Professor Joshua Scodel on Milton and Classical Traditions of Care
James Berry, "John Milton Composing Paradise Lost" (1809) (fragment). Source: www.nationalgalleries.org
On November 12, Joshua Scodel, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, will speak on
"Paradise Lost and Classical Traditions of Care"
This talk will examine “care” and “secure” as related keywords in Paradise Lost that vitally shape Milton’s depiction of Edenic life and its loss. “Care” has resonances ranging from negative “sorrow, anxiety” to positive “caution, heedfulness,” while “secure” can mean blessedly “carefree” or recklessly “careless.” With revisionary neoclassicism Milton engages with analogous terms and concepts in ancient epic and classical thought. In Edenic Adam’s turn from cosmic speculation to daily life, Milton reconceives a classical and Renaissance humanism contrast between anxious cares for the faraway and salutary care for the near; in Adam and Eve’s argument whether to separate that precedes their fall, Milton radically revises classical epics’ gendered treatments of cares; while in his depiction of Edenic sleep, Milton reimagines the classical epic topos of sleeping guards in order to dramatize the vexed relationship between divine care and human “security.”