« PreviousContinue »
however, quotes the phrase "sociæque ad fædera mensæ" from Statius, Theb. VIII. 240.
85-93. “ Tandem, ubi,” &c. A beautiful passage, written, I should say, with tears. Note the sudden and yet lingering “at ego securâ pace quiescam.” Something of the same mournful cadence recurs in Sams. Agonistes, 598. 94-100.
. . Olympo.” The frequency with which Milton ends a poem with this dream of Heaven and its joys has been already remarked on. See note, Eleg. Tertia, 63, 64.
I-3. “ Himerides Nympha,” &c. The Himerides Nymphe are the nymphs of the Sicilian river, Himera, mentioned more than once by Theocritus, and once (v. 124) thus, 'Iuépa a'vo įdatos pelto yada: “May Himera for water flow milk." There were, in reality, two rivers of this name in Sicily, one flowing to the south coast, and the other to the north. The northern Himera, which had the city of Himera at its mouth, is supposed to be the river of Theocritus. Milton's intention, however, is simply to invoke the Sicilian muses generally, the muses of Pastoral Poetry proper, who had inspired Theocritus, and his fellow Sicilian and pastoralist, Moschus. The First Idyll of Theocritus contains the lamentation of the shepherd Thyrsis for his dying fellow-shepherd Daphnis; the Thirteenth Idyll of the same poet relates the abduction of the beautiful youth Hylas by the water-nymphs, and the grief of Hercules for his loss; and the Third Idyll of Moschus has for its subject the untimely death of the pastoral poet Bion, whom Moschus acknowledges as his master, and who, though born in Asia Minor, near Smyrna, had come to reside in Sicily. This last Idyll is entitled 'Em Túdios Biwvos, or Epitaphium Bionis, in imitation of Bion's own First Idyll
, which is a lament for the death of Adonis, and is entitled 'Etırápios 'Ačúvidos, or Epitaphium Adonidis. In short, Milton desires, in the opening, as all through the poem, to remind his readers that the poem is on the model of the old Greek Pastoral. Hence he calls it a Sicelium carmen," or "Sicilian song," attempted on the banks of the Thames. See Introd. to the poem, II. 374-376; also Introd. to Lycidas, II. 268—275, and notes to Lycidas, lines 85, 86, and 132-134.
4. “Thyrsis." Milton, in lamenting Diodati under the name of Damon, represents himself as Damon's surviving fellow-shepherd Thyrsis. The name, as has been said, is that of the chief speaker in the First Idyll of Theocritus; and thence it descended as a standing pame in subsequent Pastoral poetry. Virgil has it for one of the speakers in his Seventh Eclogue; the English Pastoralists had not forgotten it; and Milton had already used it in his Comus as the name
of the Guardian Spirit in his guise of a shepherd. In that character it had been worn by the musician Henry Lawes, the performer of the part, who indeed claimed a kind of property in it in consequence (see Lawes's Dedication of the original edition of Comus, II. 433) ; but Milton now reclaims it for himself.
7. “ Damona.” Damon is also a name in the classic Pastoral. Virgil has a Damon as one of the speakers in his Eighth Eclogue.
9-11. “ Et jam bis,” &c. This passage fixes the date of Diodati's death. Milton had gone abroad in the April of 1638, and he returned to England in the autumn of 1639. Computing from this last date, or from a few weeks later, when Milton wrote his poem, two harvests, with their precedent summers of green crop, would take us back to the summer or early autumn of 1638. Diodati, therefore, must have died shortly after Milton left England, though Milton, as the sequel of the poem shows, remained ignorant of the fact till he was on his return.
12, 13 “ Nec dum aderat Thyrsis,” &c. : i.e. Diodati's death in England had happened while Milton was at Florence, on the first of his two visits to that city: viz. between the middle of July and the middle of September 1638.
15. “assuetâ seditque sub ulmo.” Warton properly refers to the phrase “the accustomed oak” in Pens. 60 (see note there); but Todd quotes also Ovid, Met. x. 533, “assuetâ semper in umbra.”
18. “ Ite domum impasti ; domino jam non vacat, agni.” This line is the burden, or recurring line, of the poem, beginning every paragraph after this point, and repeated in all seventeen times. The exquisite device of such a burden, or recurring line, breaking a long pastoral monologue into musical parts, is found in the First Idyll of Theocritus; where the line
'Αρχετε βωκoλικάς, Μώσαι φίλαι, άρχετ' αοιδάς occurs, with only a verbal variation, nineteen times, breaking the lament of Thyrsis for the dying Daphnis. Again, in the Second Idyll of Theocritus, we have two such refrains breaking a monologue, one repeated ten times, and the other twelve times. So in the Epitaphium Bionis of Moschus, where the line
'Αρχετε Σικελικαί τω πένθεος, άρχετε Μοίσαι occurs fourteen times; and so in Bion's Epitaphium Adonidis, where similar, but slighter, use is made of the line
Αί αι των Κυθέρειαν απώλετο καλός 'Αδωνις Virgil also, in his Eighth Eclogue, makes one of the speakers repeat nine times the line
“ “ Ducite ab urbe domum, mea carmina, ducite Daphnin.”
23. "aurea" : used as a dissyllable.
27. “ nisi me lupus antè videbit.” For this superstition compare Virgil, Ecl. ix. 54.
31. "post Daphnin." See note, antè, lines 1-3.
32. “ Pales," the Roman god, or goddess, of sheepfolds; “ Faunus" (see note, Al Sals. 27), the Roman god of fields and cattle. In this whole passage (29-32) there is a recollection of Virgil, Ed. v. 76-80
“ Dum juga montis aper, fluvios dum piscis amabit,
Dumque thymo pascentur apes, dum rore cicadæ :
Agricolæ facient." 40. “rapido sub sole." Virgil has the phrase "solem ad rapidum," Georg. I. 424. 46. “ Mordaces curas." From Horace.
From Horace. See L'Allegro, 135, and note there.
47. “ Dulcibus alloquiis.” Also from Horace (Epod. XIII. 17). 51, 52. “Aut æstate, dies medio dum vertitur axe,
Cum Pan esculeå somnum capit abditus umbrâ.”
Ου θέμις, ώ ποιμάν, το μεσαμβρινόν, ου θέμις άμμιν
Τανίκα κεκμακώς αμπαύεται. . 56. “Cecropiosque sales referet, cultosque lepores ?” Cecropios (from Cecrops, the mythical founder of the Athenian state) may be translated “Attic”; in “Cecropios sales” there is a recollection of the phrase “ Attic salt,” as a name for genuine wit; and in the whole line there is an allusion to Diodati's sprightly humour. See Introd. to Eleg. Prima, II. 325–327, and Introd. to Elog. Sexta, II. 337. See also note to Comus, 619-628. 65.“ Innuba," &c. Compare Par. Lost, V. 215--219.
67. “ Mærent, inque suum convertunt ora magistrum.” Warton compares Lycidas, 125
“ The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed." 69, 70.“ Tityrus... Alphesibæus ... Agon ... Amyntas.” These fancy-names are all from the classic Pastoral, and more especially from Virgil's Eclogues, where shepherds so named are either speakers or are mentioned. Milton may, or may not, have had real persons in view under these designations.
71. " Hic gelidi fontes, hic illita gramina musco." So, as Richardson noted, Virgil, Ecl. x. 42, 43 :
“ Hic gelidi fontes, hic mollia prata, Lycori :
Hic nemus. “ Ista canunt surdo.” So, as Mr. Keightley notes, Virgil, Ecl. x. 8,“ Non canimus surdis.”
75. “Mopsus.” Another name from the classic Pastoral. In Virgil's Ed. v. Mopsus is one of the speakers.
76. “avium": here to be taken, by synæresis, as a dissyllable (av-yum); but, as Mr. Keightley remarks, the first syllable of the word ought then to be long by position, whereas Milton keeps it short.
79, 80. “ Saturni grave sæpe fuit pastoribus astrum,” &c. See note, Il Pens. 43.
Warton refers to Propertius, iv. i. 85, 86.
Et grave Saturni sidus in omne caput.” 82. “ Quid te, Thyrsi, futurum est ?” A Ciceronian idiom for “ Quid tibi," &c. In scanning this line the æ of nymphæ must remain unelided.
