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560. The turn of these words, rendered more beautiful by the addition of an epithet to each, very well expresses the mazes of these disquisitions. He refers to the studies of the schoolmen and metaphysicians, and the subjects of disputation among the heathen philosophers. -(N., Gil.) 568, 569. Hor. i. Od. iii. 9:
“ Illi robur, et æs triplex,
Circa pectus erat." 575. This elegant description gives a correct Greek definition of the meaning of those five rivers mentioned by the Greek and Latin writers as flowing through hell. Styx or Stygs, from stugeo, to abhor; Acheron, from acheo, to sorrow; Cocytus, from cocuo, to lament; Phlegethon, from phlego, to inflame; Lethe, oblivion. Dante, Inferno xiv. 136, describes Lethe as rolling at a distance from the other infernal rivers.
588, 589. “Dire hail." Hor. i. Od. ii.
of the Furies." The harpies are described in that passage—“Turba sonans prædam pedibus circumvolat uncis."
600. Newton thinks Milton derived this idea of punishment by periodical transition from heat to cold from the Latin vulgar translation of Job xxiv. 19, which he often used: “Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis nivium.” So Jerome and others understand it. But the same mode of punishment is mentioned by Shakspeare, Meas. for Meas. iii. l:
“And the delighted spirit To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed iee." So also Dante, Inferno iii. 86. The notion was current in Milton's time.-(T.)
610. This is a fine allegory to show that there is no forgetfulness in hell ; memory being a part of the punisbment of the damned. “ Fate withstands:" “ fata obstant." (Æn. ir. 140.) Medusa was one of the Gorgons, whose locks, entwined with snakes, were terrible to look on, that they turned the beholder into stone. Ulysses (Odys. xi. 633) was desirous, when he visited the infernal regions, of seeing more of the departed heroes; but I was afraid,
“Jam satis terris nivis atque dire
Grandinis misit pater. See Note, v. 285.
592, 593. Serbonis was a lake of two hundred furlongs long, and one thousand in compass, between the ancient mount Cassius, and Damiata, a city of Egypt, on one of the more eastern mouths of the Nile. It was surrounded on all sides by hills of loose sand, which, carried into the waters by high winds, so thickened the lake as not to be distinguished from part of the continent. Here whole armies have been swallowed up. See Herod. iii.; Lncan, Pharsal. viii. 539.-(H.) In the scansion the final a in Damiata is to be suppressed. See Diod. Sicul. b. i. c. 11.
595. “ Burns frore.” Frore, an old word for frosty. The parching air burns with frost. So Virg. Georg. i. 93: “Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurat:" and Ecclus. xlii. 20, 21 : “ The cold north wind burneth the wilderness and consumeth the grass as fire.”—(N.) Here I may observe, that penetrabile, in this passage of Virgil, is to be taken actively for penetrans. There are instances in the ancient classics of this transposed meaning of participles from passive to active, and from active to passive: there is a remarkable one in that phrase of Horace, Od. iii. 3, b. I. “ oceano dissociabili.” Milton occasionally takes this liberty.
596. “Harpy-footed Furies.” There is no impropriety in applying harpyfooted” to “ Furies." Celælio, the harpy, (Æn. iii. 252) calls herself" the greatest
says he, Proserpine might send her Gorgon
Μη μοι Γοργειην κεφαλήν δεινοιο πελωρου
614. “ Tantalus a labris sitiens fugientia flumina captat.” Hor. b. I. sat. i.
621. The commentators say, that the time and labour in pronouncing this rough verse, which consists of monosyl. labic terms, each conveying a distinct idea, are expressive of the tediousness and difficulty of the journey. Burke, (On the Sublime and Beautiful) says that the high idea caused by the word “death," annexed to the others, which is raised higher by what follows, “ A universe of death,” raises a great degree of the sublime.
628. Addison seems to disapprove of the introduction of these fictitious beings in hell. But, as Newton has well observed, Milton had such high authority as Virgil, Æn. vi. 273—281; Seneca, Hercul. Fur. 686; Statius Thebais vü. 47; Claudian in Rufin. i. 30; and Spenser, Fairy Queen, ii. 7, 21.
631. It appears, from i. 225, that he already had wings on, and that they were always on: when had he put them off? “Puts on” is here used, as induo in Latin sometimes is, to signify to prepare, to get ready for use. This, I think, is the
simplest mode of solution.
time. The ancients believed that the b. v. 285.
moon was greatly affected by magical 634. So Æn. y. 217 :
practices; and the Latin poets called * Radit iter liquidum, celeres neque commovet
the eclipses of the moon, labores luna.alas."
(Rich.) See Note, v. 285.
663. Thus the witches in Macbeth are 635. This simile has justly been con represented as riding through the air. sidered eminently grand and picturesque.
667. Fairy Queen, VII. vii. 46 :Satan, “ towering high" with expanded " But after all came Life, and lastly Death ; wings, is compared, not to a single ship, Death with most grim and grisly visage seenhowever large, under spread sails; but, as
Yet is he nought but parting of the breath,
Ne aught to see, but like a shade to ween, giving a nobler image, to a whole fleet of Unbodied, unsould, unheard, unseen." the largest ships at that time known, the
(Th.) Indiamen, or vessels trading with India,
Euripides, in his tragedy of Alcestis, seen just as a fleet, when sailing closely,
personifies Oavatos, or Death ; a passage notoriously appears in the distance, that Warton thinks Milton had in his " hanging in the clouds.” The length
eye. Andreini, too, in his Adamo, makes of the Indiamen's voyage will convey the
Death a person; and perhaps, says Todd, idea of Satan's distant expedition; and
he had him in view ; but whether Death the foreign names give a more dignified here was
an imitation or an original cast to the similitude.—“ Bengala,” in creation of the fancy, it is acknowledged Milton's time a powerful kingdom, is on all hands that his description has now one of the provinces of British India,
many masterly touches of horrible magBengal. — “ Ternate, and Tidore,” two
nificence, which are unequalled. of the Molucca Islands.-—" Equinoctial 670. Like the ghost in Homer (Od. winds," the trade winds that blow about
xi. 605):the equinox.—"Æthiopian,” the part of
€ρεμνη νυκτι εοικως the Indian ocean bordering on Æthiopia. Γυμνον τοξον έχων, και επι νευρηφιν οιστον, —“The Cape," the Cape of Good Hope. Δεινον παπταινων, αίει βαλεοντι εοικως.(Ν.) -" The pole,” the north pole, north
675. Fairy Queen, I. vii. 8:ward.—“ Stemming nightly,” i. e. work
" His monstrous enemy ing on against the current at night, ex
With sturdy steps came stalking in his sight, presses Satan's laborious flight in the
An hideous giant, horrible, and hie, dark against all opposition.-(N.)
That with his tallness seem'd to threat the
The ground eke groaned under him for dread."
See Ariosto, Orl. Fur. vii. 5, 6, D.-
(Bowles.) The Italian and old English poets have 678. The subtlety and hypercriticism dealt in allegories of this sort; but Milton that would find absurdity in this passage, has not only concentrated, but improved as if it could appear from it that God and what was excellent in all of them, in this his Son were created beings, would render famous allegory, of which the learned some of the finest passages in ancient Atterbury, in a letter to Pope, says, “I and modern poetry less acceptable to our challenge you to show me anything taste and judgment. Richardson thinks equal to the allegory of Sin and Death,
except here is used with the same liberty either as to the greatness and justice of the as but, 333, 336. So in his prose works, invention, or the height and beauty of (1698, vol. i. p. 277,) “ No place in heathe colouring." See Spenser's descrip ven or earth, except hell, where charity tion of Error in the mixed shape of a may not enter.” Todd says, except here woman and serpent, F. Q. I. i. 14, and is a verb in the imperative mood; "inof Echidna, VI. vi. 10; Dante, Inferno
clude not God and his Son; them he did 17. - (N., T., Wart.) James i. 15:
fear; but created thing he valued not." “When Lust hath conceived, it bringeth So Shakspeare (Rich. III. act v. sc. 8): forth Sin, and Sin when it is finished, bringeth forth Death."-—(R.)
