Etna, whose combustible And fuel'd entrails thence conceiving fire, And with strong flight did forcibly divide The yielding air, which nigh too feeble found Her flitting parts, and element unsound, To bear so great a weight. Liquid fire. There are several noble similies and allusions in the first book of Paradise Lost. And here it must be observed that when Milton alludes either to things or persons he never quits his simile until it rises to some very great idea, which is often foreign to the occasion that gave birth to it. The simile does not perhaps occupy above a line or two, but the poet runs on with the hint until he has raised out of it some brilliant image or sentiment adapted to inflame the mind of the reader and to give it that sublime kind of entertainment which is suitable to the nature of an heroic poem.
In short, if we look into the poems of Homer, Virgil, and Milton, we must observe, that as the great fable is the soul of each poem, so, to give their works the greater variety, the episodes employed by these authors may be regarded as so many short fables, their similies as so many short episodes, and their metaphors as so many short similies.
If the comparisons in the first book of Milton, of the sun in an eclipse, of the sleeping leviathan, of: bees swarming about their hive, of the fairy dance, be regarded in this light the great beauties existing in each of these passages will readily be discovered. Wind: this should be altered to winds, to agree with the reading in line ; or that should be altered to agree with this. Pelorus: the eastern promontory of Sicily.
HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
Thence conceiving fire: the combustible and fuelled entrails, or interior contents, of the mountain, are here represented as takingfire, as the result of the action of the subterranean wind, in removing the side of the mountain. The fire thus kindled was sublimed with mineral fury, that is, was heightened by the rapid combustion of mineral substances of a bituminous nature. The poet seems to have in his mind the description of JEtna by Virgil book iii , Sed horrificis juxta tonat JEtna ruinis, Interdumque atram prorumpit ad athera nubem, Turbine fumantem piceo, et candente favilla; Attollitque globos flammarlum, et sidera lambit:.
Him follow'd his next mate, Both glorying to have 'scap'd the Stygian flood As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength, Not by the sufPrance of Supernal Power. Be it so, since he Who now is Sovran can dispose and bid What shall be right: farthest from him is best, Whom reason hath equall'd, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell happy fields, Where joy forever dwells: Hail horrors, hail Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell Receive thy new possessor; one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. Stygian flood; an expression here of the same import with infernal flood, alluding to the fabulous river Styx of the lower world, which the poets represented as a broad, dull and sluggish stream.
Sovran: from the Italian word sovrano. Channing, writing upon Satan's character as drawn by the po t observes: " Hell yields to the spirit which it imprisons. The intensity of its fires reveals the intense passion and more vehement will of Satan; and the ruined archangel gathers into himself the sublimity of the scene which surrounds him. This forms the tremendous interest of these wonderful books. We see mind triumphant over the most terrible powers of natuire We see unutterable agony subdued by energy of soul.
These are some of the extravagances of the Stoics, and could not. Here at least We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice,To reign is worth ambition, though in hell; Tetter to reign in hell than serve inheaven But wherefore let we then our faithful friends, Th' associates and copartners of our loss, Lie thus astonish'd on th' oblivious pool, And call them not to share with us their part In this unhappy mansion, or once more With rallied arms to try what may be yet Regain'd in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell?
Shakspeare, in Hamlet, says: There is nothing either good or bad, but Thinking makes it so.
This sentiment is the great foundation on which the Stoics build, their whole system of ethics. Compare Virg. The lust of power and the hatred of moral excellence are Satan's prominent characteristics.
Edge of battle: from the Latin word acies, which signifies both the edge of a weapon and also an army in battle array. See book VI. As we ere while, astounded and amazed, No wonder, fall'n such a pernicious height. Homer and Ossian describe in a like splendid manner the shields of their heroes.
Galileo: He was the first who applied the telescope to celestial observations, and was the discoverer of the satellites of Jupiter in , which, in honor of his patron, Cosmo Medici he called the Mediccan stars. Frc:n the tower of St. Mark he showed the Venetian senators not only the satellites of Jupiter but the crescent of Venus, the triple appearance of Saturn, and the inequalities on the Moon's surface.
