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unless, indeed, it were against the inside of that gate. Milton may have meant this.
556. “On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star.” One of the many lines in which Milton, by a beautiful fitness of metre and of component letters, makes the sound suggest the sense. Compare Comus, 80.
590, 591. “whose point now raised bore him," etc. While Uriel and Gabriel have been conversing, the Sun has fallen to the horizon, so that the sunbeam on which Uriel returned inclines from Paradise to the Sun.
592—597. "whether the Prime Orb,” etc. A very interesting passage, as showing that, though Milton has adopted the Ptolemaic cosmology in his poem, he was quite well aware of the Copernican alternative, and perhaps appreciated its superior scientific worth. See Introd. pp. 40-41. The Prime Orb is the Primum Mobile, or Tenth and outmost sphere, of the Ptolemaists.
605. “Hesperus”: the Evening Star.
628. “ manuring”: in the old sense of “tending with the hand ” (manæuvring), “ cultivating.”
639, 640. “I forget all time, all seasons, and their change." Another passage implying that Adam and Eve had been for some time on the Earth. See previous note, 449, 450.
642. “charm,” i.e. song (Lat. carmen).
680—688. “ How often,” etc. Another passage of the same import as lines 449, 450, and 639, 640. For the ideas commentators compare Shakespeare's Tempest, iii, 2.
716, 717. “ The unwiser son of Japhet,” etc., i.e. Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, both being sons of the Titan Iapetus. In revenge for the theft of the heavenly fire by the wise Prometheus, Jupiter created the first woman, Pandora (“the All-gifted”), and sent her to the Earth, under the conduct of Hermes or Mercury, with her box of evils, to be presented to the man she married. Prometheus avoided her ; but Epimetheus was captivated, and the evils flew out among mankind from the opened box.
744—762.“ Whatever hypocrites austerely talk,” etc. Milton refers to Scriptural texts : Gen, i. 28; 1 Cor. vii. 28 and 36; 1 Tim. iv. 1-3; Heb. xiv. 4; etc.
776, 777. “ Now had Night measured,” etc. Prosaically, it was about nine o'clock in the evening; but the clock here is that vast astronomical clock of which the great circle of the starry heavens is the dial-plate and the Earth's shadow the moving hour-hand. Night really is the shadow of the Earth shot like a cone of gloom into the part of space opposite to the Sun ; and the shadow moves round the great circle with the Sun.
778-779. “And from their ivory port the Cherubim forth issuing, at the accustomed hour," etc. This means that, at nine o'clock, with military precision, those Angels or Cherubim who, under the command of Gabriel, were entrusted with the guard of Paradise (see lines 550-554), issued not out at the eastern gate of Paradise, so as to be beyond the walls, but only from one of the inner ports of that gate into a space within the walls, ready for the duties of the night-watch. They stand at arms, as in a courtyard, to receive Gabriel's orders.
782-785. “Uzziel, half these draw off,” etc. Here again, with the due poetic haze of expression, we have military accuracy and even military phraseology. Gabriel breaks his company of Angels into two divisions by the order “Right and left wheel” (the Latin equivalent for which was “ Wheel to the spear : Wheel to the shield,” the right hand of course being the spear hand, and the left holding the shield): he takes command of one of the divisions himself to march it round the north side of Paradise ; he gives the other in charge to his lieutenant Uzziel (Strength of God), to be marched round the south side; the two divisions, having thus made the entire circuit of Paradise between them, are to meet at the western end, opposite to that eastern gate from which they now start; and meanwhile the two scouts, Ithuriel (Search of God) and Zephon (Searcher), are to go through the Garden, exploring it.
797. “ So saying, on he led his radiant files." “Filemarching” is marching two and two in a long string or column.
813. “ Of force to its own likeness." One of the only three instances of the use of the word its in Milton's poetry. See Essay on Milton's English, pp. 174-186.
847-849. 6 saw Virtue in her shape,” etc. Almost a literal translation, as the commentator Hume pointed out, of Persius iii. 35-38.
861—864. “ Now drew they nigh the western point,” etc. Again military precision. The two subdivisions of Angels have met at the western end of Paradise as appointed, and there completed their junction into a single company again by the act known as “closing," i.e. side-motion by quick short steps, so as to do away with the little gap left between the two subdivisions when halted.
972. “ Proud limitary Cherub.” In Latin “ milites limitanei” are soldiers in garrison on a frontier for the purpose of guarding it; and it is suggested that Milton formed the word “limitary” in this sense.
980. “With ported spears.” Another military phrase, knowledge of the exact meaning of which is absolutely necessary for an appreciation of the beauty of the whole passage. Ported spears are not, as the commentators have supposed, spears thrust straight out against an enemy. To “port arms,” whether spears or bayonets, is to hold them aslant, butts downward to the right, and points over the left shoulder; and this is the position preparatory to the attack or “charge,” which consists in bringing the weapon smartly down, with a half-wheel of the body, for firm opposition to whatever is in front of it. A body of men with spears well “ported” would present a resemblance to a field of corn-stalks blown aslant by the wind; but the image is utterly absurd on the other fancy that the “ported spears ” of the Angels were their spears thrust straight out at Satan.
985. “alarmed,” i.e. “ on his guard”: fear is not implied.
987. “unremoved" : incapable of being removed. See note, iv. 492.
988, 989. “on his crest sat Horror plumed.” A personification terrible in its very vagueness. The poet, imagining Satan, sees as it were the plumed crest of his helmet, but gives only this visionary metaphor of it.
996, 997. “Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales,” etc. Milton, as Hume noted, must here have had in view the passage in Homer (Iliad, viii, 69) where Jupiter weighs the issues of uncertain events in golden scales, and that in Virgil (Æneid, xii. 725) where there is a similar image. But Milton makes the balance the actual constellation Libra, and in other respects he makes the image entirely his own.
1003. “ The sequel each of parting and of fight," i.e. one weight represented the consequence of not fighting, the other of fighting. The balance turning decidedly to the former, Satan drew the inference, and acted accordingly (1013-1015). BOOK V. 3—5. “his sleep was aery light, from pure digestion bred, and temperate vapours bland, which,” etc. Newton and subsequent commentators make “ sleep” the antecedent of “which”; but it seems more natural, and more consistent with the subsequent image, to take“ temperate vapours bland” as the antecedent.
44. “ Heaven wakes with all his eyes.” Milton generally uses the feminine possessive form her along with Heaven. In the present instance, however, there is a fitness in the masculine form,-if it be the masculine by personification, and not simply the old neuter his. The eyes of Heaven wake to behold Eve; to have said “her eyes,” therefore, would not have been in keeping.
100—113. “But know that in the soul are many lesser faculties,” etc. This passage is interesting as a little summary of Milton's psychology.----Fancy, Phantasy, and Imagination were synonymous, or nearly so, in Milton's time.
166, 167. “ Fairest of Stars," etc., i.e. the planet Venus; which is sometimes Phosphorus or the Morning Star, and sometimes Hesperus or the Evening Star.
176. “fixed in their orb that flies," i.e. in the eighth of the Ptolemaic orbs or spheres.
177. “ five other wandering Fires.” As Venus, the Sun, and the Moon, have already been invoked, there remain properly to be invoked only four of the seven wandering Fires or Planets of the old system,-Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Milton had made a slip, or he means to reintroduce Venus.
178. " not without song”: the Music of the Spheres.
181. “ in quaternion”: in fourfold combination, as Earth, Water, Air, Fire.
202—204. “Witness if I be silent,” etc. In the Greek choruses, though many are singing, the singular pronoun is often used.
220-223. “Raphael, the sociable Spirit, that deigned to travel with Tobias,” etc. See note, iv. 168-171. Raphael in Hebrew means “God's Health "
261, 262. “the glass of Galileo.” The second mention of Galileo in the poem (see 1. 288), and the third of the telescope (1. 288 and 11. 590).
264–266. “Or pilot from amidst the Cyclades Delos or Samos first appearing kens,” etc. The construction may either be “or pilot kens Delos or Samos first appearing from amidst the Cyclades,” or it may be “or pilot, coming from amidst the Cyclades, kens Delos or Samos first appearing." In either case, as Mr. Keightley has pointed out, the geography is not strictly accurate. Samos is not one of the Cyclades—which vitiates the first construction ; Delos is one of the Cyclades—which vitiates the second. Milton probably intended the first construction, with an extended meaning of the term Cyclades.
272—274. “A phenix,” etc. The phenix, the fabulous Arabian bird of the ancients, of which only one was alive at a time, was said to go from Arabia, every 500 years, to deposit the ashes of the preceding phenix, its father, (or, according to another legend, its own ashes) in the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis in Lower Egypt. Milton substitutes Thebes in Upper Egypt.
277--285. “Six wings he wore,” etc. See Isaiah vi. 2.
285. “Sky-tinctured grain,” i.e. of a cerulean or violet purple, as if dipped in the colours of the sky. Grain, now generally meaning “texture," "fibre," "structure” (e.g. wood of a hard or close “grain ”), more frequently in the old poets meant “colour,"—nay, one variety of colour. Granum, in Latin “seed” (as in a “grain ” of corn, or “grain ” collectively for corn), had come to be a special designation for the red dye coccum, consisting of the granular or seed-like dried bodies of certain insects collected from trees in Spain and other Mediterranean countries. It was also called kermes, from a Persian word meaning "worm" or "insect”; whence our words carmine and crimson. From distinct, “ red” or “crimson,” however, the word grain seems to have been extended to include all fast or durable colours of a red or purple order, if not other colours. Compare Il Pens. 33 and P. L. XI, 240-244 ; and see a detailed and interesting inquiry on the subject in Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, First Series. Grain, however, though used in our older English writers for “colour,” or for “purple or