venial. Mistaken; erroneous without being blameworthy or sinful. For example, in book 8, Raphael tells Adam it is a mistake to be overconcerned with matters of no concern to him, but this mistake is nevertheless blameless (8.65-75 and 167-178). Error, in Paradise, is not equivalent to sin. Sin is disobedience.

Tragic. Milton wrote a short essay called "Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call'd Tragedy" and printed it with Samson Agonistes in 1671. See also Aristotle's Poetics 1449b on tragedy.

into this World a world of woe. This line echoes the early lines of book 1, which in turn echo 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.

argument. Subject.

the wrauth. The wrath of Achilles is the epic theme announced at the beginning of Homer's Iliad.

his Foe. Hector: Achilles pursued Hector around the walls of Troy (Iliad 22).

Turnus for Lavinia. A major theme of Virgil's Aeneid is the rage of Turnus for the loss to Aeneas of his beloved Lavinia (Aeneid 7).

the Greek. Odysseus; his wandering at sea was caused by Neptune's (Poseidon's) anger (Odyssey 1.19-20).

Cytherea's son. Aeneas; Milton alludes to two classical heroes hated and persecuted by Gods — Odysseus by Neptune and Aeneas by Juno (Aeneid 1).

answerable. Appropriate, adequate.

Celestial Patroness. Urania, traditionally the muse of astronomy, but adapted by Milton as a figure for both the Holy Spirit (1.1) and his own spiritual inspiration (7.1).

beginning late. Milton wrote Paradise Lost almost seventeen years after he made his earliest sketches of it, originally intended as part of a drama (Orgel & Goldberg). He probably started the epic form of the poem late in life, perhaps as late as age 59.

sedulous. Eager.

Lines 29-31. Milton once again claims that his epic subject is unlike any before, and is more rather than less heroic than they. This echoes earlier boasts (see 1.16) in which Milton refers to the opening lines of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. Milton makes the point repeatedly in Paradise Lost that the true Hero is not the warrior of pagan epics but the warrior who fights by resisting temptation, a sort of "spiritual heroism." See, for example, the angel hero Abdiel in 5.805 and following.

tilting Furniture. Equipment used in jousting (sometimes also called tilting).

Impreses quaint. Imprezas are heraldic symbols on the shields of knights.

Bases. Cloth coverings worn by horses in battle.

Sewers and seneschals. "Sewer" literally means "seater" but also refers to waiter-like servants. A seneschal was the chief steward of a medieval household.

skill of Artifice. Milton implies that his poem is not chiefly a matter of art, but of divine inspiration. Art is a "mean" employment compared to that of divine revelation and prophecy.

cold Climate or Years. Milton refers to the traditional belief that human talents were maimed by cold damp climates and by age. Hughes makes the interesting point that Milton was apparently concerned that "our climate" (Preface to Book 2 of Reason of Church Government) would hinder his ability to write his great epic, an allusion to Aristotle's claim that northern races lacked intelligence (Politics 1327b).

Hesperus. Venus, the evening star.

improv'd. Increased in knowledge; Satan has learned much from spying on Adam and Eve.

Uriel. Uriel earlier spotted Satan in Eden and warned the heavenly host of his presence (4.555-576). Uriel was introduced in the Argument to book 3.

Cherubim. Plural of cherub, one of the chief ranks of angels. See 1.387.

Carr of Night. Night as it moves around the earth. Satan circled the earth at the equator, staying ahead of the sun and therefore staying in night for "The space of seven continu'd nights." He also crossed the entire breadth of night's shadow from "Pole to Pole."

Colure. "Each of two great circles which intersect each other at right angles at the poles, and divide the equinoctial and the ecliptic into four equal parts. One passes through the equinoctial points, the other through the solstitial points, of the ecliptic" (OED2).

averse. Opposite.

Tigris. According to Josephus (Antiquities 1.1.3) the Tigris is related to the river which "went out of Eden to water the Garden" (Genesis 2:10).

