view.

We can see outright accusations: "and judged/ Sufficient to subdue us to his will,/But proves not so: Then fallible, it seems,/ Of future we may deem him, though till now/ Omniscient thought."

And subtly demeaning nicknames: "that they shall fear we have disarmed/ The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt."


message 9: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 14, 2010 09:43PM) (new)

MadgeUK Kate wrote: "Gotcha. I have to admit to laughing a bit at this whole section. First you have the angels hacking at Satan's troops but no real outcome. Satan gets pissed and invents cannon to lay waste to the..."

Great summary Kate! I love the idea of fighting with mountains!

Milton apparently used Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid for descriptions of his battles and I hope that those familiar with those works will be able to point out the similarities. I have read both but I always skip battle scenes - this one promises to be more entertaining because it is so 'way out':).

The biblical references to the battle are from Revelation, not Genesis/The Fall, and Milton is conflating the two here. I also see quite a lot of Machiavelli's philosophy about power in God. Milton seems to be struggling with the idea of God's absolute power in relation to what he had experienced in his lifetime. We briefly touched on power and its relation to corruption in the Politics thread and perhaps Milton is asking himself if Monarchs and Protectors abuse power, can God also be accused of doing so - is tyranny in heaven much the same as tyranny on earth and if not why not? Why do the angels in heaven succeed when the Puritan angels/saints on earth did not? And - what justifies God's power.

Professor Rogers says of Book VI:

'The poem's complex and vacillating endorsement of arbitrary decree, on the one hand, and egalitarian self-determination, on the other, is probed. The nature of matter and physical being in Heaven and Eden are explored with particular emphasis placed on the poem's monistic elements. Overall, Milton's willingness to question accepted religious, social, and political doctrine, even that which authorities in his own poem seem to express, is stressed.'

Wikipedia gives some useful insights into the biblical War in Heaven and how it has been variously viewed:-

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

This is a nice little explanation, which remarks in passing that the basis of many UFO stories are 'satanic in origin':-

http://www.bibleufo.com/warinheaven.htm


message 10: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Thanks for the link Madge. I think you accidently posted the same link twice. I was looking forward to reading the second one.


message 11: by MadgeUK (new)

MadgeUK PS: I would like to say how much I am enjoying this discussion with y'all! There have been some absolutely brilliant posts expressing so many different points of view, without any personal controversy, that it has been a real pleasure to read PL again in your company. Kudos!


message 12: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Heres some info on the book of Revelation:

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


message 13: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 15, 2010 03:05AM) (new)

MadgeUK Thanks Dianne. I find it very interesting that some interpretations of Revelation put it as being about the apostolic ere, that is events which have already happened, and others put it in the future. I had always thought of it as interpreting the 'end times'. Personally, I see it as an allegory. I wonder which view Milton took? I know that he thought that the church had strayed from its apostolic roots so perhaps he put the events in the past?

Thanks for the heads up about the second link - I have corrected it, so read away!


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 15, 2010 05:59AM) (new)

When Abdiel returns to Heaven he is praised for standing up to those,

...who reason for their law refuse
Right reason for their law...

I'm not sure what the proper term for this rhetorical turn of phrase is, but it certainly works well.

Similarly, in describing the battle:

...nor is it aught but just,
That he who in debate of truth hath won,
Should win in arms...
...though brutish that contest and foul,
When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.

[Shades of trial by combat as we saw in Richard II:]

A note in my text says Milton quoted Cicero: "Right reason [is:]derived from divine will which commands what is right and forbids what is wrong."

My sense is that the early 1600s represent the beginning of modern science. Milton's concern with astronomy and who is "right" about the movement of the planets reflects this.

To me it seems as if this puts Milton on a bit of a slippery slope. At some level might he have sensed that "right reason" would undermine the literal scripture?

A bit later the best Raphael will come up with in speaking to Adam is to tell him not to concern himself with seeing answers to things he doesn't understand.

Galileo is important to Milton in ways I don't fully understand.

What was the 17th century understanding of "reason" as it is being used here? Is it different from the scientific meaning?


