Argument. Milton announces that he intends to follow the classical epic practice of beginning an epic narrative in medias res, in the middle of things, and only later coming back, by reported action, to the action "past over" here. The story of the rebel angels being "driven out of Heaven...into the great Deep," for example, is narrated in book 6.

Death into the World, and all our woe. This locution echoes fairly closely Virgil's narrative voice in Aeneid book 4, announcing that death and woe followed the ersatz nuptials of Aeneas and Dido:

To the same cave come Dido and the Trojan chief. Primal earth and nuptial Juno give the sign; fires flashed in heaven, the witness to their bridal, and on the mountain-top screamed the Nymphs. That day was the first day of death, that the first cause of woe. (Trans. H. Rushton Fairclough in Virgil vol. 1 [Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press, 1935] 407)
See also the Perseus Project edition of this passage.

Pandemonium. Literally, "all the demons." Milton coins the name for the assembly hall of devils whose erection is recounted at the end of book 1.

one greater Man. The Messiah.

Heav'nly Muse. Is the "Heavenly Muse" invoked here the same as the "Urania," traditionally the muse of astronomy, invoked at book 7.1? More likely, contemporary readers would have first thought of the "Holy Spirit," as the inspiration of Moses.

Oreb. Moses, "That Shepherd," received the Law on Mt. Horeb (Deuteronomy 4: 10) or its spur, Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19: 20).

adventrous Song. Note the similarities between Milton's opening and the opening lines of Virgil's Aeneid and of Homer's Odyssey. Milton wants not only to compare his project to the ancient epics, but also himself to those poets and his main character, Adam, to their celebrated heroes. All of these comparisons raise interesting and complicated questions of authority, heroism, and nationalism in art.

chosen seed.The people of Israel. See Exodus 19-20.

In the Beginning. The opening words of both Genesis (Geneva) and the Gospel of John (Geneva).

Sion. To the haunts of the classical muses near the Castalian spring on Mt. Parnassus, Milton prefers to claim Mt. Sion and its brooks Kidron and Siloa, a kind of biblically authorized Parnassus.

out of Chaos. One of Milton's several heterodox positions. Orthodoxy held that God created everything ex nihilo, out of nothing (the "void" of Genesis 1:2; See Calvin's Commentary on Genesis). Milton borrows the concept of chaos, or unformed matter, from Hesiod and Platonic philosophy (especially the Timaeus 53b). Milton was also a monist, holding that all things were created out of God; see book 5.468-490.

Aonian Mount. Mt. Helicon, in Aonia, sacred to the classical muses.

Line 16. The line ironically (maybe even sarcastically?) recalls the stanza 2 of canto 1 of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso.

Dove-like. The Holy Spirit appears as a dove in John 1: 32. See also Paradise Regain'd 1.30-1.

brooding on the vast Abyss. Milton's "brooding" is a better translation of the Hebrew than the familiar "moved upon the face of the waters" of the Authorized version of Genesis 1:2.

pregnant. Milton invites us to imagine the Holy Spirit copulating with the unformed matter of Chaos ("the vast Abyss"). In Milton's monism, distinctions between spirit and matter are not absolute.

Say first. Compare this with Homer's invocation to the muse in the Iliad 1.8.

one restraint. That is, the single injunction against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2: 17).

Lords of the World. According to Genesis 1:28, human beings were created to "have dominion" over the rest of creation.

Hurld headlong flaming. This description recalls Pieter Bruegel's Fall of the Rebel Angels (about 1562). See also William Blake's 1808 watercolor illustration of the rebel angels' fall (told by Raphael at 6.864-66).

Adamantine. Unbreakable, rocklike.

Nine times the Space. In Hesiod's Theogony 664-735, the Titans take a similar fall at the hands of Zeus. Interestingly, though Milton alludes to the fall of the Titans here, he likens their nine-day fall, not to the fall of the rebel angels, but to the time they spent lying vanquished on the fiery gulf after their fall. Raphael, in book 6, line 871, however, tells Adam that the rebel angels fell for "Nine dayes".

kenn. Range; which in the case of angels must be presumed to be nearly limitless.

hope never comes. A deliberate echo of Dante's Inferno 3.9: "All hope abandon ye who enter here."

thir. Their. Milton's preferred spelling was "thir," and Flannagan reports that "their" was changed to "thir" in later stages of the 1674 edition. The same is true of line 499 and other lines.

from the Center to ... the Pole. Milton asks us to refer to the Ptolemaic model of the universe with the earth at the center of nine concentric spheres. On Milton's cosmology, Ptolemaic or Copernican, see also book 8. 119-68.

