Cover photo of Saint George – (1)
Milton in context of his time:
I will begin by putting the author into context of his time, so when I come to talk about the Philosophical problems contained within his text the reader will already be informed of what kind of writer he was, (2) and what kind of life he had. (3) John Milton (1608-1674) was an English poet, among many other things, in the Stuart period (1603-1714) within England. He was well-raised and educated well, never poor nor desperate for any childhood needs. His childhood was filled with a scholastic education from Oxford University and a private education before that, which taught him all of the classic languages such as Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac and later he learned Italian. Because of this classical language education, he crammed his childhood with poetry, mythology and Bible reading in all of the classical languages. He lived in a time of turmoil, where the English language was surging into its classical legacy with William Shakespeare (1564-1616), vying for a heroic poetic legacy that could compare to the Greek poet Homer, the Roman-Latin poet Virgil (70-19BC), and the Tuscan-Italian poet Dante (1265-1321). Milton grew up with a sense that he would be that poet who would make the English language the fourth epic heroic poetic language. He at first planned on writing an English legend in order to firmly place the language within Classical mythology. King Arthur was the idea he played with for years, but because of the Christian impact on Britain and its Protestant domination, he believed that the story of Genesis was more applicable to the English language and the most important Classical text and story of all time. Telling this story in epic poetic style in the English language would secure English and Milton himself as an English epic poem and poet. In this sense John Milton and his poem, Paradise Lost (1667), did exactly what he intended it to do in the creating of a legacy and securing English as an epic and poetic language. (4)
He lived through the English Civil War, when tensions between the Catholic population of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the majority Protestant population of England were at a loggerhead, leaving Protestants and Catholics at each other’s throats in Theological disputes which poured into every facet of social and religious life. Milton himself supported Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) because of his Protestant views. (5) He later worked for Cromwell as the Secretary for Foreign Tongues, where he translated messages from and into Latin for him, while also writing pamphlets and books in order to spin a Protestant narrative. Milton considered the monarch and thus King Charles I (1600-1649) heretical for claiming to be God’s pope on Earth. He believed that only Christ could take such a position and thus had a deep-seated hatred of Catholics and the Pope for this exact reason.
He describes Catholics and those who are within the Catholic clergy in Paradise Lost as:
Who all the scared mysteries of heaven
To their own vile advantages shall turn
Of lucre and ambition, and the truth
With superstitions and traditions taint,
Left only in those written records pure,
Though not but by the Spirit understood.’ (Book XII. 509-514)
An example of Milton’s work for Cromwell occurred when Charles I was executed in order to remove the monarchy from England. A short time after his execution a book was released called Eikon Basilike (1649). This ‘Royal Portrait’ is a book apparently written by Charles I explaining his choices and why he fought the Civil War, which led to a mass of sympathy at the loss of such a virtuous king. In response to this Milton was commissioned by Cromwell to write a point by point refutation to this book called Eikonoklastes (1649), this ‘Breaker of the Icon’ destroyed Charles I’s image in a deconstructive style proving Milton’s ability for propaganda and narrative building.
England after the execution of Charles I became a Republic with Cromwell as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. This essentially made him King without any of the limits which parliament places upon the monarch: ‘[H]e is a man set above all others, and in effect, our king.’ (6) When Cromwell died the English parliament invited Charles II (1630-1685) back to Britain to take his executed father’s (Charles I) throne. Thus, Britain was returned to a monarchy after a brief and failed reign as a Republic. This amount of radical change and smashing of narratives over and over again led Milton into hiding, fearing he would be executed for treason because of his support and work for Cromwell. It was during this time that he wrote Paradise Lost. Within it he uses political rhetoric, Monarchy and a Republic with a dictator for life as his founding basis and essence for Satan.
Milton’s Theological view put forward in his epic poem is often spoken about in demeaning terms as an Orthodox standard Theodicy. It is usually put forward as the standard story of why humans deserve to live in a world full of evil will and natural evil, and why God is able to punish man and Evil because he is sovereign and supreme. This is somewhat untrue, and fails to appreciate what Milton actually writes and tries to do. Because of his concentration on the Genesis story from the Old Testament he is seen as a rigid Orthodox Christian – which leads to a lack of interest in an ever-increasing secular and atheistic society. It is worth making clear that Milton was far more heretical than people allow him to be recognised as. He was an Arian, (7) and although it is never explicitly said within Paradise Lost, he does say so in his manuscript De Doctrina Christiana (1823). Milton died 148 years before it was published after it was found in London’s Old State Paper Office. It was found among many other forms and works of Milton which had been left untouched for years. This document contains his Theological views and why he follows them. It also contains his working tool: by scripture alone. (8) This does place Milton as an Orthodox Literalist – if it isn’t in the scripture, then it is not his belief. However, because of his understanding of scripture he radically comes to different conclusions than Catholics and even most Protestants. (9) Whether or not De Doctrina Christiana was authored by Milton has been put under strict debate, however because of the well documented and well respected attempts (10) (11) (12) to prove it is indeed his, which they do, I’m going to continue my essay as if there is no dispute about him authoring it.
Within this document Milton makes clear his Arianism. Arianism is the Christological concept that asserts that God is sovereign, while Jesus Christ was his begotten Son, but is not God itself. Jesus Christ was begotten in time and is thus not eternal nor has the same primacy of God. (13) The Son is distinct from the Father, thus the Son is subordinate to the Father. This was first put forward by many early Christians, but was made more well-known by Arius (256-336). The name of Arius is that which Arianism gets its name. Within the Council of Nicaea Arianism caused (Arius’) his exile, and then Arianism was classified as Heretical. Milton begins his De Doctrina Christiana with a beautiful statement which shows he has no fear of Orthodoxy or Heresy because so long as it is contained within the scripture it is correct:
‘God is my witness that it is with feelings of universal brotherhood and good will that I make this account public. By so doing I am sharing, and that most willingly, my dearest and best possession with as many people as possible. I hope, then, that all my readers will be sympathetic, and will avoid prejudice and malice, even though they see at once that many of the views I have published are at odds with certain conventional opinions. I implore all friends of truth not to start shouting that the church is being thrown into confusion by free discussion and inquiry. These are allowed in academic circles, and should certainly be denied to no believer. For we are ordered to find out the truth about all things, and the daily increase of the light of truth fills the church much rather with brightness and strength than with confusion. I do not see how anyone should be able or is able to throw the church into confusion by searching after truth, any more than the heathen were thrown into confusion when the gospel was first preached.’ (14)
Milton’s aims in Paradise Lost:
When Milton wrote Paradise Lost he had clear aims for the epic poem. These aims are expressed in the first book. The first aim is expressed when Milton asks his Muse to guide him and his message so he can express his aim within his text as accurately and articulately as possible:
‘O Spirit, that dost prefer,
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou knowst; thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread,
Dovelike satst brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad’st it pregnant: what in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.’ (Book I. 17-26)
This is Milton stating his epic poem will be a Theodicy. That of an explanation of suffering and why evil exists, and how that doesn’t contradict God’s goodness: a defence of God. To explain the goodness of God and to defend him against the accusation of being unjust and evil is his aim. This aim is guided and illuminated by his Muse who since the first moment has been with God. This makes the case that his Muse is a personification of something along the lines of Wisdom or Knowledge. The great argument is that of God’s way, and Milton’s aim is to explain the way of God to man.
So how does Milton plan to justify the way of God to man? By telling the story of the Genesis of man and evil. The story of Adam and Eve, the fall, and Lucifer’s fall into the state of being Satan. He expresses this as so:
‘Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater man
Restore us, regain the blissful seat.’ (Book I. 1-5)
This verse expresses how Milton plans to express and explain God’s way to man: through the tale of man’s first disobedience which brought death upon humankind and Earth, until one greater man (Jesus) restores mankind upon the path to God’s way, and away from man’s fallen nature. Thus, that one greater man will ‘restore’ our throne and ‘blissful seat’ where we understand God’s way, and obey it with full knowledge of why and how.
My aims in this dissertation:
So, while this may be Milton’s aim and way of expressing that aim in his epic poem, my aims in this dissertation are to see how self-consistent and philosophically sound Milton’s attempt conclusively is, and express and expand how it is that he attempts to do this with a meta-narrative and micro-narratives. (15)
Milton’s meta-narrative is that of God’s way, God as Justice, Christ as Mercy and the overall narrative of Genesis as a whole. His micro-narratives on the other hand are the characters which are key mechanisms in explaining God’s way with positive and negative explanations and examples of His way, and going against His way. An example of the meta-narrative is that of the summary and whole of the anti-trinitarian relationship between God and Christ, the concept of free-will and how those relationships and concepts create Milton’s Theodicy within his epic poem as a whole. An example of his micro-narratives is that of the characters of God, Christ, Satan, Adam, Eve, Abdiel, Michael and Raphael, and the actions they perform within the meta-narrative, and how those actions create an over-all narrative which justifies God’s way to man. I will go into each of these micro-narratives in order to build the bigger picture, which will then allow me to explain the meta-narrative.
Milton’s Arianism and his purpose with it:
I will begin with the most important micro-narrative which Milton uses in order to justify the way of God to man. As will be seen later on in this essay, this micro-narrative is the main part and mechanism to Milton’s meta-narrative and entire message.
This main part is Milton’s Arianism. As mentioned before, Arianism is the view that the trinity is heretical because of the lack of mention in the original scripture. Because of this Arianism puts forth that while Christ (referred to as the Son by Milton) is indeed of the same substance of God, while Christ is not God nor shares the same essence. ‘With respect to the Son, Milton’s position in De Doctrina is that he is consubstantial with the Father but not co-essential: he shares the divine substance but has his own essence.’ (16) Thus Christ is a sub-ordinate being, which is under God. God is the only God. This makes the trinity heretical and a form of paganism.
With Arianism the philosophical problem is what and who is Christ, if God is supreme, and Christ is not human, nor God. God is eternal, and thus has no beginning, but if Christ is not God and did not co-exist with Him, then Christ would have to have a beginning. On this Milton and Arius share their Arian opinion: ‘[T]he view that the Son was not eternal, but does not believe that the Son was created ex nihilo, insisting that the son was begotten, not created.’ (17)
From this we can see that Arius and Milton agree that Christ was not created from nothing, he did not come from nothing. Both insist that Christ the Son is begotten, rather than created. What Milton means by this is that what makes a person that person is contained in the parents before the person is created: genetics, and so on. For example, think of Christ as traits that are contained within God, and then brought forward to be contained within a new container which is not God but made of God’s traits. These traits are brought forward to personify themselves as an entity. Thus, Christ was not created, but brought forward, and thus begotten into existence as the things that make Christ already existed through God. Christ the Son is brought forward, not created.
