"Death On His Pale Horse"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 147

Context: Following the seduction of Adam and Eve from obedience, Satan returns to Hell in triumph, to boast of his deed to his followers, the fallen angels. His triumph is short-lived, for he and his followers are suddenly, in the midst of boasting, turned into writhing, hissing snakes. From Hell's gate Sin, Satan's paramour, and Death, their child, fly up to Paradise to take possession, given power by man's transgression. Death is not yet mounted, as the Biblical tradition (Revelation 6:8) has it. Sin is not only Death's mother by Satan; she is Satan's offspring herself, as Milton tells earlier in Paradise Lost. Describing the arrival of Sin and Death in Paradise, Milton writes:

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. . . in Paradise the hellish pair
Too soon arrived, Sin there in power before,
Once actual, now in body, and to dwell
Habitual habitant; behind her death
Close following, pace for pace, not mounted yet
On his pale horse. . . .

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