Divine Comedy (Longfellow 1867)/Volume 1/Notes

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NOTES

 

Cantos:

I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. XXVII. XXVIII. XXIX. XXX. XXXI. XXXII. XXXIII. XXXIV.

 

NOTES

 

The Divine Comedy.—The Vita Nuova of Dante closes with these words: "After this sonnet there appeared to me a wonderful vision, in which I beheld things that made me propose to say no more of this blessed one, until I shall be able to treat of her more worthily. And to attain thereunto, truly I strive with all my power, as she knoweth. So that if it shall be the pleasure of Him, through whom all things live, that my life continue somewhat longer, I hope to say of her what never yet was said of any woman. And then may it please Him, who is the Sire of courtesy, that my soul may depart to look upon the glory of its Lady, that is to say, of the blessed Beatrice, who in glory gazes into the face of Him, qui est per omnia sæcula benedictus."

In these lines we have the earliest glimpse of the Divine Comedy, as it rose in the author's mind.

Whoever has read the Vita Nuova will remember the stress which Dante lays upon the mystic numbers Nine and Three; his first meeting with Beatrice at the beginning of her ninth year, and the end of his; his nine days' illness. and the thought of her death which came to him on the ninth day; her death on the ninth day of the ninth month, "computing by the Syrian method," and in that year of our Lord "when the perfect number ten was nine times completed in that century" which was the thirteenth. Moreover, he says the number nine was friendly to her, because the nine heavens were in conjunction at her birth; and that she was herself the number nine, "that is, a miracle whose root is the wonderful Trinity."

Following out this idea, we find the Divine Comedy written in terza rima, or threefold rhyme, divided into three parts, and each part again subdivided in its structure into three. The whole number of cantos is one hundred, the perfect number ten multiplied into itself; but if we count the first canto of the Inferno as a Prelude, which it really is, each part will consist of thirty-three cantos, making ninety-nine in all; and so the favorite mystic numbers reappear.

The three divisions of the Inferno arc minutely described and explained by Dante in Canto XI. They are separated from each other by great spaces in the infernal abyss. The sins punished in them are,—I. Incontinence. II. Malice. III. Bestiality.

I. Incontinence: 1. The Wanton. 2. The Gluttonous. 3. The Avaricious and Prodigal. 4. The Irascible and the Sullen.

II. Malice: 1. The Violent against their neighbor, in person or property. 2. The Violent against themselves, in person or property. 3. The Violent against God, or against Nature, the daughter of God, or against Art, the daughter of Nature.

III. Bestiality: first subdivision: 1. Seducers. 2. Flatterers. 3. Simoniacs. 4. Soothsayers. 5. Barrators. 6. Hypocrites. 7. Thieves. 8. Evil counsellors. 9. Schismatics. 10. Falsifiers.

Second subdivision: 1. Traitors to their kindred. 2. Traitors to their country. 3. Traitors to their friends. 4. Traitors to their lords and benefactors.

The Divine Comedy is not strictly an allegorical poem in the sense in which the Faerie Queene is; and yet it is full of allegorical symbols and figurative meanings. In a letter to Can Grande della Scala, Dante writes: "It is to be remarked, that the sense of this work is not simple, but on the contrary one may say manifold. For one sense is that which is derived from the letter, and another is that which is derived from the things signified by the letter. The first is called literal, the second allegorical or moral. . . . . The subject, then, of the whole work, taken literally, is the condition of souls after death, simply considered. For on this and around this the whole action of the work turns. But if the work be taken allegorically, the subject is man, how by actions of merit or demerit, through freedom of the will, he justly deserves reward or punishment."

It may not be amiss here to refer to what are sometimes called the sources of the Divine Comedy. Foremost among them must be placed the Eleventh Book of the Odyssey, and the Sixth of the Æneid; and to the latter Dante seems to point significantly in choosing Virgil for his Guide, his Master, his Author, from whom he took "the beautiful style that did him honor."

Next to these may be mentioned Cicero's Vision of Scipio, of which Chaucer says:—

"Chapiters seven it had, of Heven, and Hell,
And Earthe, and soules that therein do dwell."

Then follow the popular legends which were current in Dante's age; an age when the end of all things was thought to be near at hand, and the wonders of the invisible world had laid fast hold on the imaginations of men. Prominent among these is the "Vision of Frate Alberico," who calls himself "the humblest servant of the servants of the Lord"; and who

"Saw in dreame at point-devyse
Heaven, Earthe, Hell, and Paradyse."

This vision was written in Latin in the latter half of the twelfth century, and contains a description of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, with its Seven Heavens. It is for the most part a tedious tale, and bears evident marks of having been written by a friar of some monastery, when the afternoon sun was shining into his sleepy eyes. He seems, however, to have looked upon his own work with a not unfavorable opinion; for he concludes the Epistle Introductory with the words of St. John: "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written m this book; and if any man shall take away from these things, God shall take away his part from the good things written in this book."

It is not impossible that Dante may have taken a few hints also from the Tesoretto of his teacher, Ser Brunetto Latini, See Canto XIV. Note 30.

See upon this subject, Cancellieri, Osservazioni Sopra l'Originalità di Dante;—Wright, St. Patrick's Purgatory, an Essay on the Legends of Purgatory, Hell, and Paradise, current during the Middle Ages;—Ozanam, Dante et la Philosophie Catholique au Treizième Siècle;—Labitte, La Divine Comédie avant Dante, published as an Introduction to the translation of Brizeux;—and Delepierre, Le Livre des Visions, ou l'Enfer et le Ciel décrits par ceux qui les ont vus. See also the Illustrations at the end of this volume.




CANTO I.

1. The action of the poem begins on Good Friday of the year 1300, at which time Dante, who was born in 1265, had reached the middle of the Scriptural threescore years and ten. It ends on the first Sunday after Easter, making in all ten days.

2. The dark forest of human life, with its passions, vices, and perplexities of all kinds; politically the state of Florence with its factions Guelf and Ghibelline. Dante, Convito, IV. 25, says: "Thus the adolescent, who enters into the erroneous forest of this life, would not know how to keep the right way if he were not guided by his elders."

Brunetto Latini, Tesoretto, II. 75:—

"Pensando a capo chino
Perdei il gran cammino,
E tenni alla traversa
D' una selva diversa."

Spenser, Faerie Queene, IV. ii. 45:—

"Seeking adventures in the salvage wood."

13. Bunyan, in his Pilgrim's Progress, which is a kind of Divine Comedy in prose, says: "I beheld then that they all went on till they came to the foot of the hill Difficulty. . . . . But the narrow way lay right up the hill, and the name of the going up the side of the hill is called Difficulty. . . . They went then till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which mountains belong to the Lord of that hill of which we have spoken before."

14. Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress:—"But now in this valley of Humiliation poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he spied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or stand his ground. . . . Now at the end of this valley was another, called the valley of the Shadow of Death; and Christian must needs go through it, because the way to the Celestial City lay through the midst of it."

17. The sun, with all its symbolical meanings. This is the morning of Good Friday.

In the Ptolemaic system the sun was one of the planets.

20. The deep mountain tarn of his heart, dark with its own depth, and the shadows hanging over it.

27. Jeremiah ii. 6: "That led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt."

In his note upon this passage Mr. Wright quotes Spenser's lines. Faerie Queene, I. v. 31,—

"there creature never passed
That back returned without heavenly grace."

30. Climbing the hillside slowly, so that he rests longest on the foot that is lowest.

31. Jeremiah v. 6: "Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces."

32. Worldly Pleasure; and politically Florence, with its factions of Bianchi and Neri.

36. Più volte volto. Dante delights in a play upon words as much as Shakespeare.

38. The stars of Aries. Some philosophers and fathers think the world was created in Spring.

45. Ambition; and politically the royal house of France.

48. Some editions read temesse, others tremesse.

49. Avarice; and politically the Court of Rome, or temporal power of the Popes.

60. Dante as a Ghibelline and Imperialist is in opposition to the Guelfs, Pope Boniface VIII., and the King of France, Philip the Fair, and is banished from Florence, out of the sunshine, and into "the dry wind that blows from dolorous poverty."

Cato speaks of the "silent moon" in De Re Rustica, XXIX., Evehito luna silenti; and XL., Vites inseri luna silenti. Also Pliny, XVI. 39, has Silens luna; and Milton, in Samson Agonistes, "Silent as the moon."

63. The long neglect of classic studies in Italy before Dante's time.

70. Born under Julius Cæsar, but too late to grow up to manhood during his Imperial reign. He flourished later under Augustus.

79. In this passage Dante but expresses the universal veneration felt for Virgil during the Middle Ages, and especially in Italy. Petrarch's copy of Virgil is still preserved in the Ambrosian Library at Milan; and at the beginning of it he has recorded in a Latin note the time of his first meeting with Laura, and the date of her death, which, he says, "I write in this book, rather than elsewhere, because it comes often under my eye."

In the popular imagination Virgil became a mythical personage and a mighty magician. See the story of Virgilius in Thom's Early Prose Romances, 11. Dante selects him for his guide, as symbolizing human science or Philosophy. "I say and affirm," he remarks, Convito, V. 16, "that the lady with whom I became enamored after my first love was the most beautiful and modest daughter of the Emperor of the Universe, to whom Pythagoras gave the name of Philosophy."

87. Dante seems to have been already conscious of the fame which his Vita Nuova and Canzoni had given him.

101. The greyhound is Can Grande della Scala, Lord of Verona, Imperial Vicar, Ghibelline, and friend of Dante. Verona is between Feltro in the Marca Trivigiana, and Montefeltro in Romagna. Boccaccio, Decameron, I. 7, speaks of him as "one of the most notable and magnificent lords that had been known in Italy, since the Emperor Frederick the Second." To him Dante dedicated the Paradiso. Some commentators think the Veltro is not Can Grande, but Ugguccione della Faggiola. See Troya, Del Veltro Allegorico di Dante.

106. The plains of Italy, in contradistinction to the mountains; the humilemque Italiam of Virgil, Æneid, III. 522: "And now the stars being chased away, blushing Aurora appeared, when far off we espy the hills obscure, and lowly Italy."

116. I give preference to the reading, Di quegli antichi spiriti dolenti.

122. Beatrice.


CANTO II.

1. The evening of Good Friday.

Dante, Convito, III. 2, says: "Man is called by philosophers the divine animal." Chaucer's Assemble of Foules:

"The daie gan failen, and the darke night
That reveth bestes from hir businesse
Berafte me my boke for lacke of light."

Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 240, speaking of Dante's use of the word "bruno," says:—

"In describing a simple twilight—not a Hades twilight, but an ordinarily fair evening—(Inf. ii. 1), he says, the 'brown' air took the animals away from their fatigues;—the waves under Charon's boat are 'brown' (Inf. iii. 117); and Lethe, which is perfectly clear and yet dark, as with oblivion, is 'bruna-bruna,' 'brown, exceeding brown' Now, clearly in all these cases no warmth is meant to be mingled in the color. Dante had never seen one of our bog-streams, with its porter-colored foam; and there can be no doubt that, in calling Lethe brown, he means that it was dark slate-gray, inclining to black; as, for instance, our clear Cumberland lakes, which, looked straight down upon where they are deep, seem to be lakes of ink. I am sure this is the color he means; because no clear stream or lake on the Continent ever looks brown, but blue or green; and Dante, by merely taking away the pleasant color, would get at once to this idea of grave clear gray. So, when he was talking of twilight, his eye for color was far too good to let him call it brown in our sense. Twilight is not brown, but purple, golden, or dark gray; and this last was what Dante meant. Farther, I find that this negation of color is always the means by which Dante subdues his tones. Thus the fatal inscription on the Hades gate is written in 'obscure color,' and the air which torments the passionate spirits is 'aer nero,' black air (Inf. v. 51), called presently afterwards (line 81) malignant air, just as the gray cliffs are called malignant cliffs."

13. Æneas, founder of the Roman Empire. Virgil, Æneid, B. VI.

24. "That is," says Boccaccio, Comento, "St. Peter the Apostle, called the greater on account of his papal dignity, and to distinguish him from many other holy men of the same name."

28. St. Paul. Acts, ix. 15: "He is a chosen vessel unto me." Also, 2 Corinthians, xii. 3, 4: "And I knew such a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth; how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."

42. Shakespeare, Macbeth, IV. 1:

"The flighty purpose never is o'ertook,
Unless the deed go with it."

52. Suspended in Limbo; neither in pain nor in glory.

55. Brighter than the star; than "that star which is brightest," comments Boccaccio. Others say the Sun, and refer to Dante's Canzone, beginning:

"The star of beauty which doth measure time,
The lady seems, who has enamored me,
Placed in the heaven of Love."

56. Shakespeare, King Lear, V. 3:—

"Her voice was ever soft,
Gentle, and low; an excellent thing in woman."

67. This passage will recall Minerva transmitting the message of Juno to Achilles, Iliad, II.: "Go thou forthwith to the army of the Achæans, and hesitate not; but restrain each man with thy persuasive words, nor suffer them, to drag to the sea their double-oared ships."

70. Beatrice Portinari, Dante's first love, the inspiration of his song and in his mind the symbol of the Divine. He says oi her in the Vita Nuova:—"This most gentle lady, of whom there has been discourse in what precedes, reached such favor among the people, that when she passed along the way persons ran to see her, which gave me wonderful delight. And when she was near any one, such modesty took possession of his heart, that he did not dare to raise his eyes or to return her salutation; and to this, should any one doubt it, many, as having experienced it, could bear witness for me. She, crowned and clothed with humility, took her way, displaying no pride in that which she saw and heard. Many, when she had passed, said, 'This is not a woman, rather is she one of the most beautiful angels of heaven.' Others said, 'She is a miracle. Blessed be the Lord who can perform such a marvel.' I say, that she showed herself so gentle and so full of all beauties, that those who looked on her felt within themselves a pure and sweet delight, such as they could not tell in words."—C. E. Norton, The New Life, 51, 52.

78. The heaven of the moon, which contains or encircles the earth.

84. The ampler circles of Paradise.

94. Divine Mercy.

97. St. Lucia, emblem of enlightening Grace.

102. Rachel, emblem of Divine Contemplation. See Par. XXXII. 9.

108. Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt;" That is," says Boccaccio, Comento, "the sea cannot boast of being more impetuous or more dangerous than that."

127. This simile has been imitated by Chaucer, Spenser, and many more. Jeremy Taylor says:—

"So have I seen the sun kiss the frozen earth, which was bound up with the images of death, and the colder breath of the north; and then the waters break from their enclosures, and melt with joy, and run in useful channels; and the flies do rise again from their little graves in walls, and dance awhile in the air, to tell that there is joy within, and that the great mother of creatures will open the stock of her new refreshment, become useful to mankind, and sing praises to her Redeemer."

Rossetti, Spirito Antipapale del Secolo di Dante, translated by Miss Ward, II. 216, makes this political application of the lines: "The Florentines, called Sons of Flora, are compared to flowers; and Dante calls the two parties who divided the city white and black flowers, and himself white-flower,—the name by which he was called by many. Now he makes use of a very abstruse comparison, to express how he became, from a Guelph or Black, a Ghibelline or White. He describes himself as a flower, first bent and closed by the night frosts, and then blanched or whitened by the sun (the symbol of reason), which opens its leaves; and what produces the effect of the sun on him is a speech of Virgil's, persuading him to follow his guidance."

 

CANTO III.


I. This canto begins with a repetition of sounds like the tolling of a funeral bell: dolente . . . dolore!

Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 215, speaking of the Inferno, says:—

"Milton's effort, in all that he tells us of his Inferno, is to make it indefinite; Dante's, to make it definite. Both, indeed, describe it as entered through gates; but, within the gate, all is wild and fenceless with Milton, having indeed its four rivers,—the last vestige of the mediæval tradition,—but rivers which flow through a waste of mountain and moorland, and by 'many a frozen, many a fiery Alp.' But Dante's Inferno is accurately separated into circles drawn with well-pointed compasses; mapped and properly surveyed in every direction, trenched in a thoroughly good style of engineering from depth to depth, and divided, in the 'accurate middle' (dritto mezzo) of its deepest abyss, into a concentric series of ten moats and embankments, like those about a castle, with bridges from each embankment to the next; precisely in the manner of those bridges over Hiddekel and Euphrates, which Mr. Macaulay thinks so innocently designed, apparently not aware that he is also laughing at Dante. These larger fosses are of rock, and the bridges also; but as he goes further into detail, Dante tells us of various minor fosses and embankments, in which he anxiously points out to us not only the formality, but the neatness and perfectness, of the stonework. For instance, in describing the river Phlegethon, he tells us that it was 'paved with stone at the bottom, and at the sides, and over the edges of the sides,' just as the water is at the baths of Bulicame; and for fear we should think this embankment at all larger than it really was, Dante adds, carefully, that it was made just like the embankments of Ghent or Bruges against the sea, or those in Lombardy which bank the Brenta, only 'not so high, nor so wide,' as any of these. And besides the trenches, we have two well-built castles; one like Ecbatana, with seven circuits of wall (and surrounded by a fair stream), wherein the great poets and sages of antiquity live; and another, a great fortified city with walls of iron, red-hot, and a deep fosse round it, and full of 'grave citizens,'—the city of Dis.

"Now, whether this be in what we moderns call 'good taste,' or not, I do not mean just now to inquire,—Dante having nothing to do with taste, but with the facts of what he had seen; only, so far as the imaginative faculty of the two poets is concerned, note that Milton's vagueness is not the sign of imagination, but of its absence, so far as it is significative in the matter. For it does not follow, because Milton did not map out his Inferno as Dante did, that he could not have done. so if he had chosen; only it was the easier and less imaginative process to leave it vague than to define it. Imagination is always the seeing and asserting faculty; that which obscures or conceals may be judgment, or feeling, but not invention. The invention, whether good or bad, is in the accurate engineering, not in the fog and uncertainty."

18. Aristotle says: "The good of the intellect is the highest beatitude"; and Dante in the Convito: "The True is the good of the intellect." In other words, the knowledge of God is intellectual good.

"It is a most just punishment," says St. Augustine, "that man should lose that freedom which man could not use, yet had power to keep, if he would, and that he who had knowledge to do what was right, and did not do it, should be deprived of the knowledge of what was right; and that he who would not do righteously, when he had the power, should lose the power to do it when he had the will."

22. The description given of the Mouth of Hell by Frate Alberico, Visio, 9, is in the grotesque spirit of the Mediæval Mysteries.

"After all these things, I was led to the Tartarean Regions, and to the mouth of the Infernal Pit, which seemed like unto a well; regions full of horrid darkness, of fetid exhalations, of shrieks and loud howlings. Near this Hell there was a Worm of immeasurable size, bound with a huge chain, one end of which seemed to be fastened in Hell. Before the mouth of this Hell there stood a great multitude of souls, which he absorbed at once, as if they were flies; so that, drawing in his breath, he swallowed them all together; then, breathing, exhaled them all on fire, like sparks."

36. The reader will here be reminded of Bunyan's town of Fair-speech.

"Christian. Pray who are your kindred there, if a man may be so bold.

"By-ends. Almost the whole town; and in particular my Lord Turnabout, my Lord Timeserver, my Lord Fair-speech, from whose ancestors that town first took its name; also Mr. Smooth-man, Mr, Facing-both-ways, Mr. Anything,—and the parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, was my mother's own brother by father's side . . . . .

"There Christian stepped a little aside to his fellow Hopeful, saying, 'It runs in my mind that this is one By-ends of Fair-speech; and if it be he, we have as very a knave in our company as dwelleth in all these parts.'"

42. Many commentators and translators interpret alcuna in its usual signification of some: "For some glory the damned would have from them." This would be a reason why these pusillanimous ghosts should not be sent into the profounder abyss, but no reason why they should not be received there. This is strengthened by what comes afterwards, l. 63. These souls were "hateful to God, and to his enemies." They were not good enough for Heaven, nor bad enough for Hell. "So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Revelation iii. 16.

Macchiavelli represents this scorn of inefficient mediocrity in an epigram on Peter Soderini:—

"The night that Peter Soderini died
He at the mouth of Hell himself presented.
'What, you come into Hell? poor ghost demented,
Go to the Babies' Limbo!' Pluto cried."

The same idea is intensified in the old ballad of Carle of Kelly-Burn Brees, Cromek, p. 37:—

"She's nae fit for heaven, an' she'll ruin a' hell."

52. This restless flag is an emblem of the shifting and unstable minds of its followers.

59. Generally supposed to be Pope Celestine V. whose great refusal, or abdication, of the papal office is thus described by Boccaccio in his Comento:

"Being a simple man and of a holy life, living as a hermit in the mountains of Morrone in Abruzzo, above Selmona, he was elected Pope in Perugia after the death of Pope Niccola d' Ascoli; and his name being Peter, he was called Celestine. Considering his simplicity, Cardinal Messer Benedetto Gatano, a very cunning man, of great courage and desirous of being Pope, managing astutely, began to show him that he held this high office much to the prejudice of his own soul, inasmuch as he did not feel himself competent for it;—others pretend that he contrived with some private servants of his to have voices heard in the chamber of the aforesaid Pope, which, as if they were voices of angels sent from heaven, said, 'Resign, Celestine! Resign, Celestine!'—moved by which, and being an idiotic man, he took counsel with Messer Benedetto aforesaid, as to the best method of resigning."

Celestine having relinquished the papal office, this "Messer Benedetto aforesaid" was elected Pope, under the title of Boniface VIII. His greatest misfortune was that he had Dante for an adversary.

Gower gives this legend of Pope Celestine in his Confessio Amantis, Book II., as an example of "the vice of supplantacion." He says:—

"This clerk, when he hath herd the form,
How he the pope shuld enform,
Toke of the cardinal his leve
And goth him home, till it was eve.
And prively the trompe he hadde
Til that the pope was abedde.
And at midnight when he knewe
The pope slepte, than he blewe
Within his trompe through the wall
And tolde in what maner he shall
His papacie leve, and take
His first estate."

Milman, Hist. Latin Christianity, VI. 194, speaks thus upon the subject:—

"The abdication of Celestine V. was an event unprecedented in the annals of the Church, and jarred harshly against some of the first principles of the Papal authority. It was a confession of common humanity, of weakness below the ordinary standard of men in him whom the Conclave, with more than usual certitude, as guided by the special interposition of the Holy Ghost, had raised to the spiritual throne of the world. The Conclave had been, as it seemed, either under an illusion as to this declared manifestation of the Holy Spirit, or had been permitted to deceive itself. Nor was there less incongruity in a Pope, whose office invested him in something at least approaching to infallibility, acknowledging before the world his utter incapacity, his undeniable fallibility. That idea, formed out of many conflicting conceptions, yet forcibly harmonized by long, traditionary reverence, of unerring wisdom, oracular truth, authority which it was sinful to question or limit, was strangely disturbed and confused, not as before by too overweening ambition, or even awful yet still unacknowledged crime, but by avowed weakness, bordering on imbecility. His profound piety hardly reconciled the confusion. A saint after all made but a bad Pope.

"It was viewed, in his own time, in a different light by different minds. The monkish writers held it up as the most noble example of monastic, of Christian perfection. Admirable as was his election, his abdication was even more to be admired. It was an example of humility stupendous to all, imitable by few. The divine approval was said to be shown by a miracle which followed directly on his resignation; but the scorn of man has been expressed by the undying verse of Dante, who condemned him who was guilty of the baseness of the 'great refusal' to that circle of hell where are those disdained alike by mercy and justice, on whom the poet will not condescend to look. This sentence, so accordant with the stirring and passionate soul of the great Florentine, has been feebly counteracted, if counteracted, by the praise of Petrarch in his declamation on the beauty of a solitary life, for which the lyrist professed a somewhat hollow and poetic admiration. Assuredly there was no magnanimity contemptuous of the Papal greatness in the abdication of Celestine; it was the weariness, the conscious inefficiency, the regret of a man suddenly wrenched away from all his habits, pursuits, and avocations, and unnaturally compelled or tempted to assume an uncongenial dignity. It was the cry of passionate feebleness to be released from an insupportable burden. Compassion is the highest emotion of sympathy which it would have desired or could deserve."

75. Spenser's "misty dampe of misconceyving night."

82. Virgil, Æneid, VI., Davidson's translation:—

"A grim ferryman guards these floods and rivers, Charon, of frightful slovenliness; on whose chin a load of gray hair neglected lies; his eyes are flame: his vestments hang from his shoulders by a knot, with filth overgrown. Himself thrusts on the barge with a pole, and tends the sails, and wafts over the bodies in his iron-colored boat, now in years: but the god is of fresh and green old age. Hither the whole tribe in swarms come pouring to the banks, matrons and men, the souls of magnanimous heroes who had gone through life, boys and unmarried maids, and young men who had been stretched on the funeral pile before the eyes of their parents; as numerous as withered leaves fall in the woods with the first cold of autumn, or as numerous as birds flock to the land from deep ocean, when the chilling year drives them beyond sea, and sends them to sunny climes. They stood praying to cross the flood the first, and were stretching forth their hands with fond desire to gain the further bank: but the sullen boatman admits sometimes these, sometimes those; while others to a great distance removed, he debars from the banks."

And Shakespeare, Richard III., I. 4:—

"I passed, methought, the melancholy flood
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night."

87. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, III. 1:—

"This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling."

89. Virgil, Æneid, VI.: "This is the region of Ghosts, of Sleep and drowsy Night; to waft over the bodies of the living in my Stygian boat is not permitted."

93. The souls that were to be saved assembled at the mouth of the Tiber, where they were received by the celestial pilot, or ferryman, who transported them to the shores of Purgatory, as described in Purg. II.

94. Many critics, and foremost among them Padre Pompeo Venturi, blame Dante for mingling together things Pagan and Christian. But they should remember how through all the Middle Ages human thought was wrestling with the old traditions; how many Pagan observances passed into Christianity in those early days; what reverence Dante had for Virgil and the classics; and how many Christian nations still preserve some traces of Paganism in the names of the stars, the months, and the days. Padre Pompeo should not have forgotten that he, though a Christian, bore a Pagan name, which perhaps is as evident a brutto miscuglio in a learned Jesuit, as any which he has pointed out in Dante.

Upon him and other commentators of the Divine Poem, a very amusing chapter might be written. While the great Comedy is going on upon the scene above, with all its pomp and music, these critics in the pit keep up such a perpetual wrangling among themselves, as seriously to disturb the performance. Biagioli is the most violent of all, particularly against Venturi, whom he calls an "infamous dirty dog," sozzo can vituperato, an epithet hardly permissible in the most heated literary controversy. Whereupon in return Zani de' Ferranti calls Biagioli "an inurbane grammarian," and a "most ungrateful ingrate,"—quel grammatico inurbano . . . ingrato ingratissimo.

Any one who is desirous of tracing out the presence of Paganism in Christianity will find the subject amply discussed by Middleton in his Letter from Rome.

109. Dryden's Aeneïs, B. VI.:—

"His eyes like hollow furnaces on fire."

112. Homer, Iliad, VI.: "As is the race of leaves, such is that of men; some leaves the wind scatters upon the ground, and others the budding wood produces, for they come again in the season of Spring. So is the race of men, one springs up and the other dies."

See also Note 82 of this canto.

Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 160, says:—

"When Dante describes the spirits falling from the bank of Acheron 'as dead leaves flutter from a bough,' he gives the most perfect image possible of their utter lightness, feebleness, passiveness, and scattering agony of despair, without, however, for an instant losing his own clear perception that these are souls, and those are leaves: he makes no confusion of one with the other."

Shelley in his Ode to the West Wind inverts this image, and compares the dead leaves to ghosts:—

"O wild West Wind! thou breath of Autumn's being!
Thou from whose presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts, from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes."


CANTO IV.

1. Dante is borne across the river Acheron in his sleep, he does not tell us how, and awakes on the brink of "the dolorous valley of the abyss." He now enters the First Circle of the Inferno; the Limbo of the Unbaptized, the border land, as the name denotes.

Frate Alberico in § 2 of his Vision says, that the divine punishments are tempered to extreme youth and old age.

"Man is first a little child, then grows and reaches adolescence, and attains to youthful vigor; and, little by little growing weaker, declines into old age; and at every step of life the sum of his sins increases. So likewise the little children are punished least, and more and more the adolescents and the youths; until, their sins decreasing with the long-continued torments, punishment also begins to decrease, as it by a kind of old age (veluti quadam senectute)."

10. Frate Alberico, in § 9: "The darkness was so dense and impenetrable that it was impossible to see anything there."

28. Mental, not physical pain; what the French theologians call la peine du dam, the privation of the sight of God.

30. Virgil, Æneid, VI.: "Forthwith are heard voices, loud wailings, and weeping ghosts of infants, in the first opening of the gate; whom, bereaved of sweet life out of the course of nature, and snatched from the breast, a black day cut off, and buried in an untimely grave."

53. The descent of Christ into Limbo. Neither here nor elsewhere in the Inferno does Dante mention the name of Christ.

72. The reader will not fail to observe how Dante makes the word honor, in its various forms, ring and reverberate through these lines,—orrevol, onori, orranza, onrata, onorata!

86. Dante puts the sword into the hand of Homer as a symbol of his warlike epic, which is a Song of the Sword.

93. Upon this line Boccaccio, Comento, says: "A proper thing it is to honor every man, but especially those who are of one and the same profession, as these were with Virgil."

100. Another assertion of Dante's consciousness of his own power as a poet.

106. This is the Noble Castle of human wit and learning, encircled with its seven scholastic walls, the Trivium, Logic, Grammar, Rhetoric, and the Quadrivium, Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, Music.

The fair rivulet is Eloquence, which Dante does not seem to consider a very profound matter, as he and Virgil pass over it as if it were dry ground.

118. Of this word "enamel" Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 227, remarks:—

"The first instance I know of its right use, though very probably it had been so employed before, is in Dante. The righteous spirits of the pre-Christian ages are seen by him, though in the Inferno, yet in a place open, luminous and high, walking upon the 'green enamel.'

"I am very sure that Dante did not use this phrase as we use it. He knew well what enamel was; and his readers, in order to understand him thoroughly, must remember what it is,—a vitreous paste, dissolved in water, mixed with metallic oxides, to give it the opacity and the color required, spread in a moist state on metal, and afterwards hardened by fire, so as never to change. And Dante means, in using this metaphor of the grass of the Inferno, to mark that it is laid as a tempering and cooling substance over the dark, metallic, gloomy ground; but yet so hardened by the fire, that it is not any more fresh or living grass, but a smooth, silent, lifeless bed of eternal green. And we know how hard Dante's idea of it was; because afterwards, in what is perhaps the most awful passage of the whole Inferno, when the three furies rise at the top of the burning tower, and, catching sight of Dante, and not being able to get at him, shriek wildly for the Gorgon to come up, too, that they may turn him into stone, the word stone is not hard enough for them. Stone might crumble away after it was made, or something with life might grow upon it; no, it shall not be stone; they will make enamel of him; nothing can grow out of that; it is dead forever."

And yet just before, line 111, Dante speaks of this meadow as a "meadow of fresh verdure."

Compare Brunetto's Tesoretto, XIII.

"Or va mastro Brunetto
Per lo cammino stretto,
Cercando di vedere,
E toccare, e sapere
Ciò, che gli è destinato.
E non fui guari andato,
Ch' i' fui nella diserta,
Dov' i' non trovai certa
Nè strada, nè sentiero.
Deh che paese fero
Trovai in quelle parti!
Che s' io sapessi d' arti
Quivi mi bisognava,
Chè quanto più mirava,
Più mi parea selvaggio.
Quivi non ha viaggio,
Quivi non ha persone,
Quivi non ha magione,
Non bestia, non uccello,
Non fiume, non ruscello,
Non formica, nè mosca,
Nè cosa, ch' i' conosca.
E io pensando forte,
Dottai ben della morte.
E non è maraviglia;
Chè ben trecento miglia
Girava d' ogni lato
Quel paese snagiato.
Ma sì m' assicurai
Quando mi ricordai
Del sicuro segnale,
Che contra tutto male
Mi dà securamento:
E io presi ardimento,
Quasi per avventura
Per una valle scura,
Tanto, ch' al terzo giorno
I' mi trovai d' intorno
Un grande pian giocondo,
Lo più gaio del mondo,
E lo più dilettoso.
Ma ricontar non oso
Ciò, ch' io trovai, e vidi,
Se Dio mi guardi, e guidi.
Io non sarei creduto
Di ciò, ch' i' ho veduto;
Ch' i' vidi Imperadori,
E Re, e gran signori,
E mastri di scienze,
Che dittavan sentenze;
E vidi tante cose,
Che già 'n rime, nè 'n prose
Non le poria ritrare.

128. In the Convito, IV. 28, Dante makes Marcia, Cato's wife, a symbol of the noble soul: "Per la quale Marzia s' intende la nobile anima."

129. The Saladin of the Crusades. See Gibbon, Chap. LIX. Dante also makes mention of him, as worthy of affectionate remembrance, in the Convito, IV. 2. Mr. Cary quotes the following passage from Knolles's History of the Turks, page 57:—

"About this time (1193) died the great Sultan Saladin, the greatest terror of the Christians, who, mindful of man's fragility and the vanity of worldly honors, commanded at the time of his death no solemnity to be used at his burial, but only his shirt, in manner of an ensign, made fast unto the point of a lance, to be carried before his dead body as an ensign, a plain priest going before, and crying aloud unto the people in this sort, 'Saladin, Conqueror of the East, of all the greatness and riches he had in his life, carrieth not with him anything more than his shirt.' A sight worthy so great a king, as wanted nothing to his eternal commendation more than the true knowledge of his salvation in Christ Jesus. He reigned about sixteen years with great honor."

The following story of Saladin is from the Cento Novelle Antiche. Roscoe's Italian Novelists, I. 18:—

"On another occasion the great Saladin, in the career of victory, proclaimed a truce between the Christian armies and his own. During this interval he visited the camp and the cities belonging to his enemies, with the design, should he approve of the customs and manners of the people, of embracing the Christian faith. He observed their tables spread with the finest damask coverings ready prepared for the feast, and he praised their magnificence. On entering the tents of the king of France during a festival, he was much pleased with the order and ceremony with which everything was conducted, and the courteous manner in which he feasted his nobles; but when he approached the residence of the poorer class, and perceived them devouring their miserable pittance upon the ground, he blamed the want of gratitude which permitted so many faithful followers of their chief to fare so much worse than the rest of their Christian brethren.

