The War in Heaven and the Trojan War: Technological Progress as a Product of Evil
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AbstractIn describing the war between Satan and the angels in Heaven, Milton revises Vergil's account of the end of the Trojan War in Book 2 of The Aeneid in order to link Satan with mechanical progression and violence. What intrigues me here is how both epics portray technology as a product of evil, and how Milton's revision modifies Vergil's ideas on the matter. Milton links Satan with mechanization/progress throughout the epic. In perhaps the most straightforward demonstration of this concept, Satan tears up Heaven's ground and uses the materials from underneath to construct cannons. Furthermore, he uses trickery to conceal the weapons until the opportune moment. Satan is characterized as a beacon of progress, with "progress" being linked to deception and destruction. This idea is revisited in books 11 and 12, where original sin enables man to progress in terms of technology and violence; thus, technology is a product of evil created for evil's use. Instead of creating their own weapons of warfare, the angels tear up mountains and trees and use these to their advantage. In a sense, they are doing what Satan did; they're using what has already been made as weapons of warfare. However, the angels use these items in their natural state. Additionally, the angels do not need to rely on trickery and deceit in their attack. Milton explores these concepts in a large-scale revision of book 2 of the Aeneid, particularly the style of fighting that each side in Virgil's sack of Troy displays. For example, the Greeks use advanced technology and trickery (the "Trojan horse") to infiltrate the walls of Troy, much like Satan's use of cannons to gain advantage against the angels in his own war. Also, like Satan, the Greeks are characterized as vicious and morally offensive (Pyrrhus especially). The Trojans, on the other hand, tear up their own city and throw it against the invading Greeks, which links them to Milton's representation of the angels. Moreover, we find that, as the plot progresses, Aeneas steadily moves away from a world of technology and progress towards the natural Italian landscape.
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