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Not to be overpow'r’d, companions dear,
themselves and annoy their ene- So Prometheus in like manner
Due search and consultation will disclose.
He sat; and in th’ assembly next upstood
And cloudy in aspéct thus answ’ring spake.
Deliverer from new lords, leader to free
Ruin must needs ensue; for what avails
But live content, which is the calmest life:
447. Nisroch,J A god of the Assyrians, in whose temple at Nineveh, Sennacherib was killed by his two sons, 2 Kings xix. 37. and Isaiah xxxvii. 37. It is not known who this god Nisroch was. The Seventy call him Meserach in Kings, and Nasarach in Isaiah; Josephus calls him Araskes. He must have been a principal idol, being worshipped by so great a prince, and at the capital city Nineveh; which may justify Milton in calling him of
He who therefore can invent With what more forcible we may offend
Principalities the prime.
462. —the worst
Qf evils.) Nisroch is made to talk agreeably to the sentiments of Hieronymus and those philosophers, who maintained that pain was the greatest of evils; there might be a possibility of living without pleasure, but there was no living in pain. A notion suitable enough to a deity of the effeminate Assyrians.
Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.
Not uninvented that, which thou aright
Believ'st so main to our success, I bring.
467. to me deserves No less than for delirerance nhat me oute.] Nisroch is speaking; he had complimented Satan (ver. 451.) with the title of Deliverer; here he ventures to say, that whoever could invent the new engine of war would be equal to him in his estimation. Milton has taken care that this deliverer should also have this merit, and be without a competitor; Satan is both the one and the other as it follows immediately. Richardson. 472. Which of us who beholds the bright surface Of this ethereous mould &c.] Dr. Bentley, for the sake of a better accent, reads stirface bright; but surfice is to be read
with the accent upon the last syllable, and not as it is commonly pronounced, for Milton would hardly use a trochaic foot at the end of the verse. Dr. Bentley reads likewise this ethereal mould; and it is true Milton commonly uses the word ethereal, but that is no reason why he may not say likewise ethereous, which is nearer the Latin arthereus. The construction of this sentence is, Which of us who beholds &c. so superficially surveys these things: but as the nominative case which of us is mentioned so many lines before the verb surveys, he throws in another nominative case,
Whose eye so superficially surveys
These in their dark nativity the deep
482. —the deep) It is commonly used for hell, but here is only opposed to surface, ver.472. and is the same as deep under s: ver. 478. which may ikewise explain the word infernal in the next line. Not but infernal flame may mean flame like that of hell, hell having been frequently mentioned before by the angels, and the idea being very well known.
484. Which into hollon, &c.] Which, that is, the materials, ver. 478. These ver, 482. the deep shall yield, which into hollow engines rammed, with touch of fire shall send forth &c. Hollon engines, great guns, the first invention whereof is very properly ascribed to the author of all evil. And Ariosto has described them in the same manner in his Orlando Furioso, cant. ix. st. 28, or 24 of Harrington's translation; and attributes the invention to the devil. Un ferro bugio, &c.
A trunk of iron hollow made within,
The bullet flies with such a furious
And again, st. 84.
The Thund’rer of his only dreaded bolt.
Oncefound, which yet unfound most would have thought
Impossible: yet haply of thy race 501
Th’ originals of nature in their crude
502. In future days—Some one intent &c.] This speaking in the spirit of prophecy adds great dignity to poetry. It is in the same spirit that Dido makes the imprecation, Virg. AEn. iv. 625.
Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus
This here very properly comes
from the mouth of an angel.
507. Forthwith from council to the work they flew ;] This and the two following lines are admirably contrived to express the hurry of the angels; and consist therefore of short periods, without any particles to connect them.