Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So this Milton cat, he any good?

Yes. Yes he is pretty good.

My book club is reading Paradise Lost (we're only up to Book Two) and (as I'm sure is obvious to some) the influence on D&D is stunning. Just about everybody from the Demon and Devil entries in the Monster Manual has appeared.

Not Tiamat, of course, but I think Milton's Portess of Hell has her beat:

". . . [A]t last appear
Hell bounds high reaching to the horrid Roof,
And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass
Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock,
Impenitrible, impal'd with circling fire,
Yet unconsum'd. Before the Gates there sat
On either side a formidable shape;
The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fould
Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide CERBEREAN mouths full loud and rung
A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,
And kennel there, yet there still bark'd and howl'd
Within unseen."

Now, why don't I remember the Hell Hound bit making an appearance in D&D?

She is Sin, and the other "formidible shape" is Death. Maybe you'll get a quote about him some other time. Or you can read it yourself at literature.org.

An idea I got from a footnote in the Norton critical edition were using, about the etymology of adamant--that it literally means 'untameable'--gives me an idea about how weapons forged of this popular metal should behave. Sure, you have an Unbreakable Sword of Legend now--or, wait--does the sword have you?

Well, okay, Ego weapons already have the potential to do that. I always look for something new, but it's hard to find.


Trey said...

'Tis true. Dungeons & Dragons is an unholy stew of Western cultural influences, and is all the cooler for it.

Aaron Nuttall said...


Chris said...

Wait 'til you get to book six (IIRC), the War in Heaven. Cubic angel phalanxes and celestial cannons ho!

John Milton, tying English in knots for the lulz because he is that damn good.

Aaron Nuttall said...

Chris, the War in Heaven sounds . . . I guess I should just call it Miltonian, now that I know how fantastical that is.