The good communicated: Milton's drama of the fall and the law of charity.
The article offers a suggested cause for Milton's representation of the Fall in Book IX of Paradise Lost as Eve and Adam's transgression of the law of charity, that is, the love of God, self, and neighbour. The law of charity constitutes the essence of the divine prohibition not to eat from the forbidden tree and the kernel of the Ten Commandments and Gospel teaching, and forms the basis for Milton's concept of natural law. Milton's drama of the Fall uses a variety of literary devices to announce the restoration of humanity through the Son, Milton's 'one greater Man'.
Love God, and love your neighbour. Watch and pray. Do as ye would be done unto. O dark instructions; ev'n as dark as day! Who can these Gordian knots undo?
(GEORGE HERBERT) (1)
In Paradise Lost Michael explains that, on the cross,
The Law of God exact [Jesus] shall fulfill Both by obedience and by love, though love Alone fulfill the Law.
(XII. 402-04) (2)
Just what Milton means by this point of doctrine is made clear in his neoscholastic theological treatise De doctrina Christiana. In the treatise's consideration of the process of redemption, Christ 'fulfilled the law by his most perfect love of God and his neighbour until, obedient to his Father in all things, he sought death for the sake of his brethren' (CE, XV. 316). The treatise further subdivides charity towards one's neighbour into two familiar categories as it 'EMBRACES THE UNIVERSAL DUTY OF LOVE BOTH TOWARDS ONESELF AND TOWARDS ONE'S NEIGHBOUR' (CE, XVII. 196). In Of Civil Power (1659) Milton confirmed the universal applicability of this doctrine of charity: 'our whole practical dutie in religion is contained in charitie, or the love of God and our neighbour, no way to be forc'd, yet the fulfilling of the whole law; that is to say, our whole practise in religion' (CPW, VII. 256). In the synoptic Gospels Christ teaches that these two loves, first the love of God and second the love of oneself and of one's neighbour, comprise the heart of the Torah (Matthew 22. 34-40; Mark 12. 28-34; Luke 10. 25-28), and elsewhere Jesus more radically recommends love of one's enemy (Matthew 5. 43-48)De doctrina Christiana, as was typical for orthodox Reformed dogma, interprets the Mosaic Law as a forerunner of the Gospels, as a means to, in Michael's words, discovering but not removing 'natural pravitie' (XII. 285-306). Only Christ's redemption, Michael teaches, will be able to abolish sin so that humanity may thereby 'finde | Justification towards God' (XII. 295-96). Thus' Even under the law, though more obscurely, both a redeemer and the necessity for redemption is perceived. [...] Under the gospel, more openly, both a redeemer and the truth of the redemption is perceived' (CE, XVI. 98, 100). De doctrina Christiana chronicles the gradual disclosure of the redemptive promise throughout biblical history, first darkly portended before the giving of the Mosaic Law, then dimly veiled within the Law, and finally brightly revealed in Christ. But although 'the whole Mosaic law is abolished by the gospel' (CE, XVI. 140), the heart of the Law's instruction still endures:
It may be evinced, first from all of these scriptural authorities, next from the accompanying arguments, that the whole Mosaic law is abolished by the Gospel. And yet, by this abolition of the law, the law (that is, the sum of the law) is not in fact really abrogated, but its goal is attained in that love of God and one's neighbour, which is born out of faith through the spirit. On this basis, Christ truly championed the law, Matt. 5: 17. (CE, XVI. 140)
Therefore the sum of the law [which], as I said before, [is] without doubt the love of God and neighbour, should by no means be considered abolished. (CE, XVI. 142)
Christian tradition interpreted the two tablets upon which God inscribed the Ten Commandments as a bodying forth of this principle. One tablet, tradition held, was engraved with those commandments pertaining to love of God, the first four 'vertical commandments' concerning the relationship between humanity and God; the other tablet was inscribed with those commandments pertaining to love of neighbour, the remaining six 'horizontal commandments' concerning the relationship between human and human. De doctrina Christiana's advocacy of this concord between the heart of the Mosaic Law and the essence of the Gospels is important for understanding the treatise's soteriological or salvational method in Christ. De doctrina Christiana cites Jerome Zanchius (1516-90) as an authority on the importance of the fulfilment of the double love for salvation. In his Second Defence (1654) Milton had esteemed Zanchius among those 'theologians of highest repute [summi nominis theologos]' CE, VIII. 66), and numbered him among the ranks of blind worthies alongside Isaac and Jacob the Hebrew Patriarchs, Timoleon of Corinth, and Appius Claudius. De doctrina Christiana quotes from and adds to Zanchius's Commentary on the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians that 'it is not possible for the scriptures to be properly understood, especially concerning the doctrine of justification and good works, indeed I should have said the entire gospel, unless that article concerning the abrogation of the law is understood' (CE, XVI. 146), namely the retention of the significance of the double love. Milton's textual interpolation within Zanchius's statement emphasizes the double love of God (Deuteronomy 6. 4, 5) and love of one's neighbour (Leviticus 19. 18; Matthew 19. 19) as the kernel of the biblical Testaments, both Old and New.
The cross, then, is the meeting-place between God and humanity in which the incarnate Son, the God-man, reconciles and consummates the double love of God for humanity and of human for human. The epiphany of Jesus, the perfect man, accomplishes the striking of a new covenant, a new internalized law that preserves the sum of the old Mosaic Law. Accordingly, the Pauline writings maintain, 'you show that you are an epistle of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not on stony tablets, but on tablets that are hearts of flesh' # Corinthians 3. 3). Moreover, De doctrina Christiana asserts that the double love pertains to those people who existed even before God delivered the Torah to Israel. Just as the double love is the epitome of the Mosaic Law and of Jesus's teaching, it also constitutes the essential basis to all human natural law. Milton scholars are wont to cite De doctrina Christiana's manifold definition of the nature of the original, primal sin as a stew of vice:
Under this [actual sin] what did humankind not perpetrate? Credulousness of Satan, disbelief in God that humanity would be virtually damned, faithlessness, ingratitude, disobedience, gluttony, he for behaving uxoriously, she for not heeding her husband, both for not heeding their offspring, for not heeding the entire human race, parricide, theft, and plundering another, sacrilege, deceit, conspiring to gain Godhead, and an undeserved striving, pride, presumptuousness. (CE, XV. 180-83)
The treatise abridges this catena of vices and prefixes one simple compendious phrase indicating that the original sin constituted 'a most atrocious transgression of the entire law [atrocissimum [...] totius legis transgressionem]' (CE, XV. 180). De doctrina Christiana first defines the nature or substance of sin as [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [anomia], or the transgression of the law [Lat. legis transgressio]' (CE, XV. 178), what in modern parlance we call anomy or lawlessness. The treatise derives this anomy from 1 John 3. 4: 'All committing sin also commit anomy, and sin is anomy.' The Greek [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is the standard New Testament word used to represent the Mosaic Law, but De doctrina Christiana specifies that 'here, by the name of law, is primarily understood that which is inborn and implanted in the human mind [...] for the law through Moses was written long after' (CE, XV. 178-80). GOD's LAW is either unwritten or written': the law, not written is that natural [law] given to the first man [Adam] of which a remnant or a kind of light persists in the hearts of all mortals' (CE, XVI. 100). The essence of 'God's will either under the [Mosaic] Law or the gospel' (CE, XVI. 100) was originally Edenic natural law. Adam and Eve, in their original prelapsarian state, created in the image of God, possessed an innate and implanted conscience: 'Since humanity was made in God's image, and had the whole law of nature born with them [totam naturae legem ita secum natam], and had it implanted within them, they were not lacking a precept to hold them to that law' (CE, XV. 114). Formally unlike, but essentially identical to the written precepts of Mosaic Law, this natural law is a universal, inborn, unwritten moral law which resembles Christian liberty under the Gospels, whereby' within the regenerated, the work of the holy spirit is being renovated daily to its primeval perfection' (CE. XVI. 100). Anomy or lawlessness, sin's foundation, is an anomaly or perversion of human natural law. In Eden, Adam and Eve could perfectly observe that natural law, the love of God and of one another. For postlapsarian humanity existing in primeval history before the divine commission of the Torah, that natural law, though obscured by the Fall, was still implanted within humanity. Upon Yahweh's delivery of the Mosaic Law, the Law evinced humanity's fallen sinfulness, which comprised their repeated transgression of the double love, but humanity alone could neither cancel nor satisfy the penalty for those transgressions. According to Michael's teaching, which alludes to Colossians 2. 14, the advent of the redeemer fulfils the Law:
But to the Cross [Jesus] nailes thy Enemies, The Law that is against thee, and the sins Of all mankinde, with him there crucifi'd. (XII. 415-17)
The Son, then, reconciles God to humanity by his death, fulfilling the Law and, enshrined within the Law, the double love of God and humanity marred since Adam's loss of that 'primeval perfection'.
