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rather surprised that Milton did not instinctively use the form “its" here. See, on word Its, Essay on Milton's English.
864, 865. “Our puissance,” &c. Psalm xii. 4, and Psalm xlv. 4. (Hume.)
869. “Beseeching or besieging." This is referred to as one of those “jingles » in Milton which a modern taste would reject. Perhaps modern taste is in fault.
872–874. “as the sound of waters," &c. Rev. xix. 6. (Newton.)
884. “ vouchsafed”; in the original “voutsafed." See Essay on Milton's English.
907. “ swift destruction." 2 Pet. ii. 1. (Keightley.)
2-4. “till Morn, waked by the circling Hours, with rosy hand unbarred the gates of Light.' A recollection of Homer's phrase pododáktulos ’Hùs; perhaps also of Iliad, v. 749; certainly, as Hume pointed out, of Ovid, Met. ii. 112.
7-11. “ Lodge and dislodge by turns," &c. Newton refers to Hesiod, Theog. 748. 19.
war in procinct”: i.e. in readiness. A Roman army, ready for battle, was said stare in procinctu (from procingere, “to gird tight in front "), the soldiers having then their garments girt tight round them.
29–43. “Servant of God," &c. This is the meaning of the name Abdiel. In the speech to Abdiel there is a recollection of Matt. xxv. 21; 1 Tim. vi. 12 ; Ps. lxii. 7; 2 Tim. ii. 15.
44-55. “Go, Michael,” &c. Milton's authority for making Michael the chief leader of the Heavenly armies is Rev. xii. 7, 8: “ And there was war in Heaven ; Michael and his Angels fought against the Dragon," &c. It has been remarked, by Dunster and Landor, as an inconsistency in the poem that the order given to Michael in this passage remains unexecuted. The rebels are driven out at last, not by Michael, but by the Messiah in person.
49. “Equal in number,” &c. As the rebel Angels were one-third of the Heavenly Host, this implies that half of the remainder only were detached to meet them.
57, 58. “to roll,” &c., spelt “rowl” in the original. (See Essay on Milton's English.) The construction is “to roll reluctant flames in dusky wreaths,” the word “reluctant” being used not in our usual sense of " unwilling,” but in that of “struggling to break forth.”
60. “gan blow.” Gan is the preterite of the old verb gin (for begin), and sometimes means began, but very often, in old poets, stands merely for did. Only in the second case, say some, is the sign of the infinitive to properly omitted. Either sense will suit here.
62. “in mighty quadrate joined.” “Quadrate” has been explained as meaning square or rectangle ; but Milton may here use it for “cube.” He is always true throughout to his notion of the Angels as not subject to gravitation (as, indeed, whither could they gravitate in Heaven ?) but capable of motion at will in all directions. Hence their armies in Heaven are more frequently solids than plane figures. See subsequent note, 399.
63-68. “ moved on in silence their bright legions to the sound," &c. Compare I. 549-562.
69-71. “nor obvious hill,” &c. : imitated, thinks Todd, from Tasso, Ger. Lib. i. 75; and Keightley quotes a parallel passage from the Homeridian Hymn to Demeter (381 et seq.), the more interesting, he says, because Milton could not have seen it. But, in fact, Milton did not need to see it, or any similar passage. He was imagining for himself, and could not imagine the thing otherwise. 81. “and, nearer view”: i.e. “and, when it was nearer view."
“argument” : i.e. “carved or painted design ;” in which sense Milton uses the Latin word "argumentum” in his Epitaphium Damonis, 185.
90. " fond”: in its old sense of " foolish.”
Said by Todd to have been a word in use among the Anglo-Irish, and found in Spenser's View of Ireland, and in Strafford's Letters.
100. “sun-bright.” The epithet is found in Spenser, Drayton, and other old poets.
Idol of”: i.e. false image of.
“Abdiel that sight endured not." Newton quotes Æn. ii. 407: “Non tulit hanc speciem furiatâ mente Chorcebus."
115. “realty.” The word may stand for “reality," or it may be “ rëalty,” meaning "loyalty,” from the Italian “ reale."
127. “ So pondering," &c. The reader is here reminded that Abdiel has not yet been speaking aloud, but only thinking to himself“exploring his own heart,” as was intimated line 113.
147. “my Sect.” It is impossible to avoid feeling that, in this phrase, and throughout the passage, Milton has a secondary reference to himself, and his position in England, at the time when the poem was written.
148. “How few," &c. : meaning either “how it is possible for a few sometimes to be right where,” &c., or
what a small number may sometimes be right where," &c.
167, 168. “ Ministering Spirits ... the minstrelsy of Heaven.” Conceive both the words “ministering” and “minstrelsy” pronounced with ironical emphasis. The phrase “ministering Spirits" is from Heb. i. 14.
169. “Servility." “A word coined by our author," says Hume, “to express the extreme meanness and baseness of slaves.” But Hume is wrong here. The word occurs in Shakespeare, i Henry VI., V. iii. : “a lave in base servility."
170.“ both their deeds”: an unusual construction, for the deeds of both of them (i.e. of 'servility' or the loyal angels, and 'freedom' or the rebel angels). 203.
“the vast of Heaven.” Todd quotes “the vast of night" from Shakespeare, Tempest, I. ii.
207 et seq. "In the following battle," says Keightley," the mind of the poet was evidently filled with that of the Kronids and Titans in the Theogony of Hesiod (676 et seq.)." 216. “ Both battles main”: i.e. both the main bodies.
“ These elements”: i.e. the elements of the terrestrial world amid which Raphael was speaking to Adam ; the word these emphatic.
236. “the ridges ” : i.e. rows or ranks, as in a ploughed field. 239. “ moment”: i.e. impelling force, momentum.
262--264. " Author of Evil," &c. The meaning of the passage is “ Author of Evil-a thing unknown till thy revolt and without even a name in Heaven, but now as plentiful as thou seest these acts," &c.
288.“ Err not”: i.e. do not erroneously imagine. 313. “aspéct malign.” A phrase from astrology. See note, X. 657
321. "the armoury of God.” Jerem. i. 25. (Todd.)
323–330. “it met the sword of Satan,” &c. The various commentators have quoted various passages from Spenser which Milton may have had in mind in this account of Michael's sword and its effects on Satan : e.g. F. Q. v. i. 10, III. v. 20, iv. iv. 24, v. viii. 34. Knowledge of the broad-sword exercise and its terms is shown in the passage - Mr. Keightley's explanation being that “Michael's sword with the down-stroke cut that of Satan in two, and then with an up-stroke (coup
de revers) it shared' his side." Shared (326) is cut, divided, shred: etymologically the same as sheer in line 325.
329. "griding.” Gird in Old English meant to strike, smite, or cut through : gride, another form of the same word, had the last meaning.
332. “nectarous humour”; i.e. the ichor of the gods, as in Homer, Iliad, v. 340, which Milton must have had in mind :
χώρ, οδός πέρ τε ρέει μακάρεσσι θεοίσιν. 335. "to his aid was run”: a Latinism, cursum est.
365. “ Adramelech and Asmadai.” Here we have two more of the names of the rebel Angels, in addition to those mentioned in Book I. 376—-521, and like them taken from the mythologies of the ancient Polytheisms or false religions. Adramelech (a splendid king') is mentioned, 2 Kings xvii. 31, as one of the gods of the Sepharvites, worshipped by that nation in Samaria when they had been planted there by the king of Assyria. “ Asmadai is the lustful and destroying Angel, Asmodeus, mentioned in Tobit iii. 8.” (Hume.) 371, 372.
“ Ariel . . . Arioch .. Ramiel." Three more names of rebel Angels. Ariel (“Lion of God”) is a name occurring in the Old Testament once or twice-Ezra viii. 16, Isaiah xxix. 1-but not as that of a false god. Arioch (“lion-like") similarly occurs-Dan. ii. 14—as the proper name of a man. Ramiel does not occur in Scripture. Milton has helped himself to the names from mere tradition.
373–380. “I might relate," &c. Compare I. 361-375, and note on that passage.
390. “Charioter": so spelt in original editions: see Essay on Milton's English.
399. “ In cubic phalanx." Interpreted by Todd, Keightley, and all the commentators, as meaning only " four-square ;" but, in the poet's imagination, as I believe, meaning literally “cubical” in the ordinary geometrical sense. Milton's notion, maintained consistently throughout, is that the Angels are not subject to the law of gravitation, as men are (gravitation, indeed, having no existence in Heaven, or till terrestrial masses were created), but move vertically at will, as well as horizontally. It is a consequence of this that, whereas armies of Men can form only squares, circles, or other plane figures, armies of Angels may act as cubes, spheres, or other solid masses. Read previous lines 344–353. 406—410. "Now Night,” &c.
“ Now Night,” &c. Keightley notes a recollection here of the end of book viii. and the beginning of book ix. of the Iliad; and Newton quotes Horace, Sat. i. 5.9
“Jam Nox inducere terris Umbras et coelo diffundere signa parabat."
410. "foughten": an old form, found in Shakespeare and others.
429. Of future” may mean either “In future we may deem him fallible,” or we may deem him fallible as respects the future.”
441, 442. “ Or equal . . . In nature none.” The meaning is “or equal that, whatever it was, which made the odds between us—an odds not existing so far as our constitution is concerned.”
447. “ Nisroch." The poet here avails himself of the name of that Assyrian god in whose temple at Nineveh Sennacherib was slain (2 Kings xix. 37). The meaning of Nisroch is doubtful : perhaps "great eagle."
467, 468. “ to me deserves," &c. The meaning is, “In my opinion deserves no less than what we already owe to Satan for our general deliverance from bondage."
470-491. "Not uninvented," &c. In this passage, ascribing the inven. tion of gunpowder and artillery to Satan, Milton but follows Ariosto, Spenser, and preceding poets. See Faery Queene, 1. vii. 13. Compare also Milton's Latin poems on the Gunpowder Plot for similarities of expression. 484. “hollow": in the original text spelt “hallow.”
“cheer": aspect, countenance : from old Fr. chière; Ital. cera, face or countenance. Hence to cheer, to put in good countenance, to hearten ; and hence cherish.
519. “ incentive reed" : i.e. the match or touchwood.
520. "pernicious.” It has been suggested that, along with the common meaning of this word, Milton may have had in his mind the Latin pernix, meaning “ quick.” Hence “destructively sensitive” would be about the equivalent.
521. "conscious Night." Hume quotes Ovid, Met. xiii. 15: quorum nox conscia sola est." 532.
“ In motion or in halt.” I have not seen it noticed by any editor that in the original text the word is not “ halt” but “alt," and that this spelling "alt” remains in the Second and Third Editions. Is it to be accounted an undetected erratum ? See XI. 210.
535. “Zophie." A name probably invented by Milton. It does not occur in Scripture. It would mean in Hebrew “Spy of God.”
536. “ Came flying,” &c. A line of unusual metre, the word “flying" occurring where a single strong syllable is common, so that the first half of the line has to be pronounced in a manner which represents the act described.