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Raphael at the request of Adam relates how and wherefore this world was firft created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declar'd his pleasure to create another world and other creatures to dwell therein; fends his Son with glory and attendence of Angels to perform the work of creation in fix days: the Angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reafcenfion into Heaven.
1. Defcend from Heav'n, Urania,] Defcende cœlo, Hor. Od. III. IV. I. but here it is better apply'd, as now his fubject leads him from Heaven to Earth. The word Urania in Greek fignifies heav'nly; and he invokes the beav'nly Mufe as he had done before, I. 6. and as he had faid in the beginning that he intended to foar above th' Aonian mount, fo now he fays very truly that he had effected what he intended, and foars above th' Olympian hill, above the fight of Pegafian aving, that is his fubject was more fublime than the loftieft flights of the Heathen poets. Dr. Bentley proposes Parnaffus inftead of Olympus, but the mountain Olympus is likewife celebrated for the feat of the Mufes, who were therefore called Olympiades, as in Homer, Iliad II. 491.
Ολυμπ la Msar. And fome would read cold Olympus, as in I. 516.
Efcend from Heav'n, Urania, by that name If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine Following, above th' Olympian hill I foar, Above the flight of Pegaféan wing. The meaning, not the name I call: for thou
on the fnowy top Of cold Olympus
and fnowy is an epithet often given to this mountain by the ancient poets: but he calls it old, that is fam'd of old and long celebrated, as he fays old Euphrates, I. 420. and mount Cafius old, II. 593. His heavenly Mufe was before the hills, which were from the beginning, as it follows.
for thou Nor of the Mufes nine, nor on the top Of old Olympus dwell'ft, but heav'nly
born,] Taffo in his invocation has the fame fentiment. Gier. Lib. Cant.
1. St. 2.
O Mufa, tu, che di caduchi allori Non circondi la fronte in Helicona; Ma sù nel cielo infra i beati chori Hai di ftelle immortali aurea corona. Thyer. A 3 8. Before
Nor of the Mufes nine, nor on the top
8 Before the bills appear'd, or fountain flow'd, &c.] From Prov. VIII. 24, 25, 30. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water: Before the mountains were fettled, before the hills was II brought forth: Then was I by him as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always be fore him, or playing according to the Vulgar Latin (ludens coram eo omni tempore) to which Milton alludes, when he fays and with her did play &c. And fo he quotes it likewife in his Tetrachordon, p. 222. Vol. I. Edit. 1738. "God himself conceals his own recreations before "the world was built; I was, faith "the eternal Wisdom, daily his delight, playing always before him."
printer and poet, Fairy Queen, B. 2. Cant. 2. St. 39.
Thus fairly fhe attempered her feast, And pleas'd them all with meet fatiety.
agree with the Doctor that thee is better than thy temp'ring. Thyer.
15 Thy temp'ring:] This is faid in allufion to the difficulty of refpiration on high mountains. This empyreal air was too pure and fine for him, but the heavenly Muse temper'd and qualify'd it fo as to make him capable of breathing in it: which is a modest and beautiful way of befpeaking his reader to make favorable allowances for any failings he may have been guilty of in treating of fo fublime a subject.
(as once Bellerophon, &c.] Bellerophon was a beautiful and valiant youth, fon of Glaucus; who refufing the amorous applications of Antea wife of Prætus king of Argos, was by her falle fuggeftions like thofe of Jofeph's mittrefs to her husband, fent