“ Richard except, those whom we fight against
Had rather have us win than him they follow.” 660. See Ovid, Met. xiv. beginning; Virgil, Æn. iii. 424.
Peck, on the recommendation of " a 662. A superstitious belief in this cir learned friend,” proposes the following cumstance was not exploded in Milton's punctuation and correction :
"The undaunted Fiend what this might be
admired; Admired; nought feared, God and his Son
except ; Created thing not valued he, nor shunned."
681. Il. xxi. 150:Τις, ποθεν εις ανδρων, ο μεν ετλης αντιος ελθειν;
689. Much in the manner of the spirited speech in Spenser (Fairy Queen, VI. vi. 25):--"Art thou he, traytor," &c.—(T.)
693. “ Conjured.” In the sense of the Latin conjuratus, sworn together in conspiracy.
697. “ Hell-doomed” is a retort for “hell--born," line 687.
699, 700. The emphasis is to be laid on thy, which is here a long syllable. The first foot in the next line is also a spondee.
700.“ False," because he called himself a spirit of heaven, line 687.
708. The ancient poets frequently compare a hero in shining armour to a comet. So Æn. x. 272:“Non secus ac liquida si quando nocte comætæ Sanguinei lugubre rubent, aut Sirius ardor. Ile sitim morbosque ferens mortalibus ægris
Nascitur, et lævo contristat lumine cælum." But this comet is so large as to fire the length of the constellation Ophiuchus,(i.e.
Serpent-holder,” the Greek name of Serpentarius,) a length of about forty degrees in the northern hemisphere. Extraordinary events, generally of a disastrous kind, were supposed to follow on the appearance of comets, eclipses, and the like. See i. 598. So Tasso compares Argantes to a comet, and mentions the like fatal effects (VII. 52.)
See also Fairy Queen, III. i. 16.-(N., T.) The comparison here, in my opinion, has nothing to do with shining armour, but refers to the indignant flashing of his countenance.
716. The simile is very properly drawn from the Caspian Sea, as being very tempestuous, and in a dreary, solitary, and savage region. See Hor. ii. Od. ix. 2. -(Bowles.)
721. i.e. on the appearance of Christ.
722—724. It is the same turn of phrase in Iliad vii. 273:
Και νυ κε δη ξιφεεσσ' αυτοσχεδον ουταζοντο
729. “Bend that dart." Bend, sometimes, as here, is applied to a weapon in the sense of getting it ready, and direct. ing it to the object; by a metaphor borrowed from bending a bow.—(Johnson.)
730. “And know'st for whom." in at the same time that thou knowest for whom. This is the reading of Milton's own Edition.-(N.) Tickell reads the words with a note of interrogation.
743. The first foot is a spopdee.
758. Sin is rightly made to spring out of the head of Satan, as Minerva or Wisdom did out of Jupiter's.
768. “Fields" is elsewhere used by Milton for battles.
771. Milton always accents the third syllable of empyrean, and the second of empyreal.—(N.) The word means, the seat of fire, from ev and trup.
772. The emphatic repetition of dama is here a great poetic beauty, Stil.)
786. Æn. xii. 919: “Telum fatale coruscat."
789. Æn. ii. 53, “Insonuere cavæ gemitumque dedere caverna."
( H.) There is a beautiful repetition similar to this of death, in Virgil (Georg. iv. 525), where the floating head of Orpheus called out “ Eurydice,” which the banks of the river echoed all along :“ Tum quoque marmoreum capat a cervice re
vulsum Gurgite quum medio portans @agrius Hebrus Volveret, Eurydicen vox ipsa et frigida lingua, Ah miseram Eurydicen! anima fugiente,
vocabat; Eurydicen toto referebant flumine ripæ.*
(N.) 809. Milton with great propriety makes the fallen Angels, and Sin here, attribute events to fate, without any mention of the Almighty.-(N.) This was intended as some palliation for themselves, as if a power superior to God had ruled them.
813. “Dint," or dent, means stroke.
