The Book of the Epic: The World's Great Epics Told in Story

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Having contrived to escape, Talus informs Britomart that her lover is a prisoner, whereupon she sets out to rescue him, meeting with sundry extraordinary adventures by the way, in which she triumphs, thanks to her magic spear.

While spending a peaceful night in the Temple of Isis, Britomart is finally favored with a vision, inspired by which she challenges Radigonde, who in the midst of the encounter turns to flee. But Britomart pursues her into her stronghold, whence she manages to rescue Artegall and, after setting him free, bids him continue his adventurous quest.

Sir Artegall and his faithful squire soon after see a maiden flee before two knights, but, before they can overtake her, they notice how a new-comer slays one pursuer while the other turns back. Urged by the maiden, Artegall kills the second persecutor, and only then discovers that the knight who first came to her rescue is Arthur. They two, by questioning the maid, learn she is a servant of Mercilla (another personification of Elizabeth), and that her mistress is sorely beset by the Soldan, to whom she has recently gone to carry a message. On her return, the poor maid was pursued by two Saracen knights, who were determined to secure her as a prize. Hearing this, Artegall proposes to assume the armor of one of the dead knights, and thus disguised to convey the maiden back to the Soldan's court. Arthur is to follow under pretence of ransoming the captive, knowing that his offer will be refused so insolently that he will have an excuse to challenge the Soldan. All this comes true, and thanks to his magic shield Arthur triumphs. The Soldan's wife, learning that her husband has succumbed, now proposes to take her revenge by slaying the captive maid, but Artegall defends her and drives the Soldan's wife into the forest, where she is transformed into a tiger!

Arthur and Sir Artegall now gallantly offer to escort the maid home, although she warns them that Guyle lies in wait by the roadside, armed with hooks and a net to catch all travellers who pass his cave. But, thanks to the bravery, strength, and agility of Arthur, Artegall, and Talus, Guyle's might is broken, and the maid triumphantly leads the three victorious champions to Mercilla's castle. After passing through its magnificent halls, they are ushered by Awe and Order into the presence of the queen, whose transcendent beauty and surroundings are described at length. While the queen is seated on her throne, with the English lion at her feet, Duessa (Mary Queen of Scots) is brought before her and is proved guilty of countless crimes; but, although she evidently deserves death, Mercilla, too merciful to condemn her, sets her free.

It is while sojourning at Mercilla's elegant court that Artegall and Arthur see two youths appear to inform the queen that their mother Belge, or Belgium, a widow with seventeen sons, has been deprived of twelve of her offspring by a three-headed monster, Gereones (the personification of Philip the Second of Spain, the ruler of three realms). This monster invariably delivers his captives into the hands of the Inquisition, by which they are sorely persecuted. Hearing this report, Arthur steps forward, offering to defend the widow and her children. Mercilla granting his request without demur, Arthur hurries away, only to find that Beige has been driven out of her last stronghold by a faithless steward (Alba). But, thanks to Arthur's efforts, this steward is summoned forth, defeated in battle, and the lady reinstated in her domain.

Gereones now dauntlessly attacks Arthur, whom the giant Beige secretly instructs to overthrow ah idol in the neighboring church, as that will enable him to triumph without difficulty. While Arthur is thus rescuing Beige, Artegall and Talus have again departed to free Irena from her oppressor Grantorto. On their way to Ireland, they meet a knight, who informs them Irena is doomed to perish unless a champion defeats Grantorto in duel. Thereupon Artegall swears to champion Irena's cause, but, on the way to keep his promise, pauses to rescue a distressed knight (Henry IV. of France), to whom he restores his lady Flourdelis, whom Grantorto is also trying to secure.

Artegall, the champion, reaching the sea-shore, at last finds a ship ready to sail for Ireland, where he lands, although Grantorto has stationed troops along the shore to prevent his doing so. These soldiers are soon scattered by Talus' flail, and Artegall, landing, forces Grantorto to bite the dust. Having thus freed Irena, he replaces her on her throne and restores order in her dominions, before Gloriana summons him back to court.

On the way thither Sir Artegall is beset by the hags Envy and Detraction, who are so angry with him for freeing Irena that they not only attack him themselves, but turn loose upon him the Blatant Beast (Slander). Although Talus begs to annihilate this infamous trio with his dreaded flail, Artegall decrees they shall live, and, heedless of their threats hurries on to report success to his beloved mistress.


