189 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2018
    1. Let ther be Light, said God, and forthwith Light Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure Sprung fr

      I haven't taken time to compare the account of Creation in Genesis and Milton but it would be interesting to note the similarities and differences.

    2. The King of Glorie

      Is Raphael referring her to God or the Son?

    3. and in a moment will create Another World, out of one man a Race [ 155 ] Of men innumerable, there to dwell, Not here, till by degrees of merit rais'd

      According to the Gnostics, Yahweh/God was jealous of his mother Sophia's ability to create/give birth and determined to prove that he could create life without the involvement of the feminine. Hence a one-sided, imbalanced start to life on earth.....The Church Fathers, however, refused to acknowledge the original first book that preceded Genesis.....and declared Gnosticism a heresy.

    4. Lucifer

      So according to Milton, Lucifer WAS Satan's original name though scholarly sources say that according to Hebrew sources, that is not true.

    5. But Knowledge is as food, and needs no less Her Temperance over Appetite

      So one should not try to be thorough in one's research (that doesn't bode too well for a dissertation) or to aspire to break new ground in regard to discovery? My impression is that the Old Testament God, like the god of the Greeks, wants to make sure that he is the one with all the power and knowledge and mankind doesn't evolve very far. Could this attitude contribute to anti-intellectualism? (Granted,too much ivory tower knowledge can be an impediment, and undermine one's capacity to deal practically with one's life!)

    6. I have receav'd, to answer thy desire Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain [ 120 ] To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope Things not reveal'd

      So how are we supposed to know what knowledge is allowed and what is forbidden? And is this to imply, that mankind must stay lowly and not aspire to higher things? So much for human progress! And (I always found it puzzling that the Greeks honored arete (excellence) and yet condemned hubris (reaching about one's station). The dividing line between what is admired and what is condemned is not very clear!

    7. The doubts that in his heart arose

      Now I wish Milton had told us what these doubts were!

    8. The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarn'd Adam by dire example to beware Apostasie, by what befell in Heaven To those Apostates, least the like befall In Paradise to Adam or his Race,

      Of course, Adam in Genesis had no such warning from Raphael - and only one admonition from God. God never spoke to Eve or warned her not to eat of the fruit - and she is blamed!

    9. Nor of the Muses nine

      Here's a picture of the Nine Muses which I just saw in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston this past week. https://mfas3.s3.amazonaws.com/objects/SC309028.jpg The head of the Muses was named Mnemosyne, which means Memory (mnemonic). Before the days of literacy, people paid a lot of attention to developing and maintaining their memory, and indeed Mnemosyne was one of the leading goddesses. Later, under patriarchy, she was split into nine, and all took a subordinate role to the male gods.

  2. Aug 2018
    1. Thou shalt be All in All, and I in thee For ever, and in mee all whom thou lov'st: But whom thou hat'st, I hate

      So loyalty to one's own and hatred of the other is God's way. No wonder we have so much religious conflict in the world!

    2. Pursue these sons of Darkness, drive them out [ 715 ] From all Heav'ns bounds into the utter Deep: There let them learn, as likes them, to despise God and Messiah his anointed King.

      However, God's commands to his Son are to be as violent and punitive as He has been. So why ask his Son then to take over?

    3. since none but Thou Can end it.

      At least this God seems to recognize that His own polarizing and punitive attitude is not going to make peace, and He's able to delegate peacemaking to his Son.

    4. that the Glorie may be thine Of ending this great Warr

      The continued reference to "Glorie" bothers me, because in contemporary terms, it sounds like catering to ego. I wonder what connotations "glorie" had in Milton's time. Certainly our Christmas songs of "glory" don't carry that connotation.

      Actually, consulting etymonline, I find both meanings of the word glory: "to pride oneself on, boast about...vaunt, brag" "the splendor of God or Christ; praise offered to God, worship"

    5. That his great purpose he might so fulfill, [ 675 ] To honour his Anointed Son aveng'd Upon his enemies,

      So God's GREATEST purpose is revenge upon his enemies? He is not what I'd consider to be an admirable God if revenge is his primary purpose. Also, this is no role model for dealing with conflict. Instead of inviting dialogue and listening to the other side, He seeks revenge because they won't do what he wants! Even if instead we view God as a father, and his rebellious angels as children - is battle the best way to deal with them?

    6. They pluckt the seated Hills with all thir load, Rocks, Waters, Woods, and by the shaggie tops [ 645 ] Up lifting bore them in thir hands:

      So the good guys (angels) have the power of nature at their disposal and don't have to rely on technological invention.

    7. Portending hollow truce

      As so often happens in overt or covert warfare...

    8. That all may see who hate us, how we seek Peace and composure, and with open brest

      The original hypocrisy.....words meant to deceive.

    9. These in thir dark Nativitie the Deep Shall yield us pregnant with infernal flame, Which into hallow Engins long and round Thick-rammd,

      This desire to mine the earth in order to invent more powerful weapons for war has eerie resonances with the invention of the nuclear bomb (and clearly with other technological developments for warfare, but the nuclear bomb is the "big" one of the past century.

    10. But pain is perfet miserie, the worst Of evils, and excessive, overturnes All patience

      How very true, she says, taking a pain pill after dental surgery <-:

    11. Such high advantages thir innocence Gave them above thir foes, not to have sinnd, Not to have disobei'd; in fight they stood Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pain'd

      Is Milton implying the purity and virtue give one invulnerability and ability to conquer exhaustion? Unfortunately, that's not so -- at least not with humans! Maybe with angels.

    12. For strength from Truth divided and from Just, Illaudable, naught merits but dispraise And ignominie, yet to glorie aspires Vain glorious, and through infamie seeks fame:

      This passage is very releant today. Physical strength/prowess and fame/glory have become more important to many people than commitment to Truth and Justice - so much that leaders are not chosen with much consideration for their honest and just nature.

    13. Angels contented with thir fame in Heav'n

      Why would fame be important to angels?

    14. The Atheist crew

      Interesting use of atheist here. It suggests that refusal to obey God means that one is atheist. Atheist must have had a different meaning back then, for Saturn surely believed in God's existence....I just looked it up at etymonline.com. Beginning in 1570, atheist meant "1570s, "godless person, one who denies the existence of a supreme, intelligent being to whom moral obligation is due." So atheist didn't just have to do with belief in the past; it also had to do with honoring obligation to a god.

    15. The strife of Glorie

      I wonder if glory had a different meaning centuries ago than it does today. It seems to me that seeking glory smacks of ego enhancement. God and even the good angels' concern with glory doesn't sound exactly admirable.

    16. Arms on Armour clashing bray'd Horrible discord, and the madding Wheeles [ 210 ] Of brazen Chariots rag'd;

      Again, I would think that angels would have a better way of resolving disputes than through violence. And when Satan refused to bow to Jesus, God could have given him space to express his resentment and resistance. The authoritarian punitive approach only fuels the desire for rebellion and increases resentment.

    17. deep entring shar'd All his right side;

      I'm struck here by how Satan was sheared on one side and Eve was created from one side (not rib) of Adam. Probably there's no relationship between the two but "the side" seems to be both a place of creation and wounding/destruction.

    18. Nectarous humor

      I once learned that the blood of angels was called ichor, though I don't know where the term ichor originated. But it supposedly was somewhat honey-like or "nectarous". I think of anisette or ouzo -- that clear, licorice-like liqueur - when I imagine ichor.

