Book 6 pl - Book 6: The War in Heaven Book The Downfall Of...

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Unformatted text preview: Book 6: The War in Heaven Book The Downfall Of The Rebel Angels Angels Book 6, The War Book in Heaven in Here, Christ, like Here, Odysseus, purges Heaven of corruption corruption Another Look at the Hero Another We’ve seen, time after time, that the hero We’ve achieves fame by doing what no one else will, will, By taking up the impossible task The one everyone else declines. The Hero is defined as glorious by The exceeding all of the other members of the community in his exploits, by widening the distance between himself and them. distance The Hero or the Community? The The hero perpetuates himself by becoming The transcendent rather than material, offering a dream of what he accomplished. Yet, the fragility of those values is glimpsed most fully when there is no one to follow him. (broken sword, no son with the same powerful hands). son The community has to learn how to overcome the The distance by enacting the values of the hero distance The Son is Milton’s version of this “other” way, Capable of creating a “nation” of heroes through Capable the shared glory of communion, community the Origins of Evil… Origins The “Hell” of war originates in Heaven itself— where we see Satan going up against a series where of angels, first Abdiel, and then Michael. In the end, he takes all of the rebel angels and goes up against the Son against But what causes this outbreak of hostilities? What gets Satan angry enough to go after God? If we look back to Book 5, we catch the moment (5.600) A Declaration of God: Declaration Hear my decree which unrevoked shall stand. Today I have begot whom I declare My only son, and on this holy hill Him have anointed…Your head I him appoint And by myself have sworn to him shall bow All knees in heaven and shall confess him Lord: Under his great vicegerent reign abide, United as one individual soul Forever happy. Him who disobeys Me disobeys, breaks union…5.606ff. Me This is not a popular move with Satan… Satan… The Son may be the new King…but He’s the “first archangel”— “great in power, He’s in favor, and pre-eminence.” He could not bear/Through pride, that sight, and thought himself impaired.” and It’s not just that the Son has been promoted, It’s but he feels he’s lost that sense of privilege and power—that sense that he was “first” Himself was If this is the New Union of Heaven If He’s deeply resistant to it, Wants no part of it, Will not bow to it, Will give no assent to it. He’s already broken “union” through his He’s feeling of displacement before he ever acts on it. acts The Son’s difference The The Son is distinguished by the joy of willing The service service And the light of spiritual illumination. His joyous obedience in the harmony of His heaven provides a marked contrast to Satan’s rebellious opposition Satan’s So that Book 3 and Book 6 match up again The Son Volunteers The Just as the Son offers himself for Humanity in Just Book 3 when no one else will do it, Book Only the Son can overcome Satan and his legions Only in Book 6, bringing the battle to an end. in The bliss he achieves through union with the The Father, Father, He restores to heaven as he heals the rupture, He renews the landscape, and removes, forever, the rebellious. the The War in Heaven is at the very center of the Epic center It provides a commentary on the Genesis of It Evil Evil And it illustrates the historical trajectory of And evil in the world— evil So that we confront both the problem of evil So and its cure in the Son’s movement and Satan is the Father of War Satan War ends—where it begins—in primal War destruction. destruction. In the interim it develops technological In sophistication, becomes more and more advanced, but it falls back, in the end, to an elemental contest an Storytelling Storytelling One of Raphael’s difficulties is how to talk One about heaven in such a way that Adam can understand his narrative— can Raphael does this by establishing Raphael connections—things with which Adam is familiar, familiar, In order to move from the familiar to what is In distant and more remote distant An Art of Accommodation An The fact that Raphael is working at this with The Adam Adam Calls attention to the fact that Milton is Calls working at this with us working How does one tell an earthly being about a How heavenly and eternal conflict? (two audiences--one unfallen: How does one explain such a battle to someone who’s never even seen a fight? never Day and Night in Heaven Day God has created a “rotation” of light and God darkness within heaven (a technological innovation made possible by the lodging and dislodging of light) that’s just a bit like the rotation of light on earth the Dark there is like “twilight here” (6.12). Dark Raphael wants Adam to think about the difference in light, location… difference Abdiel sees all the Host of Heaven prepared for battle prepared “reflecting blaze on blaze” (6.18) Starlight, light hitting gleaming shields, light Starlight, reflecting light Abdiel is commended for speaking Truth from a solitary position, for standing against thousands who opposed him (a model for all those who might succumb to peer pressure) might Michael is to be “prince” of celestial armies (6.43) The Angels of God move silently The In response to music, the interior harmony In of heaven (6.65) of They don’t march on the “ground” but rather They in the air—so as not to have to worry about material objects… about And the air itself holds them up. Raphael compares the angels to birds, flying Raphael in formation to be named by Adam in Raphael’s lessons Raphael’s He describes the order of warfare And the order of birds in flight— But he also calls attention to Adam’s But