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Home » , » Should Paradise Lost be placed in the same category as the iliad and the Aeneid? Why or why not?
Addison intended to enlighten the emerging generation by cultivating in them sophisticated taste and culture. To inject a taste for classic literature, he wrote a series of essays on Milton's Paradise lost and appreciated it as a successful epic poem. In the fist installment of this Saturday series, Addison describes the virtues of Paradise Lost and shows how it measures up to the standards of The iliad and The Aeneid in the light of the canons of neo-Aristotelian ideas, In this essay he places it in high esteem above The iliad and the Aeneid as he friends it superior to them in every respect. To categorze paradise Lost by the qualities of The iliad and The Aeneid Addison first focuses on the fable of plot in an epic poem. According to neo-Aristotelian theory and standards of The iliad and The Aeneid, a perfect plot should possess three qualities of its action.It should be single, complete and great. He refers to Horace  and says that in order to maintain the singleness of the action. Homer and Virgil open their actions in the middle of the story and the preceding events are described by characters by way of episodes. Milton closely imitates these two great poets and opens his Paradise Lost with an infernal council plotting the Fall of Man.

Addison places Paradise Lost high above The iliad and the Aeneid criticizing Homer's episodes and digression in The Aeneid. On the other hand, the episodes in Paradise Lost arise naturally from the subject and they are filled with exciting incidents that give the pleasure of the greatest variety and simplicity. The episodes run parallel with the great action of the poem and enhance the unity of the plot. Similarly, Paradise Lost excels both The Iliad and The Aeneid for its complete action as we see that the action is contrived in hell. executed upon earth, and punished by heaven. It accords with the doctrine of Aristotle consisting of a beginning  middle, and sn end. Just as in Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid, the parts of Paradise Lost are described in the most distinct manner, and grow out of one another in the most natural method. Milton is superior to these epic poets in regard to the compactness of his plot from which nothing can be taken out without harming the plot. In The Thad, the anger of Achilles had a great consequence and settlement of Aeneas gave birth to Roman Empire. But Milton's Paradise Lost deals and determines the fate of the entire human species. It is much greater than those of The iliad and The Aeneid. Addison also compares the magnitude of Paradise Lost with those of the two great epic and extols Milton's skill in expanding and diversifying the plot with episodes that do not offend the religion of the country. Since Paradise Lost is built on the contents of Holy Scripture, Milton had less freedom. Despite all these limitations,  Milton had successfully filled his plot with many surprising incidents that bear close analogy with the Holy Writ. Even in detecting the time span, Paradise Lost stands as singular because it transcends the limitation of earthly sphere of day and night and describes events that take place partly in heaven, partly in hell and on earth.Thus it emerges that Paradise Lost has an unquestionable tes magnificence in every part of it. In this essay Addison demonstrates that it outshines the other two epics in respects of its plot construction, unity of action and its magnitude.


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