Paradise Lost scrupulously records Adam and Eve's falling off from their perfect observance of this double love. When the reader first encounters Adam and Eve, they impeccably observe the, as yet, inviolable double love, 'Hee for God onely, shee for God in him' (IV. 299). Adam fears that Satan will maliciously strive to persuade them to desecrate this double love somehow,
Whether his first design be to withdraw Our fealtie from God [love of God], or to disturb Conjugal Love [love of one other]. (IX. 261-63)
Once Adam and Eve have fallen, their physical deportment betrays that they have transgressed both elements of the double love because 'Love was not in thir looks, either to God I Or to each other' (X. III-12). Adam's tragically reckless comment following his Fall inadvertently binds together God's single prohibition not to eat of the forbidden fruit and the ten prohibitions of the Decalogue:
If such pleasure be In things to us forbidd'n, it might be wisht, For this one Tree had bin forbidd'n ten. (Ix. 1024-26)
The violation of the single prohibition by Adam and Eve and the transgression of the Ten Commandments by fallen humanity are restituted by Christ's double affirmation of the love of God and the love of one's neighbour on the cross. This double love or affirmation is exactly what the Edenic prohibition was established to preserve and what the Decalogue was instituted to protect. Where the Decalogue works prohibitively to prevent or limit transgression, Christ was thought to cancel transgression absolutely by his atonement and to become the affirmative exemplar of the double love. Adam's words are ironized and hint that both the single and the tenfold prohibitions, which implicitly affirm the maintenance of the double love, are collapsible and show the correct way for humans to behave morally towards God, themselves, and one other. Adam and Eve's transgression of God's single prohibition in the garden, the warning not to 'easily transgress the sole Command, | Sole pledge of his obedience' III. 94-95), violate 'This one, this easie charge' (IV, 421), and 'transgress, and slight that sole command' (VII. 47), is, at its core, as Milton shows in his drama of the Fall, a transgression of the love of God, self, and neighbour, the double love that constitutes a digest of the Decalogue and the abridgement of Jesus's teachings.
When in Book IX Adam and Eve deliberate whether to fall, they travesty and parody the double love that finds its fulfilment in their saviour. Luther's teaching on the viva vox Christi, the 'living voice of Christ', maintained that the Son inhabited Scripture at every point, so that 'Whether in, with, by, through, or under the verbal sign, Christ was assumed to be present.' (3) In the same way, the kenotic, self-emptying attitude of the Redeemer is partially or perversely expressed in Milton's drama of the Fall through irony and scriptural allusion. The strong suggestions of the Son's salvific reparation and restoration of humanity constitute the mainspring of Milton's poetic across Book IX. A spectrum of causes for the Fall in Paradise Lost has, over time, been proffered by motive-hunters, from C. S. Lewis's simple disobedience to Edwin Greenlaw's unreason, James Hanford's lust to Charles Williams's 'injured merit', E. M. W. Tillyard's 'levity and shallowness of mind' to J. B. Broadbent's 'alienation'. (4) However, it is my contention that, more than all the aforementioned, the root cause of the Fall in Milton is Adam and Eve's travesty of the double love, reversed and recovered by the Son in his life, death, and teaching.
Among the possible outlines for tragedies Milton submitted in the Trinity manuscript, he included, together with versions of the Fall, 'Paradise Lost' and 'Adam unparadiz'd', versions of redemption, 'Christ bound', 'Christ Crucifi'd', and 'Christus patiens' (CPW, VIII. 554-6o; outline numbers 3, 65, 61, 62, 67). When Milton came to write his epic, the first invocation proclaimed his subject-matter to be about the first Adam's Fall and the second Adam's rise, 'Of Mans First Disobedience' and the incurring of 'all our woe' and 'Death', 'till one greater Man | Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat' (I. 1-5), alluding to Jesus's passion and exaltation, his resurrection, ascension, and session at his Father's right hand. Book IX's invocation, the fourth and final invocation in the epic, similarly places the redeeming Son at the forefront of the reader's imagination before narrating Adam and Eve's Fall and their fallen education in the meaning of atonement. The invocation begins with a fusillade of negations explaining how the narrator is 'Not sedulous by Nature to indite | Warrs' (IX. 27-28). This formal recusatio systematically rejects the stuff of ancient martial epic in a scant seven lines (ix. 13-19). The great heroes jostle together: 'the wrauth | Of stern Achilles', Hector, 'Thrice Fugitive about Troy Wall', Odysseus, rudely termed' the Greek', Aeneas, periphrastically Cytherea's Son', and the 'rage | Of Turnus'. The divine wrath that fuels the epic action of the Odyssey and Aeneid is condensed into the throwaway phrase 'Neptun's ire or Juno's' (IX. 18). The gewgaws of the chivalric epic blockbusters of Tasso and Ariosto are just as speedily dispatched, their heroes tricked out in 'Bases and tinsel Trappings, gorgious Knights | At Joust and Torneament' (IX. 36-37), their status fictive and 'fabl'd' and their deeds ridiculed as, long and tedious havoc' (IX. 30), their triumphs debunked as 'Battels feignd' IX. 31). In their stead the invocation promises an 'argument) | Not less but more Heroic' (IX. 13-14) than such human or divine belligerence, 'hitherto the onely Argument | Heroic deemd' (IX. 28-29). The narrator's enunciation of the heroic mode he intends nests within barely two lines of verse, 'the better fortitude' of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom I Unsung' (IX. 31-33). De doctrina Christiana treats of these two virtues of fortitude and patience in a single chapter and associates both ethical qualities in its accompanying proof texts with the incarnate Son:
FORTITUDO elucet maxime in malis propulsandis auf non metuendis. [...] Fortitudinis exemplum maximum est servator noster Jesus Christus tota vita ac morte [...] PATIENTIA est in malis atque iniuriis perferendis. (CE, XVII. 246, 248, 252)
FORTITUDE shines out most greatly in repelling or not fearing evils. [...] The greatest example of fortitude is our saviour Jesus Christ in his whole life and death [...] PATIENCE is in strongly enduring evils and injuries. (5)
Milton's Adam, too, links unexampled fortitude with the Son's redemptive undertaking, acknowledging that 'suffering for Truths sake Is fortitude to highest victorie' (XII. 569-70).
