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M I L T O N's PARADISE LOST.
SPECTATOR, No 267.
Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Graii.
HERE is nothing in Nature more irk. some than general Discourses, especially when they turn chiefly upon Words. For this Reason I Thall wave the Difcussion of that point which was started
some Years since, Whether Milton's 'Pa. radise Lost may be called an Heroic Poem? Those who will not give it that Title, may call it (if they please) a Divine Poem. It will be fufficient to its Perfection, if
it has in it all the Beauties of the highest kind of Poe-
I shall therefore examine it by the Rules of Epic
This Action should have three
fition of the Poem. Millon, in Imitation of these
ARISTOTLE himself allows, that Homer has nothing to boast of as to the Unity of his Fable, though at the same time that great Critic and Philosopher endeavours to palliate this Imperfection in the Greek Poet by imputing it in some Measure to the very Nature of an Epic Poem. Some have been of Opinion, that the Æneid also labours in this particular, and has Episodes which may be looked upon as Excrescencies rather than as Parts of the Action. On the contrary, the Poem, which we have now under our Con. fideration, hath no other Episodes than such as natirally arise from the Subject, and yet is filled with such a Multitude of astonishing Incidents, that it gives us at the same time a Pleasure of the greatest Variety, and of the greatest Simplicity; uniform in its Nature, though diversified in the Execution.
I must observe also, that as Virgil in the Poem which was designed to celebrate the Original of the Roman Empire, has described the Birth of its great Rival, the Carthaginian Commonwealth: Milton with the like Art in his Poem on the Fall of Man, has related the Fall of those Angels who are his professed Enemies. Beside the many other Beauties in such an Episode, its running parallel with the great Action of the Poem, hin. ders it from breaking the Unity so much as another Episode would have done, that had not so great an