Sunday, May 02, 2010

Enter: Two

PL IV 288 ff:

Two of far nobler shape erect and tall,
Godlike erect, with native Honour clad
In naked Majestie seemd Lords of all, [ 290 ]
And worthie seemd, for in thir looks Divine
The image of thir glorious Maker shon,
Truth, wisdome, Sanctitude severe and pure,
Severe but in true filial freedom plac't;
Whence true autority in men; though both [ 295 ]
Not equal, as thir sex not equal seemd;
For contemplation hee and valour formd,
For softness shee and sweet attractive Grace,
Hee for God only, shee for God in him:

Our first view of Adam and Eve is a crucial moment in the poem -- this is where Milton in a sense has to declare himself -- present and situate humanity in its moment of origin, carrying, if you will, the pristine image of the intention of the maker.

Presumably Hobbes would have given us a different image.

Before we look at other images of man to compare, it's worth pondering some of the words Milton chooses here:

Lords, image, severe, filial freedom, native honour, naked majestie, looks, truth, wisdome, sanctitude, true autority, contemplation, valour, softness, attractive, Grace. Let's not forget some other key parts of speech: erect, tall, shon, severe, pure, seemed, not equal, for and in.

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