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No. 333 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

There are indeed so many wonderful Strokes of Poetry in this Book, and such a variety of Sublime Ideas, that it would have been impossible to have given them a place within the bounds of this Paper. Besides that, I find it in a great measure done to my hand at the End of my Lord Roscommon’s Essay on Translated Poetry. I shall refer my Reader thither for some of the Master Strokes in the Sixth Book of Paradise Lost, tho at the same time there are many others which that noble Author has not taken notice of.

Milton, notwithstanding the sublime Genius he was Master of, has in this Book drawn to his Assistance all the Helps he could meet with among the Ancient Poets. The Sword of Michael, which makes so great [a [2]] havock among the bad Angels, was given him, we are told, out of the Armory of God.

–But the Sword
Of Michael from the Armory of God
Was given him tempered so, that neither keen
Nor solid might resist that Edge: It met
The Sword of Satan, with steep Force to smite
Descending, and in half cut sheer–

This Passage is a Copy of that in Virgil, wherein the Poet tells us, that the Sword of AEneas, which was given him by a Deity, broke into Pieces the Sword of Turnus, which came from a mortal Forge. As the Moral in this Place is divine, so by the way we may observe, that the bestowing on a Man who is favoured by Heaven such an allegorical Weapon, is very conformable to the old Eastern way of Thinking. Not only Homer has made use of it, but we find the Jewish Hero in the Book of Maccabees, who had fought the Battels of the chosen People with so much Glory and Success, receiving in his Dream a Sword from the Hand of the Prophet Jeremiah. The following Passage, wherein Satan is described as wounded by the Sword of Michael, is in imitation of Homer.

The griding Sword with discontinuous Wound
Passed through him; butt the Ethereal Substance closed
Not long divisible; and from the Gash
A Stream of Nectarous Humour issuing flowed
Sanguine, (such as celestial Spirits may bleed)
And all his Armour stained–

Homer tells us in the same manner, that upon Diomedes wounding the Gods, there flow’d from the Wound an Ichor, or pure kind of Blood, which was not bred from mortal Viands; and that tho the Pain was exquisitely great, the Wound soon closed up and healed in those Beings who are vested with Immortality.

I question not but Milton in his Description of his furious Moloch flying from the Battel, and bellowing with the Wound he had received, had his Eye on Mars in the Iliad; who, upon his being wounded, is represented as retiring out of the Fight, and making an Outcry louder than that of a whole Army when it begins the Charge. Homer adds, that the Greeks and Trojans, who were engaged in a general Battel, were terrify’d on each side with the bellowing of this wounded Deity. The Reader will easily observe how Milton has kept all the Horrour of this Image, without running into the Ridicule of it.

–Where the Might of Gabriel fought,
And with fierce Ensigns pierc’d the deep Array
Of Moloch, furious King! who him defy’d,
And at his Chariot-wheels to drag him bound
Threaten’d, nor from the Holy One of Heavn
Refrained his Tongue blasphemous: but anon
Down cloven to the Waste, with shattered Arms
And uncouth Pain fled bellowing.–

Milton has likewise raised his Description in this Book with many Images taken out of the poetical Parts of Scripture. The Messiahs Chariot, as I have before taken notice, is formed upon a Vision of Ezekiel, who, as Grotius observes, has very much in him of Homers Spirit in the Poetical Parts of his Prophecy.