John Milton’s Pandemonium in Paradise Lost Book I : The Capital of Hell


The pandemonium is that creation in hell designed for infernal conclaves which would rival in its splendor the greatest of human creations and perhaps even divine architecture. It is a word formed by the union of two Greek words, pan, all, and daemon, demon, but the compound word did not exist in the Greek vocabulary, and Milton formed it out the analogy of ‘pantheon’, the abode of the gods. The pantheon at Rome was a temple containing statues of all the gods. Milton’s pandemonium is the capital of hell built to receive all the devils. The coinages of Milton have gained currency in the English, the common noun being used to express a place full of tumultuous voice, confusion and discord.



John Milton
The pandemonium is built in a corner of hell, the place of a horrible dungeon, of ‘darkness visible’ which in its turn had been created by Go as punishment for their rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels in heaven. Immediately after the inspiring words of Satan in his fifth and last speech, ‘a numerous brigade’ hastened to a hill ‘where grisly top/belched fire and rolling smoke’. The brigade is compared to those 'pioneers' in the army who advance before the king or commander to make troupe or prepare a camp. The add is provided by mammon who is described as ‘the least erected among all the spirits who fell from heaven. This look is always ‘downward bent’, and this was so even in heaven where he admired the trodden gold of which heaven’s pavement was made. Qualitatively this stooping also suggests his moral nature, since it also suggests a grilling or base spirit. [An upright carriage is the sign of lofty thoughts while a downcast look suggests deviousness.[He is denied the ‘vision beatific’ a theological tern for the happiness of seeing God. ‘Mammon’ is a archaic word meaning ‘wealth’, and this name is used both by Matthew and by Spenser in Faerie Queene, though there does not seem to have been any god called Mammon worshiped by the nations bordering on the territory of the Israelite.] But later Milton uses the name of another architect, Mulciber. Muliciber is a surname of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire who was identified with the Greek Hephaestus. Milton describes how he was thrown over the crystal battlements of heaven by an angry Jove, and how he continued to fall for an entire day until he landed on the Aegean isle.] [Milton points out that the Greek and Roman legends about Hephaestus or Vulcan being cast out by Zeus or Jupiter were wrong, and that he was realy a rebel angel cast out by God along with the other angels]. Soon the crew, working under Mammon, began to dig the centre of the earth for hidden minerals. They opened up the volcanic hill which was covered with a glossy scurf indicating that the metallic are of sulphur was concealed within They dugout veins of gold, while a second group sluiced liquid fire from the lake of fire to help in the construction. A yet third group used the fire to melt the ‘messy ore’ and separate each kind, taking special care to extract ‘bullion’ on solid gold.
             Pandemonium is a miraculously produced marvelous creation:
                                       And here let those
           Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell
          Of Babel, and the work of Memphian kings,
         Learn how their greatest monument of fame,
         And strength, and art, are easily out done
        By spirits reprobate -- - - - - -  - -

If the Egyptian pyramids had taken 3,60,000 men twenty years to construct, they are able to create a greater architectural marvel in an hour. Milton uses an epic simile to describe how the huge fabric ‘Rose like an exhalation’ likes a note being produced by the wind in a musical organ. It was accompanied by ‘dulcet symphonies and voices sweet’. It was built like a temple and was decorated with numerous architectural designs: architraves, Doric pillars, cornice, frizz and embossed sculpture. The roof was made of gold, and the building was of a stately height. The structure was so massive as to have huge brass doors which, when opened, revealed a pale space and level pavement. The miracle of rare device was lit by rows of starry lamps and cressets which hung from the arched roof by ‘subtle magic’ since there were no supports, and which were fueled by naphtha and asphaltus. Milton declares that neither Babylon, nor could great Alcaero boast of such wealth and luxury, such splendor and magnificence.

Thus, pandemonium, ‘the high capital of Satan and his peers’ is both itself architectural and the product of a miracle. Yet Milton presents such magnificence as inimical, and does this not merely because it is inhabited by the rebel angels but perhaps also because the puritan in him militated against such vain splendor. 
 
ref: Encarta, Wiki

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