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THIS first book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed. Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now fallen into hell, described here, not in the centre, for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed, but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos: Here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; they rise; their numbers, array of battel, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a.new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven: for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandamonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal Peers there sit in council.
Or Man's first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Orlando Innam. di
16 v. Ariosto Orl. Fur. c. i. st. 2. Boiardo, rifac. da Berni, lib. ii. c. xxx. st. 1.
'Com' avvien, che ne in prosa è detta, o in rima
Cosa, che non sia stata detta prima.' Bowle, Pearce.
19 Instruct] Theoc. Id. xxii. 116.
εἰπὲ θεά. σὺ γὰρ οἶσθα. Newton.
That to the height of this great argument
And justify the ways of God to men.
Say first, for heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
Nine times the space that measures day and night
38 Who] v. Hom. Il. i. 8. Hume.
48 adamantine] v. Spenser. Together link'd in adamantine chains.' See Todd's Note.
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
As one great furnace, flam'd; yet from those flames No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace 65
For those rebellious; here their prison ordain'd
63 darkness visible] v. Senecæ Ep. 57. de Crypt, Neapol 'Nihil illis faucibus obscurius; quæ nobis præstant, ut non per tenebras videamus, sed ut ipsas.' Bentl. MS.
66 hope] Compare Jer. Taylor's Contemplations, p. 211, and see Todd's Note, p. 18.
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelm'd
And thence in heav'n call'd Satan, with bold words Breaking the horrid silence, thus began.
If thou beest he-But O how fall'n! how chang'd From him, who in the happy realms of light, Cloath'd with transcendent brightness, didst out
Myriads, though bright! If he, whom mutual league,
85 Isaiah, xiv. 12. Virg. Æn. ii. 274.
'Hei mihi! qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab illo!' Newton. 98 high] Spens. F. Queen. b. i. c. i. s. 19. grief, and high disdain.'