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April 2, 2007

Posted by K in Abstract Ramblings, Recent reads-and my comments.

 Some see in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the unintentional making of a hero of Satan. Blake was the first to point this out, apparently, and some critics tend to see a grandeur attached to Satan’s actions. The whole rebelling-against-an-arbitrary-god thing. Choosing to leave Heaven and suffer in Hell, over obedience to God. Satan the hero-figure.

   I must admit I miss this completely. Book IX, the only book I have read, admittedly, makes it difficult to posit Satan as an equal other of God. Milton mentions many times that the only pleasure Satan gets is from destruction and chaos. He has lost the ability to be happy. He joys in destruction. The basis for his happiness, if one may call it such, is negativity. He cannot enjoy Eden, so the destruction of Adam and Eve will be the substitute to the possibility of him being in Eden, had he not Fallen.

    Satan strikes me as being petty, peevish, not-constructive, and certainly not grand. He is too weak and mean, to be grand.

     I don’t see the hero,no.  



1. kanishka - April 3, 2007


robert plant denies having inserted any backwards message in stairway to heaven. i really want to believe him!

yes satan (if he/she/it exists) is weak and mean. that is precisely the point – “there was little toolshed where me made us suffer, my sad satan.”

2. kanishka - April 3, 2007

“there was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, my sad satan.”

3. sporadicblogger - April 3, 2007

Oh yes, all that talk about inserting hidden messages in songs, and the satanism of rockstars,lol.

4. kanishka - April 3, 2007

i dunno if you’ve read catch 22, but there’s a part in it where one of the characters is arguing with another over the existence of God. one of the arguments went along the lines of why god invented pain. the other responds saying god invented pain to tell us we were ill/sick. if thats the case, the first guy says, why didnt god just put a red light on our heads?

i dont believe in satan or in god at least the way they are potrayed usually. if god exists, then there is far too much wrong with the world for him/her/it to live peacefully. which means, either he/she/it is lazy or careless or wishes to cause suffering. in which case, god and satan appear one and the same.

people say that god helps those who help themselves. hmm tell that to the mothers and fathers and sons and daughters of iraqis who’ve been killed. tell that to the mothers of the kids at nithari, noida. tell that to the parents of the infants who were eaten by dogs.

then they say god works in mysterious ways. or probably, the killings are justified because either george bush/the police/the local municipality isnt doing their job. in which case, why arent they being struck by lightning?

i really believe that the concept of a just and wise god is the sort of stuff flies get attracted to. i also believe that there has to be a purpose to our existence, because otherwise the universe is an incredible waste of time.

5. Aishwarya - April 3, 2007

I think you need to read the whole thing to really see it. There are flashes of it in book I and (I think)V or IV. More than that, more than the possibility of reading Milton’s Satan as heroic there’s the possibility of reading his God as rather evil. Though for me this is more a problem with the religion itself than with poor Milton who is really quite brilliant and is after all only doing the best he can with the story he has to work with. 😉

6. sporadicblogger - April 4, 2007

@Kanishka-I have read Catch 22 but at a rather infantile age when I did not appreciate it. : )

@Aishwarya- true. I need to read the earlier books.
I can see the evil god argument more easily than the hero satan argument, though. I am really curious as to what exactly makes some people see Milton’s work as glorifying Satan. I shall find out today, hopefully, as I sit down to some essays 🙂

7. anonymouse - April 5, 2007

“Better to rule in hell, than to serve in heaven.”

Someone who isn’t willing to be a slave, who is willing to have freedom at any price. That sure is glorifying Satan.

Oh, and if any of those stories are true, keep in mind that we only know one side of the story, the winner’s. We have never been given the chance to hear Satan’s side.

8. glandheim - April 5, 2007

I agree with Aishwarya. At least I remember agreeing when I read it 40 years ago. Sheesh. Gettin’ old ain’t for the faint of heart.

Anyway, you have to read the whole book. Paradise Lost is fabulous, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it paints Lucifer as a hero, he certainly gets all the best lines.


(Who was it who wrote, “Malt does more than Milton can, to justify God’s ways to man.”)

9. Aishwarya - April 5, 2007

There was something I read yesterday that I was going to type out for you..forgot to mark it..bah. It’s a little passage by Percy Shelley on what was wrong with Satan’s portrayal in the Bible and why Shelley, thereofre, had to correct these errors with Prometheus Unbound.

10. sporadicblogger - April 6, 2007

Oh, thats nice of you 🙂 I’ll look it up on the net if its available. Thanks!

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