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The Son of God, and added thus in scorn.
There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand upright Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house
Have brought thee', and highest plac'd, highest is best, Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
introduced it in the middle, it would have broke that fine thread of moral reasoning, which is observed in the course of the other temptations. Thyer.
In the Gospel account of the temptation no discovery is made of the incarnation; and this grand mystery is as little known to the Tempter at the end, as at the beginning. But now, according to Milton's scheme, the poem was to be closed with a full discovery of it: there are three circumstances, therefore, in which the poet, to serve his plan, hath varied from the accounts in the Gospels. 1. The critics have not been able to ascertain what the Tegvylov or pinnacle (as we translate it) was, on which Christ was set by the demon: but whatever it was, the Evangelists make no difficulty of his standing there. This the poet (following the common use of the word pinnacle in our own language) supposeth to be something like those on the battlements of our churches, a pointed spire, on which Christ could not stand without a miracle. 2. In the poem, the Tempter bids Christ give proof of his pretensions by standing on the pinnacle, or by casting himself down. In the Gospels, the last only is or could be suggested. 3. In the Gospel account the prohibition Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God
is alleged only as a reason why Christ (whose divinity is concealed there) must not throw himself down from the top of the temple, because this would have been tempting God. But in the poem it is applied to the demon, and his attempt upon Christ; who is thereby declared to be the Lord his God. Calton.
Bp. Pearce supposes what is in the Gospels called rgylov, and translated pinnacle, to have been rather a wing of the temple, a flat part of the roof of one of its courts; probably on that side where the royal portico was, and where the valley on the outside was deepest. Josephus (Antiq. xv. 11. 5.) says, "whereas the
valley was so deep that a man "could scarcely see the bottom "of it, Herod built a portico of
so vast a height, that if a man "looked from the roof of it, his "head would grow giddy, and "his sight not be able to reach "from that height to the bottom "of the valley." Eusebius (Hist. Eccles. ii. 23.) cites the account given by Hegesippus of the death of St. James, in which it is said that the Scribes and Pharisees brought him, επι το πτερύγιον του vov, up to this elevated point of the temple, and cast him down from thence. Dunster.
554. Now shew thy progeny; &c.] The general tenor of the thought is from St. Matth. xxvii.
Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God:
39, 40. And they that passed
561. Tempt not the Lord thy God: he said and stood:] Here is what we may call after Aristotle the avayagis, or the discovery. Christ declares himself to be the God and Lord of the Tempter; and to prove it, stands upon the pinnacle. This was evidently the poet's meaning. 1. The miracle shews it to be so; which is otherwise impertinently introduced, and against the rule,
Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vin
It proves nothing but what the Tempter knew, and allowed before. 2. There is a connection between Christ's saying and standing, which demonstrates that he stood, in proof of something he
had said. Now the prohibition, Tempt not the Lord thy God, as alleged in the Gospels from the Old Testament, was in no want of such an attestation: but a miracle was wanting to justify the application of it to the Tempter's attack upon Christ; it was for this end therefore that he stood. Calton.
I cannot entirely approve this learned Gentleman's exposition, for I am for understanding the words, Also it is written, Tempt not the Lord thy God, in the same sense in which they were spoken in the Gospels; because I would not make the poem to differ from the Gospel account, farther than necessity compels, or more than the poet himself has made it. The Tempter set our Saviour on a pinnacle of the temple, and there required of him a proof of his divinity, either by standing, or by casting himself down as he might safely do, if he was the Son of God, according to the quotation from the Psalmist. To this our Saviour answers, as he answers in the Gospels, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, tacitly inferring that his casting himself down would be tempting of God. He said, he gave this reason for not casting himself
But Satan smitten with amazement fell.
down, and stood. His standing
-He said, and stood:
And afterwards, ver. 571.
has imitated Virgil's sic parvis componere magna solebam. Ecl. i. 24. See Par. Lost, ii. 921. x. 306. Some such mode of qualifying common similies is necessary to a poet writing on divine subjects. Dunster.
