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Belial came last , than whom a Spi ' rit more lewd 490 Fell not from Heaven , or
more gross to love Vice for itself : to him no temple stood Or altar smok ' d ; yet
who more oft than he In temples and at altars , when the priest Turns atheist , as
67 Millions of Spirits for his fault amerc ' d Of Heav ' n , and from eternal splendors
flung 610 For his revolt , yet faithful how they stood , Their glory wither ' d : as
when Heaven ' s fire Hath scath ' d the forest oaks , or mountain pines , With ...
Ingrate , he had of me All he could have ; I made him just and right , Sufficient to
have stood , though free to fall . Such imaged in the beginning of the - both them
who stood and them speech , which immediately fol . who fell ; lows . Addison .
Such I created all th ' ethereal Powers 100 And Spirits , both them who stood and
them who fail ' d ; Freely they stood who stood , and fell who fell . Not free , what
proof could they have giv ' n fincere Of true allegiance , constant faith or love ...
Then lighted from his gorgeous throne , for now ' Twixt host and host but narrow
space was left , A dreadful interval , and front to front 105 Presented stood in
terrible array Of hideous length : before the cloudy van , On the rough edge of
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Chronicles the rise and fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. Begins with the crowning of the Son of God, moves to Lucifer's rebellion and fall, the beginning of the Earth, the birth of Adam and Eve, and how they fell prey to Satan's fraud.
Written in 10 syllable per line prose, which must have been very difficult. Milton was blind, which makes the accomplishment even more amazing. Parts of the book were wonderfully written (the battles with Satan, Eden, the creation of the Earth, the coming events as Adam and Eve are escorted from Eden by Archangel Michael), but others are difficult with many references to Greek characters. I'm sure Milton was brilliant, but those parts don't add much for me and make it seem as though he's being pretentious. I also disliked the way all the characters addressed each other: "Lo, great angel from Heaven, graceful and true of spirit." The pictures of the story in the book, while they received vast praise in the preface, were forgettable.
Still, I can't get away from the amazing work that Milton put here. My only real compliant was the blatant sexism that Adam had for Eve, assuming she was always inferior to him. That is no longer the way of the world, and I doubt Adam would have treated Eve thusly. Sin, Death. Satan, Michael and Raphael were my favorite characters, all providing memorable lines.