Page images

His temple right against the temple of God On that opprobrious hill; and made his grove The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence And black Gehenna call'd, the type of Hell. 405 Next, Chemos, the óbfcene dread of Moab's fons,

to Moloch on the mount of Olives, I. Kings xi. 7, which is therefore called "that opprobrious hill.” NEWTON.

Tickell has thought proper to alter the text, by reading" the opprobrious hill." Fenton follows him. TODD.

Ver. 404. The pleasant valley of Hinnom, &c.] See Jeremiah vii. 31. It was called alfo Tophet from the Hebrew toph, a drum; drums, and fuch like noify inftruments, being used to drown the cries of the miserable children who were offered to this idol. And Gehenna, or the valley of Hinnom, is in feveral places of the New Teftament, and by our Saviour himself, made the name and type of Hell." NEWTON.

Ver. 405.

[ocr errors]

the type of Hell.] In Sylvefter's Du Bartas, edit. 1621, p. 425, the witch of Endor is called the "hideous type of Hell." TODD.

Ver. 406. Next, Chemos, &c.] Moloch and Chemos are joined together, I. Kings xi. 7. And it was a natural transition from the god of the Ammonites to the god of their neighbours, the Moabites. St. Jerom, and feveral learned men, affert Chemos and Baal-Peor to be only different names for the fame idol; and fuppofe him to be the fame with Priapus, the idol of turpitude, and therefore here called "the obscene dread of Moab's fons, from Aroer," a city upon the Arnon, the boundary of their country to the north," to Nebo," a city eastward, " and the wild of fouthmoft Abarim," a ridge of mountains, the boundary of their country to the fouth; "Hefebon and Horonaim," two cities of the Moabites, taken from them by Sihon, king of the Amorites, Numb. xxi. 26, "beyond Sibma," a place famous for vineyards, Jer. xlviii. 22, and Eleälé, another city of the Moabites, not far from Hefebon, " to the Asphaltick pool," the Dead Sea, (fo called from the Afphaltus, or bitumen, abounding in it) the boundary of the Moabites to the weft. The Ifraelites worshipped

From Aroer to Nebo, and the wild
Of fouthmoft Abarim; in Hefebon
And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond

The flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines; 410 And Eleälé to the Afphaltick pool.


Peor his other name, when he entic'd
Ifrael in Sittim, on their march from Nile,
To do him wanton rites, which coft them woe.
Yet thence his luftful orgies he enlarg'd
Even to that hill of fcandal, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide; luft hard by hate;
Till good Jofiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who, from the bordering

this god in Sittim, and committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab; for which there died of the plague twenty and four thoufand, Numb. xxv. 9. His high places were adjoining to thofe of Moloch on the mount of Olives, therefore here called "that hill of fcandal," as before "that opprobrious hill;" for Solomon did alfo "build an high place for Chemofh," as well as for Moloch, I. Kings xi. 7: But Jofiah brake in pieces their images &c. II. Kings xxiii. 13, 14. NEWTON.

Ver. 417. luft hard by hate ;] What a fine moral fentiment has Milton here introduced and couched in half a verfe! He might perhaps have in view Spenfer's Mask of Cupid, where Anger, Strife, &c. are reprefented as immediately following Cupid in the procellion. See Faery Qu. iii. xii. THYER.

The poet's moral is exactly verified in the inceftuous and cruel conduct of Amnon towards Tamar; II. Sam. xiii. 15. "Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; fo that the hatred, wherewith he hated her, was greater than the love, wherewith he had loved her." The hemiftich is a fine commentary on the paffage. TODD. from the bordering flood

Ver. 419.

Of old Euphrates] It is rightly called old, being

Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts 420
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim and Afhtaroth; those male,
Thefe feminine: For Spirits, when they please,

mentioned by the oldest historian in the earliest accounts of time, Gen. ii. 14. And it is called the bordering flood, being the utmoft limit or border Eastward of the Promifed Land, according to Gen. xv. 1'8.

Ver. 420.


the brook that parts

Egypt &c.] Moft probably the brook Befor, mentioned in Scripture, near Rhinocolura; which city is affigned fometimes to Syria, and fometimes to Egypt. NEWTON.

Ver. 422. Baälim and Afharoth,] They are frequenly named together in Scripture. They were the general names of the gods and goddeffes of Syria and Palestine. They are fuppofed to mean the Sun and the hoft of heaven. NEWTON.

