chapter  4
24 Pages

“Goddess Humane”: Eve as Venus, Queen of the Graces

Milton’s attitude to beauty is fruitfully complex, acknowledging both its autonomous power and its divine provenance, its capacity to mislead as well as to draw the admirer to its creator. Milton’s Eve incarnates this ambiguous power. In presenting Eve’s beauty, Milton accordingly shifts her mythic identification: springtime and the flowers that cluster around Eve through her alignment with Flora and Proserpina are subsumed within a more exalted configuration as, with a further adjustment of focus, she assumes the role of the graceful goddess of beauty and love, Venus herself.1