"Of mans 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, and regain the blissful seat"
Miltons claim that with Paradise Lost he intends to pursue "Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme" (l. 16) is taken from a line in Ariostos Renaissance epic, Orlando Furioso. Rather than a boastful assertion, it emphasizes the seriousness and importance of his undertaking, the attempt to "assert Eternal Providence | And justify the ways of God to men" (ll.25-6). There are several interrelated dimensions to Miltons meaning here. Implicitly there is also the context of contemporary political upheaval the failure of the republican experiment during the 1650s.
The opening question Milton poses is an epic convention; Homer and Virgil began by asking the Muses to reveal the gods who had caused the events of the story they intend to discuss. Thus Milton asks,
" what cause
Moved our grand parents in that happy state,
Favored of Heavn so highly, to fall off
From their Creator and transgress his will"
Following convention, for Milton the answer is clear: it was Satan, "Th infernal Serpent", who "with all his host of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring | To set himself in glory above his peers".
Milton describes the entry of the fallen angels into hell and as they cross the Styx, Satan laments on his fall and on his future in hell. After initially being reluctant
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