The Son is not created from nothing, but brought forward out of God, in the same way that a child’s traits are brought forward by the parents’ coupling and what traits made up those particular parents. The life of the child is created, but what makes the child that child is begotten and brought forward. Christ is not created as God’s traits cannot be created. Christ is begotten as Christ the Son is a container and personification of selected traits which exist within God, and when Christ the Son is begotten, those traits co-exist with God, but come from God: like that of a child’s traits from the father and mother.
This is what Milton means when he refers to the Son as begotten, not created. ‘The Son was generated in time, and therefore is perpetual but not eternal, in that he had a beginning.’ (18)
From this we can see that Milton considers the Son a begotten son of God, hence the name. Because of this the Son is not merely a created being such as the angels or man. The Son is not God, but the Son is above man and the angels. This is what is meant when the Son is put forward as a sub-ordinate entity to God. Thus, the Catholic view of the Trinity which puts God forward as the triune God is heretical in Milton’s opinion, because it denies God’s sovereignty over the son and thus denies God’s ultimate position in the hierarchy. God is the apex of all apices, in that nothing stands equal to him. Not even Christ the Son.
This point about God being supreme and the Son being a sub-ordinate entity is key to understanding how Milton is attempting to justify God’s way to man through his epic poem. This Arian view can be better demonstrated with a diagram comparing it to the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox version of the Trinity.
The Roman Catholic view of the Trinity is that of the Father, the Son and the Spirit being Triune and equally as authoritative as each other. In this sense the Son is quite literally God in the same sense that God is the Son. God is a triune being: one essence and three personas. They are all equally divine and God, and have no authority over each other. This is the classic Catholic view of the Trinity demonstrated in the triangle diagram.
The Eastern Orthodox view of the Trinity is very similar to the Roman Catholic view, but distinctly and importantly different. God is still triune, but the Father is sovereign over the Son and Spirit. In this sense all authority comes from the Father. Without the Father the Son would have no authority, and thus no divinity. The Father remains supreme within the Trinity, they have equality of substance, not essence. The Father is the authority. This distinction is enough for the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church to form the great Schism of 1054AD. This view is expressed in the Trinity diagram below.
Arianism does not fit into a trinity-based view of God and thus cannot be expressed as a triangle diagram, but more as a simple hierarchy system: that of God at the top, the Son under him, and the Spirit being between the Son and God as it is what links and connects them in substance and essence. God’s and the Son’s substance are identical, but God’s essence is superior to the Son’s. The Son is flawed when compared to God the Father. Arianism has more in common with Eastern Orthodox Theology in the sense that the Father is where all authority comes from, but by denying that God and the Son are co-existent Arianism departs from Eastern Orthodox Theology and relegates itself into Heresy. This is demonstrated in the diagram below.
As can be seen by the third diagram, the Father is sovereign and the only God. This distinction between these three diagrams brings us to the next important step in Milton’s plan to explain God’s way to man through his Arianism. Milton expresses God within his Theology and Paradise Lost as the Father, and thus Justice. The Son is sub-ordinate and thus Mercy and Forgiveness, rather than Justice. Mercy and Forgiveness cannot be Justice because it subverts Perfect Justice, but I will get into that later on. The Spirit connects the two (Father and Son), while the Son remains sub-ordinate to the Father.
How Arianism justifies God:
This hierarchal system is pivotal to how Milton will come to explain God’s way to man and attempt to justify his actions. As said above, the Father is defined as the highest authority by Milton, and thus Justice. While the Son is sub-ordinate and thus a lesser being than God, but was begotten not made. Milton uses these distinctions in order to make God and his theodicy make logical sense.
If God is good, and supreme then God has to be moral. Milton makes God Perfect Justice, by being Perfect Justice God cannot give mercy or forgiveness by virtue of being Perfect Justice. But if God is Perfect Justice how can God forgive or be merciful, and love? Through the Son. The Son is Mercy and Forgiveness because he is flawed, but loving. This makes the Son much like humankind within the poem. The Son can love, forgive and give mercy. While God being supreme and Perfect Justice could of course do so, but never would because it would be immoral and not Perfect Justice – he does those actions through the Son.
This makes Milton’s God look anti-Christian as the God of the poem is not loving in the way that Christ the Son is, and thus makes our hearts harden towards his presentation of God. God cannot forgive, only serve justice and love within the realm of just love. This is where the Arian view can make sense of this. By God being Perfect Justice, the Son’s forgiveness and love of man does not contradict God or his Perfect Justice, thus does not take away from his supremacy and Justice. Thus, this is how Milton is using his anti-trinitarian view to justify God’s Justice without taking away from it, but he also uses this to justify the Son’s Mercy and Forgiveness of man and love towards man. God as Justice and Sovereignty, and the Son as Mercy and Forgiveness, and sub-ordinate to God is how Milton attempts to deal with the apparent contradiction of God’s goodness, and tries to resolve it with the Son’s nature and essence.
A great example of how Milton is attempting to express his Theodicy is by using the example of Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma. The Euthyphro dilemma goes as so:
Is what is good because God says so? Or because it is morally good?
If what is good is good because God says so, it is merely arbitrary and God could say anything is good, and thus would make anything good by the mere commandment that it is. This makes morality based on authority and arbitrariness.
If what is good is good because it is morally good, and thus God is only expressing what is already good, then morality is above God, and thus God must obey it and cannot be sovereign, as something is above him.
As you can see both of these choices are problematic for anyone who wishes to assert God’s moral goodness. Either God is just an authority which labels things good, and morality has no authority itself; or God is below morality and must obey it, which means that God is lower than morality, and thus morality would be God. But that is the solution – morality is God’s nature, and expressing it is his essence.
Milton’s use of Arianism deals with the Euthyphro dilemma in a unique way. For Milton and his God of Paradise Lost, Justice is supreme and the pinnacle of God’s goodness. God would do what is good, because God himself is good. God does not label things good in an arbitrary way, nor does God obey morality as if it is a sovereign entity or Platonic form. God does what is good and is able to express what is good, because goodness is God’s essence.
However, if God is Justice and Sovereign, shouldn’t God also be able to be perfectly merciful and forgiving? If God is Sovereign but not able to be perfectly merciful and forgiving, then God is not Sovereign. This is where Milton’s Arianism comes in. God is able to be perfectly Sovereign through his Perfect Justice. This makes God the absolute authority of the moral sphere and landscape.
The problem here is that this would mean that God is not loving, forgiving and merciful, and thus would not contain all perfected attributes, and thus in common theology would be considered a flawed being and thus immoral. To Milton, God is the entity which contains all potentials for all possible goods, but some will never be expressed because they contradict Perfect Justice, which is the most supreme of all traits. So, God has traits which are not expressed, although they could be if God did so choose, but never would because of his moral perfection.
This would work for a form of Deism, but not for a personal God like that of the Christian faith, which has forgiveness, love and mercy at its core. This is explained by the Son within Arianism. While God is perfectly just and thus supreme, the subordinate entity the Son is able to express forgiveness, love and mercy without contradicting the Father’s Perfect Justice. From this Milton gets to keep his Christian theology of love and forgiveness, without sacrificing or contradicting God’s Perfect Justice.
Through this Arianism Milton is able to justify God’s apparent lack of love, forgiveness and mercy by having it expressed through the subordinate and flawed entity of the Son. The Son is not Perfect Justice, thus the Son is able to forgive, love and show mercy without contradicting his own nature. If God was to forgive, love and show mercy while being Perfect Justice, it would contradict his nature of supreme Justice and would mean that God is creating a moral paradox within his own essence. While the Son being the same substance as the Father, but a different essence means the Son is able to perform actions which the Father would not because of his Perfect Justice.
The Son’s free-choice and God’s cold response:
Milton’s use of Arianism doesn’t stop there. The moral defence of God’s way also has to include free-will. The concept and subject of free-will is complicated, so much so that Milton himself includes an expression of how complicated it is even to those with an Angelic intellect:
‘In his classic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton describes the angels debating how some of them could have sinned of their own free wills given that God had made them intelligent and happy. Why would they have done it? And why were they responsible for their sins rather than God, since God had made them the way they were and had complete foreknowledge of what they would do? While puzzling over such questions even the angels, according to Milton, were “in Endless Mazes lost” (not a comforting thought for us humans).’ (19)
If Angels were ‘in Endless Mazes lost’ when talking of such things, what hope does mankind have? Well, Milton believes that through God and the Son we can understand our responsibility at the very least. When Satan disobeys God, and falls, which leads to the falling of mankind (I’ll concentrate on the fall of Satan and Mankind later on), God and the Son are given their poetic opportunity to express their natures.
When God sees the fallen angel Satan escaping Hell and recognises what will happen with his omniscience, the Son also watches with him. Both know exactly what can happen and what the possibilities are. They both know that Satan’s fall can lead to the fall of man. Man has yet to fall, but God expresses himself as if he already has and puts forward the problem for his Perfect Justice:
‘Die he or justice must; unless for him
Some other able, and as willing, pay
The rigid satisfaction, death for death.
Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love,
Which of you will be mortal, to redeem
Man’s mortal crime, and just the unjust to save,
Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?’ (Book III. 210-216)
God is making himself clear: the (yet to be) fallen man, fallen by his own free-will must fall into death in order to correct his disobedience. God cannot allow man to get away with his disobedience because it would contradict his Perfect Justice. ‘Die he or justice must’, making clear that if man is not punished then justice must die, thus contradicting God’s essence. Justice is death for death, not forgiveness. But God also leaves open a chance for justice not to be served: ‘unless for him/Some other able, and as willing, pay/The rigid satisfaction, death for death.’ God is making himself clear and putting forward that if death is paid for by death, man can be saved from his Perfect Justice in a way that would not contradict that Perfect Justice.
