John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 1 (ctd.)

The catalogue of false gods continues: Astoreth or Astarte, “the queen of heaven” and the moon goddess (Milton does not say it explicitly, but this is all very reminiscent of the Catholic worship of the Virgin Mary), Thammuz, whose death was mourned every spring by women, Dagon the sea-god whose statue was destroyed when Philistines placed the stolen Ark in his temple, and the Egyptian gods, half-human and half-beasts. Finally Belial, who is not a god but a personification of depravity. The description of his activity in present tense makes one think Milton is making a point about the moral laxity of the Restoration London. “The rest were long to tell”, but the list also includes the gods worshipped by the ancient Greeks.

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