    19. rom the gash A stream of Nectarous humor issuing flow'd Sanguin, such as Celestial Spirits may bleed,

      So apparently angels can be wounded and bleed, but not die.Do they then feel the pain of being wounded - physically (via their etheric bodies) not just emotionally?

    20. Two Planets rushing from aspect maligne Of fiercest opposition in mid Skie,

      The opposition aspect in astrology - two planets at similar degrees of opposite signs (meaning 180 degrees apart in the sky) was viewed by early astrologers as malignant. Today, humanistic astrologers view it as indicating both separation and awareness of the other or of the whole.

    21. Heav'n the seat of bliss Brooks not the works of violence and Warr.

      If so Heaven does not tolerate violence and war, then why are the good angels choosing the violence of battle also?

    22. how hast thou instill'd Thy malice into thousands, once upright [ 270 ] And faithful, now prov'd false

      Milton never clearly explained why so many angels followed Satan. Since they weren't #1 with God, they weren't likely to felt the resentment of being upstaged. But maybe they didn't like the idea of bowing to the Son.

    23. So under fierie Cope together rush'd [ 215 ] Both Battels maine, with ruinous assault And inextinguishable rage;

      Surely such higher beings have powers that would enable them to deal with conflict in a way better than violence (Even in the original Star Trek, a civilization that Kirk and company visited refused to resort to violence when threatened, and had nonviolent means to end the conflict - to the humiliation of the "lesser race" of humans!)

    24. Reign thou in Hell thy Kingdom, let mee serve In Heav'n God ever blest

      Better to serve in Heaven, than reign in Hell.

    25. as thine now serve thee, [ 180 ] Thy self not free, but to thy self enthrall'd;

      I have the impression that Milton is saying here that to serve a lesser being is to be enthralled to one's lower self.

    26. Unjustly thou deprav'st it with the name Of Servitude to serve whom God ordains,

      I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw - a character is in prison and smiling, and says, "Freedom is the freedom to choose your own jail." In other words, we all in a sense are in thrall to some facets of life.....but to serve the highest, in keeping with our values, we experience the greatest freedom and fulfillment. I don't think Milton is saying this precisely, but he does seem to say that we have the freedom to choose to serve God, in keeping with his God's own will that we serve Him.

    27. How few somtimes may know, when thousands err.

      The problem of course is that in most conflicts, both sides thing that they're the ones that "know" who things should be, and that the other person errs.

      And in human life, unfortunately, those who "know" and rise above the masses are usually overpowered by them, and in some societies, silenced. (The battle between the loyal angels and Satan has a lot of parallels to human conflicts.

    28. wherefore should not strength and might There fail where Vertue fails,

      If Milton is questioning why strength and might can prevail over virtue, then he is indeed raising probably the greatest human flaw (far greater in my opinoin than disobeying God by eating a piece of fruit!)

    29. Nor streit'ning Vale, nor Wood, nor Stream divides [ 70 ] Thir perfet ranks; for high above the ground Thir march was

      Milton uses many military analogies, but I find it difficult to conceive of angels as an army, fighting battles. Unlike humans, they can't die, right? So what happens to the defeated? Are they cast down out of the highest part of Heaven as Satan has been cast down? But he's already cast down, so what do he and his cohorts have to lose?

    1. The savourie pulp they chew, and in the rinde [ 335 ] Still as they thirsted scoop the brimming stream;

      Now I would like to know how they did that - peel a nectarine and keep the skin intact to serve as a rind so they could scoop water with it! A nectarine has a very thin skin which I wouldn't call a rind! Maybe another fruit was called a nectarine during Milton's time. (An orange was originally called a golden apple - and oranges, not apples were prevalent in this part of the world).

    2. Be then his Love accurst, since love or hate, To me alike, it deals eternal woe.

      Satan here seem to be assuming that even if he turns toward God again, he will suffer forever. Is this because he doubts that God will be merciful or because he'd suffer again feeling submissive to God - or maybe both?

    3. O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams That bring to my remembrance from what state I fell

      People in darkness and ignorance often resent those who possess some light of consciousness; it reminds them of what they lack or have lost.

    4. his golden Scales, yet seen Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion signe,

      Milton seems to be referring to the symbol for Libra (scales) between the signs of Virgo and Scorpio.

      Supposedly, "Astraea once carried a pair of scales with which she weighed up the rights and wrongs of any dispute. Now Astraea’s scales shine close by Virgo as the constellation of Libra. Astraea, whose name means Star Maiden, was the last deity to leave Earth…”

    5. What seemd both Spear and Shield: now dreadful deeds [ 990 ] Might have ensu'd,

      I'm surprised that the good angels would be violent, engage in warfare, even against Satan. Supposedly there is no other way here, according to Milton, of settling disputes.

    6. Defaming as impure what God declares Pure, and commands to som

      Is Milton saying the sex (in marriage) isn't impure, all the Church tends to denigrate sex in all situations?

    7. but adoration pure Which God likes best,

      The Old Testament God, like the gods of Greek mythology, want to be adored. I've always found this troublesome. At least with humanity, a need for adoration isn't exactly an admirable quality.

    8. him who had stole Joves authentic fire.

      This refers to Prometheus, who in opposition to Zeus/Jupiter's will, stole fire from the gods, to help mankind them advance themselves. He was punished by being sent to Tartarus, the "hell" level of Hades, where an eagle ate out his liver everyday. It appears that Milton is saying that Prometheus' commitment to bettering humanity was countered by Pandora (created by Prometheus' brother Epimetheus) who disobeyed Epimetheus' injunction not to open a box. She did, and all many evils escaped to beset humanity. In Greek mythology, the women are frequently blamed too, just as Eve is blamed - Helen of Troy, as well as Pandora

    9. Those have thir course to finish, round the Earth, By morrow Eevning, and from Land to Land

      Is it likely that Milton believed that the stars travel round the earth, helping the earth better receive the sun's light? I see that Copernicus was 1 1/2 centuries before Milton, and Galileo was only about 35 years old than him. Galileo's heliocentric theories were condemned by the Inquisition in 1616, when Milton was still a child, so undoubtedly many people still believed that the sun (and probably the stars) revolved around the earth.

    10. Knowledge forbidd'n? [ 515 ] Suspicious, reasonless. Why should thir Lord Envie them that? can it be sin to know,

      Many of us question why knowledge was forbidden? It is because God (like Zeus) did not want humanity to become too much like gods and therefore needed to keep them in a lower state of consciousness? If so, why even place The Tree of Knowledge in the Garden, except as a setup in order to punishg mankind for "sinning" be able kick them down a further notch?

    11. His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent Out of my side to thee,

      How wonderful to know that Milton used the correct translation of tsela -- SIDE not RIB! See, for example, https://scottlapierre.org/eve-created-from-adam/ The meaning "rib" was rarely used and the Hebrew word tsela is used for "side" thoughout the Old and New Testaments.

    12. enjoying thee Præeminent by so much odds, while thou Like consort to thy self canst no where find.

      Enough already! Milton is not only echoing Genesis in making Eve subordinate, he's making her glory in her humility and subordination.

    13. not to taste that onely Tree Of knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life, So neer grows Death to Life, what ere Death is, [ 425 ] Som dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou knowst God hath pronounc't it death to taste that Tree,

      First of all, I think this is a setup. If God really didn't want them to eat of the Tree of Knowlege, he wouldn't have placed it in the Garden. So he wanted to test them, knowing that he would then condemn them.