Of course, it is the Son who puts himself forward to save man from this Perfect Justice. This is how the Son becomes Mercy and Forgiveness, and thus becomes the love between God and Man. Through this the Son becomes the vessel and conduit to which man can touch the face of God, and remain within the moral sphere of God. The Son is giving man another path to God, which without the Son would be impossible. After the fall God would have served Perfect Justice by allowing Adam to die for Adam’s sin, and so on. That would mean that humankind would have been wiped from existence for its disobedience. As every sin is paid for by the sinner according to Perfect Justice.
God accepts the Son’s offering of himself for man’s salvation, and because of this many have accused God of being evil:
‘Thinking as I do that the Creator of the World is a very Cruel Being, & being a Worshipper of Christ, I cannot help saying: ‘the Son, O how unlike the Father!’ First God Almighty comes with a Thump on the Head. Then Jesus Christ comes with a balm to heal it.’ (20)
God is seen as that which set up the Fall, and punished those set-ups for falling into this trap. He is often depicted as the schemer with devious plans, which Christ the Son corrects with his goodness. But that goodness comes directly from God, and this depiction of Milton’s God as a schemer fails to look at the nuances contained within the poem. It is a rather shallow criticism, which barely scratches at the surface of Milton’s God.
God’s plan is better summed up by John Carey:
‘God the father accepts the Son’s offer of self-sacrifice, and says that it shows he is ‘By merit more than birth-right Son of God’. He tells the Son, in the presence of the heavenly host, what the future holds. The Son will die to save mankind, then re-ascend to heaven and reign with God the Father. Then will come the Last Judgement, when the Son will judge ‘Bad men and angels’. Hell will be filled with the damned, and after that ‘forever shut’. Meanwhile the earth will burn, and a new heaven and earth will arise from the ashes. Eventually that too will pass, the Son will lay by his ‘regal sceptre’, and ‘God shall be all in all’ (Book 3:341, quoted from I Corinthians 15:28).’ (21)
The Son’s free-choice justified by God’s Justice:
We have to ask ourselves while reading Paradise Lost, how is God morally good when He allows the Son to sacrifice himself for the flawed actions of man? If death is paid for death, and thus justice is served, how is it just to allow another to serve the death which is just only for the one who committed the crime to serve?
This is where free-will really comes into the argument. God is retaining his Perfect Justice by allowing the Son to offer himself through his own free-will. God cannot force the hand of the Son. The Son, by choosing freely the choice to save mankind he is being moral, and God allowing the Son to choose freely is God’s performance of Perfect Justice. To Milton’s God the most just act is allowing free-will and allowing the choices to have consequences. Only because God sees free-will as supreme goodness and thus just, does he allow free-choice to drastically change the situation through the Son.
Douglas Bush expresses this as so:
‘The absolute sovereignty of Milton’s God, then, is not the arbitrary and tyrannous sovereignty of absolute will, it is the sovereignty of right reason and the law of nature, a sovereignty comprehended by the uncorrupted right reason of man and accepted not as servitude but as the condition of true freedom.’ (22)
God’s supreme goodness comes from his Perfect Justice and his unconditional true freedom. The only perfect and good free-will is that which is unconditionally free, from this the Son becomes the mechanism of salvation for mankind. Without the Son, Man would have no salvation.
‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:9-10)
The Son is the gate through which salvation is possible, and because the salvation is affected through the Son and through free-will, it does not contradict the Father’s Perfect Justice and thus moral authority. Gordon Campbell expresses this as Milton would express it: ‘[I]t was the Son rather than the Father who effected salvation, and so the Son is the central figure in the puritan godhead.’ (23)
This is where Milton’s Arianism and the Son being begotten, rather than created is also key. Caroline Moore pins this down perfectly: ‘[I]f Christ is a created being, rather than God Himself, his decision to volunteer on behalf of mankind becomes comparable to human choice.’ (24)
This makes clear why Milton’s Arianism is essential to his Theodicy and defence of God’s way to man. The Son and mankind are begotten/created beings of God, thus their free-will and free-choice is comparable and can be understood by each other, rather unlike that of God’s. This overtly makes the Son humanlike, and mankind Christ-like. This is how the Son becomes the archetype for man to follow and emulate in order to get back upon the path to God and morality.
Because of the Son being a mankind Christ and thus the perfect man, man should emulate his forgiveness, mercy and love because man is fundamentally flawed, and because the Son recognises this in order to create a second way towards God: obedience after the fall. Without the mechanism of salvation man would not be able to maintain his foothold within the moral sphere. Because of the Son, Man is able to regain his foothold and come back to God by choice. As an individual, man must come to God by himself and by faith in God. This is the Son’s salvation path and offering being accepted by God and his Perfect Justice. ‘Eternal salvation, argues Milton, is granted by God only through the faith of the individual.’ (25)
Conclusion of Arianism:
As can be seen by his Arianism, John Milton is not a Trinitarian. This is shown by his separation of God from Christ (The Son) in Book III. His expression of Christ does not differ much from the Logos (Word and Wisdom), except he seems to be suggesting something more than most critics have picked up on. God and Christ are not simply Father and Son, nor simply separate. God’s first creation is Christ: ‘God said, Let there be light: and there was light.’ (Genesis 1:3), and: ‘When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth.’ (Proverbs 8:27). Christ was there from the beginning, not created, but not yet brought forward and begotten. The Old Testament God with the fiery eyes and physical presence is this Christ. The God who walks within the garden of Eden and converses with Adam is this Christ. This simple but effective separation of Christ and God allows Milton to explain why God is omnipotent and ethereal, but yet can be experienced as physical: it is Christ, God’s first creation, God’s Word and Wisdom which is experienced and known. When God states that Adam and Eve will fall because of free-will and Satan’s plan. Christ reveals he already has his mind set on sacrificing himself for man’s sake. Thus, for Milton, Christ is the first Son of God, not Satan, even though Satan was presented first and was unaware of Christ. Christ is also the redeemer of man, the God which walked with man, became man, and also created Earth and Man. (26) Through the Son the Father’s work is known: ‘The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’ (John 5:19), ‘I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.’ (John 5:30), ‘That ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.’ (John 10:38), and:
‘For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.’ (Colossians 1:16-17)
This is how Milton manages to become heretical, and how he uses his Arianism to justify God, and as can be seen from above Milton’s Arianism is pivotal to his justification of God’s way to man. The Arianism and the relationship between the Son and the Father are so important to Milton and his meta-narrative of the Father being the authority and Perfect Justice. Caroline Moore expresses Milton’s expression of this relationship as so:
‘God, in Paradise Lost, never talks to himself. God has, of course, an undoubted advantage: he talks to Christ, the Word who “all his father full expressed”. [VI.670] The long discussions between God and His Son are, on one level, Milton’s image of perfect self-consciousness and true self-knowledge.’ (27)
This relationship is key to the defence of God’s goodness and justification for his punishment of man and allowing the Son’s sacrifice, without contradicting Perfect Justice. Through this Arianism God’s goodness is untouched by the free-will and free-choice of the Son to save mankind. Or as Saint John says: ‘God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.’ (1 John 1:5), or Saint Paul: ‘And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put things under him, that God may be all in all.’ (1 Corinthians 15:28).
Milton’s symbolism and use of motifs:
Now that I have described and put forward Milton’s Arianism and how he uses it, I can talk about the symbolism and use of motifs contained within Paradise Lost, and what this means for the meta-narrative. After this section I will go on to describe the characters and how their actions within the narrative further justify God’s way to man.
Considering that the key of Milton’s argument is his Arianism, and thus the denial of the Trinity, it makes sense for us to move onto the Trinity and its symbolism within the epic poem. As discussed above, Milton considered the Trinity sneaking Paganism into Monotheism, and thus is heretical and wrong (in the moral and philosophical sense).
The Trinity being heretical and thus Satanic is a motif of this poem. For example, in Book I, Satan has gathered his fallen angels in Hell and is about to make a speech in order to address them for the first time since the Fall. But, as he goes to speak, he chokes upon his words three times in a row, and is interrupted by tears:
‘Thrice he assayed, and thrice in spite of scorn,
Tears such as angels weep, burst forth: at last
Words interwove with sighs found out their way.’ (Book I. 619-621)
His remorse is for his followers not losing faith in him, but losing it in God. While God is supreme, Satan is not: hence his remorse for dragging these angels through Hell, literally. This causes him to choke on his words three times before he manages to speak to his horde. It seems that Milton is making Satan choke on his words three times in reference to Peter’s thrice denial of Jesus. (28) What Milton seems to be implying here is that Satan is about to deny God. This trinity of denial is suggesting to the reader that Satan should not be trusted, and his current sorry state of emotional turmoil does not excuse his actions, but justifies God in giving him such a foul state to dwell in. He has made his own Hell:
‘Farewell happy fields
Where joy for ever dwells: hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest hell,
Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
A mind not to be changed by place or time.
The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ (Book I. 249-255)
What Satan means by this is that even in Hell he can reside in Heaven because of his attitude and thinking. He is however, subtly ignoring that his Nihilism may warp reality for himself, but his delusion has nothing to do with the reality of his situation. He is plunging himself into Relativism and Nihilism in order to excuse himself. He can pretend his mind can make Heaven out of Hell all he likes, but the choking of his words and the reality of the flames will always bring his self-imposed illusions to a crash against reality. Also, Milton’s denial of the trinity as blasphemous gives Satan’s thrice cough another meaning: lies, evasion and blasphemy. He is seeking to misguide and thus chokes on his words three times, like the blasphemy of the trinity thrice caught in his throat to display his lack of integrity; just as Peter displayed his thrive blasphemy. This Trinitary blasphemy will come out again in Book II when Satan meets his family: the inversed trinity, showing that Milton considered the Trinity against God, which is one, not three.
It is also worth mentioning that not once in Paradise Lost does Satan refer to God as God. The only mention of God is when Satan refers to angels as gods, so not only does he choke on his words when he wishes to speak Satanic thoughts, he also fails to call God what he is, but doesn’t fail to refer to angels as gods of themselves. This will be discussed in more detail when I move onto the character of Satan.
