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Sparta being the other (Lib. v. c. 8)." Dunster adds “ I cannot discover the passage in Demosthenes referred to by Bishop Newton. Thysius, in a note on Justin (Lib. 11. c. 6, Ed. Varior.) and on a passage of Valerius Maximus (Ed. Varior. Lib. I. c. 6; Exempl. Extern. 1), notices that Athens is mentioned by Demosthenes under this description, the eye of Greece, but no reference is made to the particular passage.'
The image, Dunster goes on to say, is mentioned in Aristotle's Rhetoric. It has been repeated frequently in modern times. Thus the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have been called the two eyes of England; while Ben Jonson called Edinburgh
" The heart of Scotland, Britain's other eye,” London, of course, being the first. 241, 242.
"native . or hospitable,” i.e. either producing them or giving them welcome. 244-246. “the olive-grove of Academe, Plato's retirement," &c.
",” The following is Mr. Grote's account of this celebrated place “The spot selected by Plato for his lectures or teaching was a garden adjoining the precinct sacred to the Hero Hekadêmus or Akadêmuš, distant from the gate of Athens called Dipylon somewhat less than a mile, on the road to Eleusis, towards the north. In this precinct there were both walks, shaded by trees, and a gymnasium for bodily exercise : close adjoining, Plato either inherited or acquired a small dwelling-house and garden, his own private property" (Plato, and the other Companions of Sokrates, i. 122). The chief trees in this spot were the popía, or “sacred olives.”—The “ Attic birid” is the nightingale, so called either because of the abundance of nightingales in Attica (especially at Colonos, as we gather from a famous chorus in Sophocles) or in recollection of the legend of the Athenian princess Philomela, who was changed into a nightingale. It has been objected by Mr. Keightley that the notion of the nightingale singing "the summer long " is contrary to fact.
247-249. “Hymettus," &c. A mountain near Athens, famous for its honey. 249, 250.
“ lissus rolls his whispering stream." The scene of Plato's Phædrus is on the banks of the Iissus. Mr. Keightley notes “ It rolls only in the poet's imagination, like Siloa and Cedron.” (Par. Lost, III. 30.) 250---253
“ Within the walls then view . . . Lyceum Stoa." The Lyceum was the school of Aristotle, who had been Alexander's tutor. The Stoa was a portico in Athens, built after the Persian war, and decorated with paintings of scenes of the war : it became the lecturing-place of Zeno, the founder of the sect of the Stoics. Milton is wrong in placing the Lyceum within the walls ; it was a little way out of town, on the eastern side.
254. There," i.e. at Athens.
257. “Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes," i.e. Greek lyric poetry generally. Æolian charms (charm for “carmen, a song, as in Par. Lost, IV. 642) are the songs or lyrics of Alcæus and Sappho, who used the Æolic dialect; Pindar and other lyric poets used the Doric “ Æolian charm is a literal translation of “ Æolium carmen" in Hor. Od. III. XXX. 13.
258, 259. “his who gave them breath . . . blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called." Milton makes Homer the true father even of Greek Lyric poetry. According to the Life of Homer attributed to Herodotus, he was called Melesigenes, because born on the banks of the Meles in Ionia ; but subsequently he was called Homer, on account of his blindness (ó reni opwv, “the blind man”).
“260. “ Whose poem,” &c. Alluding, says Bishop Newton, to a Greek epigram in the first Book of the Anthologia, where Apollo is made to say
'Ηειδον μεν έγων, εχάρασσε δε θείος “Ομηρος.
('Twas I that sang ; Homer but wrote it down.) 261-266. " the lofty grave Tragedians," &c. A singularly exact description of the Greek tragic poetry in so brief a space. Its two parts are Chorus in mixed verses and Dialogue in Iambics. The reference in “ brief sententious precepts” may be chiefly to Milton's favourite, Euripides, who is called by Quintilian “sententiis densus,” i.e. “thick with maxims.”
