Tuesday, July 23, 2019


Fitzwilliam Museum
Milton's Paradise Regained
Satan addressing his potentates

Paradise Regained, Book 2
"How to begin, how to accomplish best
His end of being on Earth, and mission high:
For Satan with slye preface to return [ 115 ]
Had left him vacant, and with speed was gon
Up to the middle Region of thick Air,
Where all his Potentates in Council sate;
There without sign of boast, or sign of joy,
Sollicitous and blank he thus began. [ 120 ]

Princes, Heavens antient Sons, Æthereal Thrones,
Demonian Spirits now, from the Element
Each of his reign allotted, rightlier call'd,
Powers of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth beneath,
So may we hold our place and these mild seats [ 125 ]
Without new trouble; such an Enemy
Is ris'n to invade us, who no less
Threat'ns then our expulsion down to Hell;
I, as I undertook, and with the vote
Consenting in full frequence was impow'r'd, [ 130 ]
Have found him, view'd him, tasted him, but find
Far other labour to be undergon
Then when I dealt with Adam first of Men,"

Following the development of Milton's account in Paradise Regained, Satan had learned of Jesus being recognized as the Son of God at his baptism. In Paradise Lost Satan had fallen from God's presence through his reaction to the way that God favored his new creation Adam. A third of the angels followed Satan when he departed from heaven. After Satan and his followers were defeated by the Archangel Michael and the loyal angels, they were banished to hell.  

Blake's fifth illustration to Paradise Regained shows Satan's reaction to learning that Jesus has been selected by God to bring salvation to mankind. Satan notifies the rebel angels that he will tempt Jesus as he had tempted Adam and Eve. Satan expects to have more difficulty drawing Jesus away from God than he did Adam, but thinks himself up to the challenge.

Anna Beer, in her biography Milton, Poet, Pamphleteer, and Patriot is interested in how the Son's 'true status and destiny' are revealed in Paradise Regained:
"Satan certainly does not fully comprehend who he is dealing with. He only sees that the Son is 'unfriended, of low of birth'. He tells his followers in hell, still ready to take his lead, that 'Who this is we must learn, for man he seems...' Moreover, the Son himself remains unaware of the way in which he will fulfill his redemptive purpose, how he will indeed restore Eden. Thus the poem as a whole not only celebrates 'one man's firm obedience, fully tried but shows how the trial of that obedience enables the Son to understand fully his own role in Humanity's redemption." (Page 367)  

Although there is no account in the bible of Milton's story of Satan's rebellion, there are passages which allude to the struggle on which Milton based his tale.

In the beginning of The Four Zoas Blake quoted verses from Ephesians which do not mention Satan or angels but principalities, powers and rulers of darkness:

Ephesians 6
[10] Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
[11] Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
[12] For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
[13] Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

This verse from Jude suggests Milton's fallen angels confined in everlasting darkness:

[6] And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

In second Peter we read of angels who sinned, were cast into hell and await the day of judgment:

2 Peter 2

[4] For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
[5] And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
[6] And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
[7] And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
[8] (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
[9] The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

This verse in Luke uses the image of Satan falling as lightning from heaven in conjunction with the power of the name of Jesus:

Luke 10
[16] He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
[17] And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
[18] And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

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