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poets. (See ix. 13.) So, Paradise Regained, i. 14, he invokes the muse to tell of deeds above heroic.”
16. “ Things unattempted,” &c. The commentators, especially Todd, make a distinction between rhime here, which means poetry in general (from $uouos) and rime in the preface, where it is six times mentioned, and always without an h, and where it is defined “the jingling sound of like endinge." Todd further shows that Spenser, in his “ Verses to Lord Buckhurst," placed before his Faery Queen, and in b. i. c. 6. st. 13, of that poem, also uses rhime for verse.
17. ^ And chiefly thou, O Spirit,” &c. Milton here invokes the Holy Ghost, in conformity with a belief, for which he had scriptural authority, that every great conception, discovery, or good gift, de. scended as an inspiration from heaven. (See James i. 17.) It is said, Exod. xxxv. 31, that Bezaleël, who made the furniture of the tabernacle, was “ filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom," &c. Milton too had a firm persuasion that he himself was inspired. — Heyl. See ix. 22.
21. " Dove-like sat'st brooding," &c. See a sublime amplification, vii. 235. Allusion is made to Gen. i. 2: the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters." The word we translate moved, properly signifies brooded, like a bird on her eggs; and he says like a dove, rather than any other bird, as the descent of the Holy Ghost is compared to a dove, Luke iii. 22. As Milton studied the Scriptures in the original languages, his images and expressions are oftener borrowed from them than from our translations.-(N.)
26. “ And justify," &c. i.e. show that man, by neglecting to obey the divine injunction, could only blame himself, and not God. (See ver. 211.) This justification is given most argumentatively and convincingly, b. iii. 96, &c.
27. “Say first for heaven," &c. He mentions heaven and hell, as the range of the subject embraced both.
32. “ For one restraint,” &c. i.e. on account of one thing, the tree of knowledge, from which they were restrained; being (except this) lords of every thing else in the world.
39. “ To set himself in glory," &c. As it appears from v. 812, that he was already in place above his peers, we must here understand that he had an aim to rise higher, and place himself in
glory (which is the emphatic word of the line) above them; i.e. in divine glory and royal power, such as God and his Son were set in. See v. 725; vi. 88; vii. 140.-(N.)
43. “ Quique arma secuti impia." (Æn. vi. 613.)
“ Bello profugos egere superbo.”—16. viii. 118.
45.“ Hurled headlong," &c. Thus Vulcan is represented as hurled from heaven by Jupiter—'Pixe todos Tetaywv, απο βηλου θεσπεσιοιο.-ΙΙ. i. 591.
46. “ With hideous ruin," &c. Ruin, from ruo, a fall with violence and precipitation : “ Immane preceps impulsæ ruinæ.” (Juv. Sat. v. 20.)
" Cæli ruina.” (Æn. i.) Combustion here expresses more than flaming; it means conflagration general, awful, and destructive.
48. “ In adamantine chains," &c. Αδαμαντινων δεσμων εν αρρηκτοις πεδαις. . (Æsch. Prom. vi.) " Clavis adamantinis." (Hor.) The phrase has been used by many English poets.
50. “ Nine times the space," &c. Nine was a favourite number with the classic authors. (See vi. 871.) The plague in the Iliad lasted nine days. Styx, in the Æneid, took nine circuits. So there were nine Muses, &c. &c.-(B.)
59. “ Ken," i.e. see; their power of vision being greater than that of mortals.
63. “ Darkness visible." Not absolute darkness, which is invisible, but a gloom only, when there is barely light sufficient to show there are objects. Eurip. Bacchæ. 510, ws av OKOTLOV Eloopa Kvepas. Thus, Seneca, speaking of the cave of Pausilippo, (Ep. 57,) " Nil illo carcere longius, nil illis faucibus obscurius, quæ nobis præstant, non ut per tenebras, videamus, sed ipsas.” Antonio de Solis, in his History of Mexico, speaking of the cave where Montezuma consulted his deities, says,
“ It was a large dark subterraneous cavern,
where some dismal tapers afforded just light enough to see the obscurity.”—(N.)
66. “ And rest can never dwell," &c. Eurip. Troad. 676,-Ous', O TUOI MELTEται βροτοίς, συνεστιν ελπις. See Dante, Inferno, iii. 9.—(T.)
74. l.e. from the centre of the earth, which is the centre of the world, to the utmost pole, or the pole of the universe, which is beyond the pole of the earth. It is curious to mark the gradations of distance respecting the depth of hell in Homer, Virgil, and Milton. Homer says, τοσσον ενερθ' αϊδεω, οσον
ουρανος εστ’ απο γαιης. (Il. viii. 16.) Virgil doubles the distance (Æn. vi. 579):
" Tartarus ipse Bis patet in præceps tantum, tenditque sub
umbras, Quantum ad æthereum cæli suspectus
Olympum." Whereas, Milton trebles it. Altogether his conceptions of hell are immeasurably greater than theirs. The Taptapov ηέροεντα, the σιδερέαι τε πυλαι, και χαλKeov ovdos, and the “lugentes campi;' “ horrisono stridentes cardine portæ,” are insignificant, compared with his description.-(N.)
81. “Beëlzebub,” &c. Some say Beëlzebub signifies “the god of flies." He was worshipped at Ecron, a city of the Philistines, (2 Kings i. 2,) and was believed to guard the people from the flies in that hot district. Apollo, in the Iliad, is called Smintheus, or the god of mice, on similar grounds. Beelzebub is called, in Matt. xii. 24, “ the prince of devils ;” hence he is appropriately represented by Milton as the “ nearest mate" of Satan. “ Satan" means
enemy" in Hebrew. 83. “ Breaking the horrid silence," &c. Claudian, Rapt. Proserp. ii. 328.
“ Insoliti rumpunt tenebrosa silentia cantus." Stat. Theb. iv. 426.
Vacuusque silentia servat horror." 84. “Oh! how fallen." Isa. xiv. 12: “ How art thou faller from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morn!” Æn. ii. 274:-"Hei mihi! qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab
90. “Joined with me once," &c. The commentators say that, as "equal ruin" cannot answer to “glorious enterprise,' which, in the construction, follows “ hazard,” (for Milton placed a comma after enterprise,) the reading should be " and (not in) equal ruin." The following passage is quoted as parallel, Ov. Metam. i. 351.
was correct, but that his language was classically absurd. Nothing is more common in Milton, than to change the order of the words in the several clauses of a sentence, even though these clauses may refer to one leading word. The question is, which is the more likely event-that, in his blindness, bad punctuation was introduced ; or, that he wrote objectionable English?
93. “He with his thunder," &c. The commentators think that Satan lere erhibits his hatred and scorn, by disdaiving to use the name of the Almighty, though he must acknowledge his superiority. I rather think the point of the line consists, not in omitting the name of God, but in pointing out the cause of his accidental superiority, his thunder; so 258:— “ Whom thunder hath made greater."
94. “ The force of those dire arms?" &c. The unbending and proud spirit of Prometheus may be recognised in this passage. Æsch. Prom. Vinct. 991.
“Ριπτεσθω μεν αιθαλουσα φλοξ,
109. “ And what is else not to be overcome." I.e. whatever else there is, besides steadfast hate, unyielding and unconquered will, which cannot be overcome. These, he says, are not overcome, and cannot be. These are his glory, and that glory can never be extorted from him. “ Si quid aliud quod vinci nequit." In the first editions this line was printed interrogatively:-(P. N.)
114.“ Doubted his empire,” &c. So Æsch. Prom. Vinct. 1002.
