Tribute to John Milton

MPLBest known for the epic poems “Paradise Lost” and “Paradise Regained”, the English poet & polemicist, John Milton was born on Bread Street, London, on 9th December 1608. He was a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell. He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, Milton’s poetry and prose reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day. Writing in English, Latin, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica, (written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship) is among history’s most influential and impassioned defenses of free speech and freedom of the press.

During Milton’s life their were many major historical and political divisions in Stuart Britain. Under the increasingly personal rule of Charles I and its breakdown in constitutional confusion and war, Milton studied, travelled, wrote poetry mostly for private circulation, and launched a career as pamphleteer and publicist. Under the Commonwealth of England, the shift in accepted attitudes in government placed him in public office, and he even acted as an official spokesman in certain of his publications. Milton’s views developed from his very extensive reading, as well as travel and experience, from his student days of the 1620s to the English Revolution. Very early on, though, he was championed by Whigs, and decried by Tories: with the regicide Edmund Ludlow he was claimed as an early Whig, while the High Tory Anglican minister Luke Milbourne lumped Milton in with other “Agents of Darkness” such as John Knox, George Buchanan, Richard Baxter, Algernon Sidney and John Locke.

The Restoration of 1660 deprived Milton, of his public platform, but this period saw him complete most of his major works of poetry.including Paradise Lost, and once this was published, Milton’s stature as epic poet was immediately recognised. He cast a formidable shadow over English poetry in the 18th and 19th centuries; he was often judged equal or superior to all other English poets, including Shakespeare. By the time of his death in 1674, Milton was impoverished and on the margins of English intellectual life, yet famous throughout Europe and unrepentant for his political choices.William Hayley’s 1796 biography called him the “greatest English author”, and he remains generally regarded “as one of the preeminent writers in the English language”; though critical reception has oscillated in the centuries since his death (often on account of his republicanism). Samuel Johnson praised Paradise Lost as “a poem which…with respect to design may claim the first place, and with respect to performance, the second, among the productions of the human mind,” though Johnson (a Tory and recipient of royal patronage) described Milton’s politics as those of an “acrimonious and surly republican”. Milton sadly passed away 8 November 1674 (aged 65) Bunhill, London, England and is buried in St Giles-without-Cripplegate.

PARADISE LOST

Milton’s epic poem is separated into twelve “books” or sections, and the length of each book varies greatly (the longest being Book IX, with 1,189 lines, and the shortest Book VII, having 640). The Arguments at the head of each book were added in subsequent imprints of the first edition. Originally published in ten books, in 1674 a fully “Revised and Augmented” edition with a new division into twelve books was issued. This is the edition that is generally used today.The poem follows the epic tradition of starting in medias res (Latin for in the midst of things), the background story being recounted later.Milton’s story has two narrative arcs: one being that of Satan (Lucifer) and the other being that of Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or (as it is also called in the poem), Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub. Belial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to poison the newly-created Earth and God’s new and most favoured creation, Mankind.

He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. After an arduous traverse of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God’s new material World, and later the Garden of Eden.At one point in the story, an Angelic War over Heaven is recounted. Satan’s rebellion follows the epic convention of large-scale warfare. The battles between the faithful angels and Satan’s forces take place over three days. The final battle involves the Son of God single-handedly defeating the entire legion of angelic rebels and banishing them from Heaven. Following the purging of Heaven, God creates the World, culminating in his creation of Adam and Eve. While God gave Adam and Eve total freedom and power to rule over all creation, He gave them one explicit command: not to eat from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death.

The story of Adam and Eve’s temptation and fall is a fundamentally different, new kind of epic: a domestic one. Adam and Eve are presented for the first time in Christian literature as having a full relationship while still being without sin. They have passions and distinct personalities. Satan, disguised in the form of a serpent, successfully tempts Eve to eat from the Tree by preying on her vanity and tricking her with rhetoric. Adam, learning that Eve has sinned, knowingly commits the same sin. He declares to Eve that since she was made from his flesh, they are bound to one another so that if she dies, he must also die. In this manner, Milton portrays Adam as a heroic figure, but also as a greater sinner than Eve, as he is aware that what he is doing is wrong.

A fter eating the fruit, Adam and Eve have lustful sex, and at first, Adam is convinced that Eve was right in thinking that eating the fruit would be beneficial. However, they soon fall asleep and have terrible nightmares, and after they awake, they experience guilt and shame for the first time. Realizing that they have committed a terrible act against God, they engage in mutual recrimination. Eve’s pleas to Adam reconcile them somewhat. Her encouragement enables Adam and Eve both to approach God, to “bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee”, and to receive grace from God. Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden, and Michael says that Adam may find “a paradise within thee, happier far”.