Another use of the Trinity as Satanic is that of Satan, Death and Sin. Milton uses Death and Sin as personified concepts, and thus concepts manifest as archetypes. John Carey goes into a lot of detail to try and explain these characters, which I will leave in the footnote. (29)
From the use of Satan, Sin and Death we can again see a Satanic Trinity. Satan is the Godhead of a morally disgusting relationship between Death and Sin. His daughter Sin fell out of his cranium as he first conceived of revolting against God, and thus Truth. By revolting and dwelling in heresy he made incestuous love to her, and she gave birth to their son Death. She was then raped by Death, her son, and gave birth to hell-hounds. This is Milton showing the inverted Trinity and how Satan and Christ differ. Christ is the Son of God and follows the Truth of God. While Satan places himself on the throne of Godhood, and thus gave birth and made love to his daughter Sin, which gave birth to Death and the products of Sin. Satan, by misunderstanding Christ and God has emulated a Trinity which doesn’t exist, and thus created an Evil Trinity of Apostasy (Satan). Moving away from Truth and denying it exists (Sin), and corrupting material into destroying itself (Death).
‘[T]he allegory of Sin and Death in Book II contributes to a long tradition of Satanic trinities…through its savage parody of the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit…in which the incestuous sexual union of Satan, and his daughter Sin leads to the birth of Death.’ (30)
As can be seen by this, the Trinity is the denial of Truth, and Satan is the Father of Sin, Death and Lies.
‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ (John 8:44).
Moving on from the Trinity. The symbol of the snake is also of interest, which is used by Milton when Satan tempts Eve to commit Sin against God. The use of the Snake is not merely a repeat of the Genesis story, but also hitting upon the symbolism of the Snake which has been passed down by our Evolutionary behaviour: ‘[T]he serpent has been widely regarded both as an agent of death (because of its venom) and as an agent of transformation and rebirth (because it could shed its skin).’ (31)
The use of the serpent is overtly a use of human biology, and our natural fear, but also interest in the predators of our ancestors. (32) Snakes are often found in trees, it is no surprise that Satan uses the body of a serpent to tempt Eve into consuming poison, rather than delivering it himself, like a snake. He tricks Eve into consuming it by her own free-will and confusion. In Christian art we often see the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus away from a snake, while the back of her heel is stuck on the back of its head, while she pulls at its tail to keep it tame. (33) This, in relation to evolutionary psychology, is the method which humans keep snakes at bay, and thus protect their children. Not only is she protecting the child, and thus fulfilling the archetype of the mother, she is also preventing the corruption of the child metaphorically by keeping the Sin-bringer at bay and not allowing the baby to stare at it, thus avoiding the risk of being poisoned or renewed. Only when the child grows up can it stare, and be transformed and reborn, rather than poisoned and killed. The baby is not ready to face the chaos of the Serpent, it doesn’t have the know-how, knowledge and power to hold the stare and avoid poison. Along the same lines, we have art and stories of Jesus performing the same heel-method on Satan in the Dessert when he comes to tempt him. Jesus is now grown up, powerful and knowledgeable enough to take on the Snake without being poisoned. What happens instead is that Jesus is transformed and renewed into his true form and purpose. From this he moves onto his divine goal of Martyrdom as was foretold: ‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.’ (Genesis 3:15)
The fruit of temptation, alongside the snake, is not an arbitrary choice for Milton, nor just a repeating of the Genesis story. Milton uses the fruit as a symbol for nature and knowledge. Not only is the fruit a literal object, it is also representative of the natural world, and Adam and Eve’s natural connection to everything. This natural connection cannot be separated before the fall. Nature and Man are one. As Man thinks, or digests, so does Nature. When Adam recounts his first memories to the angel Raphael he makes it clear how Man and Nature are one:
‘About me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams, by these
Creatures that lived, and moved, and walked, or flew,
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled
With fragrance and with joy my heart o’erflowed.’ (Book VIII. 261-266)
Nature is Joy, and Man is one with Nature:
‘What the subtle merging of meanings shows is that Adam is at one with nature. He does not, or cannot, or does not care to distinguish between what is happening in nature and what is happening in his own heart. The same phrase does for both. The meanings slide into each other, and it is a mark of Adam’s unfallen state that nature and his heart are one.’ (34)
Note also the use of the word ‘lapse’. Lapse is used here to describe the fall of liquid in its beautiful and natural state. While later, lapse will come to mean the Fall of Man. After the Fall of Man, mankind is not one with nature, but pitted against it:
‘Beast now with beast gan war, and fowl with fowl,
And fish with fish; to graze the herb all leaving,
Devoured each other; nor stood much in awe
Of man, but fled him; or with countenance grim
Glared on him passing: these were from without
The growing miseries, which Adam saw
Already in part, though hid in gloomiest shade.’ (Book X. 710-716)
As can be seen from this verse, when Mankind falls, it also becomes the predator and prey of the animal kingdom and nature. The Fall of Man is not simply the dethroning of mankind’s virtuous apex position over nature as benevolent ruler, but it is also the fall of all animals and Nature. When Adam eats the fruit the ‘Earth felt the wound; and nature from her seat/Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,/That all was lost.’ (Book IX. 782-784).
After the eating of the fruit Earth’s bowels rumble in chaos, like a body which has consumed an unripe fruit. This is a dual use of symbolism for Milton. The body of nature is upset like a stomach by this fall, but for Adam and Eve their own body are upset by the fruit. The fruit is not an arbitrary symbol of temptation, but another example of an evolutionary symbolism. If one eats unripe fruit it will poison you, but if one eats ripe fruit it will keep life going within you. By eating this fruit death is brought upon man like a poison, like an unripe fruit. But this is where Milton is using a dual symbol: it is not the fruit which is unripe, but Man. By eating this fruit, it is much like a child trying to consume something which the child’s stomach could not possibly keep down. The fruit is the symbol of poison and life, much like the snake is the symbol of poison and rebirth. This is how the symbolism of the Snake and Fruit are so intimately linked, and also how the motif of Man and Nature are intimately linked. This is aptly expressed by Thomas Corn:
”Earth felt the wound’: indeed so. Milton’s depictions of the creation of the world are of a living system intimately, almost humanly, connected with the life of humankind; the fall of Adam and Eve reverberates not only through the generations of their offspring more widely, to the system that supports all species in all places.’ (35)
Although Man and Nature fall together, it is Man through the Son that will rise to the heights of his innocent state once again. Through the Son’s sacrifice God gains a new purpose for Man; by allowing the Fall, and re-ascending of Man, God gains a process of generating an almost unlimited population for heaven:
‘[E]ventually, the human race will inhabit heaven. He [God] could simply make new inhabitants for heaven, but he chooses not to. Instead, he establishes the process by which, ‘out of one man’ (and one woman), an innumerable population will be generated, and he sets in train the process of world history, stretching from 4004 BC, or thereabouts, to the millennium. Process is the key.’ (36)
The intimate link between Man and Nature becomes yet another part of the Son’s plan to regain Man’s foothold in the moral sphere and God’s plan to inhabit heaven with his sons (Christ and Man). (37)
Another symbol used by Milton is the toad. In Book IV, Satan is found whispering into the ear of Eve while she sleeps. He is disguised in the form of a toad. The toad as a symbol is connected to that of the frog. The toad is usually used to symbolise something queer/amiss, such as magic or witches, including ugliness of warts, spells, and alchemy. However, the frog is a symbol of transformation and external change such as the plague of frogs which signals the end of slavery for Moses and his people (Exodus 8: 1-15). In folktales such as the Princess and the Frog, the frog is actually a prince who has been changed into a frog. He is willing to dip himself into chaos to give order to the princess, for which she rewards him with a kiss. Which makes him a prince yet again. The frog is a hero who brings order from chaos, while the toad is the anti-hero who brings chaos from order. Just like the snake, the toad is not used for arbitrary reasons, but because of the long line of symbolism contained within our history.
The archetypes of the hostile brothers:
This leads me to the most important set of archetypes contained in Paradise Lost, the hostile brothers. These brothers do not have to be literal brothers, but in the case of Satan and Christ, they are both Sons of God and thus can be considered literal brothers. Lucifer (Satan before the Fall) is the first angel created, and thus the first son. While Christ is the begotten Son of God, brought forward to rule as a separate essence, so Christ is the first Son.
The warring or hostile brothers archetype is most well known as the Cain and Abel story (Genesis 4:1-26). One is benevolent and creates order from chaos, while one is malevolent and creates chaos out of order, or turns order into totalitarianism, which is malevolent in its orderliness.
Jordan B. Peterson puts forward the archetype of the Hero like so:
‘One of these “hostile brothers” or “eternal sons of Gods” is the mythological hero. He faces the unknown with the presumption of its benevolence – with the (unprovable) attitude that confrontation with the unknown will bring renewal and redemption. He enter[s], voluntarily, into creative “union with the Great Mother,” builds or regenerates society, and brings peace to a warring world.’ (38)
From this we can see that the archetype of Hero, which is Christ the Son in Paradise Lost, whom is benevolent, and expects benevolence from everyone and anything, including chaos. He is one with nature and works with and within it, and brings peace to chaos, order and warring natures (like that of the war between chaos and order). The most important thing about Christ the Son is his assumption that meeting Evil head-on will bring positive change, and thus benevolent order, rather than malevolent chaos, or malevolent order (totalitarian or authoritarian). (39)
Jordan B. Peterson then puts forward the archetype of the Adversary:
‘The other “son of God” is the eternal adversary. This “spirit of unbridled rationality,” horrified by his limited apprehension of the conditions of existence, shrinks from contact with everything he does not understand. This shrinking weakens his personality, no longer nourished by the “water of life,” and makes him rigid and authoritarian, as he clings desperately to the familiar, “rational,” and stable. Every deceitful retreat increases his fear; every new “protective law” increases his frustration, boredom and contempt for life. His weakness, in combination with his neurotic suffering, engenders resentment and hatred for existence itself.’ (40)
From this we can see that the archetype of the Adversary is rational to the point of neuroticism, and this makes the Adversary into an ideologue. He is uncompromising in his rationality, but dogmatic with his lack of scepticism of his own rationality. (41) By this I mean that the Adversary thinks that he knows all that is to be known, and will not, and cannot consider the fact that there may be more to learn, especially by confronting chaos and turning it to order. An interesting point to note is also the use of the term Adversary. ‘Satan’ is the Hebrew word which means The Adversary. Satan is the personification of the malevolent hostile brother.