Pontus. The Black Sea was named Pontus Euxinus on some Latin maps.

Pool Mæotis. The Sea of Azov lies just north of the Black Sea.

River Ob. A river, the world's fourth largest, in the Siberian arctic.

Orontes. River in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.

barr'd. Bounded; see this use of the term in Job 38:10.

Darien. The s, a narrow strip of land linking Central and South America.

Orb. The globe of Earth.

Suttlest beast of all. "The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord made" (Genesis 3:1).

Doubt. Suspicion.

how like to Heav'n. Satan unintentionally echoes Raphael's observation from 5.574.

second thoughts. The argument that things created second or last must be better or more perfect was a salient feature of the defences of women in popular songs and tracts of the early 17th century. See Esther Sowernam's Ester Hath Hang'd Haman (1617) Chapter VIII:

Let no man think much if women compare,
That in their creation they much better are:
More blessings therein to women doe fall,
Then vnto mankinde haue been giuen at all.
Women were the last worke, and therefore the best,
For what was the end, excelleth the rest.

Milton puts this sort of argument in Satan's mouth.

officious. Dutiful.

for thee alone. See Eve's similar supposition and Adam's response in 4.657-77.

welnigh half. Satan appears to exaggerate; he seduced only one third of heaven's host: 2.692.

vertue. Power.

if they at least. Satan stumbles a bit here. Earlier, in argument with Abdiel, he had claimed to be self-created (5.853-63); now he implicitly acknowledges the Father created angels like himself, then he backpedals with this "if" clause. At 4.43 Satan acknowledges in soliloquy that he was created by God.

into our room. Satan meditates on the indignity of earthly creatures taking his place. See 2.835; 4.359; and 7.190.

our spoils. The notion of spoils recalls the Israelites' spoliation of Egypt as they fled Pharaoh; see the story in Exodus 3.

incarnate and imbrute. Satan's incarnation as a beast is "in emulation opposite" to the Son's incarnation as a man.

Obnoxious. Exposed, see OED2.

envie. Envy is Satan's motivating force. He begins with envy of the Son (5.783) and concludes with envy of man.

Spite. Satan and Beelzebub pledged to do all they could to "spite/ the great Creator" (2.384-85) "The phrasing here resembles Prometheus's declaration of enmity against Zeus (Prometheus Bound [909-926])" (Hughes).

Nor nocent. Innocent, not yet harmful.

close. Secretly.

whenas. When.

wanting. Lacking.

hear. 1674 has "bear" here; probably a printer's error. 1667 had "hear."

Spring. Grove.

which intermits. Eve's words here stand in sharp contrast to her alleged reasons for leaving Adam and Raphael at the beginning of book 8. There she left the two males in conversation because she preferred (said the narrator) to hear the matter from Adam himself who, unlike Raphael, would intermix his discourse with caresses, kisses, and such (8.50-57). Why now does she want to avoid such conversation with Adam?

unearn'd. Labor is not alien to Milton's Paradise; rather it is considered proper to human dignity and its performance made food, drink and rest more pleasurable (4.328). The notion of earning one's supper by work does, however, seem at odds with paradise; Adam was quite ready to take an afternoon off to entertain Raphael.

motion'd. Suggested.

Wilderness. Wildness.

satiate. The idea that Eve could be sated with conjugal conversation, the purpose for which she was created (4.440-49), seems odd. For his part, Adam said he could never get enough conversation with Raphael (8.210-16), for it made him feel "in heaven" (see Philippians 3:20).

best societie. A reference to Cicero's comment that Africanus was never so little alone as when he was by himself (Hughes) (De Republica 1.7.27). But we also recall that Eve was created because God knew it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2: 18).

Virgin. Innocent of sin? Most readers believe that Milton represents the couple as copulating in book 4.741-749, so Eve would not technically be a virgin, but see Thomas H. Luxon's "Milton's Wedded Love: Not about Sex (as we know it)."

