« PreviousContinue »
was in southern Asia Minor and under Mt. Ætna. He was a personification of volcanic force. Some idea of Milton's meaning may be had from the myth that Tityus, one of the giants " that warred on Jove," when stretched on the ground, covered nine acres. See encyclopædia or mythology.
200. Tarsus. Capital of Cilicia, in the southeastern part of Asia Minor. Birthplace of Saint Paul.
201. Leviathan. Job xli. No description can surpass that given by Milton in B. I., 201–208, or B. VII., 412-416.
204. Night-foundered. Not foundered in the usual sense of being sunk in the water, but of being sunk or buried in the darkness.
210-220. Will. Study these lines in relation to Milton's avowed intention, — "To justify the ways of God to men.
221-228. Try to banish from your mind all else, and image this. Can you conceive,
“ land that ever burned
228–238. Do not forget that this entire passage has value to you only as it aids you to image the shore of Hell.
232. Pelorus. Cape Faro, eastern coast of Sicily, across Strait of Messina from Italy.
233. Ætna. Volcano in Sicily not far from Pelorus. See Map of Classical References, p. xxxvii.
234. Fueled. Study the phrase.
235. Sublimed. See dictionary.
248–249. Equaled. Satan still asserts his equality despite defeat, seeming to think with Beëlzebub that possibly “chance or fate” (B. I., 133) had turned the scale against him.
249–258. Farewell, happy fields ! These lines contain an energy that is tremendous.
Satan challenges our admiration. Discuss the assertions made by Satan in these lines. What does he mean by “all but less”?
262–263. Reign. See B. VI., 183–188.
266. Astonished. Stunned, dazed, or literally, “thunderstruck.” To understand this word better, see B. I., 311-329 ; B. VI., 763–764; B. VI., 834-866 ; and especially line 858 of B. VI.
Oblivious. Producing oblivion, to aid the thunderbolts of the Almighty in the complete bewilderment of the fallen angels.
276. Edge. Crisis of battle, when forces are ready either to waver and break, or to charge; as when Cæsar turned the tide of battle “ that day he overcame the Nervii” at the River Sabis.
284. Shield. Imagine size of shield from comparison with moon as seen through telescope.
288. Tuscan artist. Galileo, who was visited by Milton when in Italy.
290. Valdarno. Valley of the Arno, where Galileo, though still under the surveillance of the Inquisition, continued to use his telescope.
294. Ammiral. Flagship of an admiral. The comparison or figure, rather than the definition, is the thing to be observed.
296. Marle. See B. I., 227–237.
303. Vallombrosa. “Shady Valley," a valley eighteen miles east of Florence; visited by Milton in 1639. It will be seen from this that a poet's whole life experience enters into his poetry. Try to image the fallen angels lying on the burning lake in comparison with "autumnal leaves that strow the brooks in Vallombrosa,” reeds on the shore of the Red Sea (Reed Sea), or bodies of the Egyptians after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea in safety. See Exodus xiv. 28-30.
Etrurian. Etruria was, in Roman times, the western coast of Italy north of the Tiber.
305. Orion. A constellation, represented as a giant armed with sword and club. According to the ancients, the constellation's rising and setting are attended by terrible storms. In mythology, Orion was a mighty Baotian hunter who became a constellation.
307. Busiris. The name given by Milton to the Egyptian king who pursued the Israelites, and who, with his army, was overwhelmed by the waves of the Red Sea.
Memphian. Of Memphis on the Nile ; Egyptian capital.
308. Perfidious hatred. Exodus xii. 31-33. Do not lose sight of the comparison with Satan and the fallen angels..
309. Goshen. See Map of Egypt and Arabia, p. xxxix,
324. Cherub and Seraph (pl. forms, cherubim and seraphim). See note B. I., 129.
825-329. Imagine the horror implied in the fulfillment of this possible punishment.
328. Linked thunderbolts. In B. VI., 763-764, the Son of God is armed thus :
“beside him hung his bow
335. Nor . . . not, etc. Meaning of this ? 338. Potent rod. Exodus iv. 2-17; viii. 5+.
339. Amram's son.
Moses. Exodus vi. 20.
340-341. Cloud. Exodus x. 18–16.
344–346. Do not allow the preceding notes to blot out the comparisons from your mind.
351. A multitude, etc. Goths and Vandals. See General History.
353. Rhene, Rhine; Danaw, Danube.
386-387. Cherubim. Exodus xxv. 10-22.
381-391. Example of Milton's extreme Puritanism.
392–502. Moloch. As has been said in the introductory note on p. 93, the Scripture references usually given are very unsatisfactory, being little more than the mere mention of the names given in Milton's text. Milton presents here the characters of his mighty epic as does Homer when he gives his catalogue of heroes. The characteristics of the fallen angels are given in the poem itself much more fully than they are given in the Scripture references. It may be said that these lines of the poem contain all the material necessary for their own explanation. It may, however, be a little puzzling to understand why Milton gives so many lines to the fallen angels as heathen gods. One editor says that Milton used these names " for their grandiloquent sound and rich but vague suggestion, rather than for any definite purpose of conveying information." I do not wholly agree with this editor. To Milton, these gods and places with their history were as familiar as are playmates and playgrounds to a schoolboy. It seems to me that his purpose was to increase our horror of the fallen angels by detailing their after-conduct as heathen gods, a simple application of making clear the unknown by citing the known; for his readers knew the tales of heathen gods better than they did Mil. ton's sublime creation. His detailed account seems, therefore, an attempt to help the reader to realize the fallen angels by citing their familiar after-conduct. But the high school pupil is little aided by this attempt. He should try to conceive these fallen angels, not as heathen gods, but as they are described in B. I., 423-431. He should try to image the angels by reading and rereading these lines. To trade a conception of the tre