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Zeke, Milton is definitely sitting on the cusp of that change in modern thought. People were beginning to try to explain human behavior in terms of empirical science. Hobbes was Milton's contemporary, and his social theories were an early attempt to apply studies of motion to human interactions. Locke came just a few years after Milton and is often called the first British Empiricist. He believed humans had no innate a priori knowledge, and that our concept of the world comes from experience based upon what we perceive from our senses. He was the first to develop our modern concepts of self and individual identity and had a profound impact on the later Enlightenment thinkers. There was definitely a shift in thinking going on, from the received wisdom/knowledge provided by God toward the idea that humans could use science to explain the world. Just like you point out, Milton was caught in some of these philosophical eddies.


message 16: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 15, 2010 10:41AM) (new)

MadgeUK Yes, definitely on the cusp Kate:). Although he lived a century before Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason was published, he was one of the early deists, like his contemporary John Locke, who wrote about Faith and Reason. They called for 'free rational enquiry' into all subjects, including religion, and I think we see some of Milton's freethinking in PL when we see him questioning biblical and doctrinal orthodoxy. He wrote a lot about 'reason' and considered that the ability to reason was part of God's gift of free will. (There is a reference to reason in each book of PL.) In Aereopagitica, which was his treatise pleading for a free press, the first lines read: 'Many there be that complain of divine Providence for suffering Adam to transgress. Foolish tongues! When God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing.... In Book IX of PL Adam says to Eve 'But God left free the will, and reason he made right'.

Milton wrote that he met Galileo at Fiesole near Florence in 1638 and looked through the famous telescope (which I saw there a couple of years ago!). He embedded that sighting of the moon into a description of Satan's shield Book I PL:-

'...his ponderous shield
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Beind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At evening from the top of Fesole...'

There is also a wonderful view of Florence and the Duomo from Fiesole, which is still a beautiful little village in the hills above Florence.

Milton was 30 but Galileo was old and blind and under house arrest. It is thought that Milton's passionate defence of free speech stems from this meeting although his account of it has also been disputed.

Milton makes reference to both the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems of astrology but the latter was only just being accepted by academics in England so his readers would have been more familiar with Ptolemaic (also much used by Shakespeare).


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) | 186 comments MadgeUK wrote: "PS: I would like to say how much I am enjoying this discussion with y'all! There have been some absolutely brilliant posts expressing so many different points of view, without any personal contro..."

I second that praise


message 18: by Alina (last edited Jul 15, 2010 11:52AM) (new)

Alina | 28 comments On a completely different note, I found the dynamic between Father and Son to be intriguingly stilted?... Especially in contrast to the accepted interpretation of the triune nature of God...


In addition, the Father seems even more remote than in book v, almost as if He were a conjuror (I am struggling with finding the proper term for it) who is overseeing his domain through a looking sphere. "Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits/Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure,/Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen/That his great purpose he might fulfil,/Upon his enemies, and to declare/All power on him transferred."


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Alina, Milton wasn't a trinitarian. There is a long discussion of this on the book III thread starting about #71 or so. Also someone (Amanda, I think? Sure would be nice if the search program were working. Grrrr.) commented on God's Wizard of Oz similarities in Book IV or Book V.


message 20: by Alina (new)

Alina | 28 comments Kate wrote: "Alina, Milton wasn't a trinitarian. There is a long discussion of this on the book III thread starting about #71 or so. Also someone (Amanda, I think? Sure would be nice if the search program we..."

Yes, Kate, I remember that WoO discussion in book v, but apparently missed the rest. Thanks for pointing it out.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Alina,

Lots of discussion on this so far. I wasn't sure how much of it you'd been able to catch up on :)


toria (vikz writes) (victoriavikzwrites) | 186 comments I find it interesting to note how Milton describes Christ as a Shepard driving the demons into hell like a flock of sheep. This mirrors and distorts views of him given in the new testament. What do you think of this?


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Vikz wrote: "I find it interesting to note how Milton describes Christ as a Shepard driving the demons into hell like a flock of sheep. This mirrors and distorts views of him given in the new testament. What d..."

