John Milton 's Paradise Lost

Decent Essays

John Milton’s Paradise Lost continues the epic tradition developed by the ancient Greek and Roman poets. Composed in exact imitation of its predecessors, the work depicts all characteristics of a traditional epic poem—including the epic hero, a powerful embodiment of societal values. Milton presents his hero in a most unpredictable form: Satan. Despite the unorthodox oddity, the former archangel exhibits the conventions of an epic hero. Milton’s forced perception of Satan as the hero of the poem reflects his stated purpose for writing the piece. By placing Satan in a traditional heroic role, Milton illustrates his manipulative and cunning nature, which anyone can easily fall prey to, and resultingly fashions Satan into an antihero.
The ancient writers, such as Homer and Virgil, established the traditional grand role that Milton allows Satan to possess for the first books of the epic poem. Satan possesses similar qualities to the epic heroes of antiquity, except in a distorted and unorthodox manner. By placing a villainous character as the seeming hero of his work, Milton satirizes the epic tradition. As stated by Matt Wallace in his essay, “A Devil of a Problem: Satan as Hero in Paradise Lost”, “Milton wrote Paradise Lost as an inverted epic or anti-epic. He has twisted and reversed the epic conventions to conform them to his retelling of the Biblical account of Creation and the Fall as given in Genesis” (Wallace). The epic tradition calls for the hero to possess distinct

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