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National Epics by Kate Milner Rabb

Part 8 out of 8

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At the instigation of the wizard Ismeno, Aladine, king of Jerusalem, stole
an image of the Virgin from the temple of the Christians and put it in his
mosque in order to render the city impregnable. When morning dawned the
image was gone, and no search could reveal any clue to the theft.

In every temple, hermitage, and hall,
A long and eager search the monarch made,
And tortures or rewards decreed to all
Who screened the guilty, or the guilt betrayed;
Nor ceased the Sorcerer to employ in aid
Of the inquiry all his arts, but still
Without success; for whether Heaven conveyed
The prize away, or power of human will,
Heaven close the secret kept, and shamed his vaunted skill.

But when the king found all expedients vain
To trace th' offender, then, beyond disguise,
Flamed forth his hatred to the Christians; then,
Fed by wild jealousies and sharp surmise,
Immoderate fury sparkled in his eyes;
Follow what may, he will revenge the deed,
And wreak his rage: "Our wrath shall not," he cries,
"Fall void, but root up all th' accursed seed;
Thus in the general doom the guilty yet shall bleed!

"So that he 'scapes not, let the guiltless die!
But wherefore thus of guiltlessness debate?
Each guilty is, nor 'mongst them all know I
One, well-affected to the faith and state;
And what if some be unparticipate
In this new crime, new punishment shall pay
For old misdeeds; why longer do ye wait,
My faithful Mussulmans? up! up! away!
Hence with the torch and sword: seize, fire, lay waste, and slay!"

Thus to the crowd he spake, the mandate flew,
And in the bosoms of the Faithful shed
Astonishment and stupor; stupor threw
On every face the paleness of the dead;
None dared, none sought to make defence; none fled,
None used entreaty, none excuse; but there
They stood, like marble monuments of dread,
Irresolute,--but Heaven conceived their prayer,
And whence they least had hope, brought hope to their despair.

Of generous thoughts and principles sublime
Amongst them in the city lived a maid,
The flower of virgins in her ripest prime,
Supremely beautiful! but that she made
Never her care, or beauty only weighed
In worth with virtue; and her worth acquired
A deeper charm from blooming in the shade;
Lovers she shunned, nor loved to be admired,
But from their praises turned, and lived a life retired.

Yet could not this coy secrecy prevent
Th' admiring gaze and warm desires of one
Tutored by Love, nor yet would Love consent
To hide such lustrous beauty from the sun;
Love! that through every change delight'st to run,
The Proteus of the heart I who now dost blind,
Now roll the Argus eyes that nought can shun!
Thou through a thousand guards unseen dost wind,
And to the chastest maids familiar access find.

Sophronia hers, Olindo was his name;
Born in one town, by one pure faith illumed;
Modest--as she was beautiful, his flame
Feared much, hoped little, and in nought presumed;
He could not, or he durst not speak, but doomed
To voiceless thought his passion; him she slighted,
Saw not, or would not see; thus he consumed
Beneath the vivid fire her beauty lighted;
Either not seen ill known, or, known, but ill requited.

And thus it was, when like an omen drear
That summoned all her kindred to the grave,
The cruel mandate reached Sophronia's ear,
Who, brave as bashful, yet discreet as brave,
Mused how her people she from death might save;
Courage inspired, but virginal alarm
Repressed the thought, till maiden shyness gave
Place to resolve, or joined to share the harm;
Boldness awoke her shame, shame made her boldness charm.

Alone amidst the crowd the maid proceeds,
Nor seeks to hide her beauty, nor display;
Downcast her eyes, close veiled in simple weeds,
With coy and graceful steps she wins her way:
So negligently neat, one scarce can say
If she her charms disdains, or would improve,--
If chance or taste disposes her array;
Neglects like hers, if artifices, prove
Arts of the friendly Heavens, of Nature, and of Love.

All, as she passed unheeding, all, admire
The noble maid; before the king she stood;
Not for his angry frown did she retire,
But his indignant aspect coolly viewed:
"To give,"--she said, "but calm thy wrathful mood,
And check the tide of slaughter in its spring,--
To give account of that thou hast pursued
So long in vain, seek I thy face, O king!
The urged offence I own, the doomed offender bring!"

The modest warmth, the unexpected light
Of high and holy beauty, for a space
O'erpowered him,--conquered of his fell despite,
He stood, and of all fierceness lost the trace.
Were his a spirit, or were hers a face
Of less severity, the sweet surprise
Had melted him to love; but stubborn grace
Subdues not stubborn pride; Love's potent ties
Are flattering fond regards, kind looks, and smiling eyes.

If 't were not Love that touched his flinty soul,
Desire it was, 't was wonder, 't was delight:
"Safe be thy race!" he said, "reveal the whole,
And not a sword shall on thy people light."
Then she: "The guilty is before thy sight,--
The pious robbery was my deed; these hands
Bore the blest Image from its cell by night;
The criminal thou seek'st before thee stands,--
Justice from none but me her penalty demands."

Thus she prepares a public death to meet,
A people's ransom at a tyrant's shrine:
Oh glorious falsehood! beautiful deceit!
Can Truth's own light thy loveliness outshine?
To her bold speech misdoubting Aladine
With unaccustomed temper calm replied:
"If so it were, who planned the rash design,
Advised thee to it, or became thy guide?
Say, with thyself who else his ill-timed zeal allied?"

"Of this my glory not the slightest part
Would I," said she, "with one confederate share;
I needed no adviser; my full heart
Alone sufficed to counsel, guide and dare."
"If so," he cried, "then none but thou must bear
The weight of my resentment, and atone
For the misdeed." "Since it has been my care,"
She said, "the glory to enjoy alone,
'T is just none share the pain; it should be all mine own."

To this the tyrant, now incensed, returned,
"Where rests the Image?" and his face became
Dark with resentment: she replied, "I burned
The holy Image in the holy flame,
And deemed it glory; thus at least no shame
Can e'er again profane it--it is free
From farther violation: dost thou claim
The spoil or spoiler? this behold in me;
But that, whilst time rolls round, thou never more shall see.

"Albeit no spoiler I; it was no wrong
To repossess what was by force obtained:"
At this the tyrant loosed his threatening tongue,
Long-stifled passion raging unrestrained:
No longer hope that pardon may be gained,
Beautiful face, high spirit, bashful heart!
Vainly would Love, since mercy is disdained,
And Anger flings his most envenomed dart,
In aid of you his else protecting shield impart!

Doomed in tormenting fire to die, they lay
Hands on the maid; her arms with rough cords twining.
Rudely her mantle chaste they tear away,
And the white veil that o'er her drooped declining:
This she endured in silence unrepining,
Yet her firm breast some virgin tremors shook;
And her warm cheek, Aurora's late outshining,
Waned into whiteness, and a color took,
Like that of the pale rose, or lily of the brook.

The crowd collect; the sentence is divulged;
With them Olindo comes, by pity swayed;
It might be that the youth the thought indulged,
What if his own Sophronia were the maid!
There stand the busy officers arrayed
For the last act, here swift the flames arise;
But when the pinioned beauty stands displayed
To the full gaze of his inquiring eyes,--
'_T is_ she! he bursts through all, the crowd before him flies.

Aloud he cries: "To her, oh not to her
The crime belongs, though frenzy may misplead!
She planned not, dared not, could not, king, incur
Sole and unskilled the guilt of such a deed!
How lull the guards, or by what process speed
The sacred Image from its vaulted cell?
The theft was mine! and 't is my right to bleed!"
Alas for him! how wildly and how well
He loved the unloving maid, let this avowal tell.

"I marked where your high Mosque receives the air
And light of heaven; I climbed the dizzy steep;
I reached a narrow opening; entered there,
And stole the Saint whilst all were hushed in sleep:
Mine was the crime, and shall another reap
The pain and glory? Grant not her desire!
The chains are mine; for me the guards may heap
Around the ready stake the penal fire;
For me the flames ascend; 't is mine, that funeral pyre!"

Sophronia raised to him her face,--her eye
Was filled with pity and a starting tear:
She spoke--the soul of sad humanity
Was in her voice, "What frenzy brings thee here,
Unhappy innocent! is death so dear,
Or am I so ill able to sustain
A mortal's wrath, that thou must needs appear?
I have a heart, too, that can death disdain,
Nor ask for life's last hour companionship in pain."

