Paradise Lost

Epics in the Garden: Raphael's Discourse on the Fall of Satan

Book Six of John Milton's Paradise Lost is a continuation of the angel Raphael's discourse to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He is recounting the fall of Satan, and focuses on the battles that take place between the angels and rebel angels. These battles are a prelude to the casting out of the rebels from Heaven. Raphael has to find a way to convey the details of the struggle in a manner to which humans are able to relate. Since they are not ethereal, the ways of the angels are outside their grasp. Raphael decides to tell the story as an epic battle utilizing the Homeric style and language, therefore positioning this Book as a sort of epic within an epic.

In the beginning of the Book, dawn breaks over the landscape of Heaven as the angel Abdiel makes his way to God and his faithful legions. At the onset of the strife between Satan and God, Abdiel sides with Satan. After recognizing his folly in this course of action, he changes his mind and returns to God. This is a lesson offered for Adam and Eve's benefit. It illustrates the power of free will - Abdiel didn't have to side with Satan, it was not out of his control, and it was under his own free will that he made the righteous decision to return to God....

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