I think that is both disturbing and interesting, and I want to think about it. Are his 4 angels girding his chariot supposed to mirror the 4 horsemen as well? Milton seems to be using a lot of the themes and imagery of Revelations in this book. Tying the end and the beginning together, perhaps?


message 24: by Alina (last edited Jul 15, 2010 01:47PM) (new)

Alina | 28 comments Vikz wrote: "I find it interesting to note how Milton describes Christ as a Shepard driving the demons into hell like a flock of sheep. This mirrors and distorts views of him given in the new testament. What d..."

Hmmm, Vikz... That's not quite true. The specific citation is "The overthrown he raised, and as a herd/Of goats or timorous flock together thronged/Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued/With terrours, and with furies, to the gounds/And crystal wall of Heaven."

Matthew chapter 25 states: 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."

Therefore, herding demons into hell like a timorous flock of goats accurately reflects the New Testament imagery of Christ dividing people into a group of sheep and goats (sheep = good, goats = bad)


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Vicz wrote: I find it interesting to note how Milton describes Christ as a Shepard driving the demons into hell like a flock of sheep. This mirrors and distorts views of him given in the new testament. What do you think of this?

Like you, I was initially puzzled by this also. However, one resource I was reading indicated that it demonstrates that willing obedience does not make one weak; on the contrary, it gives one power.

The corollary is that Satan in this battle has lost much of his strength. Not able to defeat the angels in fair fight, he resorts to technology to try to beat them. While that doesn't prevail in heaven, we all know how it has turned out in our own fallen world.


message 26: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments I have found this to be the most delightful book so far, completely melodramatic, to be sure, but still wonderful in the first success, then falling back and then the final push to uber-success! It made for a wonderful read... and I think Milton's choice of words was especially fine.
I admit that I didn't enjoy it as much until I stopped worrying about scripture... and I cannot see how Milton wasn't freewheeling for most of this. Even though I really don't like war stories, I thought this one quite elegant.

Yet I have another issue which has been bothering me and I couldn't put my finger it until this afternoon and it concerns Abdiel. My issue is that his character didn't quite ring true in the respect that I find no reason why he went with Satan in the first place. Yes his speech to Satan is quite grand and his praise from the deity makes perfect sense, but unless we suppose he was sleepwalking, what made him go in the first place? There is nothing I read which suggested he was conflicted or had changed his mind, rather the opposite.


message 27: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 15, 2010 03:26PM) (new)

MadgeUK Zeke wrote: '...willing obedience gives power..."

Prof Rogers talks about the concept of willing obedience. I see it as political imagery and quite a democratic p.o.v. For instance, in a democratic system, if you are a Republican and the Democrats get into power, you willingly obey the laws of that Democratic government because you know that they have obtained power 'justly'. Milton, I think, has come to the conclusion, via reasoning, that the government of heaven is just and he therefore thinks there should be willing obedience by Adam and Eve, and mankind. He has been contrasting unjust tyranny (Monarchs/Protectors) with just tyranny (God/Angels). This, as I see it, is part of his 'justification'.

Machiavelli, in The Prince, makes similar observations about a ruler needing to have willing obedience from his subjects. He says that a people's allegiance is better than building a fortress.


message 28: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Rhonda, Maybe Abdiel was a double agent for God. ;)


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Zeke wrote: "The corollary is that Satan in this battle has lost much of his strength. Not able to defeat the angels in fair fight, he resorts to technology to try to beat them. ..."

I saw this a bit differently. Satan was under a severe disadvantage in that battle. He had half the numbers of his opponent and God had given Michael a fearsome weapon in the sword. Satan used his ability to think and reason to even the odds.

However, one resource I was reading indicated that it demonstrates that willing obedience does not make one weak; on the contrary, it gives one power.

