The Machiavellian Politics of Pandemonium
The council in Pandemonium, what a great scene. It’s like a governmental commentary. It’s not whose the wisest in a situation like that, it’s whose the most cunning. We can look at our current governmental issues in much the same way. It’s not what is best for the people of this country, it is who you know and who is the most devious that gets what they want.
Moloch is war hungry. He will not back down to God and will fight the fight of death. It’s a fool’s errand and even these lowest of low devils understand that much. Many a leader has fallen under the guise of Moloch and saw no alternative but straight out war. They believe, foolishly, that nothing could possibly be worse than the current state of affairs. Therefore, there’s nothing to lose by going to war.
Belial is lazy. That’s the whole point of his speech. He’s not eloquently expressing his desire for peace with God, on the contrary, he is wanting to do nothing. If anything is worse than war, it would be inaction. Clearly Milton understood that. John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” This is what Milton wanted us to understand about Belial.
Mammon appears to be a single voice of reason and the one that we all secretly wish the devils would have listened to. He calls for peaceful advancement of their own freedom. He suggests that through hard work they can make Hell their own Heaven. He meets with general agreement but we all know that the feignish devils cannot possibly allow that to work so well.
Then there is Beelzebub. Who comes across as a sort of Dumbledorish figure but we know this is all a smoke screen. We know he is devious and in on a secret plan with Satan to ensure that Satan rules Hell. He has the Machiavellian spirit and we see that Milton knows the game of politics. It is the Machiavellies of this world that decide the fate of others and they play the game well. In his singular speech he not only confirms Satan’s position as leader of Hell but places himself directly next to him.
John Milton uses his epic to speak of governmental issues of his day, however what we find is that they are still relevant issues today. Do we have the same concerns? The same recycled devious character to contend with? Absolutely. This is a universal truth that will endure for the length of mankind’s lives on this planet. What a sad thought.