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Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways their flying march, along the banks
Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning lake their baleful streams
Abhorrèd Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegeton,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream,
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth ; whereof who drinks,
Forth with his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land
Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice,
A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog

590

(Lat. crassus, thick ; Fr. gros, big, great), large. — 574. Flying. Why flying ? - 575. Four infernal rivers. The topography of hell must be somewhat as shown by the diagrams of Prof. Hinies in the Introduction, p. xxiv.-577-80. Styx (Gr. ETút, styx, hateful; oTuyéw, I hate), the river of hate. Acheron (Gr. axos, ache ; péw, I flow), the river of pain. Cocytus (Gr. KwKÚw, I wail), the river of wailing. Phlegeton (Gr. préyw, I burn), the river of fire. Torrent (Lat. torrens), scorching or rushing. Milton perhaps combines both meanings here. Virg. Æn. VI. 550, called it .a river rapid with torrent flames'; Silius Italicus, XIV. 62, (torrent of flames.' These four rivers are named in the tenth book of the Odyssey. -581. Inflame. Neuter ? or active? to be on fire ? or to set on fire ? — 583. Lethe (Gr. ahon, lethe, forgetfulness), oblivion. Why slow and silent'?-584. Labyrinth. As the Egyptian labyrinth was half underground, are we to understand the same of this river? that it ran with intricate windings through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea'? In Virg. Æn. VI. 705, and Dante, Inferno, XIV. 136, Lethe is, as here, somewhat remote from the other streams. - 587. Frozen continent, etc. This terrible picture is all Milton's own, though Dante (Infer. III. 87) names the eternal shades in heat and frost' (so Purg. III. 11), and Shakes. (Meas. for Meas. III. I.) 'thrilling regions 595

Betwixt Damiata and mount Casius old,
Where armies whole have sunk : the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damned
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire to starve in ice
Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine,
Inmovable, infixed, and frozen round
Periods of time ; thence hurried back to fire.
They ferry over this Lethean sound
Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment,

600

605

of thick-ribbed ice.' - 589. Dire hail is Horatian, Odes, I. 11. 1, 2. – 592. Serbonian bog. Mentioned with Mount Casius in Herod. II. 6; also in III.5. About 1,000 stadia (somewhat less than 125 miles) in circuit, surrounded by knolls of shifting sand, which in high winds was swept into the lake till the water was hardly distinguishable fronı land. – 593. Damiata. Damietta, a city of about 25,000 inhabitants, on the right bank of the principal eastern branch of the Nile, eight miles (five more than formerly) from the Mediterranean. Casius, now Cape El-Cas, about 70 miles east of Damietta ? Here reposed the remains of the murdered Pompey. “Many of those ignorant of the peculiarity of the region have disappeared (here) with whole armies.” Diodurus the Sicilian, I. 35. Lucan, Pharsal. VIII. 539, calls it a 'perfidious land.' — 595. Frore, (A. S. froren, participle of freásın, to freeze), frozen, with frost. Virgil, Geor. I. 93, Xenophon, Anab. IV. 5,3, and Ecclesiasticus, XLIII. 20, 21, speak of the cold north wind's burning. The effect, etc. This is shown by touching the flesh with carbonic aciil gas solidified by intense cold. — 596. Harpy-footed furies. The Furies, incarnations of the torments of a guilty conscience, were properly three in number. Milton gives them the talons of harpies (“snatchers,' personified stormwinds). Persons who have mysteriously disappeared are represented as carried away by harpies. (Odys. I. 241.) – 600. Starve (A. S. steorfan, to die; Ger. sterben ; A. S. deorfan, to labor painfully, to perish), to suffer; to waste. “ The pain of intense cold seems to have entered most powerfully into the northern conceptions of hell.” Masson. — 601. Ethereal (Gr. arow, aitho, I kindle, light up; aionp, aithêr, space filled with light, sky filled with pure fire). The ethereal warmth is that warmth proper to bodies composed of fiery essence or dwelling in the empyrean. — 604. Sound (A. S. sund, swimming), an arm of the sea that can be swum over. This etymology, harmonizing with the ordinary use of the word (as also the term 'ford,' 1. 612), tends to show that 'infinite abyss,' in 1. 405, is not Lethe, as some have supposed.

And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach
The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose
In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe,
All in one moment, and so near the brink;
But fate withstands, and, to oppose the attempt
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford, and of itself the water flies
All taste of living wight, as once it fled
The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on
In confused march forlorn, the adventrous bands,
With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast,
Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found
No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale
They passed, and many a region dolorous,
O’er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death,
A universe of death! which God by curse
Created evil, for evil only good;

620

610. Fate withstands (Lat. fata obstant, Æn. IV. 440). — 611. Medusa, chief of the three Gorgons, who were frightful maidens with wings, scales, brazen claws, enormous teeth, and snaky hair. Whoever looked upon her face was changed to stone. See Class. Dict. — 612. Water flies. All of this passage is 'a fine allegory to show that there is no forgetfulness in hell.' Newton. 614. Tantalus, tormented with thirst, up to his chin in water which fled as he stooped to drink. -615. Forlorn. What was ? — 617. First = for the first time?- 618. No rest. The critics cite the case of the unclean spirit walking through dry places, seeking rest and finding none, Matt. xii. 43 ; Luke xi. 24. - 619. Dolorous. At the beginning of the 3d Canto of the Inferno, Dante rings the changes on dole, dolent, dolorous, etc. — 620. Frozen ... fiery Alp. He may have thought of Iceland, where the niost terrible volcanoes are in close proximity to ice-covered mountains ? Alp (Gaelic, meaning height, mountain). — 621. “The poet here rises into a very powerful climax. The monosyllabic words are strongly expressive both of the rugged horror of the infernal world, and of the toiling enterprise of its explorers." Hunter. Burke cites the line as an example of " a very great degree of the sublime, which is raised yet higher by what follows, A UNIVERSE OF DEATH" ! Rocks (of death ?), caves (of death ?). — 623. Created evil. Milton is justified by the Scripture, “I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." Isaiah xlv. 7. In IV. 110, Satan deliberately says, “Evil, be thou my good.” In scanning, do not slur nor drop the syllables of 'evil.'

