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"Of Milton's interests in contemporary affairs," says J.B. Broadbent, "one of the strongest – and most typical of his period – was geography." Indeed, when confronting the countless placenames and allusions in Paradise Lost, there can be no ignoring the prominent role that geography plays in the poem, especially in its description of Hell. By infusing this description with cartographic references, Milton takes his place in the long line of epic poets that descends from Homer and Virgil. But his participation in the epic tradition is by no means static since he uses it for purposes relevant to seventeenth-century England. In Paradise Lost, the depiction of Hell appears to be part of a theological apology. More than just attempting to emulate the epic tradition, Milton employs that tradition to ultimately promote belief in an actual Hell as a rejection of the growing claim among certain radical Protestant sects that Hell was merely an internal state.
Date Posted: 03 August 2007