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bloomed out into the great Hellenic or Classic Mythology. Hence, in a few lines, we have the genealogy of “the Ionian gods”—of those gods, confessedly of later development, who were worshipped by the issue of Javan, the fourth son of Japheth, and the progenitor more particularly of the Gentiles of the Isles (Gen. x. 2-5). This theogony, however, is rapidly disposed of. Titan is named as the earliest supreme god ; superseded by Saturn ; who, in his turn, is dethroned by Zeusthe final expansion of the Greek mythology in its richest or Jovian stage being left to the imagination, helped by the mere mention of Crete, Ida, Olympus, Delphi, and Dodona. Observe too that the original theogonies of the lands west of Greece--Italy, Spain, Gaul, and the British Islands-are represented as branching off from the Grecian theogony in its Saturnian stage. This branching off is connected with the legend of the flight of Saturn into Italy, as in the passage (Æn. viii. 319-20) quoted by Hume :
The “ Hesperian Fields" are Italy and Spain ; "the Celtic" (understand “region ") is mainly Gaul ; “ the utmost Isles” are Britain, &c.—The Scandinavian and Slavonian mythologies, it will be seen, are not even named, any more than those of the Mongolian (Turanian) and Negro races—the devils to whom these are to be attributed being (so the silence must be construed) as yet individually obscure.
530. “ Their fainting courage." In the First Edition “fainted”; altered in the Second into “fanting,” for “fainting.”
534. “Azazel.” The name, according to Hume, signifies in Hebrew “the scape-goat” (Levit. xvi.) ; but Newton translates it “ brave in retreat."
543. “reign of Chaos," i.e. kingdom (regnum) of Chaos. Newton quotes Spenser (F. Q. ii. 7. 21), “ Pluto's grisly rayne."
546. "orient colours." Mr. Browne notes thus: “ Orient in Milton's poems has three meanings: (1) ‘rising,' Par. Lost, IV. 644 ; (2) eastern,' Par. Lost, VI. 15, Nat. Od.; (3) 'bright,' as here, and at Com. 65, Par. Lost, III. 507, IV. 238."
548. “serried shields”: i.e. close-locked (Fr. serrer, to press close).
550. “perfect”: so spelt here, though Milton generally prefers “perfet." “ Dorian mood," i.e. the Doric or grave style of music, as distinct from the Lydian or Phrygian. Compare Alleg: 136.
551. “flutes and soft recorders.” According to Chambers's Cyclop., recorder was the name of a musical instrument, * somewhat like a flageolet, but with the lower part wider than the upper, and a mouth
piece resembling the beak of a bird. Its pitch was an octave higher than the flute, and it had a pleasing tone.” Richardson (Dict.) quotes Bacon's Nat. Hist. : “The figure of recorders and flutes and pipes are straight, but the recorder hath a less bore and a greater, above and below." See also Hamlet iii. 2, where “re-enter the Players with recorders,” and Hamlet draws a humorous moral from one of the instruments.
565. "with ordered spear and shield :" a phrase of drill in Milton's time as in ours—“order pikes” being then the equivalent of our “ order arms"; on which word of command soldiers stand with their weapons resting perpendicularly by their sides, the butts on the ground. When soldiers halt from any movement, as in the text, arms are always “ ordered" without word of command.
572. “his strength.” We should now write its. See note antè,
573. “ since created Man,” i.e. “since man was created -a Latin form of expression : Post urbem conditam, &c.
575, 576. “that small infantry warred on by cranes," i.e. the fabulous Pygmies, or nation of Indian or Ethiopian dwarfs, who were said to have to fight with cranes that annually invaded their country. The name Pygmy is from the Greek tuyun, the length of the fore-arm.
576—587. “all the giant brood of Phlegra, &c. ... Fontarabbia. Milton here connects together the great wars of the most famous epic legends, ancient and modern—the primeval wars of the Giants against the Gods, which were fought at Phlegra in Macedonia, Hercules assisting the Gods; the wars of Troy and Thebes; the wars of the British hero Arthur, "Uther's son"; and those combats and joustings, all along the Mediterranean, between the Saracens and the Christian heroes of France and Spain, which are the theme of so many mediæval romances. The legends of Charlemain and his Paladins—one of the most famous of which tells of their defeat, and of the death of Roland, at Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees, not far from Fontarabia and Bayonne—have little to do with the true history of Charlemagne.