If the better fortitude of patience and heroic martyrdom in the invocation to Book ix invokes the suffering Christ, then the 'answerable stile' (IX. 20) the narrator seeks to obtain is a poetic mode that will help to 'answer' or 'redeem' the dismal ensuing narrative of the Fall; in effect, to transmute to Christian comedy those notes that have, with humanity's falling away from God, been changed to tragic. The primary verbal meaning of answerability in early modern England--to answer a charge, to satisfy, to suffer, to make amends, to justify, to discharge a debt, to atone, to be sufficient for a pecuniary liability (OED, s.v., defs. 2, 3, 5-10)--speaks to the epic's broader imperatives, which are to explore humanity's atonement that prevails before, during, and after the Fall. To be answerable is to be capable of response, to be magnanimous enough to be responsible, and this Miltonic heroic state speaks to the reconciliation mediated by Christ, who responds to human suffering by taking on flesh and undergoing redemption. Angus Fletcher appropriately speaks of the epic's total design as being 'built upon the most massive symmetries and mysteries of narrative structure, all of which turn upon the answering role of Christ the Re deemer' (emphasis added). (6) Milton uses one of his favoured poetic paralleling techniques, a point-counterpoint of echoing phrases across the poem, to show that the free grace purchased by the Son's sacrifice to cancel out the effects of the Fall is the same grace empowering the fallen narrator to sing his epic song of redemption. The narrator sings of his Muse and how 'Her nightly visitation' comes 'unimplor' (IX. 22), just as the Son asks his Father whether, by his sacrifice, 'shall Grace not find means, that finds her way [...] To visit all [God's] creatures, and to all | Comes unprevented, unimplor'd, unsought' (III. 228-31). The verbal resonances between the Son's testimony of' unimplor'd' grace bequeathed through redemptive suffering and the 'unimplor' d' gracious visitation of the heavenly muse are luminous and clarifying. The invocation continues to vindicate John Leonard's assertion that Christ, 'of all unnamed names, is the central hidden name in the poem' (7). Only the fortitude and patience of the suffering Christ 'justly gives Heroic name | To Person or to Poem' (IX. 40-41). Of sufficient grace, the narrator, like all humans, of himself 'hath none to bring' (III. 235), except the grace 'sufficient of it self to raise | That name'(IX. 43-44). Christ is the name being raised or exalted. This is the same 'name' the narrator earlier saluted and raised when, joining his voice to the angelic company, he invoked the 'Son of God, Saviour of Men, thy Name | Shall be the copious matter of my Song I Henceforth' (III. 412-14). This is also the name Hebrews I. 4 refers to when it exalts the atoning Christ who, 'having made purification for sins, sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, and inherited a name, having become so much greater than the angels, so much more excellent than them', a biblical text Milton's archangel Michael glosses when he prophesies to Adam the incarnate Son's humiliation and exaltation, when he will be 'exalted high | Above all names in Heav'n' (XII. 457-58). John Carey complains that Milton's promise to narrate unsung patient and fortitudinous heroism 'never materializes' in the epic. (8) Carey's judgement overlooks the fact that the restoration by one greater man, Christ suffering, undergirds the epic exordium's declared subject, Adam unparadized, and that the disjunctive prefixes of Book (IX's invocation,--'distrust', 'Disloyal', 'disobedience', and 'distance and distaste (IX.(6-9)--though portentous of the Fall, are equally words anticipatory of its antidote in the ordo salutis, God's atoning answer through his Son.
Following the invocation, the first character the reader encounters in Book IX's drama of the Fall proper is Satan, who is embarking upon his temptation of Eve and purposes, in a ghastly parody of the incarnation, to possess the serpent. In Satan's former animal disguises, he metamorphoses himself to appear 'like a Cormorant' (IV. 196) or 'A Lion now | Then as a Tiger' (IV. 402-03). Satan's union with the serpent, however, marks the first and only time in the poem that the accuser substantially combines his angelic nature with an inferior, feral nature. Satan is repulsed by the thought of the hypostatic union of his angelic substance with brute matter, 'This essence to incarnate and imbrute' (IX. 166). The word' imbrute' occurs in Milton's A Maske in the Elder Brother's discourse on divine philosophy. There, 'by leud and lavish act of sin' (l. 465),
The soul grows clotted by contagion, Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite loose The divine property of her first being. (ll. 467-69)
In the same way, Satan reduces his own formerly archangelic spirit by debasing and commingling it with brutish matter. Satan's distaste and his repugnance mark the key difference between him and the incarnate Son. Whereas the Son will 'Freely put off' (III. 240) his divine glory to become God-man, Satan is sickened by his reptilian possession, a 'foul descent' by which he is 'now constraind | Into a Beast, and mixt with bestial slime' (IX. 163-65). (9) Satan's extreme measures reveal more about his own baseness in his determination to imbrute himself in a creature far less than human. Satan's juxtaposition of incarnation and imbrutation evinces the qualitative difference in these two kinds of human and serpentine tenure that the Son and Satan each choose. The juxtaposition also serves to elicit two very distinct teleologies. The Son freely humiliates himself on the scale of being and assumes flesh to save humankind, whereas Satan resents impairing his being by imbruting serpentine slime to ruin the human race. Satan attempts to revenge himself upon Godhead by afflicting the Father through his innocent children--'To wreck on innocent frail Man his loss' (IV. II) and hurt creatures 'who wrong me not' (IV. 387)--but the Son heals humanity's wound and thwarts Satan by taking all of that hurt and wrong upon himself.
After priding himself in his soliloquy on his mission to spite God by imbrutation, Satan offers a second motivation, to discomfit
him who next Provokes my envie, this new Favorite Of Heav'n, this Man of Clay, Son of despite, Whom us the more to spite his Maker rais'd From dust; spite then with spite is best repaid. (IX. 174-78)
Satan's reference to Adam as the 'Favorite | Of Heav'n' as readily accommodates God's only-begotten Son. Raphael's narrative of the Son's anointing and exaltation recounts how Satan was 'fraught | With envie against the Son of God' (V. 661-62), a detail that makes Satan's words here seem to do double duty for Adam and for God's original 'Favorite', his Son. This double reference persists in Satan's venomous titles for Adam as' this Man of Clay, Son of despite'. 'Clay' here identifies 'the human body (living or dead) as distinguished from the soul; the earthly or material part of man'(OED, s.v. 4a), so that 'Man of Clay' is an embellishment for Adam, formed from the dust (X. 208). Satan's 'Man of Clay' derides Adam's earthy origins as well as anticipating the Son's future incarnate status. What Satan cannot realize is that God's pre-existent and only-begotten Son will become a mortal 'Man of Clay' to reform the chaos that Satan wreaks. The second possible rendering of 'Man of Clay' has a further piquancy when one remembers that' clay' or having 'feet of clay' can symbolize 'a fundamental weakness in someone supposedly of great merit' (OED, s.v 4c). The biblical prophet Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a mighty image with feet of iron and 'miry clay' as a symbol of a kingdom whose weak foundation, divided against itself, will cause it to topple (Daniel 2. 31-47). Satan on one level disdains the vulnerability of an Adam whose estate is moulded out of the dust, but on another level God's Son, a second Adam, may also be inferred. The pre-incarnate Son will become a 'Man of Clay,' a state of earthly flesh and blood, and a creature of apparent weakness, but, as Adam's 'Redeemer ever blest', he will triumph on the cross 'by things deemd weak | Subverting worldly strong' (XII. 573, 567-68), and will after his death be 'rais'd | From dust' to new life at his resurrection.
As a perverted archangel, Satan has likewise acquired a perverted understanding of the Miltonic principle of the doctrine of incarnation, resurrection, and ascension, and the Christic heroic of humiliation attended by exaltation, when he assures himself that one 'who aspires must down as low | As high he soard' (IX. 169-70). Leslie Brisman's analysis of the constructive use of irony clarifies Satan's unintended irony: 'An important weapon, irony remains an opening mode [...] One text overgoes the sublime of another not by mocking or dismissing it but by sinking more low to mount more high.' (10) Brisman's turn of phrase, 'by sinking more low to mount more high', glosses Satan's unintentional use of irony. Soaring low to mount more high revives, in part, the Miltonic pattern of the Christian hero, exalted after the experience of humiliation. By Christ's humiliation, an act of charity for humanity, the resurrected Son will be raised up to a place of glory next to God and, with him at the end of days, his saints. As with the acts of imbrutation and incarnation, the difference between Satan and the Son's methods is not only the ends, but also the means. Satan has already failed to aspire or soar in his open war against God and now chooses an alternative method, to descend by deceit and then attempt to soar higher still from that descent. The motive forces that drive the fiend are' Ambition and Revenge' (IX. 168). Satan is a hopeless aspirant to what Geoffrey Hill styles 'haughty degradations' and is destined never to learn, as Shakespeare's Prospero finally does, that 'The rarer action is | In virtue than in vengeance' (Tempest, v. 1. 27-28). (11) Dejected upon Hell's bottom, Satan and his minions plan a similar travesty of the resurrection, a re-insurrection against God, whereby
From this descent Celestial Vertues rising, will appear More glorious and more dread then from no fall, And trust themselves to fear no second fate. (II. 14-17)
The Satanic pattern aspires to unlimited exaltation: glory progressing to only greater glory and to a position of power to be dreaded. For Satan, who cannot comprehend humility, the only way is up. Humility constitutes regression and failure. The diabolic cannot conceive of humiliation leading to exaltation, but only exaltation leading to higher exaltation. 'Virtues' are here equivocal in diabolic rhetoric, teetering between alternative meanings--the Aristotelian sense of 'goodness', therefore signifying 'good angels' ; the Latin root meaning of Roman imperial virtus as 'might,' therefore 'celestial powers' ; and Machiavellian, Italianate virtu, therefore 'celestial guile'. Adam and Eve's fallen speech quibbles in the same way about the' vertue' (IX. 973, 1033) of the forbidden fruit as a thing of intrinsic moral worth or, antithetically, as an instrument to make them as powerful as gods. In Satan's soliloquy, the fiend cannot understand how God can bestow on Adam, a humble man of clay 'Exalted from so base original' (IX. 150), all of Eden's various delights. Satan will be similarly blind to the redemptive method and the incarnate Son's resurrection as a promotion, exalted to God's side from 'so base original', that is predicated upon service and humility.
