Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Follow ups from today

The outline of Paradise Lost which we talked about today can be found here.

Here's Milton's Nativity Ode, (here's the Dartmouth edition) where some of his lifelong themes (e.g., the twilight of the pagan gods) are first sounded, and here is John Rogers' talk on it.

Regarding the thought that Reason in a sense was Satan's prompter, here's the passage from Book I - it's the only time the word appears in Book I.

Is this the Region, this the Soil, the Clime,
Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the seat
That we must change for Heav'n, this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since he [ 245 ]
Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: fardest from him is best
Whom reason hath equald, force hath made supream
Above his equals.

Toward the end of his first lecture, Rogers suggests that Satan is practicing much the same sort of deconstruction of divine power that is often applied in cultural studies and social sciences to other large concepts and fundamental ideas:
Satan's saying that before the war in heaven, God's power just seemed like any other king's power, as if God sat on the throne of heaven merely because of those humanly constructed reasons of tradition, or of old repute or consent or custom.

As Lola reminded us, Milton was quite consciously on Satan's side as he argued, through several public writings, that the "divine right of kings" was basically a power play tricked out in Charles I's monarchic dress.


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