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IN OBITUM PROCANCELLARII MEDICI.
4. “ Täpeti ... nepotes”: Iapetus, son of Heaven and Earth, the father of Prometheus, etc., was regarded by the Greeks as the general ancestor of mankind. 5. “Tanaro." See note, Eleg. Quinta, 65, 66.
non ferus Hercules Nessi venenatus cruore Æmathiâ jacuisset Etâ.” The death of Hercules was caused by his having been induced by his wife Dejanira, in her jealousy, to put on the blood-stained shirt of the centaur Nessus, whom he had himself slain with a poisoned arrow; and the funeral-pyre of the hero, whence he ascended to the gods, was on the top of Mount Eta, on the borders of Thessaly and Macedonia, and hence called Æmathian or Macedonian (see note, Sonnet “Captain or Colonel ”). Warton cites from Horace (Epod. XVII. 31, 32) the phrase “ Atro delibutus Hercules Nessi cruore."
13, 14. " fraude turpi · Palladis ... occisum ... Hectora.” In the Iliad (XXII.) the encounter of Hector with Achilles is brought about by a deception of the goddess Pallas, which Hector does not discover till the combat is begun and he is about to receive his death-stroke.
15, 16. “ Quem larva Pelidis peremit ense Locro, Jove lacrymante”: i.e. Sarpedon, a son of Jupiter, fighting on the Trojan side, and killed by Patroclus, who wore the armour of Achilles, and is therefore called his larva or phantom (Iliad, XVI.) For the ense Locro Mr. Keightley accounts thus : “Because Menoetius, the father of Patroclus, was a Locrian."--"Jove lacrymante” is an allusion to the
" bloody drops which Jupiter, in the Iliad, shed on the earth when he consented that Sarpedon should die.
17. “verba Hecatëia” : words of witchcraft, from Hecate (see note, Comus, 135). Ovid, as Warton noted, has “Hecateïa carmina” (Met. XIV. 44).
18. “Telegoni parens": Circe, mother of Telegon by Ulysses. Ovid, as Warton remarked, calls Circe by the same name (Epist. ex Pont. III. i. 123).
20. "Ægiali soror": Medea, whose brother was Absyrtus, called also Ægialeus.
21. “ Numenque trinum": the three Fates. See note, Lycid. 75.
22. Artes,” etc. Mr. Keightley notes the awkward cæsura in this line.
23, 24. “Machaon,” etc. Machaon, son of the god Æsculapius, ,
“ was physician or surgeon-in-chief to the Greeks in the Trojan War, and was killed by Eurypylus. Warton remarked, after Steevens, that the death of Machaon by the spear of Eurypylus is not in the Iliad itself, but is related circumstantially in the continuation of the Iliad by the Greek poet Quintus Calaber, or Quintus Smyrnæus. He notes that this author, “not at present very familiar to boys of seventeen,” was, according to Phillips, one of the classics read by Milton with his pupils. The fact in the text, however, may have been within Milton's information indirectly in 1626.
25, 26. “ Philyreie," etc. : Cheiron, the wise centaur and physician, son of Saturn and Philyra, and tutor of Achilles, Æsculapius, and so many other heroes. See Eleg. IV., and note there. He died from an accidental wound from one of the poisoned arrows of Hercules. There are various accounts of the manner of the accident; but Milton follows Ovid, Fast. V. 379 et seq. ; where Cheiron is called “Philyreius heros," and the hopelessness of his wound is thus described :
Sanguine Centauri Lernææ sanguis Echidnæ
Mixtus ad auxilium tempora nulla dabant." 28. “Case puer genetricis alvo": Æsculapius, the God of Medicine himself, son of Apollo and Coronis, and brought into the world in this fashion when his mother was destroyed. He was killed at last by Jove's lightning, because Pluto complained that he had saved the lives of so many.
29. “Tuque, O alumno major Apolline." The "tu" is the dead medical Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Gostlyn, the subject of the poem (see Introd. I. pp. 282, 283); but the expletive phrase has puzzled commentators. Warton was sure that “ Apolline” is a misprint for “ Apollinis "; but, having made the change, and so translated the passage “And thou, O greater than the pupil of Apollo,” he was uncertain who this "pupil of Apollo” might be. As he could hardly be Æsculapius, who was not so much the pupil of his father Apollo in the medical art as of Cheiron, to whom his father had entrusted his education, Warton ingeniously suggested Iapis, the son of Iasos, celebrated by Virgil (Æn. XII. 391 et seq.) thus :
“ Jamque aderat Phoebo ante alios dilectus Iapis
Iasides ; acri quondam cui captus amore
Now, if we are forced to the reading “ Apollinis,” Iapis may certainly be the “alumnus.” But are we forced to that reading ? If“ Apolline” were a misprint in the edition of 1645, it was not likely to escape correction in the edition of 1673. Why not retain “Apolline” and translate alumno," not “pupil,” but “tutor” “ foster-father”? There are examples of this. The meaning would then be “And thou (Gostlyn) greater in medicine than thy tutor Apollo.”
31. “Cirrha”: a town at the foot of Parnassus, and therefore not far from the Mount Helicon of the next line.
37. “ fila rupit Persephone tua.” After Proserpine or Persephone became Queen of Hades, she regulated the deaths of human beings, cutting the threads of their lives herself or by Atropos.
45. “ Æaci.” Æacus was co-judge of the dead with Minos and Rhadamanthus.
IN QUINTUM NOVEMBRIS.
1. "Jam pius extremâ veniens Täcobus ab arcto.” James came from Scotland in 1603, and the Gunpowder Plot attempt was on the 5th of November 1605. “ Pius Täcobus” is conventional. See note, In Prod. Bomb. No. 2.