These two archetypes are worked throughout the poem because of the importance of these archetypes in relation to the Father. In Book II Satan is presented with Chaos (42) as he is leaving Hell: ‘Beyond lies a vast emptiness called Chaos. This is what remains of the raw material that God used to create heaven, earth and hell. Satan pauses on the edge of this void before attempting to fly through it.’ (43)
When presented with this void he does not fear it, instead he plunges into it. But this causes him to fall endlessly, he begins to panic and realises that there is more to learn, and places which cannot be grasped by his rationality. Milton then has Chaos and Night (the two disorder bringers) ask Satan what he wants. He promises them that he will bring chaos and night to the entire universe, which pleases Chaos and Night, thus they release him from their grasp and give him directions out of void, and how to get to Earth. There are more malevolent things in the universe than just the Adversary, but he is the one which can spread malevolence. Just as the Son is not the only benevolent being, but he is the one who can perpetuate it like no other.
‘[T]he Son, with his angelic entourage, left heaven’s gate. Outside he confronted chaos (‘dark, wasteful, wild’). But it grew quiet at his command, and with ‘golden compasses’ (from Proverbs 8:27) he drew the circumference of the universe.’ (44)
Conclusion of Symbolism and Motifs:
While these symbols and motifs are used, the most important one is that of the Adversary and Benevolent Hero: Satan and Christ the Son. These two archetypes and the characters which portray them manifest both the turning away from and the way of God, which is, in itself also a representation of turning away from or toward the Truth.
Then God asks the heavens who will save mankind from its fall: the same ploy as Beelzebub’s speech which gives Satan his chance to be the Hero of Hell. The difference is that Christ will save, and Satan will condemn. This is Milton’s ways of showing the difference between Good and Evil. The difference is not so much that of tactics, as God and Beelzebub have used the same ploy. The key of Good and Evil is intention and the effects, the consequences. (45) (46)
The characters of Paradise Lost – Satan:
The difference between Good and Evil is best explained with the character of Satan as one of the most highly criticised and misunderstood characters in literature. Reading Paradise Lost for the first time, coming to terms with its content and characters, it is not hard to see why Satan is often cited as the main character and the Hero. The English poet, painter and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) famously said of Milton: ‘The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devils party without knowing it.’ (47)
In the same line of thought, there is almost no end to the writers who echo this thought. (48) Satan is often put forward as a Romantic Hero. Fighting against an Evil tyrant, knowing he has no hope of winning, but fights on for his freedom and individuality. A great example is when Satan, with his devils, states how reigning according to your own will in Hell is better than to be a slave in Heaven:
‘Here at least
We shall be free; the almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice,
To reign is worth ambition, though in hell:
Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.’ (Book I. 258-263)
From such speeches it is easy to see how Satan’s poetic language and expressive romanticism affect the reading of him. But this is part of Milton’s aim with the character of Satan. He wants you to like him, and to identify with him because you’re just like him: fallen. Lucifer (Satan before his fall), was much like the Son; a light bringer, the bringer of order over chaos. The spreader of God’s Truth, and thus Light.
The title of Satan is not his name, but his state of mind and state of being. Satan is not an entity, but a label and title. This is also true of the title and label Lucifer. In the Old Testament it was used as a title for King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, because he had aspired to deify himself and ascend to the height of a god, rather than remaining humble in what he actually was: a king and servant of God. Because of his immoral deeds he was refused the right to be a king among all kings of the world in burial and death. Hence the lines:
‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.
I will ascend above the height of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.’ (Isaiah 14:12-15)
This ‘morning star’ is what Lucifer means.
‘He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed, and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven.’ (Book I. 40-43)
Satan is not merely a fallen being, he is a politician, an inverted Christ, a pseudo-king. (49) All of these states of being and how those states are used is what Satan is, and what any being which becomes Evil falls into. The first hint of his dangerously totalitarian rationality and tactics is in Book I and II, where Satan and his demons create a pseudo-kingdom in Hell, which is a mock inversion of Heaven. Satan’s realm is republican, Satan is the dictator for life, while portraying himself as an equal to all of his followers, rather than the leader. It is a portrayed democracy, while actually being a tyrannical totalitarian system, based on a hierarchy system which Satan puts forward as being over, while still enforcing it:
‘The infernal serpent, consumed with bitter envy, has begun to fade into the proud leader of a Host of Rebel Angels. But what was the aim of the revolt? To set himself in Glory above his Peers. This is not the heroic leader of a band of brothers fighting for liberty and just rights; but a great adventurer, thirsting for personal Dominion and glory.’ (50)
With this ‘bitter envy’ Satan decides that his sole purpose shall be to pervert the way of God, to pervert goodness and thus pervert Truth:
‘To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seeks to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil.’ (Book I. 159-165)
In Book II, Satan stages a debate within his palace: Pandæmonium (all-demon-place). He gathers all of his most trusted, and most powerful devils. The Devil Moloch begins by stating that God deserves open war, and to be removed from his throne. Belial replies with his weak-will to fight, by stating that the angels (now Devils), should ask God for forgiveness and hope for the best:
‘War therefore, open or concealed, alike
My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile
With him, or who deceive his mind, whose eye
Views all things at one view? He from heaven’s height
All these our motions vain see and derides,
Not more almighty to resist our might
Than wise to frustrate all our plots and wiles.
Shall we then live thus vile, the race of heaven
Thus trampled, thus expelled, to suffer here
Chains and these torments? Better these than worse
By my advice; since fate inevitable
Subdues us, and omnipotent decree,
The victor’s will. To suffer, as to do,
Our strength is equal; not the law unjust
That so ordains.’ (Book II. 187-201)
Mammon replies to this by stating that while war would be great, it is a stupid choice because of the power within God’s ‘thunderous rage’ which has already struck one third of the angels down into Hell. He is clear that he doesn’t seek forgiveness, but instead should be happy with Hell, and turning it into Heaven:
‘Suppose he should relent
And publish grace to all, on promise made
Of new subjection; with what eyes could we
Stand in his presence humble, and receive
Strict laws imposed, to celebrate his throne
With warbled hymns, and to his godhead sing
Forced alleluias, while he lordly sits
Our envied sovereign, and his alter breathes
Ambrosial odours and ambrosial flowers,
Our servile offerings? This must be our task
In heaven, this our delight’ how wearisome
Eternity so spent in worship paid
To whom we hate.’ (Book II. 237-249)
Beelzebub puts forward turning God’s new creation (Man) against him as revenge. Satan welcomes this. Little do the angels know this was Satan’s plan all along. The entire speech and debate were a political move to ascend Satan to the status of a romantic hero fighting God’s tyrannical sovereignty:
‘But first, whom shall we send
In search of this new world, whom shall we find
Sufficient? Who shall tempt with wandering feet
The dark unbottomed infinite abyss,
And through the palpable obscure find out
His uncouth way, or spread his airy flight,
Upborne with indefatigable wings
Over the vast abrupt, ere he arrive
The happy Isle; what strength, what art can then
Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe
Through the strict sentries and stations thick
Of angels watching round? Here he had need
All circumspection: and we now no less
Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send
The weight of all and our last hope, relies.’ (Book II. 402-416)
With this, Satan secures his heroic adventure to Earth, and the reader, much like his devils who did not already know this was his plan, are sucked into the narrative of Satan’s plan being a heroic endeavor against tyranny. This is a common misunderstanding. Satan is moving like a political snake towards a false image of heroism. This shows his true power to subvert truth:
But from the author of all ill could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator’ (Book II. 380-385)
Satan knows his adventure is Evil, he knows exactly what he is doing and denying. ‘Satan does not conceive his purpose to be excellent. He knows that it is evil. His purpose is to destroy the innocent in order to spite God.’ (51)
An interesting point here is that when Satan was first fallen into Hell, he was chained to the fiery floor and unable to escape. But, God ordained his chains to become loose.
‘Satan, Milton goes on to explain, would have stayed chained on the burning lake for ever if God had not intervened and allowed him to escape. The reader may feel this was remiss of God. But it is a salient feature of the God of Paradise Lost that he allows his creatures free will. So Satan is permitted to carry out his evil intentions. Being all-knowing, God foresees that he will bring about the fall of Adam and Eve. However, as Milton points out, God also foresees that Satan, by escaping, will ‘Heap on himself damnation’, whereas man will be redeemed by God’s ‘Infinite goodness, grace and mercy’. So (at any rate from the point of view of the God of Paradise Lost), everything will be for the best.’ (52)
God, seeing and allowing Satan to escape Hell is enabling a plan to fulfill itself. God justifies Satan’s fall as so:
‘So will fall
He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?
Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.’ (Book III. 96-99)
This is put forward in a way which suggests God is using Satan as a mechanism to save Man from the fall he himself set up for Man. This sets the reader up to fall for the Romantic Hero, and be hard hearted against the hard hearted just, but unforgiving God. This is Milton’s use of Satan as a temptation for the reader.
Milton furthers this point as the poem advances. Satan performs multiple speeches which contradict his heroism, his knowledge of the Truth and his denial of it, and also his contradictory nature. A great example of this is when Satan concludes that because he does not remember being created, angels must have created themselves, and thus be their own God: ‘Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised/By your own quickening power.’ (Book V. 860-861). But he later contradicts himself when delivering a soliloquy about how he cannot admit he is wrong. While accusing God of forcing him by fate to be this way. He says of God: ‘Whom he created what I was.’ (Book IV. 43). Satan, in his seeking of victimhood, admits God is his creator, but only because it would then give Satan the status similar to that of an innocent child.
Satan is all for retaining his excuses, even if this means contradicting himself, because all of his reasoning is ideological. This therefore, leads to inherent contradictions and Nihilism. Another great example of this is when Satan sees Adam and Eve for the first time. What he sees instantaneously changes his internal Hell back into Heaven.
‘Not spirits, yet to heavenly spirits bright
Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them divine resemblance.’ (Book IV. 361-364)
Satan states that he could love Adam and Eve because they have divine resemblance to God, but yet again he contradicts himself as John Carey points out:
‘Satan says he could love the human pair because they look like God. But doesn’t he hate God? Isn’t God his enemy? Does Satan suddenly realise he loves God when he sees the human pair? Or have love and hatred of God furiously contested in him all along? We can’t know. Satan is unfathomable, whereas Paradise Lost’s God, being all-knowing, is as single-minded as a timetable, and cannot experience remorse and self-doubt as Satan does.’ (53)
But after this moment leaves him, he goes back to being the victim of the tyrant, while denying he can do anything about it – which is the denial of God’s unconditional gift: Free-Will. One of the most powerful denials of this is that of the ‘Miserable speech’:
‘Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
O, then, at last relent: Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of Hell.