268—271. “ Those ancient," &c. The older Greek orators, such as Pericles and Demosthenes, were the greatest. It is these two that Milton is chiefly thinking of—Demosthenes being the one who fulmined over Greece to Macedon ; Pericles the one whose fulminations reached the throne of Artaxerxes, or Persia. These four lines, I may mention, were a favourite quotation of a man of recent times more than usually entitled to appropriate them to himself-Dr. Chalmers.
273-276. "the low-roofed house of Socrates." In the Clouds of Aristophanes the house of Socrates is called oixidov, “a housey ;” and Xenophon, as Newton noted, makes Socrates say of his house, that he believed, if he were lucky in a purchaser, he might get five minæ for it and all it contained.
275, 276. "the oracle pronounced wisest of men." Socrates is himself made, in Plato's Apology of Socrates, to tell the story of this oracular response. His friend and admirer Chærephon had asked at the oracle of Delphi the question whether anyone was wiser than Socrates of Athens, and had received the answer that none was wiser—which greatly perplexed Socrates, till he found out what the God probably meant. This was that, whereas most other men thought they possessed know
ledge, he was pre-eminent in this—that he was firmly convinced of the deficiency of his knowledge. The precise words of the oracle are said, by tradition, to have been these :
'Ανδρών απάντων Σωκράτης σοφώτατος.
(Of all men Socrates the wisest is.) 277–280. “all the schools of Academics old and new”: i.e. the original Academy of Plato (died B.C. 347) and its continuations, the Middle Academy, founded by Arcesilas (died B.C. 271), and the Later Academy, founded by Carneades, of Cyrene in Africa (died B.C. 128); "with those surnamed Peripatetics," i.e. the disciples of Aristotle (died B.C. 322), called “the Peripatetic” from his habit of walking up and down in the Lyceum when teaching; "and the sect Epicurean," founded by Epicurus (died B.C. 270); “and the Stoic severe," or followers of Zeno (died B.C. 264). All these schools did derive themselves from the teaching of Socrates, who was the real father of the whole Greek philosophic movement.
286, 287. “or, think I know them not, not therefore," &c. The meaning is “or, should you think I know them not, not therefore," &c. I have pointed so as to bring out this meaning.
291-308. “But these are false;" &c. In this passage we have a less sympathetic appreciation by Milton of the worth of the various systems of Greek speculation than was to be expected; but what he has in view is their shortcoming of the higher wisdom offered by Christianity. The “first and wisest" is Socrates (see preceding note, lines 275, 276). “The next” who “fell to fabling and smooth conceits” is Plato--of whose spirit Milton himself had far more than this estimate would suggest. The "third sort” are the Sceptics, or followers of Pyrrho. The "others," who placed happiness in virtue joined with wealth and long life, are perhaps the Aristotelians. The “he” is Epicurus—not worth naming again in full. It is notable that the Stoics are described most at length- perhaps, as Thyer suggested, on account of their superior ethical claims.
302, 303. “all possessing, equal to God, oft shames not to prefer." This passage is read variously and pointed variously in different editions. I keep the original pointing, which gives the sense clearly enough as follows :-“The Stoic who, dwelling on his ideal of a virtuous man, wise, perfect in himself, and possessing all equal to God, is often not ashamed to prefer him to God,” &c.
316, 317. “usual names, Fortune and Fate.” Such terms were frequent with the Stoics. 320, 321. “her false resemblance . .
an empty cloud.” In allusion, as Newton noted, to the story of Ixion, who, thinking to meet Juno,
cloud substituted for her by Juj iter.
321, 322. many
books . . . are vicarisome." Eccles. xii. (Newton.)
324. "A spirit and juigment," &c. A remarkably anomalous line, consisting of twelve or even thirteen syllables.
329. “ worth a sponge," i.e. deserving to be sponged out or obliterated.
