Book 8 Summary

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Adam asks Raphael about the other planets and the stars. Why were such gigantic heavenly bodies created to orbit the earth, which is tiny by comparison? Raphael replies that God has not revealed the answers to these questions. He does not blame Adam for asking such questions, but mortals were not meant to know everything, and Adam must be content to know what God has decided to tell him.

Adam then offers to tell Raphael the story of his own creation, so far as he recalls it. Raphael gladly accepts, as he was not present when God created Man. Adam says that it is hard for him to relate what happened but that he will try, since he wants to continue his conversation with Raphael. He awoke suddenly, perspiring, in the sunlight, looked up to heaven, then began to take in the plants and animals around him. He found that he knew their names and then began to think about his creator, whom he had an impulse to praise.

God then appeared to Adam in a vision, explaining why he was created and placing everything in Eden within his care. Only the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden to him. Adam named all the animals and in doing so realized that, while they all had mates, he was alone. He told God of his loneliness, and God asked what he must think of God’s own state, since he was without equal in the universe. However, God granted Adam’s request for a partner, creating Eve from one of his ribs.

Adam fell in love with Eve, mesmerized as he was by her beauty, which he fears he values too highly. He knows she is not as wise or as virtuous as he is, but when they are together, her physical attractiveness makes him forget this. Raphael is worried by these words. He agrees that Adam places too much emphasis on Eve’s beauty and says that Adam must remember that he is the superior being. Adam tells Raphael that his love for Eve is more spiritual than physical and asks how angels show their love for one another. Raphael replies that when spirits embrace, they can occupy the same space and become one, “union of pure with pure.” He then warns Adam again not to allow his love to Eve to exceed or modify his love of God and flies back to heaven, while Adam returns to his bower.

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