Thus she appeals to him; but scorning life,
His settled soul refuses to retreat:
Oh glorious scene, where in sublimest strife
High-minded Virtue and Affection meet!
Where death's the prize of conquest, and defeat
Seals its own safety, yet remains unblest!
But indignation at their fond deceit,
And rage, the more inflames the tyrant's breast,
The more this constant pair the palm of guilt contest.

He deems his power despised, and that in scorn
Of him they spurn the punishment assigned:
"Let," he exclaimed, "the fitting palm adorn
The brows of both! both pleas acceptance find!"
Beckoning he bids the prompt tormentors bind
Their galling chains around the youth--'t is done;
Both to one stake are, back to back, consigned,
Like sunflowers twisted from their worshipped sun,
Compelled the last fond looks of sympathy to shun.

Around them now the unctuous pyre was piled,
And the fanned flame was rising in the wind,
When, full of mournful thoughts, in accents wild,
The lover to his mate in death repined:
"Is this the bond, then, which I hoped should bind
Our lives in blissful marriage? this the fire
Of bridal faith, commingling mind with mind,
Which, I believed, should in our hearts inspire
Like warmth of sacred zeal and delicate desire?

"For other flames Love promised to impart,
Than those our envious planets here prepare;
Too, ah too long they kept our hands apart,
But harshly now they join them in despair!
Yet does it soothe, since by a mode so rare
Condemned to die, thy torments to partake,
Forbid by fate thy sweetnesses to share;
If tears I shed, 't is but for thy dear sake,
Not mine,--with thee beside, I bless the burning stake!

"And oh! this doom would be indeed most blest,
My sharpest sufferings blandishments divine,
Might I but be permitted, breast to breast,
On thy sweet lips my spirit to resign;
If thou too, panting toward one common shrine,
Wouldst the next happy instant parting spend
Thy latest sighs in sympathy on mine!"
Sorrowing he spake; she, when his plaints had end,
Did thus his fond discourse most sweetly reprehend.

"Far other aspirations, other plaints
Than these, dear friend, the solemn hour should claim.
Think what reward God offers to his saints;
Let meek repentance raise a loftier aim:
These torturing fires, if suffered in his name,
Will, bland as zephyrs, waft us to the blest;
Regard the sun, how beautiful his flame!
How fine a sky invites him to the west!
These seem to soothe our pangs, and summon us to rest."

The Pagans lifting up their voices, wept;
In stifled sorrow wept the Faithful too;
E'en the stern king was touched,--a softness crept
O'er his fierce heart, ennobling, pure, and new;
He felt, he scorned it, struggled to subdue,
And lest his wavering firmness should relent,
His eyes averted, and his steps withdrew;
Sophronia's spirit only was unbent;
She yet lamented not, for whom all else lament.

In midst of their distress, a knight behold,
(So would it seem) of princely port! whose vest
And arms of curious fashion, grained with gold,
Bespeak some foreign and distinguished guest;
The silver tigress on the helm impressed,
Which for a badge is borne, attracts all eyes,--
A noted cognizance, th' accustomed crest
Used by Clorinda, whence conjectures rise,
Herself the stranger is,--nor false is their surmise.

All feminine attractions, aims, and parts,
She from her childhood cared not to assume;
Her haughty hand disdained all servile arts,
The needle, distaff, and Arachne's loom;
Yet, though she left the gay and gilded room
For the free camp, kept spotless as the light
Her virgin fame, and proud of glory's plume,
With pride her aspect armed, she took delight
Stern to appear, and stern, she charmed the gazer's sight.

Whilst yet a girl, she with her little hand
Lashed and reined in the rapid steed she raced,
Tossed the huge javelin, wrestled on the sand,
And by gymnastic toils her sinews braced;
Then through the devious wood and mountain-waste
Tracked the struck lion to his entered den,
Or in fierce wars a nobler quarry chased;
And thus in fighting field and forest glen,
A man to savage beasts, a savage seemed to men.

From Persia now she comes, with all her skill
The Christians to resist, though oft has she
Strewed with their blood the field, till scarce a rill
Remained, that ran not purple to the sea.
Here now arrived, the dreadful pageantry
Of death presents itself,--the crowd--the pyre--
And the bound pair; solicitous to see,
And know what crime condemns them to the fire,
Forward she spurs her steed and hastens to inquire.

The throng falls back, and she awhile remains,
The fettered pair more closely to survey;
One she sees silent, one she sees complains,
The stronger spirit nerves the weaker prey;
She sees him mourn like one whom the sad sway
Of powerful pity doth to tears chastise,
Not grief, or grief not for himself; but aye
Mute kneels the maid, her blue beseeching eyes
So fixed on heaven, she seems in heaven ere yet she dies.

Clorinda melts, and with them both condoles;
Some tears she sheds, but greater tenderness
Feels for her grief who most her grief controls,--
The silence moves her much, the weeping less;
No longer now does she delay to press
For information; turning towards one
Of reverend years, she said with eagerness,
"Who are they? speak! and oh, what crime has won
This death? in Mercy's name, declare the deed they've done!"

Thus she entreats; a brief reply he gives,
But such as well explains the whole event:
Amazed she heard it, and as soon conceives
That they are both sincerely innocent;
Her heart is for them, she is wholly bent
To avert their fate, if either arms can aid,
Or earnest prayers secure the king's consent;
The fire she nears, commands it to be stayed,
That now approached them fast, and to th' attendants said:

"Let none of you presume to prosecute
Your barbarous office, till the king I see;
My word I pledge that at Clorinda's suit,
Your fault he will forgive, if fault it be."
Moved by her speech and queenlike dignity
The guards obey, and she departs in quest
Of the stern monarch, urgent of her plea:
Midway they met; the monarch she addressed
And in this skilful mode her generous purpose pressed.

"I am Clorinda; thou wilt know perchance
The name, from vague remembrance or renown;
And here I come to save with sword and lance
Our common Faith, and thy endangered crown,
Impose the labor, lay th' adventure down,
Sublime, I fear it not, nor low despise;
In open field or in the straitened town,
Prepared I stand for every enterprise,
Where'er the danger calls, where'er the labor lies!"

"'T would be assuredly a thing most rare,
If the reward the service should precede;
But of thy bounty confident, I dare
For future toils solicit, as my meed,
Yon lovers' pardon; since the charge indeed
Rests on no evidence, 't was hard to press
The point at all, but this I waive, nor plead
On those sure signs which, urged, thou must confess
Their hands quite free from crime, or own their guilt far less.

"Yet will I say, though here the common mind
Condemns the Christians of the theft, for me,
Sufficient reasons in mine own I find
To doubt, dispute, disparage the decree;
To set their idols in our sanctuary
Was an irreverence to our laws, howe'er
Urged by the sorcerer; should the Prophet see
E'en idols of our own established there?
Much less then those of men whose lips his faith forswear:

"The Christian statue ravished from your sight
To Allah therefore rather I impute,
In sign that he will let no foreign rite
Of superstition his pure place pollute:
Spells and enchantments may Ismeno suit,
Leave him to use such weapons at his will;
But shall we warriors by a wand dispute?
No! no! our talisman, our hope, our skill,
Lie in our swords alone, and they shall serve us still!"

She ceased; and he, though mercy could with pain
Subdue a heart so full of rage and pride,
Relents, her reasons move, her prayers constrain.--
Such intercessor must not be denied;
Thus, though reluctant, he at length complied:
"The plea for the fair pleader I receive;
I can refuse thee nothing; this," he cried,
"May justice be or mercy,--let them live;
Guiltless--I set them free, or guilty I forgive!"

Restored to life and liberty, how blest.
How truly blest was young Olindo's fate!
For sweet Sophronia's blushes might attest,
That Love at length has touched her delicate
And generous bosom; from the stake in state
They to the altar pass; severely tried,
In doom and love, already made his mate,
She now objects not to become his bride.
And grateful live with him who would for her have died.

_Wiffen's Translation, Canto_


Paradise Lost was written by John Milton, who was born in London, Dec. 9,
1608, and died Nov. 8, 1674. After leaving college, he spent five years in
study at home, during which time he wrote L'Allegro, Il Penseroso,
Arcades, Comus, and Lycidas. In 1638 he travelled on the continent and in
Italy, where he met Galileo. He hastened home in 1639 on account of the
political disturbances in England, and espousing the Puritan cause,
devoted the next twenty years of his life to the writing of pamphlets in
its defence. In 1649 he was appointed Latin Secretary under Cromwell. In
1652 he lost his sight in consequence of overwork. At the age of
twenty-nine, Milton had decided to make an epic poem his life work, and
had noted many historical subjects. By 1641 he had decided on a Biblical
subject. He had probably conceived Paradise Lost at the age of thirty-two,
although the poem was not composed until he was over fifty. It was written
after his blindness and dictated in small portions to various persons, the
work being collected and revised by Milton and Aubrey Phillips. It was
completed, according to the authority of Phillips, in 1663, but on account
of the Plague and the Great Fire, it was not published until 1667.

