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Paradise Lost: Bk IV 
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Thomas Hood wrote:
Saffron wrote:
It seems impossible that anyone, anyone could write these lines . . .


Saffron, the prehistoric paradigm for sexual reproduction was the agricultural sowing of seed. According to this view, since the male possessed the seed, he was the originator of life. Everything else follows from this paradigmatic assumption.

Tom


Tom,
Not all peoples have been agrarian. There definitely have been groups that do understand human conception to be the planting of a seed or at least not the male as the source of the seed.



Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:36 am
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Thomas Hood wrote:
Saffron wrote:
It seems impossible that anyone, anyone could write these lines . . .


Saffron, the prehistoric paradigm for sexual reproduction was the agricultural sowing of seed. According to this view, since the male possessed the seed, he was the originator of life. Everything else follows from this paradigmatic assumption.Tom

Tom, I'm sure Saffron will respond, but are you saying there is just one paradigm that can be drawn from myth concerning the source of procreation? I'm no expert in myth, but it seems that many do take the other side in the matter. The point in regard to Genesis is that it issued from a patriarchic culture; therefore, no surprise it would bend over backward to give the male primacy after God.



Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:46 am
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Saffron wrote:
Not all peoples have been agrarian. There definitely have been groups that do understand human conception to be the planting of a seed or at least not the male as the source of the seed.


True, but isn't it true that every culture that has persisted and developed has had an agrarian base? Most people today (I imagine) have no idea of the importance of seed. Once the main task of life was getting food -- not sex, shelter, clothing, . . . . If no seed were saved and carried through the winter, then starvation. Seed were the family's treasure. The seed paradigm is a consequence of the real importance of seed.

Tom



Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:03 pm
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DWill wrote:
. . . are you saying there is just one paradigm that can be drawn from myth concerning the source of procreation?


Yes, to the best of my knowledge the seed paradigm was dominant over all major cultures -- those I've looked at anyway. Actually, the seed paradigm probably originated with women because the preservation of the seed was a woman's task. In traditional Chinese culture, seed were stored in Kun, the sector of the mother in the southwest corner of the house.

Tom



Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:14 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
Saffron, the prehistoric paradigm for sexual reproduction was the agricultural sowing of seed. According to this view, since the male possessed the seed, he was the originator of life. Everything else follows from this paradigmatic assumption.


With respect to the cultures that claim intellectual descendance from ancient Greece, one of the most power evocations of this basic idea was Plato. Here is a link to Timaeus where the following passage is taken. (note: for those of us who come from cultures that do not claim descendence from Plato et al, there are other stories that explain the relationship between mind and matter very differently, and with very different results.)

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/1/5/7/1572/1572-h/1572-h.htm#2H_SECT

"Wherefore also in men the organ of generation becoming rebellious and masterful, like an animal disobedient to reason, and maddened with the sting of lust, seeks to gain absolute sway; and the same is the case with the so-called womb or matrix of women; the animal within them is desirous of procreating children, and when remaining unfruitful long beyond its proper time, gets discontented and angry, and wandering in every direction through the body, closes up the passages of the breath, and, by obstructing respiration, drives them to extremity, causing all varieties of disease, until at length the desire and love of the man and the woman, bringing them together and as it were plucking the fruit from the tree, sow in the womb, as in a field, animals unseen by reason of their smallness and without form; these again are separated and matured within; they are then finally brought out into the light, and thus the generation of animals is completed."

This stuff goes along with Plato's idea of matter as empty without what is "really real" - that is Form (reason being the only way to perceive Form). Aristotle expressed this concept of matter as materia prima. The basic idea for Plato is that women are essentially materia prima, dumb to the higher calling of reason and essentially an animal vessel for the growth and embodiment of form as it descends into the earthly plain. This "seeding," of course, is the role of men, who are, according to Plato, capable of reason. A good article about the concept of prime matter viz Aristotle is "Aristotle and Prime Matter: A reply to Hugh R. King" by Friedrich Solmsen. I originally got it from JSTOR so I can't provide a link to the text.



Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:08 pm
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MaryLupin wrote:
The basic idea for Plato is that women are essentially materia prima, dumb to the higher calling of reason . . . .


But in The Republic Plato allows women a full role in rulership, so he considers them equally possessors of reason with men. "Wherefore also in men the organ of generation becoming rebellious and masterful, . . . ": desire in men also overrides reason.

Tom



Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:04 pm
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Thomas Hood wrote:
But in The Republic Plato allows women a full role in rulership, so he considers them equally possessors of reason with men.


