Milton's Serpent and the Birth of Pagan Error

  title={Milton's Serpent and the Birth of Pagan Error},
  author={Pitt Harding},
  journal={SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900},
  pages={161 - 177}
  • P. Harding
  • Published 19 February 2007
  • History
  • SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900
The allusions surrounding the serpent in Paradise Lost foreshadow certain classical values that were denounced by Christian apologists such as Lactantius. The serpent tempts Eve to self-deification, while allusions to Roman tradition presage a pagan view of heroism and divine wrath. The acrostic spelling Satan's name, imitating that of Mars in the Aeneid, is headed by the name Scipio, whose martial exploits Lactantius deplored. Thus Milton appropriates the rhetoric directed by the early church… 
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