« PreviousContinue »
more oi what you and your legions could dare do against me.
944. So Prometheus daringly addresses the chorus, Æsch. Prom. Vinct. 945:
Σε βου, προσευχον, θωπτε τον κρατουντ' αει, Εμον δ' ελασσον Ζηνος η μηδεν μελει.-(Τ.) 945. i. e. With practised distances.
950. “ Faithful." As Satan so called himself, 933.
962. “ I areed," I decree. A Saxon word.
965, 966. This seems to allude to the chaining of Satan, Rev. xx. 3: “ And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him." -(H.) I think the menaces of Jupiter, Il. viii. 12, may also be quoted.
"H ελων ριψω ες Ταρτιρον ηεροεντα. . 971. “Limitary." Either in allusion to what Gabriel said, (964,) “who presumest to set limits to me,
Eryx, or Apennine, and where the figure of Chimæra vomits flames on the crest of the helmet. But Milton surpasses all. -(N.)
991. Thus Homer says, the terrors that must have ensued on a conflict between Jupiter and Neptune would have reached the depth of hell, (Il. xv. 24.)
996. Thus, before the combat between Hector and Achilles in the 22d book of the Iliad, and before the combat of Æneas and Turnus, Æn. xii. Jupiter weighs the event in a balance. Thus, (Dan. v. 26,) the king of Babylon is weighed in a balance. But Milton's description has a peculiar beauty by his allusion to the sign Libra. This idea of weighing the creation first, and all things since, is very sublime, and conformable to the style of Scripture. See Job xxviii. 25 : xxxvii. 16; Isai. xl. 12; 1 Sam. ii. 3; Prov. xvi. 2; Dan. v. 26, 27.-(N., Ad.)
1003. All this refers to Satan exclusively.--"Parting," i.e. going off.—-(N.)
1014. He does not make the ascending scale the sign of victory as in Ilomer and Virgil, but of lightness as in Dan. v. 27, “ Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting.”
as lume thinks; or, according to Richardson, in allusion to his mean office. Milites limitanei were soldiers appointed during the Roman empire to guard the frontiers; limitour in Chaucer is a friar restrained to the exercise of his office within certain limits.
974. Psalm xvii. 10 : “ He rode upon a cherub and did fly.” It also alludes to the vision of Ezekiel, (I. 10, 11,) where four cherubim are appointed to the four wheels.-(T., N.)
980. “Ported spears," i. e. pointed towards him. Homer has a simile like this, Il. ii. 147 :
Ως δ' ότε κινησει Ζεφυρος βαθυ ληίον ελθων Λαβρος, επαιγιζων, επι τ' ημυει ασταχυεσσιν" “Ως των πασ’ αγορη κινηθη.-(H., Ν.)
986. Thyer says Milton is indebted for this word “dilated" to Tasso's description of Argantes addressing himself to combat with Tancred, Gier. Liber. xix. 12
“ Ma disleso e eretto il fero Argante;" and expresses by it the distension of his whole person
rage, as in ii. 705. But Dunster imagines that as Satan here was really alarmed, he only here dilates himself to take the finest position, and best oppose the foes that encircle him.-"Un. removed," not to be removed; as “unreproved,” (492,) not to be reproved.
