Quotations and Allusions in

C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress


compiled by Arend Smilde (Utrecht, The Netherlands)




Many books by C. S. Lewis are full of allusions to, and quotations from, a great variety of sources, and many of these are unspecified. The Pilgrim’s Regress, Lewis’s first prose work, probably beats all the others on this score. He certainly wasn’t fully aware of how often or how much or how literally or indeed whom he was quoting (cf. third note to chapter V/4, below). Reading and writing appear to have been, for him, much like breathing in and breathing out.

No list of references could ever be complete in these circumstances. However, the present list would have been much further from complete without the results of two earlier attempts, as published in
– Henry Noel, “A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress”, Bulletin of the New York C. S. Lewis Society Vol. 2 No. 4 (February 1971), pp. 4–13
– Kathryn Lindskoog, Finding the Landlord: A Guidebook to C. S. Lewis’s “Pilgrim’s Regress” (Cornerstone Press, Chicago 1995).

I am also grateful for much help received from
– Dr. John Bremer, director of the Philosophical Institute in Kensington, Maryland, U.S.A. and a chief contributor to the C. S. Lewis Encyclopedia (1998), who kindly sent me his nearly finished but unpublished work on the epigraphs at the beginning of each of the ten “Books” in the Regress.
– Mr. Paul Leopold in Stockholm, Sweden, who has kindly and generously helped me, and continues to do so, by answering what must by now have run into hundreds of major and minor questions regarding C. S. Lewis – especially The Pilgrim’s Regress.

Readers interested in the actual details and chronology of Lewis’s philosophical development may profit from Norbert Feinendegen’s 2018 essay, “The Philosopher’s Progress: C. S. Lewis’ Intellectual Journey from Atheism to Theism”.

Items for which I am still unable to find the required details are marked by a double question mark in bold type: ??. Additions, corrections and suggestions for new entries are welcome.







The Pilgrim’s Regress: an Allegorical etc.

The main title is of course a play on the title of John Bunyan’s famous allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678–1684). Lewis’s idea to write his own story as an allegory was, however, certainly more than simply an idea to take his cue from Bunyan. At the time of writing his Regress, Lewis had been working for several years on what was to become The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition (1936). In chapter II.3 of that book, the rise of allegory as a literary form in the ancient world of early Christian times is described as resulting from a “change of moral experience” – an increased awareness of “the divided will” or bellum intestinum (“internal war”) within each human being – and a general tendency to “explore the inner world”. “We cannot speak, perhaps we can hardly think, of an inner conflict’ without a metaphor; and every metaphor is an allegory in little” (Allegory, p. 60). In time, the best image to express this inner conflict proved to be not an actual battle, but a journey. Thus “The Pilgrims Progress is a better book than the Holy War [another book by Bunyan]” (69). Towards the end of his chapter Lewis makes, in passing, the further claim that allegory in the form of a journey is allegory “in its best form” (110).





Arthur Greeves :  Lifelong friend of C. S. Lewis’s from his birthplace Belfast. Greeves lived from 1895 till 1966. Their friendship began in 1914 on the basis of a shared delight in Norse mythology. By that time Lewis was already mostly living in England. Their correspondence, which in the early years was both copious and highly confidential, was edited by Walter Hooper and published in 1979 as They Stand Together, and later included in Lewis’s Collected Letters (3 volumes, 2000–2007 ). Lewis wrote The Pilgrim’s Regress in Arthur Greeves’s home in Belfast during a two-week holiday which he spent there in September 1932. The poems included in the last parts of the book had been written earlier.



Preface to Third Edition


Green, Bradley, and Bosanquet :  Three English philosophers, Thomas H. Green (1836–1882), Francis H. Bradley (1846–1924) and Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923);  major figures in the neo-Hegelian, “Idealistic” school of philosophy that flourished during their lifetime.

the word “Romanticism” ... should be banished from our vocabulary :  The semantic analysis following here gives a taste of one kind of scholarship taught and practiced by Lewis in Oxford and Cambridge. In his book Studies in Words (1960) a few handfuls of words were treated in a similar, if more comprehensive manner. But no chapter is devoted in that book to Romanticism or romantic. One reason for this might have been that such analyses were already available: in 1924 Arthur O. Lovejoy published an address for the Modern Language Association, “On the Discrimination of Romanticisms” (reprinted in Essays on the History of Ideas, 1946) in which he, too, suggested that it would be best to stop using the word “Roman­ticism”  altogether. A long and excellent essay on “Four romantic words” was published by Logan Pearsall Smith in 1925.
       Corbin Scott Carnell, Bright Shadow of Reality: C. S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect (1974), chapter 1, “Sehnsucht”, offers a  detailed discussion of Romanticism as “a genus which contains many species”, with special reference to Lewis and the way his peculiar intense longing will or won’t fit in.

Alexandre Dumas, etc. :  The amount of names “dropped” in the course of Lewis’s items 1 through 7 is too large for many further details to be provided here. I have confined myself to making an alphabetical list of these names, followed by years of birth and death and, occasionally, one or two other details which might be found relevant in the present context. – 

Ludovico Ariosto (1454–1533), Italian poet, author of Orlando furioso. /

Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), French poet, author of Les fleurs du mal.

Matteo Boiardo (1434–1494), Italian poet, author of Orlando innamorato.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788–1824), English poet, author of Don Juan.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), English poet and philosopher, author of Christabel and Biographia Literaria.

Pierre Corneille (1606–1684), French dramatist, author of Le Cid.

Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), French novelist, author of Les Trois Mousquetaires.

John Dryden (1631–1700), English poet and dramatist.

E. R. Eddison (1882–1945), English fantasy writer, author of The Worm Ouroboros.

Jacob Epstein (1880–1959), English sculptor who made the memorial stone for Oscar Wilde’s grave in Paris.

Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880), French novelist, author of Madame Bovary.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), German writer and poet, author of Die Leiden des jungen Werther and Faust.

Maurice H. Hewlett (1861–1923), English novelist and poet.

Homer (c. 800 b.c.), ancient Greek poet, alleged author of Ilias and Odyssee.

John Keats (1795–1821), English poet.

D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930), English novelist and poet, author of Sons and Lovers.

Thomas Malory (c. 1400–1470), English writer and editor of a large collection of Arthurian legends called Morte d’Arthur.

Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475–1564), Italian poet, painter, sculptor and architect.

William Morris (1834–1896), English poet and painter.

Alfred de Musset (1810–1857), French poet and dramatist.

Ossian, legendary Irish bard of the third century a.d., presented by James Macpherson (1736–1796) as the author of Fingal and Temora, pseudo-Celtic poems which Macpherson claimed to have translated from Celtic originals.

Edgar Allen Poe (c. 1809–1849), American short-story writer.

Mario Praz (1896–1982), Italian essayist and literary critic, author of The Romantic Agony (La carne, la morte e il diavolo nella literatura romantica, 1930).

Marcel Proust (1871–1922), French writer, author of À la recherche du temps perdu.

Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), English writer of “Gothic” novels, i.e. romantic thrillers fashionable in the late 18th century.

Edmond Rostand (1868–1918), French poet and dramatist, author of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Denis de Rougemont (1906–1985), Swiss Francophone writer, author of L’Amour et l’Occident (1939; translated as Passion and Society, 1940).

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), French writer and philosopher.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), English poet, author of Prometheus Unbound and Ode to the West Wind.

Sir Philip Sidney, (1554-1586) English diplomat, soldier, courtier, critic and poet, author of The Arcadia (1590), a prose romance.

Sophocles (c. 496–406 b.c.), ancient Greek dramatist (tragedian).

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–1599), English poet, author of The Faerie Queene.

James Stephens (1882–1952), Irish writer and poet, author of The Crock of Gold.

Torquato Tasso (1544–1595), Italian poet, author of La Gerusalemme liberata.

Alfred de Vigny (1797–1863), French poet, novelist and dramatist.

Richard Wagner (1813–1883), German opera composer whose Tristan und Isolde was first performed in 1865.

The Werther: German sentimental short novel (1774) by Goethe (see above).

Walter Whitman (1819–1892), American poet.

perilous seas and faerie lands forlorn :  John Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale” (1819).

Maeterlinck :  Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1959), Belgian Francophone poet and dramatist of the “Symbolist” school in literature; author of Pelléas et Mélisande (which served as the basis of an opera by the French composer Claude Debussy).

Yeats : William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), Irish poet and dramatist.

false Florimels :  In The Faerie Queene (1596), the unfinished long poem by Edmund Spenser, Florimell is a modest and beautiful maiden who succeeds in keeping all men with dishonourable intentions at a distance. The mother of one of these provides her son with a “false Florimell” – who is an easy prey to him and others (see below, fourth epigraph for Book Two). Later the real Florimell, now married to a worthy lover, is at last brought face to face with the false Florimell who, as a result, “vanisht into nought” (F.Q. V.3, 24 ff.). See also Lewis on Spenser in his History of English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, p. 382 (“The false Florimell attracts by being like the true, the true Florimell by being like Beauty itself.”).

Arthur Conan Doyle :  English writer (1959–1930), chiefly known for his detective stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. After his son was killed in action during the First World War, he got increasingly immersed in spiritualism. This resulted in books like A History of Spiritualism (1926).

the Blue Flower :  A symbol of romantic longing in the novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen (1802) by the German writer Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1772–1801).

our America, our New-found-land :  John Donne (1572–1631), Elegy XX, “To His Mistress Going to Bed”.

