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Blind Melesigenes thence Homer call'd,
Whose poem Phoebus challeng'd for his own.
Thence what the lofty grave tragedians taught
In Chorus or Iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence with delight receiv'd

of poetry. Such wise men as Dionysius the Halicarnassean, and Plutarch, have attempted to shew, that poetry in all its forms, tragedy, comedy, ode, and epitaph, are included in his works. See the ingenious author of the Inquiry into the life and writings of Homer enlarging upon this subject, sect. 12. Blind Melisigenes thence Homer called; our author here follows Herodotus in his account of the life of Homer, that he was born near the river Meles, from whence he had the name of Melesigenes, Tiberaι όνομα τῷ παιδί Μελεσιγενεα, απο του ποταμου την επωνυμίαν λαβουσα, and because he was blind, thence he was called Homer, oμn ogwy, EvTsubay δε και τουνομα Όμηρος επεκράτησε την Μελησιγενεί απο της συμφορής Κυμαίοι τους τυφλους όμηρους λόγουσιν. Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own, alluding to a Greek epigram in the first book of the Anthologia,

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thus Milton in his Preface to Sams. Agon. "Tragedy, as it was anciently composed, hath ever been held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems, &c." Dunster.

262. In Chorus or Iambic,] These may be said to be the two constituent parts of the ancient tragedy, which was written either in lambic verse, or in verses of various measures, whereof the Chorus usually consisted. And the character here given of the ancient Greek tragedy is very just and noble; and the English reader cannot form a better idea

of it in its highest beauty and perfection than by reading our author's Samson Agonistes.

262. -teachers best Of moral prudence, &c.] This description particularly applies to Euripides, who, next to Homer, was Milton's favourite Greek author. See Quinctilian, 1. x. c. 1. And Aulus Gellius, 1. xi. c. 4. Aristotle takes almost

all his examples of sentences from Euripides. (Rhetoric. ii. c. 22.) See Bp. Hurd's note on Horace's art of Poetry, v. 219. for an admirable account of the reasons why the Greek Tragic poets introduced in their pieces so great an abundance of moral precepts, and why they were with such delight received. Dunster.

In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, of chance, and change in human life;
High actions, and high passions best describing:
Thence to the famous orators repair,

Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook th' arsenal and fulmin'd over Greece,

264. Of fate, and chance, and change in human life High actions, and high passions best describing:]

The most usual arguments of the Greek tragic writers (and indeed of their epic poets also) were the accomplishment of some oracle, or some supposed decree of fate. But the incidents which led to the destined event, according to their system, depended on chance. Fate and chance then furnished the subject and incidents of their dramas, whilst the catastrophe produced the peripetia, or change of fortune. The history of Edipus, one of their principal dramatic subjects, was here perhaps in our poet's mind; and it affords a striking exemplification of the preceding remarks. Change in human life however might not only refer to the pathetic catastrophes of the Greek tragedy, since it sometimes formed, as in the Edipus Coloneus, the entire argument of their pieces. High actions, the xada gau of Aristotle, refer to fate and chance, the arguments and incidents of tragedy; high passions to the peripetia, or change of fortune, which included the ados or affecting part. Dunster. 267. Thence to the famous orators repair, &c.] How happily

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does Milton's versification in this and the following lines concerning the Socratic philosophy express what he is describing! In the first we feel as it were the nervous rapid eloquence of Demosthenes, and the latter have all the gentleness and softness of the humble modest character of Socrates. Thyer.

268. Those ancient,] For Milton was of the same opinion as Cicero, who preferred Pericles, Hyperides, schines, Demosthenes, and the orators of their times, to Demetrius Phalereus and those of the subsequent ages. See Cicero de claris Oratoribus. And in the judgment of Quintilian Demetrius Phalereus was the first who weakened eloquence, and the last almost of the Athenians who can be called an orator; is primus inclinasse eloquentiam dicitur-ultimus est fere ex Atticis qui dici possit orator. De Instit. Orat. x. 1.

