In Paradise Lost, Milton depicts the Greek and Egyptian "gods" as among the fallen angels. It does not seem to matter whether the individual god had an evil or good character in its original myths. As these gods are depicted as so humanlike in their theologies, I struggle to imagine them as monstrous devils of evil.

Why did the author depict the gods in such a sympathetic manner? And why doesn't their portrayal in Paradise Lost differ based on whether they were good or evil in their original myths?

  • Welcome to the site! Please be aware that Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum: this site runs on clear, answerable questions and reasonable well-supported answers. Could you edit your post to replace "Does anyone have any thoughts on this?" by a clearer question that can be answered?
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    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 21:17
  • @Randal'Thor I think I see what the OP was driving at here - basically, the OP wants to understand why they received such sympathetic treatment, and why Milton doesn't seem to distinguish between whether the gods were "good" or "evil" in their original myths. Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:26
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    @user5698 Does my edit accurately reflect the intent of the question? Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 4:27

1 Answer 1


Related: Is John Milton's Lucifer a tragic hero?

One interesting feature of Paradise Lost is that the demons are presented as multi-dimensional, complicated characters - likely even more so than the "good" characters.

You could even make a good case that Lucifer is a tragic hero. He certainly displays many heroic qualities - fortitude, charisma, loyalty to his friends. (His downfall, of course, is his arrogance, which causes him to make a terrible mistake and set the events of the story in motion). Certainly, many of the demons also have human-like, or even heroic, character traits too.

So, I completely agree - I think that that's exactly the effect that Milton was going for.

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