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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 1-25. THE INVOCATION

Epics traditionally begin with a call for divine help in the task the poet has set for himself. Classical epic poets usually asked for the help of the Muses, the daughters of Zeus who watched over the arts. But Milton's muse is "Heavenly," Urania, who inspired Moses, the author of the Biblical Book of Genesis.



2Milton wants to remind us that Paradise Lost is not only an epic, it is a Christian epic, and therefore-in his eyes-superior to its heathen predecessors. Milton wants to "soar above the Aonian Mount," that is, to exceed the accomplishment of the classical Muses. He will do this because of his "great Argument," his subject, which is nothing less ambitious than explaining the ways of God to men. Keep asking yourself whether Milton manages to do so. If he doesn't succeed, what has he explained?

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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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