817. See a similar structure of sentence in the beginning of Satan's opening speech (12), and in Beelzebub's (311). Satan having now learned “his lore," or lesson, changes with great art his address into blandishment.
837. “ Be this." i.e. if this, or whether this be; sit, in Latin, is thus used sometimes without the conjunction.
841, 842. Somewhat in the same way Hesiod (Opp. et Dies, 102) mentions the journeyings of diseases :
Νουσοι δ' ανθρωποισιν εφ' ήμερη ήδ' επι νυκτε Αυτοματοι φοιτωσι, κακα θνητοίσι φερουσα: Einn.-(Stil.)
842.“ Buxom." Yielding, elastic. Some say, quick and active.
846. Several of the most eminent poets have attempted to describe a hideous
smile. Hom. ΙΙ. : μειδιοων βλοσυροισι προσωπασι. But none s0 successfully as Milton here.-(N.)
864. The emphatic word is thou ; hence the first foot is a trochee.
868. “The gods who live at ease.” A translation of Homer's words, Oeoi peru Sowites.
871. As the opening of hell's gates was an event so important to the future history of the poem, he describes it minutely and with the most masterly force of expression; the laborious motion of the feet, and the harsh discordant sound of the versification, and the sudden breaks, heightened by the frequent use of the letter r, are admirably expressive of the sense; and then when they are once flung open and for ever, the lines flow on with a pomp and swell which it requires a volume of breath to read with adequate effect. So after, when he describes the illimitable ocean, the various pauses which the mind is obliged to make, express so many sections, so to speak, of its boundless proportions, and its many ingredients. How petty, says Newton, very justly, is the following description of hell's gates by Virgil compared with this, Æn. vi. :
-"Horrisono stridentes cardine sacræ Panduntur porta."
874. • Portcullis," qu. porta clausa, was a huge wooden gate resembling a harrow, formerly hung over the gateways of fortified places, ready to be let down suddenly in case of surprise.-(Mas.)
888. Read a comma after “stood."
898. Milton has borrowed the elements of Ovid's description of Chaos (Met. i. 18, &c.) aroiding all his puerilities.
The light, shifting sands of Barca and Cyrene, ancient names of desert tracts in the north of Africa, are thus described by Addison in his tragedy of Cato :“ Seest where yon vast Numidian plains ex
tend? Sudden the impetuous hurricanes descendSweep through the air-in circling eddies
917. The period properly begins at 910, but the poet lingers in his description of Chaos, as Satan lingers to reconnoitre, before he proceeds. “ Stood and looked," the same as standing looked. The first part of the sentence depends on the latter verb, as 5, 368.—(R., P.)
919. “ Frith." Fretum, a strait.
924 Hor. ii. Od. iii.: “Si fractus illabatur orbis."
927. “Vans," from vannus, properly a fan, or large winnowing machine. So v. 269.
929. Hor.iii. Od. ii. : "Spernit humum fugiente penna."
932, 933. Hesiod (Theog. 739) :-
θυελλα θυελλη Apgulen.-(T.) “Pennons," from the Latin penna, pinions.
939, 940. So Lucan (Pharsal. ix. 304) “ Syrtis-in dubio pelagi terræque reliquit.”—(H.)
942. It behoves him now to use every effort, as galleys hard pressed do. “Remis velisque," was a proverb for might and main.-(H.)
943. Gryphons were fabulous crea ·
οξυστομους γαρ Ζηνος ακραγείς κυνας
948. The difficulty, irregularity, and uncertainty of Satan's voyage are incomparably expressed by the number of monosyllables and pauses here. There is a memorable instance of the roughness of a road admirably described by a single verse in Homer (Il. xxiii. 116) where there are a number of breaks as here :Πολλα δ' αναντα, καταντα, παραντα τε, δοχμια
τ', ηλθον. So Spenser (Fairy Queen, I. xi. 28) describes the distress of the Red Cross Knight:
“ Faint, weary, sore, emboyled, grieved, brent, With heat, toil, wounds, arms, smart, and in
ward fire."—(N., Th.) This great beauty is heightened by the irregular combination, and studied disorder in the opposition of the words.
