Paradise Regained, by John Milton

The Third Book.

So spake the Son of God, and Satan stood

A while as mute confounded what to say,

What to reply, confuted and convinc’t

Of his weak arguing, and fallacious drift;

At length collecting all his Serpent wiles,

With soothing words renew’d, him thus accosts.

I see thou know’st what is of use to know,

What best to say canst say, to do canst do;

Thy actions to thy words accord, thy words

To thy large heart give utterance due, thy heart 10

Conteins of good, wise, just, the perfect shape.

Should Kings and Nations from thy mouth consult,

Thy Counsel would be as the Oracle

Urim and Thummin, those oraculous gems

On Aaron’s breast: or tongue of Seers old

Infallible; or wert thou sought to deeds

That might require th’ array of war, thy skill

Of conduct would be such, that all the world

Could not sustain thy Prowess, or subsist

In battel, though against thy few in arms. 20

These God-like Vertues wherefore dost thou hide?

Affecting private life, or more obscure

In savage Wilderness, wherefore deprive

All Earth her wonder at thy acts, thy self

The fame and glory, glory the reward

That sole excites to high attempts the flame

Of most erected Spirits, most temper’d pure

Aetherial, who all pleasures else despise,

All treasures and all gain esteem as dross,

And dignities and powers all but the highest? 30

Thy years are ripe, and over-ripe, the Son

Of Macedonian Philip had e’re these

Won Asia and the Throne of Cyrus held

At his dispose, young Scipio had brought down

The Carthaginian pride, young Pompey quell’d

The Pontic King and in triumph had rode.

Yet years, and to ripe years judgment mature,

Quench not the thirst of glory, but augment.

Great Julius, whom now all the world admires,

The more he grew in years, the more inflam’d 40

With glory, wept that he had liv’d so long

Inglorious: but thou yet art not too late.

To whom our Saviour calmly thus reply’d.

Thou neither dost perswade me to seek wealth

For Empires sake, nor Empire to affect

For glories sake by all thy argument.

For what is glory but the blaze of fame,

The peoples praise, if always praise unmixt?

And what the people but a herd confus’d,

A miscellaneous rabble, who extol 50

Things vulgar, & well weigh’d, scarce worth the praise,

They praise and they admire they know not what;

And know not whom, but as one leads the other;

And what delight to be by such extoll’d,

To live upon thir tongues and be thir talk,

Of whom to be disprais’d were no small praise?

His lot who dares be singularly good.

Th’ intelligent among them and the wise

Are few; and glory scarce of few is rais’d.

This is true glory and renown, when God 60

Looking on the Earth, with approbation marks

The just man, and divulges him through Heaven

To all his Angels, who with true applause

Recount his praises; thus he did to Job,

When to extend his fame through Heaven & Earth,

As thou to thy reproach mayst well remember,

He ask’d thee, hast thou seen my servant Job?

Famous he was in Heaven, on Earth less known;

Where glory is false glory, attributed

To things not glorious, men not worthy of fame. 70

They err who count it glorious to subdue

By Conquest far and wide, to over-run

Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,

Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,

But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave

Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,

Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more

Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind

Nothing but ruin wheresoe’re they rove,

And all the flourishing works of peace destroy, 80

Then swell with pride, and must be titl’d Gods,

Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,

Worship’t with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;

One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,

Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,

Rowling in brutish vices, and deform’d,

Violent or shameful death thir due reward.

But if there be in glory aught of good,

It may by means far different be attain’d

Without ambition, war, or violence; 90

By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,

By patience, temperance; I mention still

Him whom thy wrongs with Saintly patience born,

Made famous in a Land and times obscure;

Who names not now with honour patient Job?

Poor Socrates (who next more memorable?)

By what he taught and suffer’d for so doing,

For truths sake suffering death unjust, lives now

Equal in fame to proudest Conquerours.

Yet if for fame and glory aught be done, 100

Aught suffer’d; if young African for fame

His wasted Country freed from Punic rage,

The deed becomes unprais’d, the man at least,

And loses, though but verbal, his reward.

Shall I seek glory then, as vain men seek

Oft not deserv’d? I seek not mine, but his

Who sent me, and thereby witness whence I am.

To whom the Tempter murmuring thus reply’d.

Think not so slight of glory; therein least,

Resembling thy great Father: he seeks glory, 110

And for his glory all things made, all things

Orders and governs, nor content in Heaven

By all his Angels glorifi’d, requires

Glory from men, from all men good or bad,

Wise or unwise, no difference, no exemption;

Above all Sacrifice, or hallow’d gift

Glory he requires, and glory he receives

Promiscuous from all Nations, Jew, or Greek,

Or Barbarous, nor exception hath declar’d;

From us his foes pronounc’t glory he exacts. 120

To whom our Saviour fervently reply’d.

And reason; since his word all things produc’d,

Though chiefly not for glory as prime end,

But to shew forth his goodness, and impart

His good communicable to every soul

Freely; of whom what could he less expect

Then glory and benediction, that is thanks,

The slightest, easiest, readiest recompence

From them who could return him nothing else,

And not returning that would likeliest render 130

Contempt instead, dishonour, obloquy?

Hard recompence, unsutable return

For so much good, so much beneficence.

But why should man seek glory? who of his own

Hath nothing, and to whom nothing belongs

But condemnation, ignominy, and shame?

Who for so many benefits receiv’d

Turn’d recreant to God, ingrate and false,

And so of all true good himself despoil’d,

Yet, sacrilegious, to himself would take 140

That which to God alone of right belongs;

Yet so much bounty is in God, such grace,

That who advance his glory, not thir own,

Them he himself to glory will advance.

So spake the Son of God; and here again

Satan had not to answer, but stood struck

With guilt of his own sin, for he himself

Insatiable of glory had lost all,

Yet of another Plea bethought him soon.

Of glory as thou wilt, said he, so deem, 150

Worth or not worth the seeking, let it pass:

But to a Kingdom thou art born, ordain’d

To sit upon thy Father David’s Throne;

By Mother’s side thy Father, though thy right

Be now in powerful hands, that will not part

Easily from possession won with arms;

Judaea now and all the promis’d land

Reduc’t a Province under Roman yoke,

Obeys Tiberius; nor is always rul’d

With temperate sway; oft have they violated 160

The Temple, oft the Law with foul affronts,

Abominations rather, as did once

Antiochus: and think’st thou to regain

Thy right by sitting still or thus retiring?

So did not Machabeus: he indeed

Retir’d unto the Desert, but with arms;

And o’re a mighty King so oft prevail’d,

That by strong hand his Family obtain’d,

Though Priests, the Crown, and David’s Throne usurp’d,

With Modin and her Suburbs once content. 170

If Kingdom move thee not, let move thee Zeal,

And Duty; Zeal and Duty are not slow;

But on Occasions forelock watchful wait.

They themselves rather are occasion best,

Zeal of thy Fathers house, Duty to free

Thy Country from her Heathen servitude;

So shalt thou best fullfil, best verifie

The Prophets old, who sung thy endless raign,

The happier raign the sooner it begins,

Raign then; what canst thou better do the while? 180

To whom our saviour answer thus return’d.

All things are best fullfil’d in thir due time,

And time there is for all things, Truth hath said:

If of my raign Prophetic Writ hath told

That it shall never end, so when begin

The Father in his purpose hath decreed,

He in whose hand all times and seasons roul.

What if he hath decreed that I shall first

Be try’d in humble state, and things adverse,

By tribulations, injuries, insults, 190

Contempts, and scorns, and snares, and violence,

Suffering, abstaining, quietly expecting

Without distrust or doubt, that he may know

What I can suffer, how obey? who best

Can suffer, best can do; best reign, who first

Well hath obey’d; just tryal e’re I merit

My exaltation without change or end.

But what concerns it thee when I begin

My everlasting Kingdom, why art thou

Sollicitous, what moves thy inquisition? 200

Know’st thou not that my rising is thy fall,

And my promotion will be thy destruction?

To whom the Tempter inly rackt reply’d.

Let that come when it comes; all hope is lost

Of my reception into grace; what worse?

For where no hope is left, is left no fear;

If there be worse, the expectation more

Of worse torments me then the feeling can.

I would be at the worst; worst is my Port.

My harbour and my ultimate repose, 210

The end I would attain, my final good.

My error was my error, and my crime

My crime; whatever for it self condemn’d

And will alike be punish’d; whether thou

Raign or raign not; though to that gentle brow

Willingly I could flye, and hope thy raign,

From that placid aspect and meek regard,

Rather then aggravate my evil state,

Would stand between me and thy Fathers ire,

(Whose ire I dread more then the fire of Hell,) 220

A shelter and a kind of shading cool

Interposition, as a summers cloud.

If I then to the worst that can be hast,

Why move thy feet so slow to what is best,

Happiest both to thy self and all the world,

That thou who worthiest art should’st be thir King?

Perhaps thou linger’st in deep thoughts detain d

Of the enterprize so hazardous and high;

No wonder, for though in thee be united

What of perfection can in man be found, 230

Or human nature can receive, consider

Thy life hath yet been private, most part spent

At home, scarce view’d the Gallilean Towns

And once a year Jerusalem, few days

Short sojourn; and what thence could’st thou observe?

The world thou hast not seen, much less her glory,

Empires, and Monarchs, and thir radiant Courts

Best school of best experience, quickest in sight

In all things that to greatest actions lead.

The wisest, unexperienc’t, will be ever 240

Timorous and loth, with novice modesty,

(As he who seeking Asses found a Kingdom)

Irresolute, unhardy, unadventrous:

But I will bring thee where thou soon shalt quit

Those rudiments, and see before thine eyes

The Monarchies of the Earth, thir pomp and state,

Sufficient introduction to inform

Thee, of thy self so apt, in regal Arts,

And regal Mysteries; that thou may’st know

How best their opposition to withstand. 250

With that (such power was giv’n him then) he took

The Son of God up to a Mountain high.

It was a Mountain at whose verdant feet

A spatious plain out strech’t in circuit wide

Lay pleasant; from his side two rivers flow’d,

Th’ one winding, the other strait and left between

Fair Champain with less rivers interveind,

Then meeting joyn’d thir tribute to the Sea:

Fertil of corn the glebe, of oyl and wine,

With herds the pastures throng’d, with flocks the hills, 260

Huge Cities and high towr’d, that well might seem

The seats of mightiest Monarchs, and so large

The Prospect was, that here and there was room

For barren desert fountainless and dry.

To this high mountain top the Tempter brought

Our Saviour, and new train of words began.

Well have we speeded, and o’re hill and dale,

Forest and field, and flood, Temples and Towers

Cut shorter many a league; here thou behold’st

Assyria and her Empires antient bounds, 270

Araxes and the Caspian lake, thence on

As far as Indus East, Euphrates West,

And oft beyond; to South the Persian Bay,

And inaccessible the Arabian drouth:

Here Ninevee, of length within her wall

Several days journey, built by Ninus old,

Of that first golden Monarchy the seat,

And seat of Salmanassar, whose success

Israel in long captivity still mourns;

There Babylon the wonder of all tongues, 280

As antient, but rebuilt by him who twice

Judah and all thy Father David’s house

Led captive, and Jerusalem laid waste,

Till Cyrus set them free; Persepolis

His City there thou seest, and Bactra there;

Ecbatana her structure vast there shews,

And Hecatompylos her hunderd gates,

There Susa by Choaspes, amber stream,

The drink of none but Kings; of later fame

Built by Emathian, or by Parthian hands, 290

The great Seleucia, Nisibis, and there

Artaxata, Teredon, Tesiphon,

Turning with easie eye thou may’st behold.

All these the Parthian, now some Ages past,

By great Arsaces led, who founded first

That Empire, under his dominion holds

From the luxurious Kings of Antioch won.

And just in time thou com’st to have a view

Of his great power; for now the Parthian King

In Ctesiphon hath gather’d all his Host 300

Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild

Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid

He marches now in hast; see, though from far,

His thousands, in what martial equipage

They issue forth, Steel Bows, and Shafts their arms

Of equal dread in flight, or in pursuit;

All Horsemen, in which fight they most excel;

See how in warlike muster they appear,

In Rhombs and wedges, and half moons, and wings.

He look’t and saw what numbers numberless 310

The City gates out powr’d, light armed Troops

In coats of Mail and military pride;

In Mail thir horses clad, yet fleet and strong,

Prauncing their riders bore, the flower and choice

Of many Provinces from bound to bound;

From Arachosia, from Candaor East,

And Margiana to the Hyrcanian cliffs

Of Caucasus, and dark Iberian dales,

From Atropatia and the neighbouring plains

Of Adiabene, Media, and the South 320

Of Susiana to Balsara’s hav’n.

He saw them in thir forms of battell rang’d,

How quick they wheel’d, and flying behind them shot

Sharp sleet of arrowie showers against the face

Of thir pursuers, and overcame by flight;

The field all iron cast a gleaming brown,

Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn,

Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight;

Chariots or Elephants endorst with Towers

Of Archers, nor of labouring Pioners 330

A multitude with Spades and Axes arm’d

To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,

Or where plain was raise hill, or over-lay

With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke;

Mules after these, Camels and Dromedaries,

And Waggons fraught with Utensils of war.

Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,

When Agrican with all his Northern powers

Besieg’d Albracca, as Romances tell;

The City of Gallaphrone, from thence to win 340

The fairest of her Sex Angelica

His daughter, sought by many Prowest Knights,

Both Paynim, and the Peers of Charlemane.

Such and so numerous was thir Chivalrie;

At sight whereof the Fiend yet more presum’d,

And to our Saviour thus his words renew’d.

That thou may’st know I seek not to engage

Thy Vertue, and not every way secure

On no slight grounds thy safety; hear, and mark

To what end I have brought thee hither and shewn 350

All this fair sight; thy Kingdom though foretold

By Prophet or by Angel, unless thou

Endeavour, as thy Father David did,

Thou never shalt obtain; prediction still

In all things, and all men, supposes means,

Without means us’d, what it predicts revokes.

But say thou wer’t possess’d of David’s Throne

By free consent of all, none opposite,

Samaritan or Jew; how could’st thou hope

Long to enjoy it quiet and secure, 360

Between two such enclosing enemies

Roman and Parthian? therefore one of these

Thou must make sure thy own, the Parthian first

By my advice, as nearer and of late

Found able by invasion to annoy

Thy country, and captive lead away her Kings

Antigonus, and old Hyrcanus bound,

Maugre the Roman: it shall be my task

To render thee the Parthian at dispose;

Chuse which thou wilt by conquest or by league 370

By him thou shalt regain, without him not,

That which alone can truly reinstall thee

In David’s royal seat, his true Successour,

Deliverance of thy brethren, those ten Tribes

Whose off-spring in his Territory yet serve

In Habor, and among the Medes dispers’t,

Ten Sons of Jacob, two of Joseph lost

Thus long from Israel; serving as of old

Thir Fathers in the land of Egypt serv’d,

This offer sets before thee to deliver. 380

These if from servitude thou shalt restore

To thir inheritance, then, nor till then,

Thou on the Throne of David in full glory,

From Egypt to Euphrates and beyond

Shalt raign, and Rome or Caesar not need fear.

To whom our Saviour answer’d thus unmov’d.

Much ostentation vain of fleshly arm,

And fragile arms, much instrument of war

Long in preparing, soon to nothing brought,

Before mine eyes thou hast set; and in my ear 390

Vented much policy, and projects deep

Of enemies, of aids, battels and leagues,

Plausible to the world, to me worth naught.

Means I must use thou say’st, prediction else

Will unpredict and fail me of the Throne:

My time I told thee, (and that time for thee

Were better farthest off) is not yet come;

When that comes think not thou to find me slack

On my part aught endeavouring, or to need

Thy politic maxims, or that cumbersome 400

Luggage of war there shewn me, argument

Of human weakness rather then of strength.

My brethren, as thou call’st them; those Ten Tribes

I must deliver, if I mean to raign

David’s true heir, and his full Scepter sway

To just extent over all Israel’s Sons;

But whence to thee this zeal, where was it then

For Israel or for David, or his Throne,

When thou stood’st up his Tempter to the pride

Of numbring Israel which cost the lives 410

Of threescore and ten thousand Israelites

By three days Pestilence? such was thy zeal

To Israel then, the same that now to me.

As for those captive Tribes, themselves were they

Who wrought their own captivity, fell off

From God to worship Calves, the Deities

Of Egypt, Baal next and Ashtaroth,

And all the Idolatries of Heathen round,

Besides thir other worse then heathenish crimes;

Nor in the land of their captivity 420

Humbled themselves, or penitent besought

The God of their fore-fathers; but so dy’d

Impenitent, and left a race behind

Like to themselves, distinguishable scarce

From Gentils, but by Circumcision vain,

And God with Idols in their worship joyn’d.

Should I of these the liberty regard,

Who freed, as to their antient Patrimony,

Unhumbl’d, unrepentant, unreform’d,

Headlong would follow; and to thir Gods perhaps 430

Of Bethel and of Dan? no, let them serve

Thir enemies, who serve Idols with God.

Yet he at length, time to himself best known,

Remembring Abraham by some wond’rous call

May bring them back repentant and sincere,

And at their passing cleave the Assyrian flood,

While to their native land with joy they hast,

As the Red Sea and Jordan once he cleft,

When to the promis’d land thir Fathers pass’d;

To his due time and providence I leave them. 440

So spake Israel’s true King, and to the Fiend

Made answer meet, that made void all his wiles.

So fares it when with truth falshood contends.

The End of the Third Book.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 20:45