Milton’s Use of The Classics Essay

Milton imitates some scenes from classical authors in his Paradise Lost. Three examples of Milton’s use from the classics are, Adam and Eve, how he describes Satan, and Eve looking at her reflection in a pond. For these examples he imitates scenes from Homer’s Iliad, Vergil’s Aeneid, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

One scene that Milton uses from a classical author is the scene with Adam trying to seduce Eve. Once he has seduced her he takes her into the bushes to make love. This scene is similar to Homer’s Iliad when Zeus wants to make love to Hera. Zeus says to Hera, “For never before has love for any goddess or woman so melted about the heart inside me” (Homer, 14.312-16). This scene is similar to Milton’s because it is the man trying to seduce the woman so they can make love. This shows that Milton imitated the concept of seduction from Homer.

Another scene that Milton gets from a great writer is what Satan looks like. In Milton’s book he describes Satan as a serpent with rising folds and a neck of verdant gold with circling spires. In Vergil’s Aeneid there is a description of a serpent, which is described as having trailing seven huge loops, encircling the tomb, and with scales that gleam of gold (Vergil, 5.84-90). By comparing the two descriptions we see the similarities of rising folds and huge loops, neck of verdant gold and scales that gleam of gold, and circling spires compared with encircled tomb. This shows that Milton got his description for Satan from the Aeneid.

The third scene that Milton imitates is of Eve looking at her reflection. In his story Eve says, “Of sympathy and love; there I had fixed mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire” (Milton, 4.453-65). This scene is similar to Ovid’s Metamorphoses when Narcissus gazes at himself in the reflection of water. He falls in love with his own reflection, which sounds like Milton’s scene with Eve looking at her reflection.

Milton’s use of ideas from different authors invites a more diverse perspective. He gives a new interpretation of old ideas.

In Milton’s Paradise Lost he imitates scenes from Homer, Vergil, and Ovid. He imitates the scene of Adam seducing Eve from Homer, the description of Satan from Vergil, and Eve looking at her own reflection from Ovid. Many classical authors used other sources for ideas, and Milton was no exception.