Satan's reasoning is forever stunted and foreclosed upon itself because he cannot find justification for selfless love. Despite his obduracy, Satan does know that all destructive inclination 'Bitter long back on it self recoiles' (IX. 172), yet he perseveres in his nihilistic code that 'Save what is in destroying, other joy To mee is lost' (IX. 478-79). There is little to edify the reader in Satan' modus vivendi. '[T]he demonic has its own form of incarnation--bestial, not humane,' Roland Mushat Frye writes, 'and with the object of securing man's subjection rather than his liberation, his death rather than his life.' (12) Satan desires an economy of spite over Christ's agapic economy of grace. Satan would ruin an innocent 'to spite his Maker' (IX. 177), corrupt a child to injure its parent. There is little of merit in the Satanic
dictum 'spite then with spite is best repaid' (IX. 178). Satanic 'spite then with spite', the crudest form lex talionis or retaliatory justice, can only be matched and bested by the Son's altruistic offer, 'life for life', to become one with that human, 'base original', so that 'mee for him, life for life | offer [...] Account mee man' (III. 236-38).
Satan's goal, I have suggested, is to mar Adam and Eve's pristine capacity to love God, self, and neighbour. Sinless Eve acknowledges that Adam is her 'Author and Disposer' and that 'so God ordains, | God is thy Law, thou mine' (IV. 635-37). This rather feudalized shape of things dictates that in a perfect state Adam is accountable to God, and that Eve, as Adam's subordinate, is accountable to Adam, but we have seen above that all humans, fallen or unfallen, should abide by the natural law of the double love and are accountable to God, themselves, and one another. Sinful Eve's celebrated reconciliation speech is also mistaken when she confesses, 'both have sinnd, but thou | Against God onely, I against God and thee' (X. 930-31), because both Adam and Eve have transgressed by sinning against the two loves. In this respect, Milton's depiction of the Fall is a far cry from Augustine's:
Now if Adams sinne be compared with the womans: in some things it will be found equall, In some things superiour, in some inferiour to it [...] As Augustine well noteth, de Genes. II. 42. the man sinned onely against God and himselfe, the woman, against God, her selfe, and her neighbour. (13)
In the Miltonic account, the couple violate the double love: 'Love was not in thir looks, either to God I Or to each other' (X. III-12). Paradise Lost has been called 'a massive structure of ironies', and indeed, in Milton's dramatization of the Fall, Adam and Eve's ironized versions, perversions, and deviations from the love of God and neighbour serve, at Satan's instigation, to bring about the Fall in Book ix, and function proleptically to remind the reader that the Son will fulfil the double love and reconcile God to humanity. (14)
De doctrina Christiana characterizes the love humans should show towards one another as the 'GENERAL VIRTUE' of 'CHARITY [CHARITAS]', founded IN CHRIST' and INFUSED INTO THE FAITHFUL' (CE, XVII. 196). Michael esteems this love as pre-eminent among the virtues, 'Charitie, the soul | Of all the rest' (XII. 584-85). Milton's Adam and Eve are each guilty of the two perversions of this love of one's neighbour we mentioned above, namely 'THE UNIVERSAL DUTY OF LOVE BOTH TOWARDS ONESELF AND TOWARDS ONE'S NEIGHBOUR' (CE, XVII. 196). Their perversions of the love of self and neighbour by extension tarnish their related love for God. The first perversion, to which Eve is susceptible, is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [philautia] or a preposterous love of oneself [amor sui praeposterus], by which one either loves oneself above God or despises one's neighbour instead of oneself' (CE, XVII. 200). (15) Opposed to this excessive self-regard is, a human's charity towards the self whereby one loves oneself in accordance with God's precepts [for attainment of eternal life] and seeks both eternal and temporal good for oneself' (CE. XVII. 200). (16) Seeking temporal and eternal good entails 'the pursuing of external goods, but the repelling or enduring of external evils' (CE, XVII. 202). The proof texts which the treatise supplies to exemplify true charity are all Gospel texts in which the Son predicts his death and teaches that 'the one who finds his life will lose it, and the one having lost his life for [Christ's] sake will find it' (Matthew 10. 39; cf. Mark 8. 35; John 12. 25). This altruistic principle is distorted in Satan's temptation of Eve, who does not love in the manner prescribed by God, but falls through a 'preposterous love' of self, preferring self-deification before all consideration for God or Adam. In the Genesis account the serpent tempts Eve with the possibility that' God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened; and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil' (Genesis 3. 5, Authorized Version). Milton emphasizes this aspect of Eve's sin, her effecting of a disproportion in creation by thirsting after Godhead. At the Heavenly Council God forecasts that the first human couple 'sinns | Against the high Supremacie of Heav'n, | Affecting God-head, and so loosing all' (III. 204-06), and the prose 'Argument' to Book iii summarizes that 'Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead'. Milton's poem carefully portrays the hubris of self-apotheosis demonstrated by the first man and the first woman (v. 77-8r; IX. 546-48, 705-17, 873-78, 932-37). In Eve's dream Satan's tempting angel works upon Eve's fancy by cultivating the self-regard she showed immediately after her creation when entranced by her own reflection at the poolside (IV. 449-91). The dream-Satan encourages Eve to leave the bower to be beheld by the moon and stars, Heaven's 'eyes', who are all 'with ravishment | Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze' (V. 44-47). He goes on to praise the forbidden fruit for being 'able to make Gods of Men' (V. 70) and flatters that Eve will 'be henceforth among the Gods | Thy self a Goddess, not to Earth confin'd' (V. 77-78), coaxing her to 'Ascend to Heav'n, by merit thine, and see | What life the Gods live there, and such live thou' (V. 80-81). Eve's dream seems to function as a mock rehearsal or dry run for the temptation proper, in which Satan will again tempt her to overreach herself and crave divinity.
Book (IX's 'Argument' expounds that Satan's actual temptation works by 'extolling Eve above all other Creatures'. Satan in the serpent, ingratiatingly 'Fawning' and 'lick[ing] the ground whereon she trod'. (IX. 526), feeds upon Eve's self-love and builds upon Adam's immoderate sublimation of Eve, which the reader has already witnessed in Adam's rhapsody of Eve to Raphael (VIII. 546-59; cf. V. 18-19). Satan fashions a verbal apotheosis of Eve with a galaxy of glorified titles and comparisons: 'sovran Mistress' (IX. 532), 'sole Wonder' (IX. 533), 'the Heav'n of mildness' (IX.(534), 'Celestial Beautie' IX. 540), 'A Goddess among Gods' (IX. 547-48), 'Empress of this fair World' IX. 568), 'Sovran of Creatures, universal Dame' (IX. 612), 'Empress' (IX. 626), 'Queen of this Universe' (IX. 684), and 'Goddess humane' (IX. 732). Satan's honorific address, 'Fairest resemblance of thy Maker faire' (IX. 538), is a muted blasphemy that implicitly undermines God and Adam in designating Deity by the simple, and Eve by the superlative, adjectival forms. The aim of Satan's sycophantic barrage is to instigate Eve's presumption of Godhead. The root of Satan's fraud is, in a direct borrowing from Genesis, that 'yee shall be as Gods' (IX. 708), instilling in Eve the desire to be 'ador'd and serv'd | By Angels numberless, thy daily Train' (IX. 547-48). Even while Eve plucks and eats we learn of her psychic state, that 'nor was God-head from her thought' IX. 790). There is little evidence to substantiate Diane McColley's reading that Eve 'does not merely reject the flattery but considers it a symptom of unsound reason'. (17) Eve will repeat to Adam her fond wish that the fruit is 'of Divine effect | To op'n eyes and make them Gods who taste' (IX. 865-66) and claims that the fruit imparts the experience of' growing up to Godhead' (IX. 877). The fruit's effect on them both is delusory, so that they 'fansie that they feel | Divinitie within them breeding wings' (IX. 1009-10).
Aged twenty-five, Milton describes the primal lapse in' At a solemn Musick' (1633) as 'disproportion'd sin [that] Jarr'd against natures chime' and 'Broke the fair musick that all creatures made' (ll. 19-21). As De doctrina Christiana's formulation of 'preposterous love' would suggest, Satan is able to work a creational disproportion out of Eve's privileging of her back-to-front self-love over her love of God or Adam. Satan's methods to make 'intricate seem strait' (IX. 632) give Eve a distorted perception of God and an inflated sense of herself. Because of God's single prohibition not to eat of the tree, Satan invites Eve to think of Deity as 'the Threatner' (IX. 687) and, after eating the fruit, Eve slanders God as a totalitarian dictator with an angelic police state, Our great Forbidder, safe with all his Spies | About him' (IX. 815-16). In fallen Adam's eyes, too, God degenerates into a 'Fickle' monarch.(948-49) capriciously frolicking with his current favourites. Satan makes the cornerstone of his temptation the specious benefits that he promises would result from Eve's choice. Satan argues that Eve's eating of the fruit would accomplish a creational disproportion, transforming her into a human goddess:
That yee should be as Gods, since I as Man, Internal Man, is but proportion meet, I of brute human, yee of human Gods. So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off Human, to put on Gods, death to be wisht, Though threat'nd, which no worse then this can bring. And what are Gods that Man may not become As they, participating God-like food? (IX. 710-17)
Raphael and God had envisioned an appropriate future time when humans would be promoted by merit and through spiritual maturity to an ethereal and even God-like state (V. 493-505; VII. 155-61). Satan claims that by eating the fruit an upwardly mobile creature can precipitate a spiritual evolution (or revolution), much as Satan, formerly known as Lucifer, sought to realize his own apotheosis by usurping God. By eating and transgressing, Eve disrupts the creational hierarchy. Satan's temptation speech of hybridized 'brute human' and 'human Gods' manages to spoil the best of all possible worlds; yet once more irony prevails, since Satan's words pave the way towards restoration. Satan's confused oxymoronic phrases, 'brute human', 'human Gods', and 'Goddess humane' (IX. 732), register the violence, indignity, and impropriety of the inducement that Satan inspires in Eve for her to foment disorder. Eve is neglectful when she first notices in the speaking snake an irregular mixture of the orders of knowledge and nature. Faced with this aberration, she merely wonders aloud, 'What may this mean? Language of Man pronounc't | By Tongue of Brute, and human sense exprest' (IX. 553-54). With his brute humans and human gods Satan confuses the integrities and limitations of creational order through the use (or, we might say, misuse) of the rhetorical figure of catachresis or abusio, that is, the improper application of a word out of its context to generate a contradictory or paradoxical logic. The degree to which Satan addles and muddles and turns the creational hierarchy topsy-turvy reflects the extent to which he conspires to abuse the divinely sanctioned order and wrench the cosmos out of joint. The reader may gauge more from Satan's confused speech, since his anarchic words gesture to the reinstatement of harmony through the incarnation. At the incarnation the Son takes upon himself this disproportion as God-man so that he can restore the crookedness of sinful human nature by putting off divinity, putting on humanity, and uniquely becoming 'human God' De doctrina Christiana deploys the Origenic compound [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [theanthropos] or 'God-man' to express how 'the son of God, our Mediator, was made flesh, is called, and is God and human, which for this reason the Greeks most aptly name him by the single word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]' (CE, XV. 272). This hybrid word echoes the' human God' or' Goddess humane' Eve aspires to become by rudely elbowing her way up the hierarchy, whereas the Son must become God-man by descending it. Satan's lure of putting off | Human, to put on Gods' (IX. 713-14) alludes to the Pauline teaching on the renovation of the sinner in Christ who, 'having put off the old [sinful] humankind with his machinations, has put on the new humankind, [humankind] renewed', so that 'Christ is all and [is] in all' (Colossians 3. 9-10). By this method, all humanity shall indeed be invited to participate in 'God-like food' (IX. 717), partaking not of the forbidden fruit Satan proffers, but of the Eucharist, to memorialize the God-man's rectifying of the creational imbalance or disproportion initiated at the original Fall.
If Satan's imbruting of himself in the serpent is a warped incarnation, Eve's eating from the forbidden tree is a distorted Eucharist. The poem describes the fruit as communicating its good, as a sacrament is the seal and symbol of the grace imparted in faith to the communicant. In Eve's dream the angel had taught that the forbidden 'Fruit Divine [...] since good, the morel Communicated, more abundant growes' (v. 67, 71-72), and Eve later recollects these words when she dismisses God's prohibition as an act of divine jealousy that 'inferrs the good | By thee [the tree] communicated' (IX. 754-55). Eve's dismissal of the potentially fatal repercussions of her actions, 'Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie' (IX. 775), enumerates the very elements that the incarnate Son in his redeeming office must respectively satisfy, defeat, fulfil, and pay. Eve's two ruinous gestures, 'she pluckd, she eat' IX. 781), replicate the dream-Satan's phantom gesture, 'He pluckd, he tasted' (V. (65). These paired actions foretell the Son's administration of the sacraments, the memorial of his atoning death, to his disciples at the Last Supper, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [labete phagete] or 'take, eat, this is my body' (Matthew 26. 26). When Eve eats she is said to 'partake | Full happiness' (IX. 818-i9; v. 75), evoking the participation of Christian communicants. The fruit's power to 'Impart (IX. 728) its virtue evokes the transference to communicants of the significance of the bread and wine, Christ's body and his blood. Eve's intoxicating experience of the forbidden fruit is far different from the angelic celebration of 'Fruit of delicious Vines' (V. 635), of which, repeating the gospel's sacramental refrain, the angels 'eate, they drink, and in communion sweet | Quaff immortalitie and joy' (V. 637-38). The fruit makes Eve giddy,' highth'nd as with Wine, jocond and boon' (IX. 793), and with Adam 'As with new Wine intoxicated both' (X. 1008). The forbidden fruit, a heady and deadly aberration of sacramental wine, is toxic and corrupting. Trusting in the empirical evidence of the talking serpent, Eve depends upon the auditory proof of the talking serpent's self-promotion and speaks of the 'credit' (IX. 649) of the fruit's power. Outside of their literal meaning, Eve's words direct the reader to the human debt of sin credited or entrusted to Christ and cancelled by his blood. Having imagined that she would enjoy Godhead, in one of the most biting turnabouts in Milton's drama of the Fall, no sooner has Eve eaten the apple than she becomes enthralled to service and idolatry in adoration of the tree. In Eve's arborilatrous address, the ignominious tree of the cross is evoked. The transient, stimulating effects of the fruit have not yet dispersed to leave behind the overpowering sense of the burden of sin. Delirious Eve believes those who eat of the copious fruit of the luxuriant tree shall 'the fertil burden ease' (IX. 801), yet eating from the tree has really imparted a burden that the Son will shoulder upon the stark tree of the cross. Where the branches of the forbidden tree are tantalizingly and licentiously 'offerd free to all' (IX. 802), the promise held out by the Saviour's blood imparts undifferentiated, free grace, free for all to partake, Jew and Greek, slave and free, man and woman (Galatians 3. 28; Colossians 3. 11). Whereas good works are traditionally the seal of grace for those who faithfully partake of a sacrament, the carnal pleasures of Adam and Eve's lust in action after tasting the fruit are 'of thir mutual guilt the Seale' (IX. 1043) and climax in a Shakespearian expense of spirit in a waste of shame.
