Book I

"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, and regain the blissful seat"


Milton’s claim that with Paradise Lost he intends to pursue "Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme" (l. 16) is taken from a line in Ariosto’s 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 Milton’s 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 Heav’n 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

  By PanEris using Melati.

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