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Boeotian echoes. Mr. Keightley fancies that Milton was misled in his topography by Virgil, Ecl. 11. 24 :
Amphion Dircæus in Actæo Aracyntho," where " Amphion Dirceus" means "the Theban Amphion."
71-73. “Captum oculis Typhlonta," &c. The horses of Night are familiar creatures in classic poetry; and Spenser has them, F. Q., I. v., where they are described thus (stanza 20) :
“ Before the dore her iron charet stood,
Already harnessed for journey new,
And cole-blacke steedes yborne of hellish brood;". and again, with a difference (stanza 28)
“ Through mirksome aire her ready way she makes :
Her twyfold teme, of which two blacke as pitch,
Did softly swim away. It was a daring beauty in Milton to be the first (as he is believed to be) who gave these horses names. His lines may be thus translated :
Typhlos the blind to lead, and with him the fierce Melanchætes,
Coupled with shaggy Phrix, whose mane few cloudily round her."
74. “regum domitor": the Pope, with the polite title of "Phlegetontius hæres" also fitted to him.
75, 76. “ Ingreditur thalamos (neque enim," &c.). This insinuation is conventional, as against Popes in general, the verb producit being in the present tense; and it is not to be regarded as directed against the particular Pope who reigned in June 1605: viz. Paul V.
80–85. “ Assumptis micuerunt tempora canis," &c. In this description of Satan as he stood at the Pope's bedside there is a touch of resemblance to the appearance given to Satan in the temptation in the wilderness, Par. Reg., I. 314 et seq. and 497, 498; but the special equipment in the garb of a Franciscan friar is, as Warton pointed out, from two passages in Buchanan. Thus, in Buchanan's Franciscanus, a Satire on the Franciscans :
" Haud quoties longo sub syriate rasum
Cerno caput, tortum funem, latumque galerum
Again in the same poet's Fratres Fraterrimi, xxxiv., entitled “Somnium," and describing the apparition of St. Francis at the poet's bedside :
“ Cum mihi Franciscus, nodosâ cannabe cinctus,
Astitit ante torum, stigmata nota gerens.
Palla, fenestratus calceus, hasta, liber :
86–89. Talis ... Franciscus eremo." Warton thinks that here Milton means St. Francis d'Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan order (1182-1226), but has, by mistake, attributed to that Saint incidents which properly belong to the life of St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit Missionary (1506—1552).
92. “ Dormis, nate ? ” So, as Warton notes, Iliad, 11. 23, Eúčelç, 'Ατρέος υιέ ;
96. “pharetrati . . . Britanni." In memory, as Mr. Keightley supposes, of the ancient fame of the English bowmen. 97.
“ Latius . . Cæsar”: the Roman Cæsar, or Emperor of Germany. The Cæsar or Emperor in 1605 was Rodolph II.
102, 103 “disjectam . . . classem," &c. The shattered Spanish Armada of 1588. 104, 105. "Sanctorumque cruci tot corpora fixa probrosa,
Thermodoontëâ nuper regnante puella." These are the Roman Catholics put to death in England during the reign of Elizabeth, here called “ Thermodoontea puella” or “Amazonian girl," from Thermodon, a river falling into the Euxine sea in the country of the legendary Amazons. Ovid's adjective, as Warton noted, is Thermodontiacus ; but Todd refers for Thermodoonteus to Propertius, 111. xiv. 15, 16. There, however, the form, in the edition I have at hand, is Thermodonteus :
Qualis Amazonidum nudatis bellica mammis
Thermodonteis turma vagatur agris ;" and, if this reading is correct, Milton has not the warrant of this passage, either for his word, or for shortening the second syllable of it. Indeed, the name of the river is Oɛpuódwv.
116. " ad consilium": to his Parliament.
117, 118: “Patricios," members of the House of Commons; "procerum de stirpe creatos," Peers ; "grandevos patres," &c., Bishops and Privy Councillors.
120. “nitrati pulveris.” The accepted Latin phrase for Gunpowder was “pulvis nitratus” or “pulvis nitrosus."
126. “vel Gallus atrox, vel sævus Iberus.” The French King in 1605 was Henry IV., the hero of Navarre; the Spanish King was Philip Ill. Milton thinks of the two peoples and their religion, and not of the particular sovereigns. 127.
“ Sæcula . . . Mariana”: the times of “the Bloody Mary,” Elizabeth's predecessor.
133 “ Tithonia”: Aurora or Morning, the wife of Tithonus.
135. nigri . . . nati”: Memnon, the dark King of Ethiopia, son of Tithonus and Aurora, for whose untimely death in the Trojan war Aurora was inconsolable. See note, Pens. 18.
138. “revolvens" : rolling back.
139-154. “Est locus,” &c. This Latin poem, juvenile production though it is, contains fine poetical passages; and the present is one of them. With various precedents in his mind, the young poet imagines a place on the earth where there is a Cave of Murder and Treason ; and he describes it with much power :
“ Far there exists a place, girt round with unchangeable night-gloom,
Once the foundation vast of a building yielded to ruin,
Coffinless bones lie about, and iron-spigoted corpses. Round the cavern are Stratagem, Strife, Calumny, Fury, Fear, and all shapes of Death ; pale Horror hovers over it; the shrieks of ghosts are heard in the silence of the spot; the very ground is blood-soaked; while far in the interior, shunning the cavern's mouth, lurk Murder and Treason themselves, restlessly looking back in continual dread.
143. "preruptaque." So in Second edition. In the First the word was " semifractaque" ; which gave a false quantity, the first syllable of semi being long. Milton ought to have known this, if only from line 122 in his own Elegia Quinta.
155. "pugiles Roma": "champions of Rome" in the sense of hired bravoes or ruffians.
156. "antistes Babylonius ": the Babylonian priest; Rome, in the Protestant interpretation, being the great Babylon of the Apocalypse. 158.
“ Gens exosa mihi.” Warton refers to Juno's speech to Æolus, Æn. 1. 65 et seq., for the phrase " Gens inimica mihi,” and a certain general resemblance.
165. "paruere gemelli.” The gemelli are Murder and Treason. The first syllable of paruere being long, Milton, as Warton observed, either committed a false quantity here, or is to be absolved on the ground
that he meant the u to pass as v, and the whole word to be a trisyllable. In the only other case of his use of the same verb in his Latin poetry, “Parere Fati discite legibus” (In ob. Pro. Med., written in the same year), the law of the verse permits the initial syllable of the line to be either long or short : so that instance does not help us to a decision. It is in his favour, however, that in a preceding line in this same poem, In Quint. Nov. (26) he has the quantity right in the compound "apparent."
166—169. " Interea longo flectens curvamine cælos despicit Dominus," &c. A combination of two Biblical passages—Ps. xviii. 9 and Ps. ii. 4.
170—193. “Esse ferunt spatium," &c. In this imagination of the House or Tower of Fame, the young poet dares to come after Ovid's similar description (Met. XII. 39–63) and Chaucer's much more elaborate one (House of Fame : beginning of Book III.). He helps himself to touches from both, and uses also Virgil's description of Fame herself (Æn. IV. 173—188); yet he produces an Abode of Rumour quite his own, and suitable for his purpose.
171. “ Mareotidas undas”: distinctly so in both Milton's editions ; but certainly, as Mr. Keightley observes, either a mistake or a misprint for Mæotidas. For Milton cannot have meant Lake Mareotis, which is in Egypt, but the great Lake Mæotis, now “the sea of Azof,” north of the Black Sea. That lake, washing the western end of the Caucasian chain, does lie close to that boundary-line between Asia and Europe where Milton places his House of Fame.
172. “ Titanidos ... Famæ.” According to Virgil as above (Æn. iv. 178—180), where Fame is represented as the daughter of Terra, and sister of the Titans Cous and Enceladus.
1784-180. “ Qualiter instrepitant ... agmina muscarum,” &c. The original of this image, in its exact form, as Warton noted, is in the Iliad, II. 469 et seq., and xvi. 641 ; but Chaucer has a modification of it in his House of Fame, describing the coming in of the petitioners to the Goddess :
But, while that I beheld this sight,
181. “Illa," Fame; " matris," Terra or Earth, Fame's mother. Sce antè, 172.
182-188. " Auribus innumeris cinctum caput : . nec tot, Aristoride, ... volvebas lumina." Aristorides is Argus, the hundred-eyed guardian
of the cow Io, or Isis; his father was Aristor. Compare Virgil's Fame, as above (181--183)
Cui, quot sunt corpore plumæ,
Tot linguæ, totidem ora sonant, tot subrigit aures."
“For as fele eyen hadde she
As fethers upon foules be,
And tongues as on a beast been heares."
207. “ Dextra tubam gestat Temesæo ex ære sonoram.” Temese, on the Calabrian coast, was famous for its copper, and Warton quotes from Ovid the phrase “ Temesæa ara."-In Chaucer, Fame does not herself carry a trumpet, but is attended by Æolus, the wind-god, carrying two trumpets, a golden one for good report or praise, and a brass one for evil report or infamy.
208. “ cedentes . . . auras.” Compare Par. Lost, II. 842, where the phrase “the buxom air," as Todd remarked, literally translates this.
220-226. “ Attamen . . . celebratior anno." It seems impossible to doubt that Milton suddenly huddled up in these closing lines a poem which he intended to be longer. If he had kept proportion with the foregoing parts of the poem, the proceedings of Fame or Rumour after her arrival in England ought to have been more gradual; the indefinite horror caused by her murinurs should have been seen encircling the dark deed to which they appertained ; and the ring should have been drawn closer and closer till we reached the actual 5th of November and the capture of Guy Fawkes in his cellar. Probably Milton had to get the piece ready by the 5th of November, 1626, and had to cut it short at the last moment. As it is, it is the best Gunpowder Plot poem in existence; and in the last two lines we seem to hear the cries of the boys in the streets carrying Fawkes about in effigy.
IN OBITUM PRÆSULIS ELIENSIS. 4-6. "Quem nuper effudi," &c. A reference to his Elegia Tertia. For the interval between the death lamented in that piece and the death lamented in this, see Introd., II. 354.
7-10. “ Cum centilinguis Fama . . . spargit,” &c. This is as if Milton had still in his car lines 211, 212 of the preceding poem, In