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244. "the olive-grove of Academe." This famous school of Plato was a garden, less than a mile beyond the walls of Athens, and derived its name from the fact that it was near ground consecrated to the Hero Akadêmus.
245. "the Attic bird," the nightingale.
247-249. Hymettus," etc. A mountain near Athens, famous for its honey.
249, 250. "Ilissus rolls his whispering stream." scene of Plato's Phædrus is on the banks of the Ilissus.
253. "Lyceum," the school of Aristotle ; "Stoa," a portico in Athens, decorated with paintings, which became the school of Zeno, the founder of the Stoics. The Lyceum, however, was not "within the walls.
257. "Eolian charms and Dorian lyric odes": Greek lyric poetry generally. Alcæus and Sappho used the Æolian dialect, Pindar and other lyrists the Doric.
259. "Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called." He was called Melesigenes on the idea that he had been born on the banks of the Meles in Ionia; the name Homer was supposed to be a contraction of three Greek words meaning "the blind man.
260. "Whose poem Phœbus," etc. In a Greek epigram, quoted by Bishop Newton, Apollo is made to say, I that sang: Homer but wrote it down."
261-266. "the lofty grave Tragedians," etc. Eschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, are, of course, all in recollection; but in one of the phrases Milton may have been thinking most of his favourite Euripides.
267-271. "the famous Orators," etc. Pericles and Demosthenes are the two most in view in the passage.
273, 274. "the low-roofed house of Socrates." One of the jests of Aristophanes at Socrates was that he lived in "a little bit of a house."
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 gone to the oracle of Delphi to ask the question whether any one was wiser than Socrates of Athens, and had received the answer that none was wiser.
277-280. "all the schools of Academics old and new," viz. the original Academy of Plato (died B.C. 347), the middle Academy of Arcesilas (died B.C. 271), and the
later Academy of Carneades (died B. C. 128)."with those surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect Epicurean, and the Stoic severe": the followers respectively of Aristotle (died B.C. 322), Epicurus (died B.C. 270), and Zeno (died B.C. 264). 320, 321. "her false resemblance. an empty cloud." In allusion to the story of Ixion, who, thinking to meet Juno, met a cloud substituted for her by Jupiter.
322. "Wise men have said," etc. Eccles. xii. 12. 324. "A spirit and judgment," etc. A remarkably anomalous line, consisting of thirteen syllables.
329. "worth a sponge," i.e. deserving to be sponged out or obliterated.
330. "As children gathering pebbles on the shore." 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.
331-364. "Or, if I would delight," etc. Notwithstanding the tone of depreciation in the last passage (lines 286-330), there was no greater admirer of the Greek literature than Milton, and Plato, though represented there as having fallen "to fabling and smooth conceits," was a teacher to whom he owed and acknowledged much. Yet that preference of the literature of the Hebrews over all the other literatures of the world which he now goes on to avow and justify (for by implication the sentiments are Milton's own) was an undoubted habit of Milton's mind from his early manhood onwards. He has expressed the same in his prose writings.
336, 337. in Babylon," etc. Ps. cxxxvii.
346-350. unworthy to compare with Sion's songs," etc. In Milton's Reason of Church Government there is a similar passage.
354. "statists": statesmen.
393. "the starry rubric." A metaphor suggested by the red-letter Calendar of the Church.
415. "the four hinges of the world." The four cardinal points: Lat. cardo, a hinge.
427. "amice": mantle: Lat. amictus, a garment.
454. "flaws": gusts, breaks, sudden blasts: Teutonic flaga. See Par. Lost, X. 698.
457. "to the main," i.e. to the Universe as a whole.
549. "the highest pinnacle." Matt. iv. 5, and Luke iv.
556-559. "it is written," etc. Ps. xci. II, 12.
563-581. “As when," etc. The first classical com-
576. "So, strook." See note, Ode Nat. 95.
