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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 202

In Milton's famous epic poem, he describes the temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan as written in the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. Paradise Regained is a shorter, direct poem with simpler language than Milton's previous Paradise Lost, but both epics share theological themes. In Paradise Regained ,...

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In Milton's famous epic poem, he describes the temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan as written in the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. Paradise Regained is a shorter, direct poem with simpler language than Milton's previous Paradise Lost, but both epics share theological themes. In Paradise Regained, Milton emphasizes the human elment of hunger, both spiritual and physical.

Using Luke 4 as a reference in Paradise Regained, Milton depicts the interaction, dialogue, and conclusion of Satan's efforts to tempt Christ as Christ spent forty days and nights in the wilderness. During this time, Christ ate nothing, choosing to fast for the purpose of focusing on communion with his Father, God. Satan tried to tempt Christ with food, power, and vanity, each time trying to cause Christ to sin. However, each time, Christ rebuked Satan with a reply from the Word of God. Ultimately, Satan left in defeat.

Paradise Regained is replete with reversals, most notably the solution for the separation between God and humans due to sin in the Garden of Eden as described in Paradise Lost. Milton depicts Christ's victory over sin and Satan as a restorative salvation opportunity for mankind to once again be in relationship with God through Christ.

Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 897

Paradise Regained is poet John Milton’s sequel to his great epic poem Paradise Lost (1667, 1674), in which he began his history of sin and redemption by telling the story of the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan) and the loss of innocence through Adam and Eve’s original sin and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Whereas Paradise Lost consisted of ten books (twelve in its 1674 revised version) of blank verse, Paradise Regained consists of only four. In the poem’s induction, Milton announces that he will complete the history of sin and redemption begun with Paradise Lost. Thus, Paradise Regained retells Luke’s account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert by Satan.

Milton begins his story with Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. At this event, a voice from Heaven announces that Jesus is the Son of God, a term whose meaning is crucial to the story as Jesus grows in knowledge of himself and his role as the Messiah. Jesus, returning to his mother Mary’s house, hears from Mary the story of his miraculous birth, announced by the angel Gabriel. Jesus then wanders in the desert for forty days and nights as he ponders how to begin his mission.

Meanwhile, Satan has observed Christ’s baptism and heard the announcement that Jesus is the Son of God, though he is unsure of what the term “Son of God” means. Calling a council of devils, Satan resolves to corrupt Jesus as he did Adam. God the Father views all these characters from Heaven and tells the angel Gabriel that Jesus’ time in the desert will be his trial period, which he will pass just as Job did. In the wilderness, Satan, disguised as an old man, confronts Jesus. Posing as Jesus’ friend and adviser, Satan tempts Jesus (who now feels the pangs of hunger after his forty days in the wilderness) by telling him to turn the stones into food. Jesus, however, sees through Satan’s disguise and says that man lives by God’s Word, not by bread. During Jesus’ absence, Andrew and Simon, Jesus’ followers, search for him and meditate on his significance, while Mary keeps her faith in God’s promise.

Satan calls another devils’ council to debate how to destroy Jesus. The fallen angel Belial advocates tempting Jesus with women, but Satan disdainfully cites the examples of great men who resisted lust. After his council, Satan returns to Jesus and spreads before him a proper offering to the Son of God, a banquet in the wilderness—all the world’s fine foods with beautiful women for attendants. Jesus sees through Satan, realizing that the real temptation here is to take food as a gift from Satan; he rejects Satan’s offer, saying that he could command a greater feast if he wanted. Next, Satan offers Jesus wealth, without which (Satan indicates) the Son of God can never rule a great kingdom. Jesus counters that true heroism, like that of Socrates and Job, lies in self-control, not in controlling others.

Next Satan takes Jesus to a mountaintop to view the world’s empires. Satan reminds the Savior that he is the heir to King David’s throne and offers to help him regain that throne. First Satan shows Jesus the Parthian Empire, Rome’s great eastern rival, brave and warlike. Satan promises to deliver Parthia to Jesus, but Jesus rejects warfare. Then Satan shows Jesus the city of Rome, with its glories and its corruption, implying that Jesus, as David’s heir, can overthrow the degenerate Tiberius, who has already abandoned Rome for the island of Capri, and free both the Romans and the Jews from Tiberius’s oppression. Jesus rejects Satan’s arguments: Parthian valor and Roman glory are based on killing and slavery. The Messiah seeks instead the glory that comes from living a life of virtue. He also unsettles Satan by reminding him that the oppression of Rome’s or Parthia’s subjects was, after all, Satan’s handiwork.

Satan, realizing Jesus’ disdain for political power, directs his attention to Athens and the prospect of intellectual glory, as represented by Greek poetry, philosophy, law, and oratory. Once again Jesus remains firm, seeing no value in learning and eloquence purchased at the cost of faith. Showing an awareness of classical culture that Satan had not expected, the Savior distinguishes between the cleverness of the Greeks and true wisdom, which combines knowledge with judgment and moral commitment. Whatever is good in Greek learning, Jesus asserts, is already found in the scriptures; moreover, the Greeks are intellectually limited because, as pagans, they do not know the one true God.

A desperate Satan, still believing that the title “Son of God” has no special meaning, makes his final temptation. After trying unsuccessfully to weaken Jesus with a night of storms and nightmares, Satan flies Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple at Jerusalem and dares him to stand or fall, saying that angels will lift him up. Jesus replies, “Tempt not the Lord thy God.” With this, Jesus reveals his true nature as the Son of God. Satan falls into defeat. Angels then fly Jesus to a valley, where they put forth a feast for him. In a conclusion capturing both Jesus’ humility and his grandeur, the angels sing hymns of praise to Jesus, after which he quietly returns to his mother’s house.

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