The grand lamentations of Samson Agonistes, or the great harmonics of the Satanic speeches in Paradise Regained

John Milton: Samson Agonistes/Paradise Regained — Milton published these books in one volume in 1671. The subject matter of Samson Agonistes (Samson in Agony) may be summarised as follows:

Samson had been taken captive, blinded and put in the prison at Gaza where he was made to drive a corn mill. On a Festival day he came out to sit a while and bemoan his condition ("O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse Without all hope of day!"). Whilst there he is visited by friends and members of his tribe who try to comfort him. Samson's father, Manoa, then tells Samson of his intention to ransom his son. The Feast was dedicated by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson who is ordered to go to the Feast to demonstrate his strength to the people. Having refused at first, Samson realised that the command was from God; he pulled down the temple and in so doing, killed himself.

In Paradise Lost, Milton wrote about the fall of the human race through the disobedience of Adam and Eve; he then wrote about the restoration of the human race through the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ in Paradise Regained. This book deals with the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and features a debate between Christ and Satan. Christ triumphs over Satan, rejecting his temptations and refuting his arguments. When Satan withdraws defeated, the angels hail the triumph of Christ, and bid him now begin his work of reconciling and redeeming mankind. [Return to “The Pains of Opium”]

The tremendous line of Milton

With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms — this is taken from Milton's Paradise Lost, Book 12 ll. 641-9. The section reads:

They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way. [Return to “The Pains of Opium”]

Last modified 22 June 2016