Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 140
Context: At the grand council of the rebel angels in Pandemonium, their capital in Hell, Moloch speaks first, asking for continued war against God. Belial answers him skillfully, claiming that open warfare is futile, for God will be victorious and, in exasperation, will prevent the rebel angels from existing on any plane of being. Such annihilation would be worse even than pain and suffering, for should the rebel spirits cease to exist at all, they would become part of the formlessness outside the created universe in Chaos. Milton is here following the Ptolemaic cosmology, as he does throughout the poem. Belial is made to say, sadly enough:
. . . who would lose
Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
Those thoughts that wander through eternity,
To perish rather, swallowed up and lost
In the wide womb of uncreated Night,
Devoid of sense and motion?
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