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The torments

70. Emphasis on own. which he invented against us, we shall use as weapons against him. The next sentence is to be taken ironically.

75. Emphasis on proper and ascend. 77. "Adverse." In the sense of adversus, opposite or contrary to our nature, which is to ascend, not to fall.

78. "Instaret curru cristatus Achilles." En. i. 468.

82. This passage, as far as "destruction," which states an imagined objection, is to be taken as irony. Read a semicolon after "destruction," 84.

89. "Exercise," in the occasional sense of exercere, to vex, to torment, En. vi. 739:

"Exercentur pœnis, veterumque malorum Supplicia expendunt."

Georg. iv. 453 :—

"Non te nullius exercent numinis iræ." 92." Penance." The word here means "punishment," from pœna. So Shakspeare :

"Mew her up, And let her bear the penance of her tongue."


It is said that Milton here had in view certain intermissions of infernal punishment, as Shakspeare, in Hamlet:

"My hour is almost come,

When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames Must render up myself."-(H.)

94, &c. Il. xv. 509:

Ημιν δ' οντις τούδε νους και μητις αμείνων,
Η αυτοσχέδια μιξαι χείράς τε μένος τε.
Βελτερον, η απολεσθαι ένα χρόνον, ηε βιωναι,
Η δηθα στρεύγεσθαι εν αινή δημότητα,

Ωδ' αύτως παρα νηυσιν, ὑπ ̓ ανδρασι χειροτεροισι. -(Stil.) See n. 329.


97. From happier," which agrees with "us," down to "being," inclusive, must be taken as a parenthesis.

101. "We are at worst on this side

nothing." "On this side nothing," is life, or existence; as on the other side "nothing" means loss of existence, or annihilation. The meaning of this obscure phrase is "We are at the worst pitch we can be in, at this side of annihiÎation;" or, "We are in the worst condition we can suffer in a state of existence."

104. "Inaccessible" agrees with "throne : 99 66 "fatal" does not here mean disastrous, or destructive; but is to be taken in the sense that fatalis sometimes is, i. e. appointed by fate; so Cicero (Catal. iv. c. 1.) "Meus consulatus ad salutem reipublicæ prope fatalis fuit;" or upheld by fate, as he expresses it, i. 133. See 197.

113. So Homer says of Nestor in Il. i. 249:

Του και απο γλωσσης μελιτος γλυκίων ρεεν αυδη, "could make the worse appear the better reason;" the literal translation of the profession of the ancient sophists, Tov. λογον τον ἡττῶ κρειττῶ ποιειν.—(Β.)

115. Read a semicolon after "low." 123. "Conjecture" here means doubt; "success" means issue. See Note v. 9. 130, 131. "Access" here means the place or way of approach, as accessus sometimes does. So also i. 761.

139. This refers to line 69. 142. Shakspeare (K. H. VI.)— "Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair." (Mal.)


146. Milton evidently alludes Shakspeare's "Measure for Measure," iii. 1:

"Aye, but to die, and go we know not where-
To lye in cold obstruction, and to rot-
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod-and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods!"

152. "Let this be good." i. e. even admitting that this may be good; a strictly classical phrase, "Esto hoc bonum;" εστω αγαθον.


156. "Belike through impotence." "Belike," by all likelihood, probably.— Impotence" here means, as impotentia and impotens do, a want of power of mind to control the passions; hence violence and unsteadiness. This is spoken ironically. (P.)

165. This abrupt use of the participle for a substantive is sometimes met with in impassioned passages of ancient poetry and oratory. The succession of interrogations in this speech is also quite in the style of Demosthenes, who often puts whole pages in an interrogative form.

(See Esch. Prometh. 307-329, and Hom. Il. ix. 337.)—(Stil.)

170. Isaiah xxx.: "The breath of the Lord like a stream of brimstone doth kindle it."-(N.)

174. So Hor. i. Od. ii. :

Pater, et rubente Dextera sacras jaculatus arces." "His" refers to the Almighty, who from the allusions so often made to him is very well understood here without being named.

176, 7. "Cataracts," kaтaρaктηs from Kaтарησσw, to burst out violently. Read a comma after "fire," and expunge the comma after "hideous."

