Paradise Lost Book 9: Detailed Explanation (Paraphrase)

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      Satan, having compassed the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by night into Paradise; enters into the Serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labors, which Eve proposes to divide into several places, each laboring apart: Adam consents not, alleging the danger lest that enemy of whom they were forewarned should attempt her found alone. Eve, loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her to go apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength; Adam at last yields. The Serpent finds her alone: his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such understanding not till now; the Serpent answers that by tasting of a certain tree in the Garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both. Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the Tree of Knowledge forbidden: the Serpent, now grown holder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat, She pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not; at last, brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof. Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her loss, resolves, through the vehemence of love, to perish with her, and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit. The effects thereof in them both; they seek, to cover their nakedness; fall to variance and accusation of one another.


      I shall talk no more (says Milton the poet) of God and angels sitting with man as guests, as one sits with friends or members of the family, treating him kindly and sharing in his simple pastoral food and drink, all the while permitting him to indulge in innocent conversation. Now I must change my tone (from the pastoral or idyllic) to a tragic note (for those innocent times have come to an end) suitable for the story of wicked betrayal (by Satan) and the disloyalty, defiance and disobedience shown by man to God; on the part of God, the estrangement from man because of his betrayal, heaven’s aloofness, dislike, anger and rebuke well-deserved by man, and the divine judgment which brought into this world suffering, Sin and consequent Death, and Misery the forerunner of Death. It is, indeed, a sad task, but the theme is not less but more heroic even than the action of the Iliad which deals with the terrible anger of Achilles on his enemy (Hector) whom he pursued thrice round the walls of Troy; it is more heroic than the rage of Turnus who was deprived of Lavinia as his bride (Aeneid); it is more heroic than the anger of Neptune which frustrated the Greek (Odysseus) in his efforts to reach home, and Juno’s anger which frustrated Cytherea’s son (Aeneas).

      If I can obtain a style corresponding to the more heroic subject from my heavenly patroness, who favors me with nightly visits, without being requested to do so, and inspires me to write my verses fluently and spontaneously, I may be able to tell this great story. My muse has been inspiring me ever since the theme of this epic occurred to me, a theme which I took a long time to choose and so have begun writing about so late in my life. I am not by nature capable of diligently applying myself to relate stories of war—the traditional subject of epics—or the adventures and gallant doings of legendary knights (as in medieval romances); I do not have the skill, considered so important by the ancient epic poets, to analyze at tedious length the destruction wrought by and upon the warriors in imagined battles, even while leaving uncelebrated the patient endurance and heroic martyrdom (or sacrifice) which are of greater value. The traditional epic poets described races and games or the equipment of knights engaged in jousting (tournaments or tilts) such as shields decorated with coats of arms, ingenious emblems, equestrian trappings (decoration of the horses), and protective skirts worn by the horses or riders; they described in detail the feasts served up by stewards and supervised by officers in charge of the entertainment in rich men’s households (in medieval times). The menial duties of marshall, server and steward and the artifice of chivalric equipment are all that romance amounts to. These subjects are not in reality worthy of being entitled ‘heroic.’ To describe such details denoted the skill of a craftsman and not that of a poet. I am neither skilled nor inclined to deal in such trivialities. To me has been left a higher (nobler) theme which by itself is sufficient to bestow the title of ‘heroic’ on the poem (or poet).

      Of course, unlike the earlier poets, I am living in a relatively late age in the history of the world, in a cold northern climate, and I am no longer in the prime of my life. These factors may prevent my inspiration from soaring as high as I want it to if it were all my own, but it is the sacred muse, eternally vigorous, who inspires me. She will give me the strength to see my quest (of writing on this theme) through to its conclusion.

      The sun had set and, after it, also Venus, the evening star, whose function it is to bring twilight on the earth and who is the brief intermediary between day and night. Soon after, night had darkened one side of the earth from end to end. At this time Satan, who had recently fled from the Garden of Eden, driven out by the threats of Gabriel, came back, more determined and better planned in fraud and wickedness to bring about man’s destruction; quite regardless of anything worse that might happen to himself, he came fearlessly back to Paradise. He had fled by night and he now returned at midnight, a week later, after circling the earth.

      He was careful to avoid the day (by remaining on the dark side of the earth) because Uriel (the angel of the sun) had earlier noticed his entrance and forewarned the angels who guarded Paradise. Satan had then fled in anguish and orbited the earth seven times, always keeping on the dark side. He followed the equator, traveling from east to west ahead the sun, for three nights; then the four major circles of longitude (colure) pole to pole for four nights. On the eighth night he returned on the opposite side of Eden from the entrance which was guarded by the angels, and entered Paradise by stealth, without being noticed.

      There was a place, which exists no longer, though it was sin and not time that caused a change, where the river Tigris plunged underground into a gulf at the foot of Paradise, with part of it rising in the form of a fountain near the Tree of Life in the Garden at Eden. Satan sank underground with the river and shot up again with the fountain, enveloped in the water vapor, and looked for a place to hide himself He had searched sea and land; from Eden, he traveled north via the Black Sea (Pontus) and the Sea of Azof (pool Macoties) up past the Siberian river Ob, then down the other side of the world to the Antarctic. From East to West he traveled from the river Orontes in Syria long the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic to the isthmus of Panama (Darien), then over the Pacific to India where flows the Ganges and the Indus. Thus he had wandered all over the world, closely searching and inspecting keenly every creature to assess its suitability for carrying out his wicked plan. In the serpent, he found the most cunning creature. After a long inward debate and consideration of many doubts and thoughts, Satan finally decided upon the serpent as his instrument. The serpent was the most suitable medium (or the fittest young shoot grafted) for fraud.

      Satan decided to enter the serpent’s body and thus conceal his wicked scheming from the sharpest sight or intelligence. In the form of the serpent, Whatever tricks may be noticed would be attributed to the serpent’s natural subtlety and not regarded with suspicion; in a less cunning animal, the same tricks might create a suspicion that it was possessed by a devilish force operating inside it, beyond the capacity of a mere beast. He thus decided to use the serpent, but first, he poured forth his inward grief and overwhelming passion into laments thus.—

      “O earth, how like heaven you are even if justly not to be preferred to it. You (earth) are a home more worthy of gods as you have been created after second thought, i.e. more experience, improving upon what had already been created (namely, heaven), for no God would build a worse place after having made a good one. You are an earthly heaven with several other heavenly bodies (stars) dancing around you; these heavenly bodies shine, yet carry their bright lamps dutifully, one above the other as if they have been created for you alone; it seems as if they are focusing all their beams of sacred influence on you. Just as God in heaven is the center, yet spreads his glory all around, so you, occupying the central position amidst these heavenly bodies, receive the sacred influence from them all. It is in you, rather than in themselves, that their productive power is to be seen—in the herbs, plants and emergence of higher animals ascending in steps towards greater growth, sense and rational levels, culminating in man (the highest in the graded scheme of creation). I could have walked around you with pleasure, if only I still had the ability to derive pleasure from anything; I could have enjoyed the variety of natural scenes—the hills, the valleys, the rivers and woods and plains, moving from the land to the sea and then to the shores covered with forests, rocks, dens and caves. But in none of these can I (Satan) find a place to exist or to hide, and the more I see of the pleasures around me, the greater is the content that I experience within, as one feels on being assailed by hateful opposites (delights outside and tonnent within). All good is poison to me. (The good surrounding Satan besieges the evil inside him). My condition would be much worse than this in heaven (for there I will see even greater good).

      “But I seek to live neither here nor in heaven, unless I Can do so after overcoming the supreme master of heaven. I do not hope to make my own condition less miserable; what I seek is to make others as miserable as I am, although much worse may befall me as a consequence. For it is only in destroying others that I find comfort from the thoughts that relentlessly torture me. I want man to be destroyed or lured into doing something that will bring complete ruin on him; then this beautiful world which was created for man will automatically be destroyed, for it is linked with his well being. Let there be woe then; let destruction spread all round.

      It shall be my glory alone among the fallen angels in Hell to have been able to destroy in one day what God—the Almighty as he is called—took six days and nights continuously to make. And who knows for how long God had been planning to create this world, though perhaps, he had no such plan before I liberated in one night about half the angels from inglorious servitude to him, and thus greatly reduced the number of his adoring worshippers in Heaven.

      In order to take revenge upon me and also to make up the number of his adorers thus reduced, God created the race of man. It is not clear why he created human beings—whether it was so because his old power of creating angels had by then been exhausted, that is if at all they had been created by him, or because he wanted to humiliate us further by creating a being from inferior material endowed with some heavenly qualities and placing him in the vacancy caused by our expulsion. He created man from earth and endowed him with heavenly qualities—qualities proper to angels like us; he endowed these creatures with rights and possessions which were originally ours. What God decreed, He put into effect. He made man and for him created this magnificent world, and earth as his seat. Man was pronounced to be the master of earth. What an insult it is to us. Angels (with wings shining like blazing fire) have been subjected to the service of man, appointed by God to watch and look after him. I am afraid of the watchful eyes of these angels; in order to elude them I have moved stealthily and unnoticed, enveloped in the midst of midnight vapors. And I look closely into every bush and thicket where, by chance, I may find the serpent sleeping, in whose twisting folds I may hide myself and carry out my wicked plan.

      “What a great coming down it is for me (to enter a serpent’s body to hide)— I, who formerly fought with gods to occupy the highest place, am now compressed and forced into occupying the body of a beast and to mix in beastly dirt; I am forced to embody this essence (of the angel) in a beastly form—I who once aspired to the height of God! But ambition and the desire for revenge can make one stoop to any level. Whoever aspires for something must come down low in the same proportion as the height to which he aspires to rise; he must be ready to become even the lowest of creatures. Although revenge is sweet at first, before long it bitterly recoils upon the avenger (i.e. the avenger suffers in some way too). Let it be so; I do not care if I am knocked down so long as my revenge false upon its target. Since I cannot take revenge upon God (who is beyond my reach), let my revenge fall on him who provokes my envy next to Him—this new favorite of heaven, this man made of clay, this product of God’s spite (towards the fallen angels) raised by God Creator from dust to humiliate us all the more. Spite is best repaid by spite.”

      Saying so, Satan carried on his midnight search through each bush and forest, wet or dry, creeping along close to the ground like a black mist, to find the serpent. He soon found the serpent fast asleep in a maze made up of its coiled-up body, with its head in the center well stored with cunning tricks. The snake did not as yet hide itself in any bristling shade or sinister den; not being harmful as yet, it lay asleep, fearless and unfeared, on the grass. The Devil went in by the snake’s mouth, possessed the animal sense in head and heart, and inspired it with the capacity of intelligent action. But he did not disturb the snake’s sleep and awaited in concealment the coming of the morning.

      Now when the sacred (because it is associated with God) light of the sun began to spread in Eden on the wet flowers which were breathing the scented morning air, when all living creatures send up their silent praise of God the Creator from the altar of earth, and fill God’s nostrils with pleasant fragrance, the human pair came forward and added their words of worship to the choir of worshipping creatures who lacked the power of speech. Having done that, they enjoyed the time of day, the early morning, which is the best time for smelling the scents of the flowers. Then they discussed how to apply themselves to the day’s work so as to bring about the best results in the garden; for the garden was too large to be tended and looked after properly by two pairs of hands. And Eve first spoke to her husband thus—

      “Adam, we may work hard and continually at this garden, tending plants, grasses and flowering shrubs—a pleasant task we have been given to do. But more hands are needed to help us. For, in spite of our labor, the work is increasing, the garden becomes more luxuriant even as we attempt to bring it under control. The plants we prune or trim, or support or bind during the day, overgrow wildly in a day or two, mocking at our hard labor. Therefore, either you should say what is to be done, or hear the suggestion that comes to my mind. My proposal is that we divide our labors: you working where your choice directs you, or where your services are most required, whether it be to wind the woodbine creeper round this garden-retreat, or to guide the clinging ivy where to climb, while I shall go to that thicket of rose and myrtle and work at what needs to be done, till noon. For when we choose to work near each other to whole day, it is no wonder that we waste our time in looking and smiling at each other, or indulging in conversation on coming across some new object. All this interrupts the progress of our day’s work, reducing the work to a small amount; although we begin our labors early, by the evening we find that we have not done enough work to earn (deserve) our supper.”

      Adam gently answered her: “Eve, you are my only companion, and dearer to me above all other living creatures. You have suggested well and used your thought very well as to how we might best fulfill the work which God has assigned to us here. The proposal must get due praise from me, for one can find nothing better in a woman than consideration for domestic welfare and her encouragement to her husband to do good acts. Yet, God has not imposed hard labor on us strictly to the exclusion of life’s pleasures, be it food, rest, sweet interchange of words which is food for the mind, or pleasing exchange of looks and smiles which originate in the reasoning faculty denied to animals. These smiles are the food of love, and love is not the lowest object of human life (i.e. it is a high aim in life). For God did not make us for irksome labor, but for enjoyment, and enjoyment joined with reason.

      “As for these bowers and paths, we two can keep them from turning into a wilderness without much difficulty, keeping the paths as wide as we need for our walks, till the time we are assisted by younger hands which will, before long, come to help us. But if you feel you have had too much of conversation with me, I can allow you a short period of absence. Solitude sometimes is the best company and a short separation makes reunion pleasant. But other doubts fill my mind—some hann may befall you if you are away from me. You know that we have been warned about the malicious enemy, who envies our happiness and despairs about his own happiness and seeks to cause suffering and shame to us through cunning tricks. And no doubt he is somewhere nearby watching us eagerly hoping to find a favorable opportunity to accomplish his aim. It will be to his advantage to find us separated from each other, for he cannot hope to lead us astray when we are together and can come to each other’s assistance at the time of need.

      Whether his (Satan’s) first plan is to make us withdraw our loyalty from God or to disturb our conjugal love—indeed it is this conjugal happiness that provokes the envy of our enemy most of all; whether Satan’s intention be what I have described or something still worse, do not leave the faithful side of the person from whom you originated (Eve having been created from Adam’s rib) and who constantly shields and protects you. Wherever there is possibility of danger or dishonor, it is the safest and most proper for the wife to remain by the side of her husband who protects her or endures the worst with her.”

      To him Eve in virgin majesty replied with stem calmness, like one who loves but meets with some unkindness—“O Adam, child of heaven and earth, and master of all the earth, I am aware of the enemy who seeks to ruin us; I have got the information from you as well as from the words of the angel when he left us which I overheard from where I was standing in a shady comer,—when I had just returned at dusk, the time when flowers close their petals. But I did not expect to hear you say that you doubt my loyalty to God or to you just because we have an enemy who may tempt me. You are not afraid of a physical attack from him because you are incapable of feeling pain or dying. We are either not subject to such violence, or if such violent assault is made on us we are capable of repelling it. Your fear, therefore, is of deception. From this it may be inferred that you are equally afraid that my firm faith and love can be shaken or withdrawn by this deception. Adam! how can you have such doubts about me if you hold me dear to you?”

      Adam replied to her in soothing words? “Daughter of God and man, immortal Eve, and immortal you are because you are unblemished by sin or blame. I do not dissuade you from remaining away from me because I do not trust you, but so that you may avoid even the attempt by our enemy at tempting you. For he who tries to tempt, even though unsuccessfully at least defames the object of temptation by supposing his or her faith to be corruptible.

      This is the implication even in an attempt at temptation. You yourself would resist with scorn and anger such temptation if it is offered to you, even if it proves to be ineffective. So do not misinterpret me, if I try to prevent you from exposing youself all alone to such temptations, which the enemy, though bold, will not dare to attempt on both of us at the same time; or even if he dares to do so, his attack will first fall on me. Nor should you underestimate his malice and deceitful cunning, for he must be cunning indeed to have been able to seduce angels; nor must you think that another person’s assistance is unnecessary (for fighting off temptation offered by the enemy). Your looks have a beneficial effect on me: all my faculties gain in strength. I become more wise, more alert, and more strong physically. Moreover, the shame of being overcome while you are looking on would raise my vigor which would unite with my other heightened faculties to withstand an enemy’s attack. Why should you not have a similar sense of increased strength in my presence and wish to prove your virtue in my presence, for I will be the best witness of your virtue (moral strength) when it (successfully) stands the test.

      Thus spoke Adam, in his concern for his family and out of married love. But Eve, who thought that less trust (than she deserved) was being placed on her faith, replied in a sweet tone—

      “If this is really our condition, to live in a restricted manner, confined by a cunning or aggressive enemy, and if each of us is not furnished with an equally from defense against the enemy’s (Satan’s) assaults, wherever we may meet them, how can we be said to be happy—when we are continually afraid of harm? But we cannot suffer harm unless we sin first. Our enemy, in trying to tempt us, insults us by his low opinion of us (in thinking that we can be tempted). He will not be able to disgrace us, but, on the contrary, he will have to face disgrace himself—for he will fail in his attempt. Then why should he be feared or avoided by us? We, in fact, will gain twofold honor from his conjecture proving false under the watchful eye of God: we shall get spiritual peace and favorable opinion of God. Further, what is the value of faith, love and virtue which are untested (like a precious metal whose purity has not been tried), and which cannot be sustained without outside help? Let us not therefore suspect that our wise Maker has left our condition of happiness so weak and unsafe that we will not be able to defend it either singly or together. If that be the case, then our happiness is fragile, and Eden, if it were so easily exposed to dangers, is no Eden (literally, a place of delight).”

      To this Adam replied heatedly: “O woman, all things are best as God’s will designed them. His creating hand did not leave anything that He created imperfect or deficient, much less so man. God has made man’s happiness secure from all external danger. The (real) danger lies within man, though the danger is within man’s power to overcome. Man cannot be harmed against his own will. But man’s will was left free by God, for Whatever is ruled by reason is free, and He made reason capable of functioning properly. However, He also told reason to be well on guard and always remain alert, lest something (evil) which appeared good might take it by surprise and make it give false direction to the will, thus leading man to do something clearly forbidden by God. So it is not mistrust of you but tender love for you that commands me to remind you often—and you should also remind me—of the need to be careful in not doing what is forbidden by God). Our existence is stable but we could lose our moral balance, as it is not impossible that reason may come across some deceptively beautiful object procured for an evil purpose by our enemy, and unwillingly be deceived, not being as alert and watchful as she (reason) was warned to be. Therefore, it is advisable not to seek temptation which is always better to avoid, and we are most likely to avoid temptation if you do not part from me. Any test of virtue will come without our seeking for it.

      “If you want to prove the constancy of your faith, first prove your obedience. Who can know of your constancy without first seeing you tempted? But if you think that unsought temptation might catch us both more off guard than you are at present, fresh from my warnings, you are free to go, because your staying here against free will be as good as your absence. Go in your inherent innocence, rely on whatever virtue you have, summon all that virtue to your aid for God has done whatever was possible for you; now you must do your part.”

      Thus spoke the fatter of mankind, but Eve persisted; although submissive, she at last replied—“With your permission, then, I go, keeping in mind the warning you have just given me, mainly the reasoning of your last words—that our test unsought may find us less ready to meet danger. This makes me go even more willingly. I do not much expect our enemy, proud as he is, to try and attack the weaker of us two; if that is his plan, his defeat will put him to all the greater humiliation.”

      Thus saying, she gently withdrew her hand from that of her husband, and like a goddess of the woods—or one of the nymphs attending on Delia (Diana) in her journey from her birthplace to Delos, Eve walked away into the groves. But Eve’s gait and goddess-like bearing surpassed the majesty of Diana, though, unlike Diana, she was not armed with bow and quiver of arrows; instead, she carried with her such gardening tools as the unrefined skill of the times, without the help of fire, had made or which had been brought to them by angels. She seemed more like Pales (Roman goddess of pastures), or Pomona (goddess of fruit trees) when she ran away from Vertumnus (her lover), or Ceres (Roman goddess of agriculture) in her youth before she conceived Proserpina by Jupiter.

      Adam looked at her ardently, but wished she would stay with him longer. He repeatedly reminded her of her promise to return early, and she as often promised to be back in the leafy enclosure by noon, and to arrange everything in the best possible order for their mid-day meal or afternoon rest.

      Hapless Eve (says the poet), you are much deceived, you are greatly mistaken in thinking that you will keep your promise to return early. An unfortunate outcome awaits you! (Your coming out of the bower will lead to your going astray rather than your returning). From that hour you will never again find either sweet refreshment or sound sleep in Paradise. A devilish enemy lies hidden among the sweet flowers and shady groves, waiting with hellish bitterness to intercept you and send you back robbed of your virtue, your faith and your happiness.

The Fall of Eve

     The fiend, mere serpent in appearance, had come forth since the first break of dawn, looking for the place where he was most likely to find the only two human beings, who included the entire human race in themselves, the beings he aimed to make his victims. He looked for them in the bower and in the fields, wherever there was any clump of trees or a more delightful green spot, which they tended or had planted to enjoy, or by some spring or shady riverside. He looked for both of them, but wished he could by luck find Eve alone, though he had little hope of doing so as it was rare for her to be alone. Just then, according to his wish and beyond what he hoped, he found Eve alone. She was surrounded by the fragrant flowers, only half visible as the dense rose bushes around her covered her. She often stooped to support the tender stalk of a plant whose head, bearing a bright-colored flower—pink, purple, blue, or speckled with gold— drooped without support. She made them stand upright, gently tying them with twigs of myrtle for support, all the while heedless of the fact that she herself was the most beautiful of all the unsupported flowers, far away from her best support (her husband) with a storm (danger) so near her.

      He (Satan in the form of serpent) drew nearer, crossing many avenues shaded by stately trees such as cedar, pine or palm, sometimes moving boldly and with a rolling movement, sometimes remaining hidden, then visible among the dense small arbors and flowers set out in borders on each side (of the pathways)—the handwork of Eve. It was a more delightful place than those artistic gardens of the Greeks, imaginary or real, whether the garden in which Adonis was kept hidden after being revived (by Venus) or the one of Alcinous (King of the Phaeacians), or the one—not mythical or allegorical, but real—where the wise king (Solomon) made love to his Egyptian wife (the daughter of Pharaoh). Much as he (Satan) admired the place, he admired Eve even more. He felt like one who has been confined to a large populous city, with its closely built houses and sewers polluting the atmosphere, and who suddenly goes forth on a summer morning to breathe the fresh air among the pleasant villages and farms adjoining the city and finds delight in everything—the smell of grain, grass spread out to dry, or cattle, or dairy forms, indeed every rural sight and sound. In such surroundings, if by chance a nymphlike beautiful virgin passed by, the pleasant surroundings would be even more pleasing, thanks to the fair maid; indeed in her would be summed up all the beauty and delight. It was such pleasure that the serpent derived from looking at this flowery plot of ground, where Eve had retired so early in the morning and alone.

      In appearance she was like a heavenly angel, only more tender and feminine; her graceful innocence, her appearance whenever she made a gesture, or the smallest movement, overawed Satan’s malice, and sweetly robbed and deprived the fierceness of the violent intention with which he had come there. For that space of time, Satan stood motionless, stupefied, disarmed of his enmity, cunning, hatred, envy and thought of revenge. But the hot flames of Hell that burnt within him constantly even though he might be in the midst of Heaven, very soon ended his delight and made him unhappier still the more he saw pleasures around him that were denied to him. Soon he rallied together all his fierce hatred and his thoughts and designs of mischief; rejoicing (at finding Eve alone) he stirred himself up thus:

      “Thoughts, where have you led me, with what irresistible force have you thus moved me to forget the purpose which brought me here—hatred, not love; not the hope of living in Paradise instead of in Hell; not the hope of tasting the pleasures of Paradise but the hope of destroying all pleasure. I can have no other joy but that of destroying: all other pleasures are lost to me. Then let me not miss the opportunity which is now favorable to me. I behold the woman all alone, conveniently exposed to all temptations. Her husband is nowhere near, as I can see quite far all around; I would rather avoid his superior intellect as well as his strength, for he is dignified and lofty in courage and built in a heroic mold, even though made of early material (clay). I am no longer a formidable enemy as I am not protected against physical injury or pain. Hell has debased me and suffering weakened me so that I cannot be compared with what I was in Heaven. She (Eve) is a divinely beautiful woman worthy of being loved by gods. She is not terrible though there is something frightening in love and beauty that cannot be confronted with stronger hate. I shall now approach her with fierce hatred—a stronger terror when well concealed under a show of love—and work towards her ruin.”

      Thus spoke the enemy of mankind, enclosed in the serpent, an evil inhabitant (of the serpent body), and made his way towards Eve, not with undulating movement flat on the ground, as they move ever since the Fall of Man, but upright on a circular base of folds rising one above the other in large tangled numbers, his head raised high, and his eyes the color of carbuncle (fiery red precious stone), and his neck polished bright and greenish gold in color. He moved erect among his mounting circular coils floating luxuriantly on the grass. His shape looked pleasing and lovely. Never since then has a serpent looked lovelier, not even those into which Hennione and Cadmus were changed in Illyria (for their sin of killing a serpent) or the one into which Epidaurus or Aesculapius (God of healing) changed himself or the serpents into which Ammonian Jove and Jove of Capitol were changed. Jove of Ammon begot Alexander the Great with Olympias; Jove of Capitol begot Scipio Africanus, the pride of the Romans (with Sempronia).

      At first, the serpent (Satan) moved in an indirect course, zig-zagging, as one who seeks to find an entrance but is afraid to disturb; then he moved sideways. He moved like a boat steered by a skillful seaman upto the mouth of a river or foreland, where, on being driven back and forth by the wind changing its course, the steersman as often changes the boat’s course to meet the changing wind, or alters his sails by lowering them or letting them fly full of wind. So too Satan changed his course, and playfully turned his twisted body in circular coils many times so as to attract the attention of Eve. Busy at her work, she heard the sound of rustling leaves but paid no attention because she was used to such games, while working in the fields, from all kinds of beasts who were more obedient to her call than the men turned into animals were to the call of Circe (an enchantress). He (Satan in the form of the serpent) grew bolder now and stood before Eve uncalled, and looked at her as if admiring her. Often he bowed his tower-like head and sleek, glossy, multicolored neck, fawning and licking the ground on which Eve walked. At last, his gentle and dumb expression caught the eye of Eve, who turned to notice his playful movements. Glad that he had gained Eve’s attention, Satan made the serpent speak either by using its tongue as an instrument or by producing vibration in the air like a tuning fork, and began his temptation by fraud.

      “Do not wonder, supreme mistress, if you can ever wonder, because you yourself are the unique wonder (of Paradise); much less (than wondering) must you arm your looks, which are the very heaven of mildness, with disdain, displeased that I approach you in this way, and gaze at you with eyes which remain unsatiated, I alone of all the animals, without fearing your awe-inspiring countenance, more awe-inspiring now in seclusion (not displayed in public). You are the most beautiful likeness of your beautiful maker; all living things gaze on you; all things are yours by God’s gift, and all adore your divine beauty. Your beauty ought to be seen where it can be universally admired; but here in this wild enclosure (Eden), in the midst of animals, primitive onlookers lacking the intelligence to appreciate even half of your beauty, except for one man (Adam), who sees you? And what is just one man? You deserve to be seen as a goddess among gods, worshipped and served by numberless angels who should be your daily train of followers.”

      So flattered the tempter with smooth talk and tuned the prologue to his speech. His words made their way into the heart of Eve, though she greatly wondered at a serpent having a voice. In amazement, she thus spoke in answer: “What does this mean? The language of man is being spoken by a beast expressing thoughts and feelings of human beings. I thought language (power of speech) was denied to beasts on the day God created them; they were created dumb and without the power of articulate expression. As for the latter (power of reason) I hesitate to believe that animals lack human sense, for in their looks and actions much reason often appears. I know, serpent, that you are the most cunning of all animals in the field, but I never knew that you also had the power of speech.

      Double this miracle and tell me how you became articulate after being dumb and how you have grown so friendly to me more friendly than the other animals that are seen by us everyday? Tell me as such a wonder demands attention.”

      To her, the cunning tempter thus replied: “Empress of this beautiful world, glorious Eve, it is easy for me to tell you all that you command me to tell for it is right that you should be obeyed. At first, I was as dumb as the other beasts of the field that move on the grass and are capable only of base and low thoughts, and my food was as low. I understood nothing more than food and sex, I had no higher thoughts. Then one day wandering in the field, I happened to see a beautiful tree at a great distance, laden with the most attractive looking fruits—red and golden in color. I went nearer to look at it, when from its branches wafted a delicious smell, pleasant to the senses, and more gratifying than the smell of fennel (traditionally a snake’s favorite food) or of the teats of goats and sheep dropping milk every evening as they were unsucked by kids or lambs too playful to remember to have their feed. I felt a sharp desire to taste those fair apples and I decided not to postpone the accomplishment of this desire. My hunger and thirst, quickened by the scent, satisfaction of the alluring fruit, urged me so keenly that I went to the tree and wound myself round its moss-covered trunk. I climbed up, as the branches laden with the fruit were much above the ground, beyond the reach of any ordinary animal. The branches would have just been reached by Adam or you stretching your utmost. All the other beasts looked at those fruits with great longing and envy, but could not reach them.

      “Having reached the higher branches of the tree, amid the plentiful fruits hanging around so near and tempting one, I plucked them and had my fill. Never before had I found such pleasure in feeding or drinking. At last, I was satisfied and before long I perceived a strange change coming over me to the extent of acquiring reason and I did not lack speech for long, even though I still kept a serpent’s shape. After that I turned my thoughts to higher things of great import and, with my enlarged mental capacity, I considered all things that are fair and good, in Heaven, in the middle region between Heaven and Earth, and on Earth. But in your divine appearance I saw united all that is fair and good; in your beauty I saw heavenly radiance. Nothing in the created world is equal to you or even near enough to be called second to you. Even though it may be importunate, it is this realization that prompted me to gaze at you and worship you, for you have been rightly called the supreme among creatures, mistress of the universe.”

      So spoke the sly snake inspired by the spirit of Satan. Eve, even more surprised than before, and suspecting no danger, thus replied: “Serpent, your excessive praise makes me doubt the power of the fruit to confer reason; but tell me, where does that tree grow, and how far is it from here? For there are many trees of God that grow in Paradise—trees of different kind, so many that all of them are still unknown to us. There is such an abundance of choice and store of fruits that many of them still remain untested and untouched by us, unpicked on the trees. They will remain so till human beings grow in numbers until they can make full use of the food provided for them, and more hands are available to disburden Nature of the heavy load of fruit.”

      The crafty snake replied joyfully to her thus: “Empress, the way is close at hand, and not long beyond a row of myrtles on the level ground, near the fountain, just beyond the small grove of blossoming myrrh and balsam. If you agree to accept my guidance, I can take you to that place soon.”

      Eve asked the snake to lead her to the tree. The serpent led her, swiftly rolling his coils, and made the difficult way seem smooth and easy, because of his readiness in making mischief (or moving swiftly towards the place of his mischief i.e. where the fruit grew). Hope raised his spirits and joy brightened his crest (at the thought of succeeding in his wicked aim). Just as a wandering fire (will o’ the wisp), a collection of oily vapors condensed by the night and by the cold surroundings, kindled to a flame by constant movement, which is often, as it is said, accompanied by an evil spirit, hovering and blazing with an illusory light, misleads the confused night-wanderer out of his way towards marshes and mires, often through ponds and pools, where he sinks and perishes, being far from help—in this way shone brightly the terrible snake, and he led our too credulous mother, Eve, into deception, to the forbidden tree, which proved to be the root cause of all our suffering. When she saw the tree, she thus spoke to her guide.

      “Serpent, we need not have taken the trouble of coming here; although there is plenty of fruit on this tree, the fruits are no fruits for me. The proof of the quality of these fruits rests with you, and it is wonderful, indeed, if it can produce such an effect (i.e. capacity of an animal to speak). But we are not allowed to touch or taste the fruit of this tree. It was thus that God commanded us, and it was the only commandment. He gave us. In all other matters, we are a law unto ourselves—ur reason is our guiding law.”

      The tempter cunningly replied to Eve: “Is that so indeed? Has God then said that you must not eat the fruit of all these trees in the Garden, and yet has declared you to be the supreme masters of everything on earth or in air?”

      To him Eve, who was as yet sinless, said thus: “We are allowed to eat the fruit of every tree in this garden, but about the fruit of this beautiful tree in the middle of the garden God has said, ‘You shall not eat it; nor shall you touch it, lest you should die.’

      Eve had scarcely finished speaking, though she spoke briefly, when the tempter, now grown more bold, but maintaining an outward appearance of zeal and love for man and indignation at the wrong done to man, put on a new role, swaying with passion and agitation. He remained dignified, however, and elevated his voice to new heights of eloquence, as if he were about to speak on some great theme. He looked like some renowned orator of ancient Athens or Rome—where oratory once flourished although the art is now dead—who, before speaking on a great cause, stood before the audience, in complete control of himself so that each part of his body, each movement, and each action won the attention of the audience even before the tongue could speak, so that no preface was necessary and he began the speech on a high note of passion (or at the climax of the argument) without wasting time on an introduction. So standing, moving, and rising up to a height, in a great passion, the tempter began:

      “O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant, mother (source) of all knowledge, now I clearly feel your power within me, not only to understand the cause of things, but also to understand the ways of the highest agents, however wise they are thought to be. Queen of the universe (Eve), do not believe those harsh threats of death: you shall not die. How could you die? By eating the fruit? The fruit gives you life in addition to knowledge. Are you afraid of God who threatened you with death? Look at me. I have touched and tasted this fruit, yet I not only continue to live, but have attained more perfect life than Fate assigned to me, by rising higher than my destined lot. Shall the thing which is permissible to animals be denied to man? Or will God be provoked to anger by such a trivial act of disobedience rather than praise your, dauntless courage (virtue) because even the threat of death, whatever death may be, could not deter you from achieving what might lead you to a happier life and knowledge of good and evil? If the knowledge is of good, how could it be just of God to punish you for acquiring it? As for the knowledge of evil—if there is such a thing like evil—why should it not be known, for then it could be more easily avoided? God, therefore, cannot punish you (harm you) and still maintain the attribute of being just. If God is unjust, he is not God, in which case he is not to be feared or obeyed; but since you fear him he must be God, and therefore just, in which case he will not punish you and you need not fear the threat of death. (Or, if you fear death then you must think God is unjust, in which case he is not God and need not, therefore, be feared). Why, then, was this fruit forbidden to you? Why, only to overawe you, to keep you low and ignorant, although you are God’s worshippers. He knows that the day you eat that fruit, your eyes, which seem so clear yet are really dim, shall be perfectly opened and cleared, and you shall be like gods, knowing as they do, both good and evil.

      ‘‘You shall become like gods, just as I am like man (possessing the human faculties of reason and speech within the serpent body), and it is only in proportion that it should be so—I have become a human from a beast and you shall become gods from the human state. So you may die, perhaps, in the sense of putting off your humanities and assuming godhood—which is a death to be wished for; the death with which you are threatened can bring nothing worse than this.

      And what are gods that man cannot become like them, sharing god-like food. The gods were created first and they use that fact to their advantage to make us believe that all things proceed from them. I question this belief; for I see the whole of this beautiful earth, warmed by the sun, producing everything while I see the gods producing nothing. If the gods really created all things, then who put the knowledge of good and evil into this tree so that whoever eats its fruit immediately acquires wisdom without their permission? And what is the offense if man acquires knowledge in this way? How can your knowledge hurt God, or this tree impart to you knowledge against his will, if everything has been created by him? Or is it only because of envy, (that your are forbidden to eat the fruit)? And can envy dwell in the heart of gods? These and many other reasons show that you must eat this beautiful fruit. Gentle goddess, reach forward and freely taste this fruit.”

      Satan ended his speech, and his words filled with cunning found an easy way into the heart of Eve. She looked fixedly at the fruit, the very sight of which might tempt one (into eating it). The sound of Satan’s persuasive words continued to ring in her ears.

      Those words seemed to be impregnated with reasonableness and truth. In the meantime, the hour of noon had come, and a keen appetite was awakened in Eve, already aroused by the delicious fragrance of that fruit. With her desire now inclined towards touching and tasting the fruit, the fruit tempted her longing eye. Yet, pausing for a while, she pondered to herself thus:

      “Your qualities are no doubt great, best of fruits, though denied to man, and deserving of praise. Your taste, having been long forbidden, at the first trial gave eloquent speech to the dumb (animal, namely, snake) and taught his tongue, which had not been made for speech, to speak in your praise. Even He (God) who forbids us to taste you does not hide your great qualities and calls you the Tree of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil. God has forbidden its taste to us. But this prohibition is a greater recommendation of the fruit. It may be inferred that knowledge of good will come to us, which is lacking in us; for good, if not known, is surely not possessed, or, if it is attained, and still not known, would be as if not acquired at all. Plainly speaking, God forbids us to have knowledge, thus he forbids us to be good and wise. Such (unjust) prohibitions cannot be binding. But if the threat of death as a consequence (of eating the fruit) binds us, then what is the use of our inner freedom? God’s sentence is that the day we taste this beautiful fruit we shall die. But why has the serpent not died? He has eaten the fruit and yet lives; he has attained knowledge, speaks, uses the power of reasoning, and has the power of understanding, though he was without the rational faculty till then. Was death then invented for us alone? Or is this intellectual food (the forbidden fruit) denied to us and reserved for animals only? It seems that it is for beasts only; yet the one animal that has tasted it is not envious (of others who might eat) but joyfully offers to share the good that has happened to him through eating the fruit. He is above suspicion; he is friendly to man, far removed from deceit or cunning. What do I fear then? Rather, how can I know anything that should be feared so long as I am ignorant of good and evil? What can I know of God or death, law or penalty? The cure for all this, this divine fruit, grows here, beautiful to look at, inviting one to taste, and having the power to make us wise. What is to prevent me then from reaching out to the fruit and at once feeding both body and mind?”

      So saying, Eve rashly put forward her hand to reach the fruit, at an evil moment, and plucked it and ate it. Earth felt wounded (at this sinful act) and Nature gave signs of woe, sighing through every object that all was lost. The guilty serpent crept back to the bushes; he might well do so, for Eve, wholly intent on enjoying the taste of the fruit, did not heed anything else. Till then eve had not tasted any fruit so delicious—it cannot be said whether it was really so or she imagined it to be so through her high expectations of gaining knowledge from it. Nor was the thought of attaining godhood absent from her thoughts. She ate the fruit greedily, without restraint, and did not realize that she was eating death. Fully satisfied at last, and stimulated as if she had taken wine, many and gay, she said to herself pleasantly:

      “O supreme, virtuous and the most precious of all trees in Paradise, blessed with the power to confer wisdom, so far unknown and standard (as injurious), your fruit left hanging on the branch as if created for no purpose. But from now onwards you shall be my daily care; I shall sing in praise of you every morning, attend to you every day, and lighten the fertile burden (fruits) of your loaded branches, which offer their fruits freely to all. Eating your fruit every day, I shall grow mature in knowledge like the gods who know everything. Although others envy what is not in their power to give—for if it had been a gift they could make, the tree would not have grown here thus (untasted and unknown), I owe to you (i.e. the serpent) the gift of experiencing the virtues of the fruit. My best guide, by not following you, I would have remained ignorant (of the virtues of this tree). You have opened the way to wisdom and given access to her (wisdom) though she may retire to some secret place.

      Perhaps my offense too has passed unnoticed. Heaven is high and remote, so that it is impossible from there to see everything on earth distinctly. And perhaps, other occupations may have diverted our great Forbidder (God) from His constant watch; perhaps I am safe from Him and His spies. But how shall I appear before Adam? Should I let him know what change has come over me, and make him a partner in my happiness (by giving him the fruit)? Or should I keep the advantage of knowledge to myself without a sharer? I may thus be able to add and supplement what is lacking in the female sex and thereby draw more love from him, and to make myself equal to him, or even superior sometimes—not an undesirable thing; for who is free if he or she is inferior?

      This may be well enough; but what if God has noticed what I have done and death follows? Then I shall cease to be; and Adam, married to another Eve, shall live a life of enjoyment with her, when I am dead. It is death to me even to think of such a possibility. Therefore, I am determined on this point, and I resolve that Adam shall participate with me in my joy or sorrow. I love him so much that I could endure all death with him, but without him life would be no life for me.”

Lines 834-999: The Fall of Adam

      So saying, Eve turned her steps away from the tree, but only after having bowed low before it, as though to the power that lived within that tree, whose presence had infused the sap of knowledge into the tree, derived from nectar, the drink of gods. In the meantime, Adam, who had been waiting for her, desirous of her return, had woven a beautiful garland of the choicest flowers to adorn her hair, and thus to reward her for her commendable work in the garden, just as reapers are accustomed to weave a garland for their harvest queen.

      In his thoughts he anticipated the joy of reunion with Eve and the bliss of her company on her return, so long delayed. Yet some misgivings, presaging some misfortune, came into his heart; he felt his heart faltering. He went forward to meet her along the way she had taken in the morning, when they had parted from each other. He had to pass the Tree of Knowledge, and there he found her just as she was returning from the tree. In her hand she carried a bough of the most beautiful fruits that, covered with down, seemed attractive. Only recently plucked from the tree, they gave forth a fragrance like that of the food of gods (ambrosia). Eve hastened towards Adam on seeing him. In her face an expression of excuse came to serve as prologue and apology came to prompt that which with smooth words she thus addressed to Adam:

      “Have you not wondered, Adam, at my returning so late? I missed you and though the interval of being separated from you to be very long. I never felt such agony before (because of being separated from you) and I shall not repeat it. Nor shall I try to experience the pain of being absent from your sight, which I recklessly sought this morning in my inexperience. But the cause of my delay is strange and will astonish you when you hear of it. The fruit of the tree is not, as we had been told, dangerous to taste, nor does it open the way to unknown evil; its effect is divine, for it opens the eyes of those who eat it and makes gods of them. It has been tasted with such a result. The wise serpent, either not prohibited to eat the fruit, as we are, or not obeying the command, has eaten it and has not died, as we are threatened, but from that moment has been endowed with human voice and human sense; capable of reasoning admirably and with me so persuasively, that he prevailed upon me to taste the fruit. I have found the effects of the fruit to correspond (to what the serpent experienced). The fruit has opened my eyes, which were formerly dim, and expanded my spirits, enlarged my heart, and raised me up to godhood, which I sought chiefly for you, for without you I despise every bliss, and without you every bliss is wearying and hateful. Therefore, you also eat this fruit, so that equal destiny may unite us, and we may enjoy equal joy and equal love. If you do not taste it, we shall be separated by being at different levels in the chain of being; then it may be too late for me to give up my godhood for you, because fate will not then permit it.”

      Eve related her story with a cheerful countenance, but there was a red glow on her cheek as if there was some disproportion in the humors controlling her temperament. On the other hand, Adam, as soon as he heard of the fatal transgression committed by Eve, was bewildered, and stood thunderstruck and pale while a shudder ran through his veins and his joints seemed to become paralyzed. From his limp hands the garland which he had woven for Eve dropped down and all its roses faded and shed their petals. He stood speechless and pale, till at length he spoke to himself thus:

      “O fairest of the entire creation, the last and best of God’s works, the perfection of all that can be seen or imagined - holy, divine, good, channing, or sweet. You are entirely lost—how suddenly ruined, disfigured, despoiled of innocence and doomed to death! How have you yielded to violate the strict prohibition about eating the sacred fruit? Some foul trick of our enemy has beguiled you, though this fraud is not yet known to us. You have ruined me along with you, for I am resolved to die with you. How can I live without you? How can I do without your sweet company, or forgo the love which has so dearly linked us, how can I live again alone in this wild and lonely woods? Even if God should create another Eve and I supply another rib, your loss would never be forgotten by my heart. No, no, I feel a natural link draws me towards you; you are the flesh of my flesh the bone of my bone, and I shall never be parted from you whether in happiness or in suffering.”

      Lines 917-959. Having spoken thus, Adam felt like one who receives comfort after great sorrow and, after disturbing thoughts, submits to a situation that seems without a remedy. In a calm and composed mood, he addressed Eve— “Adventurous Eve, you have dared to do an audacious deed and provoked great danger; it would have been bad enough coveting that sacred fruit with the eye, but you have committed a greater transgression by tasting it—a fruit so sacred that we should abstain from even touching it. But who can call back the past, or undo what has been done—not even the all-powerful God, or even Fate. Perhaps you may not die (as a result of eating the fruit). Perhaps the deed (and crime) of having eaten the fruit is not so serious now since the fruit has already made it common and unhallowed before we tasted it. Nor has it been found to have had a deadly effect on the serpent. He still lives and, as you said, has risen to a higher level in the scale of life - the level of man. This is a strong inducement to us, for we may also attain a proportionately higher level in the scale of life—which can only be to become gods, or angels, or demi-gods. Nor can I think that God, the wise Creator, although threatening us with death, will really destroy us, His foremost creatures, so highly dignified and set above all other creatures. All his other works, which have been created for us and are thus dependent on us, will necessarily suffer the consequences of our fall. If that happens God would cancel His work of creation, be frustrated and undo what He has done and lose the result of His labor. It is unthinkable that God would be frustrated by having to destroy His own works; for though His power could repeat the act of creation, He would be unwilling to destroy us lest the Adversary (Satan) should say in triumph that ‘the position of those whom God favors is uncertain, for who can please God for long? First, God ruined me, and now he has ruined mankind. Whom will he ruin next?’ It would be a subject of scorn which is not to be given to the enemy (Satan). However, I have fixed my lot with yours, and determined to undergo the same fate. If death is to keep you company, death is like life to me: so strongly do I feel within me the natural bond of kinship that links me to you. I see myself in you, for what you are is mine. We cannot be separated. We are one, made of the same flesh; to lose you would mean losing myself.”

      So Adam spoke, and thus Eve replied to him: “O glorious proof of great love, glorious evidence, high example! It is a challenge to me to follow your example, but Adam, since I am short of your perfection, how shall I equal your perfection? Adam, I proudly claim to be derived from your rib, and gladly listen to your speaking about our inseparable union, with one soul and one heart between us. You have given good proof of your sincere love for me this day by declaring that you are determined to share in my guilt rather than allow death, or something still more dreadful, to separate us, united as we are in such dear love.

      You are prepared to undergo with me the guilt or crime, if guilt or crime there is in tasting this fair fruit whose goodness (for good always results from good either directly or indirectly) has presented this happy proof of your love, which otherwise would not have been proved so clearly. If I had thought that the threatened death would follow what I have done (tasting the fruit), I would bear the worst alone and not persuade you to join me; I would rather die alone than make you guilty of a crime fatal for your peace, especially after having been assured recently of your devoted love, so true, so faithful and unparalleled. But I feel that the result (of tasting the fruit) would be far otherwise (than death) tasting the fruit would bring, not death, but life, riched life, clearer vision, new hopes and new joys, a taste so divine that whatever sweetness has touched my sense (of taste) before, seems insipid and harsh in comparison to the taste of this fruit. On the basis of my experience, Adam, taste this fruit without restraint and throw the fear of death to the winds.”

      Saying so, Eve embraced Adam, and for joy wept tenderly, overcome by the thought that he, out of his ennobled love, had chosen to incur divine displeasure or even death for her sake. In recompense (for such sinful compliance best deserves such reward), she liberally gave him that fair, alluring fruit from the bough. He did not hesitate to eat it though against his better knowledge; he was not deceived about the fruit but was foolishly overcome by female charm. Lines 1000-1189: Shame Earth trembled in her inmost parts, as if she was again in birth pangs and Nature gave a second groan.

      The sky grew dark and thundery, and it wept sad drops at the completion of the deadly original sin. All the while Adam paid no heed to these things but ate his fill, nor did Eve fear to repeat her former sill (of eating the fruit) and tried to soothe him more with the pleasure of her company, which Adam loved. Now, as though both of them had been intoxicated with new wine, they swam in mirth and fancy and felt godhood within them producing wings with which they could scorn the earth. But the deceptive fruit first caused altogether different effects, inflaming bodily passion in them. Adam began to cast lustful eyes on Eve and she responded equally lustfully. They burnt with lust, till Adam thus began to move Eve to amorous sport:

      “Eve, now I see that you are perfect and refined in taste, which is no small part of wisdom. Of all human senses the sense of taste is the most judicious. I give you due praise, for you have well-provided food for this day. We have lost much pleasure while we abstained from tasting this delicious fruit; till now we had not known perfect taste. If there is such pleasure in things which are forbidden to us, it might be wished that instead of this one tree there had been ten that were forbidden to us. But come, now that we are so well refreshed, let us enjoy ourselves, as is fitting after such delicious food. Since the day I first saw you and married you, never did your beauty, adorned with full perfection, so inflame my senses with the passion to enjoy you—Who appear to me now more beautiful than ever before. This is the gift of this tree of wonderful qualities.”

      So said Adam, and did not spare any glance or caress which indicated his amorous intention, which was well understood by Eve, whose eyes threw passionate looks at him which inflamed passion in him. He seized her hand and led her to a shady bank, which was enclosed with green foliage overhead. Eve was not reluctant to go with him. He took her to a bed of flowers—pansies and violets, asphodel and hyacinth. It was the freshest and softest lap of earth. There they enjoyed their fill of lovemaking and amorous sport, and thus put a seal on their common guilt. This was the recompense for their sin. They enjoyed it till sweet sleep overpowered them, as they became tired by their love-making.

      But as soon as the effect of that deceptive fruit vanished, which with its exhilarating vapors had fired their spirits and excited their passions, and under whose effect their inmost powers had committed error, and the gross sleep bred of unhealthy fumes, burdened with guilty dreams left them, they rose as if from a state of restlessness. They looked at each other and found their eyes opened but their minds darkened. Innocence, which had protected them like a veil from knowing ill, was now gone. Just confidence and natural righteousness and sense of honor had now fled from them, leaving them naked to guilty shame. He covered his body, but his shame seemed to make him more naked. It was thus that the strong Danite, Samson, who was as strong as Hercules, arose from the lap of the Philistine harlot Delialah and discovered that he was deprived of his strength as his hair had been cut. Like him, they (Adam and Eve) were bereft of all their virtue. They sat silently, confusion in their faces, for a long time as if struck dumb. At last Adam, although no less abashed than Eve, gave expression to these words which were forced out of him:

      “O Eve, it was in an evil hour that you listened to that treacherous worm (snake), by whomsoever he had been taught to counterfeit man’s voice—he was true only with respect to our fell, but false in his promises of our exaltation. We indeed find our eyes opened; we know both good and evil; we have lost good and gained evil. If this is what it means to know, the fruit of knowledge was bad for it leaves us naked, devoid of honor, innocence, faith and purity which were our accustomed ornaments. Now, these ornaments stand soiled and stained, and on our faces are clear signs of sexual desire from which arises evil and even shame, the last of the evils. And if we have experienced the last (i.e. shame) we must also have experienced the first evil (lust). How shall I now behold the face of God or the angels which till now I always beheld with joy and rapture? Those heavenly feces will now dazzle my earthly eyes with an unbearable brilliance. O, how I wish I could live here in solitude like a savage, hidden in some dark glade, where even the light of the sun and the stars do not penetrate the tallest trees which spread their shade, dark as night. Cover me, your pines. Hide me, you cedars, with your innumerable branches, where I may never see them (God and angels) any more. But let us now, since we are in a sinful condition, do whatever we can to hide from each other’s eyes those bodily parts that are most exposed to shame and ugly to see. Let us sew together the broad smooth leaves of some tree and wrap them around our loins in order to cover our middle parts, so that this newly arisen sense of shame does not expose them and reproach us for being unclean.”

      Adam thus counseled Eve and both went together into the thickest part of the Wood. There they soon chose the fig-tree for the purpose. This fig-tree was not the kind which is famous for its fruit, but such as at this day is known to the Indians of Malabar or Deccan, spreading its long branches over large areas, its branches bending so low that they touch the ground and take roots from which grow new trees and which make a pillared grove—high over-arched with walks in between where the sound echoes. There the shepherds and cowherds, wanting to avoid the heat, often take shelter in the cool shade, and look after their herd grazing nearby through holes cut in the thickest parts of the foliage. Adam and Eve gathered those leaves, broad as the shields of the legendary female warriors, the Amazons, and sewed them together with whatever skill they had, to cover their waist—it was futile if they intended to hide their guilt and dreaded shame. They were now completely different from their former naked glory. It was like this that Columbus recently found the native Americans, with their middle parts covered with girdles made of feathers, otherwise quite naked and wild, living in the shade of trees on islands and wooded shores. Thus protected and, as they thought, with their shame hidden in part but, without rest or ease of mind, they sat down to weep. Not only did tears rain from their eyes, but storm arose within them—winds of high passion, anger, hate, mistrust, suspicion and discord violently shook their inner state of mind. Their state of mind, which had once been a calm region of peace, was now agitated and disturbed like a stormy sea; for they were no longer ruled by understanding, and the will did not hear reason’s advice. Both were now in subjection to sensual desires which, springing from a lower position, over-powered the higher position of sovereign reason and claimed domination. Thus from a disordered and agitated heart, Adam, altered in his looks and tone and style of speech, renewed his speech to Eve which had been interrupted earlier.

      “I wish you had listened to me and stayed with me as I asked you to when, this unhappy morning, that strange wish of wandering came to you—I do not know from where. We would then have still been happy and not, as now, deprived of all our good, shamed, naked and wretched.

      Let not one in future needlessly seek an opportunity to put to test the faith they owe (God); when they seriously seek such a test, we may sure that they will fail the test.”

      To this Eve replied, provoked by the touch of accusation in Adam’s words: “Adam, what severe words have been uttered by you! Do you attribute all this to my fault or desire of wandering as you call it? It might, for all you know, have happened even if you had been with me or perhaps to you youself Had you been there, or if the attempt had been made here, you would not have been able to detect the fraud in the words of the serpent, speaking as he did (so effectively). There was no known motive for enmity between us, so why should he wish me ill or seek to harm me? Was I never to have parted from your side? If that were the case, I might as well have remained a lifeless rib (within your side from where I was born).

      Being as I am, why did you, as the head, not command me firmly not to go, when, as you said, I was going into such danger. You were then too easy and accommodating (i.e. you gave in to me too easily). In fact, you approved of it and gave me permission to go, and even gave me a courteous farewell. If you had been firm and unmoving in your opposition, neither would I have violated God’s command, nor you with me.”

      Adam, for the first time, experienced anger and replied thus: “Ungrateful Eve, is this the way you repay me for the love I showed you, is this the love you said was unchangeable when you were lost but I was still unfallen? Even after your fall I could have lived and enjoyed immortal bliss, yet I willingly chose to die with you. And am I now to be reproached as the cause of your disobedience? It seems to you that I was not severe enough in trying to restrain you, but what more could I do? I warned you, I advised you, I foretold the danger to which you were exposed, and the lurking enemy who lay in wait for you. Beyond this, anything I could have done would have involved the use of force, and there is no place here for imposing force upon free will. But self-confidence then carried you along; you were either over-confident that you would meet no danger or that you would find an opportunity to glorify yourself by resisting temptation alone. Perhaps I too over-rated your seeming perfection—you seemed to be so perfect that I thought no evil would dare to attack you; but I now regret the error which has become my crime and has enabled you to become my accuser. This is what will befall a man who overestimates the worth of a woman and allows her will to rule supreme. She will not tolerate restraint; and left to herself, if some evil event occurs, she will accuse her husband of weakness for having let her have her way”

      Lines 1186-1188. Thus Adam and Eve wasted their time in blaming each other, but neither of them condemned himself or herself. There seemed to be no end to their futile discussion.

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