Who or what is Milton and why he put mountains in hell? The name appears in the text for the first time and once in the whole story.

When the liquor went to his head he would lie down on his bed and stare out of the window until he went to sleep. He drank alone and in solitude not for pleasure or good cheer, but to forget the awful loneliness and level of the Divide. Milton made a sad blunder when he put mountains in hell. Mountains postulate faith and aspiration. All mountain peoples are religious. It was the cities of the plains that, because of their utter lack of spirituality and the mad caprice of their vice, were cursed of God.

On the Divide by Willa Cather

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    It's probably a reference to the English poet John Milton and his late-1600s biblical epic poem Paradise Lost. Maybe someone who has read it (I haven't) can confirm this.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 6:29
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    Paradise Lost has been translated into at least 57 languages. What makes this reference specific to learning English? Wouldn't you have the same question if the passage were translated into your native language?
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 15:48
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    @Barmar The asker has no way of knowing whether or not the phrase “Milton made a blunder” is specific to the English language somehow. I think it’s completely appropriate to ask the question here. Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 16:49
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    @Tanner Swett: Yes, even though it's more a question about English literature than the language itself. It's the same as if some other author had inserted a reference to Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Tolkien.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 17:01
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    @TannerSwett I don't know if I'd say "no way". A Google search for "milton mountains hell" returns almost exclusively results for Paradise Lost on the first page.
    – amalloy
    Commented Mar 23, 2020 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


John Milton was an important poet in the 17th century. He is most well known for a long epic poem called Paradise Lost which describes the creation of heaven and hell and the story of the Garden of Eden.

In Milton's description of Hell it is a rocky place with mountains, though these are not particularly important to the poem. Satan builds his palace on a mountain in hell, in imitation of God in Heaven, and summons all the devils to come to hear his wicked plan to tempt man into sin.

At length into the limits of the North
They came, and Satan to his Royal seat
High on a Hill, far blazing, as a Mount
Rais’d on a Mount, with Pyramids and Towrs
From Diamond Quarries hew’n, & Rocks of Gold,
The Palace of great Lucifer, (so call
That Structure in the Dialect of men
Interpreted) which not long after, hee
Affecting all equality with God,
In imitation of that Mount whereon
Messiah was declar’d in sight of Heav’n,
The Mountain of the Congregation call’d;
For thither he assembl’d all his Train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of thir King,
Thither to come, and with calumnious Art
Of counterfeted truth thus held thir ears.

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