Introduction. At the center of Milton's epic lies an account of the creation of the world and all the creatures in it. This account is largely modelled on the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2 but departs from it in some interesting ways. Many classical epics contain creation accounts, but Milton doubtless believed his version, based on the Bible, both absorbed and superceded all of them. Two prominent creation epics are Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Also interesting is how Milton uses the Biblical creation narrative as the skeletal structure upon which he hangs his own creative fabric. A cursory comparison of Genesis 1 and 2, and book 7 of Paradise Lost is enough to make the reader aware of the similarity of style and language between the two. At times he simply quotes or lightly paraphrases the Bible and then adds a little explanation. However, his broad departures from the Genesis story pose more complications. The first most glaring difference between the two accounts is that in Genesis, God creates the world while in Milton's version, He commands his Son to do so, thus fully investing the Genesis account with a supercessionist Christian theme. By having the Son shape the world, Milton also poses an important contrast between the two sons of god, one who creates (the Son) and the other who destroys (Satan).

Genesis 1 suggests that male and female humans were created at the same time. Genesis 2 says that Adam was created first, named the animals, and then felt lonely. Recognizing that loneliness was not good (Genesis 2:18) God created a woman to remedy his loneliness. Milton ingeniously deals with the discrepancy by allowing Raphael's account to concur with Genesis 1, and Adam's to correspond to that of Genesis 2, and by having Raphael admit that he was not present at Adam's creation. He further separates the two accounts from each other by placing them in books 7 and 8, respectively. Mary Nyquist's article, "The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity in the Divorce Tracts and Paradise Lost" is still the most important discussion of Milton's attempted reconciliation of Genesis 1 and 2.

Other interesting critical treatments of this part of Paradise Lost include those by Philip Gallagher, Grant McColley and Regina Schwartz. Also see Barbara Lewalski's Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms. Fatima Malik and Thomas H. Luxon.

Urania. The classical muse of astronomy, her name is used to mean "heavenly." This usage is described in line 5 when the epic narrator claims he invokes "The meaning, not the name." See also Britannica Online.

above th' Olympian Hill. The epic narrator implies that by invoking Urania, and following her inspiration, the poet follows a muse that is "higher" (closer to heaven and truth) than the muses that traditionally live on Olympus.

Pegasean. Pegasus is a mythological winged horse, offspring of Poseidon and Medusa (Apollodorus Library 2.3.2) who created the muses' sacred fountain Hippocrene (horse's fount; Pausanias Description of Greece 2.31.9), and is therefore associated with poetic inspiration.

Eternal Wisdom. This view of Wisdom as a character involved in Creation is related in Proverbs 8:29. Milton also alludes to this biblical personification of Wisdom in Tetrachordon.

old Olympus. Mount Olympus is contemptuously called "old" here, just as it is referred to as a mere "hill" in line 3.

borne. Born.

converse. Dwell with in daily intimacy.

Thy tempring. That is, Urania has tempered either the narrator or the empyreal air in order that he, a mortal, might breath the rarified air of heaven.

Bellerophon. A man who attempted to fly to Heaven on Pegasus. Zeus caused Pegasus to throw Bellerophon, and he landed on earth doomed to live out his life blind and alone.

Aleian Field. In Lycia, in modern Turkey, where Bellerophon, according to legend, fell.

Erroneous. Wandering.

Half. The beginning of this book marks the second half of the twelve-book epic.

visible Diurnal Spheare. The visible universe that revolves diurnally (daily) around the earth.

rapt. Transported; a metaphorical use of rapture.

evil dayes. The period following the restoration of the Stuart monarchy was dangerous for Milton, a professed regicide in 1649. He would have considered them "evil dayes" indeed, both for him and for the English people. "Evil tongues" implies that Milton felt he (and the Republican cause) suffered slander.

fit audience. Explicit here is the idea that Milton targeted his epic towards a select few, probably those who in his eyes were true Christians. Also, the political climate just then not being ripe for a regicide like Milton, he shows an awareness that he would not be widely read, at least for a time.

Bacchus. Also known as the Greek god Dionysus, Bacchus was the god of wine, theater and ecstatic poetry. He was also the patron god of the poet Orpheus, and led a group of revellers known as the Bacchantes. Milton's Comus is depicted as the son of Bacchus and Circe (A Mask).

Thracian Bard. Otherwise known as Orpheus, he was torn to pieces by followers of Bacchus after he offended the Bacchantes. (Metamorphoses 11 and "Lycidas" 58-63). Also see Albrecht Durer's 1594 engraving, Death of Orpheus.

Rhodope. A Thracian mountain. Thrace is an ancient name for a Balkan territory.

the Muse. The muse of epic poetry and chief of all nine muses, known as Calliope; she was the mother of Orpheus. The death of Orpheus and the muse/mother's inability to save her poet son is also a major theme in "Lycidas" 58-63.