180. See Note on i. 328.

181, 182. Æn. vi. 75:-" Rapidis ludibria ventis." Milton on several occasions uses the substantive "wrack" to signify destruction: in this sense the verb here is to be taken, and not, as Dr. Johnson thinks, in the sense of rocking or shaking.

185. This practice of introducing several adjectives beginning with the same negative syllable, was often adopted by the Greek poets, and has been imitated by the best English poets. (See iii. 231.) Iliad ix. 62:

Αφρητωρ, αθεμιστος, ανέστιος εστιν εκείνος. Shakspeare, (Ham.)—

"Unhousell'd, unappointed, unaneled." Fairy Queen, VII. vii. 46—

"Unbodied, unsoul'd, unheard, unseen." Goldsmith, (Deserted Village)"Unenvied, unmolested, unconfined." (P., T., Th.)


191. See Psalm ii. 4.—(N.) 199. Livy (ii. 12.) Scævola says, facere et pati fortia Romanum est."—(N.) 201-203. i. e. we should have determined, if we were prudent, to acquiesce in the justice of this law, which decreed our capability of suffering as well as of acting. Therefore we should at the outset have submitted, not resisted, especially when we must have been doubtful of the result of resistance.

220. " Light" here is evidently an adjective, in the sense of easy or tolerable.

227. So Virgil (Georg. iv. 564), "studiis florentem ignobilis oti."—(N.)

233. "The strife," i. e. between us and the Almighty. Chaos, or Confusion, could never be arbiter between contending parties.

234, 235. "Former" refers to "disenthrone"-" latter" to " regain" before.

244, 245. The following parallel line from Virgil will, I think, show how hypercritical has been the proposed substitution of "from" for "and" by Bentley. Æn.i


"Thure calent aræ, sertisque recentibus halant."

"Odours" means incense, the smell of gums and spices. Here"breathes " means to exhale, or breathe forth, to emit the smell of. iv. 265.—(P.)

254. "Live to ourselves." Hor. Epist. I. xviii. 107," Ut mihi vivam quod superest ævi."-(N.)

255, 256. Such is the indignant observation of Prometheus to Mercury, (Prom. Vinct. 974):

Της σης λατρείας την εμην δυσπραξίαν
Σαφώς επίστασ', ουκ αν αλλαξαιμ' εγω. -(Τ.)

265. Imitated from Psalm xviii. 1113 and xcvii. 2.—(N.)

278. "The sensible," i. e. sense ; neuter adjective for a substantive.—(H.)

281. "Compose," used in the occasional sense of componere, as componere bellum, lites, curas, &c. to put an end to, to lull.

283. It will be observed that the debate takes a different turn from the original question proposed by Satan (line 41), as Belial and Mammon are opposed to war altogether.-(N.)

284. En. x. 96:–

"Cunctique fremebant Cœlicolæ assensu vario, ceu flamina prima Cum deprensa fremunt sylvis, et cæca volu


Murmura, venturos nautis prodentia ventos." Here, as the object of Juno's speech was to rouse the assembly of the gods, Virgil very properly uses the rising wind: so, as Mammon's design was to quiet the infernal assembly, Milton very properly uses the falling wind. Claudian has a simile of the same kind in his description of the infernal council of Furies, after Alecto's speech, in Rufinum, i. 70:—

"Ceu murmurat alti Impacata quies pelagi, cum flamine fracto Durat adhuc sævitque tumor, dubiumque per

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Κινηθη δ' αγορη, ως κυματα μακρα θαλασσης, Ποντου Ικαριοιο, τα μεν τ' Ευρος τε Νότος τε Ωρορ' επαίξας πατρος Διος εκ νεφελάων.-(Τ.)

288. "Bark," a small ship. - "Pinnace," generally a small vessel attending a larger one.— —(Johns., R.)

295. "Desire," nomin. to "wrought," understood.

302. Shakspeare, Hen. VI. pt. 2. act i.: "Brave peers of England, pillars of the state."

305. It is strange how Bentley could have imagined "majestic" to refer to "counsel."-(N.)

306. "Atlantean," vast as those of Atlas, who was supposed to have supported the heavens.