Beelzebub. "God of the flies" or "Chief of the devils." See Matthew 10: 25, Mark 3: 22, and Luke 11: 15. See also Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy 1.2.1-2 (search the Dartmouth Library catalogue); see also the Wikipedia entry.

call'd Satan. Originally Lucifer, "bringer of light," his name in heaven is changed to Satan, "enemy."

Gods. That is, the strength of empyreal angels, virtually gods.

eternal Warr. To speak of "eternal war" is to be quite doubtful about the prospects for victory.

thralls. Slaves.

rood. A rod, a variable measure of six to eight yards.

Titanian. For Hesiod's story of Zeus's (Jove's) war with the giants, the Titans and Briareos, see Theogony 713-16. Also see Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 325-31 and 346-58.

Typhon. See Theogony 819-85.

Leviathan. See Isaiah 27:1 and Job 41.

incumbent. Literally "pressing upon."

Pelorus. In Sicily, the peninsula of Pelorus is dominated by Mt. Aetna. See Virgil's Aeneid 3. 570-77.

Sublim'd with Mineral fury. Vaporized by the volcano's fire.

Stygian. Styx was, in classical mythology, one of the rivers of hell; thus Stygian connotes hellish.

Clime. Climate.

Sovran. Sovereign.

The mind is its own place. See Satan's later speech on the relationship between self, mind, and place: 4.75.

serve in Heav'n. But see Abdiel's (chronologically) prior warning to Satan: 6. 178-88. Homer's Odysseus says that when he interviewed Achilles in the underworld, Achilles expressed an attitude opposite to Satan's: "I would rather be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than king of kings among the dead" (Odyssey 11.363-65).

Ethereal temper. Tempered in ethereal (heavenly) fire. Aeneas's shield was said to have been forged in the netherworld by Vulcan and was blazoned with stories of gods and heroes (Aeneid 8).

Optic Glass. Telescope. Galileo (1564-1642) was one of the earliest makers of telescopes; he was the first to make one powerful enough to view the surface of the moon. See Denise Albanese's (New Science, New World, 125) consideration of the allusions to Galileo and his telescope here and in 3.588-590.

Tuscan artist. Galileo (1564-1642). Milton visited him and saw his telescope in Valdarno, the valley of the Arno. Galileo's telescope and the observations he made with it supported the Copernican model of the cosmos over the Ptolemaic model, much to the Church's chagrin. Galileo spent most of the last years of his life under house arrest, ordered by the Church.

Fesole. Fiesole, a hill town near Florence.

Valdarno. The Arno valley, where Florence is located.

Ammiral. Admiral or flagship.

Marle. "A kind of soil consisting principally of clay mixed with carbonate oflime, forming a loose unconsolidated mass, valuable as a fertilizer. The marl of lakes is a white, chalky deposit consisting of the moulderingremains of Mollusca, Entomostraca, and partly of fresh-water algae" (OED2).

Nathless. Nevertheless.

Vallombrosa. A famously shady valley near Florence.

Etrurian shades. "Etrurian" is another way of saying Etruscan, that is of or from Tuscany, a region of Italy. "Shades" leaves both positive (cool and pleasant) and negative (ghosts) impressions, complicated further by Vallambrosa's suggestion of a valley of shadows or shades (Psalm 23:4 and Dante's Inferno 3.112-15).

sedge. Seaweed.

Orion. A "stormy" constellation in Aeneid 1. 535 and 4. 73.

Busirus. The Greek name for Pharaoh, in this instance as leader of the Egyptian (Memphian, from Memphis) cavalry (chivalry) who chased the Israelites across the Red Sea and was drowned by the returning seas.

Sojourners of Goshen. The Israelites.

Cherubim and Seraphim. Two orders or ranks of angels. Images of Cherubim stood by the sanctuary in the temple at Jerusalem.

evil . . . good. Compare to 12.471.

Amrams Son. Moses. See Exodus 10: 12-15.

Cope. "Cope of heaven" was a common expression in Milton's day, indicating "the over-arching canopy or vault of heaven" (OED2). The cope of hell is even more imaginable as a vaulted ceiling.

thir great Sultan. Satan as Sultan, or "the sovereign or chief ruler of a Muslim country" OED2. The poem literally demonizes Islam rulers.

the populous North. In accounts of the fall of Rome, the place from which the invading barbarian hordes were thought to have come.

Rhene or the Danaw. Rhine and Danube rivers. The narrator compares the devils to the hordes of "barbarians" who invaded Rome.

Got them new Names. Many Church Fathers believed the fallen angels came to be known and worshipped as pagan deities. See Tertullian, Apologeticum 22-24.

Devils ... for Deities. That is to say that, though nameless at this time and blotted from the book of life in heaven, the fallen angels later came to be named by fallen men as pagan gods.

Moloch. Literally "King." See Milton's description of his worship in the Nativity Ode 205-12. See also the Catholic Encyclopedia on Moloch.

children's cries unheard. The cries of children being sacrificed to Moloch were drowned out by drums and timbrels.

Ammonite. Non-Hebrew tribe mentioned in 2 Samuel 12: 26-27. The Israelites destroyed the "sons of Ammon" near the Moabite border stream of Arnon in Argob and Basan.

Rabba. The capital of the Ammonites, Rabbah; now Amman in Jordan.

Argob, Basan, Arnon. Lands east of the Dead Sea, where Moloch was worshipped, now part of Jordan.

Hill. See 2 Kings 23: 13.

Hinnom. See Jeremiah 19: 6. Gehenna, or Gehinnom, is Hebrew for the place or valley of the damned, especially the valley where Moloch was worshipped with human sacrifices.

Chemos. Chemosh a Moabite diety to whom Solomon built a shrine according to 1 Kings 11:7. See also Numbers 21: 29.

Aroar. Aroer, now Arair in modern Jordan.

Nebo. A southern Moabite town; also the name of the mountain from which Moses first glimpsed the promised land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 32:49).

Abarim. Hill of western Moab, overlooking the Jordan and the Dead Sea.

Hesebon. Heshbon and Horonaim were Amorite cities. Sihon (Milton's Seon) was king of the Amorites.

Sibma. Region east of the Jordan famous for its wine. Elealeh, a nearby city.

Asphaltick Pool. The Dead Sea.

Israel in Sittim. The Isrealites "began to commit whoredom" with the daughters of Moab at Shittim, on the flight from Egypt to Canaan. See Numbers 25: 1-3.

Hill of scandal. The place just east of the Jerusalem temple, across the Kidron valley, often called the Mount of Olives, where Solomon erected shrines to pagan dieties like Moloch, Baal, Chemosh, and Ashtoreth. King Josiah, according to 2 Kings 23, destroyed these "abominations."

Josiah. See 2 Kings 23: 10.

Brook. According to Fowler, the river Besor.

Baalim and Ashtaroth. Plural forms of Baal and Astarte. Baal-Peor was one of several sites for the worship of Baal, often depicted as a calf or other beasts. Astarte was a middle eastern goddess of fertility and war.

Essence pure. The bodilessness of spirits and angels comes up in another context in 8.615-629.

cumbrous. Cumbersome.

Sidonian. Phonician.

Sion. Israel's promised land.

th' offensive Mountain. Presumably the same site as the "Hill of Scandal" above (416).

uxorious King. That is, Solomon, who had several hundred wives (uxor being Latin for wife). Milton tends to link adultery with idolatry, as did the biblical authors in the expression, "whoring after false gods."

Thammuz. Tammuz, lover and spouse of Sumerian Inanna (Ishtar in Akkadian and Astarte in the Bible). Often identified with Adonis, his death was celebrated in the spring.

Adonis. The Lebanese river Adonis, red with mud in the summer.

Sions daughters. Israelite women.

the dark Idolatries. See Ezekiel 8: 14.

alienated. That is, alienated from God; apostate.

grunsel. Groundsill or threshold.