As the narrative transfers its focus from Eve's Fall to Adam's, the first perversion of love of oneself in De doctrina Christiana, preposterous and disproportionate self-love, now shifts into the treatise's other perversion of human charity, the state where the sinner 'despises one's neighbour instead of oneself [proximum prae se contemnit]' (CE, XVII. 200). Eve's sin of egoism and pride, 'Her circuit [...] straitened to the narrow compass of greedy self, and self itself to infant appetite', next generates envy of Adam. (18) Godhead was not absent from Eve's false reasoning nor has Adam entered her thoughts or words since she separated from him and began conversing with the serpent. Her former desire to usurp God now results in a process of deciding whether to permit Adam to have a share in this anti-Eucharist and 'partake | Full happiness with [her], or rather not' (IX. 818-19). This anti-sacrament is apparently not graciously free to all, if Eve so decides to debar her spouse. The 'Argument' to Boob summarizes that Eve 'deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not'. Knowledge is now power and the apple has become a commodity, a means to make the possessor, in Eve's solecism, 'more equal, and perhaps, | A thing not undesireable, somtime | Superior' (IX. 823-25). Yet it is the troubling thought of a Lilith, of an 'Adam wedded to another Eve' fix. 828), that resolves Eve's quandary. Like Satan binding a third of the angels to share his Fall, Eve's hubris motivates her to coerce Adam to 'share with me in bliss or woe' (IX. 831). The quality of mercy has become acutely strained in Eve's invidious formulation 'that with him all deaths I could endure, without him live no life' (IX. 832-33). It is the speculation 'what if God have seen] And Death ensue?' (ix. 826-27, emphasis added) that commits her to a course of action that will rivet Adam's doom to her own, come what may. Persuading Adam to eat, Eve later protests:
Were it I thought Death menac't would ensue This my attempt, I would sustain alone The worst, and not perswade thee, rather die Deserted, then oblige thee with a fact [or crime] Pernicious to thy Peace. (IX. 977-81, emphasis added)
The echo of Eve's former words gives the lie to her Christ-like pretensions to sustain alone the worst of ensuing Death. Eve's complaint that, if Adam does not taste, she will 'then too late renounce | Deitie for thee, when Fate will not permit' (IX. 884-85), attempts to do what rebel angels and fallen humans do best: they exculpate their wrong choices with the language of 'Fixt Fate' (II 560) or' necessitie, | The Tyrants plea' (IV. 393-94). Eve's 'too late' is revealing of her firm resolution never to lose the divinity she imagines she has gained (in fact, the reader knows that all seems lost), but her unspoken reluctance to 'renounce Deitie' evokes the Son, who will surrender to Death 'All that of me can die' (III. 246). Eve's Fall retraces the shape of Satan's own. Her pride mutates into envy, a love of self that abnegates the love of God, which in turn compounds with the love of self that despises her only neighbour, her sole partner. In this transgression of love of neighbour, Eve is potentially the original perpetrator of homicide, just as Satan was the original perpetrator of genocide in his spoliation of creation.
If Eve is the first perpetrator of homicide, then Adam, by falling into his own trap of sinful disproportion, becomes the first perpetrator of suicide. Heedless of what Raphael has taught him of God's loving largesse and divine concern for creation, Adam too risks self-deification and willingly unites his fate, in bliss or woe, with that of Eve. De doctrina Christiana, along with the excessive self-love to which Eve is prey, warns against another degradation of love of oneself, 'a perverse hatred of oneself [odium sui perversum]', which category includes suicides, literally rendered, 'those who inflict death upon themselves [qui mortem sibi consciscunt]' (CE. XVII. 200). The antidote the treatise offers to such perverted charity and self-hatred is Ephesians 5. 29, which, appropriate to Adam's situation, is a biblical text concerning moderate self-love and the love a husband fosters for his wife, loving her as he loves himself. The husband's sacrificial love for his wife is compared here to the love Christ showed in giving himself up for his Church. The cure for self-hatred is 'the righteousness of humanity towards itself [...] right reason [recta ratio] in ruling and moderating oneself' (CE, XVII. 202). Adam, when confronted with the choice whether to disobey for Eve's sake or obey for God's sake, falls short on both counts, neither exemplifying sacrificial love for his spouse nor using right reason to devise a saving solution for Eve.
Adam, like Eve, gulls himself into believing that, through some metaphysical loophole, the serpent has gained 'to live as Man | Higher degree of Life' (IX. 933-34) and Adam, too, entertains a notion of 'Proportional ascent, which cannot be | But to be Gods, or Angels Demi-gods' (IX. 936-37). At this stage Adam, misguided as he is, still acknowledges God as his 'Creator wise' ix. 938), and he mollifies Satan and Eve's virulent blasphemies of God as a Stalinist Threatener and Forbidder with a concessive 'Though threatning' (IX. 939). Nevertheless, God condemns Adam's credulity, for being 'seduc't | And flatterd out of all, believing lies | Against his Maker' (X. 41-43). Adam's desire to overreach obscures his reasoning. The appeal to Adam of a dis-'Proportional ascent' to deity is no less pertinent than in Eve's case, although Adam betrays and then clumsily retracts his hopes for the two of them 'to be Gods, or Angels Demi-Gods' (IX. 937). By Adam's embarrassed words he is known, since, like Eve and the serpent, he rhetorically confounds the ranks of the cosmic hierarchy.
Paradise Lost elides the Pauline view at 1 Timothy 2. 14 that 'Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and came to be in the transgression.' The Son, when he judges the unhappy couple, reprimands Adam for his heedlessness and irresponsibility, 'Was shee thy God, that her thou didst obey) Before [God's] voice' (X. 145-46)? We saw above that De doctrina Christiana teaches that Adam fell 'for behaving uxoriously, she for not heeding her husband [uxorius hic, mariti illa inobservantior]' (CE, XV. 182). Milton's 'Argument' to Book (IX describes Adam's lack of initiative, succumbing to Eve 'through vehemence of love', a love that, etymologically speaking, 'drives him out of his wits' (Lat. vehere+mens). The narrator stresses that Adam was 'not deceav'd | But fondly overcome with Femal charm' (IX. 998-99), but Michael denies Adam the luxury of any bogus comfort that 'the tenor of Mans woe | Holds on the same, from Woman to begin' (XI. 632-33), with a reminder of Adam's own preposterous love for Eve, 'From Mans effeminat slackness it begins' (XI. 634). Despite the narrator's disclaimer, there is, then, for Adam's part, a wilful and foolish self-deception. As Eve is deceived or 'dis-Eved' (a recurrent Miltonic pun), so Adam becomes vehemently uncoupled from his proper station in the hierarchy by distracting himself and pledging loyalty to Eve rather than to God. Hugo Grotius's Adam in Adamus Exul makes the same error of judgement by seeing 'two loves [...] on the one side God, on the other Eve: both are great' (ll. 1443-45). (19)
In Book VIII Adam's rapture on his unrestrained love for Eve and Raphael's reproof prepare the reader for Adam's Fall. In Book IX's separation scene Adam reluctantly concedes to Eve that she might leave his side, addressing her as one exorbitantly 'to me beyond) Compare above all living Creatures deare' (IX. 227-28). Adam's praise, which verges more on idolatry than on the uxoriousness critics often point to, refers beyond the historical moment, namely his immoderate love of Eve that inclines him to fall, and alludes within the epic to the Son's boundless love for humanity. Adam's adulation of Eve's person, 'beyond compare', plays second fiddle to the inimitable Son, the first and best of all living creatures dear, in the parallel phrase 'Beyond compare the Son of God was seen | Most glorious' (III. 138-39). As the perfect image of God, 'in him all his Father shoal | Substantially exprest' (III. 139-40). When Adam encounters a newly fallen Eve, in an internal monologue he continues his adoration of her at the point where the serpent, and he himself, left off, extolling her to himself as:
O fairest of Creation, last and best Of all Gods works, Creature in whom excelld Whatever can to sight or thought be formd, Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet! (IX. 896-99)