988. Hom. Il. iv. 443, describing discord :
Ουρανω εστηριξε καρη, και επι χθονι βαινει. So, Æn. iv. 177, the same description is applied to Fame. So Book of Wisdom, xviii. 16. Compare the similes in Virgil, Æn. xii. 701, and vii. 785, where the hero is compared to Mount Athos, or
Eustathius observes, that in Homer the descent of the scale to the earth is made a sign of disaster and death, the earth being the place of misfortune and mortality. But in Milton, as Satan was immortal, the sinking of it could not signify death, but the mounting of it did his lightness, conformably to the passage in Daniel. The passages from Homer and Virgil already mentioned are these ; ll. xxii. 209:Και τοτε δη χρυσεια πατηρ ετιταινε ταλαντα, , Εν δ' ετιθει δυο κηρε τανηλεγεος θανατοιο, Την μεν Αχιλληος, την δ' Εκτορος ιπποδαμοιο “Ελκε δε μεσσα λαβων" ρεπε δ' Εκτορος αισιμον Ωιχετο δ' εις αιδαο' λιπεν δε έ Φοιβος Απολλων. Æn. xii. 725:Jupiter ipse duas æquato examine lances Sustinet, et fata imponit diversa duorum; Quem damnet labor, et quo vergat pondere
lethum." Here it is to be observed, that Milton differs from Homer and Virgil : in the latter the fates of the two combatants are weighed, in order to satisfy Jupiter himself and not the parties; and the descent of one of the scales foreshowed the death of the party whose fate lay in it: but in Milton only Satan is weighed, the consequence (or sequel) of his parting or retreating being placed in one scale, and the consequence of his fighting being placed
in the other; and he is weighed, not to satisfy the Almighty, but the contending parties, so that Satan may read his own doom. The scale in which lay the weight that was the sequel of his fighting, by ascending showed him that he was light
“ Her steps
1, 2. As Homer calls the morning
rosy-fingered," pododaktilos, Milton here gives her “rosy steps," and (vi. 3,) a "rosy hand." The morn is first “gray" (so "gray dawn,” vii. 373,) then “rosy" upon the nearer approach of the sun. Thyer says this metaphorical expression, "sowed the earth with orient pearl," from the resemblance of dew-drops to scattered pearl seeds, is better than the phrase in Lucretius, b. ii. 211, “lumine conserit arva," sows the fields with light. Spenser, Fairy Queen, IV. v. 45, uses the expression "pearly dew.”—(N.) advancing." So Lat. pedem, gradum, pro
"Customed,” for accustomed. So Lat. suetus for assuetus.
5–8. “ Which” refers to "sleep." Dispersing sleep is in imitation of Sophocles, Trachin. 1006 :
Και μη σκεδασαι Τω δ' απο κρατος βλεφαρων θ' ύπνον. “ The only sound," i.e. the sound alone. So Fairy Queen, V. xi. 30:
“As if the only sound thereof she feared." So also vii. 123,“ only omniscient," for omniscient alone. --" Fuming." Fumes or steams rise from the water in the morning. So “steaming lake," 186.“ Aurora's fan,” i. e. the fanning morning breeze among the leaves. It is not unusual (at least in Greek and Latin) to refer a thing following two substantives to the first only of the two.-“Shrill matin song of birds," is a translation of a line in Sophocles, Electra xviii. : ewa κινει φθεγματ’ ορνιθων σαφη. Thus Evander is waked in Virgil, Æn. viii. 456 :" Evandrum ex humili tecto lux suscitat alma,
Et matutini volucrum sub culmine cantus." And Arminia likewise in Tasso is waked by the sweet noise of birds, winds, and waters; c. vii. st. 5.-(N., Th.,T.) “Song" is the nominative case to the preceding
in arms, and could not be victorious ; whereas the other scale, in which was the sequel or consequence of his retreating or parting, by descending showed him that to retreat was his wisest course. ( Pope, P., N.)
verb. It is not unusual in the ancient classic authors to place the verb between its various subjects. I think “ matin" here means more than morning. Matins were morning hymns; and thus the birds, as it were, now sing their morning prayer. This very thing he expresses, 196, &c.
13. Compare Lucretius, b. i. 36:" Atque ita suspiciens tereti cervice reposta
Pascit amore a vidos, inhians in te, dea, visus; Eque tuo pendet resupini spiritus ore.-(Stil)
16. For this delightful simile Milton was probably indebted to his admired Ben Jonson in his mask of “ Love reconciled to Pleasure," 3d song :
The fair will think you do 'em wrongGo choose among; but with a mind As gentle, as the stroaking wind! Runs o'er the genller flotoers."—(Tk.) 18. I cannot but notice that in the conferences between Adam and Eve, Milton had his eye very frequently on Solomon's book of Canticles, in which there is a noble spirit of eastern poetry, and very often not unlike what we meet with in Homer, who is generally placed near the age of Solomon. I think there is no question but, in the first speech, he remembered those two passages, Cant. ii. 10, &c. and vii. 11, 12, which are spoken on a like occasion, and filled with the same pleasing images of nature. « Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds is come, &c.; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes yield a good smell, &c. Let us go up early to the vineyards ; let us see whether the tender grapes appear, and the pomegranate bud forth, &c."-(Ad.)
