Paradise Lost: Book I

Original Text: 
John Milton, Paradise Lost. 2nd edn. 1674.
2Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
3Brought death into the world and all our woe,
5Restore us and regain the blissful seat,
9In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth
10Rose out of Chaos; or if Sion hill
11Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
12Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
13Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,
14That with no middle flight intends to soar
16Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
18Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,
19Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first
20Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
21Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast Abyss
22And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark
23Illumine, what is low raise and support,
25I may assert Eternal Providence
27Say first--for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
28Nor the deep tract of Hell--say first what cause
29Mov'd our grand parents in that happy state,
30Favour'd of Heav'n so highly, to fall off
32For one restraint, lords of the world besides?
33Who first seduc'd them to that foul revolt?
34Th' infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile,
35Stirr'd up with envy and revenge, deceiv'd
36The Mother of Mankind, what time his pride
37Had cast him out from Heav'n, with all his host
38Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring
39To set himself in glory above his peers,
40He trusted to have equall'd the Most High,
41If he oppos'd; and with ambitious aim
42Against the throne and monarchy of God
43Rais'd impious war in Heav'n and battle proud,
44With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
45Hurl'd headlong flaming from th' ethereal sky,
47To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
48In adamantine chains and penal fire,
49Who durst defy th' Omnipotent to arms.
50Nine times the space that measures day and night
51To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
53Confounded though immortal. But his doom
54Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
55Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
58Mix'd with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
60The dismal situation waste and wild:
61A dungeon horrible on all sides round
62As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
63No light, but rather darkness visible
64Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
65Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
66And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
67That comes to all, but torture without end
69With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd.
70Such place Eternal Justice had prepar'd
71For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
73As far remov'd from God and light of Heav'n
75Oh how unlike the place from whence they fell!
76There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd
77With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
79One next himself in power and next in crime,
80Long after known in Palestine and nam'd
83Breaking the horrid silence, thus began:
84"If thou beest he--but oh how fall'n! how chang'd
85From him who, in the happy realms of light,
86Cloth'd with transcendent brightness didst outshine
87Myriads though bright!--if he whom mutual league,
88United thoughts and counsels, equal hope
89And hazard in the glorious enterprise,
90Join'd with me once, now misery hath join'd
91In equal ruin, into what pit thou seest
92From what highth fall'n. So much the stronger prov'd
94The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those,
95Nor what the potent victor in his rage
96Can else inflict, do I repent or change,
97Though chang'd in outward lustre, that fix'd mind,
99That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend,
100And to the fierce contention brought along
101Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd,
102That durst dislike his reign and, me preferring,
103His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd
104In dubious battle on the plains of Heav'n,
105And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
106All is not lost--the unconquerable will,
108And courage never to submit or yield:
109And what is else not to be overcome?
110That glory never shall his wrath or might
111Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
112With suppliant knee, and deify his power
113Who from the terror of this arm so late
114Doubted his empire, that were low indeed;
115That were an ignominy and shame beneath
116This downfall: since by fate the strength of Gods
118Since through experience of this great event
119In arms not worse, in foresight much advanc'd,
120We may with more successful hope resolve
121To wage by force or guile eternal war,
122Irreconcilable to our grand foe,
123Who now triumphs and, in th' excess of joy
125So spake th' apostate Angel, though in pain,
126Vaunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair.
127And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer:
128"O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers,
129That led th' embattl'd Seraphim to war
130Under thy conduct and, in dreadful deeds
131Fearless, endanger'd Heav'n's perpetual King,
132And put to proof his high supremacy,
133Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate,
134Too well I see and rue the dire event
135That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
136Hath lost us Heav'n, and all this mighty host
137In horrible destruction laid thus low,
139Can perish: for the mind and spirit remains
140Invincible, and vigour soon returns,
141Though all our glory extinct, and happy state
142Here swallow'd up in endless misery.
143But what if he our conqueror (whom I now
145Than such could have o'erpow'r'd such force as ours)
146Have left us this our spirit and strength entire,
147Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
148That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
149Or do him mightier service as his thralls
150By right of war, whate'er his business be,
151Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
152Or do his errands in the gloomy deep:
153What can it then avail though yet we feel
154Strength undiminish'd, or eternal being
155To undergo eternal punishment?"
156Whereto with speedy words th' Arch-Fiend replied:
158Doing or suffering: but of this be sure,
159To do aught good never will be our task,
160But ever to do ill our sole delight,
161As being the contrary to his high will
162Whom we resist. If then his providence
163Out of our evil seek to bring forth good,
164Our labour must be to pervert that end,
165And out of good still to find means of evil;
166Which ofttimes may succeed so as perhaps
168His inmost counsels from their destin'd aim.
169But see! the angry victor hath recall'd
170His ministers of vengeance and pursuit
171Back to the gates of Heav'n: the sulphurous hail,
172Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid
173The fiery surge that from the precipice
174Of Heav'n receiv'd us falling, and the thunder,
175Wing'd with red lightning and impetuous rage,
176Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
177To bellow through the vast and boundless deep.
178Let us not slip th' occasion, whether scorn
179Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
180Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
181The seat of desolation, void of light,
182Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
183Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
184From off the tossing of these fiery waves;
185There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
188Our enemy, our own loss how repair,
189How overcome this dire calamity,
190What reinforcement we may gain from hope,
191If not, what resolution from despair."
192Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
193With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
194That sparkling blaz'd; his other parts besides,
196Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
197As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
200By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
202Created hugest that swim th' ocean-stream:
203Him haply slumb'ring on the Norway foam
204The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff,
205Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
206With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
207Moors by his side under the lee, while night
208Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.
209So stretch'd out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay
211Had ris'n or heav'd his head, but that the will
212And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
213Left him at large to his own dark designs,
214That with reiterated crimes he might
215Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
216Evil to others, and enrag'd might see
217How all his malice serv'd but to bring forth
218Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shewn
219On Man by him seduc'd, but on himself
220Treble confusion, wrath and vengeance pour'd.
221Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
222His mighty stature; on each hand the flames
223Driv'n backward slope their pointing spires and, roll'd
224In billows, leave i' th' midst a horrid vale.
225Then with expanded wings he steers his flight
227That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
228He lights--if it were land that ever burn'd
229With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,
231Of subterranean wind transports a hill
234And fuell'd entrails, thence conceiving fire,
235Sublim'd with mineral fury, aid the winds,
237With stench and smoke: such resting found the sole
238Of unblest feet. Him follow'd his next mate,
240As Gods, and by their own recover'd strength,
241Not by the sufferance of Supernal Power.
243Said then the lost Archangel, "this the seat
245For that celestial light? Be it so, since he
246Who now is sovran can dispose and bid
247What shall be right: farthest from him is best
248Whom reason hath equall'd, force hath made supreme
249Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields
250Where joy for ever dwells! hail horrors, hail
251Infernal world! and thou, profoundest Hell,
252Receive thy new possessor: one who brings
253A mind not to be chang'd by place or time.
254The mind is its own place, and in itself
255Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
256What matter where, if I be still the same
258Whom thunder hath made greater? Here at least
260Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
261Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
262To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell:
263Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav'n.
264But wherefore let we then our faithful friends,
265Th' associates and co-partners of our loss,
267And call them not to share with us their part
268In this unhappy mansion, or once more
269With rallied arms to try what may be yet
270Regain'd in Heav'n, or what more lost in Hell?"
271So Satan spake; and him Beëlzebub
272Thus answer'd: "Leader of those armies bright,
273Which but th' Omnipotent none could have foil'd,
274If once they hear that voice, their liveliest pledge
275Of hope in fears and dangers, heard so oft
276In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
277Of battle when it rag'd, in all assaults
278Their surest signal, they will soon resume
279New courage and revive, though now they lie
280Grovelling and prostrate on yon lake of fire,
283He scarce had ceas'd when the superior Fiend
284Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,
285Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
286Behind him cast; the broad circumference
287Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
291Rivers or mountains in her spotty globe.
292His spear--to equal which the tallest pine
293Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast
295He walk'd with, to support uneasy steps
297On Heaven's azure, and the torrid clime
298Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.
299Nathless he so endur'd, till on the beach
300Of that inflamed sea, he stood and call'd
302Thick as autumnal leaves that strow the brooks
306Hath vex'd the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
309The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
310From the safe shore their floating carcases
311And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrown,
312Abject and lost, lay these, covering the flood,
313Under amazement of their hideous change.
314He call'd so loud that all the hollow deep
315Of Hell resounded: "Princes, Potentates,
316Warriors, the flow'r of Heav'n, once yours, now lost
317If such astonishment as this can seize
318Eternal spirits--or have ye chos'n this place
319After the toil of battle to repose
321To slumber here, as in the vales of Heav'n?
322Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
323To adore the conqueror, who now beholds
324Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood
325With scatter'd arms and ensigns, till anon
326His swift pursuers from Heav'n-gates discern
327Th' advantage, and descending tread us down
328Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts
329Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?--
330Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n!"
331They heard, and were abash'd, and up they sprung
332Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch,
333On duty sleeping found by whom they dread,
334Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake.
336In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel;
337Yet to their General's voice they soon obey'd
338Innumerable. As when the potent rod
342That o'er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
343Like night, and darken'd all the land of Nile:
344So numberless were those bad Angels seen
346'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires;
347Till, as a signal giv'n, th' uplifted spear
348Of their great Sultan waving to direct
349Their course, in even balance down they light
350On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain:
352Pour'd never from her frozen loins, to pass
353Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
354Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
355Beneath Gibraltar to the Lybian sands.
356Forthwith, from every squadron and each band,
357The heads and leaders thither haste where stood
358Their great Commander: godlike shapes and forms
359Excelling human, princely dignities,
360And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones,
362Be no memorial, blotted out and ras'd
363By their rebellion from the Books of Life.
364Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
365Got them new names, till wand'ring o'er the earth,
366Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,
367By falsities and lies the greatest part
368Of mankind they corrupted to forsake
369God their Creator, and th' invisible
371Oft to the image of a brute, adorn'd
374Then were they known to men by various names,
375And various idols through the heathen world.
377Rous'd from the slumber on that fiery couch,
378At their great Emperor's call, as next in worth
379Came singly where he stood on the bare strand,
381The chief were those who, from the pit of Hell
382Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
383Their seats, long after, next the seat of God,
384Their altars by his altar, Gods ador'd
385Among the nations round, and durst abide
387Between the Cherubim; yea, often plac'd
388Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
389Abominations; and with cursed things
390His holy rites and solemn feasts profan'd,
391And with their darkness durst affront his light.
393Of human sacrifice and parents' tears--
394Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud
395Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fire
399Of utmost Arnon. Nor content with such
400Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
401Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
402His temple right against the temple of God
404The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence
407From Aroer to Nebo, and the wild
408Of southmost Abarim, in Hesebon
409And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond
410The flow'ry dale of Sibma clad with vines,
411And Elealè to th' Asphaltic pool:
412Peor his other name, when he entic'd
413Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile,
414To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe;
415Yet thence his lustful orgies he enlarg'd
416Even to that hill of scandal, by the grove
417Of Moloch homicide, lust hard by hate;
418Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
419With these came they who, from the bord'ring flood
421Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
423These feminine. (For spirits when they please
424Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
425And uncompounded is their essence pure,
426Not tied or manacl'd with joint or limb,
427Nor founded on the brittle strength of bones,
428Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,
429Dilated or condens'd, bright or obscure,
430Can execute their aery purposes,
431And works of love or enmity fulfil.)
