“Satan is not as generous a lover as Jesus!”

– John Milton, also Christianity in general

Much like Truffaut’s, “you can’t make an anti-war film,” and my corollary, “you can’t make an anti-tech sci-fi story,” it seems impossible to make a story disparaging a charming villain without, well, making that villain charming. And John Milton’s Paradise Lost is probably the most prominent example of this – popularizing the idea of Satan as a tragic hero and leading to endless spin-offs of the premise, “What if The Devil good, actually?” Prior to Milton, the Devil was almost always depicted as ugly and monstrous, oftentimes incompetent and easily deceived himself – but this sort of storytelling eventually leads people to think, “Why would anyone ever trust the Devil? He’s obviously evil! And stupidly so, at that! Only stupid people would be evil – and I’m smart, so I would never!”

So Milton needed to make the point that evil is a lot more surreptitious than that – villains often mask their malicious intentions through agreeable terms and even the cleverest among us can be swayed through such tactics. But Milton was so good at showing us that Satan could successfully convince a large contingent of angels to rebel against The Almighty Himself that he ended up becoming Satan’s greatest PR manager.

– James