21." The prime," the prime or best part of day. So 170, and ix. 200.
Primum in Latin is used without its substantive to mean the best or most important part.
30. The poet, by representing in the foregoing book Satan lying close by the ear of Eve as she slept, in order to inspire her with thoughts of vanity, pride, and ambition, prepares with wonderful art the reader for the several occurrences that follow, and for the nature of the dream. Though the vision itself is founded on truth, the circumstances of it are full of that wildness and inconsistency which are natural to a dream; and described with those breaks that are well adapted to the condition of one just awakened, before the thoughts are well collected.-( Ad., Stil.)
31, 32. “ Have dreamed--if dreamed." Of such repetitions, from a point of doubt, Horace has an eminent instance, iv. Od. iii. 24:" Quod spiro et placeo, si placeo, tuum est."
(D.) 38. So the deceitful dream begins his message to Agamemnon, II. ii. 23:
Evõers Atpeos vie, &c.—(Cal.) 41. Spenser, in his Epithalamion, a poem which Milton seems often to have in view, has “the bird's love learned song.' So 44, he again imitates Spenser, Fairy Queen, III. xi. 45:“ With how many eyes high heaven beholds." Milton sometimes takes great liberties in the use of his genders. In these passages heaven and the nightingale are masculine, as the speech is addressed to Eve; but in vi. 879; vii. 205, 574, heaven is feminine; and the nightingale, though it is the cock that really sings, he usually makes of the feminine gender, as iii. 40; iv. 602 ; vii. 436.-(N.) When he makes heaven feminine, (vi. 879,) he there makes hell feminine, and both very properly, as places teeming with living beings; and when he makes the singing nightingale female, he only follows mythology.
45. “Nature's desire.” “Desire” here is used as desiderium in Latin sometimes is, to signify the object of one's love. So Cic. xiv. Fam. Ep. 2, in fin. : “Valete, desideria mea, valete.” So Catul. ii. 5:
" Cum desiderio meo nitenti
Carum nescio quid jocari." 48. The following passages have been quoted as somewhat analogous to this :Ennius apud Ciceronem de Divinit. i. 20:
Virg. Æn. iv. 466 :
Agit ipse furentem
(N., D.) 56. So the ambrosial hair of Æneas exhaled a heavenly fragrance. Æn. i. 403:
Ambrosiæque comæ divinum vertice odorem
61. Johnson quotes this line as an instance of reserve signifying prohibition.
63. “Why else set here?”' i. e. than as a good offered.
74. See the flattering address of the Syrens to Ulysses, Odyss. xii. 184: devp' ay' iwv, &c. But here, as elsewhere, Milton improves every hint.—(Stil.)
93. “ Night.” The word is used for dreams and visions of the night. Sil. Ital. iii. 216:“ Promissa evolvit somni, noclemque retractat."
(H.) 100. It has been often remarked that Milton had precedents for this account of dreams (which has been pronounced as philosophical as it is beautiful) in Sir T. Davies' account of phantasie in his “Nosce teipsum,” and in Burton's account of phantasie in his famous work, “ The Anatomy of Melancholy.”—(D.) The original passages I think too voluminous to quote here. Milton has, in his own masterly way, concentrated all their
117. “God” here must mean angel, as in 60 and 70; for “God cannot be tempted with evil," as St. James says, i. 13.-(N.)
122. “Deme supercilio nubem.” Hor.i. Ep. xviii. 94. See Gier. Liber. vii. 25. -(D.)
124. Shakspeare, Rom. and Jul. ii. 3:“ The grey-eyed moru smiles on the frowning
night." (See iii. 424.) i.e. Than fair morning is wont to be when first she smiles, &c.(T.) 127.-“ Bosomed."
Johnson quotes this passage as an illustration of " to bosom," signifying, “to conceal in privacy;" it means here, wrapped up.
129. A manner of speaking that occurs in Jeremiah xx. 7 : “Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived."-(N.)
