Throughout the poem Milton makes use of soliloquy, another tragic convention.
And even the ten-book structure of the 1667 edition, according to John Leonard, "might owe something to English tragedy, forming five dramatic acts of two books each" (Introduction to xi).
These three genres of poetry have existed since ancient Greece, and by Milton's time they carried with them a set of connotations and expectations that most educated people recognized.
Milton's concern about which genre to choose, therefore, was not simply a matter of seeking the perfect medium for his story, but the anxiety of a writer seeking to place himself within a centuries-old poetic tradition.
From the one point of view it is an expression of opinions and emotions; from the other, it is an organization of words which exists to produce a particular kind of patterned experience in the readers" (2).
Lewis wrote, "Every poem can be considered in two ways — as what the poet has to say, and as a thing which he makes.
The most Achilles-like character in the poem is Satan, whom Milton surrounds with "epic matter and motivations, epic genre conventions, and constant allusions to specific passages in famous heroic poems" (Barbara Lewalski, .
Yet the problems inherent in viewing Satan as a hero have led modern critics to reject this idea.
But unlike Aeneas, Adam's primary heroic act is not heroic at all: it is the first act of disobedience.
The heroism celebrated in Book 9 as "Patience and Heroic Martyrdom" stands in stark contrast to traditional epic heroism (, and Satan with all his heroic oratory is not, then Milton is simultaneously entering into a dialogue with previous works about the nature of heroism, reconfiguring the old model, and effectively redefining notions of heroism for his seventeenth-century English Protestant audience.