Last Updated on October 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 434
Satan, seated on his throne in the great hall of Pandemonium, begins the debate among the fallen angels as to how they will proceed in their attack against heaven. Moloch speaks first, advising open war. They have millions of soldiers, he says, and can use hellfire as a weapon. Moreover, they are already in hell and have nothing more to fear. Belial, a subtler and more persuasive speaker, opposes him, saying that any open attack on heaven will soon be discerned and easily repulsed. He points out that since they are sitting and consulting freely together, hell has provided them with a refuge, and it is easy to imagine a worse fate which God might impose on them if they are defeated again. If they do not attack, however, God’s anger might be abated, and he may decrease their suffering. He is watching them constantly, and their best course for the present is to do nothing.
Mammon is the third to speak. He says that any thoughts of a return to heaven are hopeless and proposes that they build a prosperous society in hell with the gold they have mined. The fallen angels applaud his view, but Beelzebub warns that they will never be free in hell, since God rules everywhere. However, rather than attacking heaven, they must find “some easier enterprise.” He believes he has discovered this in a newly created world which God intends to fill with a race of creatures called Man. The fallen angels can take their revenge on God by corrupting this new world. They all agree to this, and Satan himself volunteers to make the journey across the abyss that separates hell from the world.
Satan flies to the gates of hell, which are guarded by Sin, Satan’s daughter who sprung out of his head when he first entertained thoughts of rebellion, and Death, his son through his incestuous union with Sin. Satan tells Sin and Death of his plan to corrupt the new world, promising to bring them into it. Sin therefore unlocks the gates, despite God’s command to allow no one to pass through. In the abyss on the other side of the gates, Satan finds the king of Chaos, who directs him to the new world. Sin and Death follow him and begin to build a bridge between hell and earth, so that the fallen angels can easily enter the universe of men and men can enter hell just as easily. At last, Satan sees both the light of heaven and the earth nearby, looking like a tiny star beside the moon.