Hasn't the idea of a graceful submission to God's will always been a Christian ideal? Obedience to God's will is the only way to maintain the religious structure Milton envisions (i.e., a direct and personal relationship between man and God.) Obedience ensures God's favor and therefore confers strength.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Kate: I don't disagree at all. The thing I have been wrestling with as I read the book is that, somehow, obedience, renders one as an automaton and mindless. This view gave me another perspective on obedience with which to think about it.

Obedience need not mean "surrender." It could mean "empowerment."


message 31: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 15, 2010 06:42PM) (new)

Zeke wrote: "Kate: I don't disagree at all. The thing I have been wrestling with as I read the book is that, somehow, obedience, renders one as an automaton and mindless. This view gave me another perspective o..."

Exactly! A better way to put it.

ETA: I think we as Americans are conditioned to think that submission=weakness. It is hard to look around the cultural barriers and see the opposite.


message 32: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 16, 2010 02:36AM) (new)

MadgeUK There are indeed many ways in which obedience can give empowerment. Oftimes we go along with someone or something in an obedient way and it lifts certain worries from our shoulders. We accept a great many rules in our everyday lives without questioning them. When we drive a car, for instance, we are obeying the 'laws' imposed by engineers that we do this or that to create motion, to steer, to brake. We do not think about these laws, we just obey them because we have come to the realisation that it is the best thing to do if we wish to empower ourselves by driving from A to B.

I think Miltion is arguing his way through this concept - how some forms of obedience are enforced submission, therefore bad, and how other forms are beneficial, therefore good. Nor is he just arguing about graceful submission to God's will, he is also proposing that a citizen should gracefully submit to some forms of beneficial rule. If we read about the many many splits and divisions of religious sects during the period of the Civil War and its parliaments, and the often trivial arguments which ensued, eventually destroying the concept of the 'city on the hill', a 'nation under god', we can begin to realise what Milton is getting at here. Sometimes it is in our own best interests to submit, maybe make the best of it until easier times come. Above all, we must apply our reason before we rebel.


message 33: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Kate said that we as Americans have come to think of submission as equal to weakness. I agree. Submission seems to somehow be some sort of dirty word but as Madge mentioned, obedience can lead to empowerment.

The church I was raised in pounded the submission thing into our heads but I do believe that when we submit to wise authority we are in some way letting ourselves off the hook and letting those in authority bear the burden. This is why it would be great if those in authority were actually wise and good, not power hungry and ignorant.

I tend NOT have a submissive personality but I have tried to teach myself how to submit when it is rational and necessary.

According to the doctrine I was taught Christ is the head of the church and the husband is the head of the wife and the children should submit to the parents. This sort of does make sense if you look at it from a humanistic point of view although in the church which I was raised it was given too much attention at the expense of all the other rich and beneficial ideas in the Bible.

I agree with Madge here:

"I think Miltion is arguing his way through this concept - how some forms of obedience are enforced submission, therefore bad, and how other forms are beneficial, therefore good. Nor is he just arguing about graceful submission to God's will, he is also proposing that a citizen should gracefully submit to some forms of beneficial rule."


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Madge. I liked this: "I think Miltion is arguing his way through this concept - how some forms of obedience are enforced submission, therefore bad, and how other forms are beneficial, therefore good. Nor is he just arguing about graceful submission to God's will, he is also proposing that a citizen should gracefully submit to some forms of beneficial rule.

I think that is definitely one of the things Milton is doing in PL.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm not sure. Given Abdiel's viewpoints it never really made sense for him to go with Satan in the first place. Your reason works for me.


message 36: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments I still say he was a double agent all along... ;)


message 37: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 16, 2010 06:28PM) (new)

Dianna wrote: "I still say he was a double agent all along... ;)"

I see no conflict between that and what Amanda said. LOL.


message 38: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 17, 2010 12:59AM) (new)

MadgeUK The closing lines of Book 5 are about the faithful Seraph Abdiel, who some think represents Milton himself. These lines perhaps describe the poet when he suffered 'hostile scorn' after the Revolution failed:

'So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example, with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
Superiour, nor of violence feared aught;
And, with retorted scorn, his back he turned
On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.'

