Thursday, June 07, 2018

Aspiration, Aspersion, Asp

Here's the main rebel angel, but he seems also meant for more than mere rebellion, given his grand title "Lucifer," the Light-Bearer:
(Isaiah 14:12) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (13) For thou hast said in thine heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
The asp aspires higher than mere serpent or mere snake, and moreover, the asp is venomous. Henceforth is that old serpent, Satan, to be called by us an asp as well as the more familiar "Satan," which means, "The Adversary," and is thus another aspersion cast upon him! Consider these lines from Milton's Paradise Lost 4.835-837:
Think not, revolted spirit, thy shape the same,
Or undiminished brightness, to be known
As when thou stood'st in heaven upright and pure.
Such is his transformed aspect (though the word is not used), from the Latin term "aspicere," meaning "to look at."

None of these speculations is scholarly, merely pre-scholarly rambling . . .



At 1:53 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

How does one read the "revolted" in the phrase "revolted spirit"? I assume we're not to understand "revolted" in the modern sense of "disgusted" or "repelled," but where does that leave us? "Revolted" in the literal sense of "one who has revolted/rebelled"?

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The term certainly means at least that Satan is the spirit who has revolted. Fowler remains silent on the point, but I would be unsurprised to learn that the term "revolted" puns on the other meaning, "disgusted" in some sense or other.

Jeffery Hodges

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