Sir Calidore, who, in the poem, impersonates Courtesy (or Sir Philip Sidney), now meets Artegall, declaring the queen has despatched him to track and slay the Blatant Beast,—an offspring of Cerberus and Chimera,—whose bite inflicts a deadly wound. When Artegall reports having recently met that thousand-tongued monster, Calidore spurs off, and soon sees a squire bound to a tree. Pausing to free this captive, he learns that this unfortunate has been illtreated by a neighboring villain, who exacts the hair of every woman and beard of every man passing his castle, because his lady-love wishes a cloak woven of female hair and adorned with a fringe of beards. It was because the captive had vainly tried to rescue a poor lady from this tribute that he had been bound to this tree. On hearing this report, Sir Calidore decides to end such doings forever, and riding up to the castle pounds on its gates until a servant opens them wide. Forcing his way into the castle, Sir Calidore slays all who oppose him, and thus reaches the villain, with whom he fights until he compels him to surrender and promise never to exact such tribute again.

Having settled this affair entirely to his satisfaction, Sir Calidore rides on until he meets a youth on foot, bravely fighting a knight on horseback, while a lady anxiously watches the outcome of the fray. Just as Calidore rides up, the youth strikes down his opponent, a deed of violence justified by the maiden, who explains how the man on horseback was ill treating her when the youth came to her rescue. Charmed by the courage displayed by an unarmed man, Sir Calidore proposes to take the youth as his squire, and learns he is Tristram of Lyonnesse, son of a king, and in quest of adventures.

Accompanied by this squire, who now wears the armor of the slain knight, Sir Calidore journeys on, until he sees a knight sorely wounded by the very man his new squire slew. They two convey this wounded man to a neighboring castle, thereby earning the gratitude of his companion, a lady mourning over his unconscious form.

The castle-owner, father of the distinguished wounded man, is so grateful to his rescuers that he receives them with kindness. But he cannot account for the presence of the lady who explains his son loved her and often met her in the forest. After nursing her lover until he is out of danger, Priscilla expresses a desire to return home, but is at a loss how to account to her parents for her prolonged absence. Sir Calidore, who volunteers to escort her, then suggests that he bear to her father the head of the knight whom Tristram slew, stating this villain was carrying her off when he rescued her. This tale so completely blinds Priscilla's father that he joyfully welcomes his daughter home, expressing great gratitude to her deliverers ere they pass on.

Calidore and his squire have not journeyed far before they perceive a knight and his lady sporting in the shade. So joyful and innocent do they seem that the travellers gladly join them, and, while the men converse together, Lady Serena strays out into a neighboring field to gather flowers. While she is thus occupied the Blatant Beast pounces upon her, and is about to bear her away when her cries startle her companions. They immediately dart to her rescue. Calidore, arriving first, forces the animal to drop poor Serena, then, knowing her husband will attend to her, continues to pursue the fleeing monster.

On reaching his beloved Serena, Sir Calespine finds her so sorely wounded that she requires immediate care. Tenderly placing her on his horse, he supports her fainting form through the forest. During one of their brief halts, he suddenly sees a bear carrying an infant, so rushes after the animal to rescue the child. Only after a prolonged pursuit does he achieve his purpose, and, not knowing how else to dispose of the babe, carries it to a neighboring castle, where the lady gladly adopts it, because she and her husband have vainly awaited an heir. Sir Calespine now discovers he is unable to retrace his steps to his wounded companion, who soon after is found by a gentle savage. This man is trying to take her to some place of safety when overtaken by Arthur and Timias, who, seeing Serena in his company, fancy she is his captive. She, however, hastens to assure them the wild man is more than kind and relates what has occurred. As Serena and Timias have both been poisoned by the bites of the Blatant Beast, Arthur takes them to a hermit, who undertakes to cure them, but finds it a hopeless task.

The learned hermit's healing arts having all proved vain, he finally resorts to prayer to cure his guests, who, when healed, decide to set out together in quest of Sir Calespine and Arthur. The latter has meantime departed with the wild man, hoping to overtake Sir Turpine, who escaped from Radigonde. They track the villain to his castle and, forcing an entrance, fight with him, sparing his life only because the lady of the castle pleads in his behalf.


Sir Turpine now succeeds in persuading two knights to pursue and attack Sir Arthur, but this hero proves too strong to be overcome, and, after disarming both assailants, demands why they have attacked him. When they reveal Turpine's treachery, Arthur regrets having spared his opponent, and decides that having overcome him once by force he will now resort to strategy. He, therefore, lies down, pretending to be asleep, while one of the knights rides back to report his death to Turpine. This plan is duly carried out, and Sir Turpine, coming to gloat upon his fallen foe, is seized by Arthur, who hangs him to a neighboring tree.

Meantime Serena and Timias jog along until they meet a lady and a fool (Disdain and Scorn), who are compelled by Cupid to wander through the world, rescuing as many people as they have made victims. When the fool attempts to seize Timias, Serena, terrified, flees shrieking into the forest.

Before long Sir Artegall manages to overtake his squire, driven by Scorn and Disdain, and immediately frees him. Then, hearing what penalty Cupid has imposed upon the couple, he decides they are sufficiently punished for the wrong they have done and lets them go.

Meanwhile Serena has wandered, until, utterly exhausted, she lies down to rest. While sleeping she is surrounded by savages, who propose to sacrifice her to their god. They are on the point of slaying Serena when Sir Calespine comes to her rescue, unaware at the moment that the lady he is rescuing from their cruel hands is his beloved wife.

Still pursuing the elusive Blatant Beast, Sir Calidore comes to a place where shepherds are holding a feast in honor of Pastorella, the adopted daughter of the farmer Melibee, and beloved of young Coridon, a neighboring shepherd. Coridon fears Sir Calidore will prove a rival for the affections of Pastorella, but Calidore disarms his jealousy by his perfect courtesy, which in time wins Pastorella's love.

One day the lonely Sir Calidore, seeking Pastorella, catches a glimpse of the Graces dancing in the forest to the piping of Colin Clout (a personification of Spenser). Shortly after, Calidore has the good fortune to rescue Pastorella from a tiger, just after Coridon has deserted her through fear.

To reward the bravery of Calidore, who has saved her from death, Pastorella lavishes her smiles upon him, until a brigand raid brings ruin and sorrow into the shepherd village, for the marauders not only carry off the flocks, but drag Pastorella, Coridon, and Melibee off to their underground retreat.

In that hopeless and dark abode the captain of the brigands is beginning to cast lustful glances upon Pastorella, when merchants arrive to purchase their captives as slaves. The captain refuses to part with Pastorella although he is anxious to sell Coridon and Melibee, but the merchants insist upon having the maid, and seeing they cannot obtain her by fair means resolve to employ force. The result is a battle, in the midst of which Coridon escapes, Melibee and the brigand captain are slain, and Pastorella faints and is deemed dead.

Sir Calidore, who has been absent for a while, comes back to find the shepherd village destroyed and Coridon wandering disconsolate among its ruins. From him he learns all that has happened, and, going in quest of Pastorella's remains, discovers she is alive. Then he manages by stratagem not only to rescue her, but to slay merchants and robbers and recover the stolen flocks and also much booty. All the wealth thus obtained is bestowed upon Coridon to indemnify him for the loss of Pastorella, who accompanies her true love Calidore during the rest of his journeys.

Being still in quest of the ever fleeing Blatant Beast, Calidore conducts Pastorella to the castle of Belgard, whose master and mistress are passing sad because they lost their only child in infancy. Wondering how such a loss could have befallen them, Calidore learns that knight and lady, being secretly married, entrusted their child to a handmaiden, ordering her to provide for its safety in some way, as it was impossible they should acknowledge its existence then. The maid, having ascertained that the babe bore on her breast a certain birth-mark, basely abandoned her in the forest, where she was found and adopted by Melibee.

It is during Pastorella's sojourn in this castle that the lady discovers on her breast the birth-mark, which proves she is her long-lost daughter. While Pastorella is thus happy in the company of her parents, Calidore overtakes the Blatant Beast, and leads it safely muzzled through admiring throngs to Gloriana's feet. But, strange to relate, this able queen does not keep the monster securely chained, for it soon breaks bonds, and the poet closes with the statement that it is again ranging through the country, this time tearing poems to pieces!


Book I. After intimating he intends "no middle flight," but proposes to "justify the ways of God to man," Milton states the fall was due to the serpent, who, in revenge for being cast out of heaven with his hosts, induced the mother of mankind to sin. He adds how, hurled from the ethereal sky to the bottomless pit, Satan lands in a burning lake of asphalt. There, oppressed by the sense of lost happiness and lasting pain, he casts his eyes about him, and, flames making the darkness visible, beholds those enveloped in his doom suffering the same dire pangs. Full of immortal hate, unconquerable will, and a determination never to submit or yield, Satan, confident his companions will not fail him, and enriched by past experiences, determines to continue disputing the mastery of heaven from the Almighty.

Beside Satan, on the burning marl, lies Beelzebub, his bold compeer, who dreads lest the Almighty comes after them and further punish them. But Satan, rejoining that "to be weak is miserable, doing or suffering," urges that they try and pervert God's aims. Then, gazing upward, he perceives God has recalled his avenging hosts, that the rain of sulphur has ceased, and that lightning no longer furrows the sky. He, therefore, deems this a fitting opportunity to rise from the burning lake, reconnoitre their new place of abode, and take measures to redeem their losses.

  "Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
  The seat of desolation, void of light,
  Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
  Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
  From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
  There rest, if any rest can harbor there,
  And, reassembling our afflicted powers,
  Consult how we may henceforth most offend
  Our enemy; our own loss how repair;
  How overcome this dire calamity;
  What reinforcement we may gain from hope;
  If not, what resolution from despair."

Striding through parting flames to a neighboring hill, Satan gazes around him, contrasting the mournful gloom of this abode with the refulgent light to which he has been accustomed, and, notwithstanding the bitter contrast, concluding, "it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven," ere he bids Beelzebub call the fallen angels.

His moon-like shield behind him, Beelzebub summons the legions lying on the asphalt lake, "thick as autumn leaves that strew the brooks of Vallombroso." Like guilty sentinels caught sleeping, they hastily arise, and, numerous as the locusts which ravaged Egypt, flutter around the cope of hell before alighting at their master's feet. Among them Milton descries various idols, later to be worshipped in Palestine, Egypt, and Greece. Then, contrasting the downcast appearance of this host with its brilliancy in heaven, he goes on to describe how they saluted Satan's banner with "a shout that tore hell's conclave and beyond frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night." Next, their standards fluttering in the breeze, they perform their wonted evolutions, and Satan, seeing so mighty a host still at his disposal, feels his heart distend with pride.

Although he realizes these spirits have forfeited heaven to follow him, he experiences merely a passing remorse ere he declares the strife they waged was not inglorious, and that although once defeated they may yet repossess their native seat. He suggests that, as they now know the exact force of their opponent and are satisfied they cannot overcome him by force, they damage the new world which the Almighty has recently created, for submission is unthinkable weakness.

To make their new quarters habitable, the fallen angels, under Mammon's direction, mine gold from the neighboring hills and mould, it into bricks, wherewith they erect Pandemonium, "the high capitol of Satan and his peers." This hall, constructed with speed and ease, is brightly illuminated by means of naphtha, and, after Satan and his staff have entered, the other fallen angels crowd beneath its roof in the shape of pygmies, and "the great consult" begins.

Book II. On a throne of dazzling splendor sits Satan, surrounded by his peers. Addressing his followers, he declares that, having forfeited the highest position, he has lost more than they, and that, since he suffers the greatest pain, none will envy him his preeminence. When he bids them suggest what they shall do, Moloch votes in favor of war, stirring up his companions with a belligerent speech. Belial, who is versed in making "the worse appear the better reason," urges guile instead of warfare, for they have tested the power of the Almighty and know he can easily outwit their plans. In his turn, Mammon favors neither force nor guile, but suggests that, since riches abound in this region, they content themselves with piling up treasures.

All having been heard, the fallen angels decide, since it is impossible again to face Michael's dreaded sword, they will adopt Beelzebub's suggestion and try and find out whether they cannot settle more comfortably in the recently created world. This decided, Satan inquires who will undertake to reconnoitre, and, as no one volunteers, declares that the mission of greatest difficulty and danger rightly belongs to him, bidding the fallen angels meanwhile keep watch lest further ill befall them. This decision is so enthusiastically applauded that ever since an overwhelming tumult has been termed "Pandemonium," like Satan's hall.

The "consult" ended, the angels resume their wonted size and scatter through hell, some exploring its recesses, where they discover huge rivers, regions of fire and ice, and hideous monsters, while others beguile their time by arguing of "foreknowledge, will, fate," and discussing questions of philosophy, or join in antiphonal songs.