Abdiel, a Hebrew name (Avdiel) which means servant of God, is only mentioned once in the Bible, where his parentage is mentioned in Chronicles 5:15. Do the biblical scholars here attach any particular significance to him as a character in PL. He is a mortal in the Bible, not an angel and in PL Milton also makes him a prophet: 'I see thee fall...'.

Is Milton's purpose in introducing a 'servant of God' with no particular scriptural significance, to give him an excuse to justify his behaviour during the civil war and to make himself one of the good guys or is there a scriptural significance here? Or did he see himself as one of the bad guys who changed his mind about the Revolution. I see no evidence for that in any of his post-Revolution writing, or in his actions, which included going to prison after the Restoration for his anti-monarchist beliefs. Nor is there any evidence that he changed his mind in relation to the Church of England, the Laudian orthodoxies of which he fought all his life.

I quite like the idea of Milton being a double agent - working for the Cromwellian communists but upholding the King's divinity all along....:O


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

As in Book I, Milton seems prescient about how man will despoil the earth by extracting minerals and oil from its interior. In this case he is talking about gunpowder, but note the use of "crude."

Whereto with look compos'd Satan repli'd.
Not uninvented that, which thou aright [ 470 :]
Believst so main to our success, I bring;
Which of us who beholds the bright surface
Of this Ethereous mould whereon we stand,
This continent of spacious Heav'n, adornd
With Plant, Fruit, Flour Ambrosial, Gemms & Gold,
Whose Eye so superficially surveyes
These things, as not to mind from whence they grow
Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,
Of spiritous and fierie spume, till toucht
With Heav'ns ray, and temperd they shoot forth
So beauteous, op'ning to the ambient light.


I also found it interesting that Milton has the rebel angels able to feel pain while the good angels do not feel pain--although they can be driven back.


message 40: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments I read somewhere that the title for the His Dark Materials trilogy came from Paradise Lost.


message 41: by MadgeUK (last edited Jul 17, 2010 12:33PM) (new)

MadgeUK Zeke wrote: "As in Book I, Milton seems prescient about how man will despoil the earth by extracting minerals and oil from its interior. In this case he is talking about gunpowder, but note the use of "crude."
..."


Does being good and obedient to God make them impervioius to pain?

The reference to Gunpowder is partly about the Gunpowder Plot, which had happened only 3 years before Milton's birth so was still a cause celebre and of course it was a catholic plot. At the age of 17 he wrote a poem about it which reflected the Protestant p.o.v. and it is said that he was haunted by the conspiracy and therefore put it into PL. There was a great deal written about the plot at the time - sermons, tracts, books, plays and several featured satanic conspiracies. I suppose for English people then a plot to blow up Parliament was as traumatic as 9/11 was to Americans?

Yes, Philip Pullman has said he took the title from Milton. The book is partly a retelling and an inversion of PL and has drawn criticism from religious folks.


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Reading and reflecting on the battle in heaven, I found my thoughts turning to Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. An avid reader of Hindu scripture, he reported thinking of the Bhagavad Gita as he witnessed the first test explosion.

"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."


message 43: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 17, 2010 02:57PM) (new)

As the horrendous battle escalates, we see another example of the tension between omniscience and omnipotence.

horrid confusion heapt
Upon confusion rose: and now all Heav'n
Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspred,
Had not th' Almightie Father where he sits
Shrin'd in his Sanctuarie of Heav'n secure,
Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen
This tumult, and permitted all, advis'd:
That his great purpose he might so fulfill,
To honour his Anointed Son aveng'd
Upon his enemies,


God has the ability to see how the battle will go, and the resources to end it, but he does not have the power to prevent it. If He does, and chooses not to what does that tell us about Him? (The response that he let's it go so that his Son can redeem fallen mankind is tautological, since it would reveal that either He couldn't prevent the fall of man, or that He chooses not to. And what does that tell us about Him?)

