John Milton – “Paradise Lost” Book 9 (ctd.)

Satan delivers yet another soliloquy about how lucky he is to encounter Eve alone, so much weaker than her husband, physically and intellectually [eyeroll] and then approaches her in his shape as a beautiful snake, so much more beautiful than several mythological snakes, which of course Milton is obliged to list here. (This is in fact interesting. I had no idea there was a legend about the divine paternity of Scipio Africanus conceived by Jove in form of a snake.) So this time Satan as the serpent is not on the ground, but rising upon his folds, looking at Eve with his red eyes and pretending to worship her, bowing his neck and licking the ground where she trod. Finally she notices this unusual behaviour, and when she looks at him, he says, “Don’t wonder that I gaze at you, you are like a goddess, but here you can be admired only by these stupid animals, and only one man, while you should be worshipped by multitudes.” Eve is surprised to hear him speak. She says, “I often suspected animals are reasonable, but I never heard them speak. How is it possible?”

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