Page images

in different armies. But here, and often in poetry, the word means only "order of battle."

573. Since created man, i. e., since the creation of man. A Latinism, like post urbem conditam. Cf. 798, "After summons read."

576 ff. Milton here runs over the chief fields of legendary and heroic deeds; first the Greeks at Thebes and at Troy, then the Round Table of King Arthur, and last the Legends of Charlemagne. It has been one of the regrets of certain critics that Milton gave up his idea of writing an epic of Chivalry. And we have in such passages as the preceding, just the touch of chivalric interest which Milton could infuse into his sacred epic.

589. This is a very fine description, whether we think mostly. of the conception or of the wording. For the meaning of the change of Satan's appearance since his rebellion, and the way the idea is developed by Milton, see Introd., p. xxix-xxxiii.

604. Cruel his eye. Milton is at his best here; the reserved power of his verse sweeps us along as the fierce ambition of Satan carried him over such trivial things as sympathy (passion is not here anger) and remorse, which yet had their effect on him

(1. 620).

612. Their glory withered. They as well as Satan had lost their original brightness.

618. All his peers, those of highest rank.

624. Event, outcome, the words being exact equivalents in composition and meaning.

630. The idea is complimentary to their vanity, but, as is apt to be the case with Satan's oratory, there is no foundation for it. Although here and there, as in 1. 633 below, Satan speaks as though he had gathered around himself by far the greater number of angels, yet it would seem (e. g., from ii. 692) that his adherents were only a third part of all the angels, and so by no means a match for the angels who had remained faithful.

635. Host of Heaven, he means probably those to whom he is speaking.

645. Our better part, etc. In the preceding lines Satan excuses himself for not having known that God was omnipotent. Now, he says, we know his might. But it does not seem to occur to him that God is also omniscient, so that Satan's "close design" is known to him from the beginning. So in the first part of Book iii., "God, sitting upon his throne, sees Satan flying toward this

world" and predicts the fall of man, which instead of tending to his injury, as Satan hopes, merely serves to increase his glory. 665. Illumined Hell; for in spite of the flames Hell was dark. 674. Sulphur. Keightley's note is that "It was the common opinion of chemists that metals were composed of sulphur and quicksilver."

710. Compare Merlin's account of the building of King Arthur's palace at Camelot, in Gareth and Lynette (The Idylls of the King). 732. It is imagined by some that Milton means Mammon by "the architect," subsequently called Mulciber. But it is not necessary to suppose so he says that Mammon discovered the gold, not that he built the palace. Nothing is said of Mammon which makes the identification necessary, and it is, on the other hand, improbable, for Milton is not given to confusing Hebrew and Greek characters.

737. Each in his hierarchy the orders bright. For the nine orders of angels "in their triple degrees" (v. 750), and for some discussion of how far Milton used the specific terms particularly, see Introd., p. xxxiii.

750. Engines means here no more than mechanical contrivances. It must be remembered that in Milton's day neither the steamengine nor the locomotive was in existence. Milton sometimes uses the word engine rather loosely for sword.

759. By place or choice the worthiest. Milton may have had in mind the House of Lords and the House of Commons, the members of the latter elected, of the former born to their dignity.

766. Either combat à l'outrance (to the death) or a friendly course with lances. These were the two recognized forms of knightly contest.



I. The Consultation.

1. The Council opened, 1-10.

The Speech of Satan, 11-42.

2. The Plans of Others.

Moloch, 43-50 he advises open war, 51-105.

Belial, 106-118 he dissuades from open war and advises that they remain as they are, 119–227.

Mammon, 228: he thinks it best to make what they can of
Hell, 229-283.

The audience approve, 284-298.

3. The Plan of Satan.

Beëlzebub rises, 299-308; he puts aside the plans advanced, and suggests the Earth, 309-386.

The plan pleases, 386-388.

Beelzebub renews his speech indicating the dangers, 389–416.
No other volunteering, Satan assumes the enterprise, 417-466.
The council rises and the chiefs come forth, 467-520.

II. Episode. Satan preparing for his journey, the others occupy themselves in many ways, 521-628.

III. The Flight of Satan.

1. In Hell.

He reaches the gates of Hell, 629-643, and finds Sin and
Death, 644-676.

Satan and Death, 677-722.

Sin interferes and reconciles them, 722-814.

Satan acquaints them with his errand and obtains the opening of the gates, 815-889.

2. In Chaos.

The Deep is seen and described, 890–927.