432For those the race of Israel oft forsook
433Their living strength, and unfrequented left
434His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
435To bestial Gods; for which their heads, as low
436Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
437Of despicable foes. With these in troop
439Astarte, Queen of Heav'n, with crescent horns;
440To whose bright image nightly by the moon
441Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;
442In Sion also not unsung, where stood
443Her temple on th' offensive mountain, built
444By that uxorious king whose heart, though large,
445Beguil'd by fair idolatresses, fell
447Whose annual wound in Lebanon allur'd
448The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
449In amorous ditties all a summer's day,
450While smooth Adonis from his native rock
451Ran purple to the sea, suppos'd with blood
452Of Thammuz yearly wounded: the love-tale
453Infected Sion's daughters with like heat,
454Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
455Ezekiel saw, when by the vision led
456His eye survey'd the dark idolatries
457Of alienated Judah. Next came one
458Who mourn'd in earnest, when the captive ark
459Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopp'd off
460In his own temple, on the grunsel-edge,
461Where he fell flat and sham'd his worshippers:
463And downward fish, yet had his temple high
464Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
465Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,
466And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.
468Was fair Damascus on the fertile banks
469Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams;
470He also against the house of God was bold:
471A leper once he lost and gain'd a king,
472Ahaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drew
473God's altar to disparage and displace
474For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
475His odious off'rings, and adore the Gods
476Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appear'd
477A crew who, under names of old renown,
479With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus'd
480Fanatic Egypt and her priests to seek
481Their wand'ring Gods disguis'd in brutish forms
482Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape
483Th' infection when their borrow'd gold compos'd
484The calf in Oreb, and the rebel king
485Doubl'd that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
486Lik'ning his Maker to the grazed ox--
487Jehovah, who, in one night, when he pass'd
488From Egypt marching, equall'd with one stroke
489Both her first born and all her bleating Gods.
491Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
492Vice for itself; to him no temple stood
493Or altar smok'd, yet who more oft than he
494In temples and at altars, when the priest
495Turns atheist as did Eli's sons, who fill'd
496With lust and violence the house of God?
497In courts and palaces he also reigns,
498And in luxurious cities, where the noise
499Of riot ascends above their loftiest tow'rs,
500And injury and outrage; and, when night
501Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
502Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine:
503Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
504In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
505Expos'd a matron to avoid worse rape.
506These were the prime in order and in might.
507The rest were long to tell. Though far renown'd,
509Gods, yet confess'd later than Heav'n and Earth,
510Their boasted parents: Titan, Heav'n's first born,
511With his enormous brood, and birthright seiz'd
512By younger Saturn: he from mightier Jove,
513His own and Rhea's son, like measure found:
514So Jove usurping reign'd. These, first in Crete
515And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
516Of cold Olympus rul'd the middle air,
517Their highest heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff,
518Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
519Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
520Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,
521And o'er the Celtic roam'd the utmost isles.
522All these and more came flocking; but with looks
523Downcast and damp, yet such wherein appear'd
524Obscure some glimpse of joy to have found their Chief
525Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost
526In loss itself; which on his count'nance cast
527Like doubtful hue. But he his wonted pride
528Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore
529Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd
530Their fainting courage, and dispell'd their fears;
531Then straight commands that, at the warlike sound
532Of trumpets loud and clarions, be uprear'd
533His mighty standard. That proud honour claim'd
535Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd
537Shone like a meteor, streaming to the wind
538With gems and golden lustre rich emblaz'd,
540Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds:
541At which the universal host up-sent
543Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
544All in a moment through the gloom were seen
545Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
547A forest huge of spears, and thronging helms
549Of depth immeasurable. Anon they move
552To highth of noblest temper heroes old
553Arming to battle, and instead of rage
554Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmov'd
555With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
556Nor wanting power to mitigate and swage
557With solemn touches troubl'd thoughts, and chase
558Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
559From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
561Mov'd on in silence to soft pipes that charm'd
562Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil; and now
564Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
565Of warriors old with order'd spear and shield,
566Awaiting what command their mighty Chief
567Had to impose. He through the armed files
569The whole battalion views, their order due,
570Their visages and stature as of Gods;
571Their number last he sums. And now his heart
572Distends with pride and, hard'ning in his strength,
574Met such embodied force as, nam'd with these,
576Warr'd on by cranes--though all the giant brood
578That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side
579Mix'd with auxiliar Gods, and what resounds
582And all who since, baptiz'd or infidel,
587By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond
588Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd
589Their dread Commander. He, above the rest
590In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
591Stood like a tow'r; his form had yet not lost
592All her original brightness, nor appear'd
593Less than Archangel ruin'd, and th' excess
594Of glory obscur'd: as when the sun new-ris'n
595Looks through the horizontal misty air
596Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon
598On half the nations, and with fear of change
599Perplexes monarchs. Dark'n'd so, yet shone
600Above them all th' Archangel; but his face
601Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd, and care
602Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows
604Waiting revenge; cruel his eye, but cast
606The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
607(Far other once beheld in bliss), condemn'd
608For ever now to have their lot in pain--
610Of Heav'n, and from eternal splendours flung
611For his revolt--yet faithful how they stood,
612Their glory wither'd: as, when Heaven's fire
613Hath scath'd the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
614With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
615Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepar'd
616To speak; whereat their doubl'd ranks they bend
617From wing to wing, and half enclose him round
619Thrice he assay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
620Tears such as Angels weep burst forth; at last
621Words interwove with sighs found out their way:
622"O myriads of immortal Spirits, O Powers,
623Matchless but with th' Almighty!--and that strife
625As this place testifies, and this dire change
626Hateful to utter. But what power of mind,
627Foreseeing or presaging from the depth
628Of knowledge past or present, could have fear'd
629How such united force of Gods, how such
630As stood like these, could ever know repulse?
631For who can yet believe, though after loss,
632That all these puissant legions, whose exile
634Self-rais'd, and repossess their native seat?
635For me, be witness all the host of Heav'n,
637By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
638Monarch in Heav'n till then as one secure
639Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
640Consent, or custom, and his regal state
641Put forth at full, but still his strength conceal'd;
642Which tempted our attempt and wrought our fall.
643Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,
644So as not either to provoke or dread
645New war provok'd; our better part remains
646To work, in close design, by fraud or guile
647What force effected not: that he no less
648At length from us may find, who overcomes
649By force hath overcome but half his foe.
650Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife
652Intended to create, and therein plant
653A generation whom his choice regard
654Should favour equal to the Sons of Heaven.
655Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
656Our first eruption, thither or elsewhere;
657For this infernal pit shall never hold
658Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor th' Abyss
659Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
661For who can think submission? War then, war
663He spake; and, to confirm his words, out-flew
664Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
665Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze
666Far round illumin'd Hell. Highly they rag'd
667Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms
668Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war,
669Hurling defiance toward the vault of heav'n.
670There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top
671Belch'd fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
674The work of sulphur. Thither, wing'd with speed,
675A num'rous brigad hasten'd; as when bands
677Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
680From Heav'n; for ev'n in Heav'n his looks and thoughts
681Were always downward bent, admiring more
683Than aught divine or holy else enjoy'd
684In vision beatific; by him first
685Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
687Rifl'd the bowels of their mother Earth
688For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
689Op'n'd into the hill a spacious wound
691That riches grow in Hell: that soil may best
692Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
693Who boast in mortal things, and wond'ring tell
695Learn how their greatest monuments of fame,
696And strength, and art, are easily outdone
697By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour
698What in an age they, with incessant toil
699And hands innumerable, scarce perform.
701That underneath had veins of liquid fire
705A third as soon had form'd within the ground
706A various mould, and from the boiling cells
707By strange conveyance fill'd each hollow nook,
708As in an organ from one blast of wind
709To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
710Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
712Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
718Nor great Alcairo, such magnificence
719Equall'd in all their glories, to enshrine
720Belus or Serapis their Gods, or seat
721Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
722In wealth and luxury. Th' ascending pile
723Stood fix'd her stately highth; and straight the doors,
725Within her ample spaces o'er the smooth
726And level pavement; from the arched roof,
727Pendant by subtle magic, many a row
729With naphtha and asphaltus, yielded light
731Admiring enter'd, and the work some praise
733In Heav'n by many a tower'd structure high,
734Where sceptred Angels held their residence,
735And sat as Princes, whom the supreme King
736Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
738Nor was his name unheard or unador'd
739In ancient Greece, and in Ausonian land
740Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell
741From Heav'n they fabl'd, thrown by angry Jove
742Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
743To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
744A summer's day, and with the setting sun
745Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star,
746On Lemnos, th' Ægæan isle. Thus they relate,
747Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
748Fell long before; nor aught avail'd him now
749To have built in Heav'n high tow'rs; nor did he scape
750By all his engines, but was headlong sent
751With his industrious crew to build in Hell.
752Meanwhile the winged haralds, by command
754And trumpets' sound, throughout the host proclaim
755A solemn council forthwith to be held
757Of Satan and his peers. Their summons call'd
759By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
760With hundreds and with thousands trooping came
761Attended: all access was throng'd; the gates
763(Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold
764Wont ride in arm'd, and at the Soldan's chair
765Defied the best of Paynim chivalry
766To mortal combat or career with lance)
767Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,
769In spring-time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
770Pour forth their populous youth about the hive
771In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers
772Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
773The suburb of their straw-built citadel,
774New rubb'd with balm, expatiate and confer
775Their state-affairs: so thick the aery crowd
777Behold a wonder!--they but now who seem'd
779Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
782Whose midnight revels, by a forest-side
783Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
784Or dreams he sees, while overhead the Moon
785Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
786Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance
787Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;
788At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
789Thus incorporeal Spirits to smallest forms
790Reduc'd their shapes immense, and were at large,
791Though without number still, amidst the hall
792Of that infernal court. But far within,
794The great Seraphic lords and Cherubim
795In close recess and secret conclave sat,
796A thousand demi-gods on golden seats,
798And summons read, the great consult began.