[Small technical note: I was struck by the importance of the two "Hads" at the beginning of consecutive lines.]


message 44: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments He chooses to allow his creatures free will.


message 45: by Aranthe (new)

Aranthe | 103 comments Vikz wrote: "I find it interesting to note how Milton describes Christ as a Shepard driving the demons into hell like a flock of sheep. This mirrors and distorts views of him given in the new testament. What do you think of this? "

In addition to what the others have said re: the goats, the passage reminded me of the episode recorded in the Gospel of Mark, where Christ frees the Gaderene who lives among the tombs. When He commands the demons to leave the man, they beg to be sent into a herd of swine. Christ gives them permission and they throw themselves over a steep slope into a nearby lake and drown.

It does accord with some of Christ's actions as recorded in Scripture, though perhaps not with the ones that people are most familiar with.




message 46: by Aranthe (last edited Jul 17, 2010 04:03PM) (new)

Aranthe | 103 comments Rhonda wrote: "Yet I have another issue which has been bothering me and I couldn't put my finger it until this afternoon and it concerns Abdiel. My issue is that his character didn't quite ring true in the respect that I find no reason why he went with Satan in the first place."

The angels were arrayed in their cohorts before the Father's throne for the announcement. Apparently, Abdiel was a part of that cohort, which, until that point, was innocent of any wrong.

After the announcement, in lines 683–693, Satan says to his second in command:

To utter is not safe. Assemble thou
Of all of those myriads which we lead the chief;
Tell them that by command, err dim night
Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward with flying march where we possess
The quarters of the north, there to prepare
Fit entertainment to receive our King
The great Messiah, and his new commands,
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.

I took this to mean that Satan, through his second in command, lied to the cohort about both the command to leave and the reason for it. Given that, there was no reason for Abdiel or any other to think anything untoward was afoot until after they arrived in the north. Though I was surprised to discover that Heaven has a magnetic pole. ;-)




message 47: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Aranthe wrote: I took this to mean that Satan, through his second in command, lied to the cohort about both the command to leave and the reason for it. Given that, there was no reason for Abdiel or any other to think anything untoward was afoot until after they arrived in the north.

Good point, Aranthe. That certainly makes sense.


message 48: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4571 comments Zeke wrote: "(The response that he let's it go so that his Son can redeem fallen mankind is tautological, since it would reveal that either He couldn't prevent the fall of man, or that He chooses not to. And what does that tell us about Him?)
"


And this isn't the only time. At the end of Book 4 Gabriel seems poised to drag Satan back to Hell when God intervenes and stops the fight. God has a purpose for Satan. Without Satan in Paradise there is no fall, and without a fall there is no Christ. So Satan must be "allowed" to bring temptation to Adam and Eve, so they may fall, so they can be redeemed through Christ's sacrifice.

Which as you say is tautological, absolutely. In the mind of God all of history has already happened, which paradoxically does not deprive man of free will. The only way I can make sense of this is to accept it as a paradox beyond human understanding. By extension, it doesn't seem possible to justify the ways of God to man, because man is not capable of understanding God. In this sense, I think Milton's reach has probably exceeded his grasp.


message 49: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1743 comments In the end of Book IV, Gabriel and his minions have surrounded Satan and are about to attack, when God reveals the constellation Libra to them. After Gabriel explains its meaning, Satan flees. The reason for the intervention seems to be to avoid damaging Eden and its environs:

. . . now dreadful deeds [ 990 :]
Might have ensu'd, nor onely Paradise
In this commotion, but the Starrie Cope
Of Heav'n perhaps, or all the Elements
At least had gon to rack, disturbd and torne
With violence of this conflict, had not soon [ 995 :]
Th' Eternal to prevent such horrid fray
Hung forth in Heav'n his golden Scales . . .


message 50: by Roger (last edited Jul 17, 2010 06:50PM) (new)

Roger Burk | 1743 comments Zeke wrote: "As the horrendous battle escalates, we see another example of the tension between omniscience and omnipotence.

horrid confusion heapt
Upon confusion rose: and now all Heav'n
Had gone to wrack, w..."


God "permitted" the battle, which implies that He had the power to prevent it. It seems He let it unfold as it did to honor Christ. For why he permits the Fall, I guess we'll have to wait a book or two.


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