صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني




Entered as second-class matter November 18, 1907, at the Post Office, New York, N. Y., under the Act of Congress of March 1, 1879



No. 16


Evidence hitherto ignored indicates that Raphael, the "affable arch-angel", was an Aristotelian, or, more probably, a Neo-Platonist. In the course of his colloquy with Adam, Milton puts into the mouth of this winged Hierarch" a bit of exposition that has received from critics far less attention than it deserves (Paradise Lost 5.469-497):

O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom
All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not depraved from good, created all
Such to perfection; one first matter all,
Endued with various forms, various degrees
Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;
But more refined, more spiritous and pure,
As nearer to him placed or nearer tending
Each in their several active spheres assigned,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

Proportioned to each kind. So from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves
More aery, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odorous breathes: flowers and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,

To intellectual; give both life and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the Soul
Reason receives, and Reason is her being,
Discursive, or Intuitive: Discourse

Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,
Differing but in degree, of kind the same.
Wonder not, then, what God for you saw good

If I refuse not, but convert, as you,

To proper substance. Time may come when Men
With Angels may participate, and find

No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;
And from these corporal nutriments, perhaps,
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit.

The idea here expressed of matter passing from a lower to a higher plane through the successive stages of a spiritual evolution, particularly the idea of the final stages of such an evolution-the complete spiritualization of the human body-was a favorite one with Milton. We find it in Comus, 459-463:

Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,

The unpolluted temple of the mind,

And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal.

We find, also, the converse of the idea-that the soul by self-indulgence may gradually be debased to body (Comus, 463-469):

But when lust

By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.

Still further illustrative of Milton's belief in the possible descent of the spirit to matter is the whole account in Paradise Lost of the progressive degradation of Satana debasement of which Satan is himself fully conscious, as appears in his monologue (9.163 ff.):

O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrained
Into a beast, and, mixed with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspired!
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? Who aspires must down as low
As high he soared, obnoxious, first or last,
To basest things. .

Editorial comment upon these passages has not been illuminative. The older editors of Milton either ignored them altogether, or treated them with scant courtesy. Upon the passage cited above from Paradise Lost, Newton suggests that the whole idea was probably borrowed from the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians. Todd disapproves of the idea expressed:

Our author should have considered things better, for by attributing his own false notions in philosophy to an archangel, he has really lowered the character which he intended to raise. He was much mistaken in his metaphysics. This notion of matter refining into spirit is by no means observing the bounds proportioned to each kind. I suppose he meant it as a comment on the doctrine of a natural body changed into a spiritual body as I Cor. XV., and perhaps borrowed it from some of his systems of divinity.

To dismiss the passage as an echo of St. Paul is absurd, for the chapter instanced from First Corinthians is a discussion of the resurrection, whereas Milton is obviously speaking not of a resurrection but of an evolution. Even less satisfying is the vague reference to some system of divinity. The whole idea is not so much a theological as a philosophical one. That Milton so considered it is evidenced by the Second Brother's comment upon it in Comus, 476 ff.:

How charming is divine Philosophy!

Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,

And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.

Acting upon the hint thus furnished, and seeking in the work of the Greek philosophers the source of Milton's theory, we find it in Aristotle and the later Neo-Platonists. Probably its earliest appearance is in Aristotle's History of Animals. The central thought of Aristotle's natural philosophy was development, or increasing perfection of structure, manifested in a genetic series from the polyps to man. Commenting upon this series, Aristotle speaks as follows (History of Animals, 8.1.2 ff.):

Nature passes so gradually from inanimate to animate things, that, from their continuity, their boundary and the mean between them are indistinct. The race of plants succeeds immediately that of inanimate objects; and these differ from each other in the proportion of life in which they participate; for, compared with other bodies, plants appear to possess life, though, when compared with animals, they appear inanimate. The change from plants to animals, however, is gradual

for a person might question to which of these classes some marine animals belong; for many of them are attached to the rock, and perish as soon as they are separated from it.

From this, and from similar passages in his treatise on physics, it is evident that Aristotle believed in a complete graduation in nature, a progressive development by gradual transitions from the most imperfect to the most perfect. The lowest stage is the inorganic. This passes into the organic, matter being transformed into life. Plants are animate as compared with minerals, and inanimate as compared with animals. They have powers of nourishment and reproduction, but no feeling or sensibility. Then come the plant-animals, such as the sponges. Above these are the animals with sensibility, endowed with desires, and equipped with the faculty of locomotion to fulfil these desires. Finally, we find man as the highest point in one long and continuous ascent, physically superior in his erect position, in his purest and largest blood supply, and mentally supreme in his power to generalize and form abstractions. The various analogies that we find throughout the animal scale prove, Aristotle thought, the essential unity of nature by showing that all animate nature is subject to the same laws.

The practical identity of this belief with Milton's theory is at once apparent. The latter believed that God made matter, and that all matter is radically one, though reascending nearer and nearer its divine origin through a series of forms-inorganic, lower-organic, animal, human, and the angelic. In one respect, however, Milton's idea of the ascending scale is more Platonic than Aristotelian, in that it is more idealistic. Aristotle had considered man as the highest point of nature's progressive development; Milton believes that the gross, material element in man's nature may "by oft converse with heavenly habitants" be "turned by degrees to the soul's essence, till all becomes immortal". The whole idea is so Platonic, or rather so NeoPlatonic, as to lead one to seek its origin in the work of those who represented this-the last phase of Greek philosophy.

Most representative of the Neo-Platonists was Plotinus, who combined into one system whatever he deemed best in the philosophy before his time. The fundamental idea of Neo-Platonism as exemplified in Plotinus's philosophy is the existence of an ideal universe, an 'intelligible world", supra-sensuous, but yet knowable, and even visible to the rapt vision of the seer when he is in a state of ecstasy. This is the Nous, or the divine Mind. It contains the archetype or paradigm of every object of the material order that we know2. The divine Mind impresses its ideas upon matter as with a seal, so that things are living expressions of a divine idea". Like the fourth dimension in mathematics, which we may postulate and even represent in algebraic symbols, the intelligible world is subject in some degree to human investigation.

This intelligible world Plotinus considered as the second of the three essential principles, or 'divine hypostases', as he calls them, which together comprise the existence that transcends appearance. Superior to the intelligible world, its begetter and enlightener, is The Good, the center of the universe, the great First Cause. Subordinate to the intelligible world, and in turn enlightened by it, is the world soul. This animates the material universe, which is thus related to it as the human body is related to the human soul. The world soul and individual human souls are begotten by the creative mind of God, and are therefore equal, except that human souls, being incarnated, are limited and occasionally even debased, for sometimes, on account of the temptations of the flesh, a soul may sink into matter, and become wholly bestial. In such a case it will be reincarnated in an animal or a vegetable body. It is especially in Plotinus's teaching regarding soulculture that we get new light on Milton's conception of the soul's ascent. Plotinus's idea is briefly this: God is not only the ruler, but the enlightener of the universe. Toward him every creature naturally turns, as the sunflower turns toward the sun, in the degree that its nature permits, or, as Milton says,

in bounds

Proportioned to each kind.

Moreover the power of turning toward God, and the length of the ascent toward its highest good measures accurately the character of the particular object in question. This ascent of all creation toward its own highest good Plotinus regards as a natural instinct of love-a turning of the thing begotten to its begetter, a love answering to the love of that which produced it. The soul of the universe possesses universal love, and each individual soul has its own individual love. is, then, the natural impulse of the human soul desiring


Milton appears to have been entirely familiar with this idea. He calls angels "Intellegential substances" (P. L. 5.408) and makes Raphael say to Adam (P. L. 5.575-577)

though what if earth Be but the shadow of Heaven, and things therein Each to other like more than on earth is thought!

Plotinus, Enneades 6.7.8.

Enneades 4.4.13.

its own highest good'. Possessing this love in itself, even though ignorant of its possession, the soul seeks earnestly, longing to attain that highest good, and holds in deserved contempt mere fleshly beauty. The degradation of the soul occurs, Plotinus thought--and here, too, the likeness to Milton's thought will be at once apparent, when the soul becomes corrupted with the contagion of the flesh, or, to use Milton's phrase, Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose The divine property of her first being".

