This Intellectual Food

August 28th, 2007

Portions of two engravings from the first illustrated edition of Milton‘s Paradise Lost, 1688: the first by P. P. Bouche; the second by Michael Burghers.

Satan whispers to Eve

Satan (the whispering toad) tempts Eve in a dream to pluck from the tree of knowledge and so taste (b5, l67-73):

— O fruit divine,
Sweet of thy self, but much more sweet thus cropped,
Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit
For Gods, yet able to make gods of men:
And why not gods of men, since good, the more
Communicated, more abundant grows,
The author not impaired, but honoured more?

Satan tempts Eve

Whereupon Adam consoles Eve (bv, l100-113):

— But know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties that serve
Reason as chief; among these fancy next
Her office holds; of all external things,
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, airy shapes,
Which reason joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell when nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimic fancy wakes
To imitate her; but misjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams,
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.

One Response to “This Intellectual Food”

  1. Mirco Says:

    Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”.

    Milton’s Satan is quite a character: he wanted us to eat the fruit of the tree of DUALITY (Etz Tov va Ra), but he did not mention the OTHER tree (Etz Haim)…

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