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402. “sculls”: a provincial word with fishermen for “shoals ”; which word had been already used in line 400.
420. “callow,” i.e. featherless; “ fledge,” feathered. It was an old adjective : see it before, III. 627.
421. “ summed their pens”: completed their plumage.
429, 430. “ with mutual wing easing their flight," i.e. facilitating the flight of the whole body by each in turn becoming the point of the wedge.
440. “ Hler state”: perhaps merely her stately shape, but perhaps with the image of a “state-barge” and its white canopy.
471. “Behemoth”: here used for Elephant, as “Leviathan” has just been (412) for the Whale. In Job (xl. 15, and xli. I) the names are rather for the hippopotamus and the crocodile.
490. “the female bee," etc. The notion was common in Milton's time that the working bees were females.
517, 518. “(for where is not He present ?).” Inasmuch as the acts of creation are being done by the Son within what had hitherto been part of the body of Chaos, and the Father might be thought of as having remained in Heaven, this parenthesis, reminding the reader of the Father's omnipresence, was not unnecessary.
535–538. “Wherever thus created . . . he brought thee into this delicious grove, this Garden.” It is here implied that the creation of Man did not take place within Paradise, but somewhere out of it; and this is in accordance with Gen. ii. 8 and 15.
565–567. “Open, ye everlasting gates,” etc. Ps. xxiv. 7.
596, 597. “organs of sweet stop,” wind instruments; “all sounds on fret,” all sounds produced from strings by "frets” or divisions.
619. “On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea.” The Angels are supposed to be looking down through Heaven's opening and beholding the new Universe as a miniature Heaven suspended from the main one. They see it founded on the “clear hyaline,” i.e. on the Crystalline or Ninth Sphere, which encloses it. “Hyaline" is the Greek word for “glassy” or “crystalline,” and is used in the original of Rev. iv. 6, where our version has “ of glass.”
640. “ Aught, not surpassing human measure, say." In the original edition of the poem, in Ten Books, Book VII,
does not end with this 640th line, but goes on, including the whole of the present Eighth Book.
1-4. “ The Angel ended ... replied.” In the First Edition, where the present Seventh and Eighth Books of the poem were conjoined in one as Book VII., the lines 639–642 of that Book ran as follows :
“... if else thou seekst Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.
To whom thus Adam gratefully repli’d.
What thanks sufficient,” etc. 15--178. “When I behold this goodly frame, this World,” etc. The discussion between Adam and Raphael in these 164 lines is of singular interest in connection with Milton's astronomical creed. See Introd. p. 40 ; also IV. 592-597, and note there.
40—57. "which Eve perceiving . . . rose,” etc. In this passage one may discern something characteristic of Milton's ideal of woman.
81, 82.“build, unbuild, contrive to save appearances.” A very true description of the ingenious shifts to which the Ptolemaists had been put in order to reconcile their system, time after time, with a new set of phenomena.
82–84. “gird the Sphere with Centric and Eccentric scribbled o'er, Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb.” The fundamental notion of the Ptolemaists being that the motions of all the heavenly bodies were in perfect circles, they had been obliged, in order to account for many phenomena inexplicable on the first and simplest form of that supposition, to bring in two devices--the Eccentric and the Epicycle. The first consisted in the idea that, while the Earth is the centre of the Primum Mobile, and consequently of the whole mundane system, the spheres of the planets, and especially of the Sun, need not be strictly concentric (i.e. need not have the Earth strictly for their centre), but may be eccentric (i.e. may revolve round a point somewhat to the side of the Earth). The other device consisted in the idea that the body of a planet need not be strictly fixed in its Cycle, or the circumference of its wheeling sphere, but may move fly-like in an Epicycle, i.e. a small subsidiary circle revolving round a point in that wheeling circumference. By a complicated use of these two devices, in aid of the more simple and early device of merely multiplying the mundane orbs, the Ptolemaic astronomers had “contrived to save appearances,” but only by such a dizzy intricacy of wheels within wheels and wheels on wheels as Milton describes. His language hits off very exactly the three combined devices for meeting the difficulties : (1) Eccentric as well as Centric ; (2) Epicycle as well as Cycle; (3) multiplication of general Orbs.
128. “In six thou seest,” i.e. in the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
130. “three different motions." These are (1) the diurnal rotation of the Earth on her axis ; (2) her annual orbit round the Sun ; (3) the libration or oscillation of the axis itself. The three are exemplified in a top spinning. The spinning of the top is the first motion ; the circle it describes while spinning shows the second ; the varied balancing of the top all the while from a more upright to a more slant position represents the third.
133—136. " that swift nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,” etc., i.e. the revolution of the Tenth Sphere or Primum Mobile. Rhombus is " wheel.”
