Paradise Lost

God’s greatest enemy and the ruler of Hell. Satan (his original name is erased; “Satan” means “Adversary”) was one of the most powerful Archangels, but then became jealous of God and convinced a third of God’s angels to rebel with him. Satan is cast into Hell, which he proudly rules until he realizes Hell is inside his soul and he can never escape suffering. He resolves to corrupt whatever he can of God’s goodness, and flies to Earth to tempt Adam and Eve. Satan is meant to be the antagonist of the poem, but he is also the most dynamic, interesting character.

Satan Quotes in Paradise Lost

The Paradise Lost quotes below are all either spoken by Satan or refer to Satan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Paradise Lost published in 2003.
Book 1 Quotes

Fall’n Cherub, to be weak is miserable
Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
To do aught good never will be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being the contrary to his high will
Whom we resist. If then his Providence
Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
Our labour must be to pervert that end,
And out of good still to find means of evil…

Related Characters: Satan (speaker)
Page Number: 1.157-165
Explanation and Analysis:

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The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n…
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 Heav’n.

Related Characters: Satan (speaker)
Page Number: 1.254-263
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2 Quotes

Thus Beelzebub
Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devised
By Satan, and in part proposed; for whence,
But from the author of all ill could spring
So deep a malice, to confound the race
Of mankind in one root, and earth with Hell
To mingle and involve, done all to spite
The great Creator? But their spite still serves
His glory to augment.

Related Characters: Satan, God the Father, Beelzebub
Page Number: 2.379-386
Explanation and Analysis:

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If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall
He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?
Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

Related Characters: God the Father (speaker), Satan, Adam
Page Number: 2.91-99
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 4 Quotes

Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest deep a lower deep
Still threat’ning to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heav’n.

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), God the Father
Page Number: 4.69-78
Explanation and Analysis:

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And should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, as I do, yet public reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarged,
By conquering this new world, compels me now
To do what else though damned I should abhor.

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), God the Father
Page Number: 4.388-392
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 5 Quotes

Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves
Natives and sons of Heav’n possessed before
By none, and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then or right assume
Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in power and splendour less,
In freedom equal?

Related Characters: Satan (speaker)
Page Number: 5.787-797
Explanation and Analysis:

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Unjust thou say’st
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
And equal over equals to let reign,
One over all with unsucceeded power.
Shalt thou give law to God, shalt thou dispute
With him the points of liberty, who made
Thee what thou art, and formed the Powers of Heav’n
Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?

Related Characters: Abdiel (speaker), Satan
Page Number: 5.818-825
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 9 Quotes

O foul descent! that I who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrained
Into a beast, and mixed with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the heighth of Deity aspired…
Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils;
Let it; I reck not, so I light well aimed,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of Heav’n, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom us the more to spite his Maker raised
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), Adam
Page Number: 9.163-178
Explanation and Analysis:

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Queen of this universe, do not believe
Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die:
How should ye? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge. By the Threat’ner? look on me,
Me who have touched and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfect have attained than Fate
Meant me, by vent’ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be…

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), God the Father, Eve
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.684-695
Explanation and Analysis:

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O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfeit man’s voice, true in our Fall,
False in promised rising; since our eyes
Opened we find indeed, and find we know
Both good and evil, good lost, and evil got,
Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know…

Related Characters: Adam (speaker), Satan, Eve
Related Symbols: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge
Page Number: 9.1067-1073
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 10 Quotes

Fair daughter, and thou son and grandchild both,
High proof ye now have giv’n to be the race
Of Satan (for I glory in the name,
Antagonist of Heav’n’s Almighty King)
Amply have merited of me, of all
Th’ infernal empire, that so near Heav’n’s door
Triumphal with triumphal act have met,
Mine with this glorious work, and made one realm
Hell and this world, one realm, one continent
Of easy thoroughfare.

Related Characters: Satan (speaker), Sin, Death
Page Number: 10.384-393
Explanation and Analysis:

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Satan Character Timeline in Paradise Lost

