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The First Book proposes, first in brief, Ihe whole subject, Man's disobedience, and the loss there upon of Paradise, wherein he was placed: then touches Ihe prima cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, Ihe poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan, with his angels, now fallen into hell, described here, not in the centre, (for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, filliest called Chaos : here Satan, with his angels, lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him they confer of their miserable fall: Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded. They rise; their numbers; array of battle their chief leaders named according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs bis speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world, and a new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy, or report, in heaven; for, that angels were, long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of Ibis prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace or Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep the infernal peers there sit in council.


Of man's first disobedience,1 and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and all our woe, 4 With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

l The similarity between the opening of Paradiie Lost and the Iliad, In the simplicity and unostentatious solemnity of the language, in the smooth flowing harmony of the versification, in the brief and unadorned introduction of the subject and its consequences, in the avowal of dependence on a Divine spirit for illumination, in the sudden transition from humble invocation to the inspired narrative, and then in the sudden flight into unexampled sublimity, is singularly striking. Milton, no less than Homer, comes up to Horace's just and well-known conception of an epic poet :—

"Non fumum ex rulgore, sed ex famo dare lueem

Cogital, ul speciosa dchinc miracula promat."

The subject-matter of both poems, "Man's first disobedience, and the fruit of the forbidden tree," and "The wrath of Achilles," is the very first sentiment expressed. The same epithet is next applied to both acts, mortal or destructive from each three consequences resulted; to man, death, all the woes of life, and loss of Eden; to the Greeks,

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,1

Sing, heav'nly Muse! that, on the secret top


7 Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

woes unnumbered, the premalure death of many a valiant hero, and the devouring of their bodies by dogs and birds of prey; this latter Involving loss of the rights of sepulture, which for a time deprived spirits of Elysium; for the spirits of the unburied dead were supposed to wander up and down on the confines of the other world for a long period of time, without any place of rest. (I think with the old Commentators, that in «o<xit if included the idea of premalure death, and it gives an additional picture of misfortune. "Cadat ante diem mediaque inhumatus arena," was the direst curse infuriated Dido could imprecate on Eneas, her betrayer. )

Μήνιν άειδε, Θεα, Πηλη άδεω Αχιλλησε
Ουλομένην, η μυρί' Αχαιοίς άλγε' έθηκε,
Πολλας δ' ιφθιμας ψυχας αϊδι προϊάψεν
Ηρωων, αυτούς δ' έλωρια τευχε κυνέσσιν,
OLWYOLTI TE TXTI. Διος δ' ετελείετο βουλη.

Yet I do not say, Milton intended an imitation in each instance. Mllton says, "Instruct me, for thou knowest—thou from the first wast present—what In me is dirk, illumine." Homer has similar sentiments (11. ii. 483) :-

Εσπετε νυν μοι Μούσαι Ολυμπια δώματ' έχουσαι,
Υμείς γαρ Θεαί εστε, παρέστε τε, ιστε τε παντά
Ημεις δε κλέος διον ακούομεν, ουδε τι εσμεν.

Milton asks, "Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?" and then the heavenly Muse, who is supposed henceforward to dictate the poem, promptly replies, "The infernal spirit," etc. This resembles the questions and answers in the Iliad, as closely as the subject will admit :

Τις τ' αρ σφῶε Θεων έριδι ξυνέηκε μάχεσθαι;
Αητους και Διος υἱος, ὁ γαρ βασιλης χολωθείς
Νουσον ένα στρατον ώρσε κακήν, ολέκοντο δε λαοί.

Milton dates man's disobedience in these words, "What time," I. e. after the time that.
Thus does Homer date the wrath of Achilles by the words

Εξ οὐ δη τα πρώτα διαστήτην ερίσαντε.

Homer says that it was all the will of God, Διος δ' ετελείετο βουλη. Milton says the same, (212,) that "the will and high permission of all-ruling Heaven left him (Satan) at large to his own dark designs."

1 But Eden was not lost; and the last we read of our first parents is, that they were still in Eden—"Through Eden took their solitary way."—B. xii. Loss of Eden is, therefore, only loss of Paradise, which was planted in Eden; the whole being put for a part, as ■ part is sometimes put for the whole, by the figure synecdoche.—(Newton.) This explanation has been adopted in the best modern editions, but, in my opinion, most Improperly. Milton distinctly says Eden was lost; its loss he makes part or his subject, and this alone ought to decide the point. 11 is plain, from several passages in the poem, that Eden, which means "blessed seat," was the general district allotted to Adam in his state of innocence, though Paradise, which was planted in the east of it, (iv. 208,) was his immediate residence, and that it was distinguished from the rest of the earth, or the outer world; and it is also plain, from the close of the poem, that he was expelled from it, as well as from Paradise :

"The$, looking back, all the eastern side beheld

Of Paradise.

