Analysis Of John Milton 's ' On The Morning Of Christ 's Nativity '
A central theme of John Milton’s ode, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, is the introduction of a new order. The theme captures two essential aspects of Milton’s persona: his love of Greek mythology and his Christian religious beliefs. Old pagan deities are banished and a chaotic war-torn world is silenced by the arrival of the infant Christ. The transition from old to new and Milton’s personal interests are best exemplified by the eighth stanza of the ode where a group of shepherds, unawares, are graced by the presence of the Greek god Pan, a metaphor for Christ.
In this stanza, Milton invites his readers to look beyond the superficial physical attributes of the aforementioned deities and instead focus on the more profound insightful similarities. At a cursory glance, Pan and Christ are two diametrically opposed figures; Pan is the pagan god of lechery and drunkenness, often depicted with an erect phallus, whereas Christ represents virtue and selflessness. Upon further analysis, however, remarkable similarities emerge and Milton’s reasons for selecting this particular metaphor become apparent.
Of the similarities between the two gods, the most striking is that both Pan and Christ symbolize hybrids: each part god, part animal. In Christian theology, Christ, born of a human mother and a godly father assumes a half-god status. Similarly, Pan is outwardly part goat and half-human -- a hybrid. Perhaps it’s for this reason that Milton aptly chooses Pan as a…