John Milton was one of the greatest poets of his age and perhaps of all ages. He was undoubtedly an artist of acute sensibility, subtlety of mind and superb human insight which is quite evident in his poetic works. In fact, no other writer of his age can surpass or even equal him in the range of his material, the sublimity of style, highly reflective themes and above all the excellent use of poetic techniques. As far as 'Paradise Lost' is concerned, it is a master piece of Milton's creative and artistic accomplishment, revealing many glorious and sublime elements; but the most conspicuous one is his imitation of great giants like Homer and Virgil. In fact, 'Paradise Lost' has been attributed as one of the greatest epic poems ever composed in English literature; vividly bestowing the highest efforts of poetic genius.
However, in order to justify it as a great epic, one should be fully conversant with all its chief ingredients. It is often said that an epic in general, ancient or modern, may be described as a long narrative poem, relating a subject of great momentous importance for mankind; great adventures, fierce combats and bloody battle. Everything is elevated to the greatest heights, thus requiring a grand style and elevated diction. It usually begins with an invocation that is addressed to one of the Muses. Technically speaking, it must consist of single fable or action which has its beginning, middle and end; covering a long span of time. As far as the hero is concerned, it should be person of lofty stature; a gigantic figure of great cosmic importance. However in the back ground there are always divine powers evil as well as good, such as gods and goddesses. The weapons used in such epics are also conventional; swords, chariots, spears, shields and such like war machinery. And finally it should be long enough to encompass at least a few books.
The first essential feature of the epic is its "fable or theme", and according to classical poets it must be of national significance.