Then, hand In hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden look their solitary way."

Their solitary way, to what place? The poet plainly shows it was to the outer world, or part of the earth outside Eden, to which they were proceeding by the shortest route, as Paradise was in the eastern part of Eden, and they proceeded westward :—

"The world was all before them where to choose

Their place of rest, and Providence their guide."

s Dr. Bentfey says Milton dictated "sacred top," because, Exod. iii. 5, Horeb is said to he huly, and, 1 Kings xix. 8, it is called the Mountain of God, and the top could be seen


That shepherd,4 who first taught the chosen seed,
In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth
Rose out of chaos: or, if Sion hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God; 1 thence

Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose, or rhyme."


And chiefly Thou, 0 Spirit!3 that dost prefer

several leagues off, and therefore could not be called secret; besides, sacred hill is common among poets in several languages. But it is successfully answered by Pearce and Newton, that Boreb and Sinai are two summits of one mountain; Sinai being the highest, which, says Joscphus, in his Jewish Antiquities, iii. 5, "cannot be seen without straining the eyes;" hence it may be called secret; that it is said in Eiod. xiv. and Ecclus. xlv. and other places, when God gave the law of Moses on the top of Sinai, it was covered with dark clouds and thick smoke, and the people were not to come near it till after a given signal, and even then they were only to come to a certain boundary, but not to ascend it on pain of death; besides, secret may be classically used in the sense of secretus, set apart, or separate, (secretosque pios.—Mn. viii. 670.) Furthermore, by the rules of good poetry, a particular epithet, as descriptive of a peculiar circumstance, is to be preferred to a general one. Milton, xii. 227, in reference evidently to the clouds and smoke, says, "Sinai, whose gray lop shall tremble." So that secret is evidently the correct reading, in whatever sense it is to be taken. As Horeb and Sinai are used for one another in Scripture, (see Exod. iii. l; Acts vii. 30,) the poet docs not determine on which of them the inspiration was given (though he seems to incline to the latter), therefore he mentions both.

i Moses, who, after his flight from Egypt, married the daughter of Jethro, a prince of Arabia, and tended his flocks, before he led the Jews from Egypt, and wrote Genesis; perhaps he uses the epithet figuratively, (Psalm lxxvii. 20,) "Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron."

8 Close to. So h. iii. 354. Siloa was a rivulet that flowed near the temple of Jerusalem, Isa. viii. 6. So Milton invokes the muse that inspired David and the prophets on Mount Sion, on which stood the royal palace and the ark, and at Jerusalem, as well as Moses. The temple is called the oracle of God, as the high priest occasionally received there the gift of inspiration; particularly when for public purposes he consulted the Divine will by Urim and Thummim.

* It is not unusual with poets to boast of the novelty and boldness of their poetic flights. b Lucretius, i. 925.—

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Aonia, the ancient name of Bosotia, contained Parnassus, Helicon, and other places, supposed to be the haunt of the Muses. Milton means here, that his flight will be far above that of the ancient poets. (See ix. 13.) So, Paradise Regained, i. 14, he invokes the muse" to tell of deeds above heroic."

* The commentators, especially Todd, make a distinction between rhime here, which means poetry in general (from vo;), and rime in the preface, where it is six limes mentioned, and always without an A, and where it is defined "the jingling sound of like endinge." Todd further shows that Spenser, in bis "Verses to Lord Buckhurst," placed before his Faery Queen, and in b. i. c. 6. st. 13, of that poem, also uses rhime for verse. Milton here invokes the Holy Ghost, in conformity with a belief, for which ho had

Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou knowcst: Thou from the first
Wast present, and. with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like, sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark,
Illumine! what is low, raise and support!
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,

And justify the ways of God to men.'

Say first,—for heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of hell,—say first, what cause
Mov'd our grand parents, in that happy state,
Favour'd of heav'n so highly, to fall off
From their Creator, and transgress his will
For one restraint,4—lords of the world besides?
Who first sedue'd them to that foul revolt?


