The Infernal Assembly

We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal War
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th’ excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heav’n.

Here is the first proposition of Revolt uttered by Satan in Milton‘s Paradise Lost (I, 120-124). The fallen angel realises that ‘to be weak is miserable, / doing or suffering ‘, but instead of resigning himself to hell, that ‘dreary plain, forlorn and wild ‘, he wonders how to pull through:

How overcome this dire Calamity,
What reinforcement we may gain from Hope,
If not what resolution from despair.

Later on Satan assembles at Pandemonium, his palace, all the infernal creatures: giants, fiends, spirits, and even the fallen ‘Seraphic Lords and Cherubim ‘. This parliament -or conclave- starts a discussion on the ways of the Revolt. Here, Moloch’s speech (II, 51-64) sounds violent as well as familiar to a modern reader:

My sentence is for open War; Of Wiles,
More unexpert, I boast not: them let those
Contrive who need, or when they need, not now.
For while they sit contriving, shall the rest,
Millions that stand in Arms, and longing wait
The Signal to ascend, sit ling’ring here,
Heav’n’s fugitives, and for their dwelling place
Accept this dark opprobrious Den of shame,
The Prison of his Tyranny who Reigns
By our delay? no, let us rather choose,
Arm’d with Hell flames and fury all at once
O’er Heaven’s high Tow’rs to force resistless way,
Turning our Tortures into horrid Arms
Against the Torturer.

It is here that we see most of the topics that fill the revolutionary discourse both in literature and beyond: resort to force, internal disagreement, humilliation, torture…

One thought on “The Infernal Assembly

  1. Pingback: The Revolution of Cain | Texts on Revolution

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