From what has been said, it would appear that Milton combined with Aristotle's idea of a genetic series Plotinus's more idealistic conception of the relation of human souls to the world soul. A closer scrutiny of Plotinus, however, shows that Milton may have found in the Enneades the whole idea of spiritual evolution that he sets forth in Paradise Lost 7.469 ff. Plotinus believed that all nature, both animate and inanimate, was endowed with soul'. Though Milton's belief is somewhat less definitely stated than Plotinus's, it is quite evident that he too believed that the lower animals, and even inanimate things possessed souls. Animals reason, he tells us3:

[blocks in formation]

Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.

whence the soul
Reason receives, and Reason is her being10.
But know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief".

Hence, it is not surprising to find Milton, in his account of creation, repeatedly designating the animals, even the fishes and reptiles, as "living souls"2. Moreover, in the hymn of praise they sing in 7.153 ff., Milton represents Adam and Eve as calling upon inanimate nature-the stars, the elements, earth, water, air, and fire; "mists and exhalations"; the pine trees, "with every plant", exhorting them all to join their voices in the Te Deum whose music is to be the gladness of the world. And, what is most significant, these inanimate things are all addressed as "living souls".

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Plotinus believed that the soul's proper activity, which is love, caused it to aspire to its own highest good13. The degree of the 'good' attainable by any individual soul, Plotinus thought, was limited by the nature of the body that enclosed it, 'for this', he says, referring to the world soul (Ep ws), 'would be that which implants the desires, the soul aspiring according to the nature of each, and each soul begetting a love analogous to its own as far as pertains to its worth and being'.

No less clearly does Milton indicate (P. L. 5.508 ff.) the way that might direct

Our knowledge, and the scale of Nature set
From centre to circumference, whereon,
In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God.

The means of ascent, the "scale" (Latin scala, ladder) by which men rise till their earthly nature puts on immortality, is "love":

Love refines

The thoughts, and heart enlarges-hath his seat
In Reason, and is judicious, is the scale
By which to Heavenly Love thou may'st ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure11;

Milton, no less than Plotinus, recognized that there are differences in souls, some being

As nearer to him placed or nearer tending

Each in their several active spheres assigned,

Till body up to spirit work15.

In other words, the souls of animals and plants are by their very nature farther from their goal, and, also, more limited in their capacity to develop. These, therefore, can ascend only

in bounds Proportioned to each kind16.

or, as Plotinus says, κατὰ φύσιν ἑκάστης.

Though Milton nowhere specifically mentions Aristotle's History of Animals, his numerous references to him, and the fact that Aristotle held so important a place in the Cambridge curriculum in Milton's day, establishes a probability of his acquaintance with it. Milton mentions Aristotle six times in his collected prose writings, and in terms that imply a careful reading of the Greek philosopher. Of these references, five are to Aristotle's political treatises, while the other is to his work on the general principles of natural science. Of the seven Latin Prolusiones Oratoriae, or rhetorical exercises, written by Milton while he was at Cambridge, and included among the Epistolae Familiares of 1674, five contain references to Aristotle. The reference in the third of these essays, which is an attack upon the scholastic philosophy, is most significant as indicating the esteem in which Aristotle was held by the Univer

[blocks in formation]

sity students of Milton's time. Here Aristotle is named as one "who is much delighted in, and who has left almost all these things scientifically and exquisitely written for our learning".

Such an estimate as is implied in this tribute was justified by the position of Aristotle in the curriculum of Cambridge in the early seventeenth century. Grammar, logic, and rhetoric formed what was called the Trivium; and the great authority was Aristotle. Though his supremacy was beginning to be disputed, he still retained his authority as representing the rigid scholastic discipline out of which the University was just beginning to emerge. Of this authority Masson says (1.197):

Not only were his logical treatises and those of his commentators and expositors used as text-books, but the main part of the active intellectual discipline of the students consisted in the incessant practice, on all kinds of metaphysical and moral questions, of that art of dialectical disputation, which, under the name of the Aristotelian method, had been set up by the schoolmen as the means of universal truth.

In view of Milton's own testimony to his acquaintance with much of Aristotle's work, and in view of the position Aristotle is known to have occupied in the intellectual life of Milton's day, the assumption that ' Milton had read Aristotle's History of Animals appears not unwarranted.

