Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Inside Paradise LostReading the Designs of Milton's Epic$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

David Quint

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161914

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161914.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Fear of Falling: Icarus, Phaethon, and Lucretius

Fear of Falling: Icarus, Phaethon, and Lucretius

(p.63) 3 Fear of Falling: Icarus, Phaethon, and Lucretius
Inside Paradise Lost

David Quint

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how—through a complicated chain of intermediary texts—the depiction of Satan's fall through Chaos in book 2, which invokes the myth of Icarus, and the Son's successful ride in the paternal chariot of God at the end of the War in Heaven in book 6, which rewrites the story of Phaethon, both trace back to the De rerum natura of Lucretius. They counter the Roman poet's depiction of an Epicurean cosmos ordered by chance and in a constant state of falling through an infinite void—the “vast vacuity” of Chaos. The myths of these highfliers who fall are further countered in Paradise Lost by the motif of poetic flight. The shaping power of poetry itself and the epic high style counteract the specter of a universe without bound and dimension, or of the shapelessness of Death; poetry raises the poet over his fallen condition.

Keywords:   Satan, Chaos, Icarus, War in Heaven, Phaethon, De rerum natura, Lucretius, Epicurean cosmos, poetic flight, poetry

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.