The Well at the World’s End :  Fantasy story by William Morris, published posthumously in 1896.

Kubla Khan :  Unfinished poem by Coleridge, published in 1816 but allegedly written in 1797 after he composed it, as Coleridge said, in his sleep. Having written fifty-four lines he was interrupted for some business, after which the rest of the poem had vanished from his memory and never came back.

the Siege Perilous :  A chair at King Arthur’s Round Table which was strictly reserved for the man who found “the Grail”. The image returns in chapter VIII/10.

if nature makes nothing in vain : In a letter of 29 April 1943 Lewis refers to this maxim in Latin, Natura nil agit frustra, calling it “a sound principle in philosophy” (Collected Letters II, p. 570). One very likely source is Thomas Browne, Religio Medici (1642), First Part, section XV (p. 17 in the Everyman edition of 1906):

Natura nihil agit frustra, is the only indisputed Axiome in Philosophy.

Walter Hooper mentions this source in a note to the letter, translating the maxim as “Nature does nothing in vain” – which is more accurate than Lewis’s “Nature makes” etc.
       An almost equally likely source is a passage in Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae natu­ralis principia mathematica, second edition (1713), p. 357, as quoted by James Jeans in The Mysteri­ous Universe (1930), chapter 4 (p. 83 in the Cambridge U.P. edition of 1948). The passage in Newton’s work appears at the beginning of Book III, where a set of “Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy” is given. The original Latin is quoted in English by Jeans as follows:

Rule I. We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances. – To this purpose the philosophers say that Nature does nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.

immortal longings” :  See note on this phrase in chapter V/4.

The Criterion :  English literary journal (1922–1939) edited by T. S. Eliot.

One of them described Romanticism as spilled religion” :  A reference to the English poet, essayist and philosopher T. E. Hulme (1883–1917) in his lecture Romanticism and Classicism”, written around 1911 and published posthumously in Speculations (1924, edited by Herbert Read; second edition 1936; Routledge paperback reprint 1960). The words quoted are on page 118:

You don’t believe in Heaven, so you begin to believe in a heaven on earth. (...) The concepts that are right and proper in their own sphere are spread over, and so mess up, falsify and blur the clear outlines of human experience. It is like pouring a pot of treacle over the dinner table. Romanticism then, and this is the best definition I can give of it, is spilt religion.

Hulme, in this essay, was predicting and welcoming the end of an era of romanticism in poetry – “I think that there is an increasing proportion of people who simply can’t stand Swinburne. … I prophesy that a period of dry, hard classical verse is coming” (p. 125, 133).
     The volume’s opening essay, “Humanism and the Religious Attitude”, seems to throw light on the image of “spilled” religion as Hulme intended it. He attacks “humanism” as the modern world’s unhappy legacy from the Renaissance and an inevitable course towards its own nadir: romanticism. As a remedy he proposes a “religious attitude” defined by a restored “assurance that values are in some way permanent”, a belief in something like the Christian dogma of “original sin”, and the shedding of all belief in human perfectibility. The great error of Humanism was to ignore the “absolute gap” between the “regions of reality” (4) and to forget that “the divine is not life at its intensest” (8). As heirs of humanism and romanticism, “we
introduce into human things the Perfection that properly belongs only to the divine, and thus confuse both human and divine” (32). The human sphere is sullied by a religious belief in “Progress” (35) and by the cult of “Personality, and all the bunkum that follows from it” (33); the religious sphere by attempts to “explain” religion  and “derive ethical values out of essentially subjective things, like human desires and feelings” (48-49). Again, in yet another essay he notes that “romanticism confuses both human and divine things by not clearly separating them. The main thing with which it can be reproached is that it blurs the clear outlines of human relations whether in political thought or in the treatment of sex in literature, by introducing into them the Perfection that properly belongs only to the non-human” (256).
A character perhaps representing Hulme appears as one of Lewis’s “three pale men”; see first note to chapter VI/2, below.

Scaliger :  Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484–1558), Italian humanist and doctor of medicine, whose writings include Poetices libri VII (“Seven Books on Poetics”).

Maenad :  i.e. through sensual pleasures. “Maenad” is another word for Bacchante, a priestess of Bacchus (Greek: Dionysus), the god of vine, wine and mystic ecstasy.

Mystagogue :  i.e. through arousing your curiosity about mysteries and your desire to be initiated in them. A mystagogue (from Greek: μυσταγωγός “person who initiates into mysteries”) is a person who initiates others into mystic beliefs.

“Drive out the bondmaid’s son” :  Genesis XXI.10, where Sarah suggests that Abraham should chase away his Egyptian slave Hagar and her son.

“Quench not the smoking flax :  Isaiah XLII.3 and XLIII.17.

praeparatio evangelica :  (Latin) “Preparation for the Gospel”; title of a book of Christian apologetics by the early Christian author and church historian Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265–339 a.d.). Eusebius tried in this book to show why the religion of the Jews was preferable to that of the Greeks. In an unfinished work called Demonstratio evangelica he went on to explain why Christianity had meanwhile supplanted the Jewish religion.

tearing each other to pieces on the Don :  Lewis is referring to the battle of Stalingrad (August 1942–February 1943) and its aftermath, when the advance of German armies in southern Russia began to turn into their slow and devastating retreat. The Don is the great Russian river which, on the latitude of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), is not very far to the west of that city.

“the heresies that men leave are hated most” :  Slightly misquoted from Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream II.2, 139–140, Lysander to Hermia: “...the heresies that men do leave / Are hated most of those they did deceive”. In his later autobiographical book, Surprised by Joy (1955), chapter XIV, Lewis used the same (mis)quotation, ascribing it to John Donne.

Prohibition :  The years 1920–1933 as a period in the history of the United States of America, when there was an official ban on “the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages” (18th Amendment to the Constitution)

hearken to the over-wise or to the over-foolish giant :  John Keats (1795–1821), Hyperion: A Fragment (1820) II, 309–310: “Or shall we listen to the over-wise, / Or to the over-foolish giant, Gods?”

at once rational and animal :  A reference to the Latin phrase animal rationale – a well-known definition of “a human” in some ancient and medieval philosophers including Seneca and St Thomas Aquinas.

when allegory is at its best, is approaches myth :  cf. The Allegory of Love, V.1, p. 221, discussing the conclusion of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis:

We have here one of those rare passages in which medieval allegory rises to myth, in which the symbols, though fashioned to represent mere single concepts, take on new life and represent rather the principles – not otherwise accessible – which unite whole classes of concepts. All is shot through with meanings which the author may never have been aware of; and, on this level, it does not matter whether he was or not.

and VI.6, p. 269, on Lydgate’s Pilgrimage of Man:

Nothing is easier or more vulgar than to make allegories, if we are content with purely conceptual equivalences and do not care whether the product will satisfy imagination as well. 

Jakob Boehme or Behmen :  German mystical writer (1575–1624); variant spellings of his name also include Böhm or (now usual) Böhme. In a letter of 5 January 1930, Lewis mentioned what seemed to him at the time a momentous experience while reading Böhme’s book The Signature of All Things (i.e. an English translation of De signatura rerum, oder Von der Geburt und Bezeichnung aller Wesen, published in 1621). From his more specific remarks, including some quotations, it appears that the experience actually concerned a crucial stage that Lewis was reaching around this time − admitting the distinction between God as Creator and the universe as his creation (see Collected Letters vol. I, pp. 858-859). However, his early enthusiasm appears to have cooled down pretty soon: Lewis was hardly ever to mention Böhme again in any of his later books or letters.

in Trine-land one feels “in tune with the infinite” :  A reference to the American popular mystical writer Ralph Waldo Trine (1866–1952) and his best-selling book In Tune with the Infinite (1897).




Book One, THE DATA



Plato :  The Republic (Politeia) VI, 505e.

Boethius :  The Consolation of Philosophy (De consolatione philosophiae) III.2/p, by the Roman philosopher and statesman Ancius Manlius Torquatus Severinus Boethius (480–526 a.d.)

Hooker :  Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (1594) I (p. 205 in the Dent edition), by English theologian Richard Hooker (1554–1600).


Chapter I/1, The Rules

pull up the primroses by handfuls : Cf. George Macdonald in The Seaboard Parish, as quoted by Lewis in his Macdonald Anthology (1946), Nr. 285 (last lines):

... The flower is not its loveliness, and its loveliness we must love, else we shall only treat them as flower-greedy children, who gather and gather, and fill hands and baskets from a mere desire of acquisition.

In his preface to the Anthology Lewis marked this item out as “particularly admirable ... All romantics are vividly aware of mutability, but most of them are content to bewail it: for Macdonald this nostalgia is merely the starting point – he goes on and discovers what it was made for.”


Chapter I/2,  The Island

the other Law in his members :   From the New Testament, Paul’s Epistle to the Romans VII.23. “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Oreads :  Generic name for mountain nymphs in ancient Greek popular belief.


