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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 724-870. THE BIRTH OF SIN AND DEATH

Sin prevents the fight by calling Satan "father"- as surprising to him as it is to us. She was born from Satan's head, just as in Greek mythology the goddess of wisdom, Athena, emerged from Zeus's head. But Sin came out of the left side of Satan's head. The left is connected with evil, and that's why we have the word "sinister," which simply means "left."

She emerged precisely at the time Satan initiated the war against God. The meaning of the allegory is that Sin was born at the same moment as rebellion against God's authority.



Once born, Sin became Satan's concubine in a vile incestuous relationship. As Satan fell, she too was expelled from Heaven, but she was given the key to the Hell gates. While watching the gates, she gave birth to Death, a labor so difficult that it distorted her body into the shape of a serpent. Death immediately turned on his mother and raped her, causing the birth of monsters who continually torment her with their gnawing inside her body. She knows that Death would like to consume her but cannot do it.

So both Sin and Death are the offspring of Satan, an allegorical way of saying that Satan is responsible for the introduction of sin and death into the world, just as Milton said in the third line of Book I.

Wanting to be let out of the gates, Satan promises Sin and Death that he will take them back with him to earth after he has spied on it. Death smiles a ghastly smile as he thinks of more victims. Sin shows her nature by persuading herself that it is perfectly all right to disobey God, because her own father has asked her to unlock the gates. Sin can always find justification-as we know from our own experience.

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