Milton's Aevum: The Time Structure of Grace in Paradise Lost

Ayelet Langer


Milton's Aevum suggests that in Paradise Lost Milton discloses a part of the way prevenient grace operates in humankind by deploying an inner, secondary time structure. Running parallel to the explicit narrative of the Fall, this implicit chronicle of regeneration paradoxically intertwines two contrasting durations, one finite the other infinite, in this way applying the scholastic concept of the aevum. Translated from the Greek term aion and, possibly, associated with the Hebrew word olam, the concept of the aevum was used in the thirteenth-century as a tertium quid between eternity and time to describe the domain in which angels exist. The aevum is a formulation, or a kind of logic, that builds durations of the divine and the human into the same structure. In Milton's case the aevum thus fits neatly into the framework of an Arminian doctrine of grace in which regeneration is seen as a cooperation of God's grace and human free will.


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