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71. “Sic napis exiguus, sic rivi potor Homerus." Here Milton fiatly contradicts Horace, who insists on it as an axiom that no good poet was ever a water drinker, and argues, on internal evidence, that Homer cannot have been such (Epist. 1. xix. 1–6):
“ Prisco si credis, Mæcenas docte, Cratino,
Nulla placere diu nec vivere carmina possunt
Laudibus arguitur vini vinosus Homerus.” Milton's personal philosophy led him to this contradiction of Horace, respecting Homer at least, and poets of the higher or prophetic strain, though he had yieided the axiom in the earlier part of the Elegy as it respected certain orders of poets, and Horace himself. He had, doubtless, in his mind the grand figure of the blind old Homer of the legends, going from city to city, and living on alms, and sometimes poorly on those, in exchange for his songs. Once, it is said in the pseudo-Herodotean Life of Homer, the blind poet, till then known only by his name of Melesigenes, was induced by an unusually kind reception he had met from the people of Cumæ, to petition the authorities of that city for a state-maintenance for the rest of his life, that he might wander no more, but make them and their city celebrated. The proposal seemed to be favourably entertained in the public assembly, till one speaker remarked that, if they undertook to feed homers on application (homer being a word in the Cumæan dialect for “blind man”), they would soon have too many such useless cattle on their hands. The vote, accordingly, was in the negative ; and the blind man left the city in anger, with this curse, that there should never to the end of time be a poet born in Cumæ. But the Cumaan nickname stuck to him, and Melesigenes became thenceforward Homerus.
72. “ Dulichium vexit per freta longa virum, et," &c. “It is worthy of remark,” Warton says, “ that Milton here illustrates Homer's poetical character by the Odyssey, and not by the Iliad.” The Island of Dulichium was part of the kingdom of Ulysses ; hence he is the “ Dulichius vir”; and the allusions are to such adventures of Ulysses in the Odyssey as his visit to Circe (here called the Perseian Phæbas, or Priestess of Phæbus, because she was the daughter of Phæbus and Perseis), his escape from the Sirens, and his descent into the infernal regions.
79-90. “At tu si quid agam scitahere," &c. See Introd., II. 337, and Introd. to Hymn on the Nativity, II. 196, where this passage fixes the date of that English poem. 90.
“T'u mihi, cui recitomi, judicis instar cris." See Comus, 617 et seq., and note there.
“ Amathusia”: Venus, so called from the town of Amathus in Cyprus, one of the chief seats of her worship. So her son, Cupid, is called Cyprius in line 11.
21. “Talis in æterno juvenis Sigeius Olympo." The line, as Warton noted, is from Tibullus, iv. ii. 13 :
“ Talis in æterno felix Vertumnus Olympo." The “ juvenis Sigeius” is Ganymede son of Tros. He was generally called Phrygius Ganymedes (Ovid, Met. x. 155); but Phrygia was once a general word and included the Troas, with its town of Sigeum.
24. “ Thiodamantæus Naiade raptus Hylas.” Hylas, son of Thiodam.as, King of Mysia, was the favourite of Hercules, and was carried away by water-nymphs, who were enamoured of his beauty.
31--34. "strato Pythone superbum edomui Phæbum ... et, quoties meminit Peneidos," &c. Phoebus, proud of his victory over the serpent - 'ython, thought his darts superior to those of Cupid, until the little god made him fall in love with Daphne, the daughter of the river Peneus; and then he knew whose darts hurt most. 37, 38. “Cydoniusque . . . venator, et ille," &c. The
name Cydonius venator” (from Cydonia, a city in Crete, famous for its arrows) seems to be here indefinite, like the “ Parthus cques of the preceding line, and not to designate any particular person. Probably the Parthus cques " suggested the “
suggested the “Cydonius venator"; (Ed. x. 59, 60) has
“ libet Partho torquere Cydonia cornu
Spicula ;' and again (n. XII. 856---858) :
sagitta Armatam sævi Parthus quam felie veneni
Parthus, sive Cydon, telum immedicabile, torsit.” Against the usage in these, and in other passages, Milton, as Mr. Mitford noted, makes the first syllable in Cydonius long, and the second short.--The other person, “ille," is Cephalus, one of the legends about whom is that he shot his own wife Procris accidentally with an unerring arrow, the gift of Artemis.
