We talked about a lot in class on Thursday, but I wanted to focus on one topic that I thought was particularly interesting. We briefly mentioned the way that Book 2 satirizes politics. Satan guides the debate from behind the scenes, having Beelzebub suggest something that he had planned on doing all along. He lets the demons argue for a while before coming to this decision, giving them the illusion of free choice. Of course, he’s the one who bravely offers to go down to Earth.
In the speech Satan gives, he says that as their leader, it’s his job to put himself on the line. The demons don’t know this, but it’s what he was planning on doing all along. By guiding the conversation, he makes them feel like they came to this decision on their own. Then, after announcing this, they celebrate.
Than Hells dread Emperour with pomp Supream,II.510-515
And God-like imitated State; him round
A Globe of fierie Seraphim inclos’d
With bright imblazonrie, and horrent Arms.
Then of thir Session ended they bid cry
With Trumpets regal sound the great result
Milton calls Hell’s Senate a “God-like imitated State,” meaning that it is pretending to be a democracy similar to Heaven’s when it really is not. This is very similar to modern-day politics, where there are almost zero politicians who are not somehow corrupt. It’s not uncommon for politicians to take credit for things they did not do, which is similar to what Satan is doing here: manipulating his audience to make himself look better.