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orthodox hypothesis is that which Milton follows. It places Eden in Syria and Mesopotamia. Milton gives his own notion of the exact limits in one direction as being from Auran on the west (i.l. Hauran or Auranitis, a district in Syria lying south of Damascus beyond the east frontier of the Holy Land, and recognisable in our modern maps by the name of the mountain Jebel-Hauran still marking it) to Seleucia on the east -the royal city of the Greek dynasty of the Seleucidæ, built on the Tigris about B.C. 300, in the district supposed to have borne long before that date the Scriptural name of Telassar (see Isaiah xxxvii. 12), and now near Baghdad. If the reader will refer to our present maps, he will find that the region thus indicated is about 450 miles wide from west to east, and that it was so situated with respect to Mount Niphates, or NimroudTagh, in Armenia ; that Satan, approaching it from that mountain, must have come upon its northern frontier, but at a spot much nearer to its eastern extremity (Telassar, where Seleucia afterwards was) than to its western extremity (Hauran). But this corresponds with the supposed site of Paradise in Eden. It was eastward in Eden (Gen. ii. 8) i.e. it was in that part of the ancient Assyria, or the present Turkish government of Baghdad, where the Euphrates and the Tigris approach each other in flowing south. It will be observed that Milton, notwithstanding this partial definiteness, still leaves the geography of Eden partly indefinite. He does not, for example, give its boundaries north and south, but only east and west. So, also, though Satan must necessarily, according to the description, have come upon Eden by its northern frontier, we are somewhat confused by finding that he approaches the Hill of Paradise on its west side (see line 178)-the side opposite to that where was its only gate. We may suppose, if we choose, that the Fiend, after crossing the frontier of Eden, advances for a while due south, and then turns east, so as to attack Paradise on its west side. But here, too, there may be a haze in the poet's recollections of his maps.
223–246. “Southward through Eden went a river large," &c. Milton has here closely in view the sequel of the passage in Genesis already cited : “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden ; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads. The name of the first is Pison; that is that which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold . . . And the name of the second river is Gihon ; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris); that is it which goeth towards the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates" (Gen. ii. 10–14). It is impossible to identify this river-system of the Scriptural Eden with the existing river-system of the Syrian and Mesopotamian region supposed to be Eden in the poem. Much ingenuity has been spent on the attempt to do so; but many commentators have been content to suppose an alteration of the river-system of Western Asia by the Deluge. Milton, it will be seen, gets rid of the difficulty by adhering to the Scriptural account and yet adapting it to his own descrip
tion of Paradise without naming the rivers. One large river flowing south through Eden (afterwards identified by him with the Tigris : Book IX. 71), he supposes to pass, engulphed in a subterranean channel, right through or underneath the Hill or Mountain of Paradise—the fertility of which, as of a vast mass of garden mould, was maintained by a fount thence sucked up and dispersed in rivulets above. This river, after thus passing through or underneath the hill, reappeared at the other side, and there received, in the form of cascades down the southern slope of the hill, the rills which it had lent in its passage. It then divided itself, in the plain south of Paradise, into four great streams : these streams thence pursued each its course through many a famous Asiatic land ; but it is less necessary, he says, to follow them in their wanderings than to describe the effects of the fount from the subterranean parent stream in irrigating Paradise. He therefore abstains from farther description of Eden at large, and goes on to describe the Happy Garden itself, within the verdurous wall, on the champaign mountainhead. It will be seen (lines 236—268) that this table-land of Paradise itself is of considerable extent, containing variety of hill and plain. But the reader must not forget the great river underneath it, and the concealed gulf through which it flows, as these are of importance afterwards. 224.
“his course." See note, Book I. line 254. 232. his darksome passage." See note, Book I. line 254.
250. “ Hung amiable-Hesperian fables true, if true, here only.”: i.e. hung lovely, realizing the ancient fables of the gardens of the Hesperides - fables, if true at all, true only here.