Lines 274-278. These lines indicate that Eve overheard some part of the conversation between Adam and Raphael, most likely from 8.633 forward. This means she has heard Raphael's parting warning to beware of passion's power over free will. It seems less likely that we are meant to think she overheard Adam confess that the passion prompted by touching Eve's beauty makes him feel that Eve is superior to him (8.530-559), even though he knows she is not (8.540-546), and she has heard Raphael's rebuke to Adam on this score (8.561-575). Perhaps something she heard motivates her desire to prove herself apart from Adam?

missthought. Misjudged.

entire. Entirely free.

Access. Increase. Perhaps a reference to Phaedrus's suggestion in Plato's Symposium 178e that an army of lovers would be invincible since one would never behave shamefully in the sight of one's beloved.

strait'nd. Limited.

Front. Brow.

Vertue unassaid. Eve's question here reminds one of Milton's point about "a fugitive and cloistered virtue" in Areopagitica.

Nothing imperfet. This may be true of Adam only after Eve also was created to mitigate his "single imperfection," loneliness; see 8.422-427.

free the Will. See the Father's discourse on free will in 3.99 and following.

erect. Alert.

specious. OED2: "Having a fair or attractive appearance or character, calculated to make a favourable impression on the mind, but in reality devoid of the qualities apparently possessed." The serpent will be such a creature with Satan inside. What's more, the Serpent will claim he has eaten the forbidden fruit, but he hasn't.

Approve. Prove.

done his part. Adam echoes here Raphael's words to him in 8.561.

though last. That is, having the last word which might appear to us less than "submiss."

the weaker. Eve, though eager throughout this discussion to prove herself constant and capable as Adam to resist the Foe, acknowledges herself "the weaker," echoing 1 Peter 3:7.

from her Husbands hand. In book 4, Adam first teaches Eve to admire "manly grace and wisdom" by seizing her hand (4.488-491).

submiss. Submissively.

Oread or Dryad. Mountain or wood nymph.

Delia. Diana: called Delia from her birthplace, Delos. Her train refers to the nymphs who attend her.

Deport. Deportment, bearing.

Pales. Goddess of flocks and pastures.

Pomona. Goddess of orchards or fruit: Ovid tells the story of Pomona being wooed by Vertumnus who eventually succeeds (Metamorphoses 14.628).

Ceres. Ovid says that Ceres was the first to teach men to use the plow before the birth of Proserpina (Metamorphoses 5.341).

desiring more her stay. In book 8, Eve's "winning graces" are said to prompt all to "wish her still in sight" (8.61-63).

Mere serpent. Not a demi-woman as the tempter was sometimes portrayed. It is interesting that Milton chose not to use the popular image of a feminized serpent. It would seem a tempting association to make since submission to bodily desire is characterized by Milton as effeminate, and rational management of such desires is manly.

tendance. Object of attendance and care.

voluable. Rolling upon itself, undulating.

Lines 439-441. Milton implies that Paradise was even more beautiful than the Garden of Adonis, to which it was commonly compared, as well as the gardens of Alcinous and the Hesperides.

Laertes' son. Odysseus, who visited the Garden of Alcinous in Odyssey 7.

not Mystic. The garden of Alcinous is mythological but the garden of the "Sapient King," Solomon, was real. Solomon married an Egyptian princess and brought her back to his garden. See Song of Solomon 6:2.

tedded. Cut and scattered in preparation for hay making.

Plat. Plot of ground.

and Feminine. "Angelic" is here assumed to be a masculine state, though angels, like any spiritual being, may assume any form or sex (1.423-426). See also 10.888-890.

Stupidly good. Eve's beauty apparently exercises enormous power. Perhaps there is also a hint here that her beauty is enhanced by the power of chastity, or innocence; compare to A Mask 450-52.

higher intellectual. Many critics hold this to be only Satan's opinion, but the poem in general supports this notion of male intellectual superiority. See 4.296-99; 4.489-91; and Eve's preference for physical conversation (8.52-57) and Adam's for intellectual or heavenly conversation (8.210-16).

