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Whose wanton paffions in the facred porch
Ver. 456. the dark idolatries] Ezekiel viii. 12. "Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the houfe of Ifrael do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery?" Todd.
Next came one
Who mourn'd in carneft, &c.] The lamentations for Adonis were without reafon; but there was real occafion for Dagon's mourning, when the ark of God was taken by the Philiftines, and being placed in the temple of Dagon, the next morning, "behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon, aud both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold," the grunfel or groundfel edge, the edge of the foot-poft of his temple-gate, I. Sam, v. 4. NEWTON.
Ver. 467. Him follow'd Rimmon,] Rimmon was a god of the Syrians. He had a temple at Damafcus, the moft celebrated city of Syria, on the banks of Abbana and Pharphar, II. Kings v. 12, 18. NEWTON.
Was fair Damafcus, on the fertile banks
Ver. 468. fair Damafcus,] Taffo had fimilarly characterifed Damafcus, Gier. Lib. C. iv. 43.
"Figlia i' fon d'Arbilan, che 'l regno tenne
Ver. 471. A leper once he loft,] Naaman the Syrian, who was cured of his leprofy by Elisha, and who, for that reafon, refolved thenceforth to offer "neither burnt-offering nor facrifice to any other God, but unto the Lord," II. Kings v. 17. “And gained a king," Ahaz, his fcottish conquerour, who, with the affiftance of the king of Affyria, having taken Damafcus, faw there an altar, of which he fent a pattern to Jerufalem to have another made by it; upon which he facrificed, after his return to Jerufalem, and thenceforth gave himself up to idolatry, II. Kings xvi. 10, II. Chron. xxviii. 23. NEWTON.
Ver. 478. Orus, &c.] Orus was the fon of Ofiris and Ifis. Thefe, and the other gods of the Egyptians, were worfhipped in "monftrous fhapes," bulls, cats, dogs, &c.; and the reafon alleged for this worship is derived from the fabulous tradition, that, when the giants invaded Heaven, the gods were fo affrighted that they fled into Egypt, and there concealed themfelves in the fhapes of various animals; and the Egyptians afterwards out of gratitude worshipped the creatures, whose shapes the gods had aflumed, Ovid, Met. v. 419, &c. Milton therefore
With monstrous fhapes and forceries abus'd
calls them wandering gods disguis'd in brutish forms rather than human." NEWTON.
Nor did Ifrael 'Scape
The infection, &c.] The Ifraelites, by dwelling fo long in Egypt, were infected with the fuperftitions of the Egyptians; and probably made the golden calf in imitation of that which reprefented Ofiris, and out of the golden ear-rings which it is most likely they borrowed of the Egyptians, Exod. xii. 35. "And the rebel king," Jeroboam, made king by the Ifraelites who rebelled against Rehoboam, I. Kings xii. "doubled that fin," by making two golden calves, probably in imitation of the Egyp tians with whom he had converfed, who had a couple of oxen which they worshipped, one at Memphis the metropolis of Upper Egypt, and the other at Hierapolis the chief city of Lower Egypt; and he fet them up "in Bethel and in Dan," the two extremities of the kingdom of Ifrael: "Likening his Maker to the grazed ox," alluding to Pfalm cvi. 20. NEWTON.
who in one night, when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equall'd with one stroke Both her firft-born and all her bleating gods.] See Exod. xii. 12, and Numb. xxxiii. 3, 4. And Milton means all her gods in general, though he says "bleating gods" in particular; borrowing the metaphor from sheep, (which R. Iarchi, upon Gen. xlvi. 34, fays the Egyptians worshipped as gods,) aud using
Belial came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd 490
it for the cry of any fort of beafts: Or he might make use of the epithet as one of the most infignificant and contemptible, with the fame air of difdain as Virgil fays, En. viii. 698,
"Omnigenûmque deûm monftra, et latrator Anubis." NEWTON,
The expreffion "bleating gods" might be fuggefted from Shakspeare's Winter's Tale, A. iv. S. iii.
"Became a bull, and bellow'd; the green Neptune
"A ram, and bleated."
Ver. 490. Belial came last, &c.] Moloch and Belial are very properly made the first and the laft in this catalogue; as they both make fo great a figure afterwards in the Poem: Moloch the first, as he was "the fierceft fpirit," B. ii. 44; and Belial the laft, as he was the "moft timorous and flothful," B. ii. 117. It does not appear that he was ever worshipped; but lewd, profligate fellows, fuch as regard neither God nor man, are called in Scripture "the children of Belial," Deut. xiii. 13. See alfo I. Sam. ii. 12, and Judges xix, which are the particular inftances here given by Milton. NEWTON.
The last place in a proceffional catalogue, is in fact a poft of honour; and Belial's rank among the fallen Spirits, the preeminence in wickednefs and talents afcribed to him by the poet, peculiarly entitles him to fill it. In opening his catalogue with Moloch, and clofing it with Belial, Milton beyond all doubt. had an eye to Virgil, who in the feventh Æneid commences his lift of warriours with a brief character of Mezentius, (the Moloch of his lift,) and clofes it with a more diffuse description of Camilla. Taffo's defcription alfo of the Chriftian leaders clofes with Rinaldo, the flower of their chivalry. DUNSTER.
Dr. Newton would neither have mistaken the rank of Belial, nor afferted that "it does not appear that Belial was ever worShipped," if he had looked into the Pfeudomonarchia Daemonum of Wierus; a work, in which the worship, as well as the rank, of the fallen Angel is thus defcribed. "Regem Belial aliqui dicunt ftatim poft Luciferum fuiffe creatum, ideóque fentiunt ipfum effe patrem et feductorem eorum qui ex Ordine cecide
Fell not from Heaven, or more grofs to love
runt, &c. Quamvis autem BELIAL IPSOS, qui in terram dejecti fuerint, PRECESSERIT; alios tamen, qui in cœlo manfere, non anteceffit. Cogitur hic divina virtute, CUM ACCIPIT SACRIFICIA, MUNERA, ET HOLOCAUSTA, ut viciffim det immolantibus refponfa vera." Wierus de Lamiis, 4to. Bafil. 1582. col. 919. Again, fpeaking of Belial, ibid. col. 920. "Babylonienfes adorantes facrificaverunt EIDEM." See alfo the account of Solomon's pretended homage to Belial, cited in the note on Par. Reg. B. ii. 204. TODD.
Ver. 502. flown] Blown has been propofed, by a nameless critick, for flown, according to doctor Newton; as there is in Virgil, "inflatus Iaccho," Ecl. vi. 15. And Mr. Warton reads fwoln: See his note on Comus, v. 178. But flown is the true reading, and fignifies flushed, like the Greek oivóqnug, ftu/hed with wine: So Deut. xxi. 20, συμβολοκοπῶν ΟΙΝΟΦΛΥΓΕΙ, Septuagint: that is, "he is a glutton and a drunkard." TODD. when the hofpitable door
Expos'd a matron, to avoid worfe rape.] In the firft edition thus,