      Also, it stirkes me that according to Milton, Adam didn't even know what Death was. All he knew was that eating of the Tree of Knowledge meant Death. So he really wasn't even aware of what the consequences would be. He could only assume it wouldn't be pleasant.

    14. Thank him who puts me loath to this revenge On you who wrong me not for him who wrongd.

      Satan is blaming God, not taking responsibility for this choice.

    15. Not equal, as thir sex not equal seemd;

      I suspect that this is referring to what Milton wrote earlier about Eve being created to serve Adam, or to the inaccurate translation saying that Eve was created from Adam's rib. But note the many articles (as well as contemporary translations of Genesis, such as Mary Korsak's At the Start: Genesis Made New - see http://www.maryphilkorsak.com/1publiceng.html ) that note that the Hebrew word for RIB is the same as the word for SIDE, and that word is used throughout the old and New Testament to mean SIDE, never rib. So there is no reason - except patriarchal reasons seeking to justify male superiority - to believe that this one use of the word in Genesis is an exception to use of the word elsewhere in the Bible. According to one of the stories of Eve's creation in the Bible, she was created from Adam's side and may indeed be from half of Adam; according to the other story of creation in Genesis - and there are two - Adam and Eve were created together.

    16. So little knows Any, but God alone, to value right The good before him

      Milton appears to be saying that only God knows how to fully and truly value the good.

    17. a grateful mind [ 55 ] By owing owes not, but still pays, at once Indebted and dischargd;

      Is Milton saying that gratitude rights the balance for what we have received?

    18. your harmless innocence

      Given the childlike innocence of Adam and Eve, how can they be blamed for not having command of their impulses or knowing fully the punishment for disobedience - and its ramifications for many centuries?

    19. Sporting the Lion rampd, and in his paw Dandl'd the Kid; Bears, Tygers, Ounces, Pards Gambold before them, th' unwieldy Elephant [ 345

      So if all these wild animals played together so joyously, what did they eat? Were they not carnivorous?

    20. shee for God in him:

      Today we would certainly consider Milton to have been sexist, along with his culture and Genesis itself.

    21. Bacchus

      Bacchus was called Dionysus in Greek mythology, and is associated with wine, intoxication and the theater. We get the world bacchanalian from the god Bacchus.

    22. Jove

      Another name for Jupiter (Latin/Roman), called Zeus in Greece.

    23. Castalian Spring

      The Castalian Spring was a sacred spring next to Apollo's sanctuary at Delphi, which he consecrated to the Muses.

    24. Proserpin gathering flours Her self a fairer Floure by gloomie Dis [ 270 ] Was gatherd, which cost Ceres all that pain

      Proserpine is the Roman/Latin name for Persephone; Pluto or DIs the Latin name for Pluto; and Ceres (from which we "cereal" the Latin name for Demeter, goddess of grain.

    25. Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance Led on th' Eternal Spring.

      I find it intriguing that Milton (like much of Christianity) doesn't view pagan beliefs as mythical nonsense but rather incorporates it into his Christian reality.

    26. the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by, Knowledge of Good bought dear by knowing ill.

      I wonder sometimes if the resentment for intellectuals by some right-wing Christians is fueled in part by the admonition not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. (Or maybe Knowledge is dangerous, because it might lead them to question their faith).

    27. East Of Eden

      I wonder if Steinbeck chose the title East of Eden from Paradise Lost - or maybe that phrase is also in Genesis.

    28. one slight bound high over leap'd all bound

      He does have wings, doesn't he? Wouldn't those help him leap over a fence?

    29. Fruits at once of golden hue

      I read once that the Greek word for orange means golden apple. Given that apples aren't native to the Mediterranean, I wonder if the fruit that Adam and Eve ate was an orange!

    30. So farewel Hope, and with Hope farewel Fear, Farewel Remorse: all Good to me is lost; Evil be thou my Good; by thee at least [ 110 ] Divided Empire with Heav'ns King I hold By thee,

      This whole passage reminds me of soliloquies by characters in torment in Shakespeare (Hamlet, Othello etc.) MIlton was born during the last decade of Shakespeare's life and probably very familiar with Shakespeare's plays.

    31. Where wounds of deadly hate have peirc'd so deep: Which would but lead me to a worse relapse [ 100 ] And heavier fall: so should I purchase deare

      Satan knows that he couldn't submit to God again, without his resentment increasing again, and leading him to a worse rebellion and perhaps worse consequences.

    32. is there no place Left for Repentance, none for Pardon left? [ 80 ] None left but by submission; and that word Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduc'd With other promises and other vaunts Then to submit, boasting I could subdue [ 85 ] Th' Omnipotent.

      Satan feels there is no way out; he is "between a rock and a hard place". Sometimes when people feel no hope and no capacity to change course, they simply surrender to their lower nature and make no effort to overcome their negative state - they let the despair and anger control them and poison them. This seems true of Satan.

    33. The debt immense of endless gratitude, So burthensome

      Why would gratitutude be burdensome? Maybe he sees it as a threat to his own independence.

    34. Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down

      Here Satan is acknowledging that his rebellion was a mistake due to flaws in his own character.

    35. Hell within him, for within him Hell

      Milton is alluding here to hell being an internal state, not just an external one.

    1. Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate, And corporeal to incorporeal turn

      This suggests that an angel is a kind of ethereal alchemical factory, converting physical matter into intangible spiritual matter.

    2. freely we serve Because we freely love, as in our will To love or not;

      I'm not convinced that we can freely choose to experience love. We can however choose, if we experience love, to nourish and intensify it. (I also think that we are fated or determined in some ways, and have free will - but limited free will! The strongest inclination at any given moment rules!)

    3. Know none before us, self-begot, self-rais'd [ 860 ] By our own quick'ning power, when fatal course Had circl'd his full Orbe

      Satan is really being heretical now, claiming that He and other angels made themselves - that God did not make them (claiming so simply because he doesn't remember his beginnings!). This sounds like the beginnings of individualism, a proclamation of self-will rather than dependence or interdependence. This is the kind of consciousness that leads to putting one's own will first -a problem for humanity now that we need a greater planetary and environmental consciousness if we are to survive. Whether we believe we are created by God or evolved, we are not entirely self-made! This kind of hubris was anathema both to the Greeks and the Hebrews.

    4. Thy self though great and glorious dost thou count, Or all Angelic Nature joind in one, Equal to him begotten Son, by whom [ 835 ] As by his Word the mighty Father made

      Abdiel's argument is righteous; Satan is elevating himself to the level of the Son of God, and lacks humility.

    5. Canst thou with impious obloquie condemne The just Decree of God

      Abdiel has a point. Satan is placing his own views and desires above God. But if one believes that the commands of one's "Captain" are unjust and dangerous, one may choose to gather the crew together and mutiny. However, if the Captain has all the power, and there is no superior above Him to whom one can appeal, one is likely to have to pay a high price!

    6. Who can in reason then or right assume Monarchie over such as live by right

      Milton was opposed to the monarchy and in fact went into hiding for a time because of his opposition. Given his opposition to monarchy, I would have thought that he might in some ways identify with Satan!

    7. Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile,

      This was the attitude of the Greeks (who did not bow) to the Persians, who bowed to their ruler. Bowing was viewed as demeaning to the Greeks, although the Greeks did worship and honor their gods.