Chapter I/4,  Leah for Rachel

Leah for Rachel (cf. II/5) :  A reference to the Old Testament story of Jacob and his uncle Laban, Genesis XXIX. Leah and Rachel are Laban’s two daughters; Rachel is the younger one, and beautiful. Jacob loves her and he offers to “serve” Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel. After these seven years and after his first night with his wife, Jacob finds that he has been given not Rachel but Leah.

brown girl :  Roger Lancelyn Green, a friend and biographer of C. S. Lewis, has suggested that the “brown girls” in this book might go back to a dream which Lewis recorded in his diary on 26 April 1922 (C. S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table and other reminiscences, ed. James Como, new edition, p. 213). In the published selection from that diary, All My Road Before Me (ed. Walter Hooper, 1991) this passage has not been included; nor did Green give the correct date. The original entry for 26 August (not April) 1922 begins as follows:

“I dreamed that W[arnie] and I were being entertained in a palace which I called ‘Malvern’ and some sort of old boy’s festival was in progress. At the point at which I begin to remember things this had gone on already for a long time and we were being ticked off for some misbehaviour by a very stately woman who forbade us henceforth to speak to the boys. From her I turned alone and went down a flight of steps into a bathroom – a beauti­ful place with innumerable basins whose marble floor, green veined like the deep sea, could be seen spread out from the top of the stairs. This led out into a place on the banks of the Thames near Iffley where a sort of regatta was going on. The next thing I remember was coming back from this to ‘Malvern’. On the way up I met a big cart, driven by a girl who had no clothes on. She had very light brown hair: but dark skin, pink brown, like sand. I smiled at her in the confidential way you might smile at a girl when you’d seen a hole in her stocking and she smiled back in just the same way, as much as to say ‘Yes I know. Isn’t it a scream.’ Then I went up back to Malvern and woke up – having seen the girl again, this time in the distance beyond the river, with other people in the cart. W and I did most of our packing before breakfast...” (etc., as printed in All My Road Before Me).


Chapter I/5,  Ichabod

Ichabod (cf. II/6) :  (Hebrew) “The glory is departed’; from the Old Testament story in  I Samuel IV.21–22. The wife of Pinehas just turned widow calls her newborn child “Ichabod” because the Ark of God – a portable sanctuary – has been taken by Israel’s enemies and because her husband as well as her father in law have died.


Chapter I/6,  Quem quaeritis in sepulchro? Non est hic

Quem quaeritis in sepulchro? Non est hic (cf. II/7) :  (Latin) “Whom do you seek in the grave? He is not here.” From the Latin liturgy for Easter, based on Luke XXIV.5–6, Quid quaeritis viventem cum mortuis? non est hic  “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here.”




Book Two,  THRILL



Exodus :  The second of the Ten Commandments, Exodus XX.4.

Plato :  Second Epistle, 312e–313a; a letter addressed to Dionysius, the ruler of Syracuse, who was puzzled by what Plato called the Idea of the Good.

Dante :  Purgatory (Purgatorio, second part of Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia) XVIII, 38–39. Ma non ciascun segno / È buono, ancor che buona sia la cera, “But every seal is not a good one, even if imprinted in good wax” (Robert Hollander’s translation). Lewis’s version is probably his own, and in any case very free.

Spenser :  The Faerie Queene III.8. For the background to this passage see the note on “false Florimels” in the Preface, above.


Chapter II/1,  Dixit insipiens

Dixit insipiens :  (Latin) “The fool hath said...” Psalm XIV.1 and LIII.1. Dixit insipiens in corde suo: Non est Deus, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

Going West, perhaps, young man? :  From a famous phrase – “go West, young man, go West!” – in the writing of Horace Greeley (1811–1872). Greeley was an American journalist and social reformer, and founder of the New York Tribune. He seems to have borrowed the phrase from a fellow American journalist, John Soule (1815–1872) of the Terre Haute Express (Indiana, 1851).

Mr. Enlightenment :  The chapter headline calls him a personification of “Nineteenth Century Rationalism” although the Enlightenment in a strictly historical sense is the name of an eighteenth-century movement. Apparently Lewis was thinking of “enlightenment” in a slightly broader sense which includes its direct spiritual heirs.

round as an orange :  Probably borrowed from E. Nesbit’s Five Children – and It (1902), chapter I: “Grown-up people find it very difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof. But children will believe almost anything, and grown-ups know this. This is why they tell you that the earth is round like an orange, when you see perfectly well that it is flat and lumpy.” Lewis quoted this in a letter to his father of 30 October 1930 (Collected Letters I, p. 680) as he was complaining about popular distortions of Darwin’s theory of evolution: “The infants seem to be taught that ‘in the beginning was the Ape’ from whom all other life developed...

Claptrap :  A word coined in the eighteenth century to denote fashionable nonsense, contrived to elicit applause (as distinguished from nonsense in general).


Chapter II/2,  The Hill

Jehovah-Jirah :  (Hebrew) “The Lord will provide”, Genesis XXII.14.  Abraham was “tempted” by God with a command to sacrifice his son Isaac. On their way to the appointed place, Abraham tells Isaac that “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” Just in time “the angel of the Lord” intervenes and keeps Abraham from killing Isaac.  Abraham then finds “a ram caught in a thicket”, which he offers instead of his son; “and Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh.”


Chapter II/3,  A Little Southward

To travel hopefully is better than to arrive :  Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque (1881), “El Dorado”; “...to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” Lewis criticized this assertion in several places, e.g. a letter of 28 August 1930 to Arthur Greeves (Collected Letters I, p. 931). He also used it in The Great Divorce, chapter 5, where it is put in the mouth of a very different character, the “Episcopal Ghost”.


Chapter II/5,  Leah for Rachel

they told you that the the Landlord’s castle was within you : cf. Luke 17:21, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kindgom of God is within you.”

What is truth? :  Gospel according to St John XVIII.38.

What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth :  From a letter of John Keats dated 22 November 1817.


Chapter II/6,  Ichabod

But oh, alas! said he, so long our bodies why do we forbear?etc. :  John Donne, “The Exstasie”, 49ff and 68. “But O alas, so long, so farre, / Our bodies why doe wee forbeare? / They’re ours, though they’are not wee, Wee are / Th’intelligences, they the spheare. (...) So must pure lovers soules descend / T’affections, and to faculties, / That sense may reach and apprehend, / Else a great Prince in prison lies.”


Chapter II/7,  Non est Hic

Eschropolis :  In an unpublished letter of 27 December 1943 Lewis to a Miss Barrett Lewis explains the Greek name:

Eschropolis = Aischropolis from αισχρος ugly, and πολις a city.


Chapter II/8,  Great Promises

Atalanta :  A figure in ancient Greek mythology, daughter of a Boeotian king. She excelled in foot races and would only marry the man who could outrun her. The man who finally did so was Melanion, a favourite of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.







Through Darkest... :  Titles, headings, captions etc. like this perhaps got their currency in English after Sir Henry Stanley’s two African travel books, Through the Dark Continent (1878) and In Darkest Africa (1890) and after William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, had been the first to respond to this with his own book called Through Darkest England and How to Get Out (1890).

Zeitgeistheim :  A German word probably coined for this occasion. In the Preface, Lewis translates it as “habitat of the Spirit of the Age” (Zeit = time, Geist = spirit, Heim = home or abode).



Thucydides :  History of the Peloponnesian War (Historiae) III.82–83 by the Greek historian Thucydides (c. 460–c. 395 b.c.) of Athens.

Anon. :  ??  Source not found. These lines may be Lewis’s own translation of some Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse poetry, of the same character as the Edda fragments in chapter VI/6 or as the Guide’s directions at the beginning of chapter X/8. The most conspicuous formal characteristic of this type of poetry is alliteration.

Shaw :  “Apparent Anachronisms”, note to Caesar and Cleopatra (1901) by George Bernard Shaw (1856­–1950), English dramatist.


Chapter III/1,  Eschropolis

Silly Twenties (chapter headline) :  The tags in this and the next two chapter headlines – Silly, Dirty and Lunatic Twenties – possibly had some currency when Lewis wrote this, in the early 1930s; more likely they are inventions of his own. Still in use is another phrase, Roaring Twenties; but this seems to have exclusively American connotations and not to refer to artistic and cultural trends in Europe.

Victoriana :  In a letter of 1945 (Collected Letters II, pp. 678–679) Lewis said this figure was his parody of the English poet Edith Sitwell (1887–1964). He was probably thinking primarily of Sitwell’s volume Façade (1922).

columbine :  Columbine is a stock figure in traditional English “pantomime”, a kind of play performed at Christmas time; she is  the sweetheart of Harlequin. Since we know from Lewis that “Victoriana was Edith Sitwell” (see previous note), the appearance of “a columbine” may be taken as an allusion to Edith and Osbert Sitwell’s volume of poetry Twentieth-Century Harlequinade (1915). In his 1945 letter Lewis also wrote that he had later come to have a higher regard for Edith Sitwell.

an aspidistra in a pot :  The aspidistra became a very popular English houseplant in the late nineteenth century because it was strong enough to survive the fumes from gas lighting. The “cast-iron plant”, as it was called, became an almost invariable item of lower middle and lower class English interiors and thus a symbol of the kind of life that was supposed to be going on there.


Chapter III/6,  Poisoning the Wells

and left John in prison :  As appears from two passages in The Allegory of Love, a picture of the Zeitgeist or Spirit of the Age as a sort of prison came quite naturally to Lewis. “If we could be free, for a little, of our own Zeitgeist, we might confess that...” (Allegory II.3, p. 61); “Surely to be indulgent to mere fashion in other periods, and merciless to it in our own, is the first step we can make out of the prison of the Zeitgeist?” (ibid. III.6, p. 89–90).