empowerment through naming empowerment Even as he’s naming the epic battle of Even heaven, heaven, Words provide that sense of mastery to both Words of them—and clarify the differences too. of Satan and his troops “expedite” their movement their They want to take the Mount of God: Satan They wants God’s throne… wants Raphael still feels a little surprised by the Raphael “strangeness” of this conflict— “strangeness” Angels going up against angels for the first Angels time in battle, angels that used to sing together together Satan looks just like God, it turns out, “idol Satan of majesty divine” (6.101) of Abdiel is first against Satan… Abdiel And because he’s been brilliant in words And against Satan, against He proves just as brilliant, just as effective, He in arms. in His integrity is absolute—in “both disputes His alike victor”— alike He calls attention to the creative power of He God (infinite in potential and in strength) God Satan will allow “omnipotence” to none (6.159) none He mocks Abdiel as a “ministering” spirit, a He servant—telling him that it’s a mark of his sloth that he armed the “minstrelsy” of heaven, the singers heaven, He suggests not only what ridiculous He warriors musicians are— warriors But also the “servitude” they reinforce by But fighting on the wrong side fighting He fights for “freedom”: he’s a liberator Abdiel has a few choice words for Satan’s version of events Satan’s God and Nature are in concert with one God another another God rules appropriately, wisely, God benevolently benevolently Servitude is only when you have to serve Servitude the unwise, the rebel, the tyrant the And Satan is “subject” to himself, enslaved And by himself, has no interior freedom by Abdiel lands a swift blow on Satan’s crest Satan’s So swift that Satan cannot prepare or So escape it escape He falls back ten huge paces, on his knee before Abdiel—(6.195) before Like one of the classical heroes, clinging to Like his “pine” spear his And then the battle is unleashed in And earnest… earnest… It has majesty and grandeur It His massy spear upstayed, as if, on earth, Winds under ground, or waters forcing way, Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his Sidelong seat, seat, Half-sunk with all his pines. Amazement Half-sunk seized seized The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see The Thus foiled their mightiest, ours joy filled… Thus Heroics of the Angels Heroics Warrior bands who know exactly how to Warrior move, how to lead, how to fight move, Every move is perfectly orchestrated; Every move is heroic “Deeds of eternal fame/ Were done, but Deeds infinite, for wide was spread /That war” (6.241) “All air seemed then conflicting fire” Michael contests Satan— He identifies him as… The first to bring “misery” into nature itself, The first to “instill” malice into heavenly The beings beings The first to “trouble holy rest” Satan is unimpressed with Michael’s windy Satan words… words… “This is the strife of glory” And he says he’ll win it— Turning Heaven into Hell if he needs to, Though he doesn’t really believe there’s such a Though thing as hell (6.292) thing And then they begin to fight Michael’s sword is “tempered” steel and cuts Michael’s through everything… through It even cuts through, cuts off the “right” side of It Satan; “then Satan first knew pain” Satan; And then he heals—as angelic parts (within) are And entire, not interdependent… entire, Angelic Beings have an “Other” identity: identity: They only by “annihilating” die “All heart they live, all head, all eye, all All ear/All intellect, all sense, and as they please/Assume, as like them best, condense or rare” (6.350-3). condense They sound far more emotional and far They more intellectual than human beings— more Because they’re “concentrated” beings Moloch is overcome Moloch Moloch not only blasphemes against God Moloch but says he’ll drag Him bound at his chariot wheels chariot But it’s Moloch that’s “pierced” and But “shattered” by Gabriel’s forces and by divine power divine He’s “cloven to the waist,” cut in half, from He’s the head down, and “flees bellowing” the He’s not the great classical hero after all… Other forces go down as well… Other Andramelech and Asmadai are “mangled” Andramelech despite their armor: it doesn’t hold up against the angels of God against Abdiel overcomes the “atheist crew”—Ariel, Abdiel Arioch, Ramiel—whose names suggest war, revenge, and thunder—but who fail war, Naming Heroes… Naming The narrator tells us that he could name The thousands of angels and “eternize” their merit merit But these angels are “content” with their But fame in heaven and have no desire for fame on earth fame The “other sort” are “cancelled from Heaven The and sacred memory” (6.379) and Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell (6.380) dwell The narrator lets us see the difference here The The fallen angels divide truth from strength divide And rather than doing deeds of glory are And “vain-glorious”—calling attention to themselves themselves The response can only be “eternal silence” The first battle is a rout The We get a close up of the battlefield— Shivered armor is everywhere, disordered Shivered troops, chariot and charioteer “overturned.” Satan’s troops are with “pale fear” surprised: we see them going white with terror and pain. with Disobedience makes them vulnerable for Disobedience the first time the Til that hour not liable to fear or flight or pain flight “Their mightiest quelled, the battle swerved”…386 Milton makes a striking connection between Milton integrity and being integrity Until this moment no “swerving” was possible, no Until cowardice, no hurt cowardice, But breaking with God opens up alternatives within But angelic beings that reflect this emotional and physical breakdown in heroism, strength, feeling, and