149. “With their attendant Moons." A reference to Galileo's discovery that Jupiter and Saturn have satellites.
150.“male and female light,” i.e. direct and reflected.
183—197. “ nor with perplexing thoughts to interrupt the sweet of life ... to know that which before us lies in daily life is the prime wisdom," etc. To qualify the impression made by this passage, see Milton's enthusiastic outburst on the pleasures of scientific research and speculation in the third of his Prolusiones Oratoriæ, and also his advocacy of Physical Science in his Tract on Education.
209. “ Fond”: in its old sense of “ foolish.”
229-244. “ For I that day was absent,” etc. An extremely ingenious idea, permitting the introduction of Adam's own story of what he recollects of his creation. Raphael would gladly hear it, he says ; for he had not been present on the Earth, or in the Mundane Universe at all, on that Sixth day on which Adam had been created. He, with the legion under his command, had been despatched down through the belt of Chaos underneath the Mundane Universe, with an order to guard the gates of Hell, lest any of the Rebel Spirits should emerge to interrupt the creative work. The gates were fast; but he had heard the noise of tumult within, showing that the Fiends had recovered from their stupor and were again in commotion. See note, iv. 449, 450.
246. “Ere Sabbath evening," i.e. not the evening of Sabbath or Seventh day itself, but the evening of the Sixth day, before the Sabbath began.
251. “who himself beginning knew ?" i.e. “ who ever knew himself as beginning or commencing to exist ?”
337. “purpose"; discourse (Fr. propos), as at iv. 337. 384. “sort”: issue, come to pass, succeed (Fr. sortir).
465. “ left side.” This is an addition of the commentators, Scripture (Gen. ii. 21) not mentioning from which side the rib was taken.
571---573. “Oft-times nothing profits more than self-esteem," etc. A very Miltonic sentiment, exhibited and asserted in Milton's own life.
576. “adorn," adorned, from the Italian adorno. 631, 632. “the Earth's green Cape and verdant Isles Hesperean," i.e. Cape Verd and the Cape Verd Islands, west of Africa.
653. “ Adam to his bower.” The conversation of Adam with Raphael had taken place in the bower ; but Adam is to be supposed as having, at its close, followed Raphael (line 645) to the entrance of the bower.
13-19. “argument not less but more heroic than," etc. Milton here claims superiority for his theme over the themes of the three greatest Epics of the world till then :—the Iliad, which sings of the “wrath of Achilles,” and one of the incidents of which is the pursuit of Hector by Achilles round the walls of Troy; the Æneid, in which is related the anger of Turnus on account of the promise of Lavinia to Æneas, and much of the plot of which turns on the hostility of Juno to Æneas, as the son of Venus (Cytherea); the Odyssey, the hero of which, Ulysses, is persecuted by Nep. tune.
21. “my celestial Patroness," i.e. Urania. See vii. 1, 2, and note.
26. “ long choosing, and beginning late.” The subject of Paradise Lost had first occurred to him about 1640; but “ long choosing” among other subjects had followed ; and not till 1658, when he was fifty years of age, had he seriously begun. See Memoir, p. xvi. and p. xliv., and Introd. pp. 16-21.
29, 30. “chief mastery to dissect . . . fabled knights." An allusion to the minute descriptions of wounds in Homer and other epic poets.
35. “ Impresses ” (Italian impresa), devices or emblems used on shields or otherwise.
36. “ Bases," kilts or lower garments.
38. “ sewers,” those who ushered in the meals and arranged them on the table ; “ seneshals,” house-stewards.
39. “ The skill of artifice (i.e, mere artizanship) or office mean,” etc. And yet writers of heroic poems of the kind described had been Spenser, Ariosto, and the like.
52. “ Night's hemisphere.” One half of the Earth being in shadow constitutes night.
60-61. “Since Uriel,” etc. Book iv. 555-575.
64-66. “thrice the equinoctial line he circled,” etc. Of the seven days during which Satan had gone round and round the Earth, always keeping on its dark side, three had been spent in moving from east to west along the equator, and four in moving from pole to pole, or from north to south and back; and in this second way he would “traverse” (go along) the two great circles from the poles called specially “ the colures,” viz. the Equinoctial colure and the Solstitial colure.
69-73. “ There was a place . . . where Tigris," etc. See iv. 223-246, and note there.
76–82. “ Sea he had searched and land,” etc. The Fiend, on leaving Eden (IV. 1015), had gone northward over the Pontus Euxinus or Black Sea, and the Palus Mæotis or Sea of Azof, and still northward as far as the Siberian river Ob, which flows into the Arctic Sea ; whence, continuing round the pole and descending on the other side of the globe, he had gone southwards as far as the Antarctic pole. So much for his travels north and south. In “length," i.e. in longitude, his journeys had extended from the Syrian