Meanwhile Satan has set out on his dreadful journey, wending his way straight to the gates of Hades, before which stand two formidable shapes, one woman down to the waist and thence scaly dragon, while the other, a grim, skeleton-like shape, wears a royal crown and brandishes a spear. Seeing Satan approach, this monster threatens him, whereupon a dire fight would have ensued, had not the female stepped between them, declaring she is Sin, Satan's daughter, and that in an incestuous union they two produced Death, whom even they cannot subdue. She adds that she dares not unlock the gates, but, when Satan urges that if she will only let him pass, she and Death will be supplied with congenial occupations in the new world, she produces a key, and, "rolling toward the gates on scaly folds," flings wide the massive doors which no infernal power can ever close again. Through these gaping portals one now descries Chaos, where hot and cold, moist and dry contend for mastery, and where Satan will have to make his way through the elements in confusion to reach the place whither he is bound.

The poet now graphically describes how, by means of his wings or on foot, Satan scrambles up high battlements and plunges down deep abysses, thus gradually working his way to the place where Chaos and Night sit enthroned, contemplating the world "which hangs from heaven by a golden chain." Addressing these deities, Satan commiserates them for having lost Tartarus, now the abode of the fallen angels, as well as the region of light occupied by the new world. When he proposes to restore to them that part of their realm by frustrating God's plans, they gladly speed him toward earth, whither "full fraught with mischievous revenge accursed in an accursed hour he hies."

Book III. After a pathetic invocation to light, the offspring of heaven, whose rays will never shine through his darkness, Milton expresses a hope that like other blind poets and seers he may describe all the more clearly what is ever before his intellectual sight. Then he relates how the Eternal Father, gazing downward, contemplates hell, the newly-created world, and the wide cleft between, where he descries Satan "hovering in the dun air sublime." Summoning his hosts, the Almighty addresses his Only Begotten Son,—whose arrival in heaven has caused Satan's rebellion,—and, pointing out the Adversary, declares he is bent on revenge which will redound on his own head. Then God adds that, although the angels fell by their own suggestion, and are hence excluded from all hope of redemption, man will fall deceived by Satan, so that, although he will thus incur death, he will not forever be unforgiven if some one will pay the penalty of his sin. Because none of the angels feel holy enough to make so great a sacrifice, there is "silence in heaven," until the Son of God, "in whom all fulness dwells of love divine," seeing man will be lost unless he interferes, declares his willingness to surrender to death all of himself that can die. He entreats, however, that the Father will not leave him in the loathsome grave, but will permit his soul to rise victorious, leading to heaven those ransomed from sin, death, and hell through his devotion. The angels, hearing this proposal, are seized with admiration, and the Father, bending a loving glance upon the Son, accepts his sacrifice, proclaiming he shall in due time appear on earth in the flesh to take the place of our first father, and that, just "as in Adam all were lost, so in him all shall be saved." Then, further to recompense his Son for his devotion, God promises he shall reign his equal for ever and judge mankind, ere he bids the heavenly host worship their new master. Removing their crowns of amaranth and gold, the angels kneel before Christ in adoration, and, tuning their harps, sing the praises of Father and Son, proclaiming the latter "Saviour of man."


While the angels are thus occupied, Satan, speeding through Chaos, passes through a place peopled by the idolatries, superstitions, and vanities of the world, all of which are to be punished here later on. Then, past the stairway leading up to heaven, he hurries to a passage leading down to earth, toward which he whirls through space like a tumbler pigeon, landing at last upon the sun. There, in the guise of a stripling cherub, Satan tells the archangel Uriel that, having been absent at the time of creation, he longs to behold the earth so as to glorify God. Thereupon Uriel proudly rejoins he witnessed the performance, and describes how at God's voice darkness fled and solids converged into spheres, which began to roll around their appointed orbits. Then he points out to Satan the newly-created earth, whither the Evil Spirit eagerly speeds.

  Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low,
  As to superior spirits is wont in heaven,
  Where honor due and reverence none neglects,
  Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
  Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success,
  Throws his steep flight in many an airy wheel,
  Nor stayed, till on Niphates' top he lights.

Book IV. Wishing his voice were loud enough to warn our first parents of coming woe and thus forestall the misfortunes ready to pounce upon them, the poet describes how Satan, "with hell raging in his heart," gazes from the hill, upon which he has alighted, into Paradise. The fact that he is outcast both from heaven and earth fills Satan with alternate sorrow and fierce wrath, under impulse of which emotions his face becomes fearfully distorted. This change and his fierce gestures are seen by Uriel, who curiously follows his flight, and who now for the first time suspects he may have escaped from hell.

After describing the wonders of Eden—which far surpass all fairy tales,—Milton relates how Satan, springing lightly over the dividing wall, lands within its precincts, and in the guise of a cormorant perches upon a tree, whence he beholds two God-like shapes "in naked majesty clad." One of these is Adam, formed for contemplation and valor, the other Eve, formed for softness and grace. They two sit beneath a tree, the beasts of the earth playing peacefully around them, and Satan, watching them, wonders whether they are destined to occupy his former place in heaven, and vows he will ruin their present happiness and deliver them up to woe! After arguing he must do so to secure a better abode for himself and his followers, the fiend transforms himself first into one beast and then into another, and, having approached the pair unnoticed, listens to their conversation. In this way he learns Eve's wonder on first opening her eyes and gazing around her on the flowers and trees, her amazement at her own reflection in the water, and her following a voice which promised to lead her to her counterpart, who would make her mother of the human race. But, the figure she thus found proving less attractive than the one she had just seen in the waters, she was about to retreat, when Adam claimed her as the other half of his being. Since then, they two have dwelt in bliss in this garden, where everything is at their disposal save the fruit of one tree. Thus Satan discovers the prohibition laid upon our first parents. He immediately Dedie's to bring about their ruin by inciting them to scorn divine commands, assuring them that the knowledge of good and evil will make them equal to God, and having discovered this method of compassing his purpose, steals away to devise means to reach his ends.

Meantime, near the eastern gate of Paradise, Gabriel, chief of the angelic host, watches the joyful evolutions of the guards who at nightfall are to patrol the boundaries of Paradise. While thus engaged, Uriel comes glancing down through the evening air on a sunbeam, to warn him that one of the banished crew has escaped, and was seen at noon near these gates. In return Gabriel assures Uriel no creature of any kind passed through them, and that if an evil spirit overleapt the earthly bounds he will be discovered before morning, no matter what shape he has assumed. While Uriel returns to his post in the sun, gray twilight steals over the earth, and Michael, having appointed bands of angels to circle Paradise in opposite directions, despatches two of his lieutenants to search for the hidden foe.

Our first parents, after uniting in prayer, are about to retire, when Eve, who derives all her information from Adam, asks why the stars shine at night, when they are asleep and cannot enjoy them? In reply Adam states that the stars gem the sky to prevent darkness from resuming its sway, and assures his wife that while they sleep angels mount guard, for he has often heard their voices at midnight. Then the pair enter the bower selected for their abode by the sovereign planter, where the loveliest flowers bloom in profusion, and where no bird, beast, insect, or worm dares venture.

In the course of their search, the angels Ithuriel and Zephon reach this place in time to behold a toad crouching by the ear of Eve, trying by devilish arts to reach the organs of her fancy. Touched by Ithuriel's spear,—which has the power of compelling all substances to assume their real form,—this vile creature instantly assumes a demon shape. On recognizing a fiend, Ithuriel demands how he escaped and why he is here. Whereupon Satan haughtily rejoins that the time was when none would have dared treat him so unceremoniously, nor have needed to ask his name, seeing all would instantly have known him. It is only then that Zephon recognizes their former superior, Lucifer, and contemptuously informs him his glory is so dimmed by sin, it is no wonder they could not place him. Both angels now escort their captive to Gabriel, who, recognizing the prisoner from afar, also comments on his faded splendor. Then, addressing Satan, Gabriel demands why he broke his prescribed bonds? Satan defiantly retorts that prisoners invariably try to escape, that no one courts torture, and that, if God meant to keep the fiends forever in durance vile, he should have barred the gates more securely. But, even by escaping from Tartarus, Satan cannot evade his punishment, and Gabriel warns him he has probably increased his penalty sevenfold by his disobedience. Then he tauntingly inquires whether pain is less intolerable to the archfiend's subordinates than to himself, and whether he has already deserted his followers. Wrathfully Satan boasts that, fiercest in battle, he alone had courage enough to undertake this journey to ascertain whether it were possible to secure a pleasanter place of abode. Because in the course of his reply he contradicts himself, the angel terms him a liar and hypocrite, and bids him depart, vowing, should he ever be found lurking near Paradise again, he will be dragged back to the infernal pit and chained fast so he cannot escape! This threat arouses Satan's scorn and makes him so insolent, that the angels, turning fiery red, close around him, threatening him with their spears! Glancing upward and perceiving by the position of the heavenly scales that the issue of a combat would not be in his favor, Satan wrathfully flees with the vanishing shades of night.

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