John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 5 (ctd.)

Adam asks Raphael, “What do you mean ‘if you continue to be obedient?’ Can we stop being obedient?” Raphael gives the standard explanation: all beings created by God, angels included, have free will and can choose to be obedient and good or not, as the fall of the rebel angels illustrates. Adam can’t imagine how he could ever stop being obedient to God who is so good to him and asks Raphael to tell him more about the fallen angels, which is a pretext to Milton to give us a flashback to what happened before Book 1 started. Raphael at first has some reservations about whether he will be able to explain to a physical being what took place on the spiritual plane, but he says he is going to use comparisons to earthly things (which is also Milton’s metacomment on his poetic technique, i guess). So one one day, before the universe was created (but time already existed, as Milton emphasizes), God called to himself all his armies, and we get a long description of their power and glory.

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