in Irassa strove With Jove's Alcides,] Irassa is a place in Libya, mentioned by Herodotus, iv. 158. έστι δε τῷ χώρῳ τούτῳ ουνομα Ιρασα, and from him by Stephanus Byzant, who says, 'Igara, TOTOS AlΕυης, εἰς ὃν μετηγαγον Βαττον οἱ Λιβνες, is "Heodoros where Berkelius notes, Hujus urbis quoque meminit Pindarus Pyth. ix. sed duplicis (read duplici s) scribitur:
Οίοι Λίβυσσας αμ
Ιρασσαν προς πολιν Ανται
With Jove's Aleides, and oft foil'd still rose,
perhaps it should be Irasa, not Igara, there,) Irassa in Pindar and his Scholiast: that the Scholiast says, Antous dwelt at Irassa, not he who wrestled with Hercules, but one later than him; which, if true, makes against Milton: that he afterwards adds, that according to the opinion of some, the Antaeus whom Hercules overcame was Ιρασσευς, απο Ίρασε owy, which Berkelius takes to be the genitive of a 'Igarra, though it may be of ai 'Igaroa. Jortin. Antaeus dwelt at the city Irassa, according to Pindar. But it was not there that he wrestled with Hercules, but at Lixos, according to Pliny. Lixos vel fabulosissime antiquis narrata. Ibi regia Antæi, certamenque cum Hercule. Nat. Hist, lib. v. cap. 1. Meadow.court.
With Jove's Alcides, &c.] To strive is a frequent scriptural term for any violent personal contest: see Gen. xxvi. 20. Exod. ii. 13. Acts vii. 26. With Jove's
Alcides for there were so many Hercules in the Grecian Mythology, that it was necessary to specify when the principal Hercules, the son of Jove and Alcmena, was meant. Thus Cicero, de Nat. Deor. iii. 16. Quanquam quem potissimum Hercu
lem colamus, scire sane velim plures enim nobis tradunt ii, qui interiores scrutantur et reconditas literas; antiquissimum Jove natum. Varro says there were forty-three Hercules. The son of Jupiter however by Alcmena ought not to be called Alcides, the proper name of the son of Amphitryon, whose father was Alcæus. Yet Virgil also refers to Alcides as the son of Jove, Æn. vi. 123. and the name may be derived from aλx robur ; in which sense it was also applied to Minerva, Liv. xlii. 51. oft foiled, still rose. Thus in Tasso, 1. xx. st. 100.
Poi che 'l Soldan, che spesso in lunga
And as that Theban monster that propos'd
Her riddle', and him who solv'd it not, devour'd,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
572. And as that Theban monster &c.] The Sphinx, whose riddle being resolved by Edipus, she threw herself into the sea. Statius, Theb. i. 66.
Si Sphingos iniquæ Callidus ambages te præmonstrante resolvi.
572. Statius also refers to the falling of the Sphinx from the Ismenian steep, (Theb. xi. 490.) when her riddle had been solved.
-dum Cadmus arat? dum victa
The Ismenian steep may either be the mountain Phicius, the usual haunt of the Sphinx, at no great distance from Thebes, or the Cadmea, i. e. the citadel of Thebes, according to Apollodorus, so termed from the river Ismenus, which ran by Thebes. See Pausanias, ix. 26. and Apollodorus, 1. iii. c. v. 8. whose account of the Sphinx indeed, from the coincidence of expression in the Mythologist and the poet, Milton seems here to have had in his mind. Dunster.
581. So Satan fell; and straight &c.] Thus in G. Fletcher's Christ's Triumph on Earth, where
Presumption is personified, and represented, as in vain tempting our blessed Lord; (stanza xxxviii.)
But, when she saw her speech prevailed naught,
Herself she tumbled headlong to the
But him the angels on their feathers
And to an airy mountain nimbly bore.
581.and straight a fiery globe
There is a peculiar softness and
So Psyche was carried down from the rock by zephyrs, and laid lightly on a green and flowery bank, and there entertained with invisible music. See Apuleius, lib. iv. Richardson.
Psyche was also entertained