Chapter III/8,  Parrot Disease

imagine eating any of her other secretions :  cf. J. B. S. Haldane, Daedalus, or Science and the Future, a paper read to The Heretics, Cambridge, on February 4th, 1923:

“The chemical or physical inventor is always a Prometheus. There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god. But if every physical and chemical invention is a blaphemy, every biological invention is a perversion. There is hardly one which, on first being brought to the notice of an observer from any nation which has not previously heard of their existence, would not appear to him as indecent and unnatural. Consider so simple and time-honored a process as the milking of a cow. The milk which should have been an intimate and almost sacramental bond between mother and child is elicited by the deft fingers of a milk-maid, and drunk, cooked, or even allowed to rot into cheese. We have only to imagine ourselves as drinking any of its other secretions, in order to realise the radical indecency of our relation to the cow.”

As appears from Lewis’s published diary of 20 February 1924, he read Daedalus on that day and described it as “a diabolical little book, bloodless tho’ stained with blood. This must be read and digested – or vomited” (All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922–1927, ed. Walter Hooper, 1991).

There are two only generally necessary to damnation :  Parody on a passage in the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church. “Question.  How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church? Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.” (“Two only” implies a rejection of the Roman Catholic list of seven Sacraments.)







Bacon :  Essays, “Of Truth”, by the English statesman, philosopher and essayist Francis Bacon (1561–1626); pp. 4–5 in the edition by Richard Foster Jones: Essays, Advancement Of Learning, New Atlantis And Other Pieces (Odyssey Press, New York 1937).


Chapter IV/1,  Let Grill be Grill

Let Grill be Grill :  Spenser, The Faerie Queene II.12.87 (conclusion of Book II). Sir Guyon has destroyed the Bower of Bliss of the enchantress Acrasia and liberates her captives, breaking the spell by which they had been turned into beasts. One of them (called Grill) wants to remain a beast –

Saide Guyon: “See the mind of beastly man,
That hath so soon forgot the excellence
Of his creation, when his life began
That now he chooseth, with vile difference
To be a beast, and lacke intelligence:
Let Gryll be Gryll, and have his hoggish mind;
But let us hence depart, whilest wether serves and winde.”

No doubt Spenser borrowed the name, Gryll, from an ancient story about one of Odysseus’s sailors who, after being liberated from Circe’s enchantment, preferred to remain a beast. One notable retelling is by the Greek historian and biographer Plutarch (c. AD 46–120) in Book XII of his Moralia; this is a dialogue of Odysseus, Circe and Gryllus under the title “Beasts are Rational”. See Loeb Classical Library vol. 406, pp.  487-533.

psittacosis :  Scientific name for parrot fever or parrot disease, an infectious disease of parrots that can be transmitted to humans, in whom it may produce pneumonia.


Chapter IV/2,  Archtype and Ectype

Archtype and Ectype (see also VIII/10) :  “Original and copy”; concepts presumably borrowed here from John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) II.30 (“Of Real and Fantastical ideas”) and II.31 (“Of Adequate and Inadequate Ideas”). Greek ectypon means an impress from a commemorative medal, seal or signet ring.
For Lewis’s orthography see a passage from his letter of 24 October 1940 to Sister Penelope: “On archtypal or archetypal, note as the first principle of textual criticism in dealing with me that all odd spellings [have no] more interesting explanation than ignorance – now I can’t spell!” (Collected Letters II, p. 451). Later editions have Archetype.

riddle about the copy and the original :  Lewis’s book The Allegory of Love (see note to Title, above) has a long chapter on the thirteenth-century French Roman de la Rose. As he points out in that chapter, the Roman’s inevitable “palinode” – denunciation of erotic love after all that has been said in its favour – is put into the mouth of the lady Reason; and Reason not only approaches the hero as a rival mistress but hints to an idea expressed more fully in another part of the poem – “that courtly love is a mimesis or a parody of which divine love is the archtype” (see The Allegory of Love III.5, pp. 147 and 151).


Chapter IV/3,  Esse is percipi

Esse is percipi :  (Latin) “To be = to be perceived”; statement by the Irish philosopher Bishop George Berkeley (1685–1753) in his Principles of Human Knowledge, §3. “For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived, that seems perfectly unintelligible. Their esse is percepi, nor is it possible they should have any existence out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.”







Pindar :  Pythian Ode X, 29–30, by the ancient Greek lyric poet Pindar (c. 520–c. 440 b.c.). Cf. C. S. Lewis’s own poem of 1949, “Pindar Sang”, in Collected Poems (1994), pp. 29–31.

Aeschylus :  Prometheus Bound (Prometheus desmotès), 546–551, by the ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus (524– 455 b.c.)

Milton :  Paradise Regained (1671) IV, 309–311.


Chapter V/2, Mother Kirk’s Story

Peccatum Adae :  (Latin) “The sin of Adam”; theological term derived from the New Testament, Paul’s Epistle to the Romans V.12–14, and from St. Augustine’s discussion of the subject in The City of God (De civitate Dei) XIV.11–13.


Chapter V/3, The Self-Sufficiency of Vertue

I must be the captain of my soul and the master of my fate :  From the last stanza of the poem “Invictus” by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903).


Chapter V/4, Mr. Sensible

“the philosophy of all sensible men” (chapter headline) :  Perhaps adapted from the American writer and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), who wrote “I see that sensible men and conscientious men all over the world were of one religion” (Lectures and Biographical Sketches: “the Preacher”). – Another possible source is the novel Endymion, chapter LXXXI, by the British statesman Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): “‘As for that,’ said Waldenshare, ‘sensible men are all of the same religion.’ ‘Pray, what is that?’ inquired the Prince. ‘Sensible men never tell.’” There is also an echo here of The Religion of All Good Men (1906) by the Oxford classical scholar H. W. Garrod (1878–1960), briefly referred to in Lewis’s 1946 essay ‘The Decline of Religion’.

Hippocrene :  (Latin, from Greek) “Horse spring”; in ancient Greece, a spring on Mount Helicon near the home of the Muses. Its water was thought to engender poetic inspiration and to have gushed forth when the winged horse Pegasus touched his hoof there.

Regum aequabit opes animis :  (Latin) “equal to a king in the riches of the spirit.” Virgil (70–19 b.c., Roman poet), Georgics IV, 132. With regard not only to the following spate of Latin and Greek quotations coming from Mr. Sensible, but also to Lewis’s own writing habits, it may be useful for the reader to be reminded of a passage in a letter from Lewis to Arthur Greeves, this book’s dedicatee, written after Greeves had criticised the yet unpublished manuscript. In that letter of 17 December 1932, Lewis began his reply as follows:

1. Quotations. I hadn’t realised that they were so numerous as you apparently found them. Mr Sensible, as you rightly saw, is in a separate position; the shower of quotations is part of the character and it wd. be a waste of time to translate them, since the dialogue (I hope) makes it clear that his quotations were always silly and he always missed the point of the authors he quoted. The other ones may be too numerous, and perhaps can be reduced & translated. But not beyond a certain point: for one of the contentions of the book is that the decay of our old classical learning is a contributary cause of atheism (see the chapter on Ignorantia). The quotations at the begin­nings of the Books are of course never looked at at all by most readers, so I don’t think they matter much.

thou little knowest that sentence is passed upon thee :  ??

Omnes eodem cogimur :  (Latin) “We are all being gathered to the same fold.” Horace (65–8 b.c., Roman poet), Odes (Carmina) II.3, 25.

quo dives Tullus et Ancus :  (Latin) “whither rich Tullus and Ancus” –  i.e. the underworld, the land of the dead. Horace, Odes (Carmina) IV.7, 15.

nullius addictus :  (Latin) “In no way bound”, i.e. not taking sides. Horace, Epistles I.1, 14. Nullius addictus iurare in verba magistri – “I am not bound to swear by the statement of any authority.”

en déshabille :  (French) “in undress”, i.e. informally.

J’aime le jeu, l’amour ... et la campagneenfin, tout! :  “I like games, love, books, music, town and country – everything, in fact!” Jean de la Fontaine (1621–1695, French poet), Les amours de Psyché et de Cupidon I.2. Lewis described his enjoying Fontaine’s “quatrain”  in a letter of 24 October 1931 to his brother (Collected Letters II, 6).
n.b. some Regress editions have champagne for campagne.

haud equidem invideo :  (Latin) “I am not envious at all.” Virgil, Eclogues (Bucolica, “pastoral poems”) I, 11. Non equidem invideo, miror magis – “I am not envious but, rather, surprised.”

You do not insist on my accompanying you? ... Why then I am very willing that your should go! :  Quoted almost literally from the opening paragraph of James Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides (1785): “When I was at Ferney, in 1764, I mentioned our design to Voltaire. He looked at me, as if I had talked of going to the North Pole, and said, ‘You do not insist on my accompanying you?’ ‘No, sir.’ ‘Then I am very willing that you should go.’”

Caelum non animum mutamus :  (Latin) “[Crossing the sea] we change the scenery, not ourselves.” After Horace, Epistles I.11, 27. Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.

immortal longings :  After Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra V.2, 283.

who has not stretched out his hands for the ulterior shore? :  Cf. Virgil, Aeneid VI, 313-314.

Stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum,
Tendebantque manus ripae ulterioris amore.

There all stood begging to be first across
And reached out longing hands to the far shore.