. 625

Where all life dies, death lives, and Nature breeds,
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
Abominable, inutterable, and worse
Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived,
Gorgons, and hydras, and chimeras dire. -

Meanwhile the adversary of God and man,
Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design,
Puts on swift wings, and towards the gates of hell
Explores his solitary flight : sometimes
He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left;
Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars
Up to the fiery concave towering high.
As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds

630

635

625. Prodigious (Lat. prodigium, prodigy, portent), portentous. So Shakes. uses the word. Jul. Cæs. 1. 3 ; Rich. III., I. 11. 22. - 626. Do not drop the unemphatic syllables, nor attempt to reduce the metre to tame uniforniity, 628. Virgil locates these monsters in hell. Æn. VI. 286–9. Hydras (Gr. "T8pa, Lat. hydra, water-serpent). The Lernæan was nine-headed. Virgil (Æn. VI. 576) mentions a fifty-mouthed hydra in hell. Chimeras, firebreathing monsters, with the heads of lions, the bodies of goats, and the tails of serpents. See Class. Dict. — 631. Puts on. “It is a question whether this is to be understood literally.” Storr. Aeronauts and learned critics are easily puzzled by poets! A little imagination, and a glance at I, 175, 674, II. 700, V. 276–7 (' proper shape a seraph winged') would have shown that Hermes' fastening winged sandals under his feet (lliad, XXIV. 310; Æn. IV. 239) is no parallel ? Gates. Had he previous knowledge of their locality ? See note on 1. 436. – 632. Explores his solitary flight. Being alone flies exploring the region.' Keightley. Is this explanation satisfactory ? -- 633. Scours (Dan. skure, to rub; Fr. escurer, écurer), goes swiftly past within touching distance. — 634. Shaves (Lat. scabère ; Ger. schaben, to scrape), skims along (with wings that might cut the foam !). More poetical than Virgil's radit iter liquidum ? Æn. V. 217. Deep. What ? — 635. Towering Belongs to concave? or to Satan? - 636–48. “The general effect of this elaborated simile is very grand.” Ross. What are its salient parts ? — 637. Hangs, etc. No commentator, as far as I know, has observed that this is an expansion of METéwpos, literally high in air ; then, of ships, out at sea.” Storr (edition of 1874, Rivingtons). But 'hangs in the clouds' is hardly an expansion of 'is high in air'; and Major in his edition of 1853, says, “So the Greeks term ships out at sea metewpoi," and in confirmation he quotes Arnold on Thuc. I. 112. The word uetéwpos, meteoros, spoken of a ship, perhaps more properly

Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood,
Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape,
Ply stemming nightly toward the pple : so seemed
Far off the flying fiend. At last appear
Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof,
And thrice threefold the gates ; three folds were brass,
Three iron, three of adamantine rock,
Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire,

646

means 'high at sea,' or 'on the high seas.' (See Milton's use of 'meteorous,' XII. 629, 630, spoken of angels gliding on the ground like mist.) Accounts are given of ships mirrored in the clouds, and so visible at a great distance while yet below the horizon. Equinoctial, on or near the equator? The commentators fail to notice the reason why Milton says equinoctial. Perhaps because Satan is flying in the equatorial or middle region of hell ? Like the fleet, he is indistinctly seen in 'the dusky air,' high, vast, and moving south ? -638. Close sailing. Sailing in a compact group? or sailing close to the wind? In what direction blow the monsoons ? Bengala, Bengal. — 639. Ternate and Tidore, two of the famous Spice Islands or Moluccas. They are less than one degree from the equator. — 610. They, the large merchantships ? Trading flood. So named by Milton with as good right as the steady winds are named “trade winds.' - 641. Wide Ethiopian, the vast Indian Ocean. Is the word ' Ethiopian,' used delicately to suggest darkness? or is it merely because it washes the eastern shores of Ethiopia, as Africa S. of Egypt used to be called '? Cape, of Good Hope. — 642. Ply. As a nautical term, ply means either make regular trips,' or 'endeavor to make way against the wind.' To'ply' is sometimes to work one's way busily, or pursue one's course with diligence or pertinacity. Which meaning is best here? Stemming, cutting through the water with the ship's stem? or sailing close to the wind,' the monsoon blowing six months from the S. W.? or 'working the stem of the ship in the night-time to avoid land, bearing off towards the south'? Nightly. Because the constellation of the Cross by which they may be supposed to steer, is visible only by night'? or night by night'? or is ' nightly used rather than “ daily,' to convey a notion of the darkness of Şatan's journey ? Pole. Meaning ? - 643. At last appear, etc. Taine, who dislikes Milton and misrepresents him, cannot suppress his admiration of the next thirty lines. Quoting them, he says, “No poetic creation equals in horror and grandeur the spectacle that greeted Satan on leaving his dungeon." — 646. Adamantine. 1. 436. – 617. Impaled (Lat. palus, a stake), inclosed, paled in, surrounded. So in Shakes. ; also in Mil

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