132. Fairy Queen, III. vii. 9 :-
Few trickling tears she softly forth let fall,
Upon her snowy cheeke."-(1.) Milton, besides condensing this description, beautifully gives the addition of her wiping the first tears with her hair, and his kissing off the next ones.
137. Pearce, who is followed by the best modern critics, proposes here (I think judiciously) to expunge the comma after “roof;" the construction being, that as soon as they were come forth from under the roof of the arbour, they bowed adoring in the open air. He says, by retaining the comma, it would seem as if they prayed from under the roof, and in open sight of the sun at the same time.
140, 141. Spenser, Fairy Queen, V. ix. 35, uses the words “ western brim," and, I. v. 2, "dewy hair,” in reference to the sun.-( Cal., T.)
145. Milton, who was no friend to set forms of prayer, ascribes extemporaneous effusions to our first parents.
See iv. 736.—(N., Th.) He makes them pray too in the open air after they quitted the bower.
153. Milton fully realises in this hymn the high expectations raised by his previous description—" various style-holy rapture-prompt eloquence.” He calls not only on the angels, (who, as they approached nearest to the unspeakable or indescribable Creator, could best know him and speak of him,) but on the most conspicuous parts of creation, to extol him. This is quite suited to Adam and Eve, to whom the objects of creation were new, and who could have no knowledge of the various dispensations of Providence which may afford various topics of praise to their posterity. The whole is a most poetical paraphrase of the 148th Psalm. -(Add., N.)
155. See Book of Wisdom, xiii. 3-5. -(N.)
162. See 645.—“Day without night," means, day without such dark night as we on earth have. See Rev. xxi. 25; Isai. Ix. 20.-(N., D.) 165. Theocrit. Idyl. xvii. 3:
-- ενι πρωτοισι λεγεσθω
Και πυματος και μεσσος. . But Milton surpasses this by adding * without end," as he is celebrating the nfinite God.-(N.)
So Ov. Met. ii. 114:" — diffugerunt stellæ, quarum agmina cogit
Lucifer, et cæli statione novissimus exit." Here Milton, by a poetic license, appears to confound Venus with Hesperus.-(N.)
168. Thus Homer describes the morning star, Il. xxiii. 226:
Εωσφορος εισι φοως ερεων επι γαιαν, “ον τε μετα κροκοπεπλος υπειρ αλα κιόναται ηως.
171–173. Ovid, Met. iv. 228, calls the sun the eye of the world, “mundi oculus;" and Pliny, Nat. Hist. i. 6, the soul of the world,“ hunc mundi totius esse animum;" and Virgil, Æn. ii. 226, calls the sun and heavenly bodies, eternal fires, vos æterni ignes."-(N.)
175-178. The construction is “Moon, that now fliest from, now meetest the sun (i. e. according as she approaches or recedes from him in his monthly course), together with the fixed stars, and ye five other fires, resound his praise." There should be a comma after “fly'st." Though these stars are fixed in their orb, yet this orb moves with the utmost rapidity. He speaks according to appearance, (see viii. 19, 21.) Bentley thinks that, as after Venus, the Sun, and the Moon, only four planets, i. e. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn remained,we should read here four, not five. But to defend the text we must suppose, either that he does not consider the morning star as the planet Venus, or that he includes the Earth to make up the five, as, viii. 129, he makes the earth a planet.—" Song ;" in allusion to the Pythagorean doctrine of the music of the spheres, by which no doubt he understood the proportion, regularity, and harmony of their inotions. Shakspeare speaks of it more fully in his Merchant of Venice, act v.: " There's not the smallest orb that thou be
(N.) Newton further says, “wandering fires” is used in opposition to "fixed stars.” But Dunster, I think more correctly, supposes the phrase to be in allusion to their Greek name, #lavntai, wanderers.
166. Il. xxii. 318:* Εσπερος ος καλλιστος εν ουρανφίσταται αστηρ.
181. “In quaternion run," i.e. that in a fourfold mixture and combination run a perpetual circle, one element continually changing into another in succession, and by this ceaseless fluctuation and transinutation continuing the nature
" Ulmus erat contra, spatiosa tumentibus uvis, Quam socia postquam pariter cum vite pro
bavit; At si staret, ait, cælebs sine palmite truncus, Nil præter frondes, quare peteretur, haberet; Hæc quoque quæ juncta vitis requiescit in
ulmo Si non nupta foret, terræ acclinata jaceret."
