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Q: John Miltion's Paradise Lost ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: John Miltion's Paradise Lost
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: jjaannaa-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 22 Jul 2003 12:12 PDT
Expires: 21 Aug 2003 12:12 PDT
Question ID: 233858
In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Explain the relationships between
Satan, Death, and Sin.  Describe the appearance of each being.
Subject: Re: John Miltion's Paradise Lost
Answered By: tehuti-ga on 24 Jul 2003 05:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello jjaannaa,


SIN is the daughter of SATAN.  She sprang fully formed out of the left
side of his head, while he was planning his rebellion against God. 
Thus, Milton is saying that it is SATAN who brought SIN into being and
later, by his temptation of Eve, released her into the world.  In
Milton’s time, left was commonly associated with evil and right with
good, and the concept still survives today in the two meanings given
to the word right, and also in our word sinister which is derived from
the Latin word for left.  Milton makes a parallel here with the Greek
goddess of wisdom, Athene, who also sprang into being out of the head
of her father, Zeus. Perhaps he is using this to make a contrast
between wisdom and the foolishness or sin.  However, since he was not
sympathetic to the old pagan religions, he might also be making a
direct connection between wisdom and sin, since God forbid Adam and
Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge (he did not wish them to gain
their own independent wisdom).

SATAN found SIN pleasing and had sexual relations with her.  She
became pregnant and gave birth to DEATH.  In this way, SATAN through
SIN also brought DEATH into being, and one of the punishments of Adam
and Eve was that they and all humanity would be subject to death.

DEATH raped SIN, and out of this she gave birth to the hell hounds
which gnaw at her intestines and creep into her womb to be reborn
every day.  DEATH wishes to devour SIN but knows this would be the end
of him as well. DEATH also wished to fight SATAN and devour him, but
was stopped in this by SIN.  SIN opened the gates of hell so that she,
SATAN and DEATH could pass through into the world of humans.

SATAN, SIN and DEATH in their incestuous relationship form an Unholy
Trinity, which can be seen as an opposite of the Holy Trinity of God
the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  SATAN had an illegitimate
relationship with his daughter SIN, to bring forth his son DEATH. 
DEATH can be seen as an opposite of the Son of God who is said to
bring life.


SATAN takes on a number of appearances in Paradise Lost, initially
through his own choice, although his final form is imposed on him by
God.  He is first described as a massive, regal humanoid being, with a
shield as big as the moon and a spear like the tallest pine.  He is
compared to the Titans, a race of giants who rebelled against the main
god of Greek and Roman mythology (Jove / Zeus).  He is also described
in this first part as a whale (Leviathan). The whale sometimes used to
be described as a deceiver, because a shipwrecked sailor might confuse
the back of a whale with an island, and try to climb onto it only to
be thrown into the sea to drown.

SATAN is described as flying through the sky and he is said to
resemble a comet when he falls from Heaven and also when he is being
threatened to a fight by DEATH.

In order to find out the location of Adam and Eve, SATAN has to
deceive the angel Uriel.  He does this by changing himself into an
innocent looking young cherub with blonde curls, sparkling wings and a

After leaping over the wall of Paradise, SATAN changes into a
cormorant, a bird of prey that mainly feeds on fish.  In this form, he
flies up to the top branches of the Tree of Life and sits there to spy
out the territory and make his plans.

SATAN then tries to get close to Adam and Eve.  He does this by taking
on the form of various animals.  Milton specifically mentions the
tiger and the lion.  Finally, he is changes into a toad, and in this
shape creeps up close to Eve so that he can whisper temptation into
her ear while she is asleep.

He is caught by two angel guards, who see him in his true shape, but
do not at first recognize him.  At this point, however, his former
splendor is already described as “faded”. He is thrown out of the
garden and spends some time plotting on how best to get back in to
carry out his plan.  Finally, he decides that the form of the serpent
will be the most suitable.  When he leads Eve through the undergrowth
to the Tree, his crest is described as glowing in the same way that
marsh lights arising from the vapours of rotting material fool
travellers to following a false trail to their deaths in marshes and

On returning back to his kingdom in hell, SATAN is implied to be back
in his normal massive form.  However, he is then forced back into the
form of a serpent as are all the other fallen angels.

The changes in the appearance of SATAN from a huge noble being to a
loathsome serpent reflect his continued moral degeneration.

SIN is described initially as a beautiful woman to whom SATAN was very
much attracted.  However, the process of giving birth to DEATH has
changed her lower half into that of a serpent.  She is surrounded
about the waist by a pack of hell hounds, to which she gave birth as a
result of being raped by DEATH.

DEATH is described as a dark formless shape.  He wears a crown, to
symbolise his rule over all living beings, and carries a “dart”
(dagger) with which to pierce his victims.