581. "So Satan fell." Observe that this is the fifth
581, 582. "a fiery globe of Angels." See Par. Lost, II.
612. "be failed": has disappeared,—in allusion to the
619. "an autumnal star": a meteor or falling star.
624. "Abaddon." In Rev. ix. 11 Abaddon or Apollyon
636-639. "Thus they," etc. Warton thinks these
NOTES TO SAMSON AGONISTES.
AUTHOR'S PREFACE: "Of that sort of Dramatic Poem," etc. The "verse of Euripides" which St. Paul is said to have inserted into the text of Holy Scripture consists of the words "Evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. xv. 33). The "Paraus" whose opinion as to the construction of the Apocalypse Milton cites, both here and in his Reason of Church Government, was David Paræus, a German theologian and commentator of high note among the Calvinists (1548-1622).- -When Milton says Though the Ancient Tragedy use no Prologue," he uses "Prologue" in its modern sense as a kind of Preface to the Play, detached from the Play itself, and intended to put the audience in good humour with it beforehand. Though the Comedians Plautus and Terence had Prologues of this kind, the ancient Tragedians had none.-In the phrase "that which Martial calls an Epistle" there is an allusion to the "Epistola ad Lectorem" prefixed by Martial, by way of apology, to the First Book of his Epigrams.- -The three terms of Greek Prosody introduced by Milton in his Preface, and printed in Italics, viz. Monostrophic, Apolelymenon, and Allæostrophic, may in their present connexion be translated "Singlestanzaed," "Released from the restraint of any particular measure," and "Divers-stanzaed." Milton's purpose is to explain to prosodians the metrical structure of his choruses in Samson. These choruses, he says, may be called Monostrophic, inasmuch as they run on without division into stanzas, or into the mutually balanced parts called strophe, antistrophe, and epodos in the regular musical chorus; the verse in which they are written is Apolelymenon, inasmuch as no particular measure is adopted, but each line is of any metre that the poet likes; or, if the choruses do sometimes seem
to divide themselves into stanzas, then Allaostropha would be the name for them, inasmuch as the stanzas are of different metrical patterns.
12. "This day," etc. Here Samson begins his soliloquy, the person who had guided him having retired. 13. Dagon, their sea-idol."
Compare Par. Lost, I.
66-109. "But, chief of all, O loss of sight," etc. In applying this passage to Milton himself, compare Sonnets XIX. XXII. XXIII., and Par. Lost, III. I-55 and VII. 1-39. 89. "her vacant interlunar cave," i.e. her "between moons cave, where she hides between old moon and new
133. Chalybean-tempered," i.e. tempered like the steel of the Chalybes, an iron-working nation of Asia Minor.
134. Adamantean proof." It is doubtful whether this means "proof against adamantean weapons" or "proof as being itself adamantean." The second meaning is the likelier. Adamant, literally "unsubduable," usually meant steel.
138. "Ascalonite." I Sam. vi. 17.
145. "In Ramath-lechi": so called from "the casting away of the jaw-bone" there: the name implying the phrase. See Judges xv. 17.
Deut. ii. 23.
147. "Azza": same as Gaza. See 148. "Hebron, seat of giants old." Josh. xv. 13, 14.
Numb. xiii. 33 and
The Titans: par
150. "Like whom the Gentiles," etc. ticularly Atlas.
181. "Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale." Samson's native district in Dan. See his life in Judges; also Josh.
xv. 33 and xix. 41.
191-193. "In prosperous days," etc. Perhaps from Milton's own experience immediately after the Restoration. 209. "drove me transverse," i.e. out of my course, referring to the previous image of the ship.
219. "Timna." See Judges xiv. I, where the word is
219-226. "she pleased me, not my parents," etc. Judges xiv. 2-4.
229. "Dalila." Observe the pronunciation Dalíla. See Par. Lost, IX. 1061, and note there.
241-255. That fault I take not on me," etc. with an