Paradise Lost Book 2: Line 610-614 - Explanation

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Line. 610-614: But Fate.....lip of Tantal.

      Describing the frozen continent which lay farther off the river Lethe on the extreme boundary of Hell, whither the straying feet of a party of the rebel angel led them, Milton says that this was region where damned souls were brought at certain revolutions to experience the bitter change of fierce extremes from beds of raging fire to starve in ice. After going through all the pangs of this region, they were hurried back to regions of fire, when they had to cross the ferry of the Lethe. As they were rowed across, their thirst was so fierce that they attempted to drink of the stream, but Fate had condemned them to suffer its pangs eternally. As if to make assurance doubly sure, Fate had set therein to guard its shores a fierce Medusa, looking on whom would petrify any one. Besides the waters themselves shrank back from the lips of the thirsty, just as they were said to have done to the lips of Tantalus. Such were the tortures to which the damned were subjected in this region.

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