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Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost
In loss itself; which on his countenance cast
Like doubtful hue; but he his wonted pride
Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth not substance, gently raised
Their fainting courage, and dispelled their fears.
Then straight commands that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions1 be upreared
His mighty standard; that proud honour claimed
Azazel,2 as his right, a cherub tall,
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurled
The imperial ensign, which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds;
At which the universal host up sent
A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand hanners rise into the air
With orient colours waving; with them rose
A forest huge of spears,3 and thronging helms
Appeared, and serried4 shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable; anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian5 mood
Of flutes and soft recorders; such as raised
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to hattle, and instead of rage
Deliberate valour breathed, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting power to mitigate and 'suage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish and doubt, and fear, and sorrow, and pain,
1 Small, shrill, treble trumpets.
2 Not the scapegoat, but some demon.
3 So Tasso, describing the Christian and Pagan armies preparing to engage, Cant. 20, st. 28.
"Of dry-topped oaks they seemed two forests thick; So did each host with spears and pikes abound."
4 i. e. locked closely together.
1 i. e. grave or serious, such being the characteristic of Dorian harmony.
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
1 All the heroes and armies that ever were assembledwere no more than pigmies in comparison with these angels; "though all the giant brood of Phlegra," a city of Macedonia, where the giants fought with the gods, "with the heroic race were joined that fought at Thebes," a city of Boeotia, famous for the war between the sons of (Edipus, celebrated by Statius in his Thebaid, "and Ilium," made still more famous by Homer's Iliad, where "on each side" the heroes were assisted by the gods, therefore called " auxiliar gods; and what resounds" even "in fable or romance of Uther's son," king Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, whose exploits are romantically extolled by Geoffry of Monmouth, "begirt with British and Armoric knights," for he was often in alliance with the king of Armorica, since called Bretagne, of the Britons who settled there; " and all who since jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban," romantic names of places mentioned in Orlando Furioso, the latter, perhaps, Montauban in France, "Damasco or Marocco," Damascus or Morocco, but he calls them as they are called in romances; "or Trebisond," a city of Cappadocia, in the Lesser Asia; all these places are famous in romances, for joustings between the " baptized and infidels; or whom Biserta," formerly called Utica, "sent from Afric shore," that is, the Saracens who passed from Biserta, in Africa, to Spain, "when Charlemagne with all his peerage fell by Fontarabia," Charlemagne, king of France and emperor of Germany, about the year 800, undertook a war against the Saracens in Spain; and Mariana and the Spanish historians are Milton's authors for saying that he and his army were routed in this manner at Fontarabia (which is a strong town in Biscay at the very entrance into Spain, and esteemed the key of the kingdom) ; but Mezeray and the French writers give a quite different and more probable account of him, that he was at last victorious over his enemies and dUd in peace.—Newton.
Of Phlegra with the heroic race were joined
1 Deprived, robbed of, taken away from.
2 Hurt, injured.
With all his peers: attention held them mute.
"O myriads of immortal spirits! O powers
1 " Tears, such as angels weep," like Homer's ichor of the gods, which was different from the blood of mortals. This weeping of Satan on surveying his numerous host, and the thoughts of their wretched state, puts one in mind of the story of Xerxes weeping oa seeing his vast army, and reflecting that they were mortal, at the time that he was hastening them to their fate, and to the intended destruction of the greatest people in the world, to gratify his own vain glory.—Newton.
2 It is conceived that a third part of the angels fell with Satan, according to Rev. xii. 4.: " And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and cast them to the earth;" and this opinion Milton has expressed in several places, ii. 692, v. 710, vi. 156; but Satan here talks big and magnifies their number, as if their " exile had emptied Heaven."
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
He spake; and to confirm his words, out flew
There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top
1 The known custom of the Roman soldiers, when they applauded a speech of their general, was to smite their shields with their swords.—Bentley.
2 This word is constantly used in the masculine gender by Chaucer.
3 For metals are supposed to consist of two essential parts or principles; mercury, as the basis or metallic matter; and sulphur as the binder or cement, which fixes the fluid mercury into a coherent malleable mass. And so Ben Jonson in the "Alchemist," act. ii. scene 3.:—
"It turns to sulphur, or to quicksilver, Who are the parents of all other metals."—Newton. * This name is Syriac, and signifies riches. "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon," says our Saviour, Matt. vi. 24. and bids us "make to ourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness," Luke xvi. 9.—Newton.