Thursday, June 26, 2014

beget = exalt, crown

This day I have begot whom I declare
My onely Son. . . .

     John Milton, Paradise lost V, ll. 603-604.  According to Nigel Smith, who follows John Leonard in Faithful labourers:  a reception history of Paradise Lost, 1667-1970 (Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 499, it was Herbert Grierson who in 1926 (in a review of Denis Saurat's Milton:  man and thinker (1925)) proved that "begot" here means "exalted" (on p. 393 Leonard says "made him a king").  Yet "To this day, . . . the metaphorical definition of 'begot' remains unregistered in the Oxford English Dictionary" (Nigel Smith, "Other worlds:  space, time and happiness:  some critical questions from 300 years of reading 'Paradise Lost,'" Times literary supplement no. 5799 (May 23, 2014):  3 (3-4)).

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