God The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent creator of the universe. He is depicted as pure light by Milton and rules from an unmovable throne at the highest point in Heaven. God is the epitome of reason and intellect, qualities that often make him seem aloof and stern in the poem. His more merciful side is shown through his Son who is of course one of the Trinitarian aspects of God though not the same as God. God creates Man (Adam) and gives him free will, knowing that Man will fall. He also provides his Son, who becomes a man and suffers death, as the means to salvation for Man so that ultimately goodness will completely defeat evil.
Son In the doctrine of the Trinity, the Godhead is made up of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Milton seems to make God the Son not co-eternal with the Father, though the theology here is not absolutely clear. The Son is presented to the angels well after the creation, and God's preferment of the Son causes Satan to rebel. The Son creates the Earth (he is referred to as God while doing so). The Son offers himself as a sacrifice to Death as a way to save Man after the Fall. The Son also defeats the rebellious angels and casts them into Hell. He shows the more merciful aspect of God.
Satan Before his rebellion, he was known as Lucifer and was second only to God. His envy of the Son creates Sin, and in an incestuous relationship with his daughter, he produces the offspring, Death. His rebellion is easily crushed by the Son, and he is cast into Hell. His goal is to corrupt God's new creations, Man and Earth. He succeeds in bringing about the fall of Adam and Eve but is punished for the act. He can shift his shape and tempts Eve in the form of a serpent. He appears noble to Man but not in comparison to God.
Adam The first human, created by God from the dust of Earth. He is part of God's creation after the rebellious angels have been defeated. At first Adam (and Eve) can talk with angels and seem destined to become like angels if they follow God's commands. Adam eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge because he cannot bear losing Eve. His inordinate desire for Eve is his downfall. He and Eve feud after the fall but are reconciled. They eventually go forth together to face the world and death.
Eve Eve is the first woman, created by God from Adam's rib as a companion for him. She is more physically attractive than Adam, but not as strong physically or intellectually. She is seduced and tricked by Satan in the form of the serpent and eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. She then tempts Adam whose love and desire for her is so strong that he eats the fruit rather than risk separation from Eve. Ultimately, Eve brings about reconciliation with Adam when she begs forgiveness from him. God promises that her seed will eventually bruise the head of the serpent, symbolically referring to Jesus overcoming Death and Satan.
Opposed to God
Death Death is Satan's son and grandson, the result of an incestuous union between Satan and his daughter, Sin. Death has also had a relationship with Sin, producing the hellhounds that are at her side. Death is primarily an allegorical character. He is a shadowy figure with a ravenous appetite. He and Sin build a great bridge from Hell to Earth after Adam's and Eve's fall. God says that both Death and Sin will be sealed in Hell after Judgment Day.
Sin The daughter of Satan who sprang from his head when he felt envy for the Son. She is beautiful to the waist but a hideous serpent beneath, with hellhounds that surround her and go in and out of her womb. The hounds are a product of her incestuous relationship with her son, Death, who was the product of a relationship with her father, Satan. In much of Paradise Lost, Sin is an allegorical character. She opens the Gate of Hell for Satan to leave. She and Death build a bridge to Earth and inhabit the world after Satan causes the Fall of Man. Eventually Sin and Death will be sealed in Hell.
Beelzebub The devil second in rank to Satan. In the Bible, the name Beelzebub seems most likely to have been associated with the term "Lord of the Flies," the demon who drove flies away from sacrifices. Numerous theories exist but none are definitive or widely accepted. At best, the name Beelzebub exists in the Bible and is associated with Satan and evil. Milton's audience would have recognized Beelzebub as a demon, even if they probably knew little or nothing of his origins. He acts as Satan's mouthpiece in Book II.
Belial In the Bible, Belial is a synonym for the devil or an adjective meaning wickedness or destruction. Milton presents him as an individual demon representing impurity. He argues cunningly and effectively for taking no action and is associated with "ignoble ease" (II, 227).
Mammon In the Bible, Mammon is often presented as a king or demon who is the personification of wealth. In Paradise Lost, he is called the "least erected" of the fallen angels because he always has his eyes downward looking for gold or money. In the council, he proposes exploiting the wealth of Hell to create a comfortable existence rather than warring against God.
Moloch Moloch was an idolatrous deity worshipped by some Israelites. The chief feature of his cult seems to have been child sacrifice. In Paradise Lost, he argues at the council for total war against God. He is neither subtle nor effective in his speech.
Mulciber Fallen angel who is the chief architect for Pandemonium. The character seems to be derived from Hephaestus in Greek mythology.
Loyal to God
Michael An archangel, one of the fiercest fighters in the battle between the rebellious angels and those loyal to God. Michael's name was a war cry of the good angels. In Paradise Lost, the fallen angels remember particularly the pain of Michael's sword. At the end of the epic, Michael reveals to Adam the biblical history of the world through the birth of Jesus. Michael also leads Adam and Eve out of Eden.
Raphael One of the archangels. According to tradition Raphael was the angel of Man and was supposed to deal with Earth. Milton seems to follow that tradition since Raphael, often called the "affable archangel," is sent to Earth to warn Adam and to answer any questions Adam has. Many scholars fault Raphael's advice and find him complicit in the Fall of Man. The conversation between Raphael and Adam takes place in Books V — VIII.
Gabriel In the Bible, the archangel Gabriel is the angel of mercy in contrast to Michael, the angel of justice. In the New Testament, Gabriel announces the coming of Jesus to Mary. In Paradise Lost, he is the angel who guards the gate of Eden. He captures Satan on his first attempt at corrupting Adam and Eve and sends him away.
Abdiel Angel in Satan's host who opposes Satan's plan to rebel and returns to God. In the battle with the rebellious angels, Abdiel confronts Satan and pushes him backwards.
Ithuriel One of the angels who assist Gabriel in guarding Eden. Ithuriel and Zephron capture Satan whispering in Eve's ear.
Urania The name of Milton's muse. Classically, Urania is the Muse of Astronomy. Milton transforms her into Christian inspiration or the Holy Spirit.
Uriel One of the seven archangels. He is tricked by Satan disguised as a cherub. He realizes his mistake later and warns Gabriel that an interloper has entered the Garden of Eden.
Zephron One of the angels who assist Gabriel in guarding Eden. Zephron and Ithuriel discover Satan whispering in Eve's ear on his first attempt at corrupting Man.