39. ingens ... Orion”: the famous giant and hunter of the Greek mythology, changed into the constellation of that name.
40. “ Herculeæque manus, Herculeusque comes." The “hands of Hercules" himself were subdued by love when he span for Omphale :
for the "companion of Hercules," similarly conquered, Mr. Keightley suggests Telamon.
46. Nec tibi Phæbeus porriget anguis opem.” Æsculapius, the god of Medicine, son of Phoebus, came to Rome in the form of a snake, to stay a pestilence. Ovid tells the story, Met. xv., and uses the phrase Phæbeius anguis," as Warton noted.
51, 52. “ Et modò quà nostri spatiantur in urbe Quirites, et modo," &c. : i.e. now the favourite walks of the citizens within London itself (Charter House Garden, the Temple Gardens, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Gray's Inn Gardens, &c.), now the more suburban places of resort (Hyde Park, Hampstead, &c.). 56.
“ Fallor? an." See Eleg. V. 5–8, and note there. 81, 82. “ proles Junonia . . . inter Lemniacos," &c. Vulcan, who, when flung out of heaven by Jupiter, fell on the island of Lemnos.
83, 84. “ Talis et obreptum solem respexit . . . Amphiaraus." The story of the hero Amphiaraus, who went unwillingly to the war against Thebes, fought bravely in it, but was at last swallowed up in a chasm of the earth as he was careering in his chariot from the pursuing enemy, is hinted at by Ovid in a line the last half of which Milton has adopted (Epist. ex Pont. Ui. i. 51, 52)
“ Notior est factus Capaneus a fulminis ictu ;
Notus humo mersis Amphiaraus equis.” But, as Warton suggests, Milton may have had in his mind the splendid description of the hero's descent in the Thebaid of Statius (VII. 818---823)
“ Illum ingens haurit specus, et transire parantes
Mergit equos : non arma manu, non frena remisit :
Miscuit arva tremor, lucemque exclusit Averno." Warton justly remarks on the fine taste shown in the allusion to Amphiaraus for Milton's purpose. In the preceding lines he had compared his desolation of heart, as the unknown London beauty vanished from his gaze, and he knew he should never see her again, to the feelings with which Vulcan in Lempos may have thought of the heaven from which he had been suddenly flung; now he mends the image by saying he is like Amphiaraus, who, as he sank in his chariot through the dark chasm that was to close over him, took one last look upwards at the sky and the sun.
POSTSCRIPT TO ELEGIA SEPTIMA. .“ Hæc ego mente olim lævâ," &c. See Introd., II. 339, 340.—The more the general tenor of the Postscript is considered in connexion with the circumstances of Milton's
life, the more it will appear that by Academia in line 5 he does not mean the University of Cambridge, as all the commentators have supposed, but the Platonic Philosophy. True, it may have been at Cambridge that he first imbibed this Philosophy from Plato's writings; but the writings themselves, and not the University, are the “ shady Academy” that he thinks of as affording him the "Socratic streams." He is thinking, in fact, of the original Academia of Athens, the celebrated groves of Academus, where Plato taught in person ; and, by metaphor, he makes his study of Plato's works to have been his own walking in spirit in those illustrious groves. How, indeed, even in physical consistency, could Milton have thought of Cambridge, whose“ juncosa paludes ” and “ nuda arva, umbrasque negantia molles? he had pictured so vividly in his first Elegy, as now “ umbrosa" and flowing with streamlets? Still, if there is any doubt, Cambridge ought to have the benefit. For, certainly, he has made the penult of Academia short here, just as he did when he used the word indubitably for Cambridge University (see Eleg., II. 21)." Et Diomedeam vim timet ipsa Venus." The Platonic Philosophy, howsoever imbibed, had, before 1645, taken such possession of Milton as to have driven out of his mind any juvenile love-folly like that which this Elegy cominemorated; and now, let Venus herself try him, and she would find him no less obdurate a combatant than the hero Diomede had been, when he pursued her, lady-god though she was, through the ranks of war, wounded her in the wrist, and sent her screaming to Mars for help back to Olympus (Itiad, v. 335 et seq.),
[EPIGRAMMATA.) IN PRODITIONEM BOMBARDICAM. “ Fallor? an." See Elog. Quinta, 548, and note there. Qualiter ille ...
liquit Iordanios agros.” The prophet Elijah, 2 Kings ii. 11,
IN EANDEM :-" Quc septemgemino Bellua monte lates ?”: the Papacy, resting on the seven hills of Rome, and regarded by zealous Protestants as the Beast of the Apocalypse (Rev. xiii.) —“ Ille quidem sine te consortia serus adivit astra." King James was dead several years before this Epigram was written. Would Milton in later manhood have made the same post-mortem disposition of this king ?
IN EANDEM “Purgatorem animæ derisit läcobus ignem": i.e. King James, as a good Protestant, derided the doctrine of Purgatory. Note the unusual lacobus, instead of lacobus, as in the preceding Epigram. “ Nec inultus," &c. Compare In Quintum Novembris, 44.
IN EANDEM :— The jest is “How absurd that Rome, which had excommunicated James, and doomed him to Styx and the world below, should have changed her mind, and tried to hoist him by gunpowder quite the other way!”
IN INVENTOREM BOMBARDÆ.—" Tapetionidem" : Prometheus. He only snatched a little fire from the chariot of the sun, and brought it down on the tip of a stick; but the inventor of gunpowder had robbed Jove himself of the whole power of his thunder.
AD LEONORAM ROMÆ CANENTEM.—See Introduction, II. 341, 342.“ Angeius unicuique suus,” &c. A fancy in which I discern something characteristic of Milton.—“ mens tertia," some third mind, intermediate between God and Angel.—“assuescere.” Mr. Keightley notes the faulty structure of this line, the cæsura falling on the first syllable of a word.— “ Quod, si cuncta Deus est,” &c. Mr. Keightley refers to the Pantheistic exposition in Virgil, Æn. VI. 724 et seq.
AD EANDEM :—“ Altera . . . Leonora”: the Princess Leonora of Este, sister of the Duke of Ferrara, Tasso's love for whom, dating from 1566, makes so much romance in biographies of the poet.—“ Dircæo Pentheo." Pentheus, King of Thebes (hence called “Dircæan Pentheus," because Dirce was also one of the celebrities of the Baotian legends), was furiously opposed to the worship of Bacchus in his dominions, till the god, to punish him, inspired him with a desire to behold the Bacchic orgies himself, when he was torn to pieces. Ovid, in telling the story (Met. 111.), describes the phrenzy of his rage, and his eyes "quos ira tremendos fecerat.”—“ desipuisset": misprinted in both Milton's own editions : “ desi puiiset” in First, and "desipulisset” in Second.
AD EANDEM : -“Sirena . . . claraque Parthenopes fana Achelöiados, Chalcidico .. rogo ?” &c. Naples, primitively called Parthenope, and poetically urbs Parthenopria, derived that distinction from the legend that the body of Parthenope, one of the Sirens, was found and sacredly entombed on the seashore at that point of the Italian coast. The Sirens were Acheloiads, as being daughters of the river-god Achelous. Chalcidicus was another word for “ Neapolitan,” inasmuch as Naples had been enlarged and reedified by a colony from the island of Eubea, the chief town of which was Chalcis.—“Illa quidem vivit,” &c. : i.e. The true Siren is Leonora ; for she is of Neapolitan birth, though now residing in Rome (Introd., II. 342).--"rauci murmura Pausilipi” : meaning probably, Mr. Keightley thinks, the murmurs of the waves at the foot of Mount Posilipo, and without any such reference as Warton supposed to the famous grotto there.
APOLOGUS DE RUSTICO ET HERO.–See Introd., II. 352.
DE MORO.--See Introd., II. 342, 343. There, after giving an account of the purposes of the scrap, and of the circumstances in which it was used by Milton, first in his Defensio Secunda (1654), and next in his Authoris ad Alexandri Mori Supplementum Responsio (1655), I