"For One Restraint, Lords Of The World Besides"
Context: Milton begins Paradise Lost with the statement of his theme, man's disobedience to God and the coming of death into the world. Throughout the poem the idea is developed that the death is both physical and spiritual. The idea of the introduction of physical death derives from Genesis 3: 19 and 3: 22, where it is contained both in the curse laid on Adam after he had eaten the forbidden fruit though allowed all the rest, and in the fact that he must be evicted from the garden so that he cannot eat of the tree of life and regain his lost immortality. Milton says that a greater Man will come and restore us; that is, Christ will come down and do away with the necessity for spiritual death. Milton then continues that he is going to do things never before attempted in either prose or poetry; among other things, he will justify the ways of God to man. What is meant here is that he will make clear or explain God's ways, which are sometimes difficult of understanding for the ordinary person. When he has done this, he then makes a direct invocation of the heavenly Muse:
Say first, for heaven hides nothing from thy viewNor the deep tract of hell, say first what causeMoved our grandparents in that happy state,Favored of heaven so highly, to fall offFrom their Creator, and transgress his willFor one restraint, lords of the world besides?Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?Th' infernal serpent; he it was, whose guileStirred up with envy and revenge, deceivedThe mother of mankind, what time his prideHad cast him out from heaven, with all his hostOf rebel angels, by whose aid aspiringTo set himself in glory above his peers,He trusted to have equalled the most high,If he opposed. . . .