Say Goddess. Homer invokes his muse in a similar way. See his Iliad 1.1.

Apostacie. Renunciation or breach of faith.

his Race. "Race" here is probably best understood as what we would today call "species," that is, humans as opposed to animals or birds or fish. Our more modern sense of "race" as distinguishing between different groups of humans is based largely in a 19th-century biologism (see Kwame Anthony Appiah's article, "Race" in Lentricchia and McLaughlin, eds. Critical Terms for Literary Study) unknown in Milton's time.

interdicted. Forbidden.

slight. Disregard.

wandring. This word often appears in the poem to imply error (2.561), but here Milton must want us to understand wandering appetite as innocent, even error itself as innocent. The only culpable action in pre-lapsarian Eden would be conscious and deliberate disobedience itself. Following that, errors of all sorts, once innocent, become tainted with evil. Still, the appearance of the word here is calculated to disturb a reader. See also 12.648.

redounded. Struck back.

repeal'd. Abandoned.

conspicious. Conspicuous, visible.

drouth. Thirst, as a simile for Adam's thirst for knowldege.

current. Running.

Divine interpreter. This title recalls Virgil's nickname for Mercury — interpres divom (messenger of heaven): Aeneid 4. 378.

the end. That is, the purpose. Adam says that his and Eve's purpose for being is to obey God's will. Compare this to Eve's own sense of her purpose in life: 4.442.

Fires. Milton here probably means stars and planets which to Adam seem like they have been placed in the sky simply to beautify it.

what cause. Compare with 1.28-9.

florid. Flourishing, beautiful, or full of flowers.

Absolv'd. Completed or finished.

To magnifie his works. Adam makes what seems like an important distinction here between the right and the wrong reasons for wanting to acquire knowledge. He does not want to discover God's secrets, or seek forbidden knowledge; instead he simply wants to extol his Maker's creativity.

suspens. Suspended and attentive.

His Generation. How he was created.

unapparent. Invisible.

watch. To stay awake or keep vigil.

illustrious. Meaning not only eminent, but also luminous.

suffice to comprehend? Not only cannot Raphael, though an angel, fully articulate the works of God, but also he needs to mediate his account so that Adam, a mere human, can understand it.

inferr. Render, or make it possible to deduce more confidently his happiness.

inventions. Speculations and guesswork.

invisible King. 1 Timothy 1: 17 uses the same term for God.

Anough. Enough.

as Nourishment to Winde. The simile compares the result of intellectual intemperance — folly — to the result of alimentary intemperance — farts. Aristotle explicitly denies any such analogy in his Nicomachean Ethics 3. 10: "But we do not speak of men as either temperate or profligate in relation to the pleasures of ambition and of learning. Nor similarly can these terms be applied to the enjoyment of any of the other pleasures that are not bodily pleasures."

brighter once. Satan lost his original heavenly name at the moment of his rebellion. Lucifer or light-bringer (5.658) later comes to be, implies Raphael, an approximation of that lost name popular among humans.

that Starr. Lucifer is the name of the planet Venus as the morning star.

At least. Some editors have emended this phrase to "At last," meaning something like, "in the end," or "at the end of the day." Others compare this expression to 1.258-59, 2.22, and 8.537.

farr the greater part. We are told earlier that approximately one-third of the angelic host rebelled against God along with Satan. See 2.692.

fondly. Foolishly, mistakenly.

open to themselves. This agrees with Raphael's earlier teaching about Adam's progress towards spiritual being in 5.469-501.

inhabit laxe. Spread yourselves out to make up for the reduction of angelic population.

by thee. Milton here departs significantly from the biblical account by making the Son the agent of Creation.

I am who fill. That Milton believed that creation was achieved ex Deo instead of ex nihilo is evident here. Also implicit is the idea that Chaos must be inherently good if it stems from God, which is problematic elsewhere in the book. Compare with lines 211-12.

earthly notion. Human understanding.

Glorie. These lines echo Luke 2:14.

habitations of the just. See Proverbs 3.33.

out of evil. Compare to what Adam says in 12.470-1.

maligne. Evil.

Into thir vacant room. This implies that human beings were created to replace, in some sense, the lost third of the angels.

Sapience. Wisdom.

Father in him shon. This line parallels 3.139 and 6.719-721.

Armoury of God. This refers to the armory of God mentioned in Jeremiah 50: 25.

brazen Mountains. The "brazen mountains" recall Zechariah's vision of four chariots coming from heaven between mountains of brass (Zechariah 6:1).

ever during. Enduring, ever-lasting.

Gates. This suggests the gates of Heaven described in Psalm 24: 9. See also 3.515-539 and 2.881-882 where the sound of Hell's gates is described.

immeasurable Abyss. This recalls Satan's view of Chaos in 2.891-2.