    8. The Palace of great Lucifer

      So is Lucifer Satan? Or was Lucifer Satan's original name?

    9. Mightie Father, thou thy foes [ 735 ] Justly hast in derision, and secure Laugh'st at thir vain designes and tumults vain,

      God's derision and derogatory laughter isn't exactly admirable!

    10. With speed what force is left, and all imploy [ 730 ] In our defense

      Milton seems to assume an almost-military force.

    11. Drew after him the third part of Heav'ns Host:

      So what motivated the other angels, who followed Satan? Did they too dislike having another superior, or were they simply devotees of Satan?

    12. new Laws thou seest impos'd; New Laws from him who reigns

      These New Laws aren't in the Old Testament!

    13. his former name

      I've read in some places that Satan's former name was Lucifer (Bearer of Light), and in other texts that Lucifer was NOT Satan's former name but has sometimes been confused with Satan. So what then was Satan's former name?

    14. shall bow All knees in Heav'n

      Here we have a concept of bowing before authority, as one might bow to a king or queen. Milton says that those in Heaven must bow to the Son. I wonder if he would also imply that humanity should as well.

    15. Hear my Decree, which unrevok't shall stand. This day I have begot whom I declare My onely Son

      This assumes that the Son (Jesus) was begotten (created or born?) of God and didn't exist before this day.

    16. ordaind thy will By nature free, not over-rul'd by Fate Inextricable, or strict necessity;

      But God also made humanity with a strong desire for sensory enjoyment (fruit) and for some, knowledge and self-improvement. Nowhere in Genesis or in Milton is there any clarity about all of mankind's traits, and which ones are stronger. (Plus, God and Raphael never told Eve not to eat of the fruit!)

    17. That is, to thy obedience;

      George Lakoff differentiates two attitudes that influence political views. The right wing attitude is authoritarian, based on a parent/child view of the world. The left wing attitude is nurturant, based on a more egalitarian, nurturance attitude. It seems to me that the Old Testament - and Milton's interpretation of Genesis - is based on the authoritarian parent/child view.

    18. Discursive, or Intuitive; discourse Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,

      So intuition is close the realm of angels! (Scoring as a 100% intuitive on the Meyers-Briggs, I don't mind being classified as close to the angelic realm <-: ). It's interesting that Milton does choose to exalt intuition. He did, however, write before the Enlightenment - at which point, reason would probably have been valued much higher.

    19. Mean while at Table Eve Ministerd naked,

      I'm surprised that Milton wasn't excommunicated!

    20. Alcinous

      Alcinous in the Odyssey is king of the Phaiacians, a people who were initially favored by Neptune/Poseidon, god of the sea. Poseidon however places a giant boulder blocking the Phaiacian harbor afterl Alcinous arranges for Odysseus (harassed by Poseidon, for blinding the Cyclops) to be carried home in the swift-as-lightning ships that Poseidon gave the Phaiacians. Alcinous is the father of Nausicaa, who first encountered Odysseus when he is washed up on the shore after Poseidon sent a giant sea-storm to destroy his ship.

    21. Tastes, not well joynd, inelegant, but bring [ 335 ] Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change, Bestirs her then,

      So God may have made Adam and Eve capable of reason and free will, but He also made them - or at least Eve - able to glory in the pleasures of taste! So are we to believe that their reason is stronger than their enjoyment of sensory pleasure?

    22. Fansie wakes [ 110 ] To imitate her; but misjoyning shapes, Wilde work produces oft

      Hello Milton! And maybe your "fancy", your imagination, is deceiving you in regard to believing that you are divinely inspired with the Knowledge of God in your portrayal of Adam, Eve, Satan and the Serpent!

    23. Here, happie Creature, fair Angelic Eve, Partake thou also; happie though thou art, [ 75 ] Happier thou mayst be, worthier canst not be: Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods

      If angels cannot see beneath the surface and detect hypocrisy, why are we supposed to assume that humans can, and that Eve has greater powers of discernment than angels?

    24. Zephyrus on Flora breathes

      Some people have mistaken the two figures on the right of Botticelli's Primavera to be Daphne and Apollo. But they are Flora and Zephyrus, the West Wind. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primavera_(painting)#/media/File:Botticelli-primavera.jpg

    25. Raphael comes down to Paradise, his appearance describ'd, his coming discern'd by Adam afar off sitting at the door of his Bower;

      Raphael's visit is not in the Bible. Raphael is not by name mentioned in the Bible, though he is believed to be one of the three angels who came down to converse with Abraham. He is mentioned by name in the book of Enoch, and in the Talmud. His name in Hebrew means "God heals".

    1. while goodness thinks no ill Where no ill seems:

      It is more difficult for those who don't have evil thoughts or intentions to perceive them in people who have them but conceal them. (I'm currently leading an online book group on Dostoyevsky's The Idiot, which is about a "too-good" man whose downfall is to fully see and learn to constructively deal with the dark side of others. I recommend it for the issues it raises about the nature of goodness - and projection of our own shadow).

    2. For neither Man nor Angel can discern Hypocrisie

      Considering politics in the U.S., I sadly affirm that it still is true. And many people can't see through the hypocrisy of some political leaders seeking re-election. This is probably true throughout the world. But I wonder why no Angel can discern hypocrisy either? This suggests an inability to look beneath the surface.

    3. Love hath abounded more then Glory abounds,

      Love, more than power and perhaps demand for adoration.

    4. he who to be deem'd A God, leap'd fondly into Ætna flames [ 470 ] Empedocles,

      I've written about Empedocles' four elements theory but never heard this legend before. Wikipedia says;

      "Diogenes Laërtius records the legend that Empedocles died by throwing himself into Mount Etna in Sicily, so that the people would believe his body had vanished and he had turned into an immortal god; the volcano, however, threw back one of his bronze sandals, revealing the deceit. Another legend maintains that he threw himself into the volcano to prove to his disciples that he was immortal; he believed he would come back as a god after being consumed by the fire. Horace also refers the death of Empedocles in his work Ars Poetica and admits poets the right to destroy themselves."

    5. Both all things vain, and all who in vain things Built thir fond hopes of Glorie or lasting fame, Or happiness in this or th' other life; [ 4

      The Bible is a thing so would this passage even mean that the Bible itself is one of the "all things vain"?

    6. Th' Arch-Angel Uriel,

      Uriel means "God is my Light". Gregory, who opposed the gnostics, confused him with the archangel Phanuel. Some Catholic sects also view him as the same as Raphael. In the Apocrypha, he is often pictured as guarding the gates of Eden. There's a lot of contradictory information about Uriel (who appears in many different guises in the literature) here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriel

    7. So wondrously was set his Station bright. There lands the Fiend,

      Is he landing on the SUN?

    8. Limbo

      It isn't clear to me whether an earlier region (perhaps the uppermost region of hell) was Limbo (Dante's Purgatory?) where pre-Christian times pagan and others "betwixt and between" go OR whether we are only now in Limbo OR whether this is an extension of the earlier region, and the same Limbo. Anyone clear about this?

    9. Cleombrotus,

      According to Wikipedia, "Cleombrotus (later referred to as Cleombrotus of Ambracia) is a young man mentioned in Plato's Phaedo as one of two young men absent when Socrates drank the hemlock. This is his only mention in Plato, but a later tradition added that he was from Ambracia; Callimachus explains that Cleombrotus committed suicide in a way that caused a debate still held in the time of Montaigne—whether his suicide, leaping into the ocean to enter the life of the spirits after reading the Phaedo, was foolish or not. Callimachus's epigram, as translated by H.W. Tytler reads,

      "Cleombrotus high on a rock, Above Ambracia flood, Bade sol adieu, and as he spoke, Plunged headlong into the flood.

      "From no mischance the leap he took, But sought the realms beneath, Because he read in Plato's book, That souls live after death."

    10. He to appease thy wrauth, and end the strife Of Mercy and Justice

      The Son is needed to quiet God's anger and end the conflict between Mercy and Justice. But then what? What happens between the conflict after Mercy and Justice after the Son dies for mankind?

    11. Hell her numbers full, Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while The World shall burn, and from her ashes spring New Heav'n and Earth,

      Is this what evangelical Christians refer to as the Endtime? It implies here that the timing will be when Hell is full.

    12. Anointed universal King, all Power I give thee, reign for ever, and assume Thy Merits; under thee as Head Supream Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions I reduce: [ 320 ] All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide

      Is God saying that the Son will rule over and be superior than all but He Himself or has he raised the Son to and above his own role?

    13. So Heav'nly love shall outdoo Hellish hate,

      And hopefully God's own injustice and lack of mercy.

    14. As many as are restor'd, without thee none. His crime makes guiltie all his Sons,

      Again, the unborn children must pay for the mistakes of a forefather. Is this real justice? That sounds to me to be the root of war -- one person commits a crime against another and then their entire family or tribe or nation is punished.

      Also, by Sons, is Milton including or excluding women? Did the Old Testament also include women with its references to sons? Personally, it is my impression anyway that since God told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree before He created Eve, that she should not be blamed! (Granted there are two different versions of the Creation of Eve in Genesis).

    15. I ruin all my Foes, Death last, and with his Carcass glut the Grave: Then with the multitude of my redeemd [ 260 ] Shall enter Heaven long absent, and returne,

      Is he referring to the EndTime here, when there is no more Death? Or is he simply say that he himself will outwit death as he will only appear to die?

    16. Heav'nly Quire stood mute, And silence was in Heav'n: on mans behalf Patron or Intercessor none appeerd,

      There is also a parallel here to the Assembly of the Fallen Angels, and how none volunteered to face the dangers of leaving hell and go the Earth to influence mankind. The Son is parallel but opposite to Satan.

    17. He with his whole posteritie must dye, Dye hee or Justice must;

      So did God make up this concept of Justice or was there such a law of Divine Justice that existed and to which even God was subject? Both the Greeks and the believers of the Old Testament have tended to believe that the children should pay for the "sin of the fathers". In this case, one man makes one so-called "mistakes" and BILLIONS of people pay the price - or all mankind is destroyed (unless the Son incarnates and dies). Where is the justice is that?

    18. my day of grace They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste; But hard be hard'nd, blind be blinded more, [ 200 ] That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;

      Would a perfect God neglect and scorn those who don't worship Him? Wouldn't there be all-embracing compassion?

    19. And I will place within them as a guide My Umpire Conscience, whom if they will hear, [ 195 ] Light after light well us'd they shall attain, And to the end persisting, safe arrive.

      So the Conscience is the voice of God within. That's constructive.

    20. His fall'n condition is, and to me ow All his deliv'rance, and to none but me. Some I have chosen of peculiar grace Elect above the rest

      I've always been uncomfortable with the idea of a god who expected to be worshipped and adored - which seems to be true of most gods Also, there's a hint here of Him setting up a hierarchical society.

    21. So should thy goodness and thy greatness both [ 165 ] Be questiond and blaspheam'd without defence

      The Son is questioning his father's wisdom and righteousness. Good for him!

    22. or wilt thou thy self Abolish thy Creation, and unmake, For him, what for thy glorie thou hast made?

      I'm wondering what the Miltonian concept of glory (glorie) is. Here it sounds like God made mankind for God's own glory -which sounds self-serving. The Greek Gods demanded that mankind worship and adore them, and do as they instructed or else. The Old Testament God also seems to seek adoration and obedience.

    23. should Man [ 150 ] Thy creature late so lov'd, thy youngest Son Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though joynd With his own folly? that be from thee farr, That farr be from thee, Father, who art Judg Of all things made, and judgest onely righ

      Well, clearly, the Son is much more humane than God!

    24. revoke the high Decree Unchangeable, Eternal, which ordain'd Thir freedom

      Milton seems to be applying that there is a high Eternal unchangeable Divine law and that God has the power to apply it or not apply it to mankind. (I'm thinking he's like a computer programmer/developer who creates buggy software and then blames the software for its bugginess!)

    25. I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

      Yes, and God also made mankind ignorant, with strong sensory appetites (for fruit like apples), with a desire for pleasure etc. etc. (I'm thinking of my mother who was so unattuned to childrearing that she expected me to act like an adult when I was 2 years old and punished me for acting by impulse according to reason). Just how much time did God spend teaching Adam and Eve how to control their desires, or role model such behavior for them?

      It seems to me that anyone who is authoritarian and makes strong rules- especially for someone who is not yet really adult, experienced and knowledgeable -is asking for rebellion. The gestalt therapists speak of Topdog and Underdog. When there is an authoritarian Topdog, there's bound to be an Underdog who rebels. What's needed is to assimilate Topdog (integrating some facets of our SHOULDs and throwing out others that are not necessary), building a self in the process that it is NOT split in two. In Freudian terms, we're talking about a healthy ego that can help us integrate our id and superego rather than a strict superego that is authoritarian with a rebellious id. But the root of the Old Testament is such a split.

      Adam and Eve were just born, right, though born as adults? (Personally, I think we can get beyond the split too of Creationism vs. Evolution. Why not view God as having given a lightning blast to chimpanzees which quickly led to ther evolving into humans?). So they weren't likely to have a lot of experience or become very mature yet. Of course they needed to go through the rebellious terrible twos!

      In Greek mythology too, we have the first female Pandora who almost immediately after she is created is left in a room with a box and told that she must not open it. So she does, of course. Her curiosity gets the better of her. And so she is blamed for all the evil in the world, as Eve is blamed. Unfair!

      Both of these situations are "set ups". What I don't understand is why God set up a test which Adam and Eve were bound to fail. So that he could fully assert His power over them?

      The Old Testament seems to me to be based on a split consciousness with a Topdog God and an Underdog mankind. This is a kind of parent/child, authority /subordinate setup. But it is not the only way to live.

      Yes, I'm trying to understand Milton, but in the process clarifying my own attitude toward his interpretation of The Fall AND that of the Bible and Christianity. As a Gnostic deeply influenced by Elaine Pagel's Gnostic Gospels and her Adam, Eve and the Serpent, I highly recommend these two books. To me, the make much more sense than the Fall in the Old Testament or the Miltonian interpretation.of it.

      Those of us who are expressing our own views here abd criticizing Milton and the Bible (and certainly I'm doing a lot of it) may be at odds with those who are dedicated believers in the Bible and take Genesis literally. But I'd be happy to hear a variety of views.

    26. HAil holy light, ofspring of Heav'n first-born, Or of th' Eternal Coeternal beam May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from Eternitie, dwelt then in thee, [

      Apparently this is Milton speaking, not Uriel. But it isn't clear. The study guide refer to this as a Prologue celebrating celestial light.

