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I'll read you matter, deep and dangerous;
287.- like the icon, cubose orö, &c.] Homer com. pares the splendor of Achilles' shield to the moon, Hliad.
But the shield of Satan was large as the moon seen through a telescope, in instrument first applied to celestial observations by Calileo, a native of Tuscany, whom he means here by the Tuscan artist, and afterwards mentions by name in v. 262. a testimony of his honour for so great a man, whom he had known and visited in Italy, as himself informs us in his Arepagirica.
292. His sp:ar, io equal which rhe tallest pine, &c.] He walk'd with his spear, in comparison of which the tallest pive was but a wand. For when Homer, Odyss. ix. 322. makes the club of Polyphemus as big as the mast of a ship; and Virgil gives him a pine to walk with, Æn.ii. 659; and Tasso arms Tancred and Argantes with two spars as big as masas, Cait. 6. St. 40; well might Mil. ton assign a spear so much larger to so superior a being.
299. Nathie sol Nevertheless, of which it seems to be a contracted diminutive. Hume.
This word is frequently used by Spenser, and the old poets.
302. Thick as autumnal leaves] Virgil. Æn. vi. 309. Thick as the leaves in Autumn strow the woods. Dryden.
But Milton's comparison is by far the exactest; for it not only expresses a multitude, but also the posture and situa.. tion of the Angels. Their lying confusedly in heaps, covering the lake, is finely represented by this image of the leaves in the brooks. And besides the propriety of the application, if we compare the similes themselves, Milton's is by far' superior to the other, as it exhibits a real landskip. See An Essay upon Milton's Imitations of the Ancients, p. 23.
305. when tvith fierce winds
Orion arm’d, &c.] Orion is a constellation represented in the figure of an armed man, and supposed to be attended withi stormy weather, Virg. Æn. i. 539 : and the Red Sea
abounds so much with sedge, that in the Hebrew Scripture it is called the Sedgy Sea. And he says barb wex'd the RedSea cast particularly, because the wind usually drives the sedge in great quantities towards the shore. 30%.
perfidi us batred] Because Pharaoh, after leave given to the Israelites to depart, followed after them like fugitives. H me.
310. From the sea-shore their froating carcases, &c.] Much has been said of the long similitudes of Homer, Virgil, and our author, wherein they fetch a compass as it were to draw in new images, besides those in which the direct point of likeness consists. I think they have been sufficiently justi. fied in the general; but in this before iis, while the poet is digressing, he raises a new similitude from the floating carcases of the Egyptians. Heylin. 328.
with linked thunderbolts Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf.] This alludes to the fate of Ajax Oileus, Virg. Æn. i. 44. 45.
338. As when the potent rod, &c.] See Exod. X+ 13, “ Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land, and the eastwind brought the locusts : and the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt--so that the land was darkened.”
341. -warping] Working themselves forward, a sea term. Hume and Ricbardson.
351. A multitude, like wbich, &c.] This comparison doth not fall below the rest, as some have imagined. They were thick as the leaves, and numberless as the locusts, but such a multitude the north never poured forth : and we may observe that the subject of this comparison rises very much above the others, leaves and locusts. The pofulous north, as the northern parts of the world are observed to be more fruitful of people, than the hotter countries : Sir William Temple calls it the northern bive. Pour'd never, a very proper word to express the inundations of these norihern nations. From ber frozen loins, it is the Scripture expression of children and descendants coming out of the loins, as Gen. XXXV.11.“ Kings shall come out of thy loins:" and these are called frozen loins only on account of the coldness of the climate. To pass Rbene or the Danaw. He might have said consistently with his verse The Rbine brid Daribbe, but he chose the more uncommon names Rbene of the Latin, and Danare of the German, both which words are used too in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. 2. Cant, 10. St. 15. They were the Goths, and Huns, and Vandals, who over-run all the southern provinces of Europe, and crossing the Mediterranean beneath Gibraltar landed in Africa, and spread themselves as far as the sandy country of Libya. Beneatb Gibraitar, that is, more southward, the north being uppermost in the globe.
36-. By fulsities and lies] That is, as Mr. Upion observes, by false idols, under corporeal representation belying the true God. The Poer plainly alludes to Rom. i. ver. 22, &c. Amos ii, ver. 4. and jer. xvi. 19.
369. and tp' invisible
376. Say, Muć, &c.] The catalogue of evil Spirits has abundance of learning in it, and a very agreeable turn of poetry, which rises in a great measure fr m its describing the places where they were worshipped, by those beautiful marks of rivers, so frequent among the ancient poets. The author had doubtless in this place Homer's.catalogue of ships, and Virgi's list of warriors, in his view. Addison.
