"The Sons Of Belial, Flown With Insolence And Wine"

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 134

Context: The reader finds that one of the characteristics of epic poetry is lists of persons and supernatural beings; Milton's epic is no exception. In the opening book he lists many of the followers of Satan. They are the fallen angels who rebelled against God with Satan and were cast out of Heaven. Tradition says they later became the false gods of paganism. Among these is Belial, a generic term from the Old Testament which Milton personifies. Belial stands for utter profligacy and worthlessness. Milton uses Belial and Sons of Belial interchangeably. In listing the false gods he writes:

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And when night
Darkens the street, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Exposed a matron to avoid worse rape.

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