Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Pagan Myth in Milton
Milton is not averse to using even pagan myth to illuminate a crucial point.Here are a few examples from Paradise Lost.
5.285-287 (angel Raphael compared to Hermes):
Like Maia's son he stood,5.377-383 (Eve compared to Aphrodite):
And shook his plumes, that heav'nly fragrance filled
The circuit wide.
So to the sylvan lodge11.8-14 (Adam and Eve compared to Deucalion and Pyrrha):
They came, that like Pomona's arbor smiled,
With flow'rets decked, and fragrant smells; but Eve,
Undecked, save with herself, more lovely fair
Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feigned
Of three that in Mount Ida naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heav'n.
Yet their port11.129-133 (cherubim compared to Janus and Argus):
Not of mean suitors, nor important less
Seemed their petition, than when th' ancient pair
In fables old, less ancient yet than these,
Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha to restore
The race of mankind drowned, before the shrine
Of Themis stood devout.
With him the cohort bright11.184-186 (eagle called bird of Jove):
Of watchful Cherubim; four faces each
Had, like a double Janus, all their shape
Spangled with eyes more numerous than those
Of Argus, and more wakeful than to drowse,
Charmed with Arcadian pipe, the pastoral reed
Of Hermes, or his opiate rod.
Nigh in her sight11.240-244 (Michael the Archangel's vest dyed by Iris):
The bird of Jove, stooped from his aery tow'r,
Two birds of gayest plume before him drove.
Over his lucid arms
A military vest of purple flowed,
Livelier than Meliboean, or the grain
Of Sarra, worn by kings and heroes old
In time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof.