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1552. "here" : "heard " in the original text, but corrected in the Errata-a correction not attended to in the Second Edition.
1594. “ Eye-witness," i.e. as having been eye-witness.
1605–1610. " The building was,” &c. Conceive the building as follows :There is a large semi-circular covered space or amphitheatre, tilled up with tiers of seats—the roof of which semicircular building is supported by two great pillars rising from the ground about mid-point of the diameter of the semicircle. There is no wall at this diameter, but only these two pillars ; standing near which Samson would look inside upon the congregated Philistine lords and others of rank, occupying the tiers of seats under the roof. Behind Samson was then an uncovered space where the poorer spectators could stand on any kind of benches under the open sky, seeing Samson's back, and, save where the pillars might interrupt the view, all that went on in inside.
1608. "sort," mark, distinction.
1619. "cataphracts," i.e. men in mail on horses also mailed: hence called kutapparto1, i.e. "protected.”
1627. " stupendous.” Milton's own spelling is stupendious. See note, Par. Lost, X. 351.
1630–1634. " he his guide requested,” &c. Judges xvi. 26. 1645. “strike," an ironical play on the word. 1651, 1652. “ The whole roof,” &c. The account of the feat and its effects is consistent with the imagined shape and structure of the building. See previous note, lines 1605-1610. The Scripture narrative (Judges xvi. 27) speaks of many on the roof of the building ; but here nothing is said of such. The deaths are caused by the falling in of the roof upon those seated in the covered part of the theatre.
1667, 1668. “ in number more,” &c. Judges xvi. 30.
1669. Semichor.” Here the Chorus divides into two halves—the one continuing as far as line 1686. 1674. “Silo."
Silo.” Another instance of Milton's dislike of the sound sh. In Samson's time the tabernacle and the ark were in Shiloh. Josh.
1686. “struck." See note, Par. Lost, II. 165. 1687. “Semichor.” This is the second Semichorus. 1692-1696. " And as an evening dragon came," &c. The first im
“ pression on reading these five lines may be that there is a confusion of metaphor. Samson comes as a dragon, and all at once the dragon is an eagle. To avoid this jar of figures, it has been supposed by some
commentators that there is an error of the press. They propose to read thus :
“ And not as evening dragon came, &c.
but as an eagle, &c." or thus:
“ Nor as an evening dragon came, &c.
but as an eagle, &c." It seems to me, however, that there is no necessity for supposing an error of the press, and that Milton's meaning is stronger and bolder as the text stands. The blind Samson came among the assembled and seated Philistines like an evening dragon among tame fowl perched on their roosts—i.e. a fearful object, certainly, but on the ground and darkly groping his way; but anon this enemy on the ground is transmuted into an enemy swooping down resistlessly from overhead, and he who came as a dragon ends as an eagle, the bird of Jove, dealing down thunderbolts from a clear sky. I am pretty sure Milton had the contrast strongly in his mind of the Philistines at one moment gazing at the terrible Samson on the ground before them from their rows of seats, and not sure but he might rush or spring among them furiously, and the next moment experiencing destruction coming from him in the direction where all had seemed safe-i.c. vertically downwards. To bring out the contrast he resorts to the bold change of metaphor.
1695. "villatic fowl,'' i.e. farm-house fowl ; villatic from villa, a country-house. Pliny, as Richardson noted, has the very phrase, * villaticas alites."
1696. “cloudless thunder," i.e. thunder from a clear sky, the more dreadful, because unexpected.
1697—1707. “So Virtue," &c. Observe the complexity of rhymes in this passage.
1699. "that self-begotten bird,” the fabled Phoenix, periodically consumed by fire and rising again into life out of its own ashes. See Par. Lost, V. 272—274, and Epitaph. Dam. 1814-189.
1700. “embost," hidden, or the same as embosked.” Todd and Keightley quote several instances from old poets in which a deer surrounded in the chase is said to be “embost.”
1702. “ holocaust," a sacrifice burnt entire.
“ A secular bird,” i.e. a bird lasting for many generations or centuries, sæcula. Newton, Todd and others, omitting the comma after survives, make that verb an active one governing " a secular bird," and the meaning of the passage to be “Virtue, like the Phoenix, teemed out of its own ashes, revives, &c.; and, though her body die, her fame outlives for ages of lives any ordinary phenix or bird living a few VOL. III.
centuries.". This reading is singularly languid and does violence to the original text, which has a distinct comma after “survives," clearly put there to bring out the other meaning, i.e. “Virtue, like the Phoenix, &c., revives, &c., and, though her body die, her fame survives, a real phenix, ages of lives."
1713. “the sons of Caphtor.” Mr. Keightley says “This is spelt Chaptor in the original edition.” Not so. It is spelt “ Caphtor” there, and the error is in the Second Edition.—The “Sons of Caphtor" are the Philistines, said to have come from the isle of Caphtor or Crete.
1755. "acquist," acquisition. The word, sometimes in the form acquest, is not unfrequent in old writers.