592. “All her original brightness": her where we should now use its. See note antè, line 254.
609, 610. "amerced of Heaven," i.e. “punished with the loss of Heaven." The word “to amerce" (noun amercement or amerciament) was an old law term, meaning “to punish by a fine at the discretion of the Court," and derived from the French phrase d merci. For certain offences the penalty was être mis à merci (the Latin equivalent being poni in misericordia); and a person so punished was said to be amercié or amerced. Thus, in a passage quoted in Richardson's Dict. from Rastall's Abbrevia
cion of Statutes (1520): "Then al the articles of every hundred shal be delivered to the 12 jurors of the countie, and then time shall be appointed them to give their verdictes upon paine of the king's mercie. And, if they give not their verdictes, they shall bee amerced as to the justices shall seeme best." Shakespeare (Rom. and Jul. iii. 1) has
“ But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine
That you shall all repent the loss of mine.”
Though the French phrase être mis à merci and the Latin phrase poni in misericordiâ meant the same thing in old law-language, it is not to be assumed that the French word merci and the English mercy are derived from the Latin misericordia, “pity," or misereor or miseresco, “I pity.” This, indeed, used to be asserted in Dictionaries, and with some plausibility. But the truer derivation of mercy is from the Latin merx, merchandise or purchase, or merces, pay, compensation, reward; whence the Low Latin merciare or amerciare, to put to recompense. When a prisoner “cried mercy,” what was originally meant was that he implored his captor to grant him his life for a compensation or ransom; and, when the captor mercied him, he assented. To be at a person's mercy was to hang on his decision whether he would kill or accept a pecuniary ransom ; and Richardson quotes from Minshew the old phrase "to be in grievous mercie of the king,” i.e. “to be in hazard of a grievous penalty.” The merciful spirit, therefore, was, in strict etymology, the willingness to accept ransom or compensation ; but, as this depended on pitifulness or graciousness of disposition, it is easy to see how mercy and misericordia would come to be identified. On the one hand, the Latin misericordia, really meaning “ tender-heartedness," was degraded to mean “right to impose fines," as in a charter of Edward I., quoted by Wedgwood (Dict., Amercement), where the abbot and monks of a certain Abbey are, by way of privilege, exempted “ de omnibus misericordiis in perpetuum” (from all mercies for ever); and, on the other hand, the word mercy, meaning "exaction of fine or ransom,” was elevated into the sense of “tender-heartedness.” Hume notes another etymological curiosity in connexion with the word amerced. Quoting Homer's line (Od. viii. 64)
«Οφθαλμών μεν άμερσε, δίδου δ' ηδείαν αοιδήν” he points out the odd fact that the Greek üuepoe here, the same in sound as amerce, has also much the same meaning; insomuch that the line might be translated—“The Muse amerced him of his eyes, but gave him the faculty of singing sweetly." There may be more than odd coincidence in this : there may be radical far-back identity. The Greek åpeipw, of which äuepos is a part, means literally to deprive of one's share (a priv, and pépos a share, or part); and pépos and merx are probably one at root.
611. " yet faithful how they stood." The construction refers back to the verb “behold” in line 605.
616—618. "whereat their doubled ranks they bend,” &c. A true description of a military movement; as if from Milton's actual recollections of parades he had seen in the time of the Civil Wars. If a commanding officer now desired to address his battalion when standing in line, he would first wheel its two extremities, or the ends of the two wings, inwards, so as to form three sides of an oblong enclosing himself and his staff. But Satan's troops, we have been told, had been all brought into line with ordered arms (see verses 562—565)—a “front of dreadful length,” but still such that, with reference to the range of Satan's vision, Milton calls it but a battalion (verse 569). Milton pushes his military exactness still farther, A company or battalion of soldiers, listening to an address from their commander, would stand in the attitude called Attention, and Milton seems to have had this in his mind in the phrase “Attention held them mute," though the fine poetical wording half disguises the technicality.