Εισελθετω σε μηποθ', ως εγω Διος
116. “ This empyreal substance," &c. Drawn from the Empyreum, the seat of pure fire. Psalm civ. 4: “ He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire." 124. “
Tyranny.” Tupurvis, generally the act of tyrannizing, here means absolute power. Milton, when speaking in his own person, 42, called it the monarchy of God; but Satan characteristically uses a harsher name.-( Th.j
126. Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair.” Callender, an excellent critic, while quoting the following parallel passages, pronouncez (I think correctly) Milton's verse superior, in the
I see no necessity for disturbing the text. It is much more likely that Milton meant to make “ ruin" to answer to “ enterprise," and both to depend on “joined,” by his using "in" in the latter clause; than that his punctuation
brevity and energy of expression, and justness of thought, arising from the nature of the foregoing speech, and Satan's present misery. Æn. i. 212:** Talia voce refert, curisque ingentibus æger Spem multu simulat, -premit altum corde
dolorem." Theocrit. Idyl. i. 95:
α Κυπρις γελαρισα, Λαθρα μεν γελαοισα, βαρυν δ' ανα θυμον εχουσα. Homer has applied a similar description to Juno:
ή δε γελασσε Χειλεσιν, ουδε μετωπον επ' οφρυσι κυανέησιν laron
131. “ Perpetual king." He does not call him eternal king, for, if he were so, his throne could not be endaugered ; but perpetual king, i. e. one reigning only from time immemorial, without interruption. (See v. 637.) Ovid. Met. i. 4:
-"primaque ab origine mundi Ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carmen."
(N.) Glory extinct,” &c.
Like a bright light. So, metaphorically, Æn. iv. 322:
" Te propter eundem Extinctus pudor, et, quâ solå sidera adibam,
Forma prior."-(T.) “ Extinct” here is, be extinct; so, after, “ swallowed" means, be swallowed up.
144. “ Of force," &c. I.e. by force, or from necessity. So Bią is used in Greek.
152. "Gloomy deep?" Prom. Vinct. 219:-Ταρταρου μελαμβαθης κευθμων.
156. “ Speedy words.” So, ETTEU TTEpoevta, Homer. There is a peculiar propriety in the words here, as the last words of Beelzebub startled Satan.-(N.)
157. “Fallen cherub," &c. In the spirit of what he himself said, 116, he replies to what Beëlzebub said, 146, &c. He says it is an advantage to have our strength entire ; for whether we are to act or suffer, it is a miserable thing to be weak. So ii. 199: “To suffer, as to do, our strength is equal." Doing or suffering,” is here the absolute case.-(P.)
169, 170, 171. The account by Chaos, ii. 996, corresponds with this. But Bentley shows that these are contradicted by Raphael's account, vi. 860, when it is said that Messiah pursued them only to the bounds of heaven, and then returned; and 882, that the saints stood witnesses, Newton well replies, that from the confusion of Satan, after he woke from his trance, when he lay “confounded,” 54, and of Chaos, who was equally “
founded,” vi. 871, they spoke from their own disturbed and frightened imagination. And as, vi. 830, the sound of Messiah's chariot is compared to the sound of "a numerous host,” they may well fancy that a host was engaged in the pursuit. Besides, as the rebellion was raised on account of the preference shown to Messiah, Satan's pride may have induced him to ascribe his defeat rather to the whole host of heaven than to him alone.-(N. P. T.)
171, 172, 173. “Sulphurous hail, o'erblown, hath laid the fiery surge.” The meaning of this passage is plain. The surge had been laid in consequence of the blowing over, or cessation, of the hail. But I think the construction is very unusual in English. When the hail blew over, or ceased, it did not exist, and therefore could not, strictly speaking, be said to have laid the surge. However, there are examples of such a mode of expression in the classics. So Æn. v.:“ Placidi straverunt æquora venti.”
174. “ His” and “ bellow" show a peculiar beauty, as they exhibit the personification of the thunder as a terrible monster.
179. “ Satiate." Satiated. So after, 193, "uplift," for uplifted.
185. “ There rest,” &c. So Shakspeare, Rich. II. act. v. sc. 1.:"Here let us rest, if this rebellious earth Have
any resting."-(Bo.) 190. “ Afflicted” is generally used by Milton in the sense of afflictus, routed, dashed down, broken.-(R.)
191. “ If not." Bentley says "if not makes the construction ungrammatical, and proposes “if none." But it is a common classical mode of phrase, like sin minus, el se un, and is quite admissible here. The sentiment here is similarly expressed in Seneca, Med. 163, “ Qui nihil potest sperare, nihil desperet."
193, 194. Milton seems to have had the following passages in view-the description of the old dragon, Fairy Queen, I. xi. 14. “ His blazing eyes, like two bright shining
shields, Did burn with wrath, and sparkled living
fire." So Virgil, speaking of the serpents, En. ii. 206:** Pectora quorum inter fluctus arrecta, jubæque Sanguineæ exsuperant undas; pars catera
pontum Pone legit." --(T. N.)
