There is a lot to say about Milton's depiction of those darn devils. I think its interesting that Milton uses rhetoric with them, in their speeches and claims as to what should be done, but a lot of times their rhetoric and persuasions are contradictory. For instance when Moloch is speaking, he is lauding that they should rally and attempt to regain Heaven again whether they won or were completely destroyed, that Moloch "rather than be less, cared not to be at all" (l.47-48).Moloch's POV reminds me a lot of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon and how they twisted history to better fit and justify what they wanted to do. Look at what you did to us! This was definitely not our fault so we're going to make life as miserable as we can for your people and drag as many of you down with us as possible. Not to mention, hold a grudge for all eternity. And yet just shortly after Moloch's spiel, Belial stands up and says referring to the end of their war, "What when we fled amain...and besought the deep to shelter us?" l.165-167. So in one instance they were thrust down to Hell and another they fled headlong to its "sheltering" darkness.
After noting these things and continuing to wonder, the daily inspiring quote I receive from lds.org pinged in my inbox and, honest to goodness, this is what it said.
"We believe in absolute truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments. ... We also know that evil exists and that some things are simply, seriously, and everlastingly wrong." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
If that doesn't lay out what we believe and where Satan is wrong, I don't know what does. So what is Milton's point?
We talk about how Satan seems to be a representation of Milton himself...and while there is evidence to suggest that, I think there is just as much to suggest otherwise - that Milton is ingratiating himself with the devil and his minions and building them up to in turn tear them back down. While reading these passages I can't help but be reminded that these demons--Mammon, Moloch, Beelzebub, Belial, etc.--were other fallen angels I'm not saying he was all alone) so he sets up all the evil characteristics Satan embodies and lets each one declare their argument. When we realize that these are all arguments that Satan uses to tempt and beguile mankind today, the sense that Milton is demonstrating the trap that humanity so easily falls into becomes more clear. Their arguments are just a series of cracks and faults held together by good rhetoric and charisma.
are just other names for Satan himself. Milton couldn't very well have Satan conduct this entire series of thoughts all by himself (and there