September 17, 2019

WE ARE FALLEN, ALL, THANKFULLY:

Secret Message Discovered in Milton's Epic 'Paradise Lost' (Stephanie Pappas, 9/16/19,  Live Science)

The hidden message is an acrostic, meaning a missive spelled out by the first letters in each line of the poem. It reads "FFAALL" and "FALL" -- an appropriate triple-use of the word "fall," as the poem's subject is the Biblical story of the decline of Satan, as well as the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  [...]

Acrostics aren't unusual in epic poetry. Milton -- who was blind when he authored most of the poem via dictation -- also spells out "SATAN" in Book 9, in a verse describing the serpent who approaches Eve in the Garden of Eden and tempts her to taste fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Milton pulled this technique from other epic poets such as Virgil, who used an acrostic to spell out "MARS" in a verse of "The Aeneid" in which the god of war is poised to act. His method was overlooked for many years, Milton's SATAN acrostic wasn't discovered until 1977. 

The new acrostic was found by Miranda Phaal, a Tufts University senior.

Posted by at September 17, 2019 5:28 PM

  

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