John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 7 (ctd.)

On the fourth day, God creates the sun, moon and stars. First he creates the shell of the sun, and then fills it with light, from which the stars drink like from a fountain and fill themselves up with light. The moon is placed opposite the sun and just reflects its light, says Milton and of course he is right. He also describes Venus as gilding her horns in the Sun’s beams and as the Helpful Footnote tells us, Galileo observed Venus in one of its phases as crescent-shaped, so it seems Milton did pay attention during his meeting with the famous astronomer. The fifth day is the creation of all animals that live in the sea and birds. I really don’t have much to say about it: they are created, they multiply, they move in great swarms. The only tidbit which shows that Milton’s grasp of biology was not as good as astronmy is when he describes the whale drawing in water “at his gills” and spouting it “at his trunk”, which I am pretty sure is not how whales work. But let’s not be too hard on Milton, who had to live his life without Planet Earth and still could beat me easily in so many subjects. (“Trivia Quiz with Milton” is going to be the name of my next show.)

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