COMMENTARY NOTES

spacerI.5 (English) Sir Samuel Garth, the author of The Dispensary (1699), a comic poem about disputes among physicians. Sir Richard Blackmore, a physician, wrote several epic poems. His best known is The Creation (1712), favorably mentioned by Samuel Johnson. On the other hand, Blackmore is a prominent target of Pope’s Dunciad. The Latin is,

You, Paddy, favor this verse, for no one is worthier else
In knowing the multitude merits of this noble plant
Or breathing out clouds of its health-giving vapors.

spacerI.19 (I.30 English) The Maenads, followers of Bacchus, called Bassarians or Bassarides from bassara, the long robe which Bacchus wears.

spacerI.69 (I.100 English) The Macedonian name for Bacchants, the followers of Bacchus.

spacerI.178 (I.246 English) Fungus or similar material used for kindling.

spacerI.228 (I.307 English) Probably Echium vulgare, used as an herbal remedy.

spacerI.250ff. (I.334ff. English) All this is the chemistry of the time. The basis of matter was the alchemical trinity of principles – salt, sulfur and mercury. Salt was the principle of fixity (non-action) and incombustibility; mercury was the principle of fusibility (ability to melt and flow) and volatility; and sulfur was the principle of inflammability.

spacerI.267 (I.351 English) Ferrous sulfate, used for inks and dyes in the seventeenth century. Alum (mainly aluminum sulfate) was also used in dying.

spacerII.15 Mt. Parnassus was sometimes called bifidus by poets because it had two peaks.

spacerII.16 (II.21 English) King James.

spacerII.45ff. (II.61ff. English) Significant names: Amphorias from amphora, Balanus means acorn, Pelias sent Jason to seek the Golden Fleece, Idmon was a seer, and Trullus perhaps is named for the synod of Trullus (692 AD), which forbade anyone to engage in Bacchanalia. Aper is a wild boar.

spacerII.54 (II.72 English) Greek “Bloody”; Player’s spelling varies between Haematoes and Hematoes.

spacerII.68 (II.91 English) A legendary ancient tribe, best known in art and myth for battling the Centaurs at the wedding of Perithous and Hippodamia. Mulleus, a few lines below, is from mullus, mullet, a fish highly esteemed by Roman gourmands.

spacerII.110 (English) Silenus.

spacerII.160 (English) A clever translation. The Latin has “painted/tattooed companions”. The Picts were so-called by the Romans because they painted themselves (pingere) with blue woad.

spacerII.181 (English) Idmon blocks up his nose.

spacerII.175 (II.248 English) The island of Tobago in the Caribbean, a popular etymology of the word tobacco.

spacerII.177 (II.250 English) Now addressing Silenus.

spacerII.227 (II.324 English) White urate deposits, symptoms of advanced gout.

spacerII.252f. (II.362f. English) The salts (which cause the disease), blunted by the pure steam (of tobacco smoke), are swept away from the nerves and cease their pricking.

spacerII.332 (II.474f. English) Coltsfoot (tussilago) was used to stop coughs and, when smoked, as a treatment for lung ailments.

spacerII.397 A cult-title of Bacchus (who, having been sewn in Jupiter’s thigh, was said to have been born twice).

spacerII.463 (II.653 English) Vitex agnus castus, a tree anciently believed to be an anaphrodisiac.

spacerII.664 (English) See the note on II.397 (Latin).

spacerII.475 (II.677 English) In antiquity, Thessaly was thought to have been rife with witches.

spacerII.483f. (II.686 English) Minerva and the Muses.

spacerII.491 (II.694 English) Hemp, marijuana. In the next lines water lily (various plants of genus Nymphaea) were considered anaphrodisiacs.

spacerII.530 (II.746 English) Various poisonous plants, particularly nightshade.

spacerII.774 English “Show” is intransitive: “The objects do not appear uncertain as is the rising moon.”

spacerII.793 English Philemon (Ovid, Met. VIII.611ff.).

spacerII.570 (II.795 English) They thought hemlock roots were parsnips or parsley.

spacerII.587 (II.815 English) The oil of beaver’s stone was castor, a medical substance derived from beavers.

spacerII.589 (II.818 English) Until John Rolfe brought seeds of nicotiana tabacum to Virginia (about 1610), the colony’s tobacco, N. rustica, a harsh smoke with a biting taste, was not popular (Brooks I.525f.).

spacerII.604 (II.834 English) Ferrous sulfate, probably to color the tobacco.

spacerII.1012 (English) Hausted did repeat it:

Let it be damn’d to Hell, and call’d from thence
Proserpines Wine, the Furies Frankincense,
The Devils addled egges, or else to these,
A sacrifice grim Pluto to appease,
A deadly weed which it’s beginning had
From the foam of Cerberus when the Cur was mad.