Praise of Eve that exceeds the measure is a marked feature of prelapsarian Adam's speech. During Adam's vision of Eve's creation, she appears to him 'so lovly faire' that all of 'fair' nature 'seemd nor | Mean, or in her summd up, in her contained' (VIII. 471-73), and Adam wakes Eve from her infected dream with the blandishment 'Heav'ns last best gift' (V. 19). Yet again irony redirects Adam's inordinate worship of Eve to denote the Son, the first-born and best of God's creation. Adam, though, overlooks the divine altogether and sublimates the intoxicated Eve into an inordinately exalted creature, 'Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!' I am hard pressed to agree wholly with A. J. A. Waldock that Adam here embodies 'one of the highest, and really one of the oldest, of all human values: selflessness in love'. (20) Waldock seems to me exactly half right in his verdict. Adam's fidelity to the 'Link (IX. 914) or 'Bond of Nature' with Eve (IX. 956) completes only one half of the double love by excluding God. Adam neglects the fact that all of nature, he and Eve included, finds its ultimate source in God's creativity. Furthermore, Adam's sacrifice is diminished because he interprets his Fall from solely the human side of the double love, precluding the divine side of love's equation. Millicent Bell rightly concludes that, by electing his wife above his Maker, 'in the scale of Raphael's vision, which represents Milton's own deepest convictions concerning the ultimate proportions of things, Adam's love is sinful'. (21)
The temptation among Miltonists tends to be either to heroize Adam's decision, pace Waldock, or to offer various judicious alternatives to what Adam should have done. John Tanner applauds Adam's 'gallant decision to die for love, if he must, with erring Eve'. (22) Northrop Frye's uncharacteristically severe solution was that this 'is the point at which Adam should have "divorced" Eve'. (23) Joan Bennett proposes that Adam and Eve should have been less hasty and rash and should have been able to keep a dialogue open long enough for the exercise of recta ratio. (24) Philip Gallagher believes that Adam should have vented his spleen and repudiated his wife. (25) Yet, as with Eve's Fall, genuine altruism has no place in Adam's motivation to disobey. Adam deforms, admittedly less brazenly than Eve, Christ's fulfilment of love of God and neighbour. Margaret Justice Dean characterizes this deformation, perceiving that 'Adam becomes a false martyr, suffering for his conscientious, but idolatrous, devotion to wrong causes (Eve, marriage, martyrdom itself)', and Anne Ferry finds that Adam's 'choice is to die with Eve, not for her[, b]ecause his fear is for his own loneliness without her, not for her plight'. (26) To my mind, Dennis Danielson, in his incisive interpretation of this pivotal moment in Milton's human drama, gets to the root of Adam's error of judgement:
In facing the predicament of the fallen Eve, therefore, Adam faced no real dilemma between loving Eve and obeying God. In an act of dazzling heroism such as only an unfallen person could perform, he could have done what the fallen Eve wished she could do and what the second Adam ultimately did do: to take the punishment of fallen humanity upon himself, to fulfill exactly 'The law of God,' as Michael puts it in Book 12, 'Both by obedience and by love' (12. 402-03). (27)
In other words, prelapsarian Adam has the opportunity to offer to do for Eve what the immaculate saviour will accomplish for the sake of all on the cross, love of neighbour and loving obedience to God: 'The Law of God exact [Jesus] shall fulfill | Both by obedience and by love' (XII. 402-03). Milton's tell-tale words are 'with' and 'without'. If theodical embarrassment is to be avoided, the operative relation here should not be Eve's homicidal and Adam's suicidal 'with' and 'without', but an altruistic 'for the sake of. Eve selfishly decides within herself that' with him all deaths | could endure, without him live no life' (IX. 832-33), and she later professes to Adam, though the conscientious reader knows her profession is insincere, that 'I would sustain alone) The worst' (IX. 978-79). Adam vows during the separation scene that a husband to his wife' with her the worst endures' (IX. 269) and, later, questioning whether he should disobey God and eat, Adam asks of Eve, 'How can I live without thee?' (IX. 908). He resolves that 'I with thee have fixt my Lot' and 'to loose thee were to loose my self' (IX. 952, 959), only to bitterly regret, after the fact of his transgression, that he 'willingly chose rather Death with thee' (IX. II 167). Alongside the preposition 'with', Adam and Eve's claims to make ventures 'for the sake of the other are always inadequate or incomplete. Eve lies to Adam that she ate the fruit to grow up to Godhead, 'which for thee | Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise' (IX. 877-78), but the attentive reader knows that she hoped to enjoy a lofty state that, if not divine, would 'keep the odds of Knowledge' (IX. 820) in her power, making her 'more equal' (IX. 823) to Adam, if not his 'Superior' (IX. 825).
Adam's offer 'to undergoe like doom' (IX. 953), praised by Eve as 'Love so deare, | To undergoe with mee one Guilt, one Crime' (IX. 970-71), is a mock redemption, a decision so short-sighted that lovesick Adam, unmindful of the availability of God's mercy for Eve, is blindly self-led into death 'with' rather than 'for' his spouse. Making his fallen excuses to the judging Son, Adam later echoes his willingness to 'undergoe' the Fall's consequences with Eve. He further travesties the redemption by imputing the blame to Eve for the whole transgression and by expressing a selfish reluctance 'to undergoe | My self the total Crime' (X. 126-27). Before he falls, Adam's criticism of God, though not as overtly pejorative as Eve's irreverence, is nevertheless skewed. At first, Adam believes the Fall to be irreparable: 'But past who can recall, or don undoe?' (IX. 926). Shortly thereafter, Adam dimly recognizes that God is likely to accomplish a restoration of humankind, should he eat, but Adam damagingly imputes to God a pettish and proud disposition that would not countenance the inconvenience and shame of having to annihilate creation:
so God shall uncreate, Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour loose, Not well conceav'd of God, who though his Power Creation could repeate, yet would be loath Us to abolish, least the Adversary Triumph and say; Fickle their State whom God Most Favors; who can please him long? Mee first He ruind, Now Mankind; whom will he next? Matter of scorne, not to be giv'n the Foe. (IX. 943-51)
Adam's conjecture shows that he has learnt little of God's goodness from Raphael's narratives, of the divine disposition to create and retire itself out of love so that his creatures, 'with strength entire, and free Will armd' (x. 9), might enjoy life and liberty. He attributes to God the correct providential purpose, an inclination to restore, but for all the wrong reasons. God will indeed 'be loath' to destroy what he has created and will, in De doctrina Christiana's words, as 'A PATEFACTION' or MANIFESTATION OF HIS POWER AND THE GLORY OF HIS GOODNESS' (CE, XV. 4), preserve the old creation by 'the renewing of all things' through the Son ('Argument' to Book). But Adam's disfiguring fancy that an omnipotent, omniscient deity should need to preserve his reputation among his subjects is a deluded non sequitur.
Fallen Eve's response to Adam's desperate offer to risk all with her--'O glorious trial of exceeding Love, I Illustrious evidence, example high!' (IX. 961-62), and again, 'This happie trial of thy Love' (IX. 975)--are flawed eulogies that lead the reader backward and forward into the poem and compare Adam, to his detriment, with the example of his future redeemer. Backward, we are reminded of the angelic hymn praising the Son's selfless sacrifice as 'O unexampl'd love, | Love nowhere to be found less then Divine' (III. 410-11). Forward, in Michael's revelation of the historical redemption, Adam will realize the inferiority of all fallen acts of charity to Christ's 'suffering for Truths sake', once 'Taught this by his example whom I now | Acknowledge my Redeemer ever blest' (XII. 569, 572-73). These jubilant angelic and human exclamations direct us to Scripture and the Pauline celebration of Christ as the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [hypotyposis] or supreme example:
Christ Jesus came into the cosmos to save sinners, of whom I am chief; but because of this I received mercy, in order that in me, the chief [of sinners], Jesus Christ might display all his longsuffering, as a supreme example [Gr. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]] to those who are going to have faith in him for eternal life. (I Timothy 1. 15-16)
The epic narrator casts further doubt upon Adam's suicidal choice, carried out with no consideration of God's probable mercy, by deploring Adam's action in the forensic discourse of Christian soteriology. Adam's decision to disobey and fall is a bad redemption, a faulty means to buy Eve back into God's good graces, as the narrator states: '(for such compliance bad Such recompence best merits)' (IX. 994-95).