Tribute to sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS FRAS

Writer, Amateur Astronomer and Television personality Sir Patrick Moore CBE, FRS, FRAS, sadly passed away on 9th December 2012 aged 89. Born 4 March 1923, in Pinner, Middlesex, on March 4 1923, he was the son of Captain Charles Caldwell-Moore, MC. Later the family moved to Sussex, where Patrick was to live for the rest of his life. H e was educated at home owing to ill health, and wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 13 — his chosen subject was the features in a lunar crater he had seen through a small telescope. At the end of 1941 he joined the RAF to train for aircrew duties during World War II; however his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war. during 1943 left for Canada for training as a navigator. He was commissioned in June 1944 and completed his training at a bomber conversion unit at Lossiemouth in northern Scotland but, due to epilepsy, was declared medically unfit for further flying duties and He  left the Service in 1947.

From 1952 he was a freelance writer until One day in 1957 the BBC broadcast a somewhat sensationalist programme about flying saucers. Producers wanted a counterview by a “thoroughly reactionary and sceptical astronomer who knew some science and could talk”, consequently The Sky at Night was born, and it went on to become  the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter & attracted millions of viewers.  Moore’s  Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television, where he became celebrated for the thunderous fervour with which he would utter the words: “We just don’t know!” to emphasise that our comprehension of the universe is incomplete. The secret of the program’s success lay not only in his tremendous learnedness but also in his gusto and humour & he soon attained a prominent status as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter and did more than anyone, with the possible exception of Arthur C Clarke, to educate the British public about astronomy and space travel.He would also happily appear on chat shows, quiz shows and comedy shows, among them The Goodies; Morecambe and Wise; Blankety Blank, and Have I Got News For You. He even starred in digitised form on the children’s video game show GamesMaster.moore was also a connoisseur of music, and sometimes played a xylophone on television. He also wrote the score for an opera about Theseus and the Minotaur. He was a keen sportsman too – particularly on the cricket pitch, where he proved a demon spin bowler. He also played golf and once at his local course set a club record – of 231, including a 43 on the third hole. Chess was another passion (he often carried with him a pocket chess set) and even dabbled in politics.

In 1982 he wrote a humorous but inflammatory book called Bureaucrats: How to Annoy Them. It advised that imposing a thin layer of candle grease on those parts of a form marked “for official use only” would prevent the recipient from writing anything and probably drive him mad. “Useful when dealing with the Inland Revenue,” said Moore.He was also A keen pipe smoker & was elected Pipeman of the Year in 1983. In addition to his many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party. After his fiancee was killed during World War II, he never married or had children.

Moore was also a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books most of them about astronomy,  As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. In 2002 Moore was appointed honorary vice-president of the Society for the History of Astronomy. He also won a Bafta for his services to television. He also continued to publish books to the end of his life. Recent titles include Patrick Moore on the Moon (2000, new edition 2006); The Data Book of Astronomy (2001); Patrick Moore: the autobiography (2005); Asteroid (with Arthur C Clarke, 2005); Stars of Destiny (2005); Ancient Lights (2008); and Can You Play Cricket on Mars? (2009). This year alone he published Astronomy with a Budget Telescope: An Introduction to Practical Observing; The Sky at Night: Answers to Questions from Across the Universe; Miaow!: Cats really are nicer than people!; and The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age.He was appointed OBE in 1968, CBE in 1988 and knighted in 2001.In 1982 a minor planet was named after him by the International Astronomical Union. He also held the posts of president of the British Astronomical Association and director of the Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland. Yet the Royal Society refused to elect him as a Fellow — one of their number declared that he had committed the ultimate sin of “making science popular”. In 2001, however, he was elected to an honorary Fellowship.

Anti corruption Day

The United Nations’ (UN) International Anti-Corruption Day is observed on December 9th each year and aims to raise public awareness of corruption and what people can do to fight it. It. It has been observed annually since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on 31 October 2003. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is a multileral convention negotiated by members of the United Nations. It is the first global legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. In its 71 Articles divided into 8 Chapters, UNCAC requires that States Parties implement several anti-corruption measures which may affect their laws, institutions and practices. These measures aim at preventing corruption, criminalizing certain conducts, strengthening international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, providing effective legal mechanisms for asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange, and mechanisms for implementation of the Convention, including the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP).The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) promotes the convention and its implementation.