Though Milton nowhere specifically mentions Plotinus, he can hardly have failed to know his philosophy. It was popular with the leaders of the Latitudinarian movement of the middle of the century. Burnet, in his History of My Own Times (6.187), speaking of one of the Cambridge divines who headed the movement, says of him:

He was much for liberty of conscience: and being disgusted with the dry systematical way of those times, he studied to raise those that conversed with him to a nobler set of thoughts. In order to this, he set young students much on reading the ancient philosophers, chiefly Plato, Tully, and Plotin.

[ocr errors]

The interest in Plotinus antedates considerably, however, the development of the Latitudinarian movement. Six months before Milton quitted Cambridge, Henry More, the Platonist, as he came to be called, entered Christ's College. He subsequently became a fellow, then a tutor, and finally master of Christ's, residing at the University till his death in 1687. Throughout his life, More seems to have regarded it as his mission to naturalize in modern Christendom the teachings of Oriental and Greek philosophy. In one of his early poems, Psychozoia, or The Life of the Soul, he declares (Canto I, St. 4):

So if what's consonant to Plato's school
(Which well agrees with learned Pythagore,
Egyptian Trismegist, and th' antique roll

Of Chaldee wisdome, all which time hath tore
But Plato and deep Plotin do restore)
Which is my scope, I sing out lustily:
If any twitten me for such strange lore,
And me all blameless brand with infamy,

God purge that man from fault of foul malignity.

To his mission as a demonstrator of the reasonableness of the Christian faith More remained faithful to the end of his life. In every way possible he sought to strengthen faith by applying an antidote to the prevalent scepticism, of French origin, and to the no less prevalent fanaticism, or, as he called it, "enthusiasm", of German origin. Constantly his aim was to reconcile faith and knowledge18. Neither the pagan philosophy of the past, nor the science of his day, he contended, was really, as was commonly supposed, subversive of the Christian faith. Consequently he endorsed the Copernican, as opposed to the Ptolemaic, system, of astronomy, condemning the persecutors of Galileo19; and he cordially accepted the Neo-Platonic philosophy20, and the literature of the Cabala", in so far as he found these consonant with Christianity. By the middle of the seventeenth century, when his Antidote against Atheism appeared (1656), More had already acquired a brilliant reputation both for learning and piety. The extent of his fame warrants the belief that Neo-Platonic idealism and cabalistic mysticism were alike widely disseminated, and renders highly probable the assumption that Milton was among those influenced by these ideas.

That such was indeed the case is rendered the more probable by numerous correspondences in the subjects discussed by More and by Milton. Raphael's reticence, for example, in his reply to Adam's question (P. L. 8. 615 ff.),

Love not the Heavenly Spirits, and how their love
Express they-by looks only, or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?

Raphael's Answer

Let it suffice thee that thou know'st
Us happy, and without Love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars.
Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring, nor restrained conveyance need
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.

is supplemented by More. In his treatise on The Immortality of the Soul (Book 2, Chapter 9, Section 4), More speaks as follows of the employments of the angels:

These sing, and play, and dance together, reaping the lawful pleasures of the very Animal life, in a far higher degree than we are capable of in this World. The sweet motions of the Spirits in the passion of Love can very hardly be commanded off from too near bordering upon the shameful sense of Lust. But in that other state, where the fancy consults with that First Exemplar of Beauty, Intellectual Love and Vertue ., nothing there can be found amiss,

18"For I conceived Christian Religion rational throughout", More says in his Preface to his Collected Works, published in 1662, In the same Preface he tells us he has adopted Cicero's motto, Rationem, quo ea me cunque ducet, sequar.

19In the Psychozoia: or a Platonicall Song of the Soul (1642).
20E. g. in the Immortality of the Soule (1659).
21E. g. in the Conjectura Cabbalistica (1653).

every touch and stroke of motion and Beauty being conveyed from so judicious a power through so delicate and depurate a Medium. Wherefore they cannot but enravish one anothers Souls, while they are mutual Spectators of the perfect pulchritude of one anothers persons and comely carriage. These, and such like Pastimes as these, are part of the Happiness of the Best sort of the Aereal Genii.