    27. Grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to God-head, and therefore with all his Progeny devoted to death must dye, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his Punishment.

      So who made these rules? It sounds like God Himself is at the mercy of certain laws of the universe.Or has God actually made them up - which would mean that he would be free to change them.

    1. Sin and Death amain Following his track, such was the will of Heav'n, [ 1025 ] Pav'd after him a broad and beat'n way Over the dark Abyss,

      So supposedly this is the way Sin and Death entered the world - through the Gates to Hell which Satan left open after his daughter the Sin Monster opened them, in the hopes of her in-between realm gaining more power. (Is this a correct interpretation?)

    2. when Ulysses on the Larbord shunnd Charybdis, and by th' other whirlpool steard

      Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus, hero of the Odyssey.

    3. Wandring this darksome Desart, as my way Lies through your spacious Empire up to light,

      Does this region compare to the Greek's limbo? And Dante's purgatory? Where souls initially are when they arrive, and pagan and pre-Christ individuals remain?

    4. Erect the Standard there of ancient Night; Yours be th' advantage all, mine the revenge.

      It seems that originally the fallen angels (but maybe not Satan?) wanted to be restored to Heaven. That motive now seems to be lost as the desire for revenge is foremost.

    5. Demogorgon

      The term Demogorgon actually originated with the Roman, Statius in the 4th century A.D. So it is not derived from the ancient Greek,

    6. Chaos Umpire sits, And by decision more imbroiles the fray By which he Reigns: next him high Arbiter Chance governs all

      Very interesting. Milton already has implied that Fate and Divine Justice represent laws to which even God must submit. Is he saying this is also true of Chaos and Chance? What most intrigues me is how this connects with the latest theories about the interaction of deterministic order and unpredictability - and how in some ways we are limited in choice and in other ways, have free will.

    7. His dark materials

      That line must be the source of Phillip Pullman's famous fantasy novwl trilogy titled His Dark Materials. I wonder what Milton means, implying here that God creates worlds out of dark materials. Maybe matter in general is viewed as a dark material.

    8. Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,

      Water, Earth, Air and Fire. It's curious that Milton refers to water as Sea, and earth as Shore. The idea of the Four Elements originated with the Greek philosopher, Empedocles. They are in continual conflict with each other as a result of Strife. See http://www.webwinds.com/myth/elemental.htm

    9. The lip of Tantalus

      In Greek and Roman mythology, Tantalus, a lesser god, were, was guilty of a crime against the the gods themselves, and so was sentenced to eternal life in Tartarus, the one region of Hades where those guilty of the worst crimes are punished (Tartarus, not Hades,ican be equated to the Christian hell). Tartarus' punishment was eternal starvation - being bound in a location where overhanging fruit trees tempted him, but moved out of reach whenever he reached for fruit. From Tantalus, we get the word "tantalize".

    10. For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four Champions fierce Strive here for Maistrie

      According to Empedocles, an early Greek philosopher, there are four elements in continual conflict with each, as influenced by Strife (discordant energy) and Love (harmony). See my article on Empedocles and the four elements at: http://www.webwinds.com/myth/elemental.htm

    11. where eldest Night And Chaos, Ancestors of Nature, hold [ 895 ] Eternal Anarchie, amidst the noise

      I'm no physicist or astronomer, but I do think of much of unformed space in our universe or the spewing of forth from the initial white hole from which our galaxy was formed as a kind of Chaos. And the Greeks basically said that in the beginning there was Chaos, and from Chaos sprang Ouranos (Heaven) and Gaia (earth).

      Also I just looked up "Chaos" at etymonline.com:

      late 14c., "gaping void; empty, immeasurable space," from Old French chaos (14c.) or directly from Latin chaos, from Greek khaos "abyss, that which gapes wide open, that which is vast and empty," from khnwos, from PIE root ghieh- "to yawn, gape, be wide open."

      Meaning "utter confusion" (c. 1600) is an extended sense from theological use of chaos in the Vulgate version of "Genesis" (1530s in English) for "the void at the beginning of creation, the confused, formless, elementary state of the universe." The Greek for "disorder" was tarakhe, but the use of chaos here was rooted in Hesiod ("Theogony"), who describes khaos as the primeval emptiness of the Universe, and in Ovid ("Metamorphoses"), who opposes Khaos to Kosmos, "the ordered Universe." Sometimes it was personified as a god, begetter of Erebus and Nyx ("Night").

      Meaning "orderless confusion" in human affairs is from c. 1600. Chaos theory in the modern mathematical sense is attested from c. 1977.

    12. She op'nd, but to shut Excel'd her power; the Gates wide op'n stood,

      If the Gates of Hell are open, all the devils can follow Satan and get out. (I'm reminded of Pandora's box - when she opened the box she wasn't supposed to open, all the evils (except Hope) escaped and then represented afflictions cast upon humanity.

    13. Erebus

      Erebus in Greek mythology is usually regarded as the entrance to Hades, where the dead first arrive. Since Satan is at the Gate to hell, this makes sense.

    14. ; so Fate pronounc'd. But thou O Father, I forewarn thee, shun [ 810 ] His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope To be invulnerable in those bright Arms, Though temper'd heav'nly, for that mortal dint, Save he who reigns above, none can resist.

      Is Sin saying that Death could conquer Satan, and that basically Satan could die? And is she implying that the gods could die if Death conquered them? It's also worth noting that in myth, even the gods are at the mercy of Fate.

    15. for when they list into the womb That bred them they return, and howle and gnaw My Bowels, thir repast;

      This sounds similar toPrometheus, who was punished by Zeus for giving fire to man. Prometheus was bound in Tartarus, where a vulture every day gnawed out his liver.

    16. Mee overtook his mother all dismaid, And in embraces forcible and foule Ingendring with me, of that rape begot These yelling Monsters

      Also, in Greek mythology, there is a lot of incest and violence between the earliest gods, the Titans, and many monsters born of their matings.

    17. Then shining Heav'nly fair, a Goddess arm'd Out of thy head I sprung; amazement seis'd All th' Host of Heav'n back they recoild affraid At first, and call'd me Sin, and for a Sign

      This is odd, because it resembles Athena fully armed springing out of Zeus' head when he swallowed Metis, for fear that she would give birth to a child that would supplant him. Athena was the highly respected goddess of women who unfortunately strongly favored males over females, and claimed she had no mother, even though Metis was her actual mother. Sin here has no mother - she is born only of Satan. What isn't clear here is why Milton turns the Athena myth on its head (so to speak!) by substituting SIN for the goddess of wisdom.

    18. O Father, what intends thy hand, she cry'd, Against thy only Son?

      This is confusing. Apparently (at least according to study guides), this female Goblin is Sin, who actually happens to be the daughter of Satan. Daughter, not son. So it sounds like she is addressing not her father, but God the father, who as we learn later is about to let his Son die for mankind. Or could she be referring to Satan as the Son who has turned against his own father? Or the incestuosly bread son of Satan and his own daughter, who happens to be Death? But then again, is Satan outwitting Death? Is anyone clear about what's going on here?

    19. fires the length of Ophiucus huge In th' Artick Sky,

      Ophicus is an actual constellation between Scorpius and Sagittarius, not visible in the northern hemisphere (except only briefly in the Arctic and near the equator. The ancient Greeks associated Ophicus with the infant Apollo's successful defeat of the Python at Delphi and with the Trojan Laocoon, who warned his people about the Trojan horse and was strangled by sea serpents sent by Poseidon. The ancient Romans also associated the constellation with the healer Asclepius who learned some facets of healing from serpents.

      Some astrologers consider Ophicus to be the 13th sign of the zodiac, situated between Scorpio and Sagittarius, but due to the precession of the equinoxes, today related to the time period November 29-December 18.

    20. To whom the Goblin full of wrauth

      Milton's concept of Hades apparently does not include the happy Persephone, who ruled 1/3 of the year with her husband Hades (Pluto). The few Greek heroes who were able to descend into Hades found Persephone quite satisfied with her life there, her husband and her role as queen. She may even have chosen to eat pomegranates in order to stay there part of the year and not return to her mother!

    21. Vex'd Scylla bathing in the Sea that parts [ 660 ] Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore:

      Scylla had been a beautiful maiden, but because of jealousy was turned into a monster by a jealous goddess Circe who loved the merman Glaucus. Glaucus however preferred beautiful Scylla. Circe was punished by Zeus by being banished to a remote island where she lived surrounded by wild animals, and where she transformed Odysseus' men into swine. Odysseus stayed on Circe'ss island, and also passed the dangerous monster Scylla, who grabbed and killed one or more of his men.

    22. And thrice threefold the Gates; three folds were Brass, [ 645 ] Three Iron, three of Adamantine Rock, Impenetrable, impal'd with circling fire, Yet unconsum'd.

      Milton is referring to the Nine Gates of Hell, which Dante presented in his Inferno (part of the Divine Comedy). See http://historylists.org/art/9-circles-of-hell-dantes-inferno.html

    23. As when Alcides from Oechalia Crown'd With conquest, felt th' envenom'd robe, and tore Through pain up by the roots Thessalian Pines, And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw [ 545 ] Into th' Euboic Sea.

      Alcides is actually the French name for Heracles (Hercules in Latin). When Hercules defeated the centaur Nessus who tried to rape his wife Deinara, the dying centaur told Deinara that if gives Heracles a robe dyed with the centaur's blood, that Heracles will never love another. Deinara then has her servant Lichas deliver the robe to Heracles - neither of them knowing the revengeful dying centaur's robe was poisoned, and that Heracles put it on, he would burn to death. As he was dying, Heracles expressed his rage - killing Lycas in the process.

    24. bhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate, Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud Heard on the ruful stream; fierce Phlegeton [ 580 ] Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Farr off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe the River of Oblivion roules Her watrie Labyrinth, whereof who drinks, Forthwith his former state and being forgets, [ 585 ] Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain.

      Milton takes the ancient Greek geographical concept of Hades and its rivers - when Hades is not at all like hell -and uses it as basis for the Christian hell (maybe in part because he and many Christian leaders placed pagans and others of virtue who lived before Christ in the Limbo between Heaven and Hell).

      Wikipedia has an article on the Greek underworld Hades at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_underworld Wikipedia also has a page on Christian views of Hades. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_Hades The rivers that Milton mentions exist in the Greek view of hell but with some slight differences. For example, Styx is not "abhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate". Gods swore unbreakable oaths on the River Styx, whose waters were believed to make one invulnerable to death.

    25. the void profound Of unessential Night receives him next Wide gaping, and with utter loss of being [ 440 ] Threatens him, plung'd in that abortive gulf. If thence he scape into whatever world, Or unknown Region,

      I'm struck by how many times Milton expresses metaphorically the experience of PTSD or even a major psychological change which can seem like annihilation to our old sense of self (not that he would have been aware of contemporary psychological theory!). Maybe part of why Paradise Lost endures as a classic is that it resonates with people not just in terms of the battle between good and evil, but also because it touches on deeper, archetypal structures within our psyche.

    26. Firm concord holds, men onely disagree Of Creatures rational, though under hope Of heavenly Grace; and God proclaiming peace, Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife

      Now tell that to the Democrats and Republicatsin the U.S. or in England, the M.P.s

    27. or undertake The perilous attempt; but all sat mute, [ 420 ] Pondering the danger

      What is the danger? Greater punishment from God? Since they are mortal, they can't be killed, so are we to assume that Beelzebub, Satan or all the fallen angels would experience harsher punishment?

    28. we may chance Re-enter Heav'n;

      How would the plan to corrupt, enslave or otherwise use man help them to re-enter Heaven? Revenge it accomplishes, but restoration?

    29. either with Hell fire To waste his whole Creation, or possess [ 365 ] All as our own, and drive as we were driven, The punie habitants, or if not drive, Seduce them to our Party, that thir God May prove thir foe, and with repenting hand Abolish his own works. This would surpass [ 370 ] Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our Confusion,

      Beezlebub is clever, presenting "a third way" between passive endurance and war. But if the motives of the fallen angels are both revenge AND to restore their place in Heaven, his plan only seems to satisfy the former.

    30. This Desart soile [ 270 ] Wants not her hidden lustre, Gemms and Gold;

      Milton mistakenly equates the Christian hell with Hades (which is NOT a place of fire and punishment, but rather a very boring afterlife) but in Greek and Roman mythology, Hades/Pluto is the god of wealth. Thus we get the word "plutocracy" - government by the wealthy.

    31. and work ease out of pain Through labour and indurance.

      Like Belial, his words initially sound stoic - but he then reveals different motives: material gain.

    32. Thus Belial with words cloath'd in reasons garb Counsell'd ignoble ease, and peaceful sloath, Not peace

      Here the voice of Milton, or the narrator, comments on what isn't necessarily obvious - that Belial uses words of peace to conceal laziness.

    33. What yet they know must follow, to endure Exile, or ignominy, or bonds, or pain,

      Belial's message appears to be "endure, and wait," but Milton hints that beneath his words may be a wish to avoid war.

    34. He passes on his journey to Hell Gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are op'nd, and discover to him the great Gulf between Hell and Heaven; with what difficulty he passes through, directed by Chaos, the Power of that place, to the sight of this new World which he sought.

      (Where I'm coming from: I'm the creator/instructor of continuing education "Literature and Life" courses in which students get beyond narrow interpretations of the classics and relate them to their own lives, so some of my comments will be of that nature, rather than strictly academic.)

      This passage strikes me as being meaningful symbolically:

      1) for a creative writer who has been suffering from the hell of writer's block or writer's despair and is struggling with moving through the chaos of inner torment to new, freeflowing creative expression AND

      2) for an individual in psychotherapy and/or experiencing emotional torment who is engaged in the process of letting go old patterns of behavior and definitions of self and breaking free into a healthier and happier life.

    35. Warr therefore, open or conceal'd, alike My voice disswades;

      This whole book about the council of the fallen angels leads me to wonder if Milton was modelling this council on Parliament, what firsthand knowledge he had ot Parliamentary debates, and whether there was a certain subject of debate going on in Parliament of the time of which he was aware while writing. In other words, was Milton consciously writing on several levels -- the narrative of Satan and the fallen angels, English politics and/or maybe the battle between contrary impulses within an individual?

    36. for his thoughts were low; [ 115 ] To vice industrious, but to Nobler deeds Timorous and slothful: yet he pleas'd the ear, And with perswasive accent thus began.

      Belial appears to be the "politician" here, who opposes war but for reasons different from the reasons he voices. Another voice arising here is Milton's own or maybe we should say, the narrator. Milton is telling a story but he is also commenting on it as he tells it, often with judgments. He is not SHOWING US who Belial is "timorous and slothful" to "nobler deeds" but is TELLING US, as if he has prior knowledge of Belial's behavior.

    37. Th' event is fear'd; should we again provoke Our stronger, some worse way his wrath may find To our destruction:

      This could also be the thoughts of the abused child regarding the abusive parent, or the abused wife regarding the abusive husband. Angering those who have power over us could motivate them to be punish us further. I wonder if Milton was aware of all the metaphorical/symbolical/allegorical levels on which he was writing beyond the literal narrative of Satan and good vs. evil.

    38. and by what best way, [ 40 ] Whether of open Warr or covert guile, We now debate;

      "Open warr or covert guile" sounds like a decision made by many minorities who are actively opposing a stronger majority (or individuals seeking to take action against those in power). Of course, there's also the possible response of finding ways to strengthen one's position before actively opposing.

    39. The happier state In Heav'n, which follows dignity,

      The Paradise Lost book I'm reading initially, before reading online, interprets this passage as "rank follows birth" which doesn't seem to be what Milton is saying. What might he mean by"dignity"?

    40. I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent Celestial vertues rising, will appear [ 15 ] More glorious and more dread then from no fall,

      Here's another passage which is likely to be meaningful to anyone going through a particularly difficult time who is hoping to learn from it how toavoid such a "fall" next time. I do however question Milton's use of the word "dread" here. Its pairing with "glorious" suggests a different meaning that we'd give the term today.

    1. when the Sun with Taurus

      If we divide the sky, as viewed from earth, into 12 segments, like a pie, named for the signs of the zodiac (most which contain a constellation of that name), the sun is in the Taurus segment in the springtime in the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE. That corresponds now to approximately April 21-May 21. This would be true, even considering the precession of the equinoxes.

    2. but was headlong sent [ 750 ]With his industrious crew to build in hell.

      He was not sent to hell. Neither the Greeks or the Romans even had a concept of hell, unless we consider Tartarus, the lowest and most awful dimension of Hades to be hell - for indeed that was were those who committed criminal acts against the gods and were punished by the gods were sent. Hephaestus did land on the island of Lemnos, where he built a forge inside a cave, and made all the most exquisite, lovely things (such as Achilles' sword, covered with engraved illustrations of scenes of the gods) that were treasured by the gods. See my article on Hephaestus: http://www.webwinds.com/myth/hephaestus.htm

    3. shall fail to re-ascendSelf-rais'd, and repossess thir native seat?

      I'm not clear whether they are seeking revenge or seeking to be re-instated in heaven.

    4. for he with this rebellious rout

      Hephaestus/Vulcan/Mulciber was NOT rebellious! He was an infant, and a highly sensitive artistic one at that (drawn to beauty), rejected by his mother as soon as he was born. Milton doesn't know his myths. (I spent a lot of time researching and writing about Hephaestus!)

    5. and how he fell [ 740 ]From Heav'n, they fabl'd, thrown by angry JoveSheer o're the Chrystal Battlements

      This is inaccurate. Hera (Juno in Rome) was angry with Zeus (Jupiter) for all his infidelities, and wanted to prove that she could give birth to a child by parthenogenesis, without male participation. She succeeded - but her child Hephaestus (Vulcan/Mulciber) was ugly and lame. In anger, SHE no Jupiter threw him out of Olympus.

    6. Ausonian landMen call'd him Mulciber;

      This is referring to Italy, and the Roman name for the ancient Greek god of the forge, Hephaestus - which was Vulcan or Mulciber.

    7. and with impious handsRifl'd the bowels of thir mother EarthFor Treasures better hid. Soon had his crewOp'nd into the Hill a spacious woundAnd dig'd out ribs of Gold.

      Now this sounds like those would destroy the earth and the future of the planet for momentary gain - perhaps too much mining or drilling for oil.

    8. For this Infernal Pit shall never holdCælestial Spirits in Bondage, nor th' AbyssLong under darkness cover.

      Another passage which I could imagine some people would feel who are elevated by the spiritual or the creative Muse, and struggling with depression or despair about adapting to the physical world!

    9. in spight of scorn

      Why does he scorn them? (My book that includes modern English interpretation used the word contempt here). They were all in this together, were they not?

    10. As when Heavens FireHath scath'd the Forrest Oaks, or Mountain Pines,With singed top thir stately growth though bareStands on the blasted Heath.

      Milton occasionally wrote some lovely similes.

    11. uxorious King

      This refers to King Solomon, who after Queen of Sheba refused to marry him and left him, took on hundreds of wives and fell into idolatry. It's my thesis that he was in deep despair when she left him,because he'd never find her equal. See my book chapter online about them: http://www.windweaver.com/sheba/Shebahome.htm

    12. Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n.

      I think I need to say that to myself when I turn off my alarm clock, determined to ignore it, and start to go back to sleep!

    13. How overcome this dire Calamity,What reinforcement we may gain from Hope, [ 190 ]If not what resolution from despare.

      Another inspirational passage, that one may say today as part of a prayer.

    14. What in me is dark Illumin, what is low raise and support;

      What a lovely quote, one that we could say today, in prayer.

    15. Pandemonium

      Pandemonium means all demons, and is the source of the quote, "All of the devils are here."

    16. Ilium

      Ilium is Troy, site of the Trojan War, today identified with Hesserlik in Turkey.

    17. Sions daughters

      Sion's daughters means Daughters of Zion, which is a metaphor for the people of Israel, children of God.

    18. Baalim and Ashtaroth,

      Ashtoreth was the primary female goddess, the moon goddess in ancient Canaan; her consort was Baal. The Phoenicians worshipped her as Astarte, and the Babylonians and Egyptians, as Ishtar. The Greeks later associated her with Aphrodite. In the Old Testament, there are numerous references to the condemnation of the worship of Astarte/Ashtoreth in chapters about Moses, Solomon, Elijah and more.

    19. Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.

      Some of us would much rather serve than reign! Being in command is no easy task, and sets oneself up as a target.

    20. The mind is its own place, and in it selfCan make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.

      This passage about the mind has much contemporary resonance from Viktor Frankl's Man Search for Meaning (about how even when are not free to act, we are at least free to choose our own attitude toward events) to cognitive psychology to "you create your own reality" new age thinking.

    21. happy Fields

      The happy fields were the Elysian fields where a select few, favored by the gods, got to go after death, whereas most people went to Hades (NOT hell, but not pleasant either).

    22. Briareos

      Briareos was a 50-headed, 100-handed giant from the time of the Titans in Greek mythology. He was NOT the same as Typhon; Milton was wrong is he is equating the two (I teach, research and write about Greek mythology). Both however are from primordial times in myth, before the reign of Zeus.

    23. Typhon

      Typhon or Typhoes was a monster/giant who supposedly was born of Gaia (Earth) and Tartarus (early Titan entity ruling lowest realm of Hades) and attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow Zeus when Zeus seeks to overthrow the Titans and become ruler of the gods. Zeus defeats Typhon, and becomes the head of the gods.

    24. the Serpent, or rather Satan in the Serpent; who revolting from God,

      I'm wondering where and when this association between the Serpent and Satan started. It's not in the Bible. (And according to the Gnostic texts, the Serpent was sent by the Mother Goddess to help restore the male/female harmony that Yahweh disavowed). Milton probably doesn't address this, but it's crucial to my own reading of the text, since I don't support that association and want to know at least what Milton's source is.