In the second book: Satan passes on his journey to Hell-gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the power of that place, to the sight of this new World which he sought.
God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying toward this World, then newly created: shews him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created man free and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace toward him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced.
The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose toward man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended toward man without the satisfaction of Divine justice; man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment.
The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for man: the Father accepts him, ordains his Incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the angels to adore him; they obey, and hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son.
No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but, all
The multitude of Angels — with a shout
Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices — uttering joy, Heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled
The eternal regions. Lowly reverent
Toward either throne they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast
Their crowns, inwove with amarant and gold;
Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this World’s uttermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither;
Others came single; he, to be deemed
A god, leaped fondly into Ætna flames
Empedocles; and he who, to enjoy
Plato’s Elysium, leaped into the sea,
Cleombrotus; and many more too long,
Embryos and idiots, eremites and friars,
White, black, and grey, with all their trumpery.
Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek
In Golgotha him dead who lives in Heaven;
thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the sun; he finds there Uriel the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights first on mount Niphates.
“That spot to which I point is Paradise,
Adam’s abode, those lofty shades his bower.
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires.”
Thus said, he turned; and Satan bowing low,
As to superior Spirits is wont in Heaven,
Where honor due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of Earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel,
Nor stayed, till on Niphates’ top he lights.
Source of text: Wikisource.
Dartmouth’s superb annotated version in its John Milton Reading Room.
Pablo Auladell (2017) Paradise Lost, by John Milton, a graphic novel, Pegasus Books. ISBN 978 1 68177 362 9.
John Leonard (ed) (2000) Paradise Lost, John Milton, Penguin Classics. ISBN 978 0 140 42439 3.
Gordon Teskey (ed) (2005) Paradise Lost, John Milton, Norton Critical Editions. ISBN 978 0 393 92428 2.
Louis Schwartz (ed) (2014) The Cambridge Companion to Paradise Lost, Cambridge UP. ISBN 978 1 107 02946 0.