Dan Sandman

28: Paradise Lost by John Milton

In Books, Fiction, Literature, Poetry on 08/07/2016 at 12:00 pm

Paradise Lost

The arch angel Lucifer leads a failed rebellion against God in Heaven.  He is heroically defeated by the good angels including Michael and Gabriel. After being exiled to Hell and renamed Satan (which translates to ‘the enemy’ in Hebrew) he plots revenge with the other fallen angels. It is agreed that Satan should travel alone to Earth where God has created the garden of Eden and given life to all living things. Satan successfully passes the gates of chaos and encircles earth in search of Adam & Eve. At first Satan is beaten back by the good angels that God has sent to protect Eden against the enemy. The good angel Raphael then warns Adam about Satan who is known to be very deceitful. Then Satan overhears Adam and Eve discussing the forbidden Tree of Knowledge which contains the knowledge of Sin and Death. After appearing to Eve in a dream, Satan proceeds to inhabit the body of the Serpent and slyly convinces Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve then goes on to convince Adam to eat from the tree, thus completing the fall of man. Sin and death enter the world but the Son of God remains as a symbol of hope for the future.

The Bible

All of the above plot is based upon parts of the The Bible, in particular the first book Genesis. Like Paradise LostThe Bible is divided into different books which are not necessarily in chronological sequence. Each of these books can be read in or out of sequence as the reader wishes. Before the invention of the codex, each book of The Bible would have been read on scrolls. Any bible that we read is an attempt to neatly frame many different narratives written by many different authors or prophets across an extremely long period of time. The Old Testament informed the Judaic religious context of the New Testament, a sequel which formed the basis for a new religion Christianity. Over the course of history, bibles have inevitably become partisan as different publishers have translated the bible and have sought to impress their own interpretations on the text.

Classical Mythology

John Milton was educated during the European Renaissance and was extremely well read in both Greek and Roman texts, which he was able to read in their original languages. His knowledge of the classics feeds into Paradise Lost, which Milton based upon the epic verse of Ovid, Virgil and to a lesser extent Homer. The ancient myths of the past dealt with great battles, larger than life heroes and many pagan Gods who were neither good nor evil. In the seventeenth century it was the norm for writers in English to base their work on these classical myths. With great skill and education, Milton managed to combine classical and biblical genres to form something which is both beautiful to read and has added to the debates surrounding religion. One way in which Milton differed from many of his contemporaries was in his choice of non-rhyming blank verse. This enabled him to free himself from what he called the ‘bondage’ of a rhyme scheme and align the poem closer to the classical texts of which he admired and respected.

I am currently studying for an MA in English.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

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  1. I own the same copy!

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