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Wickedness: A Philosophical Essay

Midgley, Mary | Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984


p. 151

“What Milton wrote about the devil is not–once we drop the purple spotlight of romantic partiality–at all flattering. [Contrary to the romantic idea of the grandeur of evil in him]. Satan’s personal motives are mostly mean and claustrophobic, centering on competitive self-assertion. His grandeur stems from his original nature, which is not of his making, and his demonic force results merely from his concentrating all his efforts within this narrow circle of aims. The phrase ‘Evil, be thou my good’ is no sublime manifesto of creative immoralism, but a competitive political move to establish a private empire. Milton paints him indeed as a tragic figure–therefore as divided, possessing still many virtues. But these virtues are traditional. He has not invented them.”