"Afterwards, several of the Christian leaders returned with the Sultan to observe the manners of the Saracens. They appeared much shocked on seeing all ranks of people take their meals sitting upon the ground. The Sultan led them into a grand pavilion where he feasted his court, surrounded with the most beautiful tapestries, and rich foot-cloths, on which were wrought large embroidered figures of the cross. The Christian chiefs trampled them under their feet with the utmost indifference, and even rubbed their boots, and spat upon them.

"On perceiving this, the Sultan turned towards them in the greatest anger, exclaiming: 'And do you who pretend to preach the cross treat it thus ignominiously? Gentlemen, I am shocked at your conduct. Am I to suppose from this that the worship of your Deity consists only in words, not in actions? Neither your manners nor your conduct please me.' And on this he dismissed them, breaking off the truce and commencing hostilities more warmly than before."

143. Avicenna, an Arabian physician of Ispahan in the eleventh century. Born 980, died 1036.

144. Averrhoës, an Arabian scholar of the twelfth century, who translated the works of Aristotle, and wrote a commentary upon them. He was born in Cordova in 1149, and died in Morocco, about 1200. He was the head of the Western School of philosophy, as Avicenna was of the Eastern.

 

CANTO V.

In the Second Circle are found the souls of carnal sinners, whose punishment is

"To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world."

2. The circles grow smaller and smaller as they descend.

4. Minos, the king of Crete, so renowned for justice as to be called the Favorite of the Gods, and after death made Supreme Judge in the Infernal Regions. Dante furnishes him with a tail, thus converting him, after the mediæval fashion, into a Christian demon.

21. Thou, too, as well as Charon, to whom Virgil has already made the same reply. Canto VI. 22.

28. In Canto I. 60, the sun is silent; here the light is dumb.

51. Gower, Confessio Amantis, VIII., gives a similar list "of gentil folke that whilom were lovers," seen by him as he lay in a swound and listened to the music

"Of bombarde and of clarionne
With cornemuse and shalmele."

61. Queen Dido.

65. Achilles, being in love with Polyxena, a daughter of Priam, went unarmed to the temple of Apollo, where he was put to death by Paris.

Gower, Confessio Amantis, IV., says:—

"For I have herde tell also
Achilles left his armes so,
Both of himself and of his men,
At Troie for Polixenen
Upon her love when he felle,
That for no chaunce that befelle
Among the Grekes or up or down
He wolde nought ayen the town
Ben armed for the love of her."

"I know not how," says Bacon in his Essay on Love, "but martial men are given to love; I think it is but as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasure."

67. Paris of Troy, of whom Spenser says, Faerie Queene. III, ix. 34:—

"Most famous Worthy of the world, by whome
That warre was kindled which did Troy inflame
And stately towres of Ilion whilome
Brought unto baleflill ruine, was by name
Sir Paris, far renown'd through noble fame."

Tristan is the Sir Tristram of the Romances of Chivalry. See his adventures in the Mort d' Arthure. Also Thomas of Ercildoune's Sir Tristram, a Metrical Romance. His amours with Yseult or Ysonde bring him to this circle of the Inferno.

71. Shakespeare, Sonnet CVI.:—

"When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights."

See also the "wives and daughters of chieftains" that appear to Ulysses, in the Odyssey, Book XI.

Also Milton, Paradise Regained, II. 357:—

"And ladies of the Hesperides, that seemed
Fairer than feigned of old, or fabled since
Of fairy damsels met in forest wide
By knights of Logres, or of Lyones,
Lancelot, or Palleas, or Pellenore."

89. In the original, l' aer perso, the perse air. Dante, Convito, IV. 20, defines perse as "a color mixed of purple and black, but the black predominates." Chaucer's "Doctour of Phisike" in the Canterbury Tales, Prologue 441, wore this color:—

"In sanguin and in perse he clad was alle, Lined with taffata and with sendalle."

The Glossary defines it, "skie colored, of a bluish gray." The word is again used, VII. 103, and Purg. IX. 97.

97. The city of Ravenna. "One reaches Ravenna," says Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, p. 311, "by journeying along the borders of a pine forest, which is seven leagues in length, and which seemed to me an immense funereal wood, serving as an avenue to the common tomb of those two great powers, Dante and the Roman Empire in the West. There is hardly room for any other memories than theirs. But other poetic names are attached to the Pine Woods of Ravenna. Not long ago Lord Byron evoked there the fantastic tales borrowed by Dryden from Boccaccio, and now he is himself a figure of the past, wandering in this melancholy place. I thought, in traversing it, that the singer of despair had ridden along this melancholy shore, trodden before him by the graver and slower footstep of the poet of the Inferno."

99. Quoting this line, Ampère remarks, Voyage Dantesque, p. 312: "We have only to cast our eyes upon the map to recognize the topographical exactitude of this last expression. In fact, in all the upper part of its course, the Po receives a multitude of affluents, which converge towards its bed. They are the Tessino, the Adda, the Olio, the Mincio, the Trebbia, the Bormida, the Taro;—names which recur so often in the history of the wars of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries."

103. Here the word love is repeated, as the word honor was in Canto IV. 72. The verse murmurs with it, like the "moan of doves in immemorial elms."

St. Augustine says in his Confessions, III. 1: "I loved not yet, yet I loved to love. . . . . I sought what I might love, in love with loving."

104. I think it is Coleridge who says: "The desire of man is for the woman, but the desire of woman is for the desire of man."

107. Caïna is in the lowest circle of the Inferno, where fratricides are punished.

116. Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, and wife of Gianciotto Malatesta, son of the Lord of Rimini. The lover, Paul Malatesta, was the brother of the husband, who, discovering their amour, put them both to death with his own hand.

Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship, Lect. III., says:—

"Dante's painting is not graphic only, brief, true, and of a vividness as of fire in dark night; taken on the wider scale, it is every way noble, and the outcome of a great soul. Francesca and her Lover, what qualities in that! A thing woven as out of rainbows, on a ground of eternal black. A small flute-voice of infinite wail speaks there, into our very heart of hearts. A touch of womanhood in it too: della bella persona, che mi fu tolta; and how, even in the Pit of woe, it is a solace that he will never part from her! Saddest tragedy in these alti guai. And the racking winds, in that aer bruno, whirl them away again, to wail forever!—Strange to think: Dante was the friend of this poor Francesca's father; Francesca herself may have sat upon the Poet's knee, as a bright, innocent little child. Infinite pity, yet also infinite rigor of law: it is so Nature is made; it is so Dante discerned that she was made."

Later commentators assert that Dante's friend Guido was not the father of Francesca, but her nephew.

Boccaccio's account, translated from his Commentary by Leigh Hunt, Stories from the Italian Poets, Appendix II., is as follows:—

"You must know that this lady. Madonna Francesca, was daughter of Messer Guido the Elder, lord of Ravenna and of Cervia, and that a long and grievous war having been waged between him and the lords Malatesta of Rimini, a treaty of peace by certain mediators was at length concluded between them; the which, to the end that it might be the more firmly established, it pleased both parties to desire to fortify by relationship; and the matter of this relationship was so discoursed, that the said Messer Guido agreed to give his young and fair daughter in marriage to Gianciotto, the son of Messer Malatesta. Now, this being made known to certain of the friends of Messer Guido, one of them said to him: 'Take care what you do; for if you contrive not matters discreetly, such relationship will beget scandal. You know what manner of person your daughter is, and of how lofty a spirit; and if she see Gianciotto before the bond is tied, neither you nor any one else will have power to persuade her to marry him; therefore, if it so please you, it seems to me that it would be good to conduct the matter thus: namely, that Gianciotto should not come hither himself to marry her, but that a brother of his should come and espouse her in his name.'

"Gianciotto was a man of great spirit, and hoped, after his father's death, to become lord of Rimini; in the contemplation of which event, albeit he was rude in appearance and a cripple, Messer Guido desired him for a son-in-law above any one of his brothers. Discerning, therefore, the reasonableness of what his friend counselled, he secretly disposed matters according to his device; and a day being appointed. Polo, a brother of Gianciotto, came to Ravenna with full authority to espouse Madonna Francesca. Polo was a handsome man, very pleasant, and of a courteous breeding; and passing with other gentlemen over the court-yard of the palace of Messer Guido, a damsel who knew him pointed him out to Madonna Francesca through an opening in the casement, saying, 'That is he that is to be your husband'; and so indeed the poor lady believed, and incontinently placed in him her whole affection; and the ceremony of the marriage having been thus brought about, and the lady conveyed to Rimini, she became not aware of the deceit till the morning ensuing the marriage, when she beheld Gianciotto rise from her side; the which discovery moved her to such disdain, that she became not a whit the less rooted in her love for Polo. Nevertheless, that it grew to be unlawful I never heard, except in what is written by this author (Dante), and possibly it might so have become; albeit I take what he says to have been an invention framed on the possibility, rather than anything which he knew of his own knowledge. Be this as it may. Polo and Madonna Francesca living in the same house, and Gianciotto being gone into a certain neighboring district as governor, they fell into great companionship with one another, suspecting nothing; but a servant of Gianciotto's, noting it, went to his master and told him how matters looked; with the which Gianciotto being fiercely moved, secretly returned to Rimini; and seeing Polo enter the room of Madonna Francesca the while he himself was arriving, went straight to the door, and finding it locked inside, called to his lady to come out; for Madonna Francesca and Polo having descried him. Polo thought to escape suddenly through an opening in the wall, by means of which there was a descent into another room; and therefore, thinking to conceal his fault either wholly or in part, he threw himself into the opening, telling the lady to go and open the door. But his hope did not turn out as he expected; for the hem of a mantle which he had on caught upon a nail, and the lady opening the door meantime, in the belief that all would be well by reason of Polo's not being there, Gianciotto caught sight of Polo as he was detained by the hem of the mantle, and straightway ran with his dagger in his hand to kill him; whereupon the lady, to prevent it, ran between them; but Gianciotto having lifted the dagger, and put the whole force of his arm into the blow, there came to pass what he had not desired,—namely, that he struck the dagger into the bosom of the lady before it could reach Polo; by which accident, being as one who had loved the lady better than himself, he withdrew the dagger and again struck at Polo, and slew him; and so leaving them both dead, he hastily went his way and betook him to his wonted affairs; and the next morning the two lovers, with many tears, were buried together in the same grave."

121. This thought is from Boethius, De Consolat. Philos., Lib. II. Prosa 4: "In omni adversitate fortunæ, infelicissimum genus est infortunii fuisse felicem et non esse."

In the Convito, II. 16, Dante speaks of Boethius and Tully as having directed him "to the love, that is to the study, of this most gentle lady Philosophy." From this Venturi and Biagioli infer that, by the Teacher, Boethius is meant, not Virgil.

This interpretation, however, can hardly be accepted, as not in one place only, but throughout the Inferno and the Purgatorio, Dante proclaims Virgil as his Teacher, il mio Dottore. Lombardi thinks that Virgil had experience of this "greatest sorrow," finding himself also in "the infernal prison"; and that it is to this, in contrast with his happy life on earth, that Francesca alludes, and not to anything in his writings.

128. The Romance of Launcelot of the Lake. See Delvan, Bibliotèque Bleue:

"Chap. 39. Comment Launcelot et la Reine Genièvre devisèrent de choses et d'autres, et surtout de choses amoureuses. . . . .

"La Reine, voyant qu'il n'osait plus rien faire ni dire, le prit par le menton et le baisa assez longuement en presence de Gallehault."

The Romance was to these two lovers, what Galeotto (Gallehault or Sir Galahad) had been to Launcelot and Queen Guenever.

Leigh Hunt speaks of the episode of Francesca as standing in the Inferno "like a lily in the mouth of Tartarus."

142. Chaucer, Knightes Tale:

"The colde death, with mouth gaping upright."


CANTO VI.

2. The sufferings of these two, and the pity it excited in him. As in Shakespeare, Othello, IV. 1: "But yet the pity of it, Iago!—O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!"

7. In this third circle are punished the Gluttons. Instead of the feasts of former days, the light, the warmth, the comfort, the luxury, and "the frolic wine" of dinner tables, they have the murk and the mire, and the "rain eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy"; and are barked at and bitten by the dog in the yard.

Of Gluttony, Chaucer says in The Persones Tale, p. 239:—

"He that is usant to this sinne of glotonie, he ne may no sinne withstond, he must be in servage of all vices, for it is the devils horde, ther he hideth him and resteth. This sinne hath many spices. The first is dronkennesse, that is the horrible sepulture of mannes reson: and therefore whan a man is dronke, he hath lost his reson: and this is dedly sinne. But sothly, whan that a man is not wont to strong drinkes, and peraventure ne knoweth not the strength of the drinke, or hath feblenesse in his hed, or hath travailled, thurgh which he drinketh the more, al be he sodenly caught with drinke, it is no dedly sinne, but venial. The second spice of glotonie is, that the spirit of a man wexeth all trouble for dronkennesse, and bereveth a man the discretion of his wit. The thridde spice of glotonie is, whan a man devoureth his mete, and hath not rightful maner of eting. The fourthe is, whan thurgh the gret abundance of his mete, the humours in his body ben distempered. The fifthe is, foryetfulnesse by to moche drinking, for which sometime a man forgeteth by the morwe, what he did over eve."

52. It is a question whether Ciacco, Hog, is the real name of this person, or a nickname. Boccaccio gives him no other. He speaks of him, Comento, VI., as a noted diner-out in Florence, "who frequented the gentry and the rich, and particularly those who ate and drank sumptuously and delicately; and when he was invited by them to dine, he went; and likewise when he was not invited by them, he invited himself; and for this vice he was well known to all Florentines; though apart from this he was a well-bred man according to his condition, eloquent, affable, and of good feeling; on account of which he was welcomed by every gentleman."

The following story from the Decamerone, Gior. IX., Nov. viii., translation of 1684, presents a lively picture of social life in Florence in Dante's time, and is interesting for the glimpse it gives, not only of Ciacco, but of Philippo Argenti, who is spoken of hereafter, Canto VIII. 61. The Corso Donati here mentioned is the Leader of the Neri. His violent death is predicted, Purg. XXIV. 82:—

"There dwelt somtime in Florence one that was generally called by the name of Ciacco, a man being the greatest Gourmand and grossest Feeder as ever was seen in any Countrey, all his means and procurements meerly unable to maintain expences for filling his belly. But otherwise he was of sufficient and commendable carriage, fairly demeaned, and well discoursing on any Argument: yet not as a curious and spruce Courtier, but rather a frequenter of rich mens Tables, where choice of good chear is seldom wanting, and such should have his Company, albeit not invited, he had the Courage to bid himself welcome.

"At the same time, and in our City of Florence also, there was another man named Biondello, very low of stature, yet comely formed, quick witted, more neat and brisk than a Butterflie, always wearing a wrought silk Cap on his head, and not a hair standing out of order, but the tuft flourishing above the forehead, and he such another trencher flie for the Table, as our forenamed Ciacco was. It so fell out on a morning in the Lent time, that he went into the Fish-market, where he bought two goodly Lampreys for Messer Viero de Cerchi, and was espyed by Ciacco, who, coming to Biondello, said, 'What is the meaning of this cost, and for whom is it?' Whereto Biondello thus answered, 'Yesternight three other Lampreys, far fairer than these, and a whole Sturgeon, were sent unto Messer Corso Donati, and being not sufficient to feed divers Gentlemen, whom he hath invited this day to dine with him, he caused me to buy these two beside: Dost not thou intend to make one of them?' 'Yes, I warrant thee,' replyed Ciacco, 'thou knowest I can invite my self thither, without any other bidding.'

"So parting, about the hour of dinner time Ciacco went to the house of Messer Corso, whom he found sitting and talking with certain of his Neighbours, but dinner was not as yet ready, neither were they come thither to dinner. Messer Corso demanded of Ciacco, what news with him, and whether he went? 'Why Sir,' said Ciacco, 'I come to dine with you, and your good Company.' Whereto Messer Corso answered. That he was welcome: and his other friends being gone, dinner was served in, none else thereat present but Messer Corso and Ciacco: all the diet being a poor dish of Pease, a little piece of Tunny, and a few small fishes fryed, without any other dishes to follow after. Ciacco seeing no better fare, but being disappointed of his expectation, as longing to feed on the Lampreys and Sturgeon, and so to have made a full dinner indeed, was of a quick apprehension, and apparently perceived that Biondello had meerly gull'd him in a knavery, which did not a little vex him, and made him vow to be revenged on Biondello, as he could compass occasion afterward.

"Before many days were past, it was his fortune to meet with Biondello, who having told his jest to divers of his friends, and much good merryment made thereat: he saluted Ciacco in a kind manner, saying, 'How didst thou like the fat Lampreys and Sturgeon which thou fed'st on at the house of Messer Corso?' 'Well, Sir,' answered Ciacco, 'perhaps before Eight days pass over my head, thou shalt meet with as pleasing a dinner as I did.' So, parting away from Biondello, he met with a Porter, such as are usually sent on Errands; and hyring him to do a message for him, gave him a glass Bottle, and bringing him near to the Hall-house of Cavicciuli, shewed him there a Knight, called Signior Philippo Argenti, a man of huge stature, very cholerick, and sooner moved to Anger than any other man. 'To him thou must go with this Bottle in thy hand, and say thus to him. Sir, Biondello sent me to you, and courteously entreateth you, that you would erubinate this glass Bottle with your best Claret Wine; because he would make merry with a few friends of his. But beware he lay no hand on thee, because he may be easily induced to misuse thee, and so my business be disappointed.' 'Well, Sir,' said the Porter, 'shall I say any thing else unto him?' 'No,' quoth Ciacco, 'only go and deliver this message, and when thou art returned, I'll pay thee for thy pains.' The Porter being gone to the house, delivered his message to the Knight, who, being a man of no great civil breeding, but very furious, presently conceived that Biondello, whom he knew well enough, sent this message in meer mockage of him, and, starting up with fierce looks, said, 'What erubination of Claret should I send him? and what have I to do with him or his drunken friends? Let him and thee go hang your selves together.' So he stept to catch hold on the Porter, but he being nimble and escaping from him, returned to Ciacco and told him the answer of Philippe. Ciacco, not a little contented, payed the Porter, tarried in no place till he met Biondello, to whom he said, 'When wast thou at the Hall of Cavicciuli?' 'Not a long while,' answered Biondello; 'but why dost thou demand such a question?' 'Because,' quoth Ciacco, 'Signior Philippe hath sought about for thee, yet know not I what he would have with thee.' 'Is it so,' replied Biondello, 'then I will walk thither presently, to understand his pleasure.'