270. -and fulmin'd over Greece,] Alluding (as Mr. Jortin has likewise observed) to what Aristophanes has said of Pericles in his Acharnenses, act ii. sc. 5.

Εστραπτεν, εβροντα, ξυνεκυκα την Ελλαδα.

Since I have mentioned this passage, I will add, that Cicero has

To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne:
To sage philosophy next lend thine ear,
From heav'n descended to the low-roof'd house

alluded to it in his Orator 9. speaking of Pericles. Qui si tenui genere uteretur, nunquam ab Aristophane poeta fulgere, tonare, permiscere Græciam dictus esset. Diodorus Siculus has quoted it likewise lib. 12. and ascribed it to Eupolis the poet, the same who is mentioned by Horace.

Eupolis, atque Cratinus, Aristopha

nesque poetæ.

WOINTES

και πάλιν εν αλλοις Ευπολις ὁ Περικλέης ολυμπιος Ησραπτ', εΰροντα, συνεκυκα την Ελλαδα. Cicero had at first fallen into the same mistake as Diodorus, which is often the case of writers who quote by memory; and therefore desires Atticus to correct the copies, and for Eupolis to put in Aristophanes. Cic. ad Att. xii. 6.

270. See Kuster's note on the passage in Aristophanes for the various authors who have alluded to it; but he has omitted Quinctilian, lib. ii. c. 16. and lib. xii. c. 10. In the eleventh En. 383, Virgil makes Turnus say to Drances,

Proinde tona cloquio; solitum tibiCicero (Ep. ad Attic. xv. 1.) speaks of the fulmina Demosthenis; and Longinus also (c. xxxii.) says of Demosthenes, καταβροντά και καταφέγγει του απ' αιώνος ῥητο

gus, x. T. λ.

Dunster.

271. To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne:] As Pericles and others fulmined over Greece to Artaxerxes' throne against the

Persian king, so Demosthenes was the orator particularly, who fulmined over Greece to Macedon against king Philip in his orations, therefore denominated Philippics.

273. From heav'n descended to
the low-roof'd house
Of Socrates;]

Mr. Calton thinks the author alludes to Juv. Sat. xi. 27.

-e cœlo descendit yowls asaUTOV, as this famous Delphic precept was the foundation of Socrates's

philosophy, and so much used by him, that it hath passed with some for his own. Or as Mr. Warburton and Mr. Thyer conceive, the author here probably alludes to what Cicero says of Socrates, Socrates autem primus philosophiam devocavit e cœlo, et in urbibus collocavit, et in domus etiam introduxit. Tusc. Disp. v. 4. But he has given a very different sense to the words either by design or mistake, as Mr. Warburton observes. It is properly called the low-roofed house; for I believe, said Socrates, that if I could meet with a good purchaser, I might easily get for my goods and house and all five pounds. Eyμuai έφη ο Σωκρατης) ει αγαθου ωνητου EπITUXOμ, sugar ay pal or on CIKIN και τα όντα πάντα πάνυ ῥᾳδίως πεντε μνας. Xenophon, (Economic. five minas or Attic pounds were better than sixteen pounds of our money, a mina, according to Barnard, being three pounds eight shillings and nine pence.

Of Socrates; see there his tenement,
Whom well inspir'd the oracle pronounc'd
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams that water'd all the schools
Of academics old and new, with those

273. In the Clouds of Aristophanes, Strepoiades calls the habitation of Socrates, oxidov, ædicula. Dunster.

Ανδρων άπαντων Σωκράτης σοφώτατος.

Of all men Socrates is the wisest.

speaks of Philosophorum ingenia
Socratico ore defluentia. See also
Minucius Felix, Octav. c. xiii.
But our author had here per-

275. Whom well inspir'd the haps in his mind a well known
oracle pronounc'd
passage of Ælian (Var. Hist. lib.
Wisest of men ;]
xiii. c. 22.) concerning Homer,
whence also Manilius says, speak-
ing of him, (lib. ii. 8.)

The verse delivered down to us upon this occasion is this,

See Diogenes Laertius in vita Socratis. Mr. Calton adds, that the Tempter designs here a compliment to himself; for he would be understood to be the inspirer.

276. from whose mouth issued forth &c.] Thus Quintilian calls Socrates fons philosophorum, i. 10. and as the ancients looked upon Homer as the father of poetry, so they esteemed Socrates the father of moral philosophy. The different sects of philosophers were but so many different families, which all acknowledged him for their common parent. See Cicero, Academic. i. 4. Tusc. Disp. v. 4. and particularly De Orat. iii. 16, 17. The quotation would be too long to be inserted. See likewise Mr. Warburton's account of the Socratic school, b. iii. sect. 3. of the Divine Legation.

276. Compare Cicero, Brutus, sect. 31. ed. Proust, and De Orator. i. 42. and De Nat. Deor. i. 34. Paterculus (lib. i. c. 16.)

275

cujusque ex ore profusos

Omnis posteritas latices in carmina duxit,

Amnemque in tenues ausa est deducere rivos

Unius fœcunda bonis.

And Ovid, 3 Amor. ix. 25.

Adjice Mæonidem, a quo, ceu fonte
perenni,

Vatum Pieriis ora rigantur aquis.
Dunster.

278. Of Academics old and new, &c.] The Academic sect had its three epochs, old, middle, and new. Plato was the head of the old academy, Arcelisas of the middle, and Carneades of the new. The Peripatetics were surnamed from the TV or walk of the Lyceum, where Aristotle taught, as the Stoics from the Tea or portico where they attended the instructions of Zeno. "The common opinion adopted by Cicero and others that the Peripatetics were so named i rov Tigar, ex deambulatione, is refuted," says Dr. Gillies, "by the authors cited by Brucker, vol. i. p. 787." The severity of the Stoics is proverbial; see Se

Surnam❜d Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe;

These here revolve, or, as thou lik'st, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire join'd.
To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied,
Think not but that I know these things, or think
I know them not; not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought: he who receives

neca de Clement. ii. 5. Cicero Pro Murena, 35. Dunster.

283. These rules will render thee &c.] Ask what rules, and no answer can be regularly given: ask whose, and the answer is easy. There is no mention before of rules; but of poets, orators, philosophers, there is. We should read therefore,

Their rules will render thee a king
Calton.

complete.

283.a king complete Within thyself,]

Alluding to what Jesus had said before, b. ii. 446.

Yet he who reigns within himself,

and rules Passions, desires, and fears, is more a king. Dunster. 285. To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied.] This answer of our Saviour is as much to be admired for solid reasoning, and the many sublime truths contained in it, as the preceding speech of Satan is for that fine vein of poetry which runs through it: and one may observe in general, that Milton has quite

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throughout this work thrown the
ornaments of poetry on the side
of error, whether it was that he
thought great truths best ex-
pressed in a grave unaffected
style, or intended to suggest this
fine moral to the reader, that
simple naked truth will always
be an overmatch for falsehood
though recommended by the
the most bewitching colours.
gayest rhetoric, and adorned with
Thyer.

288. he who receives
Light from above, from the
fountain of light,
No other doctrine needs, though
granted true;]

This passage, says Mr. Warton,
seems to favour Mr. Peck's no-
tion, (grounded on Milton's ac-
quaintance with Ellwood and
Mrs. Thompson, to whom he
has inscribed a Sonnet,) that the
poet was a Quaker. But it is
rather scriptural than sectical,
being built on James i. 17.
Every good gift and every perfect
gift is from above, and cometh
down from the Father of lights;
which refers to ver. 5. in the
same chapter; If any of you lack
wisdom, let him ask of God, that

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