Ver. 423. For Spirits, when they pleafe, &c.] Dr. Newton is of opinion, that Milton borrowed thefe notions about Spirits, from Michael Pfellus's dialogue, published in Greek and Latin at Paris in 1615, concerning the operations of Demons: in which it is afferted, that they can affume either fex, and take what shape and colour they please, and contract or dilate themselves at pleasure, as they are of an airy nature. It should be obferved, that these operations are recounted in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, a book familiar to Milton. The whimsical notions of Pfellus are alfo opposed, in this book, by a hoft of grave confutations. See the chapter entitled, “A digression of diuels, and how they caufe melancholy." It may be proper alfo to compare a paffage in Wierus De Præftigiis Dæmonum, 1582, lib. i. cap. xiv. which affords a commentary both to Pfellus and to Milton: "Dæmones, licet fexu et propria lingua careant, corpus tamen illud aereum fibi conceffum, pro arbitrio velut nubes, vento flante, in varias formas mutant, contrahúntque, atque extendunt, quemadmodum lumbricis videtur accidere ob fubftantiam molliorem, ductúque facillimam: neque folùm magnitudine diverfitas in eis accidit, verùm etiam figuras coloréfque variant multiformes.--Sic tanquam vir apparet, et mox eccurit ut fœmina." This was com

Can either fex affume, or both; fo foft
And uncompounded is their effence pure; 425
Not tied or manacled with joint or limb,

Nor founded on the brittle ftrength of bones,
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they


Dilated or condens'd, bright or obfcure,

Can execute their aery purposes,

And works of love or enmity fulfil.


For those the race of Ifrael oft forfook
Their Living Strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down

To beftial Gods; for which their heads as low 435
Bow'd down in battle, funk before the fpear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Aftoreth, whom the Phoenicians call'd
Aftarte, queen of Heaven, with crefcent horns;

municated by Marcus to Michael Pfellus. Dr. Drake and Mr. Dunfter refer to the Satanick transformations enumerated by Sylvefter, Du Bart. 1621, p. 187, &c. TODD.

[blocks in formation]

Came Aftoreth, &c.] The goddefs of the Phanicians, under which name the moon was adored. She is rightly faid to come in troop with Afhtaroth, as fhe was one of them; the moon with the jars. She is called queen of heaven, Jer. vii. 18, and goddess of the Zidonians, I. Kings xi. 5; as the was worthipped very much in Zidon or Sidon, a famous city of the Phænicians. Solomon, who had many wives that were foreigners, was prevailed upon by them to introduce the worthip of this goddess into Ifrael; and he built her temple on the mount of Olives, which, on account of this and other idols, is called the moantain of corruption, II. Kings xxiii. 13, as here, by the poet, the offenfive mountain. NEWTON.

To whofe bright image nightly by the moon 440
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and fongs;
In Sion alfo not unfung, where stood
Her temple on the offenfive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whofe heart, though large,
Beguil'd by fair idolatreffes, fell


To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,
Whofe annual wound in Lebanon allur'd
The Syrian damfels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a fummer's day;
While fmooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the fea, fuppos'd with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale
Infected Sion's daughters with like heat;

Ver. 444.


whofe heart though large,] I. Kings iv. 29." And God gave Solomon largeness of heart." Milton ufes the expreffion" large heart," Par. Reg. B. iii. 10. So Henry More in his Song of the Soul, 1642, Part 2d, p. 100.

Large hearts deride

"This pent hypocrific." ToDd.

Ver. 446. Thammuz] He was the god of the Syrians, the fame with Adonis; who was faid to die every year and revive again. He was flain by a wild boar in Lebanon, from whence the river Adonis defcends: And when this river began to be of a reddish hue, as it did at a certain season of the year, this was their fignal for celebrating their feasts of Adonis ; and the women made loud lamentations for him, fuppofing the river was difcoloured with his blood. The like idolatrous rites were transferred to Jerufalem, where Ezekiel faw the women lamenting Thammuz, Ezek. viii. 13, 14. NEWTON.

Ver. 447. Whose annual wound &c.] Ovid, Met. x. 726. "repetitáque mortis imago

"Annua plangoris peraget fimulamina." HUME.

« PreviousContinue »