Paradise Lost: Bk VI
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Author:  Saffron [ Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:23 am ]
Post subject:  Paradise Lost: Bk VI

Book VI Discussion

Please use this thread to discuss Book VI of Paradise Lost

Author:  Saffron [ Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:22 pm ]
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Hey, discussion leader, wherefore art thou? I am in need of being lead.

Author:  seespotrun2008 [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:20 pm ]
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Has anyone noticed that there are only 2 women in this book? Eve, who is a sexual object, and Sin who is evil. :razz2:

Author:  Saffron [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:26 pm ]
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seespotrun2008 wrote:
Has anyone noticed that there are only 2 women in this book? Eve, who is a sexual object, and Sin who is evil. :razz2:

Well, ya! The whole point of the biblical story of Adam & Eve is to justify the position of women in a patriarchal society. It demonize women -- they are in fact by there very nature, sin.

Author:  DWill [ Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:40 pm ]
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Saffron wrote:
Hey, discussion leader, wherefore art thou? I am in need of being lead.

Ok, Ok, jeesh! Can't a guy lie low for a while? Let's see, how does it go: "When last we left our intrepid/slightly trepid first parents....." Ah, the battle in heaven. Since it's getting late, I'll take the wimpy way and just shoot back a question. This is the part that might seem the most Homeric: the two sides, mighty warriors all, arrayed for battle and then clashing in battle too enormous for us mortals to be able to comprehend. How does Milton's warmaking compare to Homer's? One difference to comment on could be the involvement of the gods vs. the involvement of God. Another might be the role of individual warriors in each epic. I will just say that I expect to see by the end of the fighting, a great showdown between Christ and Satan, but this never happens.


Author:  seespotrun2008 [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:30 pm ]
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Well, ya! The whole point of the biblical story of Adam & Eve is to justify the position of women in a patriarchal society. It demonize women -- they are in fact by there very nature, sin.

Well, the Bible and biblical history is a huge topic to take on. But definitely Milton may have interpreted it that way. Or he just had no interest in women and kind threw them in as an afterthought. He knew he had to have Eve so might as well make her interesting. :razz2: In Book VII he does talk about the feminine Holy Spirit and wisdom. So that is a positive image. I have just gotten to chapter 7 and finally wondered where are all the women?

Author:  Saffron [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:13 pm ]
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seespotrun2008 , just so you are prepared, you've met all the women in the story. My big question was, where are all the female angles or maybe they androgynous.

Author:  DWill [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:35 pm ]
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I wish Ibid was still around. He was big on the Homeric epics. The fact that he's not here to say anything means that I have to answer my own question and have to risk being wrong (probably for the first time ;-) )

I'm too lazy to confirm this guess by looking at evidence, but it seems to me from distant memory that the gods in the Illiad (less so in the Odyssey?) are dramatic players along with the human warriors. They scheme for their favorite side and heroes and do not yield just because the outcome is already fated. God in the battle scenes of PL tends to suck the drama out by asserting his "foreknowledge" of the outcome and his allowing of the action to progress as far as it does in order to make everyone feel that they have an actual role and to give them some glory.

Since there is not that much suspense (to say the least) surrounding the battle in heaven, the role given to individuals seems perfunctory. Abdiel and Michael battle Satan in the two main cards in the battle, but we know how stacked is the deck agianst Satan.

I don't know how others react to these scenes. They seem somewhat ridiculous to me. Maybe I just can't get out of my mind the angels' wings getting in the way of their fighting. I have an unpleasaqnt image of those winged creatures that fly around in "The Wizard of Oz." The basis for this scene comes from a brief reference in "Revelation." Milton fleshes it out, as he fleshes out other brief biblical scenes, but with much better effect, I think, in the opening council in Hell and the Eden scenes. I also question whether the expansion of the six days of creation in Book VII works very well. The Genesis account seems more poetic in its spare details to me. Milton's spelling out of the details of creation only emphasizes the impossible aspects, such as plants arising without either sun or rain. But if the reader has enough leisure to read these sections, it is pleasant enough.

Author:  DWill [ Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:49 am ]
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Going through this book again, I was struck by the first few lines that tell of a cave in the "Mount of God" that appears to rotate and somehow create artificial day and night in Heaven.

There is a Cave
Within the Mount of God, fast by his Throne, [ 5 ]
Where light and darkness in perpetual round
Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through Heav'n
Grateful vicissitude, like Day and Night;
Light issues forth, and at the other dore
Obsequious darkness enters, till her houre [ 10 ]
To veile the Heav'n, though darkness there might well
Seem twilight here; and now went forth the Morn
Such as in highest Heav'n, arrayd in Gold
Empyreal, from before her vanisht Night,
Shot through with orient Beams:

The passage is an example of what happens in myth-making, where we take what is known and familiar and use it to construct the world that was supposedly previous in time and after which our world was modeled. But of course we always model the "original" heavenly world on the world we find ourselves in. So Milton gives Heaven a kind of day and night because it's a good feature of our real world. We can't envision any other world except in terms of our own, and that is also why Heaven becomes so problematic and in fact impossible to show in detail: it is not supposed to be our world but an infinitely better place. Illustrating that turns out to be impossible, though, because we only know the life we have on earth and can only poorly attempt to describe this better place in the terms we know. This explains why Milton's heaven is such a vague place. There are millions and millions of angels in a region (Heaven) that dwarfs in size what Milton calls the world (our solar system). What do all these angels do? What could be their function in this perfect theocracy? It's not as though God needs them to keep order or govern. But he can only imagine an almighty figure in terms of having power and subjects in terms that dwarf kings on earth, so he copies our hierarchical structures. Earthly terms create the heavenly terms; it couldn't be any other way. If he didn't create earth in heaven, all he could do is say heaven is ineffable and be done with it--and have no epic.

Hell is in fact easier to describe than Heaven. Milton's Hell has more reality and geography than his Heaven.

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:55 am ]
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Great point you make in your post, DWill. It seems like the most natural thing in the world to do and we do it all the time without thinking: superimpose the known on the unknown, the past and the future. Awareness of this one single fact is a giant step toward wisdom.

Author:  DWill [ Sat Feb 21, 2009 8:22 pm ]
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The way Milton arranges things in Heaven creates at least one incongruity. At liine 734, the Son says to God: "But whom thou hat'st, I hate, and can put on/Thy terrors, as I put thy mildness on." This seems to give our New Testament Son that Old Testament appetite for vengeance. No love thine enemies here. The Son goes out in his chariot to quell the rebels and prove to the angels that he's the real deal, worthy of their allegiance. His chariot is quite a vehicle, a weapn of mass destruction in itself. The special effects people will have fun with this in the movie.

The book ends with Raphael's warning to Adam, repeated several times after this:

But list'n not to his Temptations, warne
Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard
By terrible Example the reward [ 910 ]
Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,
Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress

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