Et ego in Arcadia :  (Latin) “I too [have been] in Arcadia.” Correctly phrased Et in Arcadia Ego, this saying of uncertain provenance is found on numerous tombs and also on paintings in which tombs are seen. Art historian Erwin Panovsky has traced its origins back to a painting by Guercino (1591–1666) where it has the grammatically proper meaning, “even in Arcadia am I [=Death]”, through its history of misunderstanding in art and literature as “I too have been in Arcadia [a lovely place of fabled peace and innocence; therefore I also am an idealist]”. Lewis has shuffled the word order so that it can properly have the latter meaning, which is Mr Sensible’s.

monochronos hèdonè :  (Greek) “fleeting pleasure”.

the proper study of mankind is man :  Alexander Pope (1688–1744), An Essay on Man II, 2.

Eadem sunt omnia semper :  (Latin) “Everything is always the same”. Lucretius (Roman poet and philosopher, c. 95–55 b.c.), De rerum natura III, 949.

the unchanging heart beneath the shifting disguises :  Cf. Lewis’s Preface to Paradise Lost (1943) IX, “The Doctrine of the Unchanging Human Heart”, where he argues that in reading the literature of other times and places, we will not grow in wisdom as long as we are chiefly interested in what is the same everywhere in humanity.

the reasonableness which I commend :  “Reasonableness” is a characteristic item in the vocabulary of the English poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822–1888), especially in the collocation “sweet reasonableness”.

le bon sens :  (French) “common sense”.

bridewell :  “jail” (from a London prison called Bridewell).

Auream quisquis :  (Latin) A scrap from Horace, Odes (Carmina) II.10, 5. Auream quisquis mediocritatem diligit – “The man who cherishes the golden mean.”

the doctrine of the Mean :  See Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics II.6 and II.8 (1107a, 1108b). No triangle is mentioned there; but this example could be the way this doctrine used to be explained in Lewis’s/Vertue’s school days. A virtue (says Aristotle) is like a point at equal distances from two opposed vices: e.g. courage is a point exactly between cowardice and recklessness. But cowards will call courageous people reckless, and reckless people will call them cowards. Whoever wants to practice virtue ought therefore not just to seek this middle point but to try and get even further away from both vicious extremes. This is (says Vertue) as if you start from a middle point on such a line but then decide to treat them as two corners of a triangle where you seek the third, hoping that it will be further away from the other two corners than they are from each other.

Do manus! :  (Latin) “I give up!”

Philosophy should be our mistress : In a letter of 28 June 1936 to Owen Barfield (Collected Letters II, 198-199), Lewis confessed himself unable to continue their philosophical debates of the 1920s because, as he notes,

When a truth has ceased to be a mistress for pleasure and become a wife for fruit it is almost unnatural to go back to the dialectic ardours of the wooing.

Lewis was obviously alluding here to a passage in Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning (1605), Book 1, ch. V/11.

Neither is my meaning, as was spoken of Socrates, to call philosophy down from heaven to converse upon the earth – that is, to leave natural philosophy aside, and to apply knowledge only to manners and policy.  But as both heaven and earth do conspire and contribute to the use and benefit of man, so the end ought to be, from both philosophies to separate and reject vain speculations, and whatsoever is empty and void, and to preserve and augment whatsoever is solid and fruitful; that knowledge may not be as a courtesan, for pleasure and vanity only, or as a bond-woman, to acquire and gain to her masters use; but as a spouse, for generation, fruit, and comfort.

Lewis explicitly referred to this passage in The Abolition of Man (1943), chapter 3, commenting that

... Bacon condemns those who value knowledge as an end in itself: this, for him, is to use as a mistress for pleasure what ought to be a spouse for fruit.

the bit about thinking mortal thoughts : See Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics X.7 (1177b, just before 1178a; referring to Euripides and Pindar).

We must not follow those who advise us, being men, to think of human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in accordance with the best thing in us.
(translation W. D. Ross, 1925)

that the most useless of studies was the noblest : Perhaps another reference to Nicomachean Ethics, 1177b, just before the previous quotation.

So if among virtuous actions political and military actions are distinguished by nobility and greatness, and these are unleisurely and aim at an end and are not desirable for their own sake, but the activity of reason, which is contemplative, seems both to be superior in serious worth and to aim at no end beyond itself, and to have its pleasure proper to itself … it follows that this will be the complete happiness of man, if it be allowed a complete term of life … But such a life would be too high for man; for it is not in so far as he is man that he will live so, but in so far as something divine is present in him; and by so much as this is superior to our composite nature is its activity superior to that which is the exercise of the other kind of virtue.

que sais-je? :  (French) “What do I know?” Motto of the French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), engraved on his personal seal.

brown charm :  “brown” as in “brown study”; reverie, mood of deep absorption or thoughtfulness.


Chapter V/5,  Table Talk

“the religion of all sensible men” (chapter headline) : See first note to previous chapter.

Dapibus mensas onerabit inemptis :  (Latin) “He loaded his table with delicacies not bought at the store.” Virgil, Georgics IV, 133 (this line immediately follows the one quoted in the previous chapter, Regum aequabit etc.).

“His humble sauce a radish or an egg” :  William Cowper (1731–1800), The Task IV, 168.

Epicurus :  Greek philosopher (341–270 b.c.). In his ethical system, Pleasure was the supreme good; the way to reach it was not frenetic search or wild abandon but, on the contrary, wisdom, self-control and careful choice of pleasures.

Horace :  Roman lyrical poet (65–8 b.c.). He was presented as a great master of classical Latin to many generations of European schoolboys, including Lewis’s.

Montaigne :  The French 16th-century writer mentioned above (V/4, que sais-je?). In his work, with  three volumes of Essais (1588) as its chief part, he shows a lively interest in his own person and a resulting awareness of the dangers both of reason and of imagination. 

Rabelais :  François Rabelais (c. 1494–1553), French writer, author of the mock-heroic romances Gargantua (1532), Pantagruel (1534), and three sequels.

Athanatous men prota Theous nomoi hos diakeitai Tima :  (Greek) “The most important thing is to honour the gods as is required by law.” First line of the Golden Verses, ascribed to the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (6th century b.c.).

Cras ingens iterabimus [aequor] :  (Latin) “Tomorrow we will take up our course again over the huge [sea]”. Horace, Odes (Carmina) I.7, 32. The full passage is Nunc vino pellite curas; cras ingens iterabimus aequor, where the first half means “With wine now drive away care...”

Pellite cras ingens tum-tum, nomoi hos diakeitai :  A drunken mixture of the previous two quotations; “Push off tomorrow on the huge... pom-pom, as is required.”


Chapter V/6,  Drudge

Chorègia :  (Greek) Defray of expenses; support; subsidy.

untie two pieces of string with which he had confined his trousers beneath his knees : A sign that Drudge is drifting towards “sans-culottism”, i.e. revolutionary extremism. Sans culotte is French for “without knee-breeches”. During the French Revolution, revolutionaries of the poorer classes tended to wear pantaloons or trousers and so came to be called sans-culottes. In Book VI, chapter 6, it turns out that Drudge went north “to join the red dwarfs”.


Chapter V/7,  The Gaucherie of Vertue

autarkeia :  (Greek) Economic self-sufficiency.

Vive la bagatelle :  “Hurray for nonsense!” Laurence Sterne (1713–1768, English novelist),  A Sentimental Journey, “The Letter”.

Thelema :  Greek word for “will” in the sense of volition. In the novel Gargantua by the French author François Rabelais (c. 1494–1553), Thélème is the abbey of a highly exceptional kind of religious order – in fact, an anti-order in an anti-abbey – led by Frère Jean des Entommeurs; see Gargantua (= Book I in Gargantua et Pantagruel) LII et seq.

Do what you will :  Supreme rule of the monastic life at Thélème: Fay ce que vouldras; see Gargantua LVII.







Aristotle :  Nicomachean Ethics, 1124b

Milton :  Paradise Regained VI, 313–314. The passage follows almost immediately on the Milton epigraph for Book V, above.

Pascal :  Pensées (1670), No. 353 in the Brunschvicg-edition of 1897 (section VI, “Les philosophes”), by the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Je n’admire point l’excès d’une vertu, comme de la valeur, si je ne vois en même temps l’excès de la vertu opposée...

I. A. Richards :  Practical Criticism (1929), Poem III, by the English literary critic and linguist Ivor Armstrong Richards (1893–1979).


Chapter VI/2, Three Pale Men

Neo-Angular, Neo-Classical, Humanist :   Chad Walsh (1914–1991), an American poet and critic and one of the earliest authoritative writers about C. S. Lewis, considers the three types presented here “transparent disguises” of T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), Irving Babbitt (1865–1933) and George Santayana (1863–1952) respectively; see Walsh, The Literary Legacy of C. S. Lewis (1979), pp. 67–68.
       Another writer on Lewis sees Humanist, Neo-Angular and Neo-Classical  as “thin disguises for aspects of Irving Babbitt, Eliot, and perhaps T. E. Hulme”; see Corbin Scott Carnell, Bright Shadow of Reality: C. S. Lewis and the Feeling Intellect (1974), pp. 129-130. Babbitt thus appears to be a candidate for identification with both Humanist and Neo-Classical. For Hulme as an anti-romanticist, see note on his dictum about “spilt religion” quoted in the Preface, above.
       Yet another published attempt at identification follows Carnell without the reservation about Hulme, while adding two more candidates for “Humanist”, namely Paul Elmer More (1864-1937) and Norman Foerster (1887-1972); see James Patrick’s The Magdalen Metaphysicals: Idealism and Orthodoxy at Oxford, 1901-1945) (1985), pp. 112-113, as referred to in Doris T. Myers, C. S. Lewis in Context (1994), p. 19, note 25.