Paradise Lost is divided into twelve books and is written, to use Milton's
own words, "In English heroic verse without rhyme, as that of Homer in
Greek and of Virgil in Latin, rhyme being no necessary adjunct or true
ornament of poem or good verse."

Paradise Lost was neglected until the time of the Whig supremacy in
England. In 1688 Lord Somers, the Whig leader, published an _edition de
luxe_ of the poem; Addison's papers on it, in 1712, increased its
popularity, and through the influence of the Whigs a bust of the poet was
placed in Westminster Abbey in 1737.

There is no better proof of the greatness of Paradise Lost than the way in
which it has survived hostile criticism. It has been criticised for the
lengthy conversations and "arguments" of its characters; for its
materialization of the Divine Being; because of its subject; because of
Milton's vagueness of description of things awesome and terrible, in
comparison with Dante's minute descriptions. But the earnest spirit in
which it was conceived and written; the subject, giving it a "higher
argument" than any merely national epic, even though many of Milton's, and
his age's, special beliefs are things of the past, and its lofty and
poetical style, have rendered unassailable its rank among the noblest of
the epics.


Joseph Addison's Notes upon the Twelve Books of Paradise Lost;
by Albert S. Cook, 1892. (In the Spectator from Dec. 31, 1711-May 3,

Samuel Austin Allibone's Dictionary of Authors, 1891, vol. ii., pp.

Matthew Arnold's A French Critic on Milton (see his Mixed Essays, 1880,
pp. 260-273);

Walter Bagehot's Literary Studies, by Richard Holt Hutton, 1879, vol. i.,

Richard Bentley's Emendations on the Twelve Books of Paradise Lost, 1732;

E. H. Bickersteth's Milton's Paradise Lost, 1876. (St. James Lectures, 2d
series. Another edition, 1877);

Hugh Blair's Paradise Lost (see his Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles
Lettres, 1783, vol. ii., 471-476);

Miss Christian Cann's A Scriptural and Allegorical Glossary to Paradise
Lost, 1828;

Charles Dexter Cleveland's Complete Concordance to Milton's Poetical
Works, 1867;

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Lectures and Notes on Shakespeare and other
English Poets collected by T. Ashe, 1893, pp. 518-529;

William T. Dobson's The Classic Poets, their lives and times etc., 1879;

Charles Eyre's Fall of Adam, from Milton's Paradise Lost, 1852;

George Gilfillan's Second Gallery of Literary Portraits, 1852, pp. 17-25;

S. Humphreys Gurteen's The Epic of the Fall of Man; a comparative Study of
Caedmon, Dante, and Milton, 1896;

William Hazlitt On the Character of Milton's Eve (see his Round Table ed.
by W. Carew Hazlitt, 1889, pp. 150-158);

William Hazlitt On Milton's Versification (see his Round Table, ed. by W.
Carew Hazlitt, 1889, pp. 51-57);

John A. Himes's Study of Milton's Paradise Lost, 1878;

Samuel Johnson's Milton (see his Lives of the Poets; ed. by Mrs. Alexander
Napier, 1890, vol. i.);

Thomas Keightley's Introduction to Paradise Lost (see his An account of
the Life, Opinions, and Writings of John Milton, 1855, pp. 397-484);

Walter Savage Landor's Imaginary Conversations, Southey and Landor, 1853,
vol. ii., 57-74, 156-159;

Thomas Babington Macaulay's Milton (see his Critical and Historical
Essays, ed. 10, 1860, vol. i., pp. 1-61);

William Massey's Remarks upon Milton's Paradise Lost, 1761;

David Masson's Introduction to Paradise Lost (see his edition of Milton's
Poetical Works, 1893, vol. ii., pp. 1-57);

David Masson's Life of Milton, 1880, vol. vi., 505-558, 621-636;

David Masson's Three Devils (Luther's, Goethe's, and Milton's), (see his
Three Devils and other Essays, 1874);

James Peterson's A complete Commentary on Paradise Lost, 1744;

Jonathan Richardson's Explanatory Notes and Remarks on Paradise Lost,

Edmond Scherer's Milton and Paradise Lost (see his essays on English
Literature; Tr. by George Saintsbury, 1891, pp. 134-149);

John Robert Seeley's Milton (see his Roman Imperialism and other Lectures
and Essays), 1871, pp. 142-152;

First Edition of Paradise Lost, Book Lore, 1886, iii., 72-75;

J. A. Himes's Cosmology of Paradise Lost, Lutheran Quarterly, 1876, vi.,

J. A. Himes's Plan of Paradise Lost, New Englander, 1883, xlii., 196-211;

Satan of Milton and the Lucifer of Byron compared, Knickerbocker, 1847,
xxx., 150-155;

Satan of Paradise Lost, Dublin University Magazine, 1876, lxxxviii.,

Augustine Birrell's Obiter Dicta (2d series 1887, pp. 42-51);

Isaac Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature;
Bentley's Milton, 1867, pp. 138-139;

Henry Hallam's Literary History of Europe, 1873, ed. 5, vol. iii., pp.

Mark Pattison's John Milton, n. d. (English Men of Letters Series);

H. A. Taine's History of English Literature; Tr. by H. Van Laun, 1877,
vol. ii., pp. 106-124.


When that bright spirit, afterwards known as Satan, rose in rebellion
against the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, presumptuously thinking
himself equal to him in strength and following, he was overthrown by the
Great Power and cast with his followers out of Heaven down to his future
dwelling, flaming Hell.

Nine days he and his horrid crew fell through Chaos into the flaming pit
yawning to receive them, and there lay for nine days,--rendered still more
miserable by the thought of their immortality and the eternal bliss they
had forfeited. Then Satan, rousing himself from the stupor consequent upon
the fall, half rose and addressed the next in power to himself, Beelzebub.

"Thou art the same, yet not the same," said he; "changed, lost is some of
thy former brightness. Yet why repine? While we live, while we have so
large a following, all is not lost. Our hate still lives, and have we but
strength enough, we may still revenge ourselves upon him who thrust us
into this accursed place."

Rising from the lake, his great shield slung over his shoulders, the
unconquered archangel walked over the burning marl to the beach of that
fiery sea, and there with chiding words addressed the legions strewn
around him. The great army rose hastily at the voice of its chief and
passed before him, spirits whose heavenly names were now forever lost, who
later became the gods of the idolaters. There was mighty Moloch, Chemos,
those who later went by the general names of Baalim and
Ashtaroth,--Thammuz, Dagon, Rimmon, Osiris, Isis, Orus and their train,
Belial, and last of all, the Ionian gods.

His despair in part dissipated by the sight of this heroic array, their
prince, towering high above all, addressed them. No one had foreseen the
calamity that had overtaken them. Who could have guessed the power of the
Almighty? But though overthrown they were not totally defeated. A rumor
had long since been rife of the creation of another world with which they
could interfere. At any rate, there must never be peace between them and
the heavenly Powers. War there must be, war in secret, or war waged
openly. As he ended, shield clashed against shield, and swords, quickly
drawn, flashed before his eyes, and loud cries hurled defiance to Heaven.

The legions, led by Mammon, who in Heaven had been an honored architect,
sought a hill near by, and quickly emptying it of its rich store of gold
and jewels, built a massive structure. Like a temple in form was it, and
round about it stood Doric columns overlaid with gold. No king of any
future state could boast of a grander hall than this palace of Pandemonium
which was so quickly reared upon a hill in Hell, and to which the heralds'
trumpets now summoned all the host.

On the massive throne, blazing with jewels, sat the fallen spirit, and
thus addressed his followers: "Our success is sure in whatever we
undertake. We shall never be riven with internecine warfare, for surely no
one will quarrel over precedence in Hell. Therefore, united, we can, sure
of our success, debate of the way in which we shall take up our warfare
with the powers that have overthrown us."

