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On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael,
5. Paradise Regained. Book I. 1–17.
I, who erewhile the Happy Garden sung
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence
As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute,
And unrecorded left through many an age:
B. Epic Similes.
The following similes are, 1 from the Iliad, in the translation of Lang, Leaf, and Myer, and 2 from Matthew Arnold's
Sohrab and Rustum, an epic fragment which may well be compared both with Homer and Milton.
1. Neither lingered Paris long in his lofty house, but clothed on him his brave armour, bedight with bronze, and hasted through the city, trusting to his nimble feet. Even as when a stalled horse, full-fed at the manger, breaketh his tether and speedeth at the gallop across the plain, being wont to bathe him in the fair-flowing stream, exultingly; and holdeth his head on high, and his mane floateth about his shoulders, and he trusteth in his glory, and nimbly his limbs bear him to the haunts and pasturage of mares; even so Priam's son Paris, glittering in his armour like the shining sun strode down from high Pergamos laughingly, and his swift feet bare him.
Iliad vi., 504-514. [Lang, Leaf, and Myers' Translation, p. 126.]
And as when a brimming river cometh down upon the plain, in winter flood from the hills, swollen by the rain of Zeus, and many dry oaks and many pines it sucketh in, and much soil it casteth into the sea, even so renowned Aias charged them, pursuing through the plain, slaying horses and men. xi. 490-495. [p. 218.]
Thus saying fair-haired Menelaos departed glancing everywhither, as an eagle which men say hath keenest sight of all birds under heaven, and though he be far aloft the fleet-footed hare eludeth him not by crouching beneath a leafy bush, but the eagle swoopeth thereon and swiftly seizeth her and taketh her life. xvii. 672-677. [p. 363.]
But as a troop of pedlars, from Cabool,
That vast sky-neighbouring mountain of milk snow;
As some rich woman, on a winter's morn,
Who with numb blackened fingers makes her fire-
C. The Idolatries of the Israelites. i. 392–505.
These matters must be illustrated by Bible reading, the more the better. It is not, of course, by looking at a few passages that one can come to regard these things as Milton did. But even a few passages will do something to give the right view. First we give the prophecy in the song of Moses; then an extract from later history showing how the prophecy was carried out; and last an account of one of the various efforts made for reform and regeneration.
1. The Song of Moses.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and this people will rise up and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and waxed fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed. Deut. xxxi. 14-21.
From the Song of Moses :
But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the Lord saw it he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. Deut. xxxii. 15-19.
2. The Idolatries of Solomon. Compare especially with i. 442446.
But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.
Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines and his wives turned away his heart.
For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians; and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the childen of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. 1 Kings xi. 1-8.
3. The zeal and reformation of Josiah, alluded to in i. 417419, are spoken of both in Kings and Chronicles.
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he
reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed
it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them. And
he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem.
And so did he in the cities of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles xxxiv. 1-7.
With this compare the account in 2 Kings xxiii. 1-14. Especially vv. 10, 13 and 14, which are as follows:
And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.
And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom, the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king defile. And he brake in pieces the images and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.
D. The Geography of Palestine. i. 392-418.
1. From Numbers xxi. 21-30.
And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, "Let me pass through thy land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king's highway until we be past thy borders."