The infernal Serpent. He it was, whose guile,
Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels; by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
If he oppos'd; and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God
Rais'd impious war in heaven, and battle proud,6
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
45 Hurl'd headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,


scriptural authority, that every groat conception, discovery, or good gift, descended as an inspiration from heaven. (See James i. 17.) It is said, Exod. xxxv. 31, that BezaleBI, who made the furniture of the tabernacle, was" filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom," etc. Milton too had a firm persuasion that he himself was inspired.—Beyl. See ix. 22.

l See a sublime amplification, vii. 235. Allusion is made to Gen. i. 2: "And the Spirit of God moved on the surface of the waters." The word we translate moved, properly signifies brooded, like a bird on her eggs; and he says like a dove, rather than any other bird, as the descent of the Holy Ghost is compared to a dove, Luke iii. 22. As Milton studied the Scriptures in the original languages, his images and expressions are oftener borrowed from them than from our translations.—(N.)

1.e. show that man, by neglecting to obey the divine injunction, could only blame himself, and not God. (See ver. 211.) This justification is given most argumenlatively and convincingly, b. iii. 96, etc.

He mentions heaven and hell, as the range of the subject embraced both.

I.e. on account of one thing, the tree of knowledge, from which they were restrained; being (except this) lords of every thing else in the world.

As it appears from v. 812, that he was already in place above his peers, we must here understand that he had an aim to rise higher, and place himself in glory (which is the emphatic word of the line) above them; i. e. in divine glory and royal power, such as God and his Son were set in. See v. 725; vi. 88; vii. 140.—(N.)

"Quique arma secuti impia."(Æ "Bello profugos egere super6o."—76.viii.118. 7 Thus Vulcan is represented as hurled from heaven by Jupiter-Pepe rodos TETXYWY, απο βολου θεσπεσίοιο. Ι. 1. 591.


With hideous ruin and combustion,1 down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains s and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal. But his doom
Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness, and lasting pain,

Torments him. Round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdurate pride, and steadfast hate :
At once, as far as angels ken,* he views

The dismal situation waste and wild:

A dungeon horrible on all sides round

As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible

Scrv'd only to discover sights of woe!

Regions of sorrow! doleful shades! where peace
And rest can never dwell! hope never comes,
That comes to all! but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed

With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd!
Such place Eternal Justice had prepar'd
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
In utter darkness, and their portion set
As far remov'd from God and light of heaven,

As from the centre thrice to the utmost pole.7

t Ruin, from ruo, a fall with violence and precipitation: "Immane preceps impulsa ruinæ." (Juv. Sat. v. 20.) "Cœli ruina." (Æn.i.) Combustion here expresses more than flaming; it means conflagration general, awful, and destructive.

* Αδαμαντίνων δεσμών εν αρρήκτοις πέδαις. (£sch. Prom, vi.) " Clavis adamantinis." (Hor.) The phrase has been used by many English poets.

• Nine was a favourite number with the classic authors. (See vi. 871.) The plague in the Iliad lasted nine days. Styx, in the Eneid, took nine circuits. So there were nine Muses, etc. etc.—(B.)

1. e. see; their power of vision being greater than that of mortals.

1 Not absolute darkness, which is invisible, but a gloom only, when there is barely light sufficient to show there are objects. Eurip. Baccha. 510, os «v exotιov εloopа xvεpas. Thus, Seneca, speaking of the cave of Pausilippo, (Ep. 57,) "Nil illo carcere longius, nil illis faucibus obscurius, quæ nobis præstant, non ut per fenehras, videamus, sed ipsas." Antonio de Solis, in his History of Mexico, speaking of the cave where Montezuma consulted his deities, says, "It was a large dark subterraneous cavern, where some dismal tapers afforded just light enough to see the obscurity."—(N.)

t Eurip. Troad. 676,Ουδ, ὁ πασι λείπεται βροτοῖς, συνεστιν ελπις. See Dante, Inferno, ii. 9.—(T.)

7 I. e. from the centre of the earth, which is the centre of the world, to the utmost pole, or the pole of the universe, which is beyond the pole of the earth. It is curious to mark the gradations of distance respecting the depth of hell in Homer, Virgil, and Milton. Homer says, -oinov ivip!' xïdem, otov cupxvo; enr* «KX /xt\;. (11. viii. 16.) Virgil doubles the distance (Ma. vi. 579) :

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