(N.) 221. See iv. 170. “ Sociable" and
Raphael” are dissyllables here. See note on 285.
224. Milton in the following scene seems to have had his eye in a particular manner on the 9th canto of Tasso's Jerusalem, lviï. 60. 1, 2.—(St. and Th.)
235. This is a pure Latinism, the substantive pronoun being supplied out of the preceding adjective, and regulating the government of the following words happiness in the power of him left free, &c.; so "left" is the genitive agreeing with him, taken out of “his.”—(W.)
249. “Ardours," from the Latin ardor, which signifies a
fiery nature, fervent love," an appropriate epithet of an angel, Thyer thinks it must be limited to the class of seraphim : zeraph in Hebrew signifying to burn.
of the world, according to the doctrine of Heraclitus borrowed from Orpheus. See Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 33.-(N.)
193. Fairy Queen, VII. vii. 8:“Most dainty trees, that shooting up anon, Did seem to bow their bloss'mning heads full
lowe For homage unto her.”—(T.)
197. “Souls" here is used, as it sometimes is in Scripture, for other creatures besides man.-(N.)
198. Shakspeare, 29th sonnet:** Like as the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's
gate."-(N.) 202. Dr. Bentley would read here, “if we (not 1) be silent;” and in the next verse but
one, our (not my) song," as both Adam and Eve shared in this hymn. But Milton rather imitates the Greek chorus, where sometimes the plural, and sometimes the singular is used. The same is frequently practised by our poet in the speeches of the chorus in Samson Agonistes. This hymn, which naturally divides itself into interlocutory parts, was set to music some years ago, and the several parts of it were assigned distinctively to Adam and to Eve.-(P.)
206. He had his thoughts, as Dr. Bentley remarks, on that celebrated prayer in the Second Alcibiades of Plato:Ζευ βασιλευ τα μεν εσθλα και ευχομενοις και Αμμι διδου, τα δε λυγρα και ευχομενων απερυκε. “O Jove, our king, give us good things, both when we pray and do not pray for them; and remove from us evil things, even though we pray for them.” And we learn from the first book of Xenophon's memoirs of his master Socrates, that Socrates was wont to pray to the gods for good things only, as they knew best what things were so.
And to the same purpose there is an excellent collect in our Liturgy for the eighth Sunday after Trinity.-(N.) The celebrated 10th Satire of Juvenal inculcates this all through.
214. “ Pampered boughs.” “ Pampered” here is used with great propriety. Pampre, French, pampinus, Latin, means a vine-branch full of leaves. And a vineyard is said by the French pamprer when overgrown with superfluous leaves and unprofitable branches.—(Junius.) 216. Hor. Epod. ii. 9:
“Aut adulta vitium propagine
Altas maritat populos.' Ovid. Met. xiv. 661, more fully, and more in accordance with Milton :
254. Thus heaven's gates in Homer, Il. v. 749, opened spontaneously :αυτομαται δε πυλαι μυκον ουρανού, ας εχον ωραι. See vii. 206.
258—260. “No cloud or star being interposed (ablat. absol.) he sees the earth, however small at that great distance it appears, not unlike other shining globes, and in it Paradise, which was crowned with cedars rising higher than the highest hills."-(N.)
261–265. Raphael surveying the earth from heaven's gates, is compared to an astronomer looking through Galileo's telescope at the distant objects in the moon, but with less accurate vision than Raphael's; or to a pilot in the Archipelago looking out for the Cyclades, a cluster of islands in that sea, and observing the largest of them, Delos or Samos, appearing first like specks far away in the horizon.—“Glass observes,” by a poetic figure common in the ancient classics, for “ a person through the glass observes." -(N.)
272. Milton means, that when at the highest pitch of an eagle's flight, Raphael seemed to the birds like a phænix. The phoenix was bird of uncommon largeness and beauty, according to the accounts of mythology, and the only one of its species : after living five or six hundred years, it built for itself a funeral pile of