John Milton's Paradise Lost
John Milton’s Paradise Lost is filled with fantastical tales from the depths of Hell, extravagant descriptions of the fallen angels, and a curious recitation of the council of demons in their new palace. How did Milton dream up such vivid depictions of such horrible demons as the ones we see in Book I? Most of his fallen angels originate in the form of Pagan gods condemned by the Bible, with actual historical backgrounds which Milton cites in his lengthy descriptions.
Firstly, a few words about Satan would seem prudent, as he is the first of the fallen angels, the leader in the revolt, and the first to venture to earth to corrupt mankind. He is Milton’s main character, and the only one to extend outside of strict biblical interpretations of his character. He appears first in the Bible (if you discount the snake in the Garden of Eden) in the Book of Job, in which he convinces God to test Job by taking away all his worldly possessions and bringing harm to himself and his family. He is addressed with the angels and named as Satan, so his status as an angel who helps bring pain and suffering is no stretch from the ‘biblical truth’. Old Testament Books such as Isaiah and Ezekiel refer to what appears to be Satan, but are in the midst of passages that reflect upon wicked, fallen kings. In Isaiah 14:12 it is written, “how you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” Most speculation is that this directly refers to Satan, although in no other passage is he referred to as Lucifer. The passage is actually concerning a Babylonian king, as is Ezekiel 28:14-15, which laments (for the King of Tyre), “you were the anointed cherub… till iniquity was found in you.” These passages are about wickedness, and compare the mortal sinning of corrupt kings to that of the fallen angel, Satan. These passages are what brings about the notion of Satan’s pride, for the kings “have said in your heart ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God’” (Isaiah 14:13). The Old Testament leaves hints as to Satan’s character, while the New Testament states outright how Satan came to be. It began with his dissent from God’s will
"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Revelation 12:7-9)
Milton’s knowledge of the Bible is proved beyond the context of the battle in heaven with the creation of the other angels, all of whom have origins “adorned with gay religions full of pomp and gold, and devils to adore for deities: Then were they known to men by various names, and various idols through the heathen world” (Paradise Lost & Other Poems 103).
Moloch, the “horrid King...