Paradise Lost (Book III)

Passage #1

For man will heark’n to his glozing lyes,
And easily transgress the sole Command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall, [ 95 ]
Hee and his faithless Progenie: whose fault?
Whose but his own? ingrate, he had of mee
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.


God shares his foreknowledge of the Fall of Man. This omniscience coexists with man’s free will, which is sometimes considered a paradox in philosophy. Boethius, Aquinas, and CS Lewis have all offered similar solutions to this paradox.

Passage #2

Such I created all th’ Ethereal Powers [ 100 ]
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who faild;
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have givn sincere
Of true allegiance, constant Faith or Love,
Where onely what they needs must do, appeard, [ 105 ]
Not what they would?


Milton gives a justification for free will, which in turn causes the Fall of Man. Without free will, he argues, human beings would have no way of proving their sincere allegiance to God.

*For notes to Book 3, visit the John Milton Reading Room.


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