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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 506-628. LIFE IN HELL

The debate has broken up and its results have been proclaimed throughout Hell. The fallen angels are now free to go about their normal pursuits, while Satan prepares for his journey to the World.

The angels practice sports, race horses and chariots, and conduct military exercises, even tearing up the soil in their more strenuous efforts. Some are musicians, and they manage to produce songs so beautiful that they "Suspended Hell and took with ravishment / The thronged audience." Milton was a musician and his father a composer; music could never be evil to him.



One group of fallen angels acts like classical philosophers (lines 555-569), arguing and disputing with eloquence about Providence, Foreknowledge, Will, and Fate-the subjects of Paradise Lost itself. But they are false philosophers who do not know the truth of the Christian religion. They can offer only solace and patience with their "pleasing sorcery."

Another group explores the rest of Hell. We are in classical territory here, and Milton exploits it fully. Both The Odyssey and The Aeneid include a visit to the underworld, where we find the same features-the four rivers of Hell, fire, ice, the torments of the damned, who suffer for their sins in life.

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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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