Satan launches forth, 928-959.

He meets Chaos but goes on his way, 959-1024.

Sin and Death have followed him, 1024-1033.

Satan comes toward the end of the Deep and sees the Universe, 1034-1055.


3. Or where. The wealth of Ormus or of Ind or of those places where, etc.

11. Deities of Heaven. He still calls them of Heaven and explains why in the next two sentences.

12. For offers explanation of the word Heaven.

17. No second fate. Fate, here, would mean evil outcome. 18. This is the real beginning of his speech. We are not told enough of the circumstances to say how much of this, as of so much more of Satan, is meant by Milton only as an empty boast. Satan while in Heaven was one of the greatest of the angels,

acknowledged by Raphael to have been perhaps the chief. It may well have been that he ruled over many of the lesser angels. 26. Envy. It might have drawn envy from such as himself. But from Raphael we get a very different idea.

28. The Thunderer, the Almighty;

[ocr errors][merged small]

40. By what best way.

We should use best as an adverb to The form is a classicism.

qualify claim, 1. 38.

40, 41. Much the same idea as had been already expressed to Beelzebub.

47. Equal in strength. Moloch appears in much the same character in the battle in Heaven (vi. 357), where, however, he suffers a great check. Later, in Palestine, he had a chance to realize his ambition in a petty fashion, so far as the Israelites were concerned. See note on i. 392-405.

51 ff. These speeches are a marked characteristic of the Second Book, not that they are strikingly different from those in the other books, but because they are such a predominant feature; the speeches make up almost half the book. The four speeches of Moloch, Belial, Mammon, Beëlzebub, are especially worth studying, with a view both to their intent and purport and to their expression. It will be found that although they all have a family likeness as representing Milton's idea of oratory, and the way his sentences flowed for oratorial effect, yet they are characteristically different. It is a good plan to analyze the speeches of importance with some care; and then to turn one's attention to getting the particular quality. It will be seen that Moloch is brusque even to recklessness, Belial careful and persuasive, while Mammon stands between the two in his way of handling the subject, although his opinion is much the same as Belial's. Beëlzebub is the popular rhetorician, really agreeing with neither, but offering a plan which each will accept as though it were his own. He seems a regular demagogue, not least in that he is the henchman of a greater personage, his whole idea being Satan's.

51-105. Moloch begins abruptly, expresses his own view and his contempt for any other, and then bursts into a bit of rhodomontade (11. 60-70), which doubtless had its effect upon the hot-heads of the assembly. To these, then, he addresses him

self next (11. 70-80) with an argument pleasing enough and ending ad hominem, but without real force. Assuming, however, that he has carried his audience so far (1. 81), he proceeds to do away with an objection which he sees, perhaps, in the faces of the less impetuous. Not being much of a logician, he presents rather a vague dilemma (either 1. 96 or ll. 99-101). The first point he manages in vigorous style; then coming to the second and finding his position weak, he drops it quickly and ends by a bit of self-congratulation (11. 101–105) which would be pretty sure of its effect, although contrary in a measure to what he had already said (11. 85-91). At the very last he perhaps feels that his position is weak, but in trying to better himself, he really knocks away the whole foundation of his speech.

59. Who reigns by our delay, i. e., while we delay to dethrone him.

65. Engine. The word meant in i. 750, merely some contrivance, and possibly does here. On the other hand Moloch may speak of God's chariot of wrath in which the Son rode to the final discomfiture of the rebels, rolling

"With the sound

Of torrent flood or of a numerous host," (vi. 829, 830)

and sending forth ten thousand thunders.

66. Infernal. The word is to be emphasized. They have their own thunder as well as the Almighty.

73. Such, as think the way difficult.

79. Although we speak of the fall of the angels ("nine days they fell") it would seem here that they were driven down rather than merely allowed to fall.

108-225. Belial is the orator, more so perhaps even than Beelzebub. He rises suavely and begins at once by taking advantage of the clumsy logic of Moloch, whose argument, he points out, seems to confute itself,—the speaker seems to be wholly without the confidence he counts upon (l. 126). But granting his position, we must see that no revenge is possible (ll. 129–142) nor is annihilation (a sad alternative, 1. 146) at all probable (ll. 151– 159). Nor is it well to assume that nothing worse is possible; there can be much worse punishment (ll. 166-186). This idea of war is quite impossible. We must abide by our lot. It will not be so bad; it is the fortune of war (11. 200-208), it may become

« PreviousContinue »