376.--ibir nam s then known,] when they had got them new names. Milton finely consid:red that the names he was obliged to apply to these evil Angels carry a bad signifi. cation, and therefore could not be those they had in their state of innocence and glory; he as therefore said their former names are now lost, rased from amongst those of their old asscciates who retain their purity and happia
Richard on. 386. thron'd
Between the Cherubim ;] This relates to the ark being placed between the two golden Cherubim, 1 Kings vi. 23. i Kings viii. 6, 7. See also 2 Kings xix. 15.
387. ----yea often placid
Abominations ;] This is coinplained of hy the prophet Jeremiah vii. 30. 2 Kings xxi. 4, 5. Ezek. vii. 20, and viii. 5, 6.
392. Firsi Moloik, borrid king,] First-after Satan and
Beëlzebub. The name Moloch signifies king, and he is cal. led borrid king, because of the human sacrifices which were made to him. This idol is supposed by some to be the same as Saturn, to whom the Heathens sacrificed their chil. dren, and by others to be the Sun. It is said in Scripture, that the children passed through the fire to Moloch, and our author employs the same expression, by which we must understand not that they always actually burnt their chil. dren in honour of this idol, but sometimes made them only leap over the flames, or pass nimbly between two fires, to purify them by that illustration, and consecrate them to this false deity.
4.06. Next Chemos, &c.] He is rightly mentioned next after Moloch, as their names are joined together in Scripture, i King 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 several learned men, assert Cbemos and Baal Peor to be only different names for the same idol, and suppose him to be the same with Priapus or the idol of turpitude, and therefore called here ib' obscene dread of Moab's sons, from Aroar, a city upon the river Arnon, the boundary of their country to the norill, afterwards belonging to the tribe of Gad, to Nebo, a city eastward, afterwards belonging to the tribe of Reuben, and the wild of southmost Abarim, a ridge of mountains the boundary of their coun. try to the south; in Hesibon or Heshbon, and Hcronaim, Sern's realm, two cities of the Moabites, taken from them by Sihon King of the Amorites, Numb. xxi. 26. beyond the flow'ry dale of Silma clad with vines, a place famous for' vineyards, as appears from Jer. xlviii. 32. O vine of Sibmab, I will weep for thee, and Eleälé, another city of the Moabites not far from Heshbon, to the Aspbaltic pool, the Dead Sea, so called from the Asphalius or bitumen abounding in it; the river Jordan empties itself into it, and that river and this sea were the boundary of the Moabites to the west. It was this God, under the name of Baal Peor, that the Israelites were induced to worship in Si'tim, and committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab, for which there died of the plague twenty and four thousand, as we read in Numbers xxv.
* ?15: orgies] Wild frantic rites ; generally by orgies are Understood the feasts of Bacchus.
417. -iust bird by bate ;] What a fine moral sentiment has our author here introduced and couched in half a verse! He might perhaps have in view Spenser's Mask of Cupid, wh re Ancer, Strife, &c. are represented as immediately following Cupid in the procession. see Faery Queen, B. 3.
422. Baalim and Ashtaroth,] These are properly named together, as they frequently are in Scripture; and there were many Baalim and many Abtaroth; they were the geDer al names of the Gods and Goddesses of Syria, Pales. tire, and the neighbouring countries. It is supposed that by them is meant the Sun and the host of Heaven.
437. With these in trop, &c.] A toreth or Astarte was the Godless of the Phenicians, and the moon was adored urder this name.
She is rightly said to come in troop with Asitaruth, as she was one of them, the moon with the stars. Sometimes she is called queen of Heaven, jer. vii. 18. and xli. 1.18. She is likewise called the Goddess of sbe 2.1 nians, 1 Kings xi. 5o and the abomination af the Zidinians, 2 Kings xxijí. 13 as she was worshipped very much in Zidon or Sidon, a famous city of the Phænicians, situated upon tie lediterranean
Solo on, who had many wives that were fore guers, was prevailed upon by them to intro uce the worship of this Goddess into Israel, 1 Kings xi. 5. and built her temple on the mount of Olives, which en account of this and other idols is called the mountoin of corruption. 2 Kings xxiii. 13. as here by the poet th' offensive muntain, and before thai oj probrious bill, and that bill of scanual
446. I bammuz came next, &c.] The account of Thammuz is finely roinantic, and suitable to what we read among the Ancients of the worship which was paid to that idol. The reader will pardon me, if I insert as a note on this beautiful passage, the account given us by the late ingenia ons Mr. Maundrel of this ancient piece of worship, and probably the first occasion of such a superstition.
Came to a fair large river-doubtless the ancient river Adonis, so famous for the idolatrous rites performed here