The timeline below shows where the character Satan appears in Paradise Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
...answers himself that they were deceived into “foul revolt” by the “infernal Serpent,” who is Satan. Satan was an angel who aspired to overthrow God, and started a civil war in... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
The poem then focuses on Satan as he lies dazed in a lake of fire that is totally dark. Next to... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
...and he may have let the rebellious angels live just so they could suffer forever. Satan doesn’t contradict this, but he remains resolved to “ever do ill” and try to pervert... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Milton describes the terrible size and appearance of Satan’s body, which is like a whale or a Greek Titan floating on the waves. Slowly... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
As they fly Satan laments the desolation of Hell as compared to the glory of Heaven, but he accepts... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Satan takes up his terrible armor, and he calls to his legions to join him on... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
...violent god who will corrupt places like Sodom. These fallen angels are given hope by Satan’s strong appearance, and they flock to him. They are still dressed in their war gear... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Satan is encouraged by the sight of his glorious army, which is far more magnificent than... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
At Satan’s words the rebel angels all draw their flaming swords and reaffirm their defiance against Heaven.... (full context)
Book 2
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Satan addresses his armies from a magnificent golden throne. He claims that Heaven is not yet... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Beelzebub then proposes an “easier enterprise” – he returns to Satan’s rumor that God planned to create a new world. This world will be filled with... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...a long silence, as all the devils are afraid to take this “dreadful voyage.” Finally Satan grandiosely volunteers himself, promising to undergo all the hardships of the journey and earn his... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Satan commands the other devils to work at making Hell “more tolerable” while he is away,... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Meanwhile Satan flies off towards the gates of Hell, and sees that there are actually nine gates... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Satan burns with anger and the two are about to do battle, but the “snaky sorceress”... (full context)
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Satan, who seems to have forgotten all of this, now speaks more kindly to Sin and... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
...Chaos personified rules this realm, the “dark materials” that God used to create the universe. Satan spreads his wings and leaps into the abyss, but he immediately starts to fall. He... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Satan flies over the strange, “boggy” landscape and then hears a great cacophony of noise. He... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Satan moves onward, but his path grows very difficult and dangerous. Milton compares it to the... (full context)
Book 3
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
...Together they watch Adam and Eve in the “happy garden” of Eden, and they see Satan flying across the gulf between Hell and Earth. God sees not only this but also... (full context)
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
God says that Adam and Eve will listen to Satan’s “glozing lies” and disobey God, leading to their “fall.” Though God foresees all this, he... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
...in his punishment of mankind, as Adam and Eve will be led into disobedience by Satan instead of on their own. For Satan and his angels, however, there will be no... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
The scene then returns to Satan as he approaches Earth. He lands in what is now China and walks about, but... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
...about, with angels descending and ascending. In this pre-Fall world Heaven directly overlooks the Earth. Satan flies over the gate and climbs a little way up the stairs. He look down... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Satan lands on the surface of the sun and Milton describes its magical substance, like liquid... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Satan approaches Uriel and addresses him respectfully, saying that he has just come down from Heaven... (full context)
Book 4
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
...by again lamenting the Fall of Man, and wishing that Adam and Eve had escaped Satan’s “mortal snare.” Meanwhile Satan lands on a mountain near Eden and looks upon the glory... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Satan briefly considers what would happen if he repented and subdued himself to God, but he... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Finally embracing his fallen state and doom of eternal misery, Satan decides to pursue the only path he perceives as left to him – he will... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Satan then comes to the border of Paradise, which is surrounded by a high wall of... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Satan looks down on Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and examines its lushness and geography. Next... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
...predators like lions and bears are tame and vegetarian. The sun begins to set and Satan is speechless at the beauty and innocence of these creatures, but then he begins an... (full context)
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Satan experiences new grief and envy, and he feels he could have loved these humans. He... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
As Satan approaches, the man, whose name is Adam, speaks to the woman, Eve. Adam says that... (full context)
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Free Will and Predestination Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Eve finishes her speech and she and Adam embrace and kiss. Satan looks away in envy but then is strengthened in his resolve, as it seems unfair... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Sin and Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
...not last much longer. Meanwhile Gabriel sends his angels to scour Paradise and look for Satan. Two of them, Ithuriel and Zephon, find Satan in the shape of a toad, whispering... (full context)
Hierarchy and Order Theme Icon
Disobedience and Revolt Theme Icon
Ithuriel and Zephon don’t recognize Satan at first, which wounds Satan’s pride, and he mocks them as lesser angels. Zephon then... (full context)
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Gabriel recognizes Satan and confronts him, asking why he left Hell and entered Eden, and is now disturbing... (full context)
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Gabriel calls Satan a liar and laments how far the once-great Archangel has fallen. He threatens to drag... (full context)
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...which God ponders the outcomes of all events. On one side is the result of Satan staying and fighting, and on the other side is the result of Satan running away.... (full context)
Book 5
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The scene shifts to Heaven, where God calls the Archangel Raphael and tells him that Satan has entered Paradise and is trying to corrupt Adam and Eve. God does not want... (full context)
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...of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) Archangels, he who is now called Satan. That night during the heavenly twilight this Archangel could not sleep, for he was tormented... (full context)
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That same night Satan spoke to his second-in-command (now called Beelzebub) and ordered him to assemble all the angels... (full context)
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God and his Son watched all this happen, though Satan thought he was being secret. God was pleased at this opportunity to display his omnipotence... (full context)
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Satan called his armies before him and delivered a speech, saying that they had been unjustly... (full context)
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Satan was then interrupted by the angel Abdiel, who alone of all the legions objected to... (full context)
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Satan argued that he could not remember when he was created by God, so he must... (full context)
Book 6
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...Michael the leader of the army of Heaven (which was fairly equal in number to Satan’s army), with Gabriel as his second-in-command, and God instructed them to drive the rebel angels... (full context)
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...army of Heaven then flew off to battle arranged in perfect ranks, and they met Satan’s army, and the two sides lined up and faced each other. Raphael comments on how... (full context)
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Abdiel condemned Satan for his disobedience and defiance of omnipotence, and Satan responded with insults of Abdiel’s cowardice... (full context)
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...not God limited the strength of each angel and arranged their strategies of battle. Finally Satan fought his way through to Michael. (full context)
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Before engaging each other Michael and Satan traded insults, with Michael promising to banish Satan to Hell and Satan to “turn this... (full context)
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Satan bled “nectarous humour” from his wound, and the rebel angels protected him from Michael until... (full context)
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Night fell and both armies rested and regrouped. Satan, already healed, gathered his army for a council. He encouraged them with their realization that... (full context)
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...cause the good angels pain, as pain is “perfect misery, the worst / Of evils.” Satan answered with an idea of mining “materials dark and crude” from under the ground, which... (full context)
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The next morning the armies faced off again, and Satan revealed his cannons with a sarcastic speech about sending “proposals” of peace. The good angels... (full context)
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Satan and Belial then made more sarcastic, punning speeches, feeling assured of victory, until the good... (full context)
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...into the abyss, but this was less terrifying than the Son’s wrath behind them, so Satan and his followers flung themselves into the pit. (full context)
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Satan and his angels fell for nine days, at last landing in Hell, where they now... (full context)
Book 7
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...“appetite” for knowledge requires temperance, but then he begins his story: After the Son drove Satan and his angels from Heaven, God decided to create a new race of creatures and... (full context)
Book 9
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...old or the world starts decaying with “cold / Climate.” The scene then turns to Satan, who has been hiding on the dark side of the Earth for seven days after... (full context)
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Satan studies all the creatures of Eden, considering which one he should disguise himself in, and... (full context)
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Satan finally controls his thoughts and reaffirms his purpose to bring evil out of God’s good,... (full context)
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Satan further laments how far he has fallen, from the highest Archangel to the “mazy folds”... (full context)
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...approve of this idea, as he worries that the two will be more susceptible to Satan’s temptation if they are alone, and in times of danger the woman’s place is “by... (full context)
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Eve responds that she “overheard” Raphael’s warning about Satan, but she wishes to prove herself should Satan attack her alone. She also recognizes that... (full context)
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Eve is slightly put out by this, and argues that if they defend themselves against Satan alone, they will gain “double honour,” and that surely God would not make their happiness... (full context)
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Eve replies that the proud Satan will surely seek out Adam first, so she is in little danger. Then she departs... (full context)
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Meanwhile Satan has been seeking out the pair, hoping but not expecting to find them separated. He... (full context)
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When Eve notices him Satan speaks to her, praising her beauty and grace and calling her a “goddess amongst gods.”... (full context)
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...though she says the snake is “overpraising” her, she asks him where this tree grows. Satan offers to show her, and Eve follows him the short distance to the Tree of... (full context)
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Satan raises himself up like “some orator renowned / In Athens or free Rome” and then... (full context)
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Satan further says that God has forbidden the fruit so as to keep Adam and Eve... (full context)
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...at the fruit, which seems especially perfect and delicious to her, and she thinks about Satan’s persuasive words. She muses that the fruit must be very powerful if God has forbidden... (full context)
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Satan immediately slinks back into the undergrowth. Eve is overcome by the delicious fruit and she... (full context)
Book 10
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...guards of Eden also know, and they fly up to Heaven to ask God how Satan re-entered Paradise, as they guarded it as best they could. God tells them that they... (full context)
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...serpent to forever crawl on its belly as a punishment for being the vehicle of Satan. He ordains that Adam and Eve’s offspring will bruise the serpent’s head, and the serpent... (full context)
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...jumps slightly back in time, as Sin and Death wait at the Hell’s gates where Satan left them. Sin suddenly senses that Satan has succeeded in his task, and she convinces... (full context)
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Just as they finish their work Satan greets them at the edge of Paradise, and he is delighted at the bridge they... (full context)
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Satan ends his speech by telling his followers to fly up to Earth and “enter now... (full context)
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...to take this in a metaphorical sense – that one of Eve’s offspring will defeat Satan. Therefore if Eve kills herself, Satan will escape his punishment. (full context)
Book 11
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...of the prophecy about bruising the serpent’s head, saying that she will have revenge on Satan by being the “Mother of all things living,” and so the ancestor of the one... (full context)
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...almost a whole hemisphere of the Earth – Milton compares it to the hill where Satan will tempt Jesus by offering him all of Earth’s kingdoms. Michael drops water from the... (full context)
Book 12
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...overjoyed at this news and he asks Michael to describe the Messiah’s glorious battle with Satan, but Michael says that they will not fight with violence – instead the Son becomes... (full context)