Paradise Lost Book One includes:
- At last appear
- Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
- And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass,
- Three iron, three of adamantine rock,
- Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,
- Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat
- On either side a formidable shape.
- The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
- But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
- Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed
- With mortal sting. About her middle round
- A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked
- With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
This Plate shows a contest between Satan and Death in the midst of Sin.
The lady between them is Sin; she seems to be trying to separate the others.
On the left is Satan; on the right is a transparent Death.
Each one has a fiery spear pointed at the other.
Under their feet are two Serpents,their mouths coming up at each border.
In the bottom center, in the coils of the serpent is a frightful creature, invocative of the Great Red Dragon of Revelation. But Works reports:
Below her loins are two coiled serpent's tails and the heads of four hell hounds.
We can imagine a large hall open on the left and a large gate on the right, the gates of hell.
Four links of a large chain emerge from the upper center and is said to
dangle to the right of Death's left calf. Fire fills the passage on the left and appears along the lower edge of the design below the figures.
Satan and Death stand fighting with Sin between them. Satan, on the left, strides to the right with his arms bent upward. He holds a spear in his raised right hand and an oval shield in his left. Death's body is transparent. He stands with his back to the viewer and leans slightly to the right; with both hands he holds a fiery spear or dart which is pointed at Satan.
Sin kneels between the two figures with her arms raised as if to separate them. Her right hand touches the left side of Satan's torso. Below her loins are two coiled serpent's tails and the heads of four hell hounds.
The scene takes place in a chamber or hall with an open passage on the left and a large gate, with a lowered portcullis, on the right. These are the gates of hell.