Outrageous. Huge and violent.

Omnific. This word was probably coined by Milton to mean all-creating (see OED2).

fervid. Burning.

the golden Compasses. William Blake imagined much the same image in his The Ancient of Days.

vertue. Power, also particularly masculine or virile (vir-tue) creative power figured as both seminal, but also brooding as a mother hen, a feminine image. See also 1.19-22 and Genesis 1:2.

purg'd. Martha Lifson argues that the importance Milton places on the use of the word in creation highlights the idea of the poet using words to construct his poem. She points out that Milton's word choice here resembles that in 3.52-5 where he talks about his poetic endeavor.

tartareous. Gritty, crusty; like Tartarus, the classical hell.

founded. Gave shape to.

conglob'd. Made into globes or spheres.

Disparted. Divided, separated.

Earth self-balanc't. Milton echoes much that is found in Ovid's account of creation (Metamorphoses 1. 18), even though Ovid's description assumes a geocentric, Ptolemaic view of the cosmos as opposed to the Copernican model supported by Galileo's observations. For Milton, perhaps, the ultimate authority is neither model, but Job 26: 7.

Let ther be Light. The passage is a paraphrase of the account of creation in Genesis 1: 4-8.

the Sun. This account closely follows Genesis which describes the creation of light on the first day in Genesis 1: 4-5 and the creation of the sun and the moon on the fourth day in Genesis 1: 16. Milton ingeniously accounts for the apparent problem by regarding light as created independent of the sun, and figuring light as feminine, the sun as masculine.

past. Passed.

Quires. Choirs.

Firmament. See Genesis 1:6. In this context, "firmament" is used by Milton to describe the entire mass of air and vapor between the earth and the rest of the created universe. This firmament acted as a divider between the "waters above" (the sky) and the "waters below" (the sea).

Round. This world.

circumfluous. Water surrounded all land.

distemper. To disturb the order of.

involv'd. Literally enveloped or surrounded.

Main. The high sea or open ocean (OED2).

Prolific humour. Fertile fluid. The images of prolific humor and embryon waters are more Ovidian than biblical (Metamorphoses 1. 151) They remind one of Lucretius's theories of the origins of organic life (The Nature of Things 5.783-820).

genial. Fertilizing or life-producing.

Waters under Heav'n. See Genesis 1:9.

tumid. Swollen, erect.

conglobing. Forming into spheres or globes.

rapture. Forceful movement.

of Armies thou hast heard. Raphael reminds Adam of the story of the war in heaven that he narrated in book 6. See 6.215-7.

Serpent errour. Winding like a serpent. The image of the serpent foreshadows the drama of book 9. See 9.86.

Oose. Wet mud or slime.

Let th' Earth. See Genesis 1:11-2.

blown. Bloomed.

and. The 1667 edition has "add" instead of "and" here and some critics find this an acceptable reading.

humble. Low-growing.

implicit. Tangled.

gemm'd. Budded.

Seemd like to Heav'n. In book 5, when Raphael first began telling Adam of things in heaven and introduced the doctrine of accomodation, Raphael hypothesized that Earth may be "but the shadow of Heav'n" (5.574-576).

yet not rain'd. This passage is a paraphrase of the Genesis account of the first precipitation on earth (Genesis 2: 5-6).

man to till the ground. Gallagher points out that Milton removes the discrepancy between Genesis 1:11-3 and Genesis 2:5-7 about the creation of vegetation (whether it was made before or after Man's creation) by having it created on the third day but not having it grow because there was no man to till the land, and no rain yet to make things grow.

Let there be Lights. With this line Milton's heavenly narrator returns to the Genesis 1 account of creation. Milton has Raphael interweave the two accounts in order to advance the impression that they are simply two versions of the same story. See Mary Nyquist's important article on this issue: "The Genesis of Gendered Subjectivity in the Divorce Tracts and Paradise Lost."

two great Lights. See Genesis 1:16-8.

altern. Alternately.

vicissitude. Alternation.

Mould. Substance. According to Milton's monism, all substance was originally ethereal (5.470-477).

Globose. Round, spherical.

cloudy Shrine. Refers to the cloudy Tabernacle in line 248 above.

Morning Planet. Venus. Galileo had only recently discovered that Venus has phases, like the moon; hence the horn image.

tincture. Absorption, especially of the sun's light.

small peculiar. Own small light.

the Pleiades. A group of seven stars in the constellation Taurus, the Pleiades, according to legend, were originally seven daughters of Atlas. This may also allude to Job 38: 31.

borrowing her Light. Milton here subtly brings up the superiority of the male by gendering the sun and the moon, and describing the moon as dependant on the sun for its light.

dividual. Shared.

Reptil. Any reptile or creeping creature. See Genesis 1:20-5.