Virtutes paganorum splendida vitia :  (Latin) “The virtues of the pagans are splendid vices.” ??  Source not found, but probably either in Augustine (as “virtutes gentium” etc., not “paganorum”) or in Tertullian, De carne Christi.

Epichaerecacia :  (Greek) gloating, malicious pleasure, spiteful joy at another’s misfortune.

Euphuia :  (Greek) shapeliness; goodness of disposition; quickness of understanding. The male form of this name is (perhaps not very relevantly here) the name of the principal character in a sixteenth-century prose romance, John Lyly’s Euphues (1578–1580); the word euphuism was afterwards coined for that book’s widely imitated style – its “unremitting use” (as Lewis wrote elsewhere) of antithesis, alliteration and allusion.


Chapter VI/6,  Furthest North

Marxomanni :  In addition to the obvious reference to Marxists, there might be a word-play here on Marcomanni, the name of a Germanic people in the first centuries of the Christian era. The Marcomanni did not, however, live in Northern Europe but in Bohemia, in the area of the present-day Czech Republic.

Wind age, wolf age, etc. :  Passages from “The Prophecy of the Volva” (Voluspá), which is part of the Edda, a collection of mythological Old Norse poems made in the 12th century a.d. The same two fragments, slightly longer, were quoted by J. B. S. Haldane in his essay “The Last Judgment”, the final piece in Possible Worlds (1927). Haldane said he preferred the Old Norse picture of the end of the world – Ragnarök or “Doom of the Reigners” – over the Book of Revelation.

lots of sub-species besides the MarxomanniMussolimini, Swastici... : Lewis was writing this less than two months after the astonishing electoral success of both Nazis and Communists in the German general elections of 31 July 1932. The two parties between them won more than half of the seats in parliament.

Heroism, or Master-Morality, or Violence :  Key concepts in the thought of three respective writers of the 19th century whose work later came to be associated with fascist and national-socialist aggression in the 20th century – English historian Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), author of On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History  (1841); German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), author of Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil, 1886) and Genealogie der Moral  (, 1887), where he introduced the twin concepts of “master morality”, and “slave morality”; French writer Georges Sorel (1847–1922), author of Réflexions sur la violence (1908), spiritual father of anarcho-syndicalism but also an unintentional source of inspiration for Italian fascism.

the last even of the last men :  Cf. Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1885), “Zarathustra’s Vorrede”, §5, where a sketch is given of der letzte Mensch, “the last man”, as the opposite of the Übermensch, “Superman”.


Chapter VI/7,  Fools’ Paradise

intelligence ... moves nothing :  Cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics VI.2 (1139a). “Operation of the intellect by itself moves nothing” (transl. D. P. Chase, Everyman ed. 1911).







Virgil :  Aeneid V, 626–635. Spoken by Iris, who, sent by Juno, is trying to talk the wives of the Troyans into burning their ships and so putting an end to the Troyans’ quest for Italy.

Dante :  Inferno IV, 40–42. Per tai difetti, non per altro rio, / Semo perduti, e sol di tanto offesi, / Che senza speme vivemo in disio.

Bunyan :  The Pilgrim’s Progress II (1684), Mr Great-heart speaking to the heroine, Christiana, during their passage through the Valley of Humiliation.


Chapter VII/1,  Vertue is Sick

clouds and wind without rain :  Proverbs XXV.14, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.”


Chapter VII/2,  John Leading

“Sick, wearied out with contrarieties, he yields up moral questions in despair” (chapter headline) :  William Wordsworth (1770–1850), The Prelude XI, 304–305 (or X, 899–900 in the 1805 edition).


Chapter VII/5,  Tea on the Lawn

wildflowers (chapter headline) :  Cf. the first lines of “Auguries of Innocence”, a poem of William Blake (1757–1827). “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour.”

Martha :  Cf. the figure of Martha in the Gospel of St Luke X.38–42. While Jesus visited her home, Martha was “cumbered about much serving” and thought her sister Maria was wrong to sit listening to Him and failing to come and help her.

the language of the heart :  Perhaps after Alexander Pope’s Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, or Prologue to the Satires, 388. “Language of the heart” there is not opposed to orthodoxy but to academic learning.

When I became a man, I put away childish things :  I Corinthians XIII.11.

The heaven and the heaven of heavens, etc. :  From the prayer of King Salomo at the dedication of the Temple, I Kings VIII.27. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much the less this house that I have builded?”


Chapter VII/8,  This Side by Sunlight

the Valley of Humiliation :  An episode in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678-84), the book that provided Lewis with the title and part of the general idea for The Pilgrim’s Regress. Lewis was quoting from the same episode in the third Epigraph to the present Book.


Chapter VII/9,  Wisdom – Exoteric

I am old and full of tears :  Cf. the end of Yeats’s two-stanza poem “Down by the Salley Gardens” (in Poems, 1895).

But I was young and foolish,
   and now am full of tears.

the manna turned to worms :  Exodus XVI.20.

as one of my sons has said, that leaves the world more glorious yet :  A reference to a passage in The Principles of Logic (1883) by  the English Idealistic philosopher Francis Bradley (mentioned before with Green and Bosanquet in the Preface, second paragraph). “That the glory of this world (...) is appearance leaves the world more glorious, if we feel it is a show of some fuller splendour; but the sensuous curtain is a deception (...) if it hides some colourless movement of atoms, some (...) unearthly ballet of bloodless categories.”


Chapter VII/10,  Wisdom – Esoteric

hawthorn :  A reference to the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) and his short story “Young Goodman Brown”. The hero of this story goes into a wood by night to attend a Black Mass and is shocked to meet various people there whom he knew as respectable citizens. Hawthorne also wrote a story called  The Celestial Railroad” which is a parody on Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Marx, Spencer, etc. (author’s footnotes) :  Karl Marx (1818–1883), German philosopher; Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), English philosopher who attempted to a theory of evolution (not quite Darwin’s) to all phenomena; Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), Jewish Dutch philosopher; Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), Austrian social philosopher and founder of Anthroposophy; Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), German philosopher; Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923), British Idealistic philosopher.


Chapter VII/12,  More Wisdom

all this choir of heaven and furniture of earth are imaginations : From the Principles of Human Knowledge, §6, by George Berkeley (1685–1753), the Irish bishop and philosopher who became chiefly known for his “subjective-idealistic” theory of knowledge. Cf. note to IV/3 above, on Esse is percipi”.

I am the Imaginer: I am one of his imaginations :  See  note to VIII/1 on “I am the doubter and the doubt”, below.

evangelium eternum :  (Latin) “Eternal Gospel”, i.e. Pantheism.




Book Eight,  AT BAY



Hesiod :  Works and Days (Erga kai hèmerai),  293–297, by the ancient Greek didactical poet Hesiod (8th century b.c.).

Hazlitt :  The Round Table (1817) I.26, “On Classical Education”, by the English critic and essayist William Hazlitt (1778–1830).


Chapter VIII/1,  Two Kinds of Monist

Monist :  Monism is the doctrine  that everything in the universe derives from a single thing or principle, e.g. from spirit or from matter, so that no essential distinction can be made between God and Nature. It is the philosophical counterpart of Pantheism.

That the glory of this world in the end is appearance, leaves the world more glorious yet :  Another reference to Bradley’s Principles of Logic; see note to VII/9 above, as one of my sons has said etc.

in the Absolute, every flame  even of carnal passion burns on : Bradley,  Appearance and Reality (1893), Book II, ch. 15, p. 172: “every flame  of passion, chaste or carnal, would still burn in the Absolute, unquenched and unabridged.”

The flesh is but a living corruption :  After Genesis VI.12, “And God looked upon the earth and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.”

I am the doubter and the doubt :  From the sonnet “Brahma” by Ralph Waldo Emerson  (cf. note to V/4 above). “They reckon ill who leave me out; / When me they fly, I am the wings; / I am the doubter and the doubt, / I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.”

filthy rags :  A reference to Isaiah LXIV.6, where a more literal reading would be “dirty sanitary towels”. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...”


Chapter VIII/3,  John Forgets Himself

sensuous curtain :  See the quotation from Bradley in the second note to VII/9 above.


Chapter VIII/4,  John Finds his Voice

Pheidian fancies :  From Pheidias or Phidias, famous Greek sculptor of the 5th century b.c.; no extant original can be surely ascribed to him.


Chapter VIII/7,  The Hermit

Stoics, Manichees, Spartiates :  Stoics in ancient Greece were members of the school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium (c. 335–c. 265 b.c.), holding that virtue and happiness can be attained only by submission to destiny and the natural law; hence the wider meaning of “stoicism” as indifference or the attempt at indifference to pleasure and pain. – Manichees were followers of the Persian prophet Mani (mid-third century a.d.), who supposed good and evil to be equally original and equally strong powers in the universe, good being related to spirit and light, and evil to matter and darkness. – Spartiates are Spartans, the ruling class in the ancient Greek city state of Sparta; they were famous for their discipline and military prowess and austere way of life.

better bread than is made of wheat :  A fixed expression for “the best as the enemy of the good”; perhaps originating from the Spanish through a passage in Cervantes’s Don Quixote, chapter VII, where the hero is asked by a niece why he won’t simply stay at home rather than always going into the world in quest of “better bread than ever is made of wheat.”

a fox without a tail :  From one of the Fables ascribed to the semi-legendary Greek author Aesop (6th century b.c.). A fox lost his tail in a poacher’s trap. When all the other animals laughed at him he tried to persuade his fellow foxes that they had better all cut off their tails since life was better that way.