88, 89. “Hyas, Dryopeque, et filia Baucidis Ægle," &c. These female names are from the classic mythology, and here turned to Pastoral use. Real persons may, or may not, have been in Milton's mind. The Ægle, so specially characterized, might be some real person; but the character, after all, as Warton noted, is taken from Horace (Od. 11. ix. 9, 10)
“Me nunc Thressa Chloe regit,
Dulces docta modos, et citharæ sciens." 90. “ Venit Idumaniï Chloris vicina fluenti.” If any one of the four shepherdesses mentioned were a real person of Milton's acquaintance, this Chloris might be she ; for, as Warton explained, the Idumanium fluentum, from which she is said to have come, is the river Chelmer in Essex, near its influx into Blackwater Bay, called by Ptolemy Portus Idumanius. It is hardly possible to suppose so precise a local designation adopted without some suggestion from fact.
99, 100. "deserto in littore Proteus agmina phocarum numerat." recollection from Virgil, Georg. IV. 418—436, where the sea-god Proteus is described in this very occupation of tending and numbering his troops of sea.calves on the beach.
115-117. “ Ecquid erat tanti Romam vidisse sepultam," &c. A reference to Virgil's First Eclogue, where the shepherd Tityrus tells the shepherd Melibæus of his visit to Rome and his first impressions of that great city. As in that Eclogue Tityrus represents Virgil himself, Milton's meaning here is, “Was it of so much consequence for me to go all the way from England to see Rome, even if Rome had been the
same vast and unruined city as in Virgil's days ?” He all but borrows a line of the Eclogue
quæ tanta fuit Romam tibi causa videndi?” Milton visited Rome twice in the course of his foreign tour, viz. in Oct. and Nov. 1638, and again in Jan. and Feb. 1639.
126. “Pastores Thusci”: the wits and literary men of Florence, among whom he had spent two months (Aug. and Sept.) in 1638, and again two months (March and April) in 1639. Among these Milton became acquainted most intimately with the following eight persons, all then of some distinction in Florentine society, and active in its Academies or literary institutions—Benedetto Buommattei, Jacopo Gaddi, Agostino Coltellini, Valerio Chimentelli, Pietro Frescobaldi, Antonio Malatesti, Antonio Francini, and Carlo Dati. But the great Galileo was living in his blindness near Florence, and Milton had been introduced to him also.
127, 128. “ Thuscus tu quoque Damon, antiquâ genus unde petis Lucumonis ab urbe.” For Diodati's genealogy see Introd. to Elegia Prima (II. 323, 324). By “antiquâ Lucumonis urbe” is meant Lucca, Milton perhaps having heard a tradition that it had been founded by one of the old Etruscan Lucumons or kings, possibly even by that Lucumon who was afterwards Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth King of Rome in the legends. Lucca is certainly an ancient city ; but it is doubted now whether it is of Etruscan origin, as no Etruscan remains have been found on the site (see Smith's Dict
. of Greek and Roman Geog., Art. Luca). It has already been noted in the Introd. (II. 373) that Milton, when on his second visit to Florence, made an excursion of a few days, expressly to see Lucca, the place of Diodati's ancestry.
132. “Et potui Lycida certantem audire Menalcam !" An allusion, in pastoral terms, to the discussions and trials of literary skill he had heard in the Florentine academies. Lycidas and Menalcas may be any of the fore-named group of Florentine scholars (note 126). Both names are from the Virgilian Eclogues; and, though Milton had already two years before appropriated Lycidas immortally to Edward King of Cambridge, he does not hesitate to re-apply the name casually here.
133, 134. “Ipse etiam tentare ausus sum,” &c. : i.e. Milton had himself in Florence partaken in the literary discussions of the Academies, and been complimented by his Florentine friends on his poetical and other abilities. See note to Mansus, line 29, for an enumeration of the pieces of verse written by Milton in Italy. While in Florence, he wrote also an interesting Latin letter to Buommattei on his Italian Grammar (Sept. 1o, 1638); and it is possible, though not likely, that he wrote other things which he did not preserve. Doubtless the " attempts ” he speaks of as “not displeasing” his Florentine friends were chiefly of his Latin poems and oratorical exercises as he had