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

The serpent now poses himself like a Roman orator and delivers quite a masterful speech, and cunningly he attributes his ability to do so to his having eaten the fruit. “You won’t die”, he says, “look at me, I am alive and much better than I was before. So why should it be forbidden to man? No just God could forbid it, and if he did, he is not just and therefore not God. The fact that he threatened you with death proves that he is not one. He did it so just to keep you in the dark. If eating this fruit elevated me, a mere animal, to a rational and talking being, then it means you, who are already rational, are going to be like gods. So if you die, it’s only going to be metaphorically, as the death of your old selves. Gods only happened to be around first and so they claim everything comes from them, but then, who put the knowledge-granting power into this tree, if apparently it’s there without their permission? How can your knowledge hurt God if he claims to be omnipotent? Maybe it’s just envy, but how can God be envious?” Eve, unfortunately, finds it all too convincing, and besides it is noon and she feels in need of a lunch, and the fruit of the tree smells very tasty.

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