Paradise Lost Book 2: Line 943-950 - Explanation

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Line. 943-950: As when a gryphon.....creeps, or flies.

      Satan making his way through Chaos in his attempt to reach the new created material Universe found himself in a region of mixed consistency, that at one moment he flew aloft, and at another went deep down, ten thousand fathom deep. From here he was shot aloft by some tumultuous cloud instinct with fire and saltpetre, and he would have been completely burnt, had he not been quenched in a boggy Syrtis. This was a region where he had to use both his feet and his wings, and the progress he made through this region is compared with the pursuit that a gryphon makes of the Arimaspian who has pilfered the treasure which the monster has been guarding. The nature of the soil through which Satan had to make his way is defined in the words 'bog steep, strait,' etc., while the devices he had to adopt in making his progress are defined in 'head, hands feet,' etc., and 'swims, sinks, wades,' etc.

      Milton introduces a simile here to express the nature of the motion of Satan across the part of Chaos, whose soil was of a very loose consistency.

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