256. “and without thorn the rose.” One of the fancies of the Fathers was that, till after the Fall, the rose had no thorns-a fancy alluded to by Herrick (1647) in these lines, quoted by Todd from one of his poems :
“ Before man's fall, the rose was born
(St. Ambrose says) without the thorn." 264. “ The birds their quire apply.” So, as Bowle noted, Spenser, F. Q. 1. iii. 40 :
“ Sweet birds thereto applide
Their dainty lays.” 268—272. “ Not that fair field of Enna," &c. Enna, where Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, was carried off by Pluto or Dis, was in the heart of Sicily.
272—274. “nor that sweet grove of Daphne, by Orontes and the inspired Castalian spring.” The famous Castaly or Castalian spring of the Greek poets was a stream of Mount Parnassus near the Arch of Apollo at Delphi in Phocis; but the one here meant was a spring which had borrowed the same name, near Apollo's sacred grove of Daphne in Syria, where the Orontes flows into the Mediterranean not far from Antioch.
275-279. nor that Nyseian isle,” &c. There were not a few places named Nysa in the ancient world ; but the particular Nyseian isle here meant seems to be the island in the lake Tritonis about the middle of the northern coast of Africa, where the river Triton flows from the lake into the lesser Syrtis. Here, according to the account adopted in the text-but, according to other accounts, at Nysa in Ethiopia, to the south of Egypt—the infant Bacchus (Dionysos) was educated. In the common mythology Bacchus is the son of Jupiter and the nymph Semele, and he is secretly brought up by the nymphs at Nysa, after his mother's death, to avoid the wrath of Juno. But Milton makes him here the son of Jupiter Ammon or Hammon (the Libyan Jupiter) and the nymph Amalthea ; and it is from the wrath of Rhea, Saturn's wife, and Jupiter's stepmother, that he is hid. So far as Milton has authority for this version of the legend, the commentators find it in Diodorus Siculus.
280—284. “Nor, where Abassin kings their issue guard, Mount Amara," &c. Amara or Amhara is now the name of a large district or tract of high table-land in the middle of Abyssinia, east of Lake Tzan or Dembea, where the Blue Nile has its head. Lying as it does about halfway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, it may be said to be “under the Ethiop line.” In this district, in the old maps, sketching Abyssinia when it was less known than now, and was believed to contain the true head of the Nile as a whole, we find marked the single lofty mountain Amara, which was believed to be an important place in Abyssinian history. Here the sons of the Emperor of Abyssinia—for such is the title that has been borne by the kings of that country since the fifth or sixth century, when they were of some consequence—were said to be educated in strict seclusion. As showing the prevalence of this story in Milton's time, Todd quotes this passage from Heylin's Microcosmus (1627), “The hill of Amara is a day's journey high ; on the top whereof are thirty-four palaces, in which the younger sons of the Emperor are continually enclosed, to avoid sedition. They enjoy there whatsoever is fit for delight or princely education. This mountain hath but one ascent up, which is impregnably fortified, and was destinate to this use anno 470 or thereabouts." The reader need hardly be reminded of the use made of this legend or tradition by Dr. Johnson in his story of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. Such was said to be the delightfulness of the mountain and its neighbourhood that by some it was supposed to be the Scriptural Paradise.
285. “ From this Assyrian garden.” Here, again, as in line 126, Milton uses the word Assyria in its largest extension.
293–295. “ Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure-severe, but in true filial freedom placed, whence true authority in men.” By some this passage is pointed so as to make the “whence” refer to " sanctitude severe and pure," i.e. to imply that such sanctitude is the source of true authority
I conceive, however, that to make the “whence” refer to “ filial freedom”-i.e. make such freedom the source of true authority in men is more in accordance with Milton's mode of thought; and the original pointing seems to warrant this.
