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Cedite Romani Scriptores, cedite Grail. Propert.
18 THE ACTION MUST NOT ONLY BE GREAT
and grow out of one another in the most natural Method. The third Qualification of an Epic Poem is its Greatness. The Anger of Achilles was of such Consequence, that it embroiled the Kings of Greece, des. troy'd the Heroes of Złoy, and engaged all the Gods in Fačtions. A neas's Settlement in Italy produced the Caesars, and gave Birth to the Åoman Empire. Milton's Subječt was still greater than either of the former; it does not determine the Fate of single Persons or Nations, but of a whole Species. The united Powers of Hell are joyned together for the Destruction of Mankind, which they effected in part, and would have completed, had not Omnipotence it self interposed. The principal Aćtors are Man in his greatest Perfeótion, and Woman in her highest Beauty. Their Enemies are the fallen Angels: The Messiah their Friend, and the Almighty their Protećtor. In short, every thing that is great in the whole Circle of Being, whether within the Verge of Nature, or out of it, has a proper Part assigned it in this noble Poem. In Poetry, as in Architecture, not only the whole, but the principal Members, and, every part of them, should be Great. I will not presume to say, that the Book of Games in the Æneid, or that in the ZZiad, are not of this nature, nor to reprehend Virgil's Simile of a Top, and many other of the same nature in the Iliad, as liable to any Censure in this Particular; but I think we may say, without offence to [derogating from] those wondersul Performances, that there is an unquestionable Magnificence in every Part of Paradise Zost, and indeed a much greater than could have been formed upon any Pagan System. But Aristotle, by the Greatness of the Aćtion, does not only mean that it should be great in its Nature, but also in its Duration, or in other Words, that it should have a due length in it, as well as what we properly call Greatness. The just Measure of this kind of Magnitude, he explains by the following