With diadem and sceptre high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery: Such joy ambition finds.’ (Book IV. 73-92)
Paradise Lost is a book of two falls. Satan does not so much fall, as is continually falling. But Satan’s fall is far less simple: he is not merely falling into sin, but falling out of free-will. With every new act he throws himself further and further out of free-will. Much like an addict, he is losing his ability to refuse, he is falling into compulsion, and away from choice. This is how Satan is deemed radical evil.
‘This unsociable sociality becomes manifest in our tendency to exempt ourselves from the moral law while expecting others to follow it, treating others as means to our ends rather than as ends. And so, in human competitiveness we seek to compare and gain mastery over others, making our own preferences the basis for our governing maxim.’ (54)
Satan denies morality for himself, while judging God by the standards of morality, he is contradicting himself. Satan is defining himself by doing the opposite of God, this doesn’t make God Evil, but Satan reactionary and irrational within his Radical Evil.
For Augustine all was created good, so Evil is merely the privation of good. Milton takes this argument to its logical conclusion with Satan: Satan is not bad because he possesses Evil, he is bad because he has used his free-will to choose compulsion and the privation of goodness. This has led him into the privation of free-will, which is the key between achieving Good and Evil: taking responsibly for one’s own actions. Thus, Satan merely becomes an habitual sinner, with his free-will only working within the framework of privation and choosing to go against goodness by compulsion.
Satan, by freely choosing Evil, is limiting his choices and is thus making himself less and less free to do otherwise. This results in his actions becoming more and more akin to compulsion, rather than free choice. In this sense, Satan is the one destroying his autonomy, rather than God. When Satan first rebels as Lucifer he is merely motivated by indulgence in his pride, as he falls further and further from his morality and autonomy, he falls out of indulgence, and into compulsion. Indulgence by compulsion is not a choice, but a prison with an ever-shrinking wall which crushes in on the entity contained within. With every choice that picks compulsion over choice for indulgence, Satan is crushed into pure-compulsion. Thus, his autonomy is destroyed. He is reborn as a radical-evil entity: he cannot do otherwise than evil. His compulsion is Evil. He can no longer choose Good nor Evil, only be dragged into sin over and over again. Or at least this is how it appears. This narrative secures his victimhood, and his status as a Romantic Hero.
I have mentioned Satan as being Evil many times, but I have not explained what Evil is within the text. Evil is not simply a trait, or a lack of Goodness or God’s way – Evil is the denial that God’s way is Good, and thus a denial of the Truth:
‘The ideologue says: anomaly means dissolution, dissolution means terror – that which frightens is evil: anomaly is evil. It is not the existence of anomalous information that constitutes evil, however – such information rejuvenates, when properly consumed. Evil is the process by which the significance of the anomaly is denied; the process by which meaning itself – truth itself – is rejected.'(55)
Satan is not a victim, but his role as a Romantic Hero relies on this narrative of victimhood. He is a self-victim, a victim to his own denial and flawed rationality. His is the self-fallen Fall of Paradise Lost: ‘Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled.’ (Book VI. 181). Rather than be tempted by another, or falling out of love, Satan falls because he denies Truth. This leads him to Nihilism. He takes pleasure in destruction and rejection.
‘The more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state,
But neither here seek I, no, nor in Heaven,
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven’s Supreme,
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts.’ (Book IX. 119-130)
Satan, in his totalitarian self-moralising and Nihilism, is the one who views all under his own authoritarian lens, and thinks anything that doesn’t conform to his reality is wrong and incorrect. This is the core difference between Christ and Satan – Christ affirms, and brings order to Chaos. While Satan denies, and brings Chaos to order.
‘The devil is the spirit who eternally states, “all that I know is all that there is to be known”; the spirit who falls in love with his own beautiful productions and, in consequence, can no longer see beyond them. The devil is the desire to be right, above all, to be right once and for all and finally, rather than to constantly admit to insufficiency and ignorance, and to therefore partake in the process of creation itself. The devil is the spirit which endlessly denies, because it is afraid, in the final analysis, afraid and weak.’ (56)
Because of Satan’s refusal to simply accept his mistake and repent, he is denying reality and Truth. By doing this he cannot assimilate truth, and change himself like the renewing snake. Instead he drowns in his own poison.
‘The devil is not the uncomfortable fact but the act of shrinking from that fact. The weaknesses, stupidities, laxities and ignorances that ineradicably constitute the individual are not evil in and of themselves. These “insufficiencies” are a necessary consequence of the limitations that make experience possible. It is the act of denying that stupidity exists, once it has manifested itself, that is evil, because stupidity cannot then be overcome.’ (57)
But Satan is not lost, although he protests that he is repeatedly. This grace of God for salvation is shown only once – when Satan is observing Adam and Eve, and forgets himself.
‘That space the evil one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remained
Stupidly good; of enmity disarmed,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge.’ (Book IX. 463-466
Satan forgets his own Evil (denial of Truth). And while he forgets himself, he reverts back to being Good, he lives in reality and is with Truth and God once again. John Carey comments:
‘It is an extraordinary moment – the evillest thing in creation ceases to be evil – and it shows that Satan could still relent. The tragedy need not happen. The mere sight of innocence disarms him and frees him from hatred.’ (58)
This one verse shows that Satan is far from unsavable, except by his own free-will and refusal to accept the Truth and reality of his choices. He is not a chess piece, only by holding onto that view of himself as a chess piece can he retain his victim narrative and justification of his actions against God, and thus Truth.
Earlier I spoke of how the Son is not the only benevolent being, but he is the one who can perpetuate it. Another example of a benevolent being in Paradise Lost is that of Abdiel the angel. When Satan (still Lucifer) learns of Christ’s being brought forward to be the Lord of Heaven, to which all knees must bend, Satan brings his angels together to form an army and rebellion. He offers a speech to the masses which Abdiel interrupts:
‘When among the Seraphim
Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity, and divine commands obeyed,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed:
‘”O argument blasphemous, false, and proud!
Words which no ear ever to hear in Heaven
Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
That to his only Son, by right endued
With regal sceptre, every soul in Heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful King?’ (Book V. 804-818)
Abdiel explicitly confronts Satan among his masses, knowing that Satan is speaking from pride, not truth. Knowing this empowers Abdiel to speak up.
‘So spake the seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example, with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single.’ (Book V. 896-903)
Peer-pressure has failed to work on him, because he has truth behind him. He is the bringer of order to chaos, even when chaos turns on him. He removes himself from this chaotic scene, and later will come to fight Satan’s chaotic army and bring order back to Heaven.
Adam is the masculine archetype of Man, thus the Platonic Ideal. By this I mean that he is Platonically perfect within his idealism and rationality. But this opens him up to his archetypical weakness: experience. (59) He is intellectually perfect, but practically naïve. This is how he falls – he lacks experience from which he can consume and assimilate reality, thus become perfect and practical, as well as analytically perfect. Jesus is both analytically and practically perfect which is why he cannot be tempted, while Adam can be.
Before the fall God warns him that he will be tempted, and if he allows himself to fall there will be no excuse for him, because he was already warned:
‘Tell him withal
His danger, and from whom; what enemy,
Late fallen himself from Heaven, is plotting now
The fall of others from like state of bliss;
By violence, no, for that shall be withstood;
But by deceit and lies: This let him know,
Lest wilfully transgressing, he pretend
Surprisal, unadmonished, unforewarned.
So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfilled
All justice.’ (Book V. 235-245)
This warning is delivered to Adam, by the angel Raphael:
‘But list’n not to his temptations, warn
Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard
By terrible example the reward
Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,
Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress.’ (Book VI. 908-912)
From this it is made clear to Adam that no excuse will be available for him to use, but after the fall, the first reaction he gives is the excuse of being tempted by Eve, ‘From her hand I could suspect no ill.’ (Book X. 140). (60) He fell out of love, not rationality. He did not wish for Eve to fall alone, nor to leave her to die alone. But within this lies his fundamental weakness, ‘Since thy original lapse, true liberty/Is lost.’ (Book XII. 83-84). It is this weakness of Adam which makes him a hero to us as human beings. He is standing with his lover and love, regardless of the wrong action of both of them. He is loyal in his love, which makes him respectable. But, as Milton is trying to point out, any love which takes you away from loving the Truth (God) is not quite worth the respect which loving Truth has. His love and loyal nature towards Eve could be corrupt: ‘Adam never says that he expects his actions to help her; he merely will not take the risk of having to live without her.’ (61)
While Adam is the Platonic archetype, Eve is the Aristotelian archetype. This means that while Eve is not perfect in her rationality, she is a learner and a social-interactor with the world. While Adam is tempted by love and loyalty, Eve is tempted by social standing.
‘She thinks: ‘The reason why all the males keep on saying I mustn’t eat the apple, in this nerve-wracking way, is obviously that they are longing for me to do it; this is the kind of thing they need a queen to have the nerve to do’; so she does it.’ (62)
Eve is given a dream by Satan disguised as a Toad, which gives her the idea that becoming a God in Heaven is her future, if only she ate of the apple.
‘Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve,
Partake thou also; happy though thou art,
Happier thou mayst be, worthier canst not be:
Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods,
Thyself a goddess, not to earth confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
Ascend to heaven, by merit thine, and see
What life the gods live there, and such live thou.’ (Book V. 74-81)
When Eve wakes, Adam offers her comfort and explains how Evil exists even within God without making God Evil:
‘Evil into the mind of god or man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot of blame behind: which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never wilt consent to do.'(Book V. 117-121)
The possibility of Evil, and entertaining the Evil is not the actuality of it:
‘For a moment we may be startled at the idea that evil may come into the Mind of God, but there is no reason for astonishment. Since God is omniscient, He knows all, and all ideas are in His mind. The important thing, says Adam, is that evil, coming into the mind from whatever source, should not be “approved.” We have seen to which—unfortunately for moral men—he “approved” his Sin.’ (63)
After the temptation Eve shows her own respectability – while Adam blames Eve, Eve blames herself only, ‘The serpent me beguiled and I did eat.’ (Book X. 162). Because of this Eve is the one worthier of forgiveness, even though she is the one who is worthier of condemnation. In this, Eve is showing both her human respectability, and weakness. Much like Adam.
