Satan is the first major character introduced in the poem. Formerly called Lucifer, the most beautiful of all angels in Heaven, he's a tragic figure who describes himself with the now-famous quote "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n." He is introduced to Hell after he leads a failed rebellion to wrestle control of Heaven from God. Satan's desire to rebel against his creator stems from his unwillingness to be subjugated by God and his Son, claiming that angels are "self-begot, self-raised", thereby denying God's authority over them as their creator. Satan is deeply arrogant, albeit powerful and charismatic. Satan's persuasive powers are evident throughout the book; not only is he cunning and deceptive, but he also is able to rally the angels to continue in the rebellion after their agonising defeat in the Angelic War. He argues that God rules as a tyrant and that all the angels ought to rule as gods. Satan is comparable in many ways to the tragic heroes of classic Greek literature, but Satan's hubris far surpasses those of previous tragedies. Though at times he plays the narrative role of an anti-hero, he is still commonly understood to be the antagonist of the epic. However, the true nature of his role in the poem has been the subject of much notoriety and scholarly debate. While some scholars, like the critic and writer C. S. Lewis, interpret the poem as a genuine Christian morality tale, other critics, like William Empson, view it as a more ambiguous work, with Milton's complex characterisation of Satan playing a large part in that perceived ambiguity.
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