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Milton's AngelsThe Early-Modern Imagination$
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Joad Raymond

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199560509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560509.001.0001

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‘With the Tongues of Angels’: Angelic Communication

‘With the Tongues of Angels’: Angelic Communication

Chapter:
(p.311) 12 ‘With the Tongues of Angels’: Angelic Communication
Source:
Milton's Angels
Author(s):

Raymond Joad

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199560509.003.0012

This chapter explores the theological views of angelic communication and virtual embodiment. For Milton, the doctrine of the nine angelic orders was popish, and such hierarchy as did exist in Creation was flexible and permeable. Angelic music in Paradise Lost does not resemble the music of the spheres in two ways: first, it is profoundly verbal; these are words that are being sung. Secondly, it is far more creaturely than any account of the celestial harmonies. Milton's angels are substantial, physical beings; they are spirits, but nonetheless material. They have no bodies, and therefore they have no tongues and no ears. The exception is that their matter has a ‘proper’ shape, the angel's ‘own’ shape, and they assume form according to their purposes and will. To speak with the tongue of angels is to speak eloquently without feigning.

Keywords:   angelic communication, angelic music, celestial harmony, angelic doctrine, angel's tongue

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