Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast Brought Death into the World, and all our woe, With loss of EDEN, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, Sing Heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top Of OREB, or of SINAI, didst inspire That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed, In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth Rose out of CHAOS: Or if SION Hill Delight thee more, and SILOA'S Brook that flow'd Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th' AONIAN
Mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.
Soon as the stars adorn the azure skies, You'll see the head of Pegasus arise; He sprung, they tell us, from Medusa slain, The bloody spots appear upon his mane; Above the clouds, he could the sky survey, And with wing'd-feet cut his aethereal way; But curb'd too much, low droop'd his falling wing, When with his heel he made th' Aonian
spring; Now heav'n his further wand'ring flight confines, Where splendid with his fifteen stars he shines.
In fact, at the opening of Paradise lost, the speaker calls upon the Holy Spirit as his Muse to assist him 'That with no middle flight [his song might] soar / Above th' Aonian
mount' and pursue 'Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme' (1.14-16).
Yet ironically, God's divine creativity--intended to inspire emulation--inspires in Satan not emulation but envy, while Milton, in his aspiration to "soar/ Above th' Aonian
Mount" must constantly guard against the dampened wing of that aspiration's evil twin.
(3.3.41-6) You should not blow with a raucous horn signals for the army Nor tinge the Aonian
grove with the blood of war; Or on what fields the warriors under the banner of Marius Stand and Rome destroys the military resources of the Teutons, Nor where the barbaric Rhine steeped in Swabian blood Carries wounded bodies in sorrowing water.
Even in the midst of his self-appointed literary apprenticeship, more than seventeen years before he composed the lines that declared his intention of soaring "above the Aonian
mount" and thereby transcending the achievement of the Greeks and Romans, Milton's canon makes no distinction between secular and sacred.
boasting that he has been the first to sing the life of Christ in Aonian
Gain hurt thee, Polydorus; his wicked consort's gain sent her spouse against Aonian
I thence Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous Song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th' Aonian
Mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhyme.
Aware of his enrichment by the classical tradition, Milton nevertheless intended to soar "Above the Aonian
mount," or to place the Bible above the classics in his epic subject (6) Extending Parker's fine insight, we might compare Erasmus' description of scripture as a "songe" that can "entyse and move the mindes of all men" (74) to Milton's sense of being "Smit with the love of sacred song" in Paradise Lost (3: 29), and to his praise of "Sion's songs" in Paradise Regained (4: 347).
1.2.27-8 (`especially since Apollo bestows on you his songs, and Calliope willingly her Aonian
Sing, Heavenly Muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed In the beginning how the heaven and earth Rose out of Chaos; or if Sion hill Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed Fast by the oracle of God, I thence Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above the' Aonian
mount, while it pursues Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.