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Neither Salmasius nor Milton, moreover, would have had the least difficulty in obtaining access to the work in other than Hebrew form, for as early as 1541 a partial Latin translation appeared at Basle. Another portion was translated into English by Peter Morwyng (London, 1558), and there was a more complete French translation from the Latin (Paris, 1609), so that it was readily accessible, even to the rank and file of seventeenthcentury readers. Milton's use of the Latin form of the name, rather than the Greek might indicate that he knew it in Latin.
The early portion of the work, which deals with the creation of the world and the early history of the Jews, has been admirably arranged and translated into English by Gaster, and it is from this translation that such quotations as are used in this discussion will be made. The particular passage which is of relevance here is as follows:
Forthwith Samael, the angel of Death, descended and looked at every creature, but he could find none as cunning and malignant as the serpent. The serpent then went to Eve, and began to speak of various things, until he broached the tree. 'Is it true,' he said, 'that God commanded you not to eat of any tree in the garden' 'No, He only forbade us the one tree, which stands in the midst of the garden; we are not allowed to eat of its fruit, nor touch it, for on the day that we touch it we shall die.' The serpent then laughed at her, saying, “It is out of jealousy that God has said this for he well knows that if you eat thereof your eyes will be opened, and you will know how to create the world just as he. Indeed, who can believe that for that thou shouldst die? Forsooth, I shall go and pluck some fruit.' The serpent accordingly stood on his feet and shook the tree, so that some of the fruit fell upon the ground; and the tree cried, 'O wicked one, do not touch me!' When Eve saw the serpent touch the tree and not die, she said to herself, that the words of her husband were false. Therefore, on seeing that the fruit was beautiful, she desired it and ate of it. As soon as she had eaten thereof her teeth were set on edge, and she saw the angel of death with drawn sword standing before her. She then said in her heart, 'Woe unto me that I have eaten of this death, for now I will die; and Adam, my husband, who has not eaten of it will live forever, and God will couple him with another
It is better that we die together, for God has created us together even unto death.' So when her husband came she gave him of the fruit to taste.-Gaster, p. 47.
The embellishments of the Biblical narrative in this account are very significant. The first marked difference from Genesis is
when the serpent "began to speak of various things." The Pentateuch mentions no such subtlety. But the Paradise Lost parallel is most striking, not only in sequence, but also in idea. Milton has seized on the conception of a casual and subtle approach to Eve, and expanded it into the gyrations and contortions of the serpent before her, followed by his speeches, which begin with gentle flattery, and end by broaching the subject of the tree.
The second parallel is the suggestion put into the mouth of Satan that God imposed a restriction on the Tree of Knowledge out of jealousy toward his creatures. Compare P. L., IX, 727.
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Or is it envy? Yosippon then has the serpent shake the tree, whereupon the tree cries out. There is nothing said of anyone's touching the tree in Genesis; but the motive is at least suggested in Milton, who makes not the serpent but Eve stretch forth the hand which calls forth a remonstrance from nature. The parallel passages :
The serpent accordingly stood on So saying her rash hand in evil his feet and shook the tree, so that hour some of the fruit fell upon the
Forth reaching to the fruit, she ground; and the tree cried out plucked, she eat. “Oh wicked one, do not touch me." Earth felt the wound, and Nature -Yosippon.
from her seat Sighing thro' all her works, gave
sign of woe That all was lost.
-P. L., IX, 780
The dramatic effect of the incident is undeniably heightened by transferring the action from the fantastical serpent to the human Eve, and Genesis, Yosippon and Milton all get rid of the serpent as soon as they possibly can, in order to deal with the human element contained in the episode of the Fall. Milton has already advanced the action of the actual connection between the serpent and the tree, which Yosippon has dealt with as the "shaking” of the tree by the serpent, by having the serpent tell Eve that he has already eaten of the fruit.
We have as yet said nothing of another outstanding parallel · between Yosippon and Paradise Lost, namely, the soliloquy of
Eve before she touches tree or fruit. Here are the passages from each work arranged in parallel columns: When Eve saw the serpent touch
yet first, the tree and not die, She said to Pausing a while, thus to herself herself, that the words of her hus- she mused: band were false.