"When Biondello was thus parted from him, Ciacco followed not far off behind him, to behold the issue of this angry business; and Signior Philippo, because he could not catch the Porter, continued much distempered, fretting and fuming, because he could not comprehend the meaning of the Porter's message, but only surmised that Biondello, by the procurement of some body else, had done this in scorn of him. While he remained thus deeply discontented, he espyed Biondello coming towards him, and meeting him by the way, he stept close to him and gave him a cruel blow on the Face, causing his Nose to fall out a bleeding. 'Alas, Sir,' said Biondello, 'wherefore do you strike me?' Signior Philippo, catching him by the hair of the head, trampled his Night Cap in the dirt, and his Cloak also, when, laying many violent blows on him, he said, 'Villanous Traitor as thou art, I'll teach thee what it is to erubinate with Claret, either thy self or any of thy cupping Companions. Am I a Child to be jested withal?'

"Nor was he more furious in words than in stroaks also, beating him about the Face, hardly leaving any hair on his head, and dragging him along in the mire, spoiling all his Garments, and he not able, from the first blow given, to speak a word in defence of himself. In the end Signior Philippo having extreamly beaten him, and many poople gathering about them, to succour a man so much misused, the matter was at large related, and manner of the message sending. For which they all did greatly reprehend Biondello, considering he knew what kind of man Philippo was, not any way to be jested withal. Biondello in tears maintained that he never sent any such message for Wine, or intended it in the least degree; so, when the tempest was more mildly calmed, and Biondello, thus cruelly beaten and durtied, had gotten home to his own house, he could then remember that (questionless) this was occasioned by Ciacco.

"After some few days were passed over, and the hurts in his face indifferently cured, Biondello beginning to walk abroad again, chanced to meet with Ciacco, who, laughing heartily at him, said, 'Tell me, Biondello, how dost thou like the erubinating Claret of Signior Philippo?' 'As well,' quoth Biondello, 'as thou didst the Sturgeon and Lampreys at Messer Corso Donaties.' 'Why then,' said Ciacco, 'let these tokens continue familiar between thee and me, when thou wouldest bestow such another dinner on me, then will I erubinate thy Nose with a Bottle of the same Claret.' But Biondello perceived to his cost that he had met with the worser bargain, and Ciacco got cheer without any blows; and therefore desired a peacefull attonement, each of them always after abstaining from flouting one another."

Ginguené, Hist. Lit. de l' Italie, II. 53, takes Dante severely to task for wasting his pity upon poor Ciacco, but probably the poet had pleasant memories of him at Florentine banquets in the olden time. Nor is it remarkable that he should be mentioned only by his nickname. Mr. Forsyth calls Italy "the land of nicknames." He says in continuation, Italy, p. 145:—

"Italians have suppressed the surnames of their principal artists under various designations. Many are known only by the names of their birthplace, as Correggio, Bassano, etc. Some by those of their masters, as Il Salviati, Sansovino, etc. Some by their father's trade, as Andrea del Sarto, Tintoretto, etc. Some by their bodily defects, as Guercino, Cagnacci, etc. Some by the subjects in which they excelled, as M. Angelo delle battaglie, Agostino delle perspettive. A few (I can recollect only four) are known, each as the prince of his respective school, by their Christian names alone: Michael Angelo, Raphael, Guido, Titian."

65. The Bianchi are called the Parte selvaggia, because its leaders, the Cerchi, came from the forest lands of Val di Sieve. The other party, the Neri, were led by the Donati.

The following account of these factions is from Giovanni Fiorentino, a writer of the fourteenth century; Il Pecorone, Gior. XIII. Nov. i., in Roscoe's Italian Novelists, I. 327.

"In the city of Pistoia, at the time of its greatest splendor, there flourished a noble family, called the Cancellieri, derived from Messer Cancelliere, who had enriched himself with his commercial transactions. He had numerous sons by two wives, and they were all entitled by their wealth to assume the title of Cavalieri, valiant and worthy men, and in all their actions magnanimous and courteous. And so fast did the various branches of this family spread, that in a short time they numbered a hundred men at arms, and being superior to every other, both in wealth and power, would have still increased, but that a cruel division arose between them, from some rivalship in the affections of a lovely and enchanting girl, and from angry words they proceeded to more angry blows. Separating into two parties, those descended from the first wife took the title of Cancellieri Bianchi, and the others, who were the offspring of the second marriage, were called Cancellieri Neri.

"Having at last come to action, the Neri were defeated, and wishing to adjust the affair as well as they yet could, they sent their relation, who had offended the opposite party, to entreat forgiveness on the part of the Neri, expecting that such submissive conduct would meet with the compassion it deserved. On arriving in the presence of the Bianchi, who conceived themselves the offended party, the young man, on bended knees, appealed to their feelings for forgiveness, observing, that he had placed himself in their power, that so they might inflict what punishment they judged proper; when several of the younger members of the offended party, seizing on him, dragged him into an adjoining stable, and ordered that his right hand should be severed from his body. In the utmost terror the youth, with tears in his eyes, besought them to have mercy, and to take a greater and nobler revenge, by pardoning one whom they had it in their power thus deeply to injure. But heedless of his prayers, they bound his hand by force upon the manger, and struck it off; a deed which excited the utmost tumult throughout Pistoia, and such indignation and reproaches from the injured party of the Neri, as to implicate the whole city in a division of interests between them and the Bianchi, which led to many desperate encounters.

"The citizens, fearful lest the faction might cause insurrections throughout the whole territory, in conjunction with the Guelfs, applied to the Florentines in order to reconcile them; on which the Florentines took possession of the place, and sent the partisans on both sides to the confines of Florence, whence it happened that the Neri sought refuge in the house of the Frescobaldi, and the Bianchi in that of the Cerchi nel Garbo, owing to the relationship which existed between them. The seeds of the same dissension being thus sown in Florence, the whole city became divided, the Cerchi espousing the interests of the Bianchi, and the Donati those of the Neri.

"So rapidly did this pestiferous spirit gain ground in Florence, as frequently to excite the greatest tumult; and from a peaceable and flourishing state, it speedily became a scene of rapine and devastation. In this stage Pope Boniface VIII. was made acquainted with the state of this ravaged and unhappy city, and sent the Cardinal Acqua Sparta on a mission to reform and pacify the enraged parties. But with his utmost efforts he was unable to make any impression, and accordingly, after declaring the place excommunicated, departed. Florence being thus exposed to the greatest perils, and in a continued state of insurrection, Messer Corso Donati, with the Spini, the Pazzi, the Tosinghi, the Cavicciuli, and the populace attached to the Neri faction, applied, with the consent of their leaders, to Pope Boniface. They entreated that he would employ his interest with the court of France to send a force to allay these feuds, and to quell the party of the Bianchi. As soon as this was reported in the city, Messer Donati was banished, and his property forfeited, and the other heads of the sect were proportionally fined and sent into exile. Messer Donati, arriving at Rome, so far prevailed with his Holiness, that he sent an embassy to Charles de Valois, brother to the king of France, declaring his wish that he should be made Emperor, and King of the Romans; under which persuasion Charles passed into Italy, reinstating Messer Donati and the Neri in the city of Florence. From this there only resulted worse evils, inasmuch as all the Bianchi, being the least powerful, were universally oppressed and robbed, and Charles, becoming the enemy of Pope Boniface, conspired his death, because the Pope had not fulfilled his promise of presenting him with an imperial crown. From which events it may be seen that this vile faction was the cause of discord in the cities of Florence and Pistoia, and of the other states of Tuscany; and no less to the same source was to be attributed the death of Pope Boniface VIII."

69. Charles de Valois, called Senzaterra, or Lackland, brother of Philip the Fair, king of France.

73. The names of these two remain unknown. Probably one of them was Dante's friend Guido Cavalcanti.

80. Of this Arrigo nothing whatever seems to be known, hardly even his name; for some commentators call him Arrigo dei Fisanti, and others Arrigo dei Fifanti. Of these other men of mark "who set their hearts on doing good," Farinata is among the Heretics, Canto X.; Tegghiaio and Rusticucci among the Sodomites, Canto XVI.; and Mosca among the Schismatics, Canto XXVIII.

106. The philosophy of Aristotle. The same doctrine is taught by St. Augustine: "Cum fiet resurrectio carnis, et bonorum gaudia et tormenta malorum majora erunt."

115. Plutus, the God of Riches, of which Lord Bacon says in his Essays:

"I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the Roman word is better, 'impedimenta'; for as the baggage is to an army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left behind, but it hindereth the march; yea, and the care of it sometimes loseth or disturbeth the victory; of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution; the rest is but conceit. . . . . The personal fruition in any man cannot reach to feel great riches: there is a custody of them; or a power of dole and donative of them; or a fame of them; but no solid use to the owner."

 

CANTO VII.

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of the Avaricious and the Prodigal, with Plutus as their jailer. His outcry of alarm is differently interpreted by different commentators, and by none very satisfactorily. The curious student, groping among them for a meaning, is like Gower's young king, of whom he says, in his Confessio Amantis:

"Of deepe ymaginations
And straunge interpretations,
Problemes and demaundes eke
His wisedom was to finde and seke,
Whereof he wolde in sondry wise
Opposen hem, that weren wise;
But none of hem it mighte bere
Upon his word to give answere."

But nearly all agree, I believe, in construing the strange words into a cry of alarm or warning to Lucifer, that his realm is invaded by some unusual apparition.

Of all the interpretations given, the most amusing is that of Benvenuto Cellini, in his description of the Court of Justice in Paris, Roscoe's Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini, Chap. XXII.:—

"I stooped down several times to observe what passed: the words which I heard the judge utter, upon seeing two gentlemen who wanted to hear the trial, and whom the porter was endeavoring to keep out, were these: 'Be quiet, be quiet, Satan, get hence, and leave off disturbing us.' The terms were, Paix, paix, Satan, allez, paix. As I had by this time thoroughly learnt the French language, upon hearing these words, I recollected what Dante said, when he with his master, Virgil, entered the gates of hell; for Dante and Giotto the painter were together in France, and visited Paris with particular attention, where the court of justice may be considered as hell. Hence it is that Dante, who was likewise perfect master of the French, made use of that expression; and I have often been surprised, that it was never understood in that sense; so that I cannot help thinking, that the commentators on this author have often made him say things which he never so much as dreamed of."

Dante himself hardly seems to have understood the meaning of the words, though he suggests that Virgil did.

11. The overthrow of the Rebel Angels. St. Augustine says, "Idolatria et quælibet noxia superstitio fornicatio est."

24. Must dance the Ridda, a round dance of the olden time. It was a Roundelay, or singing and dancing together. Boccaccio's Monna Belcolore "knew better than any one how to play the tambourine and lead the Ridda."

27. As the word honor resounds in Canto IV., and the word love in Canto V., so here the words rolling and turning are the burden of the song, as if to suggest the motion of Fortune's wheel, so beautifully described a little later.

39. Clerks, clerics, or clergy. Boccaccio, Comento, remarks upon this passage: "Some maintain, that the clergy wear the tonsure in remembrance and reverence of St. Peter, on whom, they say, it was made by certain evil-minded men as a mark of madness; because not comprehending and not wishing to comprehend his holy doctrine, and seeing him fervently preaching before princes and people, who held that doctrine in detestation, they thought he acted as one out of his senses. Others maintain that the tonsure is worn as a mark of dignity, as a sign that those who wear it are more worthy than those who do not; and they call it corona, because, all the rest of the head being shaven, a single circle of hair should be left, which in form of a crown surrounds the whole head."

58. In like manner Chaucer, Persones Tale, pp. 227, 337, reproves ill-keeping and ill-giving.

"Avarice, after the description of Seint Augustine, is a likerousnesse in herte to have erthly thinges. Som other folk sayn, that avarice is for to purchase many erthly thinges, and nothing to yeve to hem that han nede. And understond wel, that avarice standeth not only in land ne catel, but som time in science and in glorie, and in every maner outrageous thing is avarice. . . . .

"But for as moche as som folk ben unmesurable, men oughten for to avoid and eschue fool-largesse, the whiche men clepen waste. Certes, he that is fool-large, he yeveth not his catel, but he leseth his catel. Sothly, what thing that he yeveth for vaine-glory, as to minstrals, and to folk that bere his renome in the world, he hath do sinne thereof, and non almesse: certes, he leseth foule his good, that ne seketh with the yefte of his good nothing but sinne. He is like to an hors that seketh rather to drink drovy or troubled water, than for to drink water of the clere well. And for as moche as they yeven ther as they shuld nat yeven, to hem apperteineth thilke malison, that Crist shal yeve at the day of dome to hem that shul be dampned."

68. The Wheel of Fortune was one of the favorite subjects of art and song in the Middle Ages. On a large square of white marble set in the pavement of the nave of the Cathedral at Siena, is the representation of a revolving wheel. Three boys are climbing and clinging at the sides and below; above is a dignified figure with a stern countenance, holding the sceptre and ball. At the four corners are inscriptions from Seneca, Euripides, Aristotle, and Epictetus. The same symbol may be seen also in the wheel-of-fortune windows of many churches; as, for example, that of San Zeno at Verona. See Knight, Ecclesiastical Architecture, II. plates v., vi.

In the following poem Guido Cavalcanti treats this subject in Very much the same way that Dante does; and it is curious to observe how at particular times certain ideas seem to float in the air, and to become the property of every one who chooses to make use of them. From the similarity between this poem and the lines of Dante, one might infer that the two friends had discussed the matter in conversation, and afterwards that each had written out their common thought.

Cavalcanti's Song of Fortune, as translated by Rossetti, Early Italian Poets, p. 366, runs as follows:—

"Lo! I am she who makes the wheel to turn;
Lo! I am she who gives and takes away;
Blamed idly, day by day,
In all mine acts by you, ye humankind.
For whoso smites his visage and doth mourn,
What time he renders back my gifts to me,
Learns then that I decree
No state which mine own arrows may not find.
Who clomb must fall:—this bear ye well in mind,
Nor say, because he fell, I did him wrong.
Yet mine is a vain song:
For truly ye may find out wisdom when
King Arthur's resting-place is found of men.

"Ye make great marvel and astonishment
What time ye see the sluggard lifted up
And the just man to drop,
And ye complain on God and on my sway.
O humankind, ye sin in your complaint:
For He, that Lord who made the world to live,
Lets me not take or give
By mine own act, but as he wills I may.
Yet is the mind of man so castaway,
That it discerns not the supreme behest.
Alas! ye wretchedest,
And chide ye at God also? Shall not He
Judge between good and evil righteously?

"Ah! had ye knowledge how God evermore,
With agonies of soul and grievous heats,
As on an anvil beats
On them that in this earth hold high estate,—
Ye would choose little rather than much store,
And solitude than spacious palaces;
Such is the sore disease
Of anguish that on all their days doth wait.
Behold if they be not unfortunate,
When oft the father dares not trust the son!
O wealth, with thee is won
A worm to gnaw forever on his soul
Whose abject life is laid in thy control!

"If also ye take note what piteous death
They ofttimes make, whose hoards were manifold,
Who cities had and gold
And multitudes of men beneath their hand;
Then he among you that most angereth
Shall bless me saying, 'Lo! I worship thee
That I was not as he
Whose death is thus accurst throughout the land.'
But now your living souls are held in band
Of avarice, shutting you from the true light
Which shows how sad and slight
Are this world's treasured riches and array
That still change hands a hundred times a day.

"For me,—could envy enter in my sphere,
Which of all human taint is clean and quit,—
I well might harbor it
When I behold the peasant at his toil.
Guiding his team, untroubled, free from fear,
He leaves his perfect furrow as he goes,
And gives his field repose
From thorns and tares and weeds that vex the soil:
Thereto he labors, and without turmoil
Entrusts his work to God, content if so
Such guerdon from it grow
That in that year his family shall live:
Nor care nor thought to other things will give.

"But now ye may no more have speech of me,
For this mine office craves continual use:
Ye therefore deeply muse
Upon those things which ye have heard the while:
Yea, and even yet remember heedfully
How this my wheel a motion hath so fleet,
That in an eyelid's beat
Him whom it raised it maketh low and vile.
None was, nor is, nor shall be of such guile,
Who could, or can, or shall, I say, at length
Prevail against my strength.
But still those men that are my questioners
In bitter torment own their hearts perverse.

