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Paradise Lost as an Epic

Paradise Lost as an Epic

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Published by L'Aurore
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 (though written nearly ten years earlier) in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification; the majority of the poem was written while Milton was blind, and was transcribed for him.[Wikipedia]
Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was originally published in 1667 (though written nearly ten years earlier) in ten books, with a total of over ten thousand individual lines of verse. A second edition followed in 1674, redivided into twelve books (in the manner of the division of Virgil's Aeneid) with minor revisions throughout and a note on the versification; the majority of the poem was written while Milton was blind, and was transcribed for him.[Wikipedia]

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Published by: L'Aurore on Feb 11, 2010
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EPIC
Epic Conventions or characteristics common to both types include:1.The hero is a figure of great national or even cosmic importance,usually the ideal man of his culture. He often has superhuman or divine traits. He has an imposing physical stature and is greater inall ways than the common man.
2.
The setting is vast in scope. It covers great geographical distances, perhaps even visiting the underworld, other worlds, and othetimes.3.The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage(especially in battle). 4.Supernatural forces interest themselves in the action and interveneat times. The intervention of the gods is called "machinery."5.The style of writing is elevated, even ceremonial.6.Additional conventions: certainly all are not always present)
Opens by stating the theme of the epic.
Writer invokes a Muse, one of the nine daughters of Zeus. The poet prays to the muses to provide him with divine inspiration totell the story of a great hero.
Narrative opens in media res. This means "in the middle of things," usually with the hero at his lowest point. Earlie portions of the story appear later as flashbacks.
Catalogs and genealogies are given. These long lists of objects, places, and people place the finite action of the epicwithin a broader, universal context. Oftentimes, the poet is also paying homage to the ancestors of audience members.
Main characters give extended formal speeches.
Use of the epic simile. A standard simile is a comparison using"like" or "as." An epic or Homeric simile is a more involved,ornate comparison, extended in great detail.
Heavy use of repetition and stock phrases. The poet repeats passages that consist of several lines in various sections of theepic and uses Homeric epithets, short, recurrent phrases used todescribe people, places, or things. Both made the poem easier tomemorize.
PARADISE LOST AS AN EPIC
In literature, an epic is a narrative poem on the grand scale and inmajestic style concerning the exploits and adventures of a superhuman hero
 
(or heroes) engaged in a quest or some serious endeavour. The hero isdistinguished above all men by his strength and courage, and is restrainedonly by a sense of honour. The subject-matter of epic includes myth, legend,history, and folk tale. It is usually set in a heroic age of the past andembodies its country's early history and expresses its values. Battles andperilous journeys play a large part, as do gods, the supernatural, and magic;scenes are often set in the Underworld or in heaven. The high sounding,bombastic and ornate language, war like speeches, ancient and mythicalreferences and the use of supernatural machinery are some of the mainfeatures or essential ingredients of the epic writing. The Epic can be definesas:
“An Epic is a highest form of poetry i.e. a long narrative poem inwhich characters and actions are of heroic proportions. It iswritten in an elevated style with a serious theme at least of national or international level. “
An epic must accord with the technical principles of great epics of classical antiquity set by the classical writers like Homer and Virgil. But when we analyse “Paradise Lost” as an epic,following the set principles, we can aptly say that John Milton, a puritan, and a scholarly person,surpasses even his favourite masters Homer and Virgil in producing a model structure of epicwriting for rest of the times.Unlike the national subjects taken up by Homer and Virgil, Milton succeeds in writing an epichaving more serious rather universal subject that is the fall of man on the model of the Greek and Latin epics. The subject, whom Aristotle, Tasso, Homer, Virgil and other epic poets took areancient and their themes are nation but Milton’s subject is more ancient than that of any other epic. He deals with the subject
“Of man’s disobedience and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste, Brought death into this work and all our woeWith loss of Eden”
Characteristics of Paradise Lost as an Epic
 Aristotle described six characteristics: "fable, action, characters,sentiments, diction, and meter" most important elements of epic.
Fable:
Fable or story is the basis of the epic. Bossu is of the opinion that
“the poet’s first business is to find a moral, which is perfect or imperfecaccording as the action is more or less so.” 
Th
e subject of the Paradise lost concernswith not only a nation or a particular country, rather the destiny of the whole mankind is
 
associated with it. In this particular sense, Paradise lost excels others epic as its action iscontrived in hell, executed on earth and punishes by heaven. Coleridge commenting on theUniversal appeal of Paradise Lost says,
“The superiority of Paradise Lost is obvious in this respect that theinterest transcends the limit of a nation… it contains the matter of deepinterest to all mankind; forming the basis of all religions and the trueoccasion of all of all philosophy what so ever”
Besides, Milton has filled his story with so many surprising incidents which bear so close ananalogy with what is delivered in Holy writ, that it is capable of pleasing the most delicatereader, without giving offense to the most scrupulous.
Theme:
The first conviction of epic writing is that it carries a serious theme at least of nation or international level. The destiny of a nation or region is associated with it. The theme of an epic,according to Aristotle, must be “probable and marvelous”. Milton, however, makes somechanges in choosing theme as in the very early lines he declares that his aim was to attempt,
“Things unattempted yet in Prose or rhyme”
Explaining subject or theme of Paradise Lost, Hallam says that it is
“thefinest ever chosen for heroic poetry, it is also manage by Milton withremarkable skill. The Iliad wants completeness; the subject of Odyssey ishardly extension, the Aeneid is spread over too long a space: the Pharasaliais open to the same criticism and the Iliad: the subject of the Thebai possesses no interest in our eyes: yet the fall of Man has a more generalinterest than the Crusade.” 
Character 
The characters in the epic, like other classical epics, are of high status rather more high andnoble than ancient heroes of Homer and Virgil. The characters in Milton’s Paradise Lost are themost sublime that human beings can conceive. They are God, Christ, the good and evil angels,and Adam and Eve, the Parents of whole human race and their status enjoying heavenly life.Addison says
“It is impossible for any of Paradise readers whatever nation, country or peoplehe may belong to, not to be related to the person who is the principal actor in it;but what is still infinitely more to its advantage, the principal actors not onlyour progenitors, but our representative.”
The heroes of ancient epics have the outstanding personalities, heroic mould and stuff, butAdam is bestowed with more heroic qualities than any other hero. Whereas Satan, an Archfiend,revolts and preaches disaffection against God, yet, Milton portrays him so skillfully that heappears to be more exalted and most depraved being. The quality of Satan as leader is hence

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Laura liked this
Touhidul Islam Touhid added this note
Q. Consider 'Paradise Lost' as an Epic. Q. What qualities of an epic do you find in 'Paradise Lost'? Ans: Paradise Lost is one of the finest examples of epic tradition in all of literature. Paradise Lost is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. It was orig Read the full answer at www.josbd.com/paradise_lost_epic.html
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Katherine Gause liked this
Awais Khan Sherwani added this note
it was a great an epic ever written in literature
Madhumita Poddar added this note
A Devil of a Problem: Satan as Hero in Paradise Lost by Matt Wallace In the beginning of Book I of Paradise Lost, true to epic convention, John Milton invokes the muse, but his muse is no less than the Holy Spirit: And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all Temples th’ upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for Thou know’st; Thou from the first Wast present, and with mighty w
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