"Paradise Regained": Ancient Athens Recreated

This architectural recreation of ancient Athens matches the vision which Satan conjures up in Paradise Regained Book IV, in order to tempt Christ away from his mission by devoting himself to the study of the Greek classics. This painting by Leo von Klenze (1784-1864) shows ancient Athens with its Acropolis intact, and the Areus Pagus (cp. Milton's Areopagitica pamphlet). It is found in the Neue Pinacotek, Munich. Von Klenze was a German neoclassicist architect, painter and writer at the court of the Bavarian King Ludwig I.

Satan to Jesus:

Look once more, ere we leave this specular mount,
Westward, much nearer by southwest; behold
Where on the Aegean shore a city stands,
Built nobly, pure the air and light the soil -
Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts
And Eloquence, native to famous wits
Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
City or suburban, studious walks and shades.
See there the olive grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long;
There flowery hill, Hymettus, with the sound
Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
To studious musing; there Ilissus rowls
His whispering stream. Within the walls then view
The schools of ancient sages - his who bred
Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Lyceum there; and painted Stoa next.
There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit.

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Courtesy of the Yorck Project under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License