Monday, September 23, 2013

A Paradise Lost by One

One of the things that has struck me most as I've been reading the first couple of books in Milton's Paradise Lost is the parallel of Satan's and Christ's relationship to their followers. You could say that I've thought a lot about salvation and damnation and what each means and how each is ensured, either by deference to virtue (Christ) or to sin (Satan), but a couple of pretty simple lines have had me thinking about how one figure (Christ or Satan) can figure into the fates of millions of individuals.

In the second book of Paradise Lost, Satan announces that he will "Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek / Deliverance for us all: . . . (2:464-465). The parallel to Christ's salvation here is, I think, more than apparent. Just as Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation--of our ascent back from a fallen condition--so also does Satan become the savior figure for those devils cast out of Heaven. But what really got to me was some lines that I came across among my annotations as I was reviewing the first book:
Millions of spirits for his [Satan's] fault amerced
Of Heav’n, and from eternal splendors flung
For his revolt . . . (1:609-611).
I had never really thought about this before, but just as man is saved by one supernal, vicarious act, so were those among that third part cast out for one singular act of selfishness. Each individual is, of course, responsible for his/her own actions and decisions, but would those "morning stars" and "sons of God" (Job 38:7) have relinquished their glory had not Lucifer stepped forward in defiance? After all, the Bible states that "all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the foundations of the earth were laid. Why then did they follow Lucifer, the light bringer that would cast them into darkness? What is the power of one to save or to damn?


  1. There are tons of parallels between the two! Satan stands up before all these fallen angels, who have no idea what they're supposed to be doing for the rest of eternity, and they latch onto him. They treat him (and describe him) likes he is their own god. I would be kind of desperate for some leadership, too.

  2. What other parallels do you see between books 1 and 3 of Paradise Lost?

  3. As was brought up in class the other day, the aptness of your comments on the parallels between Christ and Lucifer is rooted in the definition of an Antichrist as a counterfeit christ - see the LDS guide to the scriptures: