A missing word haunts Milton’s epic poem on loss. While Milton scholarship is silent on the absence of “demon” in Paradise Lost, the word is a shaping presence narratively involved in the subtext from start to finish. Milton leans on the classical etymology of “demon” to offer a reading of Satan’s duality and is especially indebted to Plato, who uses the form daimonion to refer to a divine source. That Milton uses Greek sources to shape the contours of the suppressed word and gives Platonic demons primacy compels readers to question his intentions. By silently enfolding Platonic, Septuagintal, New Testament, Homeric, and Hesiodic demons into the poem, Milton maps Satan’s subconscious rejection of reason in favor of the idols of self-seduction, self-worship, and pride.

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