At this conference he also endeavored to convince them of the truth of the Copernican system. Fesol: a city of Tuscany. The very sound of these names is charming. Ammiral: the obsolete form of admiral, the principal ship in a fleet. The idea contained in this passage, may, as Dr. Johnson suggests, be drawn from the following. Tasso, canto vi.
Nathless: nevertheless. This is a favorite passage with all readers of descriptive poetry. Autumnal leaves. Compare Virgil's lines, JEn. But Milton's comparison is the more exact by far; it not only expresses a multitude but also the posture and situation of the angels. Their lying confusedly in heaps covering the lake is finely represented by this image of the leaves in the brooks. Vallombrosa: a Tuscan valley: the name is composed of vallis and umbra, and thus denotes a shady valley. Orion arm'd: Orion is a constellation represented in the figure of an armed man, and supposed to be attended with stormy weather, assurgens fluctu nimbosus Orion, Virg.
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The wind usually drives the sedge in great quantities against the shore. Busiris: Bentley objects to Milton giving this name to Pharaoh since history does not support him in it. But Milton uses the liberty of a poet in giving Pharaoh this name, because some had already attached it to him. Chivalry, denotes here those who use horses in fight, whether by riding on them, or riding in chariots drawn by them, See line Also Paradise Regained iii. Perfidious: he permitted them to leave the country, but afterwards pursued them.
Of Hell resounded. Or in this abject posture have ye sworn T' adore the conqueror? Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n. Nor did they not perceive the evil plight In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel; Yet to their gen'ral's voice they soon obey'd Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day, Waved round the coast, up call'd a pitchy cloud Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind, That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile: So numberless were those bad Angels seen This magnificent call of Satan to his prostrate host could have been written by nobody but Milton.
Anon: Soon. An allusion seems here to be made to the 2Eneid, book i. Illum, exspirantem transfixo pectore flammas, Tuibine corripuit. Amram's son: Moses. See Exod. Warping: Moving like waves; or, working themselves forward. Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve Got them new names, till wand'ring o'er the earth, Cope: Roof.
Frozen loins: In Scripture children are said to come out of the loins, Gen. The term frozen is here used only on account of the coldness of the climate. Rhene and Danaw, the one from the Latin, the other from the German, are chosen because uncommon. Barbarous: The Goths, Huns, and Vandals, wherever their conquests extended, destroyed the monuments of ancient learning and taste.
Beneath Gibraltar: That is, southward of it, the northern portion of the globe being regarded as uppermost. The three comparisons relate to the three different states in which these fallen angels are represented. When abject and lying supine on the lake, they are fitly compared to vast heaps of leaves which in autumn the poet himself had observed to bestrew the water-courses and bottoms of Vallombrosa..
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When roused by their great leader's objurgatory summons, they are compared, in number, with the countless locusts of Egypt. The object of the third comparison is to illustrate their number when assembled as soldiers on the firm brimstone, and here they are compared with the most numerous body of troops which history had made mention of. Erst: Formerly. The subject of Paradise Lost is the origin of evil-an event, in. Thro' God's high suff'rance for the trial of man, By falsities and lies the greatest part Of mankind they corrupted, to forsake God their Creator, and th' invisible Glory of him that made them to transform Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd With gay religions full of pomp and gold, And Devils to adore for Deities: Then were they known to men by various names, And various idols through the Heathen world, Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last Roused from the slumber, on that fiery couch, At their great emp'ror's call, as next in worth Came singly where he stood on the bare strand, While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof.
As a Christian he was entitled wholly to neglect them, but as a poet he chose to treat them not as the dreams of the human mind, but as the delusions of infernal existences. Thus anticipating a beautiful propriety for all classical allusions, thus connecting and reconciling the co-existence of fable and of truth; and thus identifying the fallen angels with the deities of " gay religions full of pomp and gold," he yoked the heathen mythology in triumph to his subject, and clothed himself in the spoils of superstition.
This subject is again presented in the last note on Book I. Religions: That is, religious rites.