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Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd thro' fire
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worshipp'd in Rabba and her wat'ry plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple' of God,
On that opprobrious hill; and made his grove
The pleasant vale of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna call'd, the type of Hell.
Next Chemos, th' óbscene dread of Moab's sons,
From Aroar to Nebo, and the wild
Of southmost Abarim; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond
The flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines,
And Eleälé to th' Asphaltic pool.
Peor his other name, when he enticed
Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile,
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarged
E'en to that hill of scandal, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide; lust hard by hate;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who, from the bord'ring flood Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim and Ashtaroth; those male,
These feminine: for spirits, when they please,
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure
Not tied nor manacled with joint or limb;
Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose
406. Chemosh is thus mentioned next to Moloch because their names are united in Scripture, see 1 Kings xi. 7. This idol is supposed to be the same with Baal-Peor and with Priapus, sec also Numbers xxv. 2 Kings xxiii.
417. The figure contained in this verse conveys a strong moral truth. Had it not been, however, that the music of the verse would have been injured, the idea would have been more correct by the transposition of the words lust and hate.-See Faery Queen, B. 3. Can. 12.
422. The Gods of Syria, Palestine, &c.
428. Speculations about the nature of spirits were a favourite amusement with learned men a few centuries back. Milton douba
Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure,
Can execute their aëry purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their living Strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial gods; for which their heads as low
Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians call'd
Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whose heart, though large, Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell
To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a summer's day;
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale
Infected Sion's daughters with like heat;
Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led,
His eye survey'd the dark idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn'd in earnest, when the captive ark
Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopp'd off
In his own temple, on the grunsel edge,
Where he fell flat, and shamed his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea-monster, upward man
And downward fish: yet had his temple high
Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
less partook in the interest. The work from which he is supposed to have taken most was by Psellus, an author who composed a dialogue on the subject.
438. For mention of this idol, see Jeremiah vii. 18. xliv. 17, 18. also Kings xi. 5. 2 Kings xxiii. 13.
446. Thammuz, or Adonis, was the god of the Syrians. He was slain by a bear on mount Lebanon, from which the river of the same name descended.
462. For the explanation of this passage, see 1 Sam. v. 4. vi. 17.
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,
And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.
Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also 'gainst the house of God was bold:
A leper once he lost, and gain'd a king;
'Ahaz his sottish conqu'ror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage and displace
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the gods
Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appear'd
A crew, who, under names of old renown,
Osiris, Iris, Orus, and their train,
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wandering gods disguised in brutish forms
Rather than human. Nor did Israel 'scape
Th' infection, when their borrow'd gold composed
The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king
Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
Likening his Maker to the grazed ox;
Jehovah, who in one night when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equall'd with one stroke
Both her first-born, and all her bleating gods.
Belial came last, than whom a spirit more lewd 490
Fell not from heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to whom no temple stood,
Nor altar smoked; yet who more oft than he
In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God?
In courts and palaces he also reigns,
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers,
And injury and outrage: and when night
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
467. Rimmon was a god of the Syrians. The leper mentioned was Naaman, see 2 Kings v.
478. The principal deities of the Egyptians.
490. Belial and Moloch have situations awarded them according to their characters; the one last because the most slothful, the other first because the most violent.
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Exposed a matron, to avoid worse rape.
These were the prime in order and in might:
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' Ionian gods, of Javan's issue held
Gods, yet confess'd later than Heaven and Earth,
Their boasted parents: Titan, Heav'n's first-born, 510
With his enormous brood, and birthright seized
By younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove,
His own and Rhea's son, like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus, ruled the middle air,
Their highest heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,
And o'er the Celtic roam'd the utmost isles.
All these and more came flocking; but with looks Downcast and damp; yet such wherein appear'd Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their
Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost 525
In loss itself: which on his count'nance 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 dispell'd their fears.
Then straight commands, that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear'd
His mighty standard; that proud honour claim'd
Azazel as his right, a cherub tall;
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd 535 Th' imperial ensign; which, full high advanced, Shone like a meteor, streaming to the wind,
502. Blown has been proposed as another reading.
508. From Javan were descended the Ionians and Grecians, among whom arose the gods of the later mythology.
530. Their fainted courage in the first edition.
534. Azazel, according to its derivation, means brave in re treating. The description in this passage is remarkably mag nificent.
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 banners rise into the air,
With orient colours waving with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appear'd, and serried shields in thick array
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders; such as raised
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and instead of rage
Deliberate valour breath'd, 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
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
Breathing united force, with fixed thought,
Moved on in silence, to soft pipes, that charm'd
Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil: and now
Advanced in view they stand; a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order'd spear and shield,
Awaiting what command their mighty chief
Had to impose: he through the armed files
Darts his experienced eye, and soon traverse
The whole battalion views, their order due,
Their visages and stature as of gods:
Their number last he sums. And now his heart
Distends with pride, and hardening in his strength
Glories; for never since created man
Met such embodied force, as, named with these,
Could merit more than that small infantry
Warr'd on by cranes: though all the giant brood
543 Reign used like the Latin regnum, for kingdom. 550. There were three kinds of music among the ancients. The Lydian, the most melancholy; the Phrygian, the most lively; and the Dorian, the most majestic. Milton has been very exact In employing music fit for each particular purpose.