Frie. Young fish.

Sculles. Schools.

Bank. Make a bank with their numbers in mid-sea.

dropt. Spotted, in heraldic usage.

jointed Armour. This probably refers to crustaceans.

Gate. Gait.

Leviathan. See Job 41.

seems a moving Land. So the image of Leviathan that serves as a simile for Satan's enormity in book 1.200-208.

tepid. The caves are lukewarm in order to support life forms.

kindly. Natural.

callow. Unfledged or not ready to fly.

summ'd thir Pens. Had all their feathers.

clang. The harsh cry of a bird.

rang'd in figure wedge thir way. As migrating geese.

born. Borne, supported.

Floats. Undulates.

solemn Nightingal. Milton points out that in prelapsarian times, the nightingale sang not just at dusk, but through the night. Also, he refers to the nightingale more often than any other bird. See 3.38-40; 4.602-4, 648; 5.40; and 8.518-20. see also A Mask 230-43 and Il Penseroso 62.

state. Dignified bearing.

Dank. Water.

Pennons. Wings.

th' other. The peacock.

Mattin. Morning song or prayer of praise.

Foul. Since fowl already have been created on the fifth day (line 389), every modern editor I have consulted (including John Leonard) amends "Foul" here to "Soul." Genesis 1: 24 records the sixth day's creation with the words, "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.'" "Soul living," the argument goes, appears to be a likely equivalent to "living Soul" or "living creature." On the other hand, 1667 has "Fowle" here. 1674 changes the spelling to "Foul," and "Foul" persists in 1678. One might argue that since the spelling was deliberately changed in 1674 to "Foul" (perhaps to insist on a monosyllabic pronunciation) there was ample opportunity to amend it to "Soul" if that was desired. So, contrary to all modern editors, I am sticking with "Foul" here. We already have "living Soule" created on day 5 (line 388), so there seems to me insufficient reason to change a word that persists in every printing from 1674 through 1678.

teem'd. Produced.

perfet. Complete.

wonns. Dwells.

Brake. Clump of bushes.

now half appeer'd. These images are very reminiscent of the autochthonous creation in Ovid's Metamorphoses 1.348.

Brinded. Brindled; streaked or flecked.

main. Mane.

Ounce. Lynx.

Libbard. Leopard.

Behemoth. "A huge biblical beast mentioned in Job 40: 15; in Milton's time this probably referred to an elephant" (Orgel & Goldberg 897).

ambiguous. Amphibious.

River Horse. Hippopotamus.

dect. Decked out, dressed up.

Minims. Smallest creatures.

involv'd. Coiled.

added wings. Raphael describes serpents with wings.

Parsimonious Emmet. Thrifty ant.

Pattern. "The ants may serve as a model for democratic societies" (Orgel & Goldberg 897).

gav'st them Names. See Raphael's account in 6.73-6 and Adam's in 8.342-54. See also Genesis 2:19-20.

suttl'st Beast of all the field. See Genesis 3:1.

Main terrific. A terrifying hairy mane.

Consummate. Completed.

Frequent. In great numbers.

Master work. This idea is similar to that articulated in Ovid's Metamorphoses 1.74-82.

not prone. Standing erect was taken to be a principal distinction of humans from beasts. See Milton's introduction of Adam and Eve in 4.288.

Front. Brow or forehead.

Magnanimous. Literally magna anima or "great-souled."

Let us make now Man in our image. See Genesis 1:26. In Genesis, the plural pronoun seems problematic; Milton removes the problem by having the Father address the Son.

in thy nostrils breath'd. See Genesis 2:7.

Express. Exact, but also manifested; see OED2.

Be fruitful. See Genesis 1:28.

the Tree. The proscription of the Tree of Knowledge and the warning of the death penalty come from Genesis 2: 16-17.

works. Brings about.

attendant Death. Death is here portrayed as Sin's servant, though in book 2.780-814 he is also portrayed as her son and sexual assailant.

ye everlasting Gates. This closely echoes Psalm 24:7.

staid. Both 1674 and 1667 have an additional open parenthesis here; I have omitted it and supplied a comma.

Seav'nth day. See Genesis 2:2-3.

Giant Angels. Satan's rebellion was often compared to the mythical attempt by the Giants to overthrow Jove. The story is told in Hesiod's Theogony 713-720 and in Apollodorus' Library 1.6.3.

from thence creat'st more good. Compare with Adam's statement in 12.470-1.

Hyaline. A translation of the Greek word for glassy; also refers to the "sea of glass" in Revelation 4: 6 (Orgel & Goldberg 898).

Informd by thee might know. Milton here ingeniously solves the problem of how Moses, presumed the writer of Genesis, could have written reliably about the creation of the universe; Adam learned the story from Raphael and the story was passed on from father to son until committed to writing by Moses.