Another of the pastimes of the angels, according to More, was disputation.

It may be also a great controversie among them, whether Pythagoras's or Ptolomie's Hypothesis be true concerning the Motion of the Earth23.

This certainly reminds us strongly of Raphael's cautious and rather evasive answer to Adam concerning celestial motions, in which he declares that God has not revealed these secrets even to angels.

the rest

From Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge

His secrets, to be scanned by them who ought
Rather admire. Or, if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabric of the Heavens
Hath left to their disputes-perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide.

Most pertinent to the matter in hand of all the correspondences that might be instanced is More's discussion of a genetic series25, or, to employ Milton's phrase, a "gradual scale" of life26 from what More calls "seminal forms" to "angelical souls". This passage, though too long to quote, is obviously based upon the same sources as Milton's, and by itself furnishes conclusive proof, if not that Milton was acquainted with More's work, at least that Aristotelian27 and NeoPlatonic ideas were the common property of the learned in Milton's day.

The problem of determining with any degree of exactness Milton's debt to the classical influences that formed his mind is difficult and indeed impossible of solution. No quantitative analysis of his epic to determine the exact proportion of each influence in its composition has been made, nor can it ever be made. The effect of Aristotelian and of Neo-Platonic thought upon Milton is, nevertheless, both ascertainable and unmistakable.

Though this influence has been hitherto ignored, it is evident in the speeches of Raphael, who, in addition to his capacities as an arch-angel, seems to have possessed considerable "depth in philosophy". In the philosophy that he puts into the mouth of the "affable arch-angel" Milton's interest may have been stimulated and kept alive by his presumable familiarity with the work of his gifted fellow-collegian Henry More. At all events, it was of long standing, as his earlier poetry conclusively proves.

The particular idea that Raphael expresses has appealed not only to Milton but to later poets also.

[blocks in formation]

Shelley, for example, in his Adonais (379-387) speaks thus of Keats:

He is a portion of the loveliness

Which once he made more lovely: he doth bear
His part, while the one Spirit's plastic Stress

Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling there
All new successions to the forms they wear,
Torturing th' unwilling dross that checks its flight
To its own likeness, as each mass may bear;
And bursting in its beauty and its might

From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light.


A Study of the Cognomina of Soldiers in the Roman Legions. By Lindley Richard Dean. Princeton: The Princeton University Press (1916). Pp. 321. The Princeton University dissertation before us shows a satisfactory mastery of the technical processes of research and an altogether praiseworthy industry; the Alphabetical List alone, which covers 193 pages, is in . itself an extremely laborious undertaking. The general conclusions, however, are somewhat disappointing, a result due no doubt mainly to the fact that, as only a limited amount of time is ordinarily available for writing a dissertation, the collection of so large an amount of material can hardly leave leisure for an exhaustive analysis of the same. After all, military names do not seem to differ very greatly from civil names, and a comprehensive study of general nomenclature will be necessary before valid conclusions for the whole subject can be drawn. The chronological line of approach, whereby the disappearance of names of one type and the introduction of those of another might be traced, would give us a history of style in nomenclature, which, with proper safeguards, might be employed perhaps in giving an approximate date to otherwise indeterminable inscriptions. That has not been attempted here, and would, of course, have been quite impossible with the limitations set for this particular study.

After an Introduction, devoted mainly to a statement of generally known facts about cognomina, the fifty-two most popular cognomina among the 1333 listed (a minimum of twenty occurrences is the criterion of popularity) are discussed. The second chapter takes up the classification of cognomina according to thirtyeight rubrics, such as adjectives of different kinds of signification; nouns, diminutives, praenomina, etc., as cognomina; cognomina ending in -a, -anus, -ianus, etc.; and, finally, cognomina of Arabic, Celtic, Greek, and other national origin. Chapter III treats double cognomina, uncomplimentary cognomina, and the like. Then follow the Bibliography and a long list of abbreviations employed, and, finally, we have the Alphabetical List, which contains some 5700 different entries under more than 1300 cognomina.

The presentation is reasonably clear, but reading has been made not infrequently difficult by the marked

« السابقةمتابعة »