Dagon. Philistine sea-God. When the Philistines captured the ark of the Lord and placed it in Dagon's temple, the idol was found dismembered the next morning. See 1 Samuel 5: 4. See also Samson Agonistes 13.

Azotus. Ashdod, along with Askelon and Ekron, were three of the five principal cities of Philistia; the others were Gath and Gaza.

Rimmon. Hadad, the west Semitic god of storms.

Damascus. Damascus is the capital city of Syria.

A Leper once he lost. When the prophet Elisha told the Syrian Naaman that bathing in the Jordan would cure his leprosy, Naaman scoffed, asking "Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?"; when he later bathed in the Jordan and was cured, he worshipped the God of Israel. See 2 Kings 5. Israel's King Ahaz, however, built an altar to Rimmon (2 Kings 16).

Osiris, Orus, Isis. Osiris was perhaps the most important god of ancient Egypt. Isis was his consort and mother of Horus.

The Calf. Exodus 32: 1-20.

Rebel King. Jereboam. See 1 Kings 12: 28-30.

equal'd with one stroke. See Exodus 12: 12.

Belial. Belial a Vulgate synonym for Satan, but here a separate devil. Also the Hebrew word for "worthless." "Sons of Belial" means good-for-nothings. See Paradise Regain'd 2.150.

Ely's sons. See 1 Samuel 2: 12-25.

flown. Flying free like a sheet, halyard or sail that has come loose in a wind and flies dangerously free without check.

worse rape. See the stories in Genesis 19:4-13 and Judges 19. Milton's notion that rape of men is "worse" than rape of women, even when a "Matron" is raped to death, appears supported by the biblical accounts.

Javan. Japhet's son and therefore Noah's grandson (Genesis 10:2). The Geneva notes to Genesis 10:2 identify Javan as the progenitor of the "Medes and the Grekes," so Milton identifies him with Ion, the progenitor of the Ionian Greeks according to Pausanias's Description of Greece 7.1.4.

boasted Parents. Heaven and Earth, according to many ancient poets, were the parents of the Titans. Milton casts some doubt here upon these claims with the term "boasted," implying pretence. See Apollodorus' Library 1.1.1; also Virgil's Aeneid 4.254. According to Hesiod's Theogony 126-139, Chaos was the first being, then the earth came to be the foundation of "the deathless ones." The children of Chaos were Erebus (a place of darkness between earth and Hades) and Night, whose union produced Aether (air) and Day. Earth gave birth to Heaven, with whom she later copulated to produce the Titans: Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion, Iapetus, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. She also gave birth to Chronus (Saturn), the cyclopes and various other monsters. According to Apollodorus' Library 1.1.4-1.1.7, the Titans and Titanides (female Titans) were cast by the gods into Hades and, in revenge for this, Earth spurred them on to rebellion, giving Chronos a special sickle with which he cut off Heaven's testicles and threw them into the sea. Assuming dominion over creation, Cronus (Saturn) coupled with his sister Rhea and she became pregnant with Zeus (Jove) who, according to prophecy, killed his father to become king of the Gods.

Creet. Crete. Rhea, pregnant with Zeus, feared that Chronus would try to destroy the child prophesied to supplant him, so she hid in Crete and bore Zeus in a cave there. She gave the infant Zeus into the care of the Cretans and the nymphs Adrastia and Ida (Apollodorus' Library 1.1.6.)

Olympus. Mountain in northern Thessaly reputed to be the home of the gods.

Delphian. The oracle of Apollo was at Delphi, the Delphian oracle; that of Zeus was at Dodona. See Herodotus' Histories 1.46.

Doric Land. Greece.

Adria. The Adriatic Sea.

Hesperian Fields. The land of the westering sun, or Italy.

utmost Isles. The British isles.

Azazel. Hebrew word for "scapegoat." See Leviticus 16:8-20. According to some Cabbalistic writers, one of the four standard bearers of Satan's army.

Chaos. In Milton's cosmology, Chaos and Night reigned over the "eternal anarchy," the formless void between hell and heaven. See Regina Schwartz's excellent discussion of Chaos in Remembering and Repeating: Biblical Creation in Paradise Lost.

Phalanx. In Greek antiquity, "a body of heavy-armedinfantry drawn up in close order, with shields joined and long spearsoverlapping; especially famous in the Macedonian army" OED2).