1] A drama on the Fall, entitled "Paradise Lost,'' was planned by Milton in 1640-42. Lines 32-41 of Book IV were composed about 1642, and were intended for the opening speech of this drama. After a long interruption he re-commenced the poem in epic form, perhaps about 1657, and completed it by 1663 or 1665. It was published in ten books in 1667; it was subsequently revised and redivided into twelve books for the "Second Edition" published in 1674. A note on "The Verse" explains: "The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin,--rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings,--a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming." 1-26. The classical epic commences with a statement of the subject and invocation to the Muse. Homer's Iliad begins: ''Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles, Peleus, son, the ruinous wrath that brought on the Achaians woes innumerable and hurled down into Hades many strong souls of heroes, and gave their bodies to be a prey to dogs and all winged fowls; and so the counsel of Zeus wrought out its accomplishment...." Virgil's Aeneid begins: "Arms I sing and the man who first from the coasts of Troy, exiled by fate, came to Italy and the Lavinian shores; much buffeted on sea and land by violence from above, through cruel Juno's unforgiving wrath, and much enduring in war also, till he should build a city and bring his gods to Latium; whence came the Latin race, the lords of Alba, and the walls of lofty Rome. Tell me, O Muse, the cause ...." Back to Line
4] one greater Man: Christ; see Romans 5:19. Back to Line
6] Heav'nly Muse: the Muse of Christian poetry, first invoked by Milton in Nativity Ode, 15; also called Urania (P.L., VII, 1), the name belonging to the Greek muse of heavenly studies but distinguished from that muse (cf. ibid., 5-6). Back to Line
7] Sinai, where God appeared to Moses and gave him the tables of the Law, was a mountain in the range Oreb; Milton speaks of them rather as if they were two peaks, perhaps to parallel the cloven peak of Parnassus, one dwelling of the Greek muses (see below lines 10-12 n.). Back to Line
8] that Shepherd: Moses. Milton devoted Book VII to an account of the Creation. Back to Line
15] Aonian: Boeotian; referring to Mount Helicon. Back to Line
17] Refers to the Spirit of God moving (or brooding) upon the waters at the Creation (Genesis 1:2) and appearing at Christ's baptism in the shape of a dove (Matthew 3:16). Back to Line
24] argument: story or theme (not piece of argumentation). Back to Line
26] justify: declare (not plead) the justice of. Back to Line
31] For one restraint: on account of one prohibition (to eat of the tree of Knowledge--Genesis 2:17). Back to Line
46] ruin: falling (Lat. ruina); combustion: burning (cf. line 45). Back to Line
52] fiery gulf: the burning lake. Back to Line
56] baleful: full of woe (not malignancy, which is reserved for line 58). Back to Line
57] witness'd: bore witness to. Back to Line
59] angels ken: angels can (see and) know. Back to Line
68] urges: afflicts (Lat. urgere). Back to Line
72] utter: outer. Back to Line
74] centre: the centre of the earth the utmost pole: the pole of the outermost sphere according to the Ptolemaic System (see Nativity Ode, 125 n.). Back to Line
78] weltering: rolling about. Back to Line
81] Beëlzebub: Baal-zebub, the "Lord of Flies," a manifestation of Baal, worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron. Back to Line
82] Satan signifies" The Adversary." Back to Line
93] He: i.e., God. Back to Line
98] sense of injur'd merit: sense of injury from God's undervaluing of his merit. The cause and course of Satan's revolt are narrated in Books V and VI (see synopsis linking IV and IX). Back to Line
107] study: zealous pursuit (Lat. studium). Back to Line
117] Satan refuses to admit that he owes his being to God (though he knows better--see below, IV, 42-44), but asserts that the angels have their being from their empyreal, celestial (literally fiery) substance, which is indestructible. Back to Line
124] tyranny. It is Satan's contention that God rules as a tyrant. Back to Line
138] essences: beings. Back to Line
144] Of force: perforce. Back to Line
157] Cherub: one of the second order of angels. Milton makes some use of the symbolic values attached to the hierarchy of the angels (see Nativity Ode, 28 n.), but not in the case of fallen angels, since place in the hierarchy is given by the special virtue possessed. Back to Line
167] if I fail not: if I mistake not (Lat. ni fallor). Back to Line
186] afflicted: struck down (Lat. afflictus). Back to Line
187] offend: strike at (Lat. offendere). Back to Line
195] large: wide. Back to Line
198] The Titans fought against their father Uranus (Heaven). Later they themselves were overthrown by Zeus (Jove). Finally the Giants, sons of Earth (Earth-born), fought unsuccessfully against Zeus and his fellow Olympians. Tiuns and Giants are sometimes confused. Back to Line
199] Briareos: a hundred-handed monster, son of Uranus, and thus Titanian; in one legend, the defender of Zeus, which cannot be intended here, in another, the enemy of the gods. Typhon: a hundred-headed serpent monster, in one legend, imprisoned in a den in Cilicia, whose capital was Tarsus; he stands for the Giants. It is noteworthy that in addition to their size all the monsters resemble Satan in being enemies to the divine power and subject to its punishment. Back to Line
201] Leviathan: name applied to various water beasts in Old Testament: described by Isaiah as the dragon that is in the sea and said to be reserved for God's special vengeance; in Milton's day, and by him, identified with the whale. A similar episode to Milton's of the skiff, night-founder'd (benighted, literally sunk in the darkness of night) and anchored to a whale mistaken by its crew for an island, is recounted by the Swedish writer Olaus Magnus in his History of the Northern Nations, translated into English in 1658. Here the secondary suggestion is Satan's deceptiveness and his betrayal of those that trust him to their destruction. Back to Line
210] References to the lake of fire occur in Revelation 19 and 20. Milton makes the four rivers of Hell flow into the burning lake (P.L., II, 576-77). 210-13. It was theologically necessary to indicate that whatever Satan did was not in spite of God, but by his permissive will (see line 239 and note). Back to Line
226] incumbent: leaning (Lat. incumbens). Back to Line
230] According to a theory still current in Milton's day, earthquakes were explained as due to winds imprisoned below the earth's surface. Back to Line
232] Pelorus: the northeast point of Sicily. Back to Line
233] Ætna: the great volcano near Pelorus. The alchemists thought that all minerals contained sulphur and mercury, making them combustible. "Sublimed" is an alchemical term, meaning `raised to pure flame.' Back to Line
236] bottom: valley; involv'd: wrapped in (Lat. involvere). Back to Line
239] Ironically, Satan and Beelzebub are ignorant that they are by God's permissive will (see lines 210-13 and n.). Back to Line
242] clime: climate. Back to Line
244] change for: take in exchange for. Back to Line
257] all but less than he: all but equal to him. Back to Line
259] hath not built for himself, begrudging possession to anyone else. Back to Line
266] astonish'd: stunned literally, thunder-struck; oblivious: causing forgetfulness. Back to Line
