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more tolerable (11. 208–214), we shall become used to it (11. 215– 220), and there is always hope (1l. 220–225). The whole speech is very sensible, but no heroes are made of the stuff of Belial.
113. Make the worse appear the better. The charge made against Socrates, but really lying more justly against the Sophists.
124. In fact of arms, in deed of arms. “ Fact = feat in sense as in etymology" (Verity).
177. Impendent. A form imitating the Latin participle.
212. Satisfied, etc., i.e., with what punishment is already inflicted.
228–282. Mammon arises, meaning to avail himself of the speech of Belial without appearing to do so. He begins, therefore, with a sort of analysis of the case in his own way. As he can see that his hearers have been already prejudiced against war by Belial, he mentions it only as an impossibility (1l. 231-237). He then, however, introduces an idea which Belial had not offered. He declares that even if they could be restored to favor he for his part would not care much for it. Far better (1l. 252 ff.) to look about to our own good. We can make something out of this : the darkness is nothing (1l. 262–270), the place even has its riches (11. 270-273), we may become used to it (fl. 274–278). Let us make the best of it : it will be found good. It is not a very profound speech ; it is the plain, straightforward utterance of one who knew the weakness of his audience through his own weak
233. See l. 907 later.
245. Ambrosia was, strictly speaking, the food of the gods. Here it means little more than heavenly. Bentley suggested that we read from instead of and, which deprives the idea of half its beauty.
256. This is Mammon's edition of “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.
294. The sword of Michael, the chief of the faithful angels, had played a great part in the strife.
310–378. Beëlzebub sees that his hearers are still cowed by the beating they have undergone. The few like Moloch cannot infuse courage into the rest ; the greater number have as little spirit as Mammon. This temper falls in well with his directions from Satan, who had no notion of open war, but proposed craft. He first examines the scheme of Belial and Mammon, and shows that it is impossible (ll. 315-328). In fact there is no question of
Peace or War ; there is only war (1. 330). The only question is, What kind of war ? He now comes to the main part of his speech. Some less fearful kind of war must be found. For instance (ll. 345 ff.), the seduction of mankind. Here, he says, we may do something (11. 362–370). This would be a fine revenge (11. 370-378).
352. By an oath that shook, etc. So Zeus in the Iliad, i. 530.
354. The rhythmical effect of this line is curious. It has real accents apparently on the first, eighth, and tenth feet.
367. Puny, partly with an idea of contempt, meaning weak; partly perhaps a form of the French puisné, younger.
There are several examples of similar use elsewhere in Milton.
377. A considerable ellipsis : the idea, of course, is to contrast the two ideas.
393. Satan contemplates making this new world a home for them all.
406. Palpable obscure. “Darkness which may be felt,” as in the plague of Egypt, Exod. x. 21.
430. Empyreal. Heaven was often called the Empyrean, e, g., later 1. 771.
462. Mansion, as in i. 268, means abiding place.
467. Prevented, means almost literally “to get ahead of,” from which the present every-day meaning is developed.
491. Landskip. Milton always uses the word in this form, and it may be found in more modern English.
508. This is an inspiring description, as good in its way as the fine description in the first Book (1l. 589 ff.).
514. Bid cry. The verb as a transitive is not so familiar now as in Milton's day when every town had its crier. Here it means to announce. It will be remembered that only the chiefs were present in the Council ; the others were waiting outside.
529-628. These lines divide the book into two parts, and the episode, standing between them, obviates the effect of an immediate passing from the Council to the Flight of Satan. It also gives opportunity for a description of Hell.
531. Or shun the goal with rapid wheels. The chariot race was driven around a goal and back to the starting point. The making the turn was, of course, a most exciting moment; it was necessary to turn as quickly as possible, but to touch the goal meant an accident.
555. The line is worth noting, for it seems an expression of
personal opinion on Milton's part. By song he presumably refers to music, a favorite diversion with him.
577. Abhorrèd Styx, etc. These names had in Greek a meaning which Milton gives in each case. They were the rivers of hate, grief, lamentation, and burning, and their names were expressive of their character. In like manner Lethe means oblivion." Of these five rivers, the Styx was the principal one, so much so that the adjective Stygian is used by Milton of the whole of Hell, e. 9., in 1. 506 just above. Lethean also is used as an adjective, but with a different meaning.
590. Ruin seems of ancient pile. Pile we have had in i. 722, with the meaning building.
596-616. Milton looks ahead in time and takes a leaf out of Dante's book. “The damned” of 1. 597 are presumably not the fallen angels but unfortunates long afterward sent to eternal punishment for sins on this earth.
613. Wight. The word was in Milton's day obsolescent.
621. The line entirely made up of monosyllables suggests Pope's
“And ten low words oft creep in one dull line.”
(Essay on Criticism, 347.)
But Milton, doubtless, had in mind the effect that the line would produce, and held it to be appropriate to the subject. Cf. ll. 948–950.
628. Does this line add or detract from the feeling aroused by the last ?
631. The gates of Hell. It would seem from 644 that the gates were at one end of Hell, as it were. Otherwise we should imagine them somewhere above.
638. Close sailing. The meaning is not wholly clear. To sail close to the wind is to sail with the wind as nearly dead ahead as possible. This would hardly be the case with ships sailing from India to the Cape. On the other hand the word is sometimes taken to refer to the fleet with the meaning that all the ships were grouped together.
641. Mr. Verity points out that although Milton means what is now called the Indian Ocean, the name Ethiopian was in Milton's day applied to the South Atlantic.
649. On either side a formidable shape. Compare these two
descriptions; that of Sin full of definite and horrible conceptions, that of Death purposely vague and impossible of realization. The figure of Sin is conventional; various other authors had drawn such a figure; indeed the earliest conception comes from the classics. We may find descriptions in Ovid, Metam. xiv. and Virgil, Æn. iii. The figure of Death, however, is original.
662. The night hag.
“ The hag is astride
This night for to ride,
664. Infant's blood, an ancient superstition concerning witch revels.
665. Lapland witches. The Laplanders had from very early times the reputation of being skilled in magic. The reputation came partly perhaps from their uncouth personal appearance and partly from the fact that they long remained pagan. Mention of the matter is found in all the early books describing the country.
666 ff. The other shape. As is pointed out by various commentators on this passage, Death had often before this been personified and described. But this description has no connection with any previous description or personification. Milton has in mind to produce a figure of terror; instead of giving a number of terrible elements, he shrouds the whole figure in mystery. “What seemed his head,” “substance that shadow seemed,” “if shape it could be called that shape had none." Compared with such images, the very definite 1. 671 seems weak.
678. God and his son except. Strictly speaking the expression is incorrect. God and his son are not among created things and therefore cannot be excepted from them. The error is not very uncommon ; compare
“ Adam the goodliest man of men since born
(iv. 323, 324.)
686. Taste thy folly ; i. e., taste the results of thy folly, although the ellipsis is a considerable one.
692. The third part of Heaven's sons. So Raphael places the
number of revolted angels at one third of all. (v. 710.) Satan was inclined to make the number higher. (ix. 141, 142, and i. 633.)
699. Thy King. The accent is on thy : what was to enrage Satan was the idea of anybody being his king.
706. Deform, shapeless, Lat. deformis.
721. For never but once more, etc. Christ was the greatest foe that either was ever to meet : by him both in turn were to be vanquished, Satan in the Temptation, Death in the Resurrection.
730. And knowest for whom. This is not a question, although it may at first seem to be.
742. In this infernal vale first met. Why, when we have never met before, do you hail me as father ?
746. As to this allegorical narration see the note on i. 3. Like most allegories (even The Pilgrim's Progress) it has points where it is inconsistent, but if one do not take pains to push it to the farthest, it will be found to have its definite meaning.
846. One of Milton's effective expressions.
855. Wight. The modern editions generally read might; We follow the third edition. Compare l. 613 and all force in l. 853.
876. Portcullis. Strictly speaking, a heavy grating let down in front of the door of a medieval castle. Everyone will remember how the portcullis came down behind Marmion as he was riding out of Tantallon Castle. The fact that the gate goes up and down might have some influence on our opinion in l. 631.
887. Ranked in loose array. Not only could an army go through, but that in no very close order.
891 ff. A remarkable description, if we may call it so, of what is not only indescribable but well-nigh inconceivable.
895. Ancestors of Nature. Cf. 911. By Nature is meant the Universe (p. xxxvii.) which had been created out of the Deep as Chaos complains (1004).
898. Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry. The four elements more commonly thought of as Fire, Air, Water, Earth. We have them in still another form in 1. 912.
906–910. It is difficult to indicate rightly the singular effectiveness of these few lines. They present in small compass the whole impression ; or, if not quite that, they depend upon the same