308, 309. Æn. i. 151:

"Tum pietate gravem et meritis si forte virum quem

Conspexere, silent, arrectisque auribus astant."

See Milton's description of an ancient orator rising to speak, ix. 671.-"Noontide air," the air at noon-time, when, in hot countries, there is hardly a breath of wind stirring, and men and beasts, by reason of the heat, retire to shade and rest. - (N.) Homer and Ovid have given elaborate descriptions of the appearance and manner of orators, (Il. iii. 216; Met. xiii.) but they are incomparably inferior to this.

310. "Or." See Note to line 12.

327, 328. The iron sceptre is in allusion to Psalm ii. 9, as the golden is to Esther ii.-(H.)

329. "What," why; like quid, which signifies what and why. When quid and what signify why, they are elliptical; propter quid, for what, cur, why.

330. "Determined." i. e. the unsuccessful issue of the war hath ultimately fixed our condition.

333, 336. The commentators have remarked the unusual construction of the particle "but" in this sentence; it seems to put "custody severe," &c. and "hostility and hate," on the footing of "peace."


But," here, is used like the Latin nisi, in the rare sense of except, unless. Plaut. Menæchm. Prolog. 59: "Ei liberorum, nisi divitiæ, nihil erat." Il. vi. 412: ου γαρ ετ' αλλη εσται θαλπωρη . . αλλ' αχη. -"To our power." A classical phrase: "Pro viribus nostris;" κατα δυναμιν ; to the best of our power.

341. A Latinism; "Nec deerit occasio." 346. There is great propriety here in making Beelzebub, the next in dignity to Satan, second the notion originally

conceived by the arch-enemy (i. 650), of going in quest of a new world; the project on which the whole poem turns. There is also great beauty in giving us a glimpse of mankind even before they are in being, and referring to this tradition which ran of them in heaven before their existence. Virgil (Æn. vi.), in compliment to the Roman commonwealth, makes the heroes of it appear in a state of pre-existence. But Milton does a greater honour to all mankind.—(Ad.)

353. St. Paul, Heb. vi. 17: "he confirmed it by an oath." Homer and Virgil make Jupiter shake all Olympus with his nod of assent. Il. i. 528:

Η και κυανέησιν επ' οφρύσι νευσε Κρονίων Αμβροσιαι δ' αρα χαίται επερρώσαντο ανακτος Κρατος απ' αθανάτοιο μεγαν δ' ελελιξεν Ολυμπον.

En. ix. 104:

"Dixerat, idque ratum Stygii per flumina fratris

Annuit, et totum nutu tremefecit Olympum." Milton omits the nod, as God is not giving his assent to any one's petition, as he is in Homer and Virgil.—(N.)

360. It has been objected, that there is a contradiction between this part of his speech and what he says afterwards, 410. How could the earth lie exposed, and yet be so well guarded? But it is not said that the earth does lie exposed, but only that it may. Besides, he has a different object in both speeches; here, he wishes to encourage the expedition, and therefore lessens the dangers; there, when they are to select a proper person to employ in it, he magnifies the difficulty, in order to make them more cautious in their choice.-(N.)



"either weak or little in Puny," comparison to the angels; or, perhaps, also including the sense of the French, from which it is derived, puis nè, born since, created long after us.-(N.)

376-378. The style and structure of this sentence is purely classical; " if," in the sense of either if, whether if, serves as the antecedent and corresponding disjunctive to "or." In the first clause the subjunctive mood is used, and in the second the infinitive, both depending on the preceding verb. This kind of construction, though exhibiting elegance by reason of its variety, is called by the grammarians anomalous. Every classical scholar must be familiar with examples. -"Hatching vain empires" is a beautiful sarcasm on the words of Mammon, 254, &c.-(D.)

396. " Chance," by chance; taken adverbially, as fors in Latin sometimes is, "Fors et vota facit;" (En. ii. 50); or perhaps a verb, and "re-enter" in the infinitive mood, as Milton often omits the sign of this mood.

409. "Arrived," reached. So Shaks. Hen. VI. pt. 3. act v. :


"Those powers, that the queen Hath raised in Gallia, have arrived our coast.' (N.) 410. "Isle." The earth hanging like an island in the sea of air. So Cicero describes it, De Natur. Deor. ii. 66.— (N.) "Abrupt," before, is used substantively, the gulf or steep, as abruptum sometimes is. En. iii. 422: "Sorbet in abruptum fluctus." Stat. 10, Theb. 523: "Equi immane paventes abruptum."

