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The Tension Between Divine Will and Human Free Will in Milton and the Classical Epic Tradition

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Ron Featheringill

The tension existing between divine will and man's free will is a major theme in epic poetry, present in the Greek epics, Virgil's Aeneid, the Continental Renaissance epics, and Milton's Paradise Lost. The successful hero submits his will to the wills of the gods or God. Milton's treatment of human free will and his concept of heroism follow the epic tradition. The Puritan poet is not a rebel against the epic tradition as so many critics have affirmed.