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Title: 'Fixed fate, free will' : fate, natural law, necessity, providence, and classical epic narrative in Paradise Lost
Author: Allendorf, Kalina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 732X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The present thesis considers the allusive and narrative function of fate and its associated concepts of providence, free will, necessity, and natural law in Paradise Lost. It argues that the narrative function of these concepts is shaped by Milton's allusions to classical epic, and assesses their impact on the Christian theology of the poem. It identifies unnoted allusions to well-known epic models (Homer, Vergil, Lucan), and examines how Lucretius' account of natural laws and post-Vergilian representations of epic aftermath influence Milton's own depiction of transgression and its aftermath in Paradise Lost. Chapter 1 considers Satan and other fallen angels' definition of fate as a materialist alternative for the personal rule of the Father. It traces several allusions to fate in cosmological and ethical settings, in Lucretius, Vergil, Lucan, and Statius, and analyses how these allusions interact with the Hesiodic mythical material in the opening books of Milton's epic. Chapter 2 focuses on a pattern of previously unnoted allusions to Lucretius' De Rerum Natura in the narrative of the Fall, culminating in Book 9. It argues that in his temptation of Eve, Milton's Satan subverts Lucretian teachings about the boundaries governing the physical universe as he persuades Eve to transgress her natural state in Eden. Chapter 3 discusses the appearance of the Father in an allusive epic council scene in Book 3. In the dialogue between Father and Son, I suggest, Milton evokes negotiations between the Homeric and Vergilian deities, depicting his God as surpassing his pagan epic counterparts who can only delay the fate of mortals, but not change them. Chapter 4 suggests that Milton's depiction of the aftermath of the Fall is indebted to post-Vergilian epic narratives of 'aftermath'. The final Books of Paradise Lost and the portrayal of Adam and Eve's moral freedom as they leave paradise, with providence their guide, should be read, I posit, against the backdrop of scenes and imagery from Lucan's Bellum Civile and Statius' Thebaid.
Supervisor: Harrison, Stephen ; Burrow, Colin Sponsor: Clarendon Fund ; Corpus Christi Bowie Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Classicists ; Early Modern Studies ; English Literature ; Lucan--literary criticism ; Milton ; Paradise Lost ; Homer--literary criticism ; Statius--literary criticism ; Lucretius--literary criticism ; Virgil--literary criticism ; Early Modern Materialism ; Fate and Providence in Epic