"Song, that wast made to carry high intent
Dissembled in the garb of humbleness,—
With fair and open face
To Master Thomas let thy course be bent.
Say that a great thing scarcely may be pent
In little room: yet always pray that he
Commend us, thee and me,
To them that are more apt in lofty speech:
For truly one must learn ere he can teach."

74. This old Rabbinical tradition of the "Regents of the Planets" has been painted by Raphael, in the Capella Chigiana of the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. See Mrs. Jameson, Sacred and Legendary Art, I. 45. She says: "As a perfect example of grand and poetical feeling I may cite the angels as 'Regents of the Planets' in the Capella Chigiana. The Cupola represents in a circle the creation of the solar system, according to the theological (or rather astrological) notions which then prevailed,—a hundred years before 'the starry Galileo and his woes.' In the centre is the Creator; around, in eight compartments, we have, first, the angel of the celestial sphere, who seems to be listening to the divine mandate, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven'; then follow, in their order, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The name of each planet is expressed by its mythological representative; the Sun by Apollo, the Moon by Diana; and over each presides a grand, colossal winged spirit, seated or reclining on a portion of the zodiac as on a throne."

The old tradition may be found in Stehelin, Rabbinical Literature, I. 157. See Purgatorio, XVI. 69.

98. Past midnight.

103. Perse, purple-black. See Canto V., Note 89.

115. "Is not this a cursed vice?" says Chaucer in The Persones Tale, p. 202, speaking of wrath. "Yes, certes. Alas! it benimmeth fro man his witte and his reson, and all his debonaire lif spirituel, that shulde keepe his soule. Certes it benimmeth also Goddes due lordship (and that is mannes soule) and the love of his neighbours; it reveth him the quiet of his herte, and subverteth his soule."

And farther on he continues: "After the sinne of wrath, now wolle I speke of the sinne of accidie, or slouth; for envie blindeth the herte of a man, and ire troubleth a man, and accidie maketh him hevy, thoughtful, and wrawe. Envie and ire maken bitternesse in herte, which bitternesse is mother of accidie, and benimmeth him the love of alle goodnesse; than is accidie the anguish of a trouble herte."

And Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, I. 3. i. 3, speaking of that kind of melancholy which proceeds from "humors adust," says: "For example, if it proceeds from flegm (which is seldom, and not so frequent as the rest) it stirs up dull symptomes, and a kind of stupidity, or impassionate hurt; they are sleepy, saith Savanarola, dull, slow, cold, blockish, ass-like, asininam melancholiam Melancthon calls it, they are much given to weeping, and delight in waters, ponds, pools, rivers, fishing, fowling, &c. They are pale of color. slothful, apt to sleep, heavy, much troubled with the head-ache, continual meditation and muttering to themselves, they dream of waters, that they are in danger of drowning, and fear such things."

See also Purg. XVII. 85.


CANTO VIII.

1. Boccaccio and some other commentators think the words "I say, continuing," are a confirmation of the theory that the first seven cantos of the Inferno were written before Dante's banishment from Florence. Others maintain that the words suggest only the continuation of the subject of the last canto in this.

4. These two signal fires announce the arrival of two persons to be ferried over the wash, and the other in the distance is on the watch-tower of the City of Dis, answering these.

19. Phlegyas was the father of Ixion and Coronis. He was king of the Lapithæ, and burned the temple of Apollo at Delphi to avenge the wrong done by the god to Coronis. His punishment in the infernal regions was to stand beneath a huge impending rock, always about to fall upon him. Virgil, Æneid, VI., says of him: "Phlegyas, most wretched, is a monitor to all and with loud voice proclaims through the shades, 'Being warned, learn righteousness, and not to contemn the gods.'"

27. Virgil, Æneid, VI.: "The boat of sewn hide groaned under the weight, and, being leaky, took in much water from the lake."

49. Mr. Wright here quotes Spenser, Ruins of Time:

"How many great ones may remembered be,
Who in their days most famously did flourish,
Of whom no word we have, nor sign now see,
But as things wiped out with a sponge do perish."

51. Chaucer's "sclandre of his diffame."

61. Of Philippo Argenti little is known, and nothing to his credit. Dante seems to have an especial personal hatred of him, as if in memory of some disagreeable passage between them in the streets of Florence. Boccaccio says of him in his Comento: "This Philippo Argenti, as Coppo di Borghese Domenichi de' Cavicciuli was wont to say, was a very rich gentleman, so rich that he had the horse he used to ride shod with silver, and from this he had his surname; he was in person large, swarthy, muscular, of marvellous strength, and at the slightest provocation the most irascible of men; nor are any more known of his qualities than these two, each in itself very blameworthy," He was of the Adimari family, and of the Neri faction; while Dante was of the Bianchi party, and in banishment. Perhaps this fact may explain the bitterness of his invective.

This is the same Philippo Argenti who figures in Boccaccio's tale. See Inf. VI., note 52, The Ottimo Comento says of him: "He was a man of great pomp, and great ostentation, and much expenditure, and little virtue and worth; and therefore the author says, 'Goodness is none that decks his memory.'"

And this is all that is known of the "Fiorentino spirito bizzaro," forgotten by history, and immortalized in song. "What a barbarous strength and confusion of ideas," exclaims Leigh Hunt, Italian Poets, p. 60, "is there in this whole passage about him! Arrogance punished by arrogance, a Christian mother blessed for the unchristian disdainfulness of her son, revenge boasted of and enjoyed, passion arguing in a circle."

70. The word "mosques" paints at once to the imagination the City of Unbelief.

78. Virgil, Æneid, VI., Davidson's Translation:—

"Æneas on a sudden looks back, and under a rock on the left sees vast prisons inclosed with a triple wall, which Tartarean Phlegethon's rapid flood environs with torrents of flame, and whirls roaring rocks along. Fronting is a huge gate, with columns of solid adamant, that no strength of men, nor the gods themselves, can with steel demolish. An iron tower rises aloft; and there wakeful Tisiphone, with her bloody robe tucked up around her, sits to watch the vestibule both night and day."

124. This arrogance of theirs; tracotanza, oltracotanza; Brantome's outrecuidance; and Spenser's surquedrie.

125. The gate of the Inferno.

130. The coming of the Angel, whose approach is described in the next canto, beginning at line 64.


CANTO IX.

1. The flush of anger passes from Virgil's cheek on seeing the pallor of Dante's, and he tries to encourage him with assurances of success; but betrays his own apprehensions in the broken phrase, "If not," which he immediately covers with words of cheer.

8. Such, or so great a one, is Beatrice, the "fair and saintly Lady" of Canto II. 53.

9. The Angel who will open the gates of the City of Dis.

16. Dante seems to think that he has already reached the bottom of the infernal conch, with its many convolutions.

52. Gower, Confessio Amantis, I.:—

"Cast nought thin eye upon Meduse
That thou be turned into stone."

Hawthorne has beautifully told the story of "The Gorgon's Head," as well as many more of the classic fables, in his Wonder-Book.

54. The attempt which Theseus and Pirithous made to rescue Proserpine from the infernal regions.

62. The hidden doctrine seems to be, that Negation or Unbelief is the Gorgon's head which changes the heart to stone; after which there is "no more returning upward." The Furies display it from the walls of the City of Heretics.

112. At Arles lie buried, according to old tradition, the Peers of Charlemagne and their ten thousand men at arms. Archbishop Turpin, in his famous History of Charles the Great, XXX., Rodd's Translation, I. 52, says:—

"After this the King and his army proceeded by the way of Gascony and Thoulouse, and came to Arles, where we found the army of Burgundy, which had left us in the hostile valley, bringing their dead by the way of Morbihan and Thoulouse, to bury them in the plain of Arles. Here we performed the rites of Estolfo, Count of Champagne; of Solomon; Sampson, Duke of Burgundy; Arnold of Berlanda; Alberic of Burgundy; Gumard, Esturinite, Hato, Juonius, Berard, Berengaire, and Naaman, Duke of Bourbon, and of ten thousand of their soldiers."

Bocccacio comments upon these tombs as follows:—

"At Arles, somewhat out of the city, are many tombs of stone, made of old for sepulchres, and some are large, and some are small, and some are better sculptured, and some not so well, peradventure according to the means of those who had them made; and upon some of them appear inscriptions after the ancient custom, I suppose in indication of those who are buried within. The inhabitants of the country repeat a tradition of them, affirming that in that place there was once a great battle between William of Orange, or some other Christian prince, with his forces on one side, and infidel barbarians from Africa [on the other]; and that many Christians were slain in it; and that on the following night, by divine miracle, those tombs were brought there for the burial of the Christians, and so on the following morning all the dead Christians were buried in them."

113. Pola is a city in Istria. "Near Pola," says Benvenuto da Imola, "are seen many tombs, about seven hundred, and of various forms."

Quarnaro is a gulf of the northern extremity of the Adriatic.

 

CANTO X.

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of Heretics.

Brunetto Latini, Tesoretto, XIII.:—

"Or va mastro Brunetto
Per lo cammino stretto."

14. Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial, Chap. IV., says : "They may sit in the orchestra and noblest seats of heaven who have held up shaking hands in the fire, and humanly contended for glory. Meanwhile Epicurus lies deep in Dante's hell, wherein we meet with tombs enclosing souls, which denied their immortalities. But whether the virtuous heathen, who lived better than he spake, or, erring in the principles of himself, yet lived above philosophers of more specious maxims, lie so deep as he is placed, at least so low as not to rise against Christians, who, believing or knowing that truth, have lastingly denied it in their practice and conversation,—were a query too sad to insist on."

Also Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, Part II. Sec. 2. Mem. 6. Subs. 1, thus vindicates the memory of Epicurus: "A quiet mind is that voluptas, or summum bonum of Epicurus; non dolere, curis vacare, animo tranquillo esse, not to grieve, but to want cares, and have a quiet soul, is the only pleasure of the world, as Seneca truly recites his opinion, not that of eating and drinking, which injurious Aristotle maliciously puts upon him, and for which he is still mistaken, mala audit et vapulat, slandered without a cause, and lashed by all posterity."

32. Farinata degli Uberti was the most valiant and renowned leader of the Ghibellines in Florence. Boccaccio, Comento, says: "He was of the opinion of Epicurus, that the soul dies with the body, and consequently maintained that human happiness consisted in temporal pleasures; but he did not follow these in the way that Epicurus did, that is by making long fasts to have afterwards pleasure in eating dry bread; but was fond of good and delicate viands, and ate them without waiting to be hungry; and for this sin he is damned as a Heretic in this place."

Farinata led the Ghibellines at the famous battle of Monte Aperto in 1260, where the Guelfs were routed, and driven out of Florence. He died in 1264.

46. The ancestors of Dante, and Dante himself, were Guelfs. He did not become a Ghibelline till after his banishment. Boccaccio in his Life of Dante makes the following remarks upon his party spirit. I take the passage as given in Mrs. Bunbury's translation of Balbo's Life and Times of Dante, II. 227.

"He was," says Boccaccio, "a most excellent man, and most resolute in adversity. It was only on one subject that he showed himself, I do not know whether I ought to call it impatient, or spirited,—it was regarding anything relating to Party; since in his exile he was more violent in this respect than suited his circumstances, and more than he was willing that others should believe. And in order that it may be seen for what party he was thus violent and pertinacious, it appears to me I must go further back in my story. I believe that it was the just anger of God that permitted, it is a long time ago, almost all Tuscany and Lombardy to be divided into two parties; I do not know how they acquired those names, but one party was called Guelf and the other party Ghibelline. And these two names were so revered, and had such an effect on the folly of many minds, that, for the sake of defending the side any one had chosen for his own against the opposite party, it was not considered hard to lose property, and even life, if it were necessary. And under these names the Italian cities many times suffered serious grievances and changes; and among the rest our city, which was sometimes at the head of one party, and sometimes of the other, according to the citizens in power; so much so that Dante's ancestors, being Guelfs, were twice expelled by the Ghibellines from their home, and he likewise under the title of Guelf held the reins of the Florentine Republic, from which he was expelled, as we have shown, not by the the Ghibellines, but by the Guelfs; and seeing that he could not return, he so much altered his mind that there never was a fiercer Ghibelline, or a bitterer enemy to the Guelfs, than he was. And that which I feel most ashamed at for the sake of his memory is, that it was a well-known thing in Romagna, that if any boy or girl, talking to him on party matters, condemned the Ghibelline side, he would become frantic, so that if they did not be silent he would have been induced to throw stones at them; and with this violence of party feeling he lived until his death. I am certainly ashamed to tarnish with any fault the fame of such a man; but the order of my subject in some degree demands it, because if I were silent in those things in which he was to blame, I should not be believed in those things I have already related in his praise. Therefore I excuse myself to himself, who perhaps looks down from heaven with a disdainful eye on me writing."

51. The following account of the Guelfs and Ghibellines is from the Pecorone of Giovanni Fiorentino, a writer of the fourteenth century. It forms the first Novella of the Eighth Day, and will be found in Roscoe's Italian Novelists, I. 322.

"There formerly resided in Germany two wealthy and well-born individuals, whose names were Guelfo and Ghibellino, very near neighbors, and greatly attached to each other. But returning together one day from the chase, there unfortunately arose some difference of opinion as to the merits of one of their hounds, which was maintained on both sides so very warmly, that, from being almost inseparable friends and companions, they became each other's deadliest enemies. This unlucky division between them still increasing, they on either side collected parties of their followers, in order more effectually to annoy each other. Soon extending its malignant influence among the neighboring lords and barons of Germany, who divided, according to their motives, either with the Guelf or the Ghibelline, it not only produced many serious affrays, but several persons fell victims to its rage. Ghibellino, finding himself hard pressed by his enemy, and unable longer to keep the field against him, resolved to apply for assistance to Frederick the First, the reigning Emperor. Upon this, Guelfo, perceiving that his adversary sought the alliance of this monarch, applied on his side to Pope Honorius II., who being at variance with the former, and hearing how the affair stood, immediately joined the cause of the Guelfs, the Emperor having already embraced that of the Ghibellines. It is thus that the apostolic see became connected with the former, and the empire with the latter faction; and it was thus that a vile hound became the origin of a deadly hatred between the two noble families. Now it happened that in the year of our dear Lord and Redeemer 1215, the same pestiferous spirit spread itself into parts of Italy, in the following manner. Messer Guido Orlando being at that time chief magistrate of Florence, there likewise resided in that city a noble and valiant cavalier of the family of Buondelmonti, one of the most distinguished houses in the state. Our young Buondelmonte having already plighted his troth to a lady of the Amidei family, the lovers were considered as betrothed, with all the solemnity usually observed on such occasions. But this unfortunate young man, chancing one day to pass by the house of the Donati, was stopped and accosted by a lady of the name of Lapaccia, who moved to him from her door as he went along, saying: 'I am surprised that a gentleman of your appearance, Signor, should think of taking for his wife a woman scarcely worthy of handing him his boots. There is a child of my own, whom, to speak sincerely, I have long intended for you, and whom I wish you would just venture to see.' And on this she called out for her daughter, whose name was Ciulla, one of the prettiest and most enchanting girls in all Florence. Introducing her to Messer Buondelmonte, she whispered, 'This is she whom I had reserved for you'; and the young Florentine, suddenly becoming enamored of her, thus replied to her mother, 'I am quite ready. Madonna, to meet your wishes'; and before stirring from the spot he placed a ring upon her finger, and, wedding her, received her there as his wife.

"The Amidei, hearing that young Buondelmonte had thus espoused another, immediately met together, and took counsel with other friends and relations, how they might best avenge themselves for such an insult offered to their house. There were present among the rest Lambertuccio Amidei, Schiatta Ruberti, and Mosca Lamberti, one of whom proposed to give him a box on the ear, another to strike him in the face; yet they were none of them able to agree about it among themselves. On observing this, Mosca hastily rose, in a great passion, saying, 'Cosa fatta capo ha,' wishing it to be understood that a dead man will never strike again. It was therefore decided that he should be put to death, a sentence which they proceeded to execute in the following manner.

"M. Buondelmonte returning one Easter morning from a visit to the Casa Bardi, beyond the Arno, mounted upon a snow-white steed, and dressed in a mantle of the same color, had just reached the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, or old bridge, where formerly stood a statue of Mars, whom the Florentines in their Pagan state were accustomed to worship, when the whole party issued out upon him, and, dragging him in the scuffle from his horse, in spite of the gallant resistance he made, despatched him with a thousand wounds. The tidings of this affair seemed to throw all Florence into confusion; the chief personages and noblest families in the place everywhere meeting, and dividing themselves into parties in consequence; the one party embracing the cause of the Buondelmonti, who placed themselves at the head of the Guelfs; and the other taking part with the Amidei, who supported the Ghibellines.

"In the same fatal manner, nearly all the seigniories and cities of Italy were involved in the original quarrel between these two German families: the Guelfs still supporting the interest of the Holy Church, and the Ghibellines those of the Emperor. And thus I have made you acquainted with the origin of the Germanic faction, between two noble houses, for the sake of a vile cur, and have shown how it afterwards disturbed the peace of Italy for the sake of a beautiful woman."

For an account of the Bianchi and Neri factions see Canto XXIV. note 143.

53. Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti, father of Dante's friend, Guido Cavalcanti. He was of the Guelf party; so that here are Guelf and Ghibelline buried in the same tomb.

60. This question recalls the scene in the Odyssey, where the shade of Agamemnon appears to Ulysses and asks for Orestes. Book XI. in Chapman's translation, line 603:—

"Doth my son yet survive
In Orchomen or Pylos? Or doth live
In Sparta with his uncle? Yet I see
Divine Orestes is not here with me."