Chapter VIII/8,  History’s Words

seen that Island dozens of times in those pictures :  i.e. in “pictures” such as those of the Hesperides in Classical mythology, or of Avalon in Arthurian legend.

if the feet have been put right the hands and the head will come right :  Free interpretation of an obscure or at least ambiguous passage in the Gospel of St John, XIII.10. Thirty years after he wrote this, Lewis further explained his view of this passage in letter which has remained unpublished and only partly available in transcript online:

I have always thought the words to Peter (if the feet are washed, the whole man is clean) meant that if the will, the faculty of conduct, is cleansed, all else will come right.

Nomos : Greek for “(the) Law”.


Chapter VIII/9,  Matter of Fact

Medium Aevum :  (Latin) Middle Ages.

he sent them ... a picture of a Lady! Nobody had ever had the idea of a Lady before :  A reference to the rise of “courtly love”, i.e. the earliest, medieval variety of romantic love, as described by C. S. Lewis in The Allegory of Love, chapter I.1. For the claim that “nobody had ever had the idea of a Lady before”, see Allegory, pp. 4–12 (“There can be no mistake about the novelty of romantic love: our only difficulty is to imagine in all its bareness the mental world that existed before its coming” etc.).

[Dante] had carried this new form of the desire right up to its natural conclusion :  This “natural conclusion” is what Lewis in The Allegory of Love called the “noble fusion of sexual and religious experience” as achieved by Dante in his Commedia, i.e. The Divine Comedy: “there, at least, the quarrel between Christianity and the love religion was made up” (Allegory, pp. 21 and 23).

like something ever more about to be :  Cf. Wordsworth, The Prelude VI, 608:

Imagination – here the Power so called

Through sad incompetence of human speech,

That awful Power rose from the mind’s abyss

Like an unfathered vapour that enwraps,

At once, some lonely traveller. I was lost;

Halted without an effort to break through;

But to my conscious soul I now can say –

“I recognize thy glory”: in such strength

Of usurpation, when the light of sense

Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed

The invisible world, doth greatness make abode,

There harbours; whether we be young or old,

Our destiny, our being’s heart and home,

Is with infinitude, and only there;

With hope it is, hope that can never die,

Effort, and expectation, and desire,

And something evermore about to be.

Homer in Pagus ridiculing some of the story pictures... :  ??

Clopinel / Jean de Meung :  Jean de Meung (1250–c.1305), author of the second, by far the largest part of the Roman de la Rose. He had a strong bent of cynical and satirical remarks about women and erotic love. Cf. second note to IV/2 above and The Allegory of Love, pp. 144ff. His nickname Clopinel or Chopinel means “cripple”.


Chapter VIII/10,  Archtype and Ectype

the perilous siege in which only One can sit :  See note on Siege Perilous in the Preface, above.

“out of the soul’s bliss,” he said, “there shall be a flowing over into the flesh” :  a reference to St Augustine’s Epistle CXVIII, to Dioscorus, par. 14:

Tam potenti enim natura Deus fecit ani­mam, ut ex ejus plenissima beatitudine quae in fine tem­porum sanctis promittitur, redundet etiam in inferiorem naturam, quod est corpus, non beati­tudo quae furen­tis et intelligentis est pro­pria, sed pleni­tudo sanitatis, id est incorrup­tionis vigor.

For God has endowed the soul with a nature so power­ful, that from that con­summate fullness of joy which is pro­mised to the saints in the end of time, some portion over­flows also upon the lower part of our nature, the body – not the blessed­ness which is proper to the part which enjoys and under­stands, but the plenitude of health, that is, the vigour of incorruption.

Manna kept, is worms :  See first note to VII/9 above.

the hermit ...doing and saying his holy things :  cf. Spenser, The Faerie Queene I.1.43.

A little lowly Hermitage it was,
Downe in a dale, hard by a forests side,
Far from resort of people, that did pass,
In travell to and froe : a little wyde
There was an holy Chappell edifyde,
Wherein the Hermite dewly wont to say
His holy things each morne and eventyde

Lazarus :  See Gospel of John XI.1–44.

the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, etc. :  This is an expression of the ancient cosmological idea of a “prime mover” or “unmoved mover” which puts and keeps in motion the outermost, largest celestial sphere (or “heaven”); this in its turn moved the next, etc., down to the last and smallest sphere revolving around the Earth. In medieval Christian and Muslim thought, this prime mover was identified with God, and the moving force accordingly redefined, in Christianity, as love or beauty. 







Langland :  Piers the Plowman XIII, 181–185 (C text), a long allegorical poem ascribed to William Langland (c. 1331–c. 1399). Quoted with some slight variations in spelling.

George Macdonald :  Lilith (1895) XL, “The House of Death”, by the Scottish poet, novelist and preacher George Macdonald (1824–1905).


Chapter IX/3,  This Side by Darkness

prophesied soft things :  After Isaiah XXX.9–10, “This is a rebellious people (...) which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

I am no negation :  Personified Death is here denying a famous assertion by the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 b.c.), in his Letter to Menoeceus, explaining why he did not fear death : “Where death is, I am not, and where I am, death is not.”


Chapter IX/4,  Securus Te Projice

Securus te projice :  (Latin) “Throw thyself without fear [onto Him; He will hold and will cure thee].” St Augustine, Confessions VIII.11.27. Proice te securus! excipiet et sanabit te.

deep silence for about half an hour : Possibly an allusion to Revelation 8:1.

When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

you must dive into this water :  “Must” as an inevitability, as appears from George Macdonald: An Anthology, edited by C. S. Lewis (1946), No. 279: “That is the way ... You must throw yourself in. There is no other way.”


Chapter IX/5,  Across the Canyon

that you might see My face and live : cf. Exodus 33:20 (God speaking to Moses), “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”

Semele :  Greek mythological figure, a princess from Thebes. The supreme god Zeus in the shape of a human begot Dionysius by Semele. She wished to see him also in his full divine power and majesty. This was granted, but she did not survive the experience.


Chapter IX/6,  Nella sua Voluntade

Nella sua voluntade :  (Italian) “In His will [is our peace].” Dante, Paradiso III, 85. E la sua volontate è nostra pace – “And His will is our peace.”
While Lewis’s volun- for volon- is perhaps a Latin-inspired inaccuracy, both -­­tade and Nella seem in different ways to go back to an accepted alternative reading: E ’n la sua volontade etc. (“And in His will…”).

Slikisteinsauga :  (Old Norse, or perhaps pseudo-Old Norse of Lewis’s invention) “Sleekstone eyes”. When the now obsolete word “sleekstone” was still in use, it meant a smooth stone used to make something else smooth, i.e. sleek, by rubbing or polishing it. However, Lewis appears to mean a whetstone rather than a sleekstone (if the two are indeed distinct instruments) : “whetstone-eyes” would serve to sharpen other people’s eyesight in addition to having sharpness themselves.







Plato :  The Republic (Politeia) VII, 516e–517a.

Bernardus Silvestris :  De mundi universitate sive Megacosmus et Microcosmus II.4, 31ff, by Bernardus Silvestris or Sylvestris, a twelfth-century Platonist poet and philosopher and leader of the “school of Chartres” (he has also been called Bernard de Chartres). Lewis quoted these same lines in a different translation, with the Latin original in a footnote, in The Allegory of Love (see note to Title, above) III.6, p. 95. The words are spoken by Urania, one of two figures whose help is invoked by Natura when the latter, having successfully created the World, finds that creating Man is too much for her alone. Urania, the heaven-spirit, has to supply some “immediate divinity”. On being summoned for the task, Urania “prophesies the high destinies of Man, whose soul, before birth, is to be made acquainted with all the influences of the heaven to which some day she will return”. In The Allegory, the quotation has two extra lines. The full (translated) quotation there is:

With me through all the expanse of heaven must go
    Man’s soul, and I will make her know
The laws of Fate allowing no repeal
    And Fortnue’s alterable wheel (...)
Her godlike essence when her body dies
    Will seek again those kindred skies.

Law :  A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728) XI, by the British Anglican divine William Law (1686–1761).


Chapter X/1, The Same yet Different

You all know that security is mortals’ greatest enemy :  Shakespeare, Macbeth III.5, 32–33. “And you all know security / Is mortals’ chiefest enemy”.

tenth hierarch :  The spirit coming after and being outside the nine celestial choirs of angels.

Wormwood :  Yet another synonym for Satan, borrowed from Revelation VIII.10–11. “And there fell a great star from heaven ... and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”

Ahriman :  In Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion founded around 600 B.C., Ahriman is the supreme spirit of evil and darkness. Ahriman tempted Zoroaster but was defeated by him; he brought death to the world by slaying the prototypes of man and the animals. Lewis’s idea to use this name as a synonym for Satan may well have reached Lewis through his friend Owen Barfield from Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. Steiner explained the Fall of Man as a result of attacks by both “Ahrimanic” and “Luciferic” beings on humanity’s spiritual awareness and social awareness respectively.