He does say that women can be rulers. He had a rather ambivalent view of women. I always wondered if he had a female patroness during the time he was writing The Republic. But perhaps that is mean of me.

His ambivalence shows in many places but one I remember is his ideas about the movement of the soul after death. I think how it went was that when a soul left a body, if that soul was rational it found rebirth in a male body. If that soul was midly wicked or irrational, it found rebirth in a female body. If the soul was really wicked it found rebirth in a non-human animal.

One of the reasons he can allow women to become rulers is that rulers did not partake in childrearing and such social duties. In a sense, he could allow women to become rulers because rulers became fundamentally disembodied. I wonder what would he would have done if, like Pope Joan, one of his rulers had the temerity to get pregnant.



Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:34 pm
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MaryLupin wrote:
I always wondered if he had a female patroness during the time he was writing The Republic. . . t.


Diotima of Mantinea :)

http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/phil/phil ... otima.html



Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:34 am
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Speaking of the dead, Sir Walter's prose could be used by the CIA
for verbal waterboarding:
Quote:

Sorry, but I agree...and with Samuel Johnson as well..(although his style is nothing to crow about in my opinion0) . And on to Bk lV :cry:



Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:56 pm


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[
Quote:
quote="Grindle"]Speaking of the dead, Sir Walter's prose could be used by the CIA
for verbal waterboarding:
Quote:

Sorry, but I agree...and with Samuel Johnson as well..(although his style is nothing to crow about in my opinion) . And on to Bk lV :cry:



Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:59 pm
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MaryLupine wrote:
This stuff goes along with Plato's idea of matter as empty without what is "really real" - that is Form (reason being the only way to perceive Form). Aristotle expressed this concept of matter as materia prima. The basic idea for Plato is that women are essentially materia prima, dumb to the higher calling of reason and essentially an animal vessel for the growth and embodiment of form as it descends into the earthly plain. This "seeding," of course, is the role of men, who are, according to Plato, capable of reason.

If we're talking about creation and ideas about cosmology or ontology, I guess we got a little ahead of ourselves, since those subjects aren't covered until really until Book VII. But I'd be interested to hear your view on how this Greek philosophical background applies to Milton's cover of biblical creation, and especially regarding Eve's creation as an apparent afterthought, with "creation" already over. I'm glad you joined the discussion and hope you can stay around to give us your very interesting perspective.

What usually strikes immediately about Eve is of course her submissiveness. The line "He for God only; she for God in him" can be somewhat incendiary. Still, in their relationship I do see something touching and pure. Milton's sympathies with his human characters (as well as with Satan) are so apparent that God is undermined almost completely, with his pointless prohibition. The fall becomes a completely fortunate one, or at least a completely inevitable one.

Milton throughout the poem doesn't seem to have control over the reader's reactions to Satan. He attempts to counteract his own building up of Satan by such devices as making editorial statements, by having him sire Sin and Death, giving him the form of a toad, and by having others report of him unlikely behavior, as when Gabriel alleges that Satan himself fawned over God:

And thou sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more then thou
Once fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilly ador'd
Heav'ns awful Monarch? wherefore but in hope [ 960 ]
To dispossess him, and thy self to reigne?

None of this really works. As Mary Lupin said elsewhere, Satan is the most human character in the poem, and it is not necessarily bad human behavior that he exemplifies.



Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:44 pm
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Post PL Bk. lV Satan's human traits not necessarily bad?
And thou sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more then thou
Once fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilly ador'd
Heav'ns awful Monarch? wherefore but in hope [ 960 ]
To dispossess him, and thy self to reigne?

None of this really works. As Mary Lupin said elsewhere, Satan is the most human character in the poem, and it is not necessarily bad human behavior that he exemplifies.[/quote]

In lines 35-45 and throughout, Satan readily admits his faults as pride and a terrible ambition



Tue Feb 03, 2009 2:44 pm
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Post Re: PL Bk. lV Satan's human traits not necessarily bad?
Grindle wrote:
In lines 35-45 and throughout, Satan readily admits his faults as pride and a terrible ambition-he is jealous, angry, filled with hate and rage; deceitful enough to "Fawn" over his benefactor when it could get him something. These are all human traits, but the worst ones...how are those perceived as not necessarily bad?

Also, I think Milton's cover of biblical creation and Eve's having been created as an afterthought to provide company for Adam was and is a widely accepted concept...unless you happen to have some female thoughts on how, when, and why these beliefs were formed.

My feeling aboput the lines I quoted is that Milton is again trying to steal luster from Satan by degrading him in a way that does not sort with the powerful and proud Satan that we've heard from extensively in these first several books. I think that if acting servilely towards God was a habit of Satan, one of the other angels in Books I and II should have raised this objection against him, as in "Hey, Satan, now you've changed your tune." But they don't, because whatever Satan's other faults may be, groveling in front of God almost surely isn't one of them. Milton tacks on this allegation in Book IV, but it doesn't stick.

I think Satan comes close to being a type of tragic hero, not a noble type, but similar perhaps to McBeth, the figure who has to recognize his own innate evil nature. There is some grandeur in this, some authentic human anguish not shown by any other character in this poem. Of course, Satan's evil is supposed to be shown by his opposition to God and his determination to unseat Adam and Eve from Paradise. Two factors mitigate the heinousness of this evil: God is someone anyone might what to rebel against; and the fall of A and E is the fall to the humanness that we actually cherish more than we would any fictional prelapsarian state in Eden.

I'm looking for some different perspective on Eve's creation. Of course the biblical account is now accepted to the extent that we've become used to it, but it is quite strange if we step back from it. This mythic element of creating Eve in the manner of Athena bursting out of Zeus--I wonder if there is a "why" to be explored there.



Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:37 pm
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Post Satan'ss humanity
Quote:
I think Satan comes close to being a type of tragic hero, not a noble type, but similar perhaps to McBeth, the figure who has to recognize his own innate evil nature. There is some grandeur in this, some authentic human anguish not shown by any other character in this poem. Of course, Satan's evil is supposed to be shown by his opposition to God and his determination to unseat Adam and Eve from Paradise. Two factors mitigate the heinousness of this evil: God is someone anyone might what to rebel against; and the fall of A and E is the fall to the humanness that we actually cherish more than we would any fictional prelapsarian state in Eden.

Thank you Bill...put this way I can see what you mean.As for more to explore-so very much in another area.
Grindle



Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:40 pm
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Post Re: PL Bk. lV Satan's human traits not necessarily bad?
DWill wrote:
Milton is again trying to steal luster from Satan by degrading him in a way that does not sort with the powerful and proud Satan that we've heard from extensively in these first several books. I think that if acting servilely towards God was a habit of Satan, one of the other angels in Books I and II should have raised this objection against him, as in "Hey, Satan, now you've changed your tune." But they don't, because whatever Satan's other faults may be, groveling in front of God almost surely isn't one of them. Milton tacks on this allegation in Book IV, but it doesn't stick.
A good example of a Satanic figure fawning over power is Rasputin, who might be a good model for Satan in the film. The point is that flattery is part of the armory of the devil, and would hardly be a topic that other devils would raise to chide Satan, who is after all the father of lies. Satan might vaporise a devil who criticised him in the way you suggest, following the Stalinist dictum 'no man no problem'. It goes without question that Satan would use every trick in the book to scheme and lie his way to the top, maybe a bit like Shakespeare's Richard the Third
Quote:
I think Satan comes close to being a type of tragic hero, not a noble type, but similar perhaps to McBeth, the figure who has to recognize his own innate evil nature. There is some grandeur in this, some authentic human anguish not shown by any other character in this poem. Of course, Satan's evil is supposed to be shown by his opposition to God and his determination to unseat Adam and Eve from Paradise. Two factors mitigate the heinousness of this evil: God is someone anyone might what to rebel against; and the fall of A and E is the fall to the humanness that we actually cherish more than we would any fictional prelapsarian state in Eden.
Bill, surely it is problematic to find grandeur in evil? The real grandeur is in accord with God, presented as the evolutionary path to escape human collapse. For example, the God of the Sermon on the Mount is not someone that 'anyone might want to rebel against'.
Quote:
I'm looking for some different perspective on Eve's creation. Of course the biblical account is now accepted to the extent that we've become used to it, but it is quite strange if we step back from it. This mythic element of creating Eve in the manner of Athena bursting out of Zeus--I wonder if there is a "why" to be explored there.
Yes indeed, it demonstrates Milton's deep misogyny. Western Christendom assumed the split between nature and spirit in a way that I would say reflected its fallen position rather than a coherent ontology. Christ is about reconciling nature and spirit, whereas the caricature of Eve as a creature of dumb matter has been the basis of sexism. I hadn't thought of the comparison between Adam's rib and Zeus's forehead, but it makes sense - the symbolic message is that woman derives from man just as human wisdom (Athena) derives from God (Zeus). My view is that this whole mythic cosmology needs to be subject to radical critique, as a way to recognise how deeply sexism and alienated dominion are woven into western thought.



Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:50 pm
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