Exempt from wound. This contrasts with Satan's discovery of pain during the battle in heaven (6.327).

tour'd. Towered.

Spires. Loops or coils (Latin). Milton imagines that the serpent, before it is cursed, looked like a serpent but traveled in a more elaborate, and more erect, manner.

chang'd. The narrator alludes to Ovid's story of the metamorphosis of Cadmus and Harmonia into serpents (Metamorphoses 4.563-603).

The God. Æsculapius, the god of healing, appeared in his temple in Epidaurus in the body of a serpent (Metamorphoses 15.669-74).

Lines 507-510. Macedonian legend held that Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great, was visited by Zeus in the form of a serpent, and thus conceived the hero (Pausanias Description of Greece 4.14.7). Romans told similar stories about the conception of Scipio Africanus the Elder.

Lines 510-514. The first letters of these lines, read vertically from top to bottom (beginning with the italicized S of "Scipio"), spell S A T A N.

Herd disguis'd. A reference to Circe's victims (See Odyssey 10.238), whom she turned into groveling swine.

Organic. Being used as an organ or instrument. Satan, in the serpent's form, was forced to use his tongue as a vocal instrument because snakes lack vocal chords and so have no physical capacity for human speech.

Fairest resemblance of thy Maker. See 8.543-545 and Raphael's confirmation that Adam, not Eve, is the closest version of God's image. Also see Eve's remark below at lines 615-616.

gloz'd. Lied.

Proem. Preamble in verse or song.

demurre. Entertain doubts about. God told Adam that beasts "know" and reason "not contemptibly" ( 8.373-74).

apprehended nothing high. Animals (like children) were generally thought incapable of higher pleasures than those of the body (Nicomachean Ethics 1099b and 1100a).

Fennel...teats. Tradition held that fennel and milk sucked directly from the teats of goats and sheep were favorite foods of snakes. Another legend held that lactating livestock that went dry had been sucked by demons.

but could not reach. Birds, squirrels, and chipmunks are just a few animals that certainly could reach any fruit in a tree. We may take this as evidence that the serpent is lying (he never did eat the fruit of that tree) and Eve should (shouldn't she?) notice the deceit.

to degree. Satan implies that the serpent first recieved a degree of mental reason, then the gift of speech. Neither, of course, ever happened. The serpent came by the appearance of reason and speech by, in a sense, swallowing Satan, not the fruit.

Middle. The air between Earth and Heav'n.

spirited. Spirit possessed.

thy overpraising. Is Eve being coyly modest here? Or does she truly recognize that the serpent overpraises her above all creatures in heaven — God, Adam and angels included. If the latter, then why does she not detect deceit? Are we supposed to think her dangerously vain?

thir provision. Meaning that men would grow up in numbers proportional to the plenty provided for them.

Bearth. Birth; a spelling that appears appropriate for describing trees that "bear" fruit.

Blowing. Blooming.

wand'ring Fire. Ignis fatuus or "Foolish Fire," swamp gas which spontaneously combusts. This is possibly a reference to John Swan's Speculum Mundi (1643) 88-89, which refers to the "much terrified, ignorant and stupid people" who mistake such lights for "walking spirits. They are no spirits, and yet lead out of the way, because those who see them are amazed, and look so earnestly after them that they forget their way: and then...wander to and fro...sometimes to waters, pits and other dangerous places" (K. Svendson quoted in Hughes).

Fruitless. An allusion to Spenser's similar pun on fruit and fruitless in the Faerie Queene 2.7.55.

Law to ourselves. Similar to Paul's remark that virtuous Gentiles lived outside Hebrew law but were a "law unto themselves" (Romans 2:14).

som Orator. Satan plays the role of a democratic orator of Athens, whom Milton admired and referred to in Paradise Regain'd 4.269, but abuses the role by using it to deceive. "Free Rome" refers to republican, rather than imperial Rome.

brooking. Not allowing; that is, not waiting for any preface or proem.