281] amaz'd: in a maze, stupefied. Back to Line
282] pernicious: utterly destructive (Lat. perniciosus). Back to Line
288] During his visit to Florence in 1638 Milton met Galileo, the perfecter of the telescope, and defender of the Copernican theory. artist: here used in the sense of an expert in science. Back to Line
289] Fesole: Fiesole, a hill-town three miles north of Florence. Back to Line
290] Valdarno: Val d'Arno, the valley of the river Arno, which runs through Florence. Back to Line
294] ammiral: flagship, from the Arabic "amir al bahr," prince (emir) of the sea. Back to Line
296] marle: soil. Back to Line
301] entranc'd: as if thrown into a trance. Back to Line
303] Vallombrosa: "Shady Valley," a beautiful valley eighteen miles from Florence. Etrurian: the ancient state of Etruria included Tuscany. Back to Line
304] The Red Sea was called in Hebrew the Sea of Sedge on account of the weed growing at its margin. This affords Milton his second comparison: thick as the sedge floating (like the fallen angels) as it is scattered by the storms. Back to Line
305] Orion, a giant transformed to the constellation of that name, whose rising and setting coincided with storms (so that Virgil spoke of "stormy Orion"); Milton thinks of the giant as armed with fierce winds, by which the (waters along the) coast are vex'd, violently disturbed (Lat. vexare). Back to Line
307] Milton applies Busiris, the name of a legendary king of Egypt (met in Ralegh's History of the World) to Pharaoh. his chivalry: his mounted soldiers (chivalry and cavalry having a common derivation). Memphian: used for Egyptian, since Memphis was the ancient capital of Egypt. Back to Line
308] perfidious because Pharaoh had given the Israelites, whom he now pursued, permission to go. See Exodus 14, where we read that after opening to allow the passage of the Children of Israel, the waters of the Red Sea engulfed the Egyptians and God ''took off the wheels of their chariots." Thence Milton draws a third (implied) comparison, thick as the carcasses and broken chariot wheels of Pharaoh's engulfed army, which brings in the secondary suggestion of enemies of God overtaken by his vengeance. Back to Line
320] virtue: valour (Lat. virtus). Back to Line
335] Nor did they not: i.e., and they did (cf. Lat. neque non). Back to Line
339] See Exodus 10: 12-1 5; Amram's son: Moses (see Exodus 6:20). Back to Line
340] pitchy: dark as pitch (cf. lines 342-43). Back to Line
341] warping: working themselves around (like a ship). Back to Line
345] cope: roof. Back to Line
351] Milton draws his comparison from the series of barbarian invasions (lines 240-440), spreading from the north to and across Rhene (the Rhine) and Danaw (the Danube), and from Spain, by the Straits of Gibraltar, to the Lybian sands (North Africa). Back to Line
361] Preparatory to the catalogue of the leaders, since the names of the rebel angels are unknown, blotted out of the Book of Life, Milton adopts the tradition, found recorded, for example, in Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity and Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, that they became the gods of the heathen world, and calls them by these, their second names. Back to Line
370] Cf. Romans 1:23. Back to Line
372] gay religions: showy religious rites. Back to Line
373] Cf. I Corinthians 10:20. Back to Line
376] Homer and Virgil, on occasion, thus appeal to the Muse (e.g., Iliad, II, 484, Aeneid, VII, 641). Back to Line
380] promiscuous: mixed, undiscriminated. Back to Line
386] Milton combines God's thundering when giving the Law to Moses (Exodus 20) with the promise to commune with him from between the cherubim above the mercy seat in the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:22; cf. Psalm 80:1). Back to Line
392] On Moloch see Nativity Ode, 205-10 and note. Back to Line
396] The Ammonites dwelt east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea, the Arnon forming their southern boundary (see Judges 11:13). Back to Line
397] Rabba (the city of waters) was their capital (II Samuel 12:27). Back to Line
398] Argob, a district of the mountain range Basan (Bashan). Back to Line
403] Solomon "beguil'd by fair idolatrestes" (below, line 445) built temples to Moloch, Cheinos and Astarte on the Mount of Olives (I Kings 11:4-8), hence called ''the mount of corruption'' (II Kings 23:13) and by Milton "that opprobrious hill." Back to Line
405] The narrow wooded valley of Hinnom, dividing the Mount of Olives from Sion where stood the Temple of God, was also used for pagan worship (cf. II Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 10:2; 38:35). It came to be called Gehenna (the Greek form of Hinnom); in it also was Tophet (II Kings 23:l0), and each became the type, symbol and synonym, of Hell. 392-521. Cf. Nativity Ode, 173-228, and see notes. Back to Line
406] Chemos was called "the abomination of Moab" (I Kings 11:7). The places mentioned by Milton are in the territory occupied by the Moabites till taken from them by the Amorites (Numbers 21:26), and hints for their descnption he takes from O.T., as for Sibma clad with vines from "the vine of Sibmah'' (Isaiah 16:8). The Asphaltic pool is the Dead Sea. Chemos was associated with, and was indeed a variant of Moloch, and was often identified, as here by Milton, with Baal-Peor (on whom see Nativity Ode, 197-98 and n.); on the apostasy of the Children of Israel and its dire consequences, see Numbers 25:1-11. Later Solomon built temples to Chemos and Moloch on the Mount of Olives, lust hard by hate; but Josiah in his general eradication of pagan worship (II Kings 23) destroyed them and "defiled Topheth ... in the valley of ... Hinnom," which became the refuse place of Jerusalem, and the ''type of Hell'' (see above lines 392-405 n.). Back to Line
420] the brook that parts: Shihor, "the River of Egypt.'' Back to Line
422] Baälim and Ashtaroth: plural forms of Baal and Ashtoreth, hence including all their manifestations. Back to Line
438] see Nativity Ode, 200-4 and notes. Astoreth or Astarte was called by the Greeks Aphrodite and the Romans Venus. When associated with the moon rather than the planet Venus, she was represented with crescent horns and worshipped as queen of Heav'n (cf. Jeremiah 7:18) at Sidon, as at other cities of Phoenicia, and also in Israel (Jeremiah, as above), where Solomon built a temple to her as to other pagan deities (see above, lines 392-405 n.). Though ''God gave Solomon wisdom ... and largeness of heart'' (I Kings 4:29), he proved uxorious and was led into idolatry by his women. Back to Line