(Follows her soliloquy.)
-P. L., IX, 743 ff. It will be noticed that both in arrangement and in development, the two passages are identical; and the idea contained in the
to herself she mused: is not contained in the Biblical account.
The passage which follows is substantially the same as that given by M. Saurat from the Zohar, and the Miltonic parallel is equally close : She (Eve) then said in her heart,
but what if God have seen, “Woe unto me that I have eaten And death ensue? Then shall I be of this death, for now I will die; no more, and Adam, my husband, who has And Adam, wedded to another Eve, not eaten of it will live forever and Shall live with her enjoying, I exGod will couple him with another tinct! -P. L., IX, 826.
It is better that we die together, for God has created us together.”—Yosippon. Obviously either account might have supplied Milton with his materials. But the parallels in Yosippon are, as we have pointed out, more far-reaching than those in the Zohar, comprising not only the jealousy motive, but also the subtlety of the serpent's approach to Eve, the purpose imputed to the Creator in forbidding the fruit, the touching of the tree, with the resultant outcry, the soliloquy of Eve before touching tree or fruit. These similarities, with the certainty on other grounds of Milton's knowledge of Yosippon, entirely dispose of this particular piece of evidence for his use of the Zohar.
Moreover, the most cursory investigation of the attitude of the late Middle Ages, and, indeed, of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries toward Yosippon or the Pseudo-Josephus will reveal that Milton, in his use of the work as a source, is following his customary procedure in dealing with an authority. His procedure was ever the same. First, he went to the Bible; if the material
found there was inadequate, or lacking entirely, he then went to the next best authority, or lacking that, to the next, and so on until he had exhausted all possibilities. In all cases when he was dealing with Hebrew tradition, he went from Scripture to Josephus, and it is only reasonable to suppose that in the particular case with which we are dealing, his next source would be Yosippon, for he himself admitted
si periisset Josephus restaret tantum Josippus tuus.8 The parallels of the passages are so numerous, the process of embodiment so typical, and the certainty of Milton's knowledge of the material so beyond question, that the admission of this Jewish work as a source is almost inevitable. The whole question of Milton's larger indebtedness to this or similar works of rabbinical nature must be reserved for future discussion.
University of Michigan.
8 Mitford, op. cit., VI, 83.
Wer den Dichter will verstehen,
Muss in Dichters Lande gehen-Goethe. This word of congenial understanding, coined by an“ immortal” who was himself a poet, if applied to the Old Saxon poet who composed the Heliand, advises those who would understand him to investigate thoroughly the conditions in the old Saxon land at the time this work was written. To this investigation, however, must be brought not only intellect but also a heart full of sympathy with
a those strange conditions of the early Middle Ages, and the fascinating problems connected with the Heliand and the “Kultur" of the early Carolingian empire must be attacked with the weapons of philologists as well as of theologians. One reason why, up to the present time, the veil enveloping the Heliand has been but so slightly lifted, in spite of many earnest attempts, lies in the fact that the period in which this poem originated is one of the most complicated and perplexing epochs in the history of mankind. Then, for the second time, a world empire was wrought in Europe out of the most diverse elements (Allemanians, Bavarians, Swabians, Franks, Saxons, Langobardians, Italians, even Spaniards in the south-west and Slavs in the north-east) by the genius and energy of Karl the Great, in which empire the Roman Church succeeded in subduing and extinguishing the remnants of ancient heathendom. Such a clash and amalgamation of peoples and religions we find hardly anywhere else in history. And that makes a study of this period fascinating, but the understanding of it exceedingly difficult, even almost impossible for children of our present civilization, so entirely different in every respect. Look, for example, at the most prominent figures of that time: Karl the Great, with his utter disregard of convention, his four wives and more “Nebenfrauen" by whom he had at least seventeen children; Louis the Pious, “Le Debonnaire,” born 778, with his dominating, versatile and brilliant consort Judith, a woman worthy to be made the heroine of a tragedy by a master dramatist (cf. Wildenbruch's attempt in his tragedy,