301. “hyacinthine locks”: i.e. dark in colour, and curling naturally like the blossoms of the hyacinth. Hume compares Homer (Od. vi. 231), where Athene, to increase the beauty of Ulysses, gives him such hair :
ούλας ήκε κόμας υακινθίνω άνθει ομοίας. . Eve's hair, on the other hand, is golden and long.
307, 308. "which implied subjection." See 1 Cor. xi. 9-15.
309, 310. “ And by her yielded, by him best received yielded, with coy submission," &c. The meaning is “by her yielded with coy submission, &c., and by him best received when so yielded."
323, 324. “Adam the goodliest man," &c. These two lines have been pointed out as containing a kind of double bull in language—making Adam the goodliest of Adam's sons, and Eve the fairest of Eve's daughters. But in Greek and Latin such a construction was not uncommon; and Milton purposely adopts it here. There is a similar construction in Book II. 678 ; where see note.
337. "gentle purpose" : i.e. conversation (propos). Thyer quotes Spenser, F. Q. 111. viii. 14:—
"He gan make gentle purpose to his dame." 352. “ Or bedward ruminating": i.e. chewing the cud as they walked slowly to their place of rest.
362. “Little inferior": Psalm viii. 2. (Newton.)
a lion now
then as a tiger," &c. In Sylvester's Bu Bartas (“ The Imposture") Satan's successive transmutations of himself into different animals in Eden are thus described :
“Our freedom's felon, fountain of our sorrow,
Thinks now the beauty of a Horse to borrow;
408—410.“when Adam, first of men turned him," &c. The construction “when Adam, thus moving speech to Eve, turned himi.e. the Fiend--all ear," &c.
449 “ That day I oft remember," &c. It is implied here that, in Milton's imagination, Adam and Eve had already been together in Paradise for some time. See Introd. p. 117.
458—473. “to look into the clear smooth lake," &c. It was pointed out by Stillingfleet that Milton must, throughout this passage, have had in view Ovid's description (Met
. iii.) of Narcissus gazing at his own image in the water.
483." His flesh, his bone." See Gen. ii. 23. 478. “ Under a platane" : i.e. a plane-tree. 486. “individual”: i.e. not to be divided, inseparable (Lat. individuus). The word occurs twice besides in Milton's poetry (Par. Lost, V. 610, and On Time, 12), and both times in the same sense.
He uses the word dividual twice (Par. Lost, VII. 382 and XII. 85) in exactly the opposite sense-i.e. "separable" or "parted."
492. "unreproved": i.e, not to be reproved, blameless. Used once besides in the same sense (L'All. 40). See also unremoved, Par. Lost, IV. 987.
512, 513. “Yet let me not forget what I have gained from their own mouths. It was one of the fancies of the Jewish commentators on Gen. iii. that Satan first learnt the prohibition imposed on Adam as to the Tree of Knowledge by overhearing him conversing on the subject with Eve; and Milton has adopted this fancy.
539. “ in utmost longitude" : i.e. in the extreme west.
542, 543. " Against the eastern gate of Paradise levelled his evening rays." Mr. Keightley was the first, we believe, to point out (Life of Milton, p. 43!) that here Milton has possibly made a slip. The Sun, setting in the west, could not level his rays direct against the eastern gate of Paradise (its only gate, as Milton has told us, line 178, and facing towards the present Persia), unless it were against the inside of that gate. Milton may have meant this; but it is hardly likely, since in what follows he seems to be describing the gate from the outside. 549.
“ Gabriel sat." See note, III. 648-650. 555, 556." Thither came Uriel, gliding,” &c. See notes, III. 648—650, and 690, 691. If Uriel came on a beam from the setting Sun to the eastern gate of Paradise, he must have crossed Paradise, where Satan was still roaming, in order to reach that gate. See previous note, IV. 542, 543.
556. “On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star.” One of the many lines in which Milton, by a beautiful fitness of metre and of component letters, makes the sound suggest the sense. Compare Comus, 80.