330. “ As children gathering pebbles on the shore.” In the original edition and in the second pebbles is spelt pibles.' All know the story of Sir Isaac Newton's saying about himself that he was but as a child playing on the sea-shore and amusing himself with pebble after pebble, and shell after shell, while the great ocean of truth stretched unfathomable away from him. Had Newton read Milton's line, or was it a coincidence?
336, 337." in Babylon that pleased,” &c. Ps. cxxxvii. (Newton.)
338. “ rather Greece from us,” &c. It was a favourite speculation of the old theologians-never tenable, and now given up—that whatever was true or good among other ancient nations had been derived from the Hebrews.
341. "personating," representing.
346----350.“unworthy to compare with Sion's songs," &c. In Milton's Reason of Church Government there is a similar passage, where, after speaking of "those magnific odes and hymns" of the Greek poets which he admired for some things, though thinking them “in their matter most and end faulty," he refers to “those frequent songs throughout the Law and Prophets" as " beyond all these, not in their divine argument alone, but in the very critical art of composition.”
351. “ Unless where," &c. The connexion is with line 346, “unworthy to compare
.. unless where,” &c. 353-356. “as those the top of eloquence,” ic. as those who were the
354. statists,” statesmen. The word had formerly this sense. Todd quotes Shakespeare, Cymb. II. 4, "Statist though I am none."
362. “ makes a nation happy and keeps it so.” A recollection of Horace, Epist. 1. vi. 47, “ facere et serrare beatum.” (Richardson.)
380. "fulness of time," Gal. iv. 4. (Newton.) 382. “contrary," on the contrary.
383–385. "by what the stars voluminous," &c. The meaning is, " by what I can read or spell out in the aspects of the starry heavens whether the volumes (i.e. books) of the stars collectively, or single characters (individual planets) met in conjunction.”
387. “Attends thee." So in the original; not "attend," as in most editions. The line is conspicuous, whether purposely or not, for its hissing effect, arising from the frequency of s in it. So, indeed, the three lines 386–388.
391, 392. "as without end, without beginning," i.e. as without end, so without beginning.
392. 393. "no date prefixel directs me," &c. An image derived from the Prayer-book; the Rubric or red-letter Calendar prefixed to which gives the dates of the festival-days.
399. "unsubstantial both," i.e. nothing in themselves, but only effects of the absence of light.
409, 410. “either tropic," i.e. both north and south ; “ both ends of heaven," both east and west.-In the description of the storm which here begins and which extends to line 419, Newton, Richardson, and Dunster have traced shreds from similar descriptions in the Æneid and other poems.
Milton wrote, I believe, with no idea of such patchwork. 411. "abortite,” as not conducing to production.
414. “their stony caves." In the old mythology the winds were supposed to be kept in caves by the god Æolus.
415. " the four hinges of the world." The four cardinal points ; from cardo, a hinge.
419--425 “ill wast thou shrouded then,” &c. Warburton and Jortin suggested that in this passage Milton may have remembered the legend of the Temptation of St. Anthony in the Desert, or even pictures he had seen on that subject. Calton believed that he took hints from a description of Christ's Teniptation in Eusebius, De Dem. Eran.--Dunster quotes from Tasso (Ger. Lib. xvI. 67) his description of the demons gathered round Armida in a storm :
“Quanto gira il palagio udresti irati
Sibili, ed urli, e fremiti, e latrati”: Translated by Fairfax thus :
“ You might have heard how through the palace wide
Some spirits howled, some barked, some hissed, some cried.” 420. "only,” alone.
“ 427. "amice," robe ; properly a priest's vestment fastened round the neck and covering the shoulders : from the Latin amictus, a garment. Dunster quotes the word from Spenser; and in Richardson's Dict. there is this quotation from Tyndall: “The amice on the head is the kercheve that Christ was blyndfolded with, when the souldieurs buffetei him and mocked hym.”
429. “chased the clouds." A translation, as Thyer observed, of Virgil's collectasque fugat nubes, in his similar description of the laying of a storm. (Æn. 1. 143.)