When Satan is discovered in Paradise and confronted by Gabriel, God causes a pair of golden scales to appear in the sky, the scales on which God weighs the outcomes of every event. On one side of the scales is Satan running away, and on the other side is the result of him staying and fighting. This second side flies up, showing its emptiness and worthlessness. Satan accepts the inevitable truth of this outcome and chooses to run away. The scales represent God’s supreme power over both his Angels and the rebellious devils, as he exists outside of time and knows all possible futures. Satan had once thought himself as powerful as God, but after his defeat he realizes there is no way to overthrow the omnipotent God. Satan is then forced to resort to fraud and trickery instead of open revolt, and even then he only acts as God allows him to – he accepts the power of God’s “scales,” and merely tries to cause as much pain as he can with his allotted power.
The Scales in the Sky Symbol Timeline in Paradise Lost
The timeline below shows where the symbol The Scales in the Sky appears in Paradise Lost. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.