Science. Knowledge.

highest Agents. Perhaps a subtly ironic reference to Satan's own act of hubris. "Highest Agents" would be the highest angels or possibly God. This, especially followed by "deem'd however wise," would seem to highlight Satan's aspirations to godhead. Satan here reminds one of the bombastic wizard in The Wizard of Oz, with the addition of malice.

ye shall not Die. Quotes Genesis 3:4-5 " And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die."

to Knowledge. Eventuating in knowledge. 1674 has a question mark after "Knowledge" and a comma after "Threatner;" taking this to be a transposition, I have reveresed them.

removes the feare. Serpentine logic. The poem has a poor opinion of Eve's intellectual acuity, since she falls for this, combined with flattery that she detects but hardly resists. See below: "too easie entrance won" (735-39).

Internal Man. Satan implies that the serpent has become man internally but his physical features remain unchanged. This is, of course, untrue.

participating God-like food. This is, as Raphael suggested (5.496-501), sort of true, but only if they remain "obedient." Eve cannot do that and eat from this tree.

If they. "Produced" is understood.

too easie entrance. Not unlike Satan's entrance into the garden itself (4.180-92).

impregn'd. Impregnated.

inclinable. Easily inclined.

In plain. In clear language.

Author unsuspect. Authority apparently unsuspicious.

her rash hand. See William Blake's 1808 watercolor illustration of these lines.

Knew not eating death. She did not know she was eating death.

boon. Jovial, jolly, convivial; see OED2.

To Sapience. Able to produce knowledge. There is a pun here on the etymological meaning of sapience, "taste" (Orgel & Goldberg). Eve now addresses the tree in language once reserved for addressing Adam or God.

Infam'd. Misreputed, slandered.

secret. Hidden, unseen.

inferior who is free? This line makes an interesting contrast to 5.792-793. Again Milton puts familiar early feminist discourse into the mouth of a fallen being.

sciential. Endowed with knowledge.

divine. Foreseeing.

Came Prologue. A personified excuse in the role of a prologue. See much the same figure of speech in Shakespeare's Macbeth 1.3.

agonie of love. Milton anticipates Eve's punishment. According to Genesis 3: 16, Eve's punishment is twofold: pain in childbirth and simultaneously to desire her husband.

rash untri'd. Because she (Eve) was rash and the separation was unfamiliar.

tasted. "If" is understood.

tasted. Proven by tasting.

Not dead. With some of the sense of "un-dead," like Satan who is devoted to death but never dies.

Tedious, unshar'd with thee. Eve apparently experiences the characteristically masculine desire for company for the first time. See Adam's description of this lack in 8.363-366. In Tetrachordon, Milton tries to argue that Adam's desire for companionship is a desire for specifically female companionship, though not principally for sex (Tetrachordon Genesis places).

last and best. Human beings are the "last and best" creation; Adam may refer here to Eve's loss of humanness, the loss of the image of God in her. If we also hear him endorsing the early feminist notion that Eve was superior because created last, then he and the narrator are at odds; see above and Milton's opinion on the matter in Tetrachordon.

devote. Doomed.

bliss or woe. Echoes marriage vows: for better or for worse. Milton makes the point clearly that Adam was not deceived, but instead made a choice in favor of Eve. Augustine outlined this distinction in (City of God 12.11). See also 1 Timothy 2: 14.

Adversary. Literal sense of "Satan." See 1.361 and 6.282.

Certain. Resolved. The phrase ironically echoes Aeneas's opposite declaration, certus eundi, announcing his intention to leave Carthage and Dido (Aeneid 4.554).

oblige. Keeps its Latin force of "involve in guilt."

fact. Deed, crime.

compliance bad. The narrator's condemnation of Adam's actions here seems clear, though many seasoned readers refuse to see it. Admiring Adam for his love and devotion here is not an inaccurate response, but it is quite beside the point of the poem.