420. Homer uses similar expressions when an affair of difficulty is proposed. Il. vii. 92

Ως έφαθ', οἱ δ' άρα πάντες ακήν εγένοντο σιωπή,

Αιδεσθεν μεν ανηνασθαι, δεῖσαν δ ̓ ὑποδέχθαι. (N.)

421. Compare the dismay expressed by the Romans after the death of the Scipios, when no one dared to proffer or accept the command in Spain, (Livy, b. xxvi. ch. xviii.); and also the gallant manner in which young Scipio offers himself, and addresses the assembly,

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Magno elatoque animo," &c.-(D.)

431. See Homer, Il. ii. 342, &c.; Il. viii. 229; Odys. ii. 167; and the Scholiast on the last of these passages. (Stil.)

432. n. vi. 128:


"Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad


Hoc opus, hic labor est."

See Dante Inferno, xxxiv. 95.—(N., T.)

434. "Convex," here, is put for concave: see 635. So convexus is used by the ancient poets for concavus. Hence Virgil has coli convexa, and supera convexa.-(N.)

436. En. vi. 439: "Novies Styx interfusa coercet:" vi. 552:

"Porta adversa ingens, solidoque adamante columnæ." (N.)

438, 439. "Void profound." So Lucretius often uses profundum as a substantive; as, "immane profundum ""unessential night," night void of being; darkness being the nearest and best resemblance of nonentity.—(H.)

443. Milton uses "remain," here and elsewhere, in the active sense of await, as maneo is sometimes used in Latin.

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445. Thus Sarpedon, in Homer, IL xii. 310, says that a king, being most honoured, should likewise expose himself most to danger. But Milton has so dressed up the sentiment with all the rhetorical artifice of Demosthenes, that Homer cannot be recognised in it. The whole speech from this line is wonderfully beautiful.—(Monb.)

452. "Refusing;" if I refuse.

457. "Intend;" in the sense of intendere, to pay attention to, to strain or stretch the mind to any thing. So, "intendere animum." Intend and attend, as derived from the same root, had originally the same meaning.—(Monb.; Stev.)

477. This is more appropriate than if he said loud thunder; for "thunder heard remote" has a sound, not loud or strong, but awful, and very like that produced by the movement of a great multitude.-(Monbod.)

477, 478, 488. So Hesiod, Theog. xci.:

Ερχομενον δ' ανα αστυ θεον ὡς ἱλασκονται
Αιδοι μειλιχίη.

Hom. Il. vii. 214:

Τον δε και Αργείοι μετ' ευηθεον εισορώντες. (Stil.)

483. "Lest," here, like μη in Greek, and ne in Latin, implies an ellipsis : "I make the remark, lest," &c. Ephes. ii. 8, 9: "By grace are ye saved through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast." (P., T.)

485. "Close," designing, cunning, like πυκνος sometimes; as μηδεα πυκνα, Homer, Il. iii. 202, 208.

489. The north wind generally clears the sky and drives away the clouds. This simile is considered one of the most beautiful within the whole range of poetry. The mists rising from the tops of mountains, and overspreading the horizon in a mass of stormy clouds, express the gloom and dismay of the angels (420, &c.), and of their "doubtful consultations dark;" and the illumination of the sky is a picture of their joy at Satan's proposition. There are two similes in the Iliad, but applied on occasions different from this, from which Milton took some of the expressions and sentiments here. Il. v. 524:

Αλλ' εμενον, νεφέλησιν εοικότες, άς τε Κρονίων Νηνεμίης έστησεν επ' ακροπόλοισιν ορεσσιν Ατρέμας, οφρ' ευδῃσι μενος Βορέας, και


Ζαχρείων ανέμων, οίτε νέφεα σκιόεντα Πνοίῃσιν λιγυρῃσι διασκιδνάσιν αεντές.

