Introduction. The first edition of 1667 printed the poem in ten books. The Arguments at the head of each book were added in subsequent imprints of the first edition. In 1674, a fully "Revised and Augmented" edition with new front matter, arguments at the head of each book, and a new division into twelve books was issued. Milton scholars generally have used this edition as the standard for any new scholarly edition.

The Milton Reading Room text of Paradise Lost was prepared from the copy of 1674 on University Microfilm's Wing 609-9* copy (Early English books, 1641-1700; 609:9), and checked against a copy of 1674 in the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Whenever 1674 made no sense, the equivalent passage from 1667 (Wing 609-4) was checked and sometimes followed. All deviations from 1674 are recorded in the notes. Thomas H. Luxon.

Erebi. Erebus and Orcus were two classical Latin names often used to stand for Hell or personifications of Hell.

S.B.. This commendatory poem is probably by Dr. Samuel Barrow, a friend of Milton's and physician to Charles II.

show it in a Play. This probably alludes to John Dryden who did indeed reduce Milton's epic to dramatic verse in rhyme in his The State of Innocence, written in 1674 and published in 1677.

Bird nam'd from that Paradise. The Bird of Paradise was fabled to remain in flight perpetually, feeding on the air.

Tiresias. In Greek mythology, a blind Theban seer. In The Odyssey 11 he retained his prophetic gifts even in the underworld, where the hero Odysseus was sent to consult him. At Thebes he played an active part in the tragic events concerning Laius, the king of Thebes, and his son Oedipus (see Oedipus the King and Antigone). Later legend told that he lived for seven (or nine) generations, dying after the expedition of "the Seven" against Thebes, and that he had once been turned into a woman as the result of killing the female of two coupling snakes; on killing the male he regained his own sex. His blindness was variously explained. One theory was that it was a punishment for revealing the secrets of the gods, which he had learned from his mother, the nymph Chariclo. Another theory was that he enraged Hera, who had contended to her husband, Zeus, that women had less pleasure in love than men, by telling her that love gave women ten times more pleasure than it gave men. Hera thereupon struck him blind, but Zeus gave him the gift of prophecy. A third explanation was that Tiresias was blinded by Athena because he had watched her undressing to bathe. Milton was fully blind before Paradise Lost was first published in 1667.

Town-Bayes. A nickname for John Dryden, "bayes" alluding to his status as Poet Laureate; he was satirized as "John Bayes" in the Duke of Buckingham's The Rehearsal (1672).

spells. According to John Shawcross, this means to work laboriously, letter by letter.

Bushy-points. Marvell compares rhyming to "tagging" points. Points were ribbons or laces used as tying points on a garment; they could be "bushy" with a tassel or "tagged" like a modern shoelace.

A. M. Andrew Marvell, who worked with Milton (and Dryden) in the Office of the Secretary for Foreign Tongues in Cromwell's government.

a barbarous Age. Perhaps the "barbarous age" Milton refers to is that of the fifth and sixth centuries when Christian hymns in Latin began regularly to employ rhyme.

apt numbers. Proper rhythm and syllable count.

variously drawn out. Expected senses often shift from line end to the next line in Milton's verse. Look, for example, at 1.1-2, where the sense of the word "Fruit" (of disobedience) shifts in line 2 (of that tree). The second sense does not cancel the first, but draws out another, varied, sense from the first.

ancient liberty recover'd. Milton appeals frequently to the idea of recovering ancient liberties: in Areopagitica the liberty of press and speech, in the divorce tracts the liberty to divorce. Nevertheless he is not in any sense a libertarian. Though he advocated a press free of prior restraint, he also supported banning books, especially heretical books, and punishing their authors. He never, as some charged, advocated "divorce at pleasure." (See Colasterion.) In Sonnet 12, Milton laments that his frequent efforts to restore "ancient liberty" have earned him much abuse.