Line 999. This line sums up Adam's fall. He understands reason but turns away from it in favor of the desires of the body, desires that Eve tries to ennoble with a discourse of sacrificial love. What was earlier described as "mysterious" rites (4.741), Adam now refers to as the "Link" or "Bond of Nature" (above 914 and 956). What was once a spiritual bond is now merely carnal: "Flesh of flesh" without mystery. Milton is not known as a numerologist, but he depicts Adam's fall at line 999, an inversion of 666, the line in book 2 at which Milton introduces the character, Death--2.666.

in Lust they burne. As opposed to the rational burning Milton defined in Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce 1.4 and imagined in 4.742-49.

Line 1019. 1674 misprints "me" here for 1667's "we".

Eye darted contagious Fire. Compare this description to that in 8.61-63.

he seis'd. Milton invites us to remember the first time Adam "seis'd" Eve's hand, to what end and with what effect (4.488-491).

Lines 1037-1045. Similar to the scene between Zeus and Hera in Iliad 14.292-353.

bland. Pleasing to the senses (OED2).

grosser sleep. We recall Adam's "Aerie" light sleep in 5.4.

unkindly. Unnatural.

conscious. Guilty; conscious of error and sin.

hee cover'd. Echoes Psalm 6:10: "Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame." See also Samson Agonistes 841-42.

Danite. Samson (Judges 16) was a Danite who was betrayed by his Philistine lover Delilah when she cut off his hair, the secret source of his strength, and then delivered him to the Philistines. The Samson simile at first invites us to think of Adam as a Samson figure, but the "They" of line 1062 makes both Adam and Eve appear Samson-like as they rise from post-coital sleep. In his tragic drama Samson Agonistes (1671), Milton imagines Dalila and Samson as wife and husband.

Line 1092. 1674 switches the "for" of this line with the "from" of the next line; I have switched them back.

obnoxious, and unseemliest. What now seem obnoxious and unseemly were once decribed as "mysterious parts" (4.312). This shift is in perfect analogy to their conjugal conversation, which was once "Rites mysterious" (4.743) and now is "Flesh of flesh."

Line 1098. 1674 misprints a comma at the end of this line; I have changed it to a period.

not that kind for Fruit. The lines appear to describe a banyan tree, but banyan leaves are not nearly large enough to be compared to Amazonian shields as in line 1111. Perhaps banyan gets confused with banana?

Amazonian Targe. Amazons' shields.

th' American so girt. Milton quite expectedly challenges the notion gaining popularity in his day that the New World natives are innocent like Adam in Eden, or noble upright savages. Milton explicitly compares them to the newly-fallen, lust-driven, shameful Adam.

Usurping over sovran Reason. Milton reckons that this interior usurpation accounts for all tyrannous usurpations that follow throughout history. See 12.87-104 and Tenure of Kings and Magistrates.

Head. See 4.443 where Eve refers to Adam as her Head. See also 1 Corinthians 11:3.

err'd in overmuch admiring. Precisely what Raphael warned Adam about in the closing lines of book 8.561-570.

Women. The accusatory tone makes this otherwise orthodox antifeminist remark sound mean and cruel, verging on the popular misogynist claim that women first brought sin into the world. When Adam tries a similar line of talk in God's presence, he is rebuked by the more orthodox antifeminism of Milton's God (10.146-156). Adam repeats an even stronger, more clearly misogynistic, version of this remark in conversation with the archangel Michael in book 11 and Michael takes care to distinguish the antifeminist principle of female inferiority from the misogynist slur that blames women in general for the advent of sin (11.632-36). I use the word antifeminist here to mean "a person who is hostile to sexual equality or to the advocacy of women's rights" (OED2) even though it may appear to some an anachronistic usage.