Dorian. "Of Doris or Doria, a division of ancient Greece. The Dorian mode in Music was one of theancient Grecian modes, characterized by simplicity and solemnity; also, the first of the 'authentic' ecclesiastical modes" (OED2).

swage. Assuage.

Warr'd on by Cranes. In Iliad 3. 1-5, Homer compares the cries of the Trojans to the sound made by cranes in their annual rush to the sea, when they slaughter pygmies in their path.

Phlegra. In Ovid's Metamorphoses 10. 233, the giants battle the gods on the plain of Phlegra in Macedonia.

Theb's. The "Heroic Race" are the seven heroes of the Trojan war in Statius' Thebaid and Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes.

Uther's Son. King Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon.

Armoric. From Brittany in the north of France.

Aspramont or Montalban. Castles in chivalric romances, sites of great international tournaments.

Damasco, Morocco, Trebisond. Sites from chivalric romances of famous tournaments between Christian and pagans or "infidels" (Moslems). These sites and those mentioned above, figure prominently on Arisoto's romance epic, Orlando Furioso 17.14 and 18.158.

Biserta. Legendary versions of history tell of Muslims setting out from Bizerte in Tunisia to conquer Carolingian Spain; actually Muslims invaded Spain in 711, some 30 years before Charlemagne's birth. Modern Fuenterrabia is in northern Spain.

dim Eclips. See a photo of a total solar eclipse.

Perplexes Monarchs. Until modern times, eclipses were believed to portend the fall of monarchs and emperors.

amerc't. Deprived.

th' event. The result.

puissant. Powerful and courageous.

custome. Milton frequently scorned the role played by "custom" in politics, religion and law. See Areopagitica; and a second place in Areopagitica. See also the Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce book 1 and book 2; and The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.

fame. Rumor.

Pioners. Pioneers, trench-diggers.

Mammon. His name is Aramaic for "wealth." Milton also alludes to Spenser's Mammon in the Faerie Queene 2.7.

downward bent. Compare this to Satan at the bottom of the stairs to heaven in 3.542.

Babel. The famous tower of Babel, erected by Nimrod; see Genesis 11:4 and PL 12.38-62. See also Pieter Bruegel's depiction of the Tower of Babel (1563).

Memphian. Egyptian. Milton refers to the great pyramids of the Pharaohs.

bossy Sculptures. Embossed and engraved sculptures.

fretted Gold. OED2: "Adorned with carving in elaborate patterns; carved or wrought intodecorative patterns."

Alcairo. Cairo.

Belus or Serapis. Belus is Latinized Bel, Mesopotamian god of the air, also know to the ancient Hebrews as Baal (Jeremiah 51:44). Sarapis is a Greco-Egyptian god of the sun.

Cressets. Iron basket lamps.

Ausonian land. Italy.

Mulciber. Vulcan or Hephaistos in Greek. The gods' smith. According to legend, Hephaistos was born by Hera, queen of the gods, without any sire. Hera threw him down to Hades, but he was rescued by his own wit with the help of Dionysius. See Pausanias' Description of Greece 1.20.3.

they relate. Homer, in Iliad 1. 591-5 and Lucretius in Elegia 7 tell the story of Hephaistos's fall.

Pandæmonium. Milton coined the word from familiar Greek lexemes: pan meaning "all"; daimon meaning "demon" or "mortal-to-god go-between"; and ion, meaning "assembly" as in Panathenaion, "assembly of all."

awful. Awe-inspiring.

Paynim. Pagan. The 1674 copy text has "Panim" as in 1667, but the manuscript of PL 1 has a "y" inserted with a caret (Flannagan), so I have restored the "y." "Soldan" is Sultan.

Bees. Homer describes the Achaean assembly (Iliad 2. 87-90) and Virgil the Carthaginians (Aeneid 1.430-36) as busy bees.

Pigmean Race. In his Natural History 7. 26, Pliny locates the land of the Pygmies in the mountains beyond the source of the Ganges.

some belated Peasant. Milton echoes the episode of Bottom's dream in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream 4.1.

conclave. The word deliberately alludes to the secret conclave of cardinals who elect the pope, thus insinuating the demonic character of such meetings.