movement and But the other angels, God’s angels, have no problem… have They’re still in formation, still advancing, still They’re in harmony, still “entire” “Invulnerable, impenetrably armed” (400) Their beings are integrated completely—and Their their innocence protects them from any possibility of hurt possibility It’s their extraordinary purity that marks It’s them, a stance that cannot be shaken them, Day One ends Day Michael and his angels “prevalent Michael encamping”—lighting the night encamping”—lighting And Satan and his legions “disappearing” to And regroup— regroup— It’s interesting that their “loss” in integrity It’s opens up space, Satan claims, for opens “Honour, glory, dominion, and renown” (422) All of the epic virtues. Satan’s version: God has not overcome them overcome So God must be “fallible” after all And not “omniscient” about final outcomes If the future is uncertain, Satan claims, then If maybe he’s in control of it— maybe Satan needs to rethink “evil” to clarify the Satan difference between God’s forces and his own own Evil is the state of loss… Evil So Satan has to redefine it There’s “some disadvantage” that they have There’s to overcome, “less firmly armed” and here he’s right: Their interior has great gaps— he’s But they can make up with it, he argues, But with “more valid arms, weapons more violent” (439). If they have weakness inside, just improve the weaponry… inside, Superior weaponry can make us “equals” “equals” And then Satan hits on the real problem: And Is there some “hidden cause” that made the angels of God “superior” ? angels Perhaps through “consultation,” we can Perhaps come to terms with what’s missing in us since we have “unhurt minds” and “sound understanding”— understanding”— But it’s a paradox But Satan’s “weakness” is precisely the inability Satan’s to acknowledge “weakness.” His mind is not “sound” and so he cannot appropriately assess anything… appropriately He’s lost the ability to know or to see He’s anything like the “truth” anything Instead, he “makes up” the truth, Instead, constructing it in every moment constructing Nisroch and his “riven arms” Nisroch Himself shattered by battle, Nisroch calls Himself attention to the arms of the enemy: attention It’s about pain, finally. Pain stops us in our It’s tracks. We’ve got to figure out a way to make them “feel pain” or arm ourselves in such a way that we do not feel pain. such Satan’s ingenious ability to create weapons of mass destruction… weapons “Not uninvented that” he says—suggesting Not that he can move through negation to the right invention and give them supremacy in war… in The angels are surprised by how they The “missed” seeing the gun-powder in the core elements of heaven core And “secretly” in the night, they prepare for And the next day’s conflict the Satan mocks the angels with rhetoric first rhetoric We seek “peace and composure,” he says, As the first to ever call weapons of mass As destruction “peace-keepers” destruction Moreover, we “discharge freely our part” Moreover, with a blast that will test whether you can keep your “charge” or continue to stand in opposition to us—(565) opposition Satan pulls out a triple row of canons… canons… And he levels the hosts of Heaven. Satan’s legions And are amused that they have overturned the “right” wing branch of heaven, inverting this world altogether by upsetting, quite literally, the angels of God. of But the angels of God retaliate. They pick up But mountains and promontories next, hurling them at the rebel hosts. Their faith enables them to move mountains, throwing them on the rebellious in an apocalyptic vision of the End rebellious A War to End all Wars War “Infernal noise! War seemed a civil game/To Infernal this uproar” (6.667) this After two days, the Father speaks to his After “second omnipotence,” the Son— “second The Father assesses both sides, accurately: “For to themselves I left them, and thou For knowest/Equal in their creation they were formed/Save what sin hath impair’d” formed/Save Sceptre and power, thy giving, I assume And gladlier shall resign when in the end Thou shalt be all in all, and I in thee Forever, and in me all whom thou lovest. The Son and Father engage in mutual glory, reflecting one another… another… The Son tells all the angels to “Stand Still” The and then, in power, he rides through heaven in his chariot heaven The Third Day in Heaven The Heaven is completely restored (783), but Heaven Satan’s legions take one last embattled stand against the Son (790ff) stand “That they may have their wish, to try with That me/In battle which the stronger proves, they all, or I alone against them, Since by strength they measure all…” strength Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen (853) fallen They, all together, cannot match the Son, “Yet half his strength he put not forth, But Yet checked/ His thunder in mid volley, for he meant, /Not to destroy but root them out of heaven…. heaven…. A spacious gap disclosed into the wasteful spacious deep… deep… Heaven ruining from heaven… Raphael’s “secrets” as lessons Raphael’s Discord The deep fall of those too high aspiring Rebellion REMEMBER… Satan “envies now thy state” Is plotting how he can seduce you To make you lose your happiness To What to do with knowledge: What 1. Don’t listen to his temptations 2. Warn “thy weaker” (Eve) 3. Let this example profit you. 4. “Firm they might have stood/Yet fell.” 5. Remember. Fear to transgress. Teaching to the Test: Teaching It’s a different problem set It doesn’t look the same at all The “heroic” dimension of Epic disappears It’s about interpretation, what things really mean… It’s subtle, slippery, ambiguous It’s about the gap that opens when Truth gets redefined… The Test is the Test. ...
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