Book 10 Summary

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In heaven, God sees the serpent tempting Eve and the mortals eating the forbidden fruit but makes no attempt to stop them from doing so, since he is determined that they should have the freedom to choose their own course of action. He sends the Son down to pass judgment on them. The Son enters Paradise immediately and calls for Adam, but Adam and Eve both hide, ashamed of their nakedness. When they emerge from the trees, the Son asks if they have eaten the forbidden fruit, and Adam blames Eve, saying that she gave him the fruit. The Son asks if Adam now obeys Eve instead of God.

Eve then tells the Son that the serpent persuaded her to eat the fruit, and the Son condemns the serpent to grovel on its belly, even lower than the beasts of the field, as a punishment. He condemns women to suffer the pains of childbirth as punishment for Eve’s sin, and for Adam’s, he dooms men to a life of hard toil, after which they will return to the dust.

Meanwhile, at the edge of Paradise, Satan meets Sin and Death, who have completed their bridge from hell to earth. He is delighted by their work, and sends them to wreak havoc on earth, while he returns to hell to tell the other fallen angels of his success. In Pandemonium, he delivers a triumphant speech but is greeted only by hissing, as the fallen angels have all been transformed into serpents, and he is a huge dragon. Satan realizes that this is a punishment inflicted on him for the sin he committed in the form of a serpent.

From heaven, God sees Sin and Death ravaging the earth together and laments their destructiveness. Following his orders, the angels alter the earth’s climate, creating extreme heat and cold, storms, gales, and ice. Adam observes the changes in the world and knows that his descendants will pay the price for his transgression, though he does not understand why they should be the ones to suffer. He is also angry with Eve, and he tells her that he wishes she had never been created. Eve is distraught and begs for forgiveness, and Adam cannot maintain his anger. He says they must love one another rather than continually fight, which will only increase their misery. Eve suggests suicide, but Adam says that they cannot escape the wrath of God by dying. All they can do is to confess their sins and beg God to forgive them.

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