Milton, Samson Agonistes: "knowing, as needs I must, by thee betrayed"
Several days ago, I cited a passage from Gordon Campbell's article "Milton and the Languages of the Renaissance" (Sederi 4, 1993, edited by Teresa Guerra Bosch, pages 11-21). Professor Campbell was explaining the well-known line "And knew not eating death" from Paradise Lost 9.792:
Milton is imitating a Greek construction in which the verb "to know" is followed by a nominative participle without repitition of the subject. At one level, then, the line means "not knowing that she was eating death". The purpose of the Hellenism is of course to introduce a Latinism, mors edax, death that devours. The same thing happens in Samson Agonistes (840): "knowing, as needs I must, by thee betrayed", which means both "knowing that I was betrayed by thee" and "knowing myself to be betrayed". (Campbell, "Milton and the Languages," page 19)Readers will recall that I didn't quite catch Professor Campbell's point about the line "knowing . . . by thee betrayed" in Samson Agonistes 840. But after yesterday's post, I think that I understand. The two 'meanings' -- "knowing that I was betrayed by thee" and "knowing myself to be betrayed by thee" (adding "by thee") -- are simply two ways of rendering the line in grammatical English, much as "sensit . . . delapsus" (properly, "sensit se delapsum esse") can be rendered in grammatical English as "he sensed that he had fallen" and "he sensed himself fallen" (though that latter translation might not be quite as grammatical).
As for the "mors edax, death that devours," about which I noted that I had previously looked into much this very same morbid issue, I can now add two more online sources:
Diego de la Vega, Conciones Quadragesimales Vespertinae: Super Septem Poenitentiales Psalmos (Societatan Venetam, 1601)I lack the page number for the latter, and I also haven't had time to work out suitable translations for these two Latin passages, but since Milton would likely be unfamiliar with either of them, these probably aren't worth investigating anyway.
Quam edax mors, quam insatiabilis eius famus, quae tot ferculis non est contenta, tot Regibus, tot Principibus, Ducibus &c. Nemini parcit, omnes devorat, qui ex Adae genere oriuntur, sed & ipsum Deum hoiem factum devorauit . . . (page 625)
Martin Opitz: Lateinische Werke 1614-1624, edited by Veronika Marschall, et al. (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009)
Quidquid tempus iners, et edax mors deteret, in te,. Surget, et auctorum series ducetur in omnes. A te vel solo: tu nil tibi maius habebis