Adam and Eve:
Adam and Eve as isolated archetypes are interesting, but incomplete alone – as they are incomplete as human beings without each other. With the fall, Man’s nature needs to undergo a radical change in order to keep each other in check. They both retain some of their unfallen nature, but that nature is easily corrupted, and some of that fallen nature keeps the fall from continuing.
‘Adam, after as before the fall, engages both affectionately and intellectually with Eve. Moreover, Milton, closely echoing Genesis 3: 16(‘he shall rule over thee’), notes that a sterner patriarchy results from the fall, and, like pain in childbirth, constitutes the punishment of Eve and her daughters, distinct from the ideal Edenic relationship he has depicted.’ (64)
This puts forward Man and Woman’s archetypal position in relation to each other: ‘He for God only, she for God in him.’ (Book IV. 299), and ‘God is thy law, thou mine.’ (Book IV. 637). The most essential point with Adam and Eve is that their fall, whether by guile or love, was ordained by free-will:
‘So without least impulse or shadow of Fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, Authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what they choose; for so
I formed them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthral themselves: I else must change
Their nature, and revoke the high Decree
Unchangeable, Eternal, which ordain’d
Their freedom, they themselves ordain’d their fall.’ (Book III. 120-128)
Milton did not believe in predestination, and thus was not a Calvinist. (65) Nor is the God within Paradise Lost. Both man and woman fall by their own weaknesses and free-will: ‘Eve falls through weakness of reason, Adam through weakness of will, and both violate, not merely a tabu, but the order of nature.’ (66)
God explains in Book III how foreknowledge does not decide free-choice, and thus has no effect on the outcome and morality of knowing the fall would happen:
‘They therefore, as to right belonged,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their maker, or their making, or their fate;
As if predestination overruled
Their will, disposed by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge’ they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.’ (Book III. 111-119)
From this, free-choice and free-will, salvation is made possible by Christ’s offering of himself: death for death:
‘Some I have chosen of peculiar grace
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warned
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
The increased Deity, while offered grace
Invites.’ (Book III. 183-188)
Man fell by his own free-will, and can only restore his throne by free-will. This is where Adam and Eve’s relationship, and the ending of the poem are pivotal to humankind as a whole. Eve after the temptation offers Adam birth control and suicide, to which he denies: allowing life and children to continue and be given life, even though their seed is now tainted. Eve offers birth control as a way of putting forward sin dying with Adam and Eve, and not propagating that sin by procreation. Adam rejects this as his desire (and Eve’s, he knows) is to procreate (out of love for each other and God) and live out their punishment (out of shame for their own actions and to show God that shame). This could be seen as immoral as it condemns every generation to Sin, but it also shows a nobility when Adam is unwilling to stop his nature which God bestowed upon Mankind just because of a grave mistake. Eve also offers the choice of suicide, which Adam also rejects. This is another example of Adam’s sense of nobility overpowering Eve’s tendencies to seek a fast solution to stop her pain, and more importantly to her: to stop the pain of her loved one, Adam. He wishes to live with his Sin and to die when God deems it right to. They have both made a mistake, and Adam and Eve will live out their punishment, rather than just give up after failing God once: suicide would be just another Sin for God to be disappointed in, and death being an unknown, is no certainty of atonement or being away from God’s judgement.
Both of those reasons are somewhat noble, if not flawed on a purely reasonable basis. The words which Adam speaks to Eve makes clear his full reason for not choosing the easy way out of this bad situation: he loves her. And while he could at any moment repent and abandon Eve, his nobility and love for her refuses him this refuge. He decides on a future barren for as far as he can see, rather than a future barren of his wife. He is, at this very moment, perfectly human. Weak, but also noble and strong, full of contradictions but devoted and resolved to a love and purpose. This is a beautiful human example of how men’s masculinity and almost blind following of logic can be calmed by women’s femininity and chaotic emotion. They are separately flawed in their archetypal gender roles, but together they are complimentary and beautiful. A piece of art known as ‘The Happy Marriage’ from the Stuart period (Milton’s own period) perfectly embodies this with the art, but even more so with the text within it which reads: ‘By the joint bearing of conjugal love, this heavy weight does daily lighter prove.’ (67)
Rather than turn their back on each other and the reality of their joint mistake, they take each other hand in hand, flaw in flaw, masculine in feminine, combining responsibility with realistic love: they leave the Garden which imprisoned them in their innocent naïve romanticism:
‘Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon.
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.’ (Book XII. 645)
With this, the poem ends on a worried, but optimistic note. Man and Woman can save themselves, but only with each other. (68) Thus, mankind shall find salvation as they find Christianity:
‘What is required of a Christian, Milton believed, is unquestioning trust in God. That is what he expressed in the sonnet on his blindness, and Adam and Eve prove incapable of it. If we think we should have behaved as they do it only goes to show (Milton would have argued) that we are fallen beings.’ (69)
I have already spoken about Christ the Son at length, but he is pivotal to the philosophical purpose of Milton’s poem, and explained Arianism and how this separates the Perfect Justice, from the mechanisms of salvation and forgiveness which the Son creates by offering himself to God as a sacrifice. (70) This allows Man to find a way back onto the path of God’s justice, and allows Man to regain his unfallen throne through his will and obedience to God. (71)
Thus, the Son becomes the archetype for man to emulate, (72) and because of the Arian relationship between God and the Father: ‘Him who disobeys/Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day/Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls.’ (Book V. 611-613). (73) The perfect example of this authority which comes from the Father, but is manifested by the Son, is when Satan rebels in Heaven. When the Son arrives, instead of fighting, Satan merely runs away and throws himself into Hell along with all of his rebellious angels (74) – this is the Son bringing order, from which Chaos runs away. The Son brings order in the name and given power of God, the Father, the Truth.
‘He intervenes not to protect his own forces but to bring the whole business to an end. The appearance of the Son in Majesty restores the ruins of Heaven, and the terror of his countenance drives the rebels before him. They are not destroyed. They are rooted out of Heaven. God is Creator and cannot destroy what he has created, for that would be a contradiction of his essential being. The gift of life and freedom cannot be revoked. If it could, it would not be a gift.’ (75)
With this Milton’s Theodicy is complete. Mankind fell by its own free-will, and by the masculine and feminine archetypical weaknesses. Now they are fallen they will have to choose between the hostile brothers archetypes. They can either emulate the Adversary and flail against the Truth, Morality and fall into Nihilism and destructive impulses; or they can emulate the Benevolent Hero, who brings Order to Chaos, and takes on every new experience with the attempt and assumption of positive change – adventure is learning, learning is assimilation and order. The Father is the giver of all values, and because of this the Truth. In this sense Paradise Lost is not the story of Good and Evil, but the tale of Truth and denial.
1. Saint George and the Dragon by Gustave Moreau. Saint George is depicted as the Benevolent Hero, who slays the Serpent. This serpent brings chaos and destroys order – The Adversary. He rescues the Mother and Lover archetype, which allows him to gain a lover and family, which means he can perpetuate society, and thus the Good. Note that he is riding a white horse, a symbol of paternity, military power and masculinity.
2. For an example of his prose works see John Milton’s Areopagitica and Other Writings. (Penguin, 2014). For an example of his poetic works see John Milton’s Selected poems. (Penguin, 2007). For a core collection of both his prose and poetic works see John Milton’s Complete Poems and Major Prose. Edited, with Notes and Introduction, by Merritt Y. Hughes. (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2003).
3. John Rogers’ Yale University series on John Milton’s life, his writing style and his texts: ‘Milton with John Rogers‘. Uploaded on Nov 21, 2008 – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2103FD9F9D0615B7
4. His legacy lives beyond his mortal coil – ‘Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil.’ – Rose Macaulay, Milton: Great lives. Chapter III, The poet turned pamphleteer. (Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1957 reprint). Page 58.
5. For an example of how similar Milton and Cromwell were in attitude see:
‘As Cromwell looked down on the dismembered royal corpse, he murmured: ‘Cruel necessity’.’ – John Morrill. VIP (Very Interesting People): Oliver Cromwell. 4, War and regicide, 1648-1649. The death of the king. (Oxford University press, 2007). Page 48. See also: ‘[I]f here I may serve my God either by my doing or by my suffering, I shall be most glad.’ – John Morrill. VIP (Very Interesting People): Oliver Cromwell. 10, Conclusion: God’s true servant. (Oxford University press, 2007). Page 122.
6. John Morrill. VIP (Very Interesting People): Oliver Cromwell. 6, The pursuit of stability, 1651-1653. At odd with the rump. (Oxford University press, 2007). Page 74.
7. Definition of Arian(s), Arianism: Edward S. Le Comte, A Milton Dictionary. (Columbia University, New York, 1961). Page 28.
8. Often referred to in Latin as Sola Scriptura.
9. ‘We should remember here that Milton’s own religious beliefs and observations are far from orthodox. He distrusts ritual and standardised forms of prayer and opposes episcopacy [bishops]. He denies the doctrine of the Trinity and believes instead in Subordinationism or Arianism, which views the Son as a separate, subordinate entity, and not eternally co-existent with the Father.’ – Margaret Kean. Paradise Lost, a sourcebook. 1, Contexts, Contextual overview, note 6. (Routledge, 2005). Page 7.
10. John Milton, Complete Poems and Major Prose. Edited, with Notes and Introduction, by Merritt Y. Hughes. (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2003).
11. Maurice Kelley, This Great Argument, A study of Milton’s De Doctrina Christiana as a gloss upon Paradise Lost. (Princeton University Press, 1941).
12. Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, Fiona J. Tweedie, Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana. (Oxford University Press, 2007).
13. ‘This day I have begot whom I declare/My only Son.’ (Book V. 603-604), see also: ‘I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.’ (Psalm 2:7)
14. John Milton, The major works. From Christian Doctrine. (Oxford university press, 2008). Page 725.
15. Jordan B. Peterson’s video on Images and Metanarratives: ‘2017 Maps of Meaning 7: Images of Story & MetaStory‘. Published on Mar 6, 2017 – https://youtu.be/F3n5qtj89QE
16. Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, Fiona J. Tweedie, Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana. 5, The theology of the manuscript. 5, Christology. (Oxford University Press, 2007). Page 101.
17. Ibid. Page 105.
18. Ibid. Page 104.
19. Robert Kane, A contemporary introduction to free will. Chapter 1, The free will problem. 1. Introduction. (Oxford university press, 2005). Page 1.