63. Guido Cavalcanti, whom Benvenuto da Imola calls "the other eye of Florence,"—alter oculus Florentiæ tempore Dantis. It is to this Guido that Dante addresses the sonnet, which is like the breath of Spring, beginning:—

"Guido, I wish that Lapo, thou, and I
Could be by spells conveyed, as it were now,
Upon a barque, with all the winds that blow,
Across all seas at our good will to hie."

He was a poet of decided mark, as may be seen by his "Song of Fortune," quoted in Note 68, Canto VII., and the Sonnet to Dante, Note 136, Purgatorio XXX. But he seems not to have shared Dante's admiration for Virgil, and to have been more given to the study of philosophy than of poetry. Like Lucentio in "The Taming of the Shrew" he is

"So devote to Aristotle's ethics
As Ovid be an outcast quite abjured."

Boccaccio, Decameron, VI. 9, praises him for his learning and other good qualities; "for over and beside his being one of the best Logitians, as those times not yielded a better," so runs the old translation, "he was also a most absolute Natural Philosopher, a very friendly Gentleman, singularly well spoken, and whatsoever else was commendable in any man was no way wanting in him." In the same Novella he tells this anecdote of him:—

"It chanced upon a day that Signior Guido, departing from the Church of Saint Michael d' Horta, and passing along by the Adamari, so far as to Saint John's Church, which evermore was his customary walk: many goodly Marble Tombs were then about the said Church, as now adays are at Saint Reparata, and divers more beside. He entring among the Columns of Porphiry, and the other Sepulchers being there, because the door of the Church was shut: Signior Betto and his Company came riding from Saint Reparata, and espying Signior Guido among the Graves and Tombs, said, 'Come, let us go make some jests to anger him.' So putting the Spurs to their Horses they rode apace towards him; and being upon him before hee perceived them, one of them said, 'Guido, thou refusest to be one of our society, and seekest for that which never was: when thou hast found it, tell us, what wilt thou do with it?'

"Guido seing himself round engirt with them, suddenly thus replyed: 'Gentlemen, you may use me in your own House as you please.' And setting his hand upon one of the Tombs (which was somewhat great) he took his rising, and leapt quite over it on the further side, as being of an agile and sprightly body, and being thus freed from them, he went away to his own lodging.

"They stood all like men amazed, strangely looking one upon another, and began afterward to murmur among themselves: That Guido was a man without any understanding, and the answer which he had made unto them was to no purpose, neither savoured of any discretion, but meerly came from an empty Brain, because they had no more to do in the place where now they were, than any of the other Citizens, and Signior Guido (himself) as little as any of them; whereto Signior Betto thus replyed: 'Alas, Gentlemen, it is you your selves that are void of understanding: for, if you had but observed the answer which he made unto us: he did honestly, and (in very few words) not only notably express his own wisdom, but also deservedly reprehend us. Because, if we observe things as we ought to do. Graves and Tombs are the Houses of the dead, ordained and prepared to be the latest dwellings. He told us moreover that although we have here (in this life) our habitations and abidings, yet these (or the like) must at last be our Houses. To let us know, and all other foolish, indiscreet, and unlearned men, that we are worse than dead men, in comparison of him, and other men equal to him in skill and learning. And therefore, while we are here among the Graves and Monuments, it may be well said, that we are not far from our own Houses, or how soon we shall be possessors of them, in regard of the frailty attending on us.'"

Napier, Florentine History, I. 368, speaks of Guido as "a bold, melancholy man, who loved solitude and literature; but generous, brave, and courteous, a poet and philosopher, and one that seems to have had the respect and admiration of his age." He then adds this singular picture of the times:—

"Corso Donati, by whom he was feared and hated, would have had him murdered while on a pilgrimage to Saint James of Galicia; on his return this became known and gained him many supporters amongst the Cerchi and other youth of Florence; he took no regular measures of vengeance, but, accidentally meeting Corso in the street, rode violently towards him, casting his javelin at the same time; it missed by the tripping of his horse and he escaped with a slight wound from one of Donati's attendants."

Sacchetti, Nov. 68, tells a pleasant story of Guido's having his cloak nailed to the bench by a roguish boy, while he was playing chess in one of the streets of Florence, which is also a curious picture of Italian life.

75. Farinata pays no attention to this outburst of paternal tenderness on the part of his Guelfic kinsman, but waits, in stern indifference, till it is ended, and then calmly resumes his discourse.

80. The moon, called in the heavens Diana, on earth Luna, and in the infernal regions Proserpina.

86. In the great battle of Monte Aperto. The river Arbia is a few miles south of Siena. The traveller crosses it on his way to Rome, In this battle the banished Ghibellines of Florence, joining the Sienese, gained a victory over the Guelfs, and retook the city of Florence. Before the battle Buonaguida, Syndic of Siena, presented the keys of the city to the Virgin Mary in the Cathedral, and made a gift to her of the city and the neighboring country. After the battle the standard of the vanquished Florentines, together with their battle-bell, the Martinella, was tied to the tail of a jackass and dragged in the dirt. See Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, 254.

94. After the battle of Monte Aperto a diet of the Ghibellines was held at Empoli, in which the deputies from Siena and Pisa, prompted no doubt by provincial hatred, urged the demolition of Florence. Farinata vehemently opposed the project in a speech, thus given in Napier, Florentine History, I. 257:—

"'It would have been better,' he exclaimed, 'to have died on the Arbia, than survive only to hear such a proposition as that which they were then discussing. There is no happiness in victory itself, that must ever be sought for amongst the companions who helped us to gain the day, and the injury we receive from an enemy inflicts a far more trifling wound than the wrong that comes from the hand of a friend. If I now complain, it is not that I fear the destruction of my native city, for as long as I have life to wield a sword Florence shall never be destroyed; but I cannot suppress my indignation at the discourses I have just been listening to: we are here assembled to discuss the wisest means of maintaining our influence in Florence, not to debate on its destruction, and my country would indeed be unfortunate, and I and my companions miserable, mean-spirited creatures, if it were true that the fate of our city depended on the fiat of the present assembly. I did hope that all former hatred would have been banished from such a meeting, and that our mutual destruction would not have been treacherously aimed at from under the false colors of general safety; I did hope that all here were convinced that counsel dictated by jealousy could never be advantageous to the general good! But to what does your hatred attach itself? To the ground on which the city stands? To its houses and insensible walls? To the fugitives who have abandoned it? Or to ourselves that now possess it? Who is he that thus advises? Who is the bold bad man that dare thus give voice to the malice he hath engendered in his soul? Is it meet then that all your cities should exist unharmed, and ours alone be devoted to destruction? That you should return in triumph to your hearths, and we with whom you have conquered should have nothing in exchange but exile and the ruin of our country? Is there one of you who can believe that I could even hear such things with patience? Are you indeed ignorant that if I have carried arms, if I have persecuted my foes, I still have never ceased to love my country, and that I never will allow what even our enemies have respected to be violated by your hands, so that posterity may call them the saviours, us the destroyers of our country? Here then I declare, that, although I stand alone amongst the Florentines, I will never permit my native city to be destroyed, and if it be necessary for her sake to die a thousand deaths, I am ready to meet them all in her defence.'

"Farinata then rose, and with angry gestures quitted the assembly; but left such an impression on the mind of his audience that the project was instantly dropped, and the only question for the moment was how to regain a chief of such talent and influence,"

119. Frederick II., son of the Emperor Henry VI., surnamed the Severe, and grandson of Barbarossa. He reigned from 1220 to 1250, not only as Emperor of Germany, but also as King of Naples and Sicily, where for the most part he held his court, one of the most brilliant of the Middle Ages. Villani, Cronica, V. 1, thus sketches his character: "This Frederick reigned thirty years as Emperor, and was a man of great mark and great worth, learned in letters and of natural ability, universal in all things; he knew the Latin language, the Italian, the German, French, Greek, and Arabic; was copiously endowed with all virtues, liberal and courteous in giving, valiant and skilled in arms, and was much feared. And he was dissolute and voluptuous in many ways, and had many concubines and mamelukes, after the Saracenic fashion; he was addicted to all sensual delights, and led an Epicurean life, taking no account of any other; and this was one principal reason why he was an enemy to the clergy and the Holy Church."

Milman, Lat. Christ., B. X., Chap, iii., says of him: "Frederick's predilection for his native kingdom, for the bright cities reflected in the blue Mediterranean, over the dark barbaric towns of Germany, of itself characterizes the man. The summer skies, the more polished manners, the more elegant luxuries, the knowledge, the arts, the poetry, the gayety, the beauty, the romance of the South, were throughout his life more congenial to his mind, than the heavier and more chilly climate, the feudal barbarism, the ruder pomp, the coarser habits of his German liege- men. . . . . And no doubt that delicious climate and lovely land, so highly appreciated by the gay sovereign, was not without influence on the state, and even the manners of his court, to which other circumstances contributed to give a peculiar and romantic character. It resembled probably (though its full splendor was of a later period) Grenada in its glory, more than any other in Europe, though more rich and picturesque from the variety of races, of manners, usages, even dresses, which prevailed within it."

Gibbon also, Decline and Fall, Chap, lix., gives this graphic picture:—

"Frederick the Second, the grandson of Barbarossa, was successively the pupil, the enemy, and the victim of the Church. At the age of twenty-one years, and in obedience to his guardian Innocent the Third, he assumed the cross; the same promise was repeated at his royal and imperial coronations; and his marriage with the heiress of Jerusalem forever bound him to defend the kingdom of his son Conrad. But as Frederick advanced in age and authority, he repented of the rash engagements of his youth: his liberal sense and knowledge taught him to despise the phantoms of superstition and the crowns of Asia: he no longer entertained the same reverence for the successors of Innocent; and his ambition was occupied by the restoration of the Italian monarchy, from Sicily to the Alps. But the success of this project would have reduced the Popes to their primitive simplicity; and, after the delays and excuses of twelve years, they urged the Emperor, with entreaties and threats, to fix the time and place of his departure for Palestine. In the harbors of Sicily and Apulia he prepared a fleet of one hundred galleys, and of one hundred vessels, that were framed to transport and land two thousand five hundred knights, with horses and attendants; his vassals of Naples and Germany formed a powerful army; and the number of English crusaders was magnified to sixty thousand by the report of fame. But the inevitable, or affected, slowness of these mighty preparations consumed the strength and provisions of the more indigent pilgrims; the multitude was thinned by sickness and desertion, and the sultry summer of Calabria anticipated the mischiefs of a Syrian campaign. At length the Emperor hoisted sail at Brundusium with a fleet and army of forty thousand men; but he kept the sea no more than three days; and his hasty retreat, which was ascribed by his friends to a grievous indisposition, was accused by his enemies as a voluntary and obstinate disobedience. For suspending his vow was Frederick excommunicated by Gregory the Ninth; for presuming, the next year, to accomplish his vow, he was again excommunicated by the same Pope. While he served under the banner of the cross, a crusade was preached against him in Italy; and after his return he was compelled to ask pardon for the injuries which he had suffered. The clergy and military orders of Palestine were previously instructed to renounce his communion and dispute his commands; and in his own kingdom the Emperor was forced to consent that the orders of the camp should be issued in the name of God and of the Christian republic. Frederick entered Jerusalem in triumph; and with his own hands (for no priest would perform the office) he took the crown from the altar of the holy sepulchre."

Matthew Paris, A. D. 1239, gives a long letter of Pope Gregory IX. in which he calls the Emperor some very hard names; "a beast, full of the words of blasphemy," "a wolf in sheep's clothing," "a son of lies," "a staff of the impious," and "hammer of the earth"; and finally accuses him of being the author of a work De Tribus Impostoribus, which, if it ever existed, is no longer to be found. "There is one thing," he says in conclusion, "at which, although we ought to mourn for a lost man, you ought to rejoice greatly, and for which you ought to return thanks to God, namely, that this man, who delights in being called a forerunner of Antichrist, by God's will, no longer endures to be veiled in darkness; not expecting that his trial and disgrace arc near, he with his own hands undermines the wall of his abominations, and, by the said letters of his, brings his works of darkness to the light, boldly setting forth in them, that he could not be excommunicated by us, although the Vicar of Christ; thus affirming that the Church had not the power of binding and loosing, which was given by our Lord to St. Peter and his successors. . . . . But as it may not be easily believed by some people that he has ensnared himself by the words of his own mouth, proofs are ready, to the triumph of the faith; for this king of pestilence openly asserts that the whole world was deceived by three, namely Christ Jesus, Moses, and Mahomet; that, two of them having died in glory, the said Jesus was suspended on the cross; and he, moreover, presumes plainly to affirm (or rather to lie), that all are foolish who believe that God, who created nature, and could do all things, was born of the Virgin."

120. This is Cardinal Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, who is accused of saying, "If there be any soul, I have lost mine for the Ghibellines." Dante takes him at his word.


CANTO XI.

8. Some critics and commentators accuse Dante of confounding Pope Anastasius with the Emperor of that name. It is however highly probable that Dante knew best whom he meant. Both were accused of heresy, though the heresy of the Pope seems to have been of a mild type. A few years previous to his time, namely, in the year 484, Pope Felix III. and Acacius, Bishop of Constantinople, mutually excommunicated each other. When Anastasius II. became Pope in 496, "he dared," says Milman, Hist. Lat. Christ., I. 349, "to doubt the damnation of a bishop excommunicated by the See of Rome: 'Felix and Acacius are now both before a higher tribunal; leave them to that unerring judgment.' He would have the name of Acacius passed over in silence, quietly dropped, rather than publicly expunged from the diptychs. This degenerate successor of St. Peter is not admitted to the rank of a saint. The Pontifical book (its authority on this point is indignantly repudiated) accuses Anastasius of having communicated with a deacon of Thessalonica, who had kept up communion with Acacius; and of having entertained secret designs of restoring the name of Acacius in the services of the Church."

9. Photinus is the deacon of Thessalonica alluded to in the preceding note. His heresy was, that the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Father, and that the Father was greater than the Son. The writers who endeavor to rescue the Pope at the expense of the Emperor say that Photinus died before the days of Pope Anastasius.

50. Cahors is the cathedral town of the Department of the Lot, in the South of France, and the birthplace of the poet Clement Marot and of the romance-writer Calprenède. In the Middle Ages it seems to have been a nest of usurers. Matthew Paris, in his Historia Major, under date of 1235, has a chapter entitled, Of the Usury of the Caursines, which in the translation of Rev. J. A. Giles runs as follows:—

"In these days prevailed the horrible nuisance of the Caursines to such a degree that there was hardly any one in all England, especially among the bishops, who was not caught in their net. Even the king himself was held indebted to them in an uncalculable sum of money. For they circumvented the needy in their necessities, cloaking their usury under the show of trade, and pretending not to know that whatever is added to the principal is usury, under whatever name it may be called. For it is manifest that their loans lie not in the path of charity, inasmuch as they do not hold out a helping hand to the poor to relieve them, but to deceive them; not to aid others in their starvation, but to gratify their own covetousness; seeing that the motive stamps our every deed."

70. Those within the fat lagoon, the Irascible, Canto VII., VIII.

71. Whom the wind drives, the Wanton, Canto V., and whom the rain doth beat, the Gluttonous, Canto VI.

72. And who encounter with such bitter tongues, the Prodigal and Avaricious, Canto VII.

80. The Ethics of Aristotle, VII. i, "After these things, making another beginning, it must be observed by us that there are three species of things which are to be avoided in manners, viz. Malice, Incontinence, and Bestiality."

101. The Physics of Aristotle, Book II.

107. Genesis, i. 28: "And God said unto them. Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it."

109. Gabrielle Rossetti, in the Comento Analitico of his edition of the Divina Commedia, quotes here the lines of Florian:—

"Nous ne recevons l'existence
Qu'afin de travailler pour nous, ou pour autrui:
De ce devoir sacré quiconque se dispense
Est puni par la Providence,
Par le besoin, ou par l'ennui."

110. The constellation Pisces precedes Aries, in which the sun now is. This indicates the time to be a little before sunrise. It is Saturday morning.

114. The Wain is the constellation Charles's Wain, or Boötes; and Caurus is the Northwest, indicated by the Latin name of the northwest wind.


CANTO XII.

1. With this Canto begins the Seventh Circle of the Inferno, in which the Violent are punished. In the first Girone or round are the Violent against their neighbors, plunged more or less deeply in the river of boiling blood.

2. Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 242, has the following remarks upon Dante's idea of rocks and mountains:—

"At the top of the abyss of the seventh circle, appointed for the 'violent,' or souls who had done evil by force, we are told, first, that the edge of it was composed of 'great broken stones in a circle'; then, that the place was 'Alpine'; and, becoming hereupon attentive, in order to hear what an Alpine place is like, we find that it was 'like the place beyond Trent, where the rock, either by earthquake, or failure of support, has broken down to the plain, so that it gives any one at the top some means of getting down to the bottom.' This is not a very elevated or enthusiastic description of an Alpine scene; and it is far from mended by the following verses, in which we are told that Dante 'began to go down by this great unloading of stones,' and that they moved often under his feet by reason of the new weight. The fact is that Dante, by many expressions throughout the poem, shows himself to have been a notably bad climber; and being fond of sitting in the sun, looking at his fair Baptistery, or walking in a dignified manner on flat pavement in a long robe, it puts him seriously out of his way when he has to take to his hands and knees, or look to his feet; so that the first strong impression made upon him by any Alpine scene whatever is, clearly, that it is bad walking. When he is in a fright and hurry, and has a very steep place to go down, Virgil has to carry him altogether."