Chapter X/2, The Synthetic Man

synthetic man :  Cf. C. S. Lewis’s Collected Letters I, p. 909, letter of 22 June 1930 to Arthur Greeves. “Tolkien once remarked to me that the feeling about home must have been quite different in the days when a family had fed on the produce of the same few miles of country for six generations (...).We (...) who live on a standardised international diet (you may have had Canadian flour, English meat, Scotch oatmeal, African oranges, & Australian wine to day) are really artificial beings and have no connection (save in sentiment) with any place on earth. We are synthetic men, uprooted.

a man of shreds and patches :  Shakespeare, Hamlet III.4, 102. “A king of shreds and patches”.

Rabelais, “Do what you will”, Thelemites :  See note to V/7 above.

Habe caritatem et fac quod vis :  (Latin) “Have charity and do what you will.” From St Augustine’s seventh sermon on the First Epistle of John, cap. VIII: Dilige, et quod vis fac. This saying is often ascribed to Augustine slightly modified, Ama et fac quod vis. In this form its meaning is easily construed as “Fall in love and do what you will.” Lewis modifies the original in a different way, which according to Walter Hooper was inspired by a sermon of St Thomas Aquinas on the Beatitudes; cf. Lewis’s Collected Letters II, p. 194, note 50.

“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” :  Matthew XXII.40. When asked by the Pharisees, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”, Jesus answers, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”


Chapter X/3, Limbo

in desire without hope :  Dante, Inferno IV, 42. “Che senza speme vivemo in disio.” See also second epigraph for Book VII above.

Men say that his love and his wrath are one thing :  ??  Lewis may have been thinking of George Macdonald in passages like the one in Unspoken Sermons II.3, quoted as No. 84 in Lewis’s Macdonald Anthology (see second note to IX/4): “The terror of God is but the other side of His love.”

God in His mercy made / The fixèd pains of Hell :  This idea of God as Hell’s maker very likely goes at least partly back to Dante’s Inferno III, second stanza, “Giustizia mosse il mio alto Fattore” etc., “Justice moved my august Maker...”


Chapter X/4, The Black Hole

Nearly they stood who fall / fell who stand : Cf. I Corinthians X.12, “…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Siren’s land :  In early Greek popular belief, Sirens were thought to be two or three female demons on the south coast of Italy, who with their sweet song lured sailors to destruction on the rocks.


Chapter X/5, Superbia

Superbia :  (Latin) “Pride”, one of the “seven deadly sins” as defined in medieval theology. The others were Avaritia (Avarice or Covetousness), Luxuria (Lust), Invidia (Envy), Gula (Gluttony), Ira (Wrath), Accidia (Sloth). Superbia along with yet another sin, Ignorantia, was already mentioned by Father History (VIII/7) in connection with the “strange customs” they were always imposing on the smaller tenants in the North.

Unwindowed monad :  “Monad” is a mathematical and/or philosophical name for an undivisible smallest material or spiritual constituent. The word got currency  above all through the philosophical system of German philosopher G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716; Monadologie 1714). Leibniz posited the “unwindowed” nature of monads, arguing that these smallest constituents of reality could have no causal interaction

“When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man” :  From Te Deum Laudamus, widely known as the Ambrosian Hymn since it got wrongly attributed to St Ambrose. Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem non horruisti virginis uterum.

when she said that He had regarded the lowliness of His hand-maiden :  From the Maginificat, the hymn of the Virgin Mary after Elisabeth has told her “blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, Luke I.48.

Narcissus :  In acient Greek mythologicy, a beautiful young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pond, and pined away for grief because this object of his passion was unattainable.


Chapter X/7,  Luxuria

Luxuria :  (Latin) “Lust”; cf. note to X/5, Superbia.

a fountain of writhing and reptilian life :  The scene must have been inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Book XXV.

Lilith :  In Babylonian mythology, Lilith was a female spirit, childless and with poisonous breasts with which she tried to kill babies. In the Bible there is a single mention of her in Isaiah XXXIV.14, as “the satyr” (AV) or “night creatures” (NIV); in medieval Jewish mythology she became the malicious “first wife of Adam”. For C. S. Lewis the figure of Lilith personified what he regarded as a specifically feminine vice – the craving to be desirable rather than beautiful. See also his novel That Hideous Strength III.3, where Jane Studdock is reminded of the difference between Eve and Lilith. A different and probably earlier version of this poem is to be found as a postscript of Lewis’s letter to Arthur Greeves of 29 April 1930 (Collected Letters I, pp. 895–896).

cloud is rolled / Always above yet no rain falls to the ground :  Cf. note to VII/1, clouds and wind without rain.


Chapter X/8,  The Northern Dragon

serpens nisi serpentem comederit :  (Latin) “If a snake won’t eat snakes...” The full phrase, “Serpens, nisi serpentem comederit, non fit draco” means what the Dragon is going to sing in the next poem, third stanza, line 2, “...worm grows not to dragon till he eat worm.” This Latin saying was used, for example, in the early 17th century by Francis Bacon in his Essay No. 40, “Of Fortune”. A century earlier, Erasmus included a slightly different version in his Adagia (III.3.61), “Serpens ni edat serpentem, draco non fiet”. Erasmus mentions no source, but he does quote what must be a more original version in post-classical Greek, from a fifteenth-century collection of Greek proverbs edited by Michael Apostolius (No. XIII.79 in Paroimiai, published in 1619).

druery :  Love-making.


Chapter X/9,  The Southern Dragon

Behemoth :  An animal mentioned in the Old Testament, Job XL.10, perhaps a hippopotamus but certainly very large and strong.

Pan :  In Greek mythology, the lustful god of pastures, forests, flocks and herds, and the symbol of fecundity.

Leviathan :  A huge aquatic animal mentioned in several places of the Old Testament: Job XLI.1, Psalms LXXIV.14 and CIV.26, and Isaiah XXVII.1.

resurgam :  (Latin) “I shall rise again.”

Io Paean :  Paean was the physician to the gods of ancient Greece, while Io was an exclamation often expressing suffering and invoking help; it later came to be used as a shout of praise or thankgsgiving, a cry of triumph or exultation, as Vertue uses it here.


Chapter X/10,  The Brook

Osirian :  From Osiris, Egyptian god of the lower world and judge of the dead.

antediluvian :  Dating from before the biblical Flood (Latin diluvium = flood; ante = before).

Substantial form :  The word “substantial” already appeared in the previous song, line 9, “As Thou hast made substantially, thou wilt unmake...” The relevant meaning of “substance” was earlier alluded to with the words “interior Form” in the hermit’s song at the end of Book VIII. It is a concept from Aristotle’s philosophy, more particularly his theory of Categories. “Substance” is there the word for any self-existent, unchanging and irreducible form that can be distinguished, irrespective of its precise content or properties. The Greek word is ousia – “essence”, “nature”. It certainly does not mean “matter” or “material” but rather the opposite.

above the cone / Of the circling night :  Perhaps an echo from a passage in Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (IV, 444–445), where The Earth says “I spin beneath my pyramid of night / Which points into the heavens dreaming delight...” The reference in both cases appears to be to an idea developed in the ninth century by the Muslim astronomer Alfraganus; he calculated that the shadow of earth, in the form of a cone, reaches its point in the third of the nine heavens. Above or beyond that, there is thus no shadow ever to make for “more or lesser light”.






Last updates

13 April 2008: added note on III/3, imagine eating any etc.

2 February 2012: added note on Preface, if nature makes nothing in vain

8 May 2008: expanded note on VI/6, “Wind age, wolf age” etc.

6 June & 24 July 2011: added note on I/1, pull up the primroses

2 March 2012: improved note on IX/6, Slikisteinsauga

5 August 2012: expanded note on VI/2, Neo-Angular etc.

16 August 2012: expanded note on Preface, the word “Romanticism”

12 April 2015: added notes on
– V/2, untie two pieces of string
– V/4, Philosophy should be our mistress
V/4, the bit about thinking mortal thoughts

     – VIII/1, In the Absolute, every flame ...

25 April 2015: expanded note on VI/1, Let Grill be Grill

7 May 2015:
– added note on VIII/10, the hermit ... doing and saying his holy things
– removed note on VI/6, ploughing the sand

18 May 2016:

     – added note on Preface, when allegory is at its best

23 July 2017:

     – added note on X/4, Nearly they stood who fall

22 September 2017:

     – improved note on II/7, Eschropolis

8 January 2019

     − expanded note on Preface, One of them described Romanticism as spilled religion”

     − expanded note on Preface, Jakob Boehme

26 November 2019
– expanded note on V/4,
the bit about thinking mortal thoughts

   and, with thanks to Bill Hollett:
– added note on V/4, that the most useless of studies was the noblest
– expanded note on VIII/7, Manichees
– expanded note on VIII/8,  if the feet have been put right
– expanded note on VIII/10,
the heaven, moved moth-like
– added note on IX/5, that you might see My face and live
– expanded note on IX/6, Nella sua voluntade
improved note on X/1, Ahriman

30 December 2020
Two added notes, both with thanks to Joseph Porter:
– on V/4,
who has not stretched out his hands etc.
– on VII/9, I am old and full of tears

16 January 2021
– Added note on IX/4,  deep silence for about half an hour; with thanks to Joseph Porter

10 May 2023
– Added note on VIII/9,
like something ever more about to be