20. J. Bronowski, William Blake. The man without a mask, one. (A Pelican book, Penguin books Ltd, Published in 1954, first published in 1944). Page 188.
21. John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Book 3. (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Page 68.
22. Douglas Bush, Paradise Lost in our time, some comments. II, Religious and ethical principles. (Cornell University, (1945). Page 42.
23. Gordon Campbell. VIP (Very Interesting People): John Milton. 5, Milton’s Paradise. (Oxford University press, 2007). Page 79.
24. Caroline Moore, The Connell guide to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Heretical Milton. (Connell guides, 2012). Page 30.
25. George Newton Conklin, Biblical criticism and Heresy in Milton. II. Hermeneutics. (Columbia University, New York, 1949). Page 30.
26. For a discussion on Milton’s views on Creation concerning the beginning and Christ see: George Newton Conklin’s Biblical criticism and Heresy in Milton. V, Milton on Bara: the Creation. (Columbia University, New York, 1949). Pages 67-74.
27. Caroline Moore, The Connell guide to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Why does Milton move away from drama to portray the moment of choice? (Connell guides, 2012). Page 31.
28. ‘Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.’ (Matthew. 26:34)
29. See John Carey’s The Essential Paradise Lost. Book 2. (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Pages 55-56.
30. Gordon Campbell, Thomas N. Corns, John K. Hale, Fiona J. Tweedie, Milton and the Manuscript of De Doctrina Christiana. 5, The theology of the manuscript. 4, Antitrinitarianism. (Oxford University Press, 2007). Page 100.
31. Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of meaning: The architecture of belief. Notes. (Routledge, 1999). Page 471.
32. Jordan B. Peterson’s discussion of human evolution in relation to the Genesis story: ‘Jordan Peterson: What Matters‘. Published on Mar 30, 2013 – https://youtu.be/A5216ZJVbVs
33. See Matris Apocalypticae effigies and Immaculate Conception by Peter Paul Rubens, The Glorification of the Virgin by Geertgen tot Sint Jans. Also see Lady of Guadalupe paintings.
34. John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Introduction, The style of Paradise Lost. (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Page 18.
35. Thomas N. Corns, Regaining Paradise Lost. Chapter 4, Chaos and the created world. Nature and Fecundity. (Longman London and New York, 1994). Page 106.
36. Ibid. Page 101.
37. ‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.’ (Revelation 21:4)
38. Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of meaning. 5, The hostile brothers. Archetypes of response to the unknown. (Routledge, 1999). Page 307.
39. A four part presentation on the Logos filmed by Jordan B. Peterson: ‘The Resurrection of Logos‘. Published on Mar 17, 2017 – https://youtu.be/KVo5hq64B2M
40. Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of meaning. 5, The hostile brothers. Archetypes of response to the unknown. (Routledge, 1999). Page 307.
41. Rationality’s problematic and totalitarian nature discussed as Radical Evil: Immanuel Kant, Religion within the boundaries of Mere Reason, and Other Writings. (Cambridge, 2008).
42. On the origin of Chaos: ‘The orthodox view was that God created heaven and earth out of nothing. Milton (in his treatise Christian Doctrine) argued that nothing could be made out of nothing, and since God alone is infinite he must have made heaven, earth, and hell out of himself. By withdrawing his ‘goodness’ from part of himself he left formless chaos, which became the raw material of creation.’ – John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Book 7. (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Pages 128-129.
43. Ibid. Page 56.
44. Ibid. Page 129.
45. ‘A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’ (Luke 6:45).
46. Jordan B. Peterson’s lecture on symbolism within the story of Genesis: ‘2017 Maps of Meaning 10: Genesis and the Buddha‘. Published on Apr 27, 2017 – https://youtu.be/7XtEZvLo-Sc
47. Margaret Kean, Paradise Lost, a sourcebook. 2, Interpretations. Early critical reception. (Routledge, 2005). Page 51.
48. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) made similar statements, see: Margaret Kean’s Paradise Lost, a sourcebook. 2, Interpretations. Early critical reception. (Routledge, 2005). Page 52.
49. For a note on Satan, Cromwell and the republican crown see Caroline Moore’s The Connell guide to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Satan, Cromwell and the republican crown. (Connell guides, 2012). Pages 80-81.
50. Helen Gardner, A reading of Paradise Lost. III, The cosmic theme. (Oxford University press, 1965). Page 59.
51. John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Introduction, Is Satan the hero? (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Page 9.
52. Ibid. Page 36.
53. Ibid. Page 11.
54. Immanuel Kant, Radical Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 3. The source of the propensity to Radical Evil: two views. Accessed on: http://www.iep.utm.edu/rad-evil/ at 11:12pm, 3/05/2017. Page 5.
55. Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of meaning: The architecture of belief. 5, The Hostile Brothers: Archetypes of Response to the Unknown. The Adversary in Action: A twentieth-century allegory. (Routledge, 1999). Page 358.
56. Ibid. Page 316.
57. Ibid. Page 317.
58. John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Introduction, Is Satan the hero? (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Page 10.
59. ‘[I]f what God wants is a loving union between himself and the beings that he has created, primarily the human beings he has made, then these beings need to learn to love. They cannot be created knowing what that means: it is something that comes from experience, either innocent experience or (as turned out to be the case) an experience that has to learn by its mistakes. God created human beings that needed to learn to love; he created a beginning that needed to move towards fulfilment.’ – Andrew Louth, Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology. 5, Sin, death and repentance. Human kind and the Fall. (Society for promoting Christian Knowledge, 2013). Page 69.
60. Full version:
‘This woman, whom thou madest to be my help,
And gavest me as thy perfect gift, so good,
So fit, so acceptable, so divine,
That from her hand I could suspect no ill,
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seemed to justify the deed;
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’ (Book X. 135-145)
61. William Empson, Milton’s God. Chapter 5, Adam. (Greenwood press, Inc, 1978 reprint). Page 189.
62. Ibid. Page 163.
63. Majorie Hope Nicolson. A reader’s guide to John Milton. III The major poems, book V, Eve’s dream. (First Syracuse University Press Edition, 1998). Page 247.
64. Gordon Campbell & Thomas N. Corns, John Milton: Life, work, and thought. Chapter 16, Plague, fire and Paradise Lost. (Oxford university press, 2008). Pages 339-340.
65. ‘In dealing with the same issue in his Christian Doctrine, Milton says: “Everyone agrees that man could have avoided falling. But if, because of God’s decree, man could not help but fall (and the two contradictory opinions are sometimes voiced by the same people), then God’s restoration of fallen man was a matter of justice not grace” (p. 174).’ – Dennis Richard Danielson. Milton’s Good God: A study in Literary Theodicy. 3, Assertion and justification: providence and theology. Milton amid the battle. (Cambridge University press, 1982). Page 81.
66. Douglas Bush, Paradise Lost in our time, some comments. II, Religious and ethical principles. (Cornell University, (1945). Pages 47-48.
67. The Happy Marriage, stencil coloured woodcut, English School, 17th century. (Private Collection/The Stapleton Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library).
68. ‘To them shall leave in charge
To teach all nations what of them they learned
And his salvation, them who shall believe
Baptising in the profluent stream, the sign
Of washing them from guilt of sin to life.’ (Book XII. 439-43)
69. John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Afterword. Is Paradise Lost a success? (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Pages 228-229.
70. ‘Adam learns so well that he acknowledges the Son as his Redeemer, thereby becoming the first Christian, and indeed the first Protestant.’ – Margaret Kean, Paradise Lost, a sourcebook. 3, key passages, introduction. (Routledge, 2005). Page 80.
71. ‘Obedience to the law of God, imposed
On penalty of death, and suffering death;
The penalty to thy transgression due,
And due to theirs which out of thine will grow:
So only can high Justice rest appaid.’ (Book XII. 395-405)
72. ‘The acquisition of the holy disposition through such a revolution requires that we take up the disposition of the human personification of the holy will, present to us in our reason as the archetype of moral perfection. To elevate ourselves to this ideal of moral perfection constitutes our universal human duty (Religion 6:61-62). Kant identifies the historical human personification of this archetype as the “Son of God.”‘ – Immanuel Kant, Radical Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 4. Overcoming evil: the necessity of an ethical-religious revolution. Assessed on: http://www.iep.utm.edu/rad-evil/ at 11:12pm, 3/05/2017. Page 8.
73. ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10-11)
74. ‘The Son mounts the ‘chariot of paternal deity’, a mystical armoured vehicle with a biblical source (Ezekiel 1 and 10). He drives the Satanic army before him and, terrified, they throw themselves through a gap that opens in the wall of heaven into the ‘bottomless pit’ of hell. The heavenly host applaud the Son as he returns from his triumph.”
(The triumph is the Father’s) – John Carey, The Essential Paradise Lost. Book 6. (Faber &Faber Ltd, 2017). Pages 122.
75. Helen Gardner, A reading of Paradise Lost. III, The cosmic theme. (Oxford University press, 1965.) Page 70.
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Articles, videos and websites:
– A four-part presentation on the Logos filmed by Jordan B. Peterson: ‘The Resurrection of Logos‘. Published on Mar 17, 2017 – https://youtu.be/KVo5hq64B2M
– Immanuel Kant, Radical Evil. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed on: http://www.iep.utm.edu/rad-evil/ at 11:12pm, 3/05/2017.
– John Rogers’ Yale University series on John Milton’s life, his writing style and his texts: ‘Milton with John Rogers‘. Uploaded on Nov 21, 2008 – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2103FD9F9D0615B7
– Jordan B. Peterson’s discussion of human evolution in relation to the Genesis story: ‘Jordan Peterson: What Matters‘. Published on Mar 30, 2013 – https://youtu.be/A5216ZJVbVs
– Jordan B. Peterson’s lecture on symbolism within the story of Genesis: ‘2017 Maps of Meaning 10: Genesis and the Buddha‘. Published on Apr 27, 2017 – https://youtu.be/7XtEZvLo-Sc
– Jordan B. Peterson’s video on Images and Metanarratives: ‘2017 Maps of Meaning 7: Images of Story & MetaStory‘. Published on Mar 6, 2017 – https://youtu.be/F3n5qtj89QE
– Immaculate Conception by Peter Paul Rubens.
– Matris Apocalypticae effigies by Peter Paul Rubens.
– Saint George and the Dragon by Gustave Moreau.
– The Glorification of the Virgin by Geertgen tot Sint Jans.