Moloch, Belial, Mammon, and Beelzebub spoke. Moloch was in favor of open
war, since nothing could be worse than Hell, and continued assault against
the Most High would, in annoying him, be a sweet revenge. Belial, who
though timorous and slothful, was a persuasive orator, denounced Moloch's
plan. Since the ruler of Heaven was all-powerful, and they immortal, no
one knew to what greater misery he could push them; perhaps he would bury
them in boiling pitch to eternity, or inflict a thousand undreamed-of
tortures. War, open and secret, he disliked, since it was impossible to
conceal aught from the eye of the Most High. To make the best of Hell
seemed all that was possible; in time they might become inured to its
flames and better days might come, if they but accepted their doom

Mammon also considered war impossible. They could never hope to overcome
the Almighty; neither could they hope nor wish for a reconciliation, for
how hateful would be an eternity spent in cringing to one whom they hated.
The desert soil of Hell teemed with riches, they could find peaceful
pursuits, and it was his advice to continue there in quiet, untroubled by
any thoughts of revenge.

Amid the murmur of applause that followed Mammon's speech, Beelzebub, than
whom none towered higher save Satan, arose, his face grave, his attitude
majestic. "Would you, Thrones and Imperial Powers," he cried, "think to
build up a kingdom here, secure from the arm of Heaven? Have you so soon
forgotten that this is not a kingdom ceded to you by the Most High, but a
dungeon in which he has shut you for your everlasting punishment? Never
will he forget that you are his prisoners; your lot will not be peace, but
custody and stripes. What return can we make, then, but to think out some
slow but sure and sweet revenge? It is not necessary to attempt to scale
the walls of Heaven. Other things remain. There is this new world, his
plaything. It may lie exposed, and we can at least make the attempt to
seize it and lay it waste, and thus vex him." As he saw their eyes
sparkle, he continued: "We may in this attempt come near to the steps of
our old abode and breathe again its delicious airs instead of these
hellish flames. But first we must find some one, strong, wary, and
watchful, to send in search of it."

Satan strode forth, his courage and his consciousness of it making his
face shine with transcendent glory. "Long is the way and hard; its dangers
unknown and terrible, but I should be a poor sovereign did I hesitate in
the attempt to seek it out. I do not refuse the sovereignty, for I fear
not to accept as great a share of hazard as of honor. Stay here; charm
away your time, and I will seek deliverance abroad for all of us."

As he spoke he rose to depart, fearful lest others might now offer to go
and share the glory with him.

The legions rose with a sound like thunder, bowed in deepest reverence and
went forth, some, to explore their dismal abode, others to amuse
themselves at games, others to discuss Free Will and Fate, while their
leader pursued his way toward the gate of Hell.

The nine-fold gates were of brass, iron, and adamantine rock, reaching
high to the mighty roof, and most horrible were the Shapes that guarded

On one side sat a creature, woman to the waist, below, a serpent,
surrounded by a crew of hell hounds, forever barking and then seeking
refuge within her. On the other, a Shape, black, fierce, terrible, crowned
with the likeness of a kingly crown, and shaking in its hands a dreadful
dart. As he strode, Hell trembled. Satan, undaunted, met him with fierce
words. As the two stood, their lances pointed at each other, the woman
shrieked and ran between them.

"Father, rush not upon thy son! Son, raise not thy hand against thy
father!" She then explained that she was Satan's daughter, Sin, who had
sprung from his head full grown, and that she later became by him the
mother of the creature called Death who sat with her to guard the gates.

Satan at once unfolded to them his plan of seeking the new world and
making a happy home for both Sin and Death, where they could forever find
food to gratify their hideous cravings. Charmed by his highly-colored
pictures, and forgetful of the commands from above, Sin opened the mighty
doors, so that the flames of Hell spread far out into Chaos, but her
strength failed her when she attempted to close them again.

For a moment Satan looked out into the mixture of Hot and Cold and Moist
and Dry that formed Chaos, and then started forth, now rising, now
falling, his wings heavy with the dense masses, now wading, now creeping,
until at last he reached the spot where was fixed the throne of Chaos and
of Night. Here Satan learned of the situation of the new world and soon
caught a glimpse of it, hanging like a star, by a golden chain, from

Sitting in Heaven, high throned above all, God, all-seeing, all-knowing,
was conscious of Satan's escape from Hell and his approach to the new
world. To his Son, sitting on his right hand, he pointed out the fallen
spirit. "No prescribed bounds can shut our Adversary in; nor can the
chains of hell hold him. To our new world he goes, and there, by no fault
of mine, will pervert man, whom I have placed therein, with a free will;
so to remain until he enthralls himself. Man will fall as did Satan, but
as Satan was self-tempted, and man will be deceived by another, the latter
shall find grace where his tempter did not."

Great was the joy of the Son when he learned that man would receive mercy
for his transgression. "Pardon and mercy he shall receive," declared the
Father, "but some one must be willing to expiate his sin for him; the just
must die for the unjust. Who in Heaven is willing to make the sacrifice?"

For a moment all the Heavenly quire stood mute; then the Son of God spoke
and implored his Father to let his anger fall on him, since he could not
wholly die, but could arise from death and subdue his vanquisher.

When his Father accepted the sacrifice, and named him Son of God and Man
who should hereafter be Universal King, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, Heaven
rang with the shouts of the Angels, who, casting down their amaranthine
wreaths until the golden pavement was covered with the garlands, took
their golden harps and sang the praises of the Father and the Son.

While they sang, Satan walked over the vast globe on which he had
alighted, through what in after years, when the world was peopled, was to
be the Paradise of Fools, the spot to which the spirits of all things
transitory and vain, of those who had worked for their reward in life
instead of in Heaven, would come. He walked around the dark globe until,
directed by a gleam of light, he found the spot where a ladder led up to
Heaven. Just below it, down through the spheres, was the seat of Paradise
to which he was bending his way.

Down through the crystal spheres he bent his way toward the Sun, which
attracted him by its superior splendor. Espying Uriel, the Angel of the
Sun, he quickly took the form of a youthful Cherub, and, approaching
Uriel, told him that having heard of the new world he had been seized by a
longing to quit the bands of Cherubim and see for himself the wonderful
work of the Creator.

Directed by the unsuspecting Uriel, Satan sped downward and standing upon
the top of Niphates, surveyed Eden.

As he looked, his spirit was troubled. He had brought Hell with him, and
his unhappy thoughts boiled and surged in his troubled mind. "Sun, I hate
thee, because thy beams recall to me what I was and how I fell. The
matchless King of Heaven deserved no such return from me. His service was
easy. Had I only been created a lower Power!--But even then, might not
some higher one have led me into temptation? What shall I do, whither
shall I fly, to escape infinite wrath, and infinite despair? Hell is
around me, I myself am Hell! There is no hope for me. Submission is the
only way left, and I could not unsay what I have said; I could never
bridge the gulf made by my revolt. Farewell to remorse! Good is forever
lost to me, and I must now make Evil my good. I can at least divide the
empire of the world with the King of Heaven."

As he realized how his bitter thoughts had dimmed his countenance he
smoothed it over with outward calm, but not before Uriel, from the Sun,
had noted and wondered over his strange gestures.

Leaping over the high natural walls of Paradise, Satan, in the form of a
cormorant, perched himself on the Tree of Life. Beautiful was the scene
before him. All the trees and plants were of the noblest kind. In the
midst of them stood the Tree of Life with its golden fruit, and not far
off the Tree of Knowledge. Southward through Eden ran a river, which,
passing under a huge hill, emerged into four great streams wandering
through many afterwards famous realms. Between the rows of trees stretched
level lawns where grazed the happy flocks, and over the green mead were
sprinkled flowers of every hue. No fairer scene ever met living eyes, and
fairest of all were the two stately forms, in whose looks shone the
divinity of their Maker. Hand in hand they passed through the garden,
refreshed themselves with the delicious fruits, and were happy in each

As he gazed on them while the animals fell asleep and the sun sank below
the horizon, Satan, still torn with conflicting emotions, ruminated over
the unhappiness he was to bring the lovely pair. He admired them, he could
love them; they had not harmed him, but he must bring unhappiness upon
them because of their likeness to their Creator. Through them only could
he obtain his longed-for revenge.

Anxious to learn where to attack them, he prowled about them, now as a
lion, now as a tiger, listening to their conversation. They spoke of their
garden, of the Tree of Life, and of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. "In
the day ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die," had been their warning. Eve
recalled the day of her creation, when she had first fled from Adam, and
then yielded to his embraces, and Satan, watching their caresses, envied
and hardened his heart. "Live while ye may!" he muttered. "Soon will I
return and offer you new woes for your present pleasures."