446] According to the season, in Phoenician myth and ritual, Thammuz (the original of the Greek Adonis) was annually slain in Lebanon by the wild boar, when the river Adonis ran red, supposedly with his blood, and annually revived. (The word "purple" was quite commonly used to designate the colour of blood.) Ezekiel (8:14) found "women weeping for Thammuz" even at the door of the Temple of God. Back to Line
462] Dagon, the national god of the Philistines, had cause to mourn, for when the ark of the covenant was brought into his temple, the idol fell from its place and, set up again, fell once more on the threshold (grundsel), so that the head and hands were knocked off (I Samuel 1-4); hence the "twice-batter'd god" of Nativity Ode, 199. The suggested derivation of the name Dagon from the Hebrew dag, a fish, which would make him a sea-deity, Milton evidently accepts, and proceeds to name five principal seats of his worship. Back to Line
467] In connection with Rimmon, the Syrian god worshipped at Damascus, Milton alludes to two otherwise unconnected episodes: (i) how Naaman, the Syrian captain of the host, was cured of his leprosy, by Elisha, the prophet of God, and abandoned Rimmon's worship for God's (II Kings 5), and (ii) how Ahaz, king of Judah, having entered Damascus as a conqueror, imitated the altar and worship of his vanquished enemy (II Kings 16): hence Rimmon a leper ... lost and gain'd a king (which Milton evidently considered a bad bargain!) Back to Line
478] On Osiris, Isis, Orus, "the brutish gods of Nile," see Nativity Ode, 211-20 (where for once the treatment is fuller) and notes. Milton attributes the Israelites, setting up of a golden calf for worship (Exodus 32) to imitation of the worship of Apis, learned from the Egyptians whom they had spoiled by taking their possessions (Exodus 12:35-36). The rebel king is Jeroboam, rebel against Rehoboam. He doubled the earlier sin of the Israelites by setting up two golden calves in Bethel and Dan respectively (I Kings 12:20, 28-29). To do so was to change "their glory [God] into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass'' and to forget "God their saviour which had done great things in Egypt" (Psalm 106:20-21), how in a single night he slew the first-born of the Egyptians and of their cattle and flocks, but pass'd over the Israelites (Exodus 12:29, 42-43). Back to Line
490] Belial: not a god but an abstraction, meaning "worthlessness," as in the phrase "man of Belial" (II Samuel 20:1); Milton, however, personifies the quality as a god here, adding him to the roll as given in the Nativity Ode. For Elia's sons and their misconduct see II Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25. In referring to luxurious (i.e., voluptuous, lascivious) cities and the Sons of Belial, flown (i.e., flushed) with insolence and wine, Milton is perhaps glancing at Restoration London and the courtiers of Charles II, before specifying the yet worse outrages of Sodom and of members of the tribe of Benjamin in Gibeah (Genesis 19:1-29; Judges 19:14-20:13). Back to Line
508] The Ionian gods are the Olympian deities worshipped by the Ionians, who stand for the ancient Greeks, descendants of Javan, the son of Japheth (Genesis 10:2), one of the sons of Noah. Though held to be gods, these deities are confess'd to be later than Heaven (Uranus) and Earth (Ge), whose descendants they were. The first offspring were the Titans (see above, lines 198-200 n.); the youngest of them, Saturn, seized power from Titan (his eldest brother), only to lose it finally to Jove, his own son and Rhea's. These gods were first known on the mount Ida in Crete, and later dwelt on Olympus, high in the middle (of the three strata of the) air, but also spread through the Doric land (i.e., Greece), frequenting such places as Delphi (an oracle of Apollo) and Dodona (an oracle of Zeus), while the deposed Saturn fled over the Adriatic to the Hesperian (i.e., western) fields (and principally Italy); Milton imagines his having companions who roamed through the Celtic (fields--i.e., Gaul) and to the utmost (i.e., the British) isles. Back to Line
534] Azazel occurs in Leviticus 16:8 (A.V.) as the marginal reading for "scapegoat" in the text. Possibly some evil spirit is meant, for whom Milton accounts by making him a fallen Cherub (see above, line 157n.). Back to Line
536] advanc'd: to "advance'' is the technical term for to "raise" a standard. Back to Line
539] arms and trophies: armorial bearings and memorials of victories. Back to Line
542] Above Hell's concave (arched roof) extended the reign of (region ruled over by) Chaos and Night, described in detail in Book II, 890-1009. Back to Line
546] orient: bright. Back to Line
548] serried: locked together (the shields being so borne by infantry formed in a phalanx for battle). Back to Line
550] phalanx: see 548 n. Dorian mood. Of the three modes of Greek music, Dorian, Phrygian and Lydian, the first inspired "a moderate and settled temper" (Aristotle Politics 8.5); elaborated below, lines 551-59. Back to Line
551] recorders: the recorder is a kind of flute. Back to Line
560] Breathing: expressing. Back to Line
563] horrid: bristling (Lat. horridus) with spears. Back to Line
568] traverse: across. Back to Line
573] since created man: a Latinism: since man was created. Back to Line
575] that small infantry: the Pygmies; said by Homer to be attacked yearly by cranes. See Iliad, III.5. Back to Line
577] Phlegra: a peninsula in Macedonia, scene of the fight between the Giants and the Gods. To these were joined: (i) the heroic race who fought (in Greek legend) in the siege of Troy (Ilium) in which gods lent aid on both sides, and in the war of the Seven against Thebes; (ii) what is told of King Arthur and the heroes of British and Breton romance; (iii) all who fought on both sides in the wars of Christian and Saracen. Back to Line
580] Uther's son: King Arthur. Back to Line
581] Armoric: Breton. Back to Line
583] Aspramont: town and castle near Nice, mentioned in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso; Montalban: Castle of Renaud, or Reynaldo, a hero of Old French romance. Back to Line
584] Trebisond. This city on the Black Sea was the seat of a splendid court from 1204 to 1461, when it was captured by the Turks. Back to Line
585] Biserta: the ancient Utica on the North African coast; in Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato, the port from which the Saracens invade Spain. Back to Line
586] The scene of this famous battle (778) was not Fontarabbia, but Roncesvalles, forty miles away. Charlemagne was not killed, but his nephew Roland. Back to Line
