. © 1999 . Joseph Lanzara . All rights reserved
THE HOLY TRINITY
In Christian theology, the three persons that form one God.
The Almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful. His perfection makes it impossible for Milton’s audience to identify with him—an unchangeable character with no inner conflict. His main function in the poem is to explain free will, justice, and the consequences of disobedience. [Books III and X]
Also called Messiah, the future incarnation of Jesus Christ, whom the Father ordains king of the angels and his equal in power. He defeats Lucifer's rebellion [vi.824], and is sent by his Father to carry out the miracle of Creation [Book VII]. He volunteers to become human and suffer martyrdom for man's sin [iii.227]; acts as judge over Adam and Eve, mercifully postponing their punishment of death [x.103]; and intercedes with his Father for their redemption. [xi.22]
The Holy Ghost
A mystical aspect of God in Christianity, not directly addressed as such in the poem, but most closely represented as Milton's muse, Urania.
THE FAITHFUL ANGELS
The spirits who serve God in Heaven. Archangels are the highest ranking angels. Others include Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, and Pricipalities, though Milton never clearly defines these. They are pictured, with some ambiguity, as winged spirits who can change shape at will, yet they can be physically wounded in battle and can sup with humans. They battle the rebel angels in God's behalf, and later act as man's protectors.
The only angel in Satan's crew who finds himself unwilling to break faith with God. He stands up to Satan, chastising him in front of his followers. Later he strikes the first blow against Satan in the war in Heaven. [Book V, line 803, thru the beginning of Book VI]
Second in rank to Michael. He is charged to guard the Garden of Eden in the days before the fall. When Satan first discovers the Garden, Gabriel captures and expels him. [Book IV, lines 781-1015]
One of the two angels sent by Gabriel to find Satan in the Garden of Eden. They find him whispering to the sleeping Eve. Ithuriel taps Satan's shoulder with his spear. [Book IV, lines 786-874]
Highest ranking of God's army of angels. He wounds Satan in the battle in Heaven [vi.245]. Later, by God's decree, he expels Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, after showing Adam visions of the future consequences of his sin. [Books XI and XII]
The angel God sends to warn Adam and Eve about Satan. He is the poem's narrator of the account of Satan's rebellion in Heaven and the creation of the world, as told to the human couple. He is "sociably mild" in contrast to the stern, military angels. [Books V thru VIII]
Milton's Christian muse, the angel-like female spirit who Milton invokes in the beginnings of Books I, III, VII, and IX, to inspire him in writing the poem. In the poem's opening lines she seems to be identified with the Holy Spirit of the Trinity. [i.1-26] Milton borrowed her from Greek mythology, where she is the muse of astronomy and astrology.
The guardian stationed on the sun. When Satan disguises himself as a young cherub, Uriel is fooled into directing him to where Adam lives. [Book II, lines 613-742]
A guard in Eden, next in rank to Gabriel. [iv.782]
Together with Ithuriel, he captures Satan in the Garden of Eden in the night and brings him to Gabriel. [Book IV, lines 786-874]
A warrior "of swiftest wing" in the battle against Satan's forces. [v.535]
THE FALLEN ANGELS
The angels who, led by Satan, rebel against what they consider God's tyranny. They are thrown into Hell, where they become devils, devoted to the destruction of the human race as revenge against God. Some were destined to become the false gods of ancient civilizations.
Adonis (or Thammuz)
In Greek mythology a beautiful youth destined to yearly death and resurrection, associated with nature's cycle and symbolized by a river of blood. Milton plays up the sexual overtones. [i.446]
A powerful Throne in Satan's army, beaten by Uriel. [vi.365]
One of the rebels defeated by Abdiel. [vi.371]
Another of the rebels defeated by Abdiel. [vi.371]
Several spirits of feminine gender in Satan's crew. [i.422]
A Throne who lost his battle with Raphael despite his weapons of diamond. [vi.365]
Worshiped as the queen of Heaven in Solomon's temple. [i.438]
A tall Cherub who raises Satan's standard in Hell to lift the spirits of the defeated rebels as Satan is about to speak. [i.534]
A name for fallen spirits who would become beast-like gods of Israel. [i.422]
The name means "The Lord of the Flies." In the New Testament, it's another name for Satan. Milton casts him as Satan's second in command. In the debate among the devils in Book II, Beelzebub presents the plan for a furtive revenge against God by perverting man.
A member of the demonic council who speaks second [ii.108], conceding God is too powerful to oppose and they should wait for his amnesty. His graceful manner conceals a vice-ridden soul. On Earth he would corrupt churches and palaces, and fill the streets at night with violence and debauchery. [i.490]
A devil who would turn the Jews against Moses and lead them in sinful sex orgies. [i.406]
A sea-monster, part man, part fish, worshiped by the Philistines. [i.462]
Satan's name before he fell. It means "brightest star." In his original state, he was glorious to behold.
A low ranking angel, an admirer of material riches, he leads the angels in the construction of Pandemonium [i.674]. Later he would speak at the grand council. He advocates contentment with this new realm in Hell. [ii.228]
A brutish spirit, obsessed with war and violence. He urges the devils to return to battle Heaven even after defeat has landed them in Hell [ii.43]. He would cause Solomon to build a temple against God. Children would be burned alive in sacrifice to his idol. [i.392]
The architect of Pandemonium, Satan's palace in Hell. He comes with much experience, having designed many grand towers in Heaven. [i.740]
Badly wounded in battle, during a nightime truce, this fallen spirit laments his newly discovered physical pain. [vi.447]
Another of the rebel angels defeated by Abdiel. [vi.371]
A devil who practiced his demonic craft in Damascus. [i.467]
A central character in the first half of the poem. A high ranking archangel in Heaven who became jealous of the Son of God and led multitudes of angels in a violent rebellion against the Almighty. Tossed into Hell, he makes it his kingdom, where he plans revenge against God by corrupting mankind.
In mythological style, Milton turns certain concepts into living beings. Among these are Grace, Liberty, Night, Chance, Discord, and the following three who become central to the plot.
Daughter of Satan. Half-woman, half-serpent, she sprung from Satan's head when he conceived the thought of rebelling against God. She is charged to hold the key to the gates of Hell [Book II, lines 648-889]. Together with her son, Death, she builds a highway from Hell to Earth. [Book X, lines 229-414 & 585-615]
Son of Sin, fathered by Satan. A faceless creature, his first act upon being born is to rape his mother. He confronts Satan at the gate of Hell, and the two are prevented from a deadly battle when Sin reveals that he is Satan's son/grandson by incestuous union with her. [ii.666]
The being who personifies the infinity of uncreated matter between Heaven, Hell, and our universe. Chaos resents God’s intrusion on his domain by creating the new world, and cheers Satan on in his quest to destroy it. [ii.951]
THE HUMAN RACE