Adam's mismanagement before and between both Falls--his lack of leadership in allowing Satan the opportunity to compromise an isolated Eve, his inability to discern the mercy of his Maker or, as Dennis Danielson interprets the scene, to negotiate a reconciliation between a fallen Eve and God, his misprision concerning God's nature, and his presumptuous intimation that he and Eve may achieve immortality and 'be Gods, or Angels Demi-gods'--all of Adam's choices implicate him with Eve in a transgression of the double love that can be reversed only by the suffering Son's fulfilment of the love of God and humanity. Eve began the process of the Fall through an act of 'preposterous' self-love that leads to homicidal tendencies, and Adam, through contempt for God and himself, completes the process by committing the original suicide. Only the second Adam can justify the first Adam's fruitless resignation that 'Death is to mee as Life' (IX. 954). The incarnate Son's perfect love of God, self, and other makes right Adam's despair by bringing eternal life out of Adam's sin and death through the good communicated, Jesus's victorious death on the cross and his triumphant revival, a resurrection styled by Michael, in Milton's idiosyncratic use of the serene word 'waft', as 'A gentle wafting to immortal Life' (XII. 435). (28)
I wish to tender my thanks, that 'slightest, easiest, readiest recompence', to Professor John Batchelor, Dr Allyna Ward, and the anonymous reader at Modern Language Review for encouraging me and for shepherding this article towards publication. I am also indebted to Dr Charles Moseley, a true man of letters, for attuning my ear to the grace notes within Milton's adventurous song.
RUSSELL M. HILLIER
SELWYN COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
(1) George Herbert,' Divinitie', ll. 17-20, The Works of George Herbert, ed. by F. E. Hutchinson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1941), p. 135.
(2) The following editions have been used for citation from the works of John Milton: The Poetical Works of, John Milton, ed. by Helen Darbishire (London: Oxford University Press, 1958); The Complete Prose Works of John Milton, ed. by Don M. Wolfe and others, 8 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953-82), cited throughout as CPW; The Works of John Milton, ed. by Frank A. Patterson and others, 18 vols (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931-38), cited throughout as CE. New Testament translations are derived from The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, ed. by J. D. Douglas, trans. by Robert K. Brown and Philip W Comfort (Wheaton: Tyndale House Press, 1990). Where texts are originally in Latin or Greek, I have attempted a literal translation.
(3) Georgia B. Christopher, Milton and the Science of the Saints (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), p. 121.
(4) C. S. Lewis, A Preface to 'Paradise Lost(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), pp. 124-28; Edwin Greenlaw, 'A Better Teacher than Aquinas', Studies in Philology, 15 (1917), 196-217; James Holly Hanford, 'The Temptation Motive in Milton', Studies in Philology, 15 (1918), 176-94; Charles Williams, The English Poems of Milton (London, 1940), introduction; E. M. W. Tillyard, Milton, rev. edn (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1967), p. 266; J. B. Broadbent, 'Some Graver Subject': An Essay on 'Paradise Lost' London: Chatto and Windus, 1960), p. 254.
(5) The biblical texts that De doctrina Christiana supplies to support Christ's exemplary fortitude refer to his physical suffering and endurance of the cross: 'Let him take up his cross and follow me' (Matthew 16. 24; cf. 16. 21); 'we so with patience wait for it' (Romans 8. 25)--'it' in this context signifies the redemption of our bodies; 'for this reason I assent to infirmities, injuries, hardships, persecutions and distresses, for Christ's sake' ii(Corinthians 12. 10).
(6) Angus Fletcher, The Transcendental Masque: An Essay on Milton's 'Comus' London: Cornell University Press, 1971), p. 249.
(7) John Leonard, Naming in Paradise: Milton and the Language of Adam and Eve (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 104.
(8) John Carey, Milton (London: Evans Brothers, 1976), p. 122.
(9) For a study of Satan's incarnational parody, see Mother Mary Christopher Pecheux, '"O Foul Descent!": Satan and the Serpent Form', studies in Philology, 62 (1965), 188-96.
(10) Leslie Brisman, The Voice of Jacob: On the Composition of Genesis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), p. 113.
(11) Geoffrey Hill, Canaan (London: Penguin, 1996), p. 30; from Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis, 1. 11.
(12) Roland Mushat Frye, God, Man, and Satan: Patterns of Christian Thought and Life in 'Paradise Lost', 'Pilgrim's Progress', and the Great Theologians (London: Kennikat Press, 1960), p. 39.
(13) Andrew Willet, Hexapla in Genesin; that is, A Sixfold Commentarie upon Genesis (Cambridge, 1605), P. 47.
(14) A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Earthly Paradise and the Renaissance Epic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), p. 295.
(15) 'Et [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] sive amor sui praeposterus, quo quis vel se supra Deum amat, vel proximum prae se contemnit.'
(16) 'Charitas hominis ega semetipsum est qua quis secundum Deum diligit semetipsum, suumque sibi bonum et temporale et aeternum quaerit.'
(17) Diane Kelsey McColley, Milton's Eve (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983), p. 197. McColley's interpretation is at least supported by Eve's initial response, which indicates that Eve has some reservations, 'Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt | The vertue of that Fruit' (IX. 615-16).
(18) MCColley, p. 205.
(19) Hugo Grotius, Adamus Exul, in The Celestial Cycle: The Theme of 'Paradise Lost' in World Literature with Translations of the Major Analogues, ed. and trans. by Watson Kirkconnell (New York: Gordian Press, 1967), pp. 96-219.
(20) A. J. A. Waldock, 'Paradise Lost: The Fall', in Milton's Epic Poetry: Essays on 'Paradise Lost' and' Paradise Regained. by C. A. Patrides (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967), pp. 74-91 (p. 85).
(21) Millicent Bell, 'The Fallacy of the Fall in Paradise Lost', PMLA, 68 (1953), 863-83 (p. 873).
(22) John S. Tanner, Anxiety in Eden: A Kierkegaardian Reading of 'Paradise Lost (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 115.
(23) Northrop Frye, Five Essays on Milton's Epics (London: Routledge, 1966), p. 69; cf. pp. 83-84.
(24) Joan S. Bennett, Reviving Liberty: Radical Christian Humanism in Milton's Great Poems (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 109-18.
(25) Philip J. Gallagher, Milton, the Bible, and Misogyny, ed. by Eugene R. Cunnar and Gail L. Mortimer (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1990), pp. 104, 127.
(26) Margaret Justice Dean, 'Choosing Death: Adam's Temptation to Martyrdom Paradise Lost' Milton Studies, 46 (2007), 30-56 (p. 41); Anne Ferry, Milton's Epic Voice: The Narrator in 'Paradise Lost (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 60.
(27) Dennis Danielson, 'Through the Telescope of Typology: What Adam Should Have Done', Milton Quarterly, 23 (1989), 121-27 (p. 124).
(28) 'Waft', a verb meaning to convey safely by water and to be transported by angels (QED), is a peculiarly Miltonic word reserved for those eschatological occasions in the poetry when a good life is vouchsafed immortality. As well as Jesus's wafting to immortal Life' after redemption, the uncouth swain of Lycidas beseeches the dolphins to 'waft the hapless youth' (1. 164), the corpse of Edward King, before the elegy launches into its climactic eschatological hymn on the glorification of the saints in the 'blest Kingdoms' (l. 177). Paradise Lost's epic narrator also alludes to Jesus's parable of the beggar and the rich man (Luke 16. 19-31), and specifically to the beggar Lazarus's translation by angels to Abraham's bosom in heaven, as one who' after came from Earth, sailing arriv'd, | Wafted by Angels' (III. 520-21; Luke 16. 22) across the bright, nacreous sea that flows towards Heaven's gate.
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|Title Annotation:||John Milton|
|Author:||Hillier, Russell M.|
|Publication:||The Modern Language Review|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2008|
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