956. “ Nethermost abyss.” Though the throne of Chaos was above hell, and consequently part of the abyss was so, yet a part of the abyss into which Satan fell in his voyage was also far below it ; so that, considered altogether, it was nethermost in respect to hell. Therefore there is no impropriety in applying “ nethermost abyss" to Chaos.-(P.)
962. uehautenlos vut. (Eurip. Ion.) See Spenser's fine description of night, which is very much in the taste of this allegory. Fairy Queen, I. v. 20.-(N.)
965. Demogorgon was a frightful, nameless deity which the ancients thought capable of producing the most terrible effects, and whose name they dreaded to pronounce. He is mentioned as of terrible power in incantations. See Lucan, Pharsal. vi. 744; Stat. Theb. iv. 514. Spenser, Fairy Queen, I. v. 22; Tasso, Gier. Lib. xiii. 10. Virgil (Æn. vi. 273) places similar imaginary beings within hell.-(N.)
972. “ Secrets." Like secreta sometimes, secret places. So Virg. (Geor. iv. 403):"In secreta senis ducam quo fessus ab undis
Se recipit." Æn. vi. 101:
-"Horrendæque procul secreta Sibyllæ, Antrum immane petit." So Spenser (Fairy Queen, VI. xii. 24):“ And searched all their cells and secrets near."
1001. “ Your intestine broils." All the early editions read “our:" but it is so evident from the following verses that the encroachments here mentioned were the creation of Hell, and of the new world, and the “broils,” those between God and the rebel angels, that the best modern editions read “your." “Weakening" here agrees with “ broils,” and therefore they should not be separated by a comma, as in the early editions.-(P.)
1005. There is mention made in Homer (Il. viii. 20) of Jupiter's golden chain, by which he could draw up the gods, the earth, the sea, and the universe, and hold them suspended, but they could not draw him down.-(N.)
1017. Argo was the first long ship ever seen in Greece, in which Jason and his companions sailed for Colchis, to
fetch the golden fleece. Bosphorus, the straits of Constantinople, from βους πορος, the ox ford, the sea being there so narrow that cattle are said to have swam across it.— The "justling rocks,"two rocks at the entrance into the Black Sea, called by the Greeks Symplegades, from ovurmdnv, dashing together; which Milton very properly translates, the justling rocks, because they were so near, that at a distance, from the rocking of the sea, they seemed to open and shut, and justle one another, as the ship varied its course this way and that. Hence, at one time they were supposed to float, and were called Sundromades, and by Juvenal (xv. 19) “concurrentia saxa."-(N.) They were sometimes called Cuaneai, or dark blue, from the mist that hung constantly over them. The voyages of Jason through the Symplegades, and of Ulysses through Scylla and Charybdis, were the most famous and hazardous in all antiquity.
1019. “ Larboard." Ulysses sailing on the larboard (to the left hand, where Scylla was) did thereby shun Charybdis, which was on the starboard, or right hand. Virgil, Æn. iii. 425, describes Scylla as a whirlpool, “Naves in saxa trahentem." (See the whole description.). Scylla is a rock in a small bay on the Italian coast, into which the tide runs so strongly as to draw in the ships which are within the compass of its force, and either dash them against the rocks or swallow them in the eddies ; for, when the currents so rush in, they are driven back by the rock at the farther end, and so form an eddy or whirlpool.-(P.) See Athan. Kircher's account.
1022. The repetition of the words are designed to fix the reader's attention to the labour and difficulty; and the closing of the repetition with the word “he" seems to convey a greater idea of it. Even “he," the most adventurous, sagacious, and powerful of the spirits, found it so.
1039. “Her," i. e. nature's works.
1042. See Seneca, Hercul. Fur. 668. -(T.)
1043. “Holds the port;" "occupat portum.” (Hor.)
1046. See Tasso, Gier. Liber. i. 14.(T.)
1049. " Opal," a sort of pale bluish stone, reflecting every colour when turned to the light.
1052.“ Pendent world," here, is not the earth, but the new creation, or heaven and earth, the whole orb of fixed stars,