Here, the Greeks, standing firmly in one compact menacing body, are compared to a mass of dark clouds overhanging the mountain-tops in a calm; and, in the other comparison, after they have repulsed the furious onset of the Trojans, and saved their ships, their joy is compared to a burst of sunshine. Il. xvi. 297:

Ως δ' ότ' αφ' υψηλης κορυφής όρεος μεγαλοιο
Κινήσῃ πυκίνην νεφέλην στεροπηγερέτα Ζευς
Εκ τ' έφανον πᾶσαι σκοπιας και Πρωονες ακρο
Και να παι, ουρανόθεν δ' αρ ὑπερράγη ασπετος

Ως Δαναοι νηων μεν απωσαμενοι δηϊον πυρ
Τυτθόν ανέπνευσαν.

"Bleating herds."

Both these words are used in a general sense, herds to express all sorts of cattle, and bleating to express their different sounds or noises; in this sense he uses bleating gods (i. 489), when alluding to the Egyptian idols under the forms of various animals. -(N., P.)

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512. "Globe," a body of persons formed in a circle. En. x. 373: "Qua globus ille virum densissimus urget." Milton uses the word also in an incomparably beautiful passage; ¡Par. Reg. iv. 581:

"And straight a fiery globe
Of angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore
As on a floating couch through the blithe air;
Then in a flowery valley set him down."

513. "Horrent arms." "Horrentia martis arma." Æn. i. "Horrentia pilis agmina." Hor. 2 Sat. i. 13. "Horrent," bristled, prickly, also includes the idea of terrible. See note, b. i. 563.

517. "Alchymy" here means mixed metal, used for trumpet. It properly means that part of chemistry which refers to the transmutation of metals.—(R.)

528. Homer, Il. ii. 774, represents the myrmidons during the absence of their chief Achilles from war, and Virgil, Æn. vi. 642, represents the departed heroes in Elysium, as entertaining themselves with their former favourite pursuits and exercises.

531. "Shun the goal." Plainly taken from Horace i. Od. i. 4: "Metaque fervidis evitata rotis." But, with great judgment, he says rapid, not fervid; because, in these hell games, the wheels, from the fire under and all about them, were fervid even before the race.-(B.)

533. The belief of these portentous signs was very ancient. Ovid. Met. xv. 782:

"Signa tamen luctus dant haud incerta futuri.
Arma ferunt nigras inter crepitantia nubes,
Terribilesque tubas, auditaque cornua cœlo,
Præmonuisse nefas."

(See Tibullus II. v. 71.) So Virgil, Georg. i. 474:

"Armorum sonitum toto Germania cœlo

Audiit, insolitis tremuerunt motibus Alpes." 536. "Prick forth," i. e. forward with the spur, in full career. Fairy Queen, Introduction:

"A goodly knight was pricking o'er the plain." "Couch," i.e. fix them in their rests, which were receptacles made for the end of the spear in the breast of the armour. 538. "Welkin," the vault of heaven.

542. The madness of Hercules was a frequent subject for tragedy among the ancients. Milton has been censured for this comparison, as sinking below the subject. The same objection, I think, would apply to any illustration drawn from the exercise of earthly power, as being inadequate; and he could not have selected a more appropriate one than the last furious act of the most powerful being recorded in history. See the Hercules of Euripides; and Ovid. Met. ix. 136.

548, 549. This passage will recall to the classical reader's recollection Achilles entertaining his hours of retirement in the same way. Il. ix. 186:

Τον δ' εύρον φρενα τερπομένον φόρμιγγι λιγείη, Τη όγε θυμόν ετερπεν: αείδε δ' άρα κλέα αντ δρων.

550. This is taken from the famous distich of Euripides, which Brutus quoted when he slew himself:

Ω τλήμον αρετη, λογος αρ' ησθ', εγω δε σε Ως έργον ησκουον, συ δ' αρ εδουλευσας βιμ. In some editions, for Big force, is quoted Milton has well comTUX? fortune. prehended both: "enthrall to force or chance."-(B.)

552. "Partial," i. e. to themselves; it dwelt only on the sad consequences of their conduct, not on its guilt.-(Cowper.)

554. So Virgil, Georg. iv. 481, describing the effect of the music of Orpheus:"Quin ipsæ stupuere domus, atque intima lethi Tartara, cæruleosque implexæ crinibus an

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