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But fraud, because of man peculiar evil,
“Fraud, that in every conscience leaves a sting
Broke but the bond of love which Nature makes.
But there is another feature of Dante's philosophy to be noticed, before we shall be in a position to form an estimate of the relative grandeur of imagination, and depth of thought, of Dante and Milton.
According to Dante's philosophy, or rather his scholastic theology, a person's free-will may act in any one of three directions. It may act in harmony with wrong-doing, which is the mental and spiritual state of Inferno; the deed itself producing the subjective environment of punishment. Or, it may act in uniform opposition to wrong-doing, which is the mental and spiritual state of Paradiso; the deed itself producing a subjective environment of happiness. Or, it may recoil from wrong-doing, when it sees the injurious effects upon Self and Society, which is the mental and spiritual state of Purgatorio; when the free-will which has previously given a wrong bent to the character, strives, once again, to restore it to a normal state of rectitude.
In this way each created intelligence, by virtue of the possession of the gift of free-will, creates its own environment, through, and by means of, its social relations. Apart from the existence of free-will, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise would be a Divine Comedy in a far different sense from that in which Dante uses the term.
Milton, as we have before pointed out, describes the punishment of Hell, only at the era of the fall of the great Archangel and of the Fall of Man; and before ever one of the human race had descended to his doom along the causey of Sin and Death. All that Milton professes to describe is the ultimate fate of Satan, and of the one rebellious third of the angelic host who joined him in his arch-treason.
The first strain in which Milton introduces, what he terms, “the deep tract of Hell,” occurs in the opening of Paradise Lost, where the poet describes the expulsion of Satan from the Empyrean:
Him the Almighty Power
Hell at last,
At once, as far as Angel's ken, he views
At the conclusion of the first Council in Pande. monium, when Satan announces his determination to attempt the great adventure, the heralds
* Vide Note J.
With trumpet's regal sound the great result :
the hollow Abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim. Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised By false presumptuous hope, the rangèd Powers Disband; and, wandering, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great Chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime, Upon the wing or in swist race contend, As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigads form : As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds; before each van Prick forth the aery knights, and couch their spears, Till thickest legions close ; with feats of arms From either end of heaven the welkin burns. Others, with vast Typhæan rage, more fell, Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air In whirlwind ; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar :
Others, more mild,