Book I  

verses 193-209 
With Head up-lift above the wave, and Eyes
That sparkling blaz'd, his other Parts besides
Prone on the Flood, extended long and large
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the Fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth-Born, that warr'd on Jove,
Briarios or Typhon, whom the Den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that Sea-beast 
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim th' Ocean stream:
Him haply slumbring on the Norway foam
The Pilot of some small night-founder'd Skiff,
Deeming some Island, oft, as Sea-men tell,
With fixed Anchor in his skaly rind
Moors by his side under the Lee, while Night
Invests the Sea, and wished Morn delayes:
So stretcht out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay

His mighty Stature; on each hand the flames
Drivn backward slope their pointing spires, & rowld
In billows, leave i'th' midst a horrid Vale.
Then with expanded wings he stears his flight

his ponderous shield
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the Moon

His Spear, to equal which the tallest Pine
Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the Mast
Of some great Ammiral, were but a wand,

he above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent
Stood like a Towr; his form had yet not lost
All her Original brightness

Dropt from the Zenith like a falling Star,

Book II  verses 707-712  (facing fight with Death)
Incenc't with indignation Satan stood
Unterrifi'd, and like a Comet burn'd,
That fires the length of Ophiucus huge
In th' Artick Sky, and from his horrid hair
Shakes Pestilence and Warr.
Sources consulted:

Book III  verses 636-644
And now a stripling Cherube he appeers,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smil'd Celestial, and to every Limb
Sutable grace diffus'd, so well he feignd;
Under a Coronet his flowing haire
In curles on either cheek plaid, wings he wore
Of many a colourd plume sprinkl'd with Gold,
His habit fit for speed succinct, and held
Before his decent steps a Silver wand.

Book IV  verses 194-198
Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life,
The middle Tree and highest there that grew,
Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true Life
Thereby regaind, but sat devising Death
To them who liv'd;

Book IV 395-403
Then from his loftie stand on that high Tree
Down he alights among the sportful Herd
Of those fourfooted kindes, himself now one,
Now other, as thir shape servd best his end
Neerer to view his prey, and unespi'd
To mark what of thir state he more might learn
By word or action markt: about them round
A Lion now he stalkes with fierie glare,
Then as a Tiger

Book IV v. 800
Squat like a Toad, close at the eare of Eve

Book IV 867-871
Hasting this way, and now by glimps discerne
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade,
And with them comes a third of Regal port,
 But faded splendor wan; who by his gate
And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell,

Book VIII  83-86
With narrow search; and with inspection deep
Consider'd every Creature, which of all
Most opportune might serve his Wiles, and found
The Serpent suttlest Beast of all the Field.

Book VIII  631-642
Hee leading swiftly rowld
In tangles, and make intricate seem strait,
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Bright'ns his Crest, as when a wandring Fire
Compact of unctuous vapor, which the Night
Condenses, and the cold invirons round,
Kindl'd through agitation to a Flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive Light,
Misleads th' amaz'd Night-wanderer from his way
To Boggs and Mires, & oft through Pond or Poole,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succour farr.

Book IX   511-520
His Visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare,
His Armes clung to his Ribs, his Leggs entwining
Each other, till supplanted down he fell
A monstrous Serpent on his Belly prone,
Reluctant, but in vaine, a greater power
Now rul'd him, punisht in the shape he sin'd,
According to his doom: he would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss returnd with forked tongue
To forked tongue, for now were all transform'd
Alike, to Serpents


Book II  verses 650- 657
The one seem'd Woman to the waste, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fould
Voluminous and vast, a Serpent arm'd
With mortal sting: about her middle round
A cry of Hell Hounds never ceasing bark'd
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous Peal: yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturb'd thir noyse, into her woomb,

Book II  752-758  (birth of SIN)
All on a sudden miserable pain
Surpris'd thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzie swumm
In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast
Threw forth, till on the left side op'ning wide,
Likest to thee in shape and count'nance bright,
Then shining heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'd
Out of thy head I sprung:

Book II 764-767 (SIN attracting SATAN)
Thy self in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam'st enamour'd, and such joy thou took'st
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv'd
A growing burden.

Book II 781- 796  (birth of DEATH and rape of SIN by DEATH)
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
Transform'd: but he my inbred enemie
Forth issu'd, brandishing his fatal Dart
Made to destroy: I fled, and cry'd out Death;
Hell trembl'd at the hideous Name, and sigh'd
From all her Caves, and back resounded Death.
I fled, but he pursu'd (though more, it seems,
Inflam'd with lust then rage) and swifter far,
Me overtook his mother all dismaid,
And in embraces forcible and foule
Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
These yelling Monsters that with ceasless cry
Surround me

804-809  (DEATH wishes to devour SIN, but knows he cannot)
Grim Death my Son and foe, who sets them on,
And me his Parent would full soon devour
For want of other prey, but that he knows
His end with mine involvd; and knows that I
Should prove a bitter Morsel, and his bane,
When ever that shall be; so Fate pronounc'd.


Book II  verses 666-673
The other shape,
If shape it might be call'd that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joynt, or limb,
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful Dart; what seem'd his head
The likeness of a Kingly Crown had on.

Notes) (Essay by High
Cook) (Barron’s Book
Notes) (Full text of Paradise
Lost - Renascence Editions text transcribed by Judy Boss in Omaha,
Nebraska. This edition is in the public domain.)

Google:  1. “Paradise lost” Satan Sin Death    2. “Paradise Lost”
“full text”
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