597] An eclipse (of sun or moon) was held to be disastrous (i.e., to bode disaster). Back to Line
603] considerate: thoughtful (i.e., his expression betokened not only pride, but reflection). Back to Line
605] remorse and passion: pity and suffering. Back to Line
609] amerc'd of: deprived of. Back to Line
618] With all his peers. Standing with Satan, and half enclosed by the army, are the leaders (described above, lines 392-605) "the prime in order and in might", here called his peers, not as his equals (as in line 39 above) but as the nobles of his court. Back to Line
624] event: outcome (Latin eventus). Back to Line
633] emptied Heav'n: a typical Satanic boast; that the rebels numbered one third of the angels is the inference from Revelation 12:4. Back to Line
636] Satan seeks to explain their defeat as due neither to divided counsels nor failure of his courage, but only to their ignorance of God's power, who exercised his rule to the full, upheld by custom, by his reputation, and by the acquiescence of the ruled, but concealed his strength. Back to Line
651] fame: rumour. Back to Line
660] Peace is despair'd: a Latinism: there is no hope of peace (since it could be had only by submission). Back to Line
662] understood, among themselves only, and so secret. Back to Line
672] scurf: scales. Back to Line
673] All metals were believed to contain sulphur. Back to Line
676] pioneers: troops (now called engineers): so named formerly because they went before to prepare the road. Back to Line
678] Mammon: like Belial (above, lines 490-505 n.) not a god, but an abstract noun signifying riches, added, however, by Milton to his list of fallen angels. Back to Line
679] erected: elevated, noble (Lat. erectus). Back to Line
682] Heav'n's pavement, trodd'n gold: cf. Revelation 21:21. Back to Line
686] the centre: i.e., the earth, the centre of the Ptolemaic universe. Back to Line
690] admire: wonder (Lat. admirari). Back to Line
694] Memphian: Egyptian; see above, line 307 n. Back to Line
700] cells: cavities. Back to Line
702] Sluic'd: carried in sluices (from the burning lake; see above, line 52 n.). Back to Line
703] founded (reading of 1667): meld; reading of 1674, found out, is evidently a printer's error. Back to Line
704] scumm'd the bullion-dross: skimmed off the scum rising from the liquified metal. Back to Line
711] As Troy rose to the music of Apollo's lyre. Back to Line
713] pilasters: rectangular columns set within a wall. Back to Line
714] Doric pillars: the simplest of the three types of Greek column. Back to Line
715] architrave: main beam resting on the row of pillars, with the frieze coming just above and the cornice projecting above this again. Back to Line
716] bossy: done in relief. Back to Line
717] fretted: covered with designs. The capital cities of the two great empires, the Assyrian (Babylon) and the Egyptian (Alcairo), could not compare with "Pandemonium, the high capital/Of Satan and his peers" (lines 756-57). By Alcairo Milton intends Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt, replaced by the new city in the tenth century A.D. Memphis was the seat of a shrine to Serapis, the Greek Hades. Belus, called by the Hebrews Baal, was the god of the Assyrians, with a famous temple in their capital, Babylon. Back to Line
724] discover: reveal. Back to Line
728] cressets: iron vessels for holding burning oil or other inflammable matter and hung aloft to give light. Back to Line
730] hasty: i.e., in haste to enter. Back to Line
732] The architect was the Greek Hephaestus, Roman Vulcan, also called Mulciber (the softener or welder of metals, from Lat. mulcae, `to soften'). Milton places him among the fallen angels and adapts the classical story to his own purposes. Having built the palaces of the gods on Olympus (the Greek heaven), Hephaestus enraged Zeus by taking the part of Here against him, whereupon Zeus threw the rebel from Olympus. Milton paraphrases the story from Homer (Iliad, I, 590 ff.), but suggests that it is really a false account based on his earlier building in Heaven and his fall with the other rebel angels, when his former activities and his engines, invented contrivances, availed him nothing. Back to Line
737] the Orders bright: the nine orders of angels, which were grouped into three hierarchies thus: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones; Dominations, Virtues, Powers; Principalities, Archangels, Angels. These were first formulated in a treatise attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, really written about A.D. 500. Back to Line
753] awful: awe-inspiring. Back to Line
756] Pandemonium: place of all the daemons. Back to Line
758] The worthiest representatives were to be sent (whether duly elected or by virtue of their office) from each squared regiment (i.e., "perfect phalanx"--cf. above, line 550). These came attended by so vast a company that all the approaches were thronged. Back to Line
762] the spacious hall: so huge that it resembled the covered field into which Christian knights were wont to ride and, at the Sultan's throne, challenge the paynim chivalry (pagan knights), one mode of battle being mortal combat (a fight to the death), the other, the joust, where the opponents rode at full career (short fast gallop) with poised lances, and to unseat your man was sufficient. Back to Line
768] The epic simile of swarming bees had precedent in Homer (Iliad, II, 87 ff.) and Virgil (Aeneid I, 430 ff; VI, 707 ff.). The sun is in Taurus (the bull), the second division of the Zodiac, from April 19 to May 20. The bees expatiate, wander about, on the plank on which the straw hive is placed and which has been rubbed with balm (an aromatic herb) to attract them. Back to Line
776] strait'n'd: crowded together. Back to Line
778] Earth's Giant sons: cf. above, lines 198-200 and note. Back to Line
780] that Pigmean race, as described by Pliny (Natural History, VII, II, 26). Back to Line
781] Here Milton combines with a look at the fairy world of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a hint from Virgil (Aeneid, VI, 454), where Aeneas encountering Dido among the shades is filled with uncertainty as "one who sees or dreams he sees the moon just visible through clouds." Back to Line
793] The peers (above, line 618 and note), in their own dimension, not reduced in size, form as it were a second chamber or privy council. Back to Line
797] frequent: crowded (Lat. frequens). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
(In ten books)
RPO poem Editors: 
Hugh MacCallum; A. S. P. Woodhouse
RPO Edition: 
3RP 1.239-56.
Special Copyright: 

Also <i>2RP</i>, I: 372-91, 881-84. Ed.
W. H. Clawson, H. J. Davis, and N. J.