5. Speaking of the region to which Dante here alludes, Eustace, Classical Tour, I. 71, says:—

"The descent becomes more rapid between Roveredo and Ala; the river, which glided gently through the valley of Trent, assumes the roughness of a torrent; the defiles become narrower; and the mountains break into rocks and precipices, which occasionally approach the road, sometimes rise perpendicular from it, and now and then hang over it in terrible majesty."

In a note he adds:—

"Amid these wilds the traveller cannot fail to notice a vast tract called the Slavini di Marco, covered with fragments of rock torn from the sides of the neighboring mountains by an earthquake, or perhaps by their own unsupported weight, and hurled down into the plains below. They spread over the whole valley, and in some places contract the road to a very narrow space. A few firs and cypresses scattered in the intervals, or sometimes rising out of the crevices of the rocks, cast a partial and melancholy shade amid the surrounding nakedness and desolation. This scene of ruin seems to have made a deep impression upon the wild imagination of Dante, as he has introduced it into the twelfth canto of the Inferno, in order to give the reader an adequate idea of one of his infernal ramparts."

12. The Minotaur, half bull, half man. See the infamous story in all the classical dictionaries.

18. The Duke of Athens is Theseus. Chaucer gives him the same title in The Knightes Tale:

"Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duk that highte Theseus.
Of Athenes he was lord and governour,
That greter was ther non under the sonne.
Ful many a rich contree had he wonne.
What with his wisdom and his chevalrie,
He conquerd all the regne of Feminie,
That whilom was ycleped Scythia;
And wedded the freshe quene Ipolita,
And brought hire home with him to his contree
With mochel glorie and great solempnitee,
And eke hire yonge suster Emelie.
And thus with victorie and with melodie
Let I this worthy duk to Athenes ride,
And all his host, in armes him beside."

Shakespeare also, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, calls him the Duke of Athens.

20. Ariadne, who gave Theseus the silken thread to guide him back through the Cretan labyrinth after slaying the Minotaur. Hawthorne has beautifully told the old story in his Tanglewood Tales. "Ah, the bull-headed villain!" he says. "And O my good little people, you will perhaps see, one of these days, as I do now, that every human being who suffers anything evil to get into his nature, or to remain there, is a kind of Minotaur, an enemy of his fellow-creatures, and separated from all good companionship, as this poor monster was."

39. Christ's descent into Limbo, and the earthquake at the Crucifixion.

42. This is the doctrine of Empedocles and other old philosophers. See Ritter, History of Ancient Philosophy, Book V., Chap. vi. The following passages are from Mr. Morrison's translation:—

"Empedocles proceeded from the Eleatic principle of the oneness of all truth. In its unity it resembles a ball; he calls it the sphere, wherein the ancients recognized the God of Empedoocles. . . . .

"Into the unity of the sphere all elementary things are combined by love, without difference or distinction: within it they lead a happy life, replete with holiness, and remote from discord:

They know no god of war nor the spirit of battles,
Nor Zeus, the sovereign, nor Cronos, nor yet Poseidon,
But Cypris the queen. . . . .

"The actual separation of the elements one from another is produced by discord; for originally they were bound together in the sphere, and therein continued perfectly unmovable. Now in this Empedocles posits different periods and different conditions of the world; for, according to the above position, originally all is united in love, and then subsequently the elements and living essences are separated. . . . .

"His assertion of certain mundane periods was taken by the ancients literally; for they tell us that, according to his theory. All was originally one by love, but afterwards many and at enmity with itself through discord."

56. The Centaurs are set to guard this Circle, as symbolizing violence, with some form of which the classic poets usually associate them.

68. Chaucer, The Monkes Tale:

"A lemman had this noble champion,
That highte Deianire, as fresh as May;
And as thise clerkes maken mention,
She hath him sent a sherte fresh and gay:
Alas! this sherte, alas and wala wa!
Envenimed was sotilly withalle,
That or that he had wered it half a day,
It made his flesh all from his bones falle."

Chiron was a son of Saturn; Pholus, of Silenus; and Nessus, of Ixion and the Cloud.

71. Homer, Iliad, XI. 832, "Whom Chiron instructed, the most just of the Centaurs." Hawthorne gives a humorous turn to the fable of Chiron, in the Tanglewood Tales, p. 273:—

"I have sometimes suspected that Master Chiron was not really very different from other people, but that, being a kind-hearted and merry old fellow, he was in the habit of making believe that he was a horse, and scrambling about the school-room on all fours, and letting the little boys ride upon his back. And so, when his scholars had grown up, and grown old, and were trotting their grandchildren on their knees, they told them about the sports of their school days; and these young folks took the idea that their grandfathers had been taught their letters by a Centaur, half man and half horse. . . . .

"Be that as it may, it has always been told for a fact, (and always will be told, as long as the world lasts,) that Chiron, with the head of a schoolmaster, had the body and legs of a horse. Just imagine the grave old gentleman clattering and stamping into the schoolroom on his four hoofs, perhaps treading on some little fellow's toes, flourishing his switch tail instead of a rod, and, now and then, trotting out of doors to eat a mouthful of grass!"

77. Mr. Ruskin refers to this line in confirmation of his theory that "all great art represents something that it sees or believes in; nothing unseen or uncredited." The passage is as follows. Modern Painters, III. 83:—

"And just because it is always something that it sees or believes in, there is the peculiar character above noted, almost unmistakable, in all high and true ideals, of having been as it were studied from the life, and involving pieces of sudden familiarity, and close specific painting which never would have been admitted or even thought of, had not the painter drawn either from the bodily life or from the life of faith. For instance, Dante's Centaur, Chiron, dividing his beard with his arrow before he can speak, is a thing that no mortal would ever have thought of, if he had not actually seen the Centaur do it. They might have composed handsome bodies of men and horses in all possible ways, through a whole life of pseudo-idealism, and yet never dreamed of any such thing. But the real living Centaur actually trotted across Dante's brain, and he saw him do it."

107. Alexander of Thessaly and Dionysius of Syracuse.

110. Azzolino, or Ezzolino di Romano, tyrant of Padua, nicknamed the Son of the Devil. Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, III. 33, describes him as

"Fierce Ezelin, that most inhuman lord,
Who shall be deemed by men a child of hell."

His Story may be found in Sismondi's Histoire des Républiques Italiennes, Chap. XIX. He so outraged the religious sense of the people by his cruelties, that a crusade was preached against him, and he died a prisoner in 1259, tearing the bandages from his wounds, and fierce and defiant to the last.

"Ezzolino was small of stature," says Sismondi, "but the whole aspect of his person, all his movements, indicated the soldier. His language was bitter, his countenance proud; and by a single look, he made the boldest tremble. His soul, so greedy of all crimes, felt no attraction for sensual pleasures. Never had Ezzolino loved women; and this perhaps is the reason why in his punishments he was as pitiless against them as against men. He was in his sixty-sixth year when he died; and his reign of blood had lasted thirty-four years."

Many glimpses of him are given in the Cento Novelle Antiche, as if his memory long haunted the minds of men. Here are two of them, from Novella 83.

"Once upon a time Messer Azzolino da Romano made proclamation, through his own territories and elsewhere, that he wished to do a great charity, and therefore that all the beggars, both men and women, should assemble in his meadow, on a certain day, and to each he would give a new gown, and abundance of food. The news spread among the servants on all hands. When the day of assembling came, his seneschals went among them with the gowns and the food, and made them strip naked one by one, and then clothed them with new clothes, and fed them. They asked for their old rags, but it was all in vain; for he put them into a heap and set fire to them. Afterwards he found there so much gold and silver melted, that it more than paid the expense, and then he dismissed them with his blessing. . . . .

"To tell you how much he was feared, would be a long story, and many people know it. But I will recall how he, being one day with the Emperor on horseback, with all their people, they laid a wager as to which of them had the most beautiful sword. The Emperor drew from its sheath his own, which was wonderfully garnished with gold and precious stones. Then said Messer Azzolino: 'It is very beautiful; but mine, without any great ornament, is far more beautiful';—and he drew it forth. Then six hundred knights, who were with him, all drew theirs. When the Emperor beheld this cloud of swords, he said: 'Yours is the most beautiful.'"

111. Obizzo da Esti, Marquis of Ferrara. He was murdered by Azzo, "whom he thought to be his son," says Boccaccio, "though he was not." The Ottimo Comento remarks: "Many call themselves sons, and are step-sons."

119. Guido di Monforte, who murdered Prince Henry of England "in the bosom of God," that is, in the church, at Viterbo. The event is thus narrated by Napier, Florentine History, I. 283:—

"Another instance of this revengeful spirit occurred in the year 1271 at Viterbo, where the cardinals had assembled to elect a successor to Clement the Fourth, about whom they had been long disputing: Charles of Anjou and Philip of France, with Edward and Henry, sons of Richard, Duke of Cornwall, had repaired there, the two first to hasten the election, which they finally accomplished by the elevation of Gregory the Tenth. During these proceedings Prince Henry, while taking the sacrament in the church of San Silvestro at Viterbo, was stabbed to the heart by his own cousin, Guy de Montfort, in revenge for the Earl of Leicester's death, although Henry was then endeavoring to procure his pardon. This sacrilegious act threw Viterbo into confusion, but Montfort had many supporters, one of whom asked him what he had done. 'I have taken my revenge,' said he. 'But your father's body was trailed!' At this reproach, De Montfort instantly re-entered the church, walked straight to the altar, and, seizing Henry's body by the hair, dragged it through the aisle, and left it, still bleeding, in the open street: he then retired unmolested to the castle of his father-in-law. Count Rosso of the Maremma, and there remained in security!"

"The body of the Prince," says Barlow, Study of Dante, p. 125, "was brought to England, and interred at Hayles, in Gloucestershire, in the Abbey which his father had there built for monks of the Cistercian order; but his heart was put into a golden vase, and placed on the tomb of Edward the Confessor, in Westminster Abbey; most probably, as stated by some writers, in the hands of a statue."

123. Violence in all its forms was common enough in Florence in the age of Dante.

134. Attila, the Scourge of God. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Chap. 39, describes him thus:—

"Attila, the son of Mundzuk, deduced his noble, perhaps his regal, descent from the ancient Huns, who had formerly contended with the monarchs of China. His features, according to the observation of a Gothic historian, bore the stamp of his national origin; and the portrait of Attila exhibits the genuine deformity of a modern Calmuk; a large head, a swarthy complexion, small, deep-seated eyes, a flat nose, a few hairs in the place of a beard, broad shoulders, and a short, square body, of nervous strength, though of a disproportioned form. The haughty step and demeanor of the King of the Huns expressed the consciousness of his superiority above the rest of mankind; and he had a custom of fiercely rolling his eyes, as if he wished to enjoy the terror which he inspired."

135. Which Pyrrhus and which Sextus, the commentators cannot determine; but incline to Pyrrhus of Epirus, and Sextus Pompey, the corsair of the Mediterranean.

137. Nothing more is known of these highwaymen than that the first infested the Roman sea-shore, and that the second was of a noble family of Florence.


CANTO XIII.

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of those who had laid violent hands on themselves or their property.

2. Chaucer, Knightes Tale, 1977:—

"First on the wall was peinted a forest,
In which ther wonneth neyther man ne best,
With knotty knarry barrein trees old
Of stubbes sharpe and hidous to behold;
In which there ran a romble and a swough
As though a storme shuld bresten every bough."

9. The Cecina is a small river running into the Mediterranean not many miles south of Leghorn; Corneto, a village in the Papal States, north of Civita Vecchia. The country is wild and thinly peopled, and studded with thickets, the haunts of the deer and the wild boar. This region is the fatal Maremma, thus described by Forsyth, Italy, p. 156:—

"Farther south is the Maremma, a region which, though now worse than a desert, is supposed to have been anciently both fertile and healthy. The Maremma certainly formed part of that Etruria which was called from its harvests the annonaria. Old Roman cisterns may still be traced, and the ruins of Populonium are still visible in the worst part of this tract: yet both nature and man seem to have conspired against it.

"Sylla threw this maritime part of Tuscany into enormous latifundia for his disbanded soldiers. Similar distributions continued to lessen its population during the Empire. In the younger Pliny's time the climate was pestilential. The Lombards gave it a new aspect of misery. Wherever they found culture they built castles, and to each castle they allotted a 'bandita' or military fief. Hence baronial wars which have left so many picturesque ruins on the hills, and such desolation round them. Whenever a baron was conquered, his vassals escaped to the cities, and the vacant fief was annexed to the victorious. Thus stripped of men, the lands returned into a state of nature: some were flooded by the rivers, others grew into horrible forests, which enclose and concentrate the pestilence of the lakes and marshes.

"In some parts the water is brackish, and lies lower than the sea: in others it oozes full of tartar from beds of travertine. At the bottom or on the sides of hills are a multitude of hot springs, which form pools, called Lagoni. A few of these are said to produce borax: some, which are called fumache, exhale sulphur; others, called bulicami, boil with a mephitic gas. The very air above is only a pool of vapors, which sometimes undulate, but seldom flow off. It draws corruption from a rank, unshorn, rotting vegetation, from reptiles and fish both living and dead.

"All nature conspires to drive man away from this fatal region; but man will ever return to his bane, if it be well baited. The Casentine peasants still migrate hither in the winter to feed their cattle: and here they sow corn, make charcoal, saw wood, cut hoops, and peel cork. When summer returns they decamp, but often too late; for many leave their corpses on the road, or bring home the Maremmian disease."

11. Æneid. III., Davidson's Tr.:—

"The shores of the Strophades first receive me rescued from the waves. The Strophades, so called by a Greek name, are islands situated in the great Ionian Sea; which direful Celæno and the other Harpies inhabit, from what time Phineus' palace was closed against them, and they were frighted from his table, which they formerly haunted. No monster more fell than they, no plague and scourge of the gods more cruel, ever issued from the Stygian waves. They are fowls with virgin faces, most loathsome is their bodily discharge, hands hooked, and looks ever pale with famine. Hither conveyed, as soon as we entered the port, lo! we observe joyous herds of cattle roving up and down the plains, and flocks of goats along the meadows without a keeper. We rush upon them with our swords, and invoke the gods and Jove himself to share the booty. Then along the winding shore we raise the couches, and feast on the rich repast. But suddenly, with direful swoop, the Harpies are upon us from the mountains, shake their wings with loud din, prey upon our banquet, and defile everything with their touch: at the same time, together with a rank smell, hideous screams arise."

21. His words in the Æneid. III., Davidson's Tr.:—

"Near at hand there chanced to be a rising ground, on whose top were young cornel-trees, and a myrtle rough with thick, spear-like branches. I came up to it, and attempting to tear from the earth the verdant wood, that I might cover the altars with the leafy boughs, I observe a dreadful prodigy, and wondrous to relate. For from that tree which first is torn from the soil, its rooted fibres being burst asunder, drops of black blood distil, and stain the ground with gore: cold terror shakes my limbs, and my chill blood is congealed with fear. I again essay to tear off a limber bough from another, and thoroughly explore the latent cause: and from the rind of that other the purple blood descends. Raising in my mind many an anxious thought, I with reverence besought the rural nymphs, and father Mars, who presides over the Thracian territories, kindly to prosper the vision and avert evil from the omen. But when I attempted the boughs a third time with a more vigorous effort, and on my knees struggled against the opposing mould, (shall I speak, or shall I forbear?) a piteous groan is heard from the bottom of the rising ground, and a voice sent forth reaches my ears: 'Æneas, why dost thou tear an unhappy wretch? Spare me, now that I am in my grave; forbear to pollute with guilt thy pious hands: Troy brought me forth no stranger to you; nor is it from the trunk this blood distils.'"

40. Chaucer, Knightes Tale, 2339:—

"And as it queinte, it made a whisteling
As don these brondes wet in hir brenning,
And at the brondes ende outran anon
As it were blody dropes many on."

See also Spenser, Faerie Queene, I. ii. 30.

58. Pietro della Vigna, Chancellor of the Emperor Frederick II. Napier's account of him is as follows, Florentine History, I. 197:—

"The fate of his friend and minister, Piero delle Vigne of Capua, if truly told, would nevertheless impress us with an unfavorable idea of his mercy and magnanimity: Piero was sent with Taddeo di Sessa as Frederick's advocate and representative to the Council of Lyons, which was assembled by his friend Innocent the Fourth, nominally to reform the Church, but really to impart more force and solemnity to a fresh sentence of excommunication and deposition. There Taddeo spoke with force and boldness for his master; but Piero was silent; and hence he was accused of being, like several others, bribed by the Pope, not only to desert the Emperor, but to attempt his life; and whether he were really culpable, or the victim of court intrigue, is still doubtful. Frederick, on apparently good evidence, condemned him to have his eyes burned out, and the sentence was executed at San Miniato al Tedesco: being afterwards sent on horseback to Pisa, where he was hated, as an object for popular derison, he died, as is conjectured, from the effects of a fall while thus cruelly exposed, and not by his own hand, as Dante believed and sung."

