Comus "How Charming Is The Divine Philosophy!"

John Milton

"How Charming Is The Divine Philosophy!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The masque of Comus was written to celebrate the installation of the Earl of Bridgewater as President of Wales, and the parts were acted by his two sons and his daughter. In the story the three must pass through a "drear wood" to reach their father's castle of Ludlow. They become separated and exposed to the dangers of the power of Comus, an enchanter, the son of Bacchus and Ceres. He symbolizes license. The Second Brother fears for the safety of their sister, but the Elder Brother comforts him by pointing out that those who are truly virtuous are safe. This assurance causes the Younger Brother to exclaim over the beauties of philosophy, and by philosophy he means useful moral knowledge rather than harsh and crabbed abstractions, as some regard the subject. He says that it is as sweet as the music played by Apollo, the god of music, on his lute. He also says that partaking of philosophy is like being able to feast continually on sweets without being surfeited by them. The Younger Brother speaks thus:

How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.