To be able to discuss Milton's Paradise Lost as an epic poem, we first need to review the characteristics of an epic poem. Epics center around the adventures of a grand hero and take place in a vast setting that spans great distances of both space and time, often reaching out even into the cosmos and the underworld. Epics also involve grand deeds, superhuman deeds that could not be accomplished by regular people, and therefore, epics include supernatural elements. Epic style is grand and eloquent to match the epic poem's grand subject matter, and the speaker assumes an omniscient point of view that allows him to explore all elements of the characters and events of the poem.
Now let's see how these epic characteristics apply to Paradise Lost. We will notice that Milton includes all of them. The poem certainly centers around the adventures of a grand hero, although Milton provides a bit of a twist here. God is certainly the hero of the poem, but many scholars and critics assert that Satan is actually the real “hero” of the tale, except that he is an “anti-hero.” The poem takes place over a vast setting indeed, for it crosses the boundaries of Heaven, Earth, and Hell.
Certainly grand deeds are at work in this poem, everything from the fall of angels to the fall of human beings to the building of an anti-kingdom in Hell. Again, Milton offers a twist on the usual epic, but the deeds he describes are definitely superhuman. They are also centered around the supernatural in a major way, with God, angels, and demons taking the prime spot in the action.
Milton's style is grand and eloquent as befitting an epic. His vocabulary is high and his syntax intricate. His meter is complex, and he incorporates many musical elements, building vast patterns of counterpoint into his poem. Further, the speaker assumes an omniscient point of view that even reaches into the thoughts of God and Satan.
From this discussion, then, we can see that Milton's Paradise Lost is a grand epic indeed with a few twists that belong to Milton's creativity.