The protagonist of this Protestant epic, is the fallen angel, Satan. Milton presents Satan almost sympathetically, as an ambitious and prideful being who defies his creator, omnipotent God, and wages war on heaven, only to be defeated and cast down.
Milton begins his story in media res, after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and cast down by God into Hell. In Hell, Lucifer must employ his rhetorical ability to organize his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub.
Later, Lucifer enters the Garden of Eden, where he successfully tempts Eve, wife of Adam, to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.
Later in life, Milton wrote Paradise Regained, charting God's returning to man the possibility of paradise. This sequel has never had a reputation equal to the earlier poem.