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Table of Contents
LINES 1-47. THE INTRODUCTION
This book, where the central action occurs, begins with a statement that we are now coming to the tragic climax: "I now must change / These notes to tragic." He thinks his "sad task" more heroic, meaning more worthy of epic treatment, than The Iliad or The Odyssey because of the importance of his story. He hopes he can rise to the occasion with the help of Urania, who visits him each night with her inspiration.
Milton says that he looked for a long time for the right subject for his epic poem. He didn't want to write about wars but about something of worldwide significance. His subject-the Fall of man-is enough by itself to be called heroic; he hopes he will be able to do justice to it, unless he is too old or too sick. He certainly can't do it without the help of Urania each night. (You will remember from the invocation to Book III that Milton composed Paradise Lost each night and then dictated it in the morning.)