Paradise Lost "Our Reason Is Our Law"
by John Milton

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"Our Reason Is Our Law"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Satan, in the shape of a beautiful serpent, appears to Eve as she is alone in the Garden, to tell her that he has acquired speech and understanding by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Eve fails to recognize the serpent as Satan and is deceived by his story and flattery. Satan leads her to the tree to invite her to eat of the fruit also. Eve speaks innocently to the serpent, telling him what he, of course, already knows. She tells him that she and Adam have been given only one command which they must obey, that God has commanded them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

"Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither,
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose virtue rest with thee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice: the rest, we live
Law to ourselves, our reason is our law."