Milman, Latin Christianity, V. 499, gives the story thus:—

"Peter de Vineâ had been raised by the wise choice of Frederick to the highest rank and influence. All the acts of Frederick were attributed to his Chancellor. De Vineâ, like his master, was a poet; he was one of the counsellors in his great scheme of legislation. Some rumors spread abroad that at the Council of Lyons, though Frederick had forbidden all his representatives from holding private intercourse with the Pope, De Vineâ had many secret conferences with Innocent, and was accused of betraying his master's interests. Yet there was no seeming diminution in the trust placed in De Vineâ. Still, to the end the Emperor's letters concerning the disaster at Parma are by the same hand. Over the cause of his disgrace and death, even in his own day, there was deep doubt and obscurity. The popular rumor ran that Frederick was ill; the physician of De Vineâ prescribed for him; the Emperor having received some warning, addressed De Vineâ: 'My friend, in thee I have full trust; art thou sure that this is medicine, not poison?' De Vineâ replied: 'How often has my physician ministered healthful medicines!—why are you now afraid?' Frederick took the cup, sternly commanded the physician to drink half of it. The physician threw himself at the King's feet, and, as he fell, overthrew the liquor. But what was left was administered to some criminals, who died in agony. The Emperor wrung his hands and wept bitterly: 'Whom can I now trust, betrayed by my own familiar friend? Never can I know security, never can I know joy more.' By one account Peter de Vineâ was led ignominiously on an ass through Pisa, and thrown into prison, where he dashed his brains out against the wall. Dante's immortal verse has saved the fame of De Vineâ: according to the poet he was the victim of wicked and calumnious jealousy."

See also Giuseppe de Blasiis, Vita et Opere di Pietro della Vigna.

112. Iliad, XII. 146: "Like two wild boars, which catch the coming tumult of men and dogs in the mountains, and, advancing obliquely to the attack, break down the wood about them, cutting it off at the roots."

Chaucer, Legende of Goode Women:

"Envie ys lavendere of the court alway;
For she ne parteth neither nyght ne day
Out of the house of Cesar, thus saith Daunte."

120. "Lano," says Boccaccio, Comento, "was a young gentleman of Siena, who had a large patrimony, and associating himself with a club of other young Sienese, called the Spendthrift Club, they also being all rich, together with them, not spending but squandering, in a short time he consumed all that he had and became very poor." Joining some Florentine troops sent out against the Aretines, he was in a skirmish at the parish of Toppo, which Dante calls a joust; "and notwithstanding he might have saved himself," continues Boccaccio, "remembering his wretched condition, and it seeming to him a grievous thing to bear poverty, as he had been very rich, he rushed into the thick of the enemy and was slain, as perhaps he desired to be."

125. Some commentators interpret these dogs as poverty and despair, still pursuing their victims. The Ottimo Comento calls them "poor men who, to follow pleasure and the kitchens of other people, abandoned their homes and families, and are therefore transformed into hunting dogs, and pursue and devour their masters."

133. Jacopo da St. Andrea was a Paduan of like character and life as Lano. "Among his other squanderings," says the Ottimo Comento, "it is said that, wishing to see a grand and beautiful fire, he had one of his own villas burned."

143. Florence was first under the protection of the god Mars; afterwards under that of St. John the Baptist. But in Dante's time the statue of Mars was still standing on a column at the head of the Ponte Vecchio. It was overthrown by an inundation of the Arno in 1333. See Canto XV. Note 62.

149. Florence was destroyed by Totila in 450, and never by Attila. In Dante's time the two seem to have been pretty generally confounded. The Ottimo Cornento remarks upon this point, "Some say that Totila was one person and Attila another; and some say that he was one and the same man."

150. Dante does not mention the name of this suicide; Boccaccio thinks, for one of two reasons; "either out of regard to his surviving relatives, who peradventure are honorable men, and therefore he did not wish to stain them with the infamy of so dishonest a death, or else (as in those times, as if by a malediction sent by God upon our city, many hanged themselves) that each one might apply it to either he pleased of these many."


CANTO XIV.

1. In this third round of the seventh circle are punished the Violent against God,

"In heart denying and blaspheming him,
And by disdaining Nature and her bounty."

15. When he retreated across the Libyan desert with the remnant of Pompey's army after the battle of Pharsalia. Lucan, Pharsalia, Book IX.:—

"Foremost, behold, I lead you to the toil,
My feet shall foremost print the dusty soil."

31. Boccaccio confesses that he does not know where Dante found this tradition of Alexander. Benvenuto da Imola says it is in a letter which Alexander wrote to Aristotle. He quotes the passage as follows: "In India ignited vapors fell from heaven like snow. I commanded my soldiers to trample them under foot."

Dante perhaps took the incident from the old metrical Romance of Alexander, which in some form or other was current in his time. In the English version of it, published by the Roxburghe Club, we find the rain of fire, and a fall of snow; but it is the snow, and not the fire, that the soldiers trample down. So likewise in the French version. The English runs as follows, line 4164:—

"Than fandis he furth as I finde five and twenti days,
Come to a velanus vale thare was a vile cheele,
Quare flaggis of the fell snawe fell fra the heven,
That was a brade, sais the buke, as battes ere of wolle.
Than bett he many brigt fire and lest it bin nold,
And made his folk with thaire fcete as flores it to trede.

*****

Than fell ther fra the firmament as it ware fell sparkes,
Ropand doune o rede fire, than any rayne thikir."

45. Canto VIII. 83.

56. Mount Etna, under which, with his Cyclops, Vulcan forged the thunderbolts of Jove.

63. Capaneus was one of the seven kings who besieged Thebes. Euripides, Phœnissæ, line 1188, thus describes his death:—

"While o'er the battlements sprung Capaneus,
Jove struck him with his thunder, and the earth
Resounded with the crack; meanwhile mankind
Stood all aghast; from off the ladder's height
His limbs were far asunder hurled, his hair
Flew to'ards Olympus, to the ground his blood,
His hands and feet whirled like Ixion's wheel,
And to the earth his flaming body fell."

Also Gower, Confes. Amant., I.:—

"As he the cite wolde assaile,
God toke him selfe the bataile
Ayen his pride, and fro the sky
A firy thonder sudeinly
He sende and him to pouder smote."

72. Like Hawthorne's scarlet letter, at once an ornament and a punishment.

79. The Bulicame or Hot Springs of Viterbo. Villani, Cronica, Book I. Ch. 51, gives the following brief account of these springs, and of the origin of the name of Viterbo:—

"The city of Viterbo was built by the Romans, and in old times was called Vigezia, and the citizens Vigentians. And the Romans sent the sick there on account of the baths which flow from the Bulicame, and therefore it was called Vita Erbo, that is, life of the sick, or city of life."

80. "The building thus appropriated," says Mr. Barlow, Contributions to the Study of the Divine Comedy, p. 129, " would appear to have been the large ruined edifice known as the Bagno di Ser Paolo Benigno, situated between the Bulicame and Viterbo. About half a mile beyond the Porta di Faule, which leads to Toscanella, we come to a way called Riello, after which we arrive at the said ruined edifice, which received the water from the Bulicame by conduits, and has popularly been regarded as the Bagno delle Meretrici alluded to by Dante; there is no other building here found, which can dispute with it the claim to this distinction."

102. The shouts and cymbals of the Corybantes, drowning the cries of the infant Jove, lest Saturn should find him and devour him.

103. The statue of Time, turning its back upon the East and looking towards Rome, Compare Daniel ii. 31.

105. The Ages of Gold, Silver, Brass, and Iron. See Ovid, Metamorph. I.

See also Don Quixote's discourse to the goatherds, inspired by the acorns they gave him. Book II. Chap. 3; and Tasso's Ode to the Golden Age, in the Aminta.

113. The Tears of Time, forming the infernal rivers that flow into Cocytus.

Milton, Parad. Lost, II. 577:—

"Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, named of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton,
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these a slow and silent stream,
Lethè, the river of oblivion, rolls
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks
Forthwith his former state and being forgets,
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain."

136. See Purgatorio XXVIII.

 

CANTO XV.

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of the Violent against Nature;—

"And for this reason does the smallest round
Seal with its signet Sodom and Cahors."

4. Guizzante is not Ghent, but Cadsand, an island opposite L'Ecluse, where the great canal of Bruges enters the sea. A canal thus flowing into the sea, the dikes on either margin uniting with the sea-dikes, gives a perfect image of this part of the Inferno.

Lodovico Guicciardini in his Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi (1581), p. 416, speaking of Cadsand, says: "This is the very place of which our great poet Dante makes mention in the fifteenth chapter of the Inferno, calling it incorrectly, perhaps by error of the press, Guizzante; where still at the present day great repairs are continually made upon the dikes, because here, and in the environs towards Bruges, the flood, or I should rather say the tide, on account of the situation and lowness of the land, has very great power, particularly during a northwest wind."

5. These lines recall Goldsmith's description in the Traveller:

"Methinks her patient sons before me stand,
Where the broad ocean leans against the land,
And, sedulous to stop the coming tide,
Lift the tall rampire's artificial pride.
Onward, methinks, and diligently slow
The firm connected bulwark seems to grow;
Spreads its long arms amidst the watery roar,
Scoops out an empire and usurps the shore."

9. That part of the Alps in which the Brenta rises.

29. The reading la mia seems preferable to la mano, and is justified by line 45.

30. Brunetto Latini, Dante's friend and teacher. Villani thus speaks of him, Cronica, VIII. 10: "In this year 1294 died in Florence a worthy citizen, whose name was Ser Brunetto Latini, who was a great philosopher and perfect master of rhetoric, both in speaking and in writing. He commented the Rhetoric of Tully, and made the good and useful book called the Tesoro, and the Tesoretto, and the Keys of the Tesoro, and many other books of philosophy, and of vices and of virtues, and he was Secretary of our Commune, He was a worldly man, but we have made mention of him because he was the first master in refining the Florentines, and in teaching them how to speak correctly, and how to guide and govern our Republic on political principles."

Boccaccio, Comento, speaks of him thus: "This Ser Brunetto Latini was a Florentine, and a very able man in some of the liberal arts, and in philosophy; but his principal calling was that of Notary; and he held himself and his calling in such great esteem, that, having made a mistake in a contract drawn up by him, and having been in consequence accused of fraud, he preferred to be condemned for it rather than to confess that he had made a mistake; and afterwards he quitted Florence in disdain, and leaving in memory of himself a book composed by him, called the Tesoretto, he went to Paris and lived there a long time, and composed a book there which is in French, and in which he treats of many matters regarding the liberal arts, and moral and natural philosophy, and metaphysics, which he called the Tesoro; and finally, I believe, he died in Paris."

He also wrote a short poem, called the Favoletto, and perhaps the Pataffio, a satirical poem in the Florentine dialect, "a jargon," says Nardini, "which cannot be understood even with a commentary." But his fame rests upon the Tesoretto and the Tesoro, and more than all upon the fact that he was Dante's teacher, and was put by him into a very disreputable place in the Inferno. He died in Florence, not in Paris, as Boccaccio supposes, and was buried in Santa Maria Novella, where his tomb still exists. It is strange that Boccaccio should not have known this, as it was in this church that the "seven young gentlewomen" of his Decameron met "on a Tuesday morning," and resolved to go together into the country, where they "might hear the birds sing, and see the verdure of the hills and plains, and the fields full of grain undulating like the sea."

The poem of the Tesoretto, written in a jingling metre, which reminds one of the Vision of Piers Ploughman, is itself a Vision, with the customary allegorical personages of the Virtues and Vices. Ser Brunetto, returning from an embassy to King Alphonso of Spain, meets on the plain of Roncesvalles a student of Bologna, riding on a bay mule, who informs him that the Guelfs have been banished from Florence. Whereupon Ser Brunetto, plunged in meditation and sorrow, loses the high-road and wanders in a wondrous forest. Here he discovers the august and gigantic figure of Nature, who relates to him the creation of the world, and gives him a banner to protect him on his pilgrimage through the forest, in which he meets with no adventures, but with the Virtues and Vices, Philosophy, Fortune, Ovid, and the God of Love, and sundry other characters, which are sung at large through eight or ten chapters. He then emerges from the forest, and confesses himself to the monks of Montpellier; after which he goes back into the forest again, and suddenly finds himself on the summit of Olympus; and the poem abruptly leaves him discoursing about the elements with Ptolemy,

"Mastro di storlomia
E di filosofia."

It has been supposed by some commentators that Dante was indebted to the Tesoretto for the first idea of the Commedia. "If any one is pleased to imagine this," says the Abbate Zannoni in the Preface to his edition of the Tesoretto, (Florence, 1824,) "he must confess that a slight and almost invisible spark served to kindle a vast conflagration."

The Tesoro, which is written in French, is a much more ponderous and pretentious volume. Hitherto it has been known only in manuscript, or in the Italian translation of Giamboni, but at length appears as one of the volumes of the Collection de Documents Inédits sur l'Histoire de France, under the title of Li Livres dou Tresor, edited by P. Chabaille, Paris, 1863; a stately quarto of some seven hundred pages, which it would assuage the fiery torment of Ser Brunetto to look upon, and justify him in saying

"Commended unto thee be my Tesoro,
In which I still live, and no more I ask."

The work is quaint and curious, but mainly interesting as being written by Dante's schoolmaster, and showing what he knew and what he taught his pupil. I cannot better describe it than in the author's own words. Book I. ch. 1:—

"The smallest part of this Treasure is like unto ready money, to be expended daily in things needful; that is, it treats of the beginning of time, of the antiquity of old histories, of the creation of the world, and in fine of the nature of all things. . . . .

"The second part, which treats of the vices and virtues, is of precious stones, which give unto man delight and virtue; that is to say, what things a man should do, and what he should not, and shows the reason why. . . . .

"The third part of the Treasure is of fine gold; that is to say, it teaches a man to speak according to the rules of rhetoric, and how a ruler ought to govern those beneath him. . . . .

"And I say not that this book is extracted from my own poor sense and my own naked knowledge, but, on the contrary, it is like a honeycomb gathered from diverse flowers; for this book is wholly compiled from the wonderful sayings of the authors who before our time have treated of philosophy, each one according to his knowledge. . . . .

"And if any one should ask why this book is written in Romance, according to the language of the French, since we are Italian, I should say it is for two reasons; one, because we are in France, and the other, because this speech is more delectable, and more common to all people."

62. "Afterwards," says Brunetto Latini, Tresor, Book I. Pt. I. ch. 37, "the Romans besieged Fiesole, till at last they conquered it and brought it into subjection. Then they built upon the plain, which is at the foot of the high rocks on which that city stood, another city, that is now called Florence. And know that the spot of ground where Florence stands was formerly called the House of Mars, that is to say the House of War; for Mars, who is one of the seven planets, is called the God of War, and as such was worshipped of old. Therefore it is no wonder that the Florentines are always in war and in discord, for that planet reigns over them. Of this Master Brunez Latins ought to know the truth, for he was born there, and was in exile on account of war with the Florentines, when he composed this book."

Sec also Villani, I. 38, who assigns a different reason for the Florentine dissensions. "And observe, that if the Florentines are always in war and dissension among themselves it is not to be wondered at, they being descended from two nations so contrary and hostile and different in customs, as were the noble and virtuous Romans and the rude and warlike Fiesolans."

Again, IV. 7, he attributes the Florentine dissensions to both the above-mentioned causes.

67. Villani, IV. 31, tells the story of certain columns of porphyry given by the Pisans to the Florentines for guarding their city while the Pisan army had gone to the conquest of Majorca. The columns were cracked by fire, but being covered with crimson cloth, the Florentines did not perceive it. Boccaccio repeats the story with variations, but does not think it a sufficient reason for calling the Florentines blind, and confesses that he does not know what reason there can be for so calling them.

89. The "other text" is the prediction of his banishment. Canto X. 81, and the Lady is Beatrice.

96. Boileau, Épitre, V.:—

"Qu'à son gré désormais la fortune me joue,
On me verra dormir au branle de sa roue."

And Tennyson's Song of "Fortune and her Wheel":—

"Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel and lower the proud;
Turn thy wild wheel thro' sunshine, storm, and cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.

"Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown;
With that wild wheel we go not up or down:
Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.

"Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands;
Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands;
For man is man and master of his fate.

"Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd;
Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud;
Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate."

109. Priscian, the grammarian of Constantinople in the sixth century.

110. Francesco d'Accorso, a distinguished jurist and Professor at Bologna in the thirteenth century, celebrated for his Commentary upon the Code Justinian.

113. Andrea de' Mozzi, Bishop of Florence, transferred by the Pope, the "Servant of Servants," to Vicenza; the two cities being here designated by the rivers on which they are respectively situated.

119. See Note 30.

122. The Corsa del Pallio, or foot races, at Verona; in which a green mantle, or Pallio, was the prize. Buttura says that these foot-races are still continued (1823), and that he has seen them more than once; but certainly not in the nude state in which Boccaccio describes them, and which renders Dante's comparison more complete and striking.

 

CANTO XVI.

1. In this Canto the subject of the preceding is continued.

4. Guidoguerra, Tegghiajo Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci.

37. The good Gualdrada was a daughter of Bellincion Berti, the simple citizen of Florence in the olden time, who used to walk the streets "begirt with bone and leather," as mentioned in the Paradiso, XV. 112. Villani, I. 37, reports a story of her with all the brevity of a chronicler. Boccaccio tells the same story, as if he were writing a page of the Decameron. In his version it runs as follows.

"The Emperor Otho IV., being by chance in Florence and having gone to the festival of St. John, to make it more gay with his presence, it happened that to the church with the other city dames, as our custom is, came the wife of Messer Berto, and brought with her a daughter of hers called Gualdