Paradise Lost Book 9: Line 439-443 - Summary

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      On the morning of the Fall, Eve separated herself from Adam and went through the Garden of Eden to a distant place. Satan watched her from a distance.

      The bank of flowers in Paradise through which the serpent slid on its way to Eve, where she stood amidst the roses is here compared to a number of gardens famous in history and mythology.

      The gardens in Paradise are more beautiful than the fancied gardens of the Greeks—Adonis and Alcinous and real gardens of Solomon the wise.

      The gardens of Adonis were really the flowerpots carried by his devotees to celebrate his supposed yearly return to Earth in spring and summer from Hades. Post-classical mythology regards them as regular gardens. Milton while considering them fictitious, also considers their gardens in the ordinary sense rather than flowerpots.

      The gardens of Alcinous-the king of Phaecia, who treated Ulysess (son of Laertes) with hospitality when he was ship-wrecked near the Phaecian coast are described in Homer’s Odyssey.

      The gardens of king Solomon are mentioned in one of the songs of Solomon, in the Old Testament. Among the many wives that the wise or “Sapient” king took, an Egyptian princess was one; and it is probable that he dallied with her in his celebrated gardens. By considering these as real gardens, Milton was also protesting against the allegorical interpretation of these songs.

      Apart from the allusions, the passage is beautifully ‘Miltonic’ for the glory of its style and swinging rhythm and effective assonance.

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