195. Prone on the food," &c. The number of monosyllables, and the slow and encumbered motion of the feet in this line, as in lines 202, 209, must strike the reader as beautifully expressive of the subject-a vast, prostrate body. So Spenser, Fairy Queen, I. ii. 8. describes the old dragon, “that with his largeness measureth inuch land.” Virgil, Æn. vi. 596, describes the giant as extending over nine acres, “Per tota novem cui jugera corpus porrigitur.” But the indefinite description which Milton gives is far better, in my opinion, than the precise specification of dimensions in Virgil, as the reader's imagination is not confined to any particular
199, 200, 201. “ Gens antiqua terræ, Titania pubes." Æn. vi. 580. Briareus is here a word of four syllables, though in Greek and Latin it has only three; and one of the first two syllables is long, though in Greek and Latin both are short. Milton follows Pindar (Pyth. 130,) Homer (II. ii. 783,) and Pomponius Mela (de s. 0. i. 14,) in placing nis den in Cilicia, of which Tarsus was the ancient capital. (Hom. Il. i. 403.)
201, 208. “ Leviathan," &c. Though the leviathan, first mentioned in Job xli.l, is considered by some of the best biblical critics to be the crocodile, from the mention of scales in that passage, yet it is evident that Milton here means the whale, as the crocodile is not found on the Norway coast, and is too small and agile an animal to answer the description here. " Scaly rind,” is but a poetic figure to express the rough, wrinkled, hard skin of that animal. " The ocean stream," ωκεανον ποταμον. . (Homer, Odys. xi. 638.)-(N. T.)
“ Haply," quasi, happeningly, accidentally.--"Foam," a boisterous sea throwing up a high surf, or foam.—“Nightfoundered skiff," a boat prevented by the darkness of the night from proceeding : founder is a nautical word applied to a disabled ship. Comus, 483 :
" Invests," i.e. clothes, as if with a mantle. So Fairy Queen, I. xi. 49 :“ By this the drooping daylight 'gan to fade
And yield his room to sad succeeding night, Who with her sable manlle 'gan to shade
The face of earth."-(N.) Though several books of voyages in Milton's time stated the fact of vessels anchoring under shelter of a sleeping whale, yet he avoids the responsibility of its truth by saying tell."
209. “ So stretched out," &c. Megas peyalwoTI EKEITO. (Il. xviii. 26.) The last foot in this line must be read as a spondee.
215, 216. The first foot of these two lines is a trochee.
226, 227. The conception here bears a strong resemblance to Spenser's, in his description of the dragon, Fairy Queen, I. ii. 18:" Then with his waving wings displayëd side,
Himself upright he lifted from the ground,
229. “Liquid fire.” So Virg. Ecl. vi. 33,“ liquidi simul ignis."
231-233. Pearce and other commentators propose to read winds here, as in 235. But it may be a question whether Milton did not here mean to express the element collectively, and in the other passage its various currents, whose contrary action partly caused the disruption. It is generally believed that Sicily was separated from Italy by a convulsion of nature. Pelorus, now Capo di Faro, is a promontory of Sicily at the straits, which are there about two miles broad. Æn. iii. 687,571 :
“ Angusta ab sede Pelori ... Terrificis juxta tonat Ælna ruinis." 235. “Sublimed.” An expression in chemistry, by which is meant the separation of the finer parts (from the grosser), which thus mount and acquire additional force. It is opposed to precipitated.
237, 238. This phrase, “such resting found the sole of unblest feet," I think must induce the supposition that Milton had in view the dove sent out of the ark, Gen. viii. 9, which " found no resting for the sole of her feet, and returned unto him."
246. Sovran, i. e, sovereign, from the Italian sovrano, which is evidently derived from supernus, is another reading.
_"some one like us night-foundered here."
Bentley proposes "nigh foundered,” as the word is used ii. 940. But the words, “while night invests the sea," after, appear to me to decide for the present reading.
“ Under the lee," i. e, under the lee or sheltered side of him.
247. Πορφω Διος και κεραυνου. .
Greek proverb. Bentley.
248. “Whom reason hath,"&c. Addison has remarked, that though the poet puts very impious sentiments in the mouth of Satan here, yet they are made so extravagant as not to shock the reader. Besides, Satan, notwithstanding all his defiance, is obliged to acknowledge the omnipotence of God.
254. " The mind is its own place.” This was a maxim of the Stoics (the most obstinate and uncompromising sect of all the old philosophers,) who often carried it to a preposterous extent.
It is here quite characteristic of the doggedness and vanity of Satan. Horace, in ridicule of the maxim, represents a Stoical cobbler as maintaining that he was a king. B. i. Sat. 3. The following passage has been often quoted as analogous to this :“Cælum non animum mutant qui trans mare
.... petimus bene vivere. Quod petis, hic est, Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit æquus.
Hor. Ep. i. 2. 252. Ajax, in Sophocles, before he kills himself, exclaims in a similar strain, (but this line is a great improvement on that passage)
Ιω σκοτος, εμον φαος, ερεμβος
Eleottene.-(N.) 260. “ For his envy." I. e. any thing for the possession of which he could envy
286. So Fairy Queen, V. v. 3:“ And on her shoulder hung her shield, bedeckt
Upon the bosse with stones that shinëd wide
As the fair moone, in her most full aspect.” So Iliad, xix. 373:Αυταρ έπειτα σακος, μεγα τε στιβαρον τε, Ειλετο, τουδ' απανευθε σελας γενετ' ηύτε μηνης. Milton uses the comparison here to sig. nify not its splendour only, but chiefly its size; large as the moon seen through a telescope,--an instrument first invented by Galileo, a native of Tuscany, whom he again, v. 262, makes honourable mention of, as a tribute to his genius, and his own intimacy with him during his travels in Italy. See also Callimachus, Hymn to Diana, 53; and Tasso, Gier. vi. 40.
“ Fesolé," the ancient Fesulæ, near Florence. “Valdarno," or the Vale of the Arno, where Galileo resided; both in Tuscany.
292, 293. Homer compares the club of Polyphemus to the mast of a ship :-οσσον θ' στον νηος. . (Odyss. ix. 322.) Virgil, Æn. iii. 659, compares it to the trunk of a pine tree“Trunca manum pinus regit, et vestigia firmat.' Ovid, Metamorph. xiii. 782, more fully conveys Milton's sentiment:“ Cui postquam pinus, baculi quæ præbuit
usum, Ante pedes posita est, antennis apta ferendis." Milton, as the reader will easily see, not only embodies, but surpasses the descriptions of all three.
“ Amiral” means any large or capital ship, such as an admiral's ship. Masts of the largest size were furnished, in Milton's time, from the pine-woods of Norway.
298. “ Nathless,” i. e. not the less, nevertheless; a word often used by the old English poets.
299. I.e. besides the fire on the burning ground, the fire above him smote him sorely also.
302. Homer, Virgil, and the ancient poets often use the comparison of leaves to multitudes. Georg." Quam multa in silvis autumni frigore primo
Lapsa cadunt folia.” (See Tasso, Gier. ix. 66; Dante, Inferno, iii. 112; Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, xvi. 75.) But the comparison of Milton possesses a peculiar beauty and appropriateness; for it not only expresses the number of angels, but their position also, covering the “ enflamed sea," as the leaves cover the “ brooks." Besides,
263. It was a remarkable saying of Julius Cæsar, that he would rather be the first man in a country town than the second in Rome. · The passage is a great improvement on the reply of Prometheus to Mercury, Æschyl. Prom. Vinct. 965. -(T.)
266. " Astonished." The same as "astounded," a few lines after, and vi. 838, and “astonied," ix. 896 :-attoniti, as if deprived of sense and motion by a thunderbolt.
274, 275. “ Perilous edge of battle." The following passage from Shakspeare, 2 Henry IV. act i. has been quoted as similar to this :
“ You know he walked o'er perils on an edge,
More likely to fall in than to get o'er."
But edge here, and vi. 108, is used like acies in Latin, which not only means the edge of any thing, but, figuratively, an army drawn up in line of battle.