Paradise Regained "As He Who, Seeking Asses, Found A Kingdom"
by John Milton

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"As He Who, Seeking Asses, Found A Kingdom"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Christ in the wilderness is tempted by Satan, first with great luxury and second with wealth and earthly power that will provide fame. Christ resists both of these temptations and points out that both Job and Socrates achieved great glory by entirely peaceful means; military conquerors, He says, are mere destroyers. He says that he seeks not his own glory but the glory of Him that sent him. But Satan does not easily give up the chance to seduce Christ with the prospect of glory, which, he says, God the Father himself receives, but Christ rebuts this argument by pointing out that God's glory is a byproduct of His goodness, for which He desires only thanks. This argument strikes Satan dumb, as he had fallen from heaven through his desire for glory. Recovering his presence of mind, he urges that Christ assume the kingdom that he is to inherit. Christ says that that is no concern of Satan's, and His assuming of His kingdom will be Satan's destruction. Satan, however, says that perhaps Christ hesitates because of a lack of worldly experience; after all, He has hardly seen the towns that neighbor his own home. The wisest, he says, will be fearful to act if they lack experience: Saul, a simple country boy, hunted asses and found a kingdom. (I Samuel, 9) Satan says:

The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,
Empires, and monarchs, and their radiant courts,
Best school of best experience, quickest in sight
In all things that to greatest actions lead.
The wisest, unexperienced, will be ever
Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,
(As he who seeking asses found a kingdom)
Irresolute, unhardly, unadventurous:
But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit
Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes
The monarchies of earth, their pomp and state,
Sufficient introduction to inform
Thee, of thyself so apt, in regal arts,
And regal mysteries; that thou mayst know
How best their opposition to withstand.