Epic Simile In Paradise Lost

Discuss the epic similes employed by Milton in book 1 of Paradise Lost.

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An epic or Homeric simile is not just characterized by use of the words "like" or "as" to make a single comparison. It is an extended simile—it goes on and on.

For example, in The Odyssey, an epic simile describes the blinding of Polyphemus, the cyclops:

as a blacksmith plunges a glowing ax or adze in an ice-cold bath and the metal screeches steam and its temper hardens—that's the iron's strength—so the eye of Cyclops sizzled round that stake.

This comparison isn't only a matter of Odysseus plunging the hot metal rod into the cyclops's eye as a blacksmith does a glowing ax into a cold bath. We get a series of "ands" (and the metal screeches, and it hardens), which adds vivid detail, importance, and emotional intensity to the description.

Borrowing from the Homeric epic tradition, Milton does the same in Paradise Lost . Similes go on and on, not simply ending with a single comparison. An example would be Satan rising up in hell after having been flung there by God. Satan's huge wings unfurl and...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 850 words.)

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