2, 3. " Teucrigenas populos ... regna Albionum." In the old British legends, as afterwards compiled by Milton in his History of Britain, the Britons are Troy-sprung or Teucrigenæ (from Teucer, ancestor of the Trojans), inasmuch as the true founder of the British realm was Brutus with his Trojan colony, B.C. 1150; but before that time the island had been called Albion, and its inhabitants Albiones, from a giant Albion, son of Neptune, who ruled it for a while about
B.C. 2 2 20.
7-47. “ Cum ferus ignifluo regnans Acheronte tyrannus,
Eumenidum pater, æthereo vagus exul Olympo,
Fortè ” etc. In the whole of this description of Satan out on wing surveying the round of our globe, and indeed in the ideas and construction of this Latin poem generally, written in Milton's eighteenth year, Warton detected "an early and promising prolusion" to Paradise Lost. I can confirm the observation. The Satan of this Latin poem is, in sketch, though with concentration of his energies on one act, the Satan of Paradise Lost, or more particularly that Satan as he is continued into Paradise Regained; and the tenacity of the conception through forty years of Milton's life is remarkable.—It is no contradiction of this that Milton in this poem invests Satan at the outset with classic names and epithets, calling him, for example, “father
of the Eumenides or Furies," as Pluto was in some of the mythologies, and Acheron in others, and representing him as “exiled from Olympus.”
13. “ Illic unanimes odium struit inter amicos”: an adaptation, as Richardson noted, of Virgil, Æn. VII. 335, 336 :
" Tu potes unanimes armare in prælia fratres,
Atque odiis versare domos." 23
" Summanus”: an old and rather rare name for Pluto, a contraction of " Summus manium,” Chief of the Dead. Ovid has the name, Fast. VI. 731.
27—30. “ Neptunia proles ... qui,” etc. This is the giant Albion (see note to lines 2, 3). He had ruled our island forty-four years and given it his name, Milton tells us in his summary of the legends (Hist. of Britain), “ till at length, passing over into Gaul, in aid of his brother Lestrygon, against whom Hercules was hasting out of Spain into Italy, he was there slain in fight.” Hercules is called Amphitryonides, after his putative father Amphitryon, his real father being Jupiter. All this, Milton says in the last line, happened before the age of the Trojan War: in the legendary chronology (note 2, 3) it was no less than a thousand years before that age.
31—33. “At simul hanc, opibusque et festâ pace beatam," etc. Here, as Warton noted, a phrase is borrowed from Ovid's description of Envy, Met. II. 790—796, and the whole of that passage is recollected :
“ Adopertaque nubibus atris,
Vixque tenet lacrymas, quia nil lacrymabile cernit.”
Qualia Trinacriâ ... clausus in Ætnâ ... Typhæus." The hideous hundred-headed giant Typhon or Typheus, after frightening all the gods, was crushed down by Jupiter under the fires of Mount Ætna.
38. “adamantinus.” So in First Edition ; misprinted “adamantius" in Second. 39. " Dentis
cuspide cuspis." Evidently Milton meant to make the sound of this line an echo to the sense.
45. “natat.” Misprinted “notat” in Second Edition.
48. “ Jamque pruinosas velox superaverat Alpes.” Steevens referred to Lucan, I. 183:
“ Jam gelidas Cæsar cursu superaverat Alpes.”
49–53. “A parte sinistrâ nimbifer Apenninus," etc. : i.e. Satan,
А after crossing the Alps, and entering Italy, makes direct for Rome by a route which keeps the Apennines on his left hand as he flies and Tuscany in the main on his right. He has a pleasure in looking at Tuscany, as the old Etruria so famous for its magic and superstitions. 53. “Mavortigenæ . . . Quirini”: i.e. Romulus, the son of Mars, *
: called Quirinus after he was deified, though Mars himself is also called Quirinus.
54–63. "lucem, cum circumgreditur totam Tricoronifer urbem," etc. With malicious ingenuity Milton makes Satan arrive in Rome, on his diabolical errand, on the eve of St. Peter's Day (to be exact, let us say June 28, 1605), when the Pope went in procession through the city, with his Cardinals preceding him, and there was all the unusual stir and ceremonial in consequence, with gatherings of priests and friars of all orders, a great service in St. Peter's, etc. In the satirical and semi-humorous tone of the description throughout one sees young Milton's willing sympathy with the utmost intensity of the English Protestant feeling of his time. 57.
"submisso." So in Second Edition : "summisso” in First. 64–67. "Qualiter exululat Bromius, Bromiique," etc. Not even will Milton's love of music let him praise the thunders of singing with which he fancies the vaults and dome of St. Peter's resounding on that Eve. No; they were like the howling of Bacchus (here called by his surname of Bromius, "the Roaring”) and of the crew of Bacchus, singing their orgies on the Echionian mountain Aracynthus, while the neighbouring river Asopus trembles at the din, and the farther-off Mount Cithæron answers with his rocky echoes. Echionian is properly “Theban,” and both Asopus and Cithæron were in Boeotia, near Thebes; but Aracynthus, called also Actæus, was in Acarnania, more than a hundred miles west from Thebes, and quite out of the range of Baotian echoes. Mr. Keightley fancies that Milton was misled in his topography by Virgil, Ecl. II. 24:
Amphion Dircæus in Actæo Aracyntho," where “Amphion Dircæus" means "the Theban Amphion."
71-73 Captum oculis Typhlonta,” etc. The horses of Night are familiar creatures in classic poetry; and Spenser has them, F. Q. I. v., where they are described thus (stanza 20):
" Before the dore her iron charet stood,
Already harnessèd for journey new,