619, 620. “Thrice he assayed," &c. A recollection, Bentley thought, of Ovid, Met. xi. 419: “Ter conata loqui, ter fletibus ora rigavit.”
632, 633. “ whose exile hath emptied Heaven.” An oratorical exaggeration ; for the computation afterwards is, even by Satan himself, that a third part only, of the heavenly host had joined him in his revolt (Book II. 692, V. 710, and VI. 156). This seems to have been a common belief, suggested by the text Rev. xii. 4 ; where the tail of the Great Dragon draws down "the third part of the stars of Heaven.” This note is from Hume and Newton.
650–656. “Space may produce new Worlds,” &c. Notice here the first suggestion, and by Satan himself, of the precise scheme of diabolic action of which the whole poem is a development.
668. “ Clashed on their sounding shields.” It was the custom of the Roman soldiers, says Bentley, to applaud by smiting their shields with their swords. One might have guessed as much.
669. “Hurling defance toward the vault of Heaven." Mr. Keightley thinks Milton here “ forgets that the scene is in Hell, not upon Earth.” Milton forgets nothing of the kind. The expression is in perfect consistency with his imagination of the whereabouts of the Fallen Angels. They are down in Hell; above them and Hell is Chaos or the Abyss, as Satan has just hinted (line 658); and above that is Heaven. In their defiance they look upwards to Hell's roof, as if to send their defiance through intervening Chaos, to the Heaven they have left and are still thinking of. You can hurl defiance “toward” a place without seeing it.
670.“ There stood a hill not far," &c. Here we have another feature suggested in the physical configuration of Hell. We have already had VOL. III.
the burning lake, and the yellow or dark mainland bordering it; and now, on this mainland, we have to conceive a hill with burning summit, and sides glossy with lava. 673.
“his womb,” i.e. the hill's. We should now, undoubtedly, say its. See note antè, line 254.
673, 674. "mctallic ore, the work of sulphur.” Perhaps Hume's note on this passage, just because of its quaint old chemistry, is as good as any :-" The work of sulphur: the offspring and production of sulphur, that vivum et fossile, as Celsus calls it, which, as it were soli rūp, the subterranean fire concocts and boils up the crude and undigested Earth into a more profitable consistence, and, by its innate heat, hardens and bakes it into metals." In old chemistry, indeed, sulphur figured prodigiously. “The nature of sulphur or brimstone is most wonderful, being able as it is to tame and consume the most things that be in the world,” says Pliny, as translated by Philemon Holland; and the science of the Middle Ages, inherited by Paracelsus, based itself on a doctrine that sulphur and mercury were the two all-pervading substances or agencies in nature (unless salt was to be taken as a third), generating all things between them. The doctrine appears often in Bacon's scientific writings. Thus (Nat. Hist.): "There be two great families of things. You may term them by several names-sulphureous and mercurial, which are the chemist's words (for, as for their sal, which is their third principle, it is a compound of the other two); inflammable and not inflammable; mature and crude ; oily and watery. · Mercury and sulphur are principal materials of metals.” Again (History of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt): “Sulphur and mercury, in the sense in which I take them, I judge to be the most primæval natures, the most original configurations of matter, and among the forms of the first class almost the principal. But these terms of sulphur and mercury may be varied and receive various denominations--as the oily, the watery ; the fat, the crude ; the inflammable, the non-inflammable ; and the like.
For they appear to be these two enormous tribes of things which occupy and penetrate the universe. In the subterranean world we find sulphur and mercury, as they are called ; in the animal and vegetable world we find oil and water ; in pneumatical bodies of the lower order we find air and flame; in the celestial regions we find starry body and pure ether.” Again (Phænomena Universi), the phrase occurs: “Sulphur, quem patrem metallorum esse communis est opinio, licet a peritioribus fere repudiata : " “Sulphur, commonly thought to be the father of the metals, though that opinion is almost given up by the more skilful.”—
In the present passage, therefore, Milton adopts, and expresses poetically, the popular chemical belief of his time. If anywhere that belief might be true, and sulphur might be the generator of metals, surely it might be in Hell. Observe, too, that Milton speaks of metallic ores, and that in fact many such ores are in the form of sulphurets of metals.