In the mean time, Gabriel, warned by Uriel, who suspected that an evil
spirit had crept into Paradise, had set watches around the garden.
Ithuriel and Zephon, sent to search for him, spied Satan in the form of a
toad, sitting near the ear of Eve, tainting her dreams with foul whispers.
Touched by Ithuriel's spear, he was forced to resume his own shape and was
taken to Gabriel. The angry Satan attempted to use force, but warned by a
sign from Heaven that his strength was insufficient, fled, murmuring,
through the night.

When morning dawned on Eden, a morn of unimaginable beauty, Adam waked Eve
from her restless slumbers, and heard her troubled dreams, in which she
had been tempted to taste of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He
comforted her, and after their morning hymn, in which they glorified their
Creator, they set about their pleasant work of pruning the too luxuriant
vines of their Paradise. In the mean time, the Father above, knowing the
design of Satan, and determined that man should not fall without warning,
sent Raphael down to Adam to tell him that he was threatened by an enemy,
and that, as a free agent, if he fell, his sin would be upon his own head.

Six-winged Raphael swept down through the spheres and stood in Paradise,
welcomed by Adam. Eve hastened to set before their guest every delicacy
that Eden knew, and while she was preparing these Adam listened to the
Angel's warning.

To emphasize the sin of disobedience, Raphael related to the pair the
story of Satan's conspiracy with the other powers because the Father had
proclaimed the power of his Son. The Father, knowing Satan's confidence in
himself, had allowed him for two days to fight an equal number of his
legions of angels, among whom was Abdiel who had fled, indignant, from
Satan's ranks, and on the third day, when the legions of evil lay crushed
beneath the mountains which the shining angels had heaped upon them, the
Son of God drove forth in his chariot, and single-handed, forced them
before him, terror-stricken, until, Heaven's wall having opened, they fell
downward for nine days, in horror and confusion into the depths of Hell.
The Messiah, returning home in triumph in his chariot, was welcomed by the
bright orders into the home of his Father.

Delighted by the recital of Raphael, Adam asked him to relate the story of
the Creation, and explain to him the motion of the celestial bodies. He
then told Raphael of his own creation; how he awoke as from a sleep and
found the Sun above him and around him the pleasant groves of Paradise;
how he named the animals as they passed before him, according to the will
of God, and how he had pleaded with his Maker for a companion and equal,
until the Creator, casting him into a sound sleep, took from his side a
rib and formed from it his beauteous Eve. As Adam concluded, the setting
sun warned Raphael to depart.

Satan, after fleeing from Gabriel, had hidden in the dark parts of the
earth, so that he could creep in at night unseen of Uriel. After the
eighth night, he crept in past the watchful Cherubim, and stealing into
Paradise, wrapped in the mist rising over the river that, shooting
underground, rose up as a fountain near the Tree of Life, he crept, though
not without loathing, into the serpent, in which form he could best evade
the watchful eyes of the heavenly guards and accomplish his purpose.

When morning dawned, Eve asked Adam for once to permit her to work alone,
so that they might accomplish more. Adam, who constantly desired her
presence, prayed her to remain, warning her of the enemy of whom Raphael
had spoken, and telling her that they could resist temptation more easily
together than when separated. But Eve was obdurate, and Adam finally
consented that she should go alone to work.

As she moved among the groves, tying up the drooping flowers, like to
Pomona in her prime, or to Ceres, the sight of so much beauty, goodness,
and innocence moved even the serpent, as he approached, intent on the
destruction of her happiness. But as he looked, the thought of her joy but
tortured him the more, since happiness was no longer possible for him.

This was before the serpent had been compelled to crawl his whole length
on the ground, and as he moved on, fold on fold, his head proudly reared,
his scales brilliant in color, he was not an unpleasant object to look
upon. He circled about Eve as though lost in admiration, until her
attention was attracted, and then astounded her by addressing her in her
own language. When she demanded by what means he had acquired speech, he
told her by the plucking and eating of a certain tree in the garden, which
he had no sooner tasted than he felt his inward powers to develop until he
found himself capable of speech.

Eve at once asked him to take her to the tree, but when she recognized the
forbidden Tree of Knowledge, she demurred, assuring the serpent that God
had commanded them not to touch it, for if they ate of it, they should
surely die. "Am I not alive?" asked her tempter, "and have I not eaten of
it? Is it not a rank injustice that you should be forbidden to taste it
and to lack the Knowledge of Good and Evil which it would give you? Where
can the offence lie? It must be envy that causes such a prohibition."

His words, the sight of the fruit, and natural hunger all prevailed on
Eve, and she plucked a branch from the tree and tasted the fruit. As she
ate she saw Adam coming in search of her, holding a garland which he had
been binding to crown her. To his reproaches, she replied with the
arguments of her tempter, until Adam, in despair, determined to taste the
apple that he might not lose Eve. Paradise without her would not be
Paradise, and no new wife could make him forget her.

After the first exhilaration of the food was past they began to reproach
each other, mindful of their destiny, of which they had been warned by
Raphael, and, engaged in this fruitless chiding, they were found by the
Son, who, informed of their transgression by the angels, sought them out
in their place of concealment. Adam and Eve he sentenced to a life of
sorrow and labor, the serpent to go despised and ever at enmity with man.
Then, pitying the unhappy pair, he clad them in skins and re-ascended to

While this was occurring in Eden, Sin and Death, feeling in some
mysterious way the success of their parent, determined to leave Hell and
seek their new home. Passing through Chaos, they pushed the heavy elements
this way and that, cementing them with Death's mace until they constructed
of them a bridge from the gates of Hell to the point on earth at which
Satan had first alighted, and here met him, just returning, flushed with
success, to Hell.

All the followers of Satan were gathered in Pandemonium to hear the news
of his success, which he related, overjoyed at having wrought the ruin of
mankind and revenged himself on God by so small a thing as the eating of
an apple. As he concluded and stood waiting their applause, he heard a
universal hiss, and saw himself surrounded by serpents, and himself
changing into an enormous dragon. The great hall was filled with the
monsters, scorpions, asps, hydras, and those who stood waiting without
with applause for their leader were likewise changed into loathsome
reptiles. Without the hall a grove sprang up, loaded with tempting fruit,
but when, tortured with thirst, they tried to eat, it turned in their
mouths to bitter ashes. After a time they were permitted to take again
their own shapes, but were compelled to resume this serpent-form for a
certain number of days each year, to crush their pride.

When God saw the entrance of Sin and Death into the world, he proclaimed
to his Saints that their seeming victory was but temporary, and that
eventually his Son would defeat Sin, Death, and the Grave, and seal up the
mouth of Hell. Then, as the Halleluias rang out, he ordered the angels to
make certain changes in the universe as a punishment to man. The Sun was
so to move as to affect the earth alternately with a cold and heat almost
unbearable; to the Moon were assigned her motions; the other planets were
to join in various ways, often "unbenign." The winds were assigned their
stations to torment the earth and sea, and the thunder was set to strike
terror to the heart of man. The poles of the earth were pushed aslant, and
soon the effects of the changes were felt in heat, cold, wind, and storm.

Adam, though absorbed in his own misery and momentarily expecting Death,
saw the changes, and bemoaned his woes the more. How would his mysterious
progeny despise him, since he was the cause of their being brought into
the world of woe! When Eve attempted to comfort him he drove her from him
with harsh words, saying that in time to come women would be the unhappy
cause of all man's misery, as she had been of his. At last, seeing the
futility of his outcries Adam began to cheer his wife, recalling the
promise that their offspring should crush the head of the serpent, and
suggested to her that they go to their former place of prayer and pour
forth to God their true contrition and repentance.

The glad Son, presenting these prayers at his Father's throne, interceded
with him for them, since their contrition now was worth more than their
worship in a state of innocence. His intercession was accepted, but since
they had lost the two gifts of Happiness and Immortality, they must leave
the garden lest they be tempted to taste next of the Tree of Life and make
their woe eternal.

Michael was sent down to drive them from the garden, and if the pair
seemed repentant and disconsolate he was ordered to comfort them with the
promise of better days and to reveal to them somewhat of the future. In
habit as a man Michael descended and declared to Adam and Eve that they
could no longer abide in Paradise. When Adam, himself broken with grief,
attempted to console the heart-broken Eve, the Angel comforted her also,
and causing a sleep to fall upon her, led Adam to a hill-top, whence could
be seen the hemisphere of the earth, soon to be covered by the seats of

Touching Adam's eyes with three drops from the well of life, the Angel
showed him a long panorama, beginning with the crime of Cain, and showing
the building of the Ark and its landing on Ararat. When he perceived that
Adam's eyes were weary, he recited to him the story of Abraham, of the
deliverance from Egypt, the wandering in the Wilderness, of the royal
stock of David from which would spring the seed so often promised Adam,
who should ascend the hereditary throne, and whose glory should be

Overjoyed, Adam inquired when would take place the final death stroke to
Satan, the bruising with the Victor's heel. Michael responded that Satan
was not to be destroyed, but his works in Adam and his seed, and that the
sacrifice of the Son's life for man would forever crush the strength of
Satan's progeny, Sin and Death. Then, to that Heaven to which he would
reascend, the faithful would go when the time came for the world's
dissolution, and there would be received into the bliss eternal.

Strengthened and sustained, Adam went down from the mount and met Eve,
just awaking from comforting dreams.

The Cherubim descended, and, urged by the Angel, the two took their way
into the wide world that lay before them, and looking back beheld the
flaming swords of the Cherubim at the gates of their lost Paradise.



After having been thrown out of Heaven with his crew, Satan lay nine days
in the burning lake into which he fell. Then, rousing himself, he rose
from the liquid flames, flew over the lake, and alighting upon the solid
though burning land, thus addressed Beelzebub, who had accompanied him.

"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,"
Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seat
That we must change for Heaven?--this mournful gloom
For that celestial light? Be it so, since He
Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
What shall be right: farthest from Him is best,
Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever 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.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less than he
Whom thunder hath made greater? 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.
But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
The associates and co-partners of our loss,
Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
And call them not to share with us their part
In this unhappy mansion, or once more
With rallied arms to try what may be yet
Regained in Heaven, or what more lost in Hell?"

So Satan spake; and him Beelzebub
Thus answered:--"Leader of those armies bright
Which, but the Omnipotent, none could have foiled!
If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
Of hope in fears and dangers--heard so oft
In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
Of battle, when it raged, in all assaults
Their surest signal--they will soon resume
New courage and revive, though now they lie
Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
As we erewhile, astounded and amazed;
No wonder, fallen from such pernicious highth!"

He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him cast. The broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At evening, from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
His spear--to equal which the tallest pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
Of some great ammiral, were but a wand--
He walked with, to support uneasy steps
Over the burning marle, not like those steps
On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.
Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflamed sea he stood, and called
His legions--Angel Forms, who lay entranced
Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades
High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge
Afloat, when the fierce winds Orion armed
Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,
While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcases
And broken chariot wheels. So thick bestrewn,
Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He called so loud that all the hollow deep
Of Hell resounded:--"Princes, Potentates,
Warriors, the Flower of Heaven--once yours; now lost,
If such astonishment as this can seize
Eternal Spirits! Or have ye chosen this place
After the toil of battle to repose
Your wearied virtue, for the ease you find
To slumber here, as in the vales of Heaven?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the Conqueror, who now beholds
Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood
With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon
His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern
The advantage, and descending, tread us down
Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?--
Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!"
_Book I._, 240-330.


This passage forms the beginning of Book III., in which the poet visits
the realms of light after having described Hell and its inhabitants.

Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born!
Or of the Eternal coeternal beam
May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity--dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate!
Or hear'st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,
Before the Heavens, thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising World of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless Infinite!
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian Pool, though long detained
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,
Through utter and through middle Darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the Heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equalled with me in fate,
So were I equalled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and, for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
_Book III_


"A cold and noble epic."--TAINE.

Paradise regained was written by Milton, judging from a passage in the
Autobiography of Thomas Ellwood, in the winter of 1665-6, but was not
published until 1671. It was printed at Milton's expense in a small volume
together with Samson Agonistes.

Paradise Regained tells the story of Christ's temptation in the
Wilderness, and the material was taken from the accounts of Matthew and
Luke, which the poet, with great skill, expanded without essentially
deviating from them.

The title has been criticised on the ground that the poem should have
extended over the whole of Christ's life on earth. But Paradise Regained
was written as a sequel to Paradise Lost, and, as in the first poem the
poet showed that Paradise was lost by the yielding of Adam and Eve to
Satan, so in the second, he wished to show that Paradise was regained by
the resistance of Christ to temptation, Satan's defeat signifying the
regaining of Paradise for men by giving them the hope of Christ's second
coming. Therefore the poem naturally ends with Satan's rebuff and his
final abandonment of the attempt on the pinnacle of the Temple.

The poem has been criticised for its shortness, some scholars even
affecting to believe it unfinished; its lack of variety, in that it has
but two characters, its lack of action, and the absence of figurative

But with all these faults, it has a charm of its own, entirely different
from that of Paradise Lost. Satan has degenerated during his years of
"roaming up and down the earth;" he is no longer the fallen angel of
Paradise Lost, who struggled with himself before making evil his good. He
is openly given over to evil practices, and makes little effort to play
the hypocrite. His temptations are worked up from that of hunger to that
of the vision of the kingdoms of the earth with a wonderful power of
description which makes up for the lack of action and the few actors. The
pathless, rockbound desert, the old man, poorly clad, who accosts the
Christ, the mountain-top from which all the earth was visible, the night
of horror in the desert, and the sublime figure of the Savior, are all
enduring pictures which compensate for any rigidity of treatment. If
figurative language is omitted it is because the theme does not need it,
and does not show that the poem is less carefully finished than Paradise
Lost. Its lack of action and similarity of subject to the longer poem
sufficiently account for its not meeting with popular favor. Johnson was
correct when he said, "had this poem been written not by Milton, but by
some imitator, it would have claimed and received universal praise."


H. C. Beeching, On the Prosody of Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes,

Charles Dexter Cleveland's Complete Concordance to Milton's Poetical
Works, 1867;

William T. Dobson's The Classic Poets, their Lives and Times etc., 1879;

George Gilfillan's Second Gallery of Literary Portraits, 1852, pp. 15-16;

Samuel Johnson's Milton (see his Lives of the Poets, ed. by Mrs. Alexander
Napier, 1890, vol. i.);

Thomas Babington Macaulay's Milton (see his Critical and Historical
Essays, ed, 10, 1860, vol. i.);

David Masson's Introduction to Paradise Regained (see his ed. of Milton's
Poetical works, 1893, vol. iii., pp. 1-14);

David Masson's Life of Milton, 1880, vol. vi., 651-661;

Richard Meadowcourt's Critique on Milton's Paradise Regained, 1732;

A Critical Dissertation on Paradise Regained with Notes, 2d ed. 1748;

John Robert Seeley's Milton (see his Roman Imperialism and other Lectures
and Essays, 1871, pp. 152-157);

Mark Pattison's John Milton (English Men of Letters Series), n. d.;

H. A. Taine's History of English Literature, Tr. by H. Van Laun, 1877,
vol. ii.


After the expulsion from Paradise of Adam and Eve, Satan and his followers
did not return to Hell, but remained on earth, the fallen angels becoming
the evil gods of various idolatrous nations and Satan engaging in every
kind of evildoing which he knew would vex the Powers of Heaven. All the
time he was troubled by the thought of the heavenly foe who he had been
told would one day appear on earth to crush him and his rebel angels.

Now John had come out of the wilderness, proclaiming his mission, and
among those who came to him to be baptized was one who was deemed the son
of Joseph of Nazareth. John recognized in the obscure carpenter's son the
one "mightier than he" whose coming he was to proclaim, and this fact was
further made clear to the multitude and the observant Satan by the opening
of the Heavens and the descent therefrom on Christ's head of the Dove,
while a voice was heard declaring, "This is my beloved Son."

Satan, enraged, fled to the council of the fiends to announce to them the
presence on earth of their long-dreaded enemy. He was empowered by them to
attempt his overthrow, and they were the more confident because of his
success with Adam and Eve.

Satan's purpose was known to the Eternal Father, who smiled to see him
unwittingly fulfilling the plan so long foreordained for his destruction.

After his baptism, the Father had sent his Son into the wilderness to gain
strength for his struggle with Sin and Death, and there Satan, in the
guise of an old, poorly clad rustic, found him. Although the Son of God
had wandered through the rock-bound, pathless desert, among wild beasts,
without food for forty days, he had no fear, believing that some impulse
from above had guided him thither before he should go out among men to do
his divinely appointed task.

Then, when hunger came upon him as he wandered, thinking of past events
and those to come, he met the aged man and was addressed by him.

"Sir, how came you hither, where none who ventures alone escapes alive? I
ask because you look not unlike the man I lately saw baptized by John and
declared the Son of God."

"I need no guide," replied the Son. "The Power who brought me here will
bring me forth."

"Not otherwise than by miracle. Here we subsist only upon dry roots and
must often endure parching thirst. If thou art indeed the Son of God, save
thyself and relieve us wretched people by changing these stones to bread."

"Men live not by bread alone," replied the Son, "but by the word of God.
Moses in the Mount was without food and drink for forty days. Elijah also
wandered fasting in the wilderness. Thou knowest who I am as I know who
thou art; why shouldest thou suggest distrust to me?"

"'Tis true that I am that unfortunate spirit who fell from Heaven, but I
have been permitted to roam around the earth and have not been altogether
excluded from Heaven. God allowed me to test Job and prove his worth and
to draw Ahab into fraud. Though I have lost much of my original brightness
I can still admire all that is illustrious and good. The sons of men
should not regard me as an enemy, for I have oft given them aid by
oracles, dreams, and portents. My loss was not through them, so their
restoration does not grieve me; only that fallen man will be restored and
not I."

"Thou deservest to grieve, tissue of lies that thou art!" exclaimed our
Savior. "Thou boastest of being released from Hell and permitted to come
into Heaven. No joy hast thou there! Thy own malice moved thee to torture
Job. Brag not of thy lies, thy oracles for men. Henceforth oracles are
dumb, since God has sent his living oracle into the world to teach the

Satan, though angry, still dissembled.

"Accuse me, reprove me, if thou wilt. Fallen as I am, I still love to hear
the truth fall from thy lips."

Unmoved by his false words the Savior of men declared that he neither
forbade nor invited his presence, and Satan, bowing low, disappeared as
night fell over the desert.

In the mean time, those at Bethabara who had rejoiced at the declaration
of John and had talked with the Messiah, were deeply grieved to find him
gone and with him their hope of deliverance. His mother, too, was troubled
at his absence, but comforted herself with the thought of his former
absences, afterwards explained.

Satan, hastening from the desert, sought his troop of evil spirits to warn
them that his undertaking was no easy one, and to summon them to his

Night fell on the Son of God, still fasting, wondering what would be the
end. In sleep he was visited by dreams of Elijah, raven-fed, and of the
same prophet fed by the angel in the desert, and as he dreamed that he ate
with them, the lark's song awoke him and he wandered into a pleasant
grove. As he viewed it, charmed by its beauty, a man appeared before him,
no rustic this time, but one attired in the apparel of city or court.

"I have returned, wondering that thou still remainest here, hungering.
Hagar once wandered here; the children of Israel, and the Prophet, but all
these were fed by the hand of Heaven. Thou alone art forgotten and goest
tormented by hunger."

Though the Son of God declared that he had no need to eat, Satan invited
his attention to a table, set under a spreading tree. Upon it was heaped
every known delicacy; by it waited youths handsome as Ganymede, and among
the trees tripped naiads and nymphs of Diana, with fruits and flowers.
Exquisite music was heard, and the perfumes of Araby filled the air.

"Why not sit and eat?" continued Satan. "These foods are not forbidden,
and all these gentle ministers are ready to do thee homage."

"What hast thou to do with my hunger?" demanded Jesus. "Should I receive
as a gift from thee what I myself could command if I so desired? I too
could bring a table here, and swift-winged angels to attend me. Thy gifts
are but guiles."

"I am forever suspected," responded Satan, as the table vanished. "Hunger
cannot move thee, set on high designs. But what canst thou, a lowly
carpenter's son, accomplish without aid? Where wilt thou find authority,
where followers? First get riches; hearken to me, for fortune is in my
hand. Wealth will win, while virtue, valor, and wisdom sit and wait in

"Yet what can wealth do without these?" replied Jesus patiently. "How can
it gain dominion, and keep it when gained? Gideon, Jephtha, David, and
among the heathen (for I am not ignorant of history) Quinctius, Fabricius,
Curius, Regulus, all these have risen from the depths and achieved the
highest deeds. Then, why may not I accomplish as much, even more, without
wealth, which but cumbers the wise man, and slackens virtue, rather than
prompts it to worthy deeds? Suppose I reject both riches and realms? Not
because the regal diadem is a wreath of thorns and he who wears it bears
each man's burden, for the king's chief praise is the manner in which he
bears this burden for the public. But he who rules himself is greater than
a king, and he who cannot do this should not aspire to royal power. But it
is surely more kingly to lead nations blinded by error into the light of
God's truth. This dominion is over the nobler part of man. And it has ever
been thought greater and nobler to give a kingdom and to lay down
authority than to assume it. Therefore thy riches are needless both in
themselves, and to gain a kingdom which would better be missed than

Satan, though for a moment struck dumb by this answer to his arguments,
soon collected himself and suggested that while the Savior knew so well
what was best to know, say, and do, that if known he would be regarded as
an oracle, still he did wrong to despise glory and deprive earth of his
great deeds, citing as examples of more active spirits accomplishing much
when younger than he, the young Alexander, Scipio, Pompey, and Caesar. But
the Savior replied that the glory which consisted of the approval of the
rabble was only to be despised. The true glory was that of the man who
dared to be truly good, who though little known on earth, was famous in
Heaven. Such men did not lay waste fields, sack, pillage, and slay, but by
deeds of peace won the approval of the Father. Such was Job, oft tempted
by Satan; such was Socrates, who suffered unjust death for teaching truth.
And the Son of God had come upon earth not to win glory for himself as
vain men do, but for Him who sent him.

"Thy Father does not despise glory," sneered Satan. "He demands it from
his angels, from men, even from us, his foes."

"With reason," answered the Son, "since he created all things, though not
for glory. And what slighter recompense could he expect from men who could
return nothing else?"

Satan, remembering his own ambition and his fall, was silent for a moment,
and then spoke to remind the Savior that he was born to the throne of
David, but that it must be wrested from the Roman by force of arms. It was
his duty to do this and save his people from oppression.

"All things in due time," replied the Savior. "If the Writ tells of my
sufferings, my tribulations, of violence done unto me, it also tells of my
reign without end. I can wait. He who suffers best, can do best; he who
obeys first, reigns best; and why shouldest thou be so anxious to hasten
my rule when it means thy destruction?"

"When hope is gone, what is there left to fear? My punishment will come
whether thou reign or no. I could hope that thy reign would stand between
me and the anger of thy Father. And if I haste to the worst that can be,
why shouldest thou go so slowly to the best? Perhaps thou fearest the
dangerous enterprise, thou who, pent up in Galilean towns, hast seen so

So saying, he took the Son up into a high mountain at the foot of which
stretched a vast plain. Two rivers watered the fertile land. The hills
were covered with flocks; vast cities could be seen, and here and there,
so wide was the land, a barren desert. Then the Tempter pointed out the
vast cities of Assyria, Nineveh, Babylon, Persepolis, Bactra, and the vast
host of the Parthian king, even then marching against the Scythians. As
they watched the great host of mailed warriors, accompanied by chariots,
elephants, archers, engineers, Satan pursued his argument. Suppose the Son
should take possession of his kingdom; how should he hope to keep it in
peace between two such powerful enemies as the Parthians and the Romans?
It would be better to conquer first the nearest, the Parthians, and this
could be done with Satan's help. In doing this he would not only be able
to occupy his throne but would deliver the offspring of the Ten Tribes of
Israel, who, scattered among the Medes, still served as slaves.

But the Savior, in response, only questioned Satan as to why he had
suddenly become so solicitous for the salvation of the Tribes when he
himself had once tempted David to number Israel and had thus brought
pestilence upon them. And as to the Ten Tribes, they had brought their
punishment upon themselves, and must serve the enemy and their idols until
the Father should see fit to release them.

Though embarrassed by the failure of his wiles, Satan could not yet yield.
Turning to the western side of the mountain, he pointed out to the Savior
a long, narrow plain, bordered on the south by the sea and protected from
northern blasts by a mountain range. There, crowning the seven hills stood
the imperial city adorned with porches, theatres, baths, aqueducts, and
palaces. Satan pointed out the different objects of interest in splendid
Rome, the Capitol, Mt. Palatine, crowned by the imperial palace, and the
great gates, through which issued or entered a continuous stream of
praetors, proconsuls, lictors, legions, embassies, on all the roads which
led through the far-stretching empire, even to those of the Asian kings,
and remote Britain. All the glory of the world, he argued, lay in Parthia
and Rome, and Rome was greater. He who ruled her was indeed ruler of the
world, and yet its present emperor was old, weak, lascivious, without
heir, and lived at Capreae, his public cares entrusted to his favorite.
How easily could the Son of God force from him the power and lift the yoke
from his people!

But the splendor of the scene allured neither the eye nor the mind of the
Son. The gluttonies, the gorgeous feasts, the hollow compliments and lies
of the people did not attract him. His mission, he told his Tempter, was
not yet to free that people, once just and frugal, now debased by their
insatiable ambition. When the time came for him to sit on David's throne,
this with all other kingdoms of the earth would be shattered while his
kingdom would be eternal.

"Though thou despisest my offers," cried Satan, "thou knowest that I
esteem them highly, and will not part with them for nought. This is the
condition; Wilt thou fall down and worship me as thy superior lord?"

"It is written, thou accursed one," responded the Savior in disdain, "that
thou shouldst worship and serve the Lord thy God alone. Who gave thee the
kingdoms of the earth if He did not? And what gratitude thou showest! Get
thee behind me! Truly thou art Satan!"

Satan, abashed but not silenced, pointed southwest toward Athens. Since
the Savior seemed to prefer a contemplative life, why should he not seek
that seat of learning? All wisdom was not contained in Moses' law and the
writings of the prophets. Let him master the learning of the great
Athenian teachers, philosophers and orators, and he would be a king within

But the Savior assured Satan that, having received light from above, he
knew how false and fallacious were the boasted philosophies of the Greeks.
Their philosophers, ignorant of themselves and of God, and arrogating all
glory to themselves and ascribing none to Him, were unable to impart
wisdom to any one. From Hebrew psalm and hymn, and captive harps in
Babylon, the Greeks derived their arts, and the results, the odious
praises of their vicious gods, could not compare with the songs of Sion in
praise of the Father. Their orators, too, were far below the Hebrew
prophets. "Stay in the wilderness, then," thundered Satan, wroth at this
failure. "Since neither riches nor arms, nor power, nor yet the
contemplative life please thee, it is for thee the fittest place! But the
time will yet come when violence, stripes, and a cruel death will make
thee long for me and my proffered power. Truly the stars promise thee a
kingdom, but of what kind and when I cannot read."

As he disappeared, darkness fell, and the Son of God, still hungry and
cold, sought rest under a sheltering tree. But Satan watched near, and
forbade rest. Thunder and lightning shook the Heavens; rain drenched the
earth; the fury of the winds was loosed, and in their path the sturdiest
trees were uprooted. Ghosts, furies, raved around the holy one, but,
unshaken by fear, he endured all calmly, and came forth, as the bright sun
shone upon the earth, to meet again the Prince of Darkness.

Enraged that the terrors of the night had had no effect upon his enemy,
Satan cried out that he still doubted that the wanderer in the wilderness
was the Son of God in the true sense, and would therefore try him another

So speaking, he caught him up and bore him through the air unto Jerusalem,
and setting him on the highest pinnacle of the glorious Temple, said

"Stand there, if thou canst; I have placed thee highest in thy Father's
house. Now show if thou art indeed the Son of God. Cast thyself down, for
it is written that He will command his angels concerning thee, so that
they in their hands shall uplift thee."

"It is also written," said Jesus, "'Tempt not the Lord thy God.'" And as
he so spoke and stood, Satan, overcome with amazement, fell whence he had
expected to see his conqueror fall, and, struck with dread and anguish at
his certain defeat, fled to his rebel angels.

Straightway, a "fiery globe" of angels received the Son on their pinions,
bore him from the pinnacle into a flowery vale, and there refreshed him
with ambrosial food and water from the Fount of Life, while all around him
the angelic choir sang his praises for the conquest of his enemy, and
encouraged him to go forth on his work of saving mankind. Thence, rested
and refreshed, he arose, and went, unobserved, home to his mother's house.



Satan, meeting the Savior in the wilderness, tempted him to change the
stones to bread, and then, after endeavoring to awake in him a longing for
wealth and power, appealed to his ambition by leading him to a mountain
top, and displaying to him the kingdoms of the earth.

With that (such power was given him then), he [Satan] took
The Son of God up to a mountain high.
It was a mountain at whose verdant feet
A spacious plain outstretched in circuit wide
Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flowed,
The one winding, the other straight, and left between
Fair champaign, with less rivers interveined,
Then meeting joined their tribute to the sea.
Fertile of corn the glebe, of oil, and wine;
With herds the pasture thronged, with flocks the hills;
Huge cities and high-towered, that well might seem
The seats of mightiest monarchs; and so large
The prospect was that here and there was room
For barren desert, fountainless and dry.
To this high mountain-top the Tempter brought
Our Saviour, and new train of words began:--

"Well have we speeded, and o'er hill and dale,
Forest, and field, and flood, temples and towers,
Cut shorter many a league. Here thou behold'st
Assyria, and her empire's ancient bounds,
Araxes and the Caspian lake; thence on
As far as Indus east, Euphrates west,
And oft beyond; to south the Persian bay,
And, inaccessible, the Arabian drouth:
Here, Nineveh, of length within her wall
Several days' journey, built by Ninus old,
Of that first golden monarchy the seat,
And seat of Salmanassar, whose success
Israel in long captivity still mourns;
There Babylon, the wonder of all tongues,
As ancient, but rebuilt by him who twice
Judah and all thy father David's house
Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,
Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis,
His city, there thou seest, and Bactra there;
Ecbatana her structure vast there shows,
And Hecatompylos her hundred gates;
There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,
The drink of none but kings; of later fame,
Built by Emathian or by Parthian hands,
The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye, thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian (now some ages past
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire) under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gathered all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid
He marches now in haste. See though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows and shafts their arms,
Of equal dread in flight or in pursuit--
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs, and wedges, and half-moons, and wings."

He looked, and saw what numbers numberless
The city gates outpoured, light-armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride.
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound--
From Arachosia, from Candaor east,
And Margiana, to the Hyrcanian cliffs
Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales;
From Atropatia, and the neighboring plains
Of Adiabene, Media, and the south
Of Susiana, to Balsara's haven.
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheeled, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown.
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor, on each horn,
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight,
Chariots, or elephants indorsed with towers
Of archers; nor of labouring pioneers
A multitude, with spades and axes armed,
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or where plain was raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke:
Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,
And waggons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphrone, from thence to win
The fairest of her sex, Angelica,
His daughter, sought by many prowest knights,
Both Paynim and the peers of Charlemain.
Such and so numerous was their chivalry.
_Book III._

He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, long, but in breadth not wide,
Washed by the southern sea, and on the north
To equal length backed with a ridge of hills
That screened the fruits of the earth and seats of men
From cold Septentrion blasts; thence in the midst
Divided by a river, off whose banks
On each side an imperial city stood,
With towers and temples proudly elevate
On seven small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves, presented to his eyes
Above the highth of mountains interposed--
By what strange parallax, or optic skill
Of vision, multiplied through air, or glass
Of telescope, were curious to inquire.
And now the Tempter thus his silence broke:--
"The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome Queen of the Earth
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations. There the Capitol thou seest,
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable; and there Mount Palatine,
The imperial palace, compass huge, and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements, conspicuous far,
Turrets, and terraces, and glittering spires.
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of gods--so well have I disposed
My aery microscope--thou may'st behold,
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.
Thence to the gates cast round thine eye, and see
What conflux issuing forth, or entering in:
Praetors, proconsuls to their provinces
Hasting, or on return, in robes of state;
Lictors and rods, the ensigns of their power;
Legions and cohorts, turms of horse and wings;
Or embassies from regions far remote,
In various habits, on the Appian road,
Or on the Aemilian--some from farthest south,
Syene, and where the shadow both way falls,
Meroe, Nilotic isle, and, more to west,
The realm of Bocchus to the Blackmoor sea;
From the Asian kings (and Parthian among these),
From India and the Golden Chersoness,
And utmost Indian isle Taprobane,
Dusk faces with white silken turbants wreathed;
From Gallia, Gades, and the British west;
Germans, and Scythians, and Sarmatians north
Beyond Danubius to the Tauric pool.
All nations now to Rome obedience pay--
To Rome's great Emperor, whose wide domain,
In ample territory, wealth and power,
Civility of manners, arts and arms,
And long renown, thou justly may'st prefer
Before the Parthian. These two thrones except,
The rest are barbarous, and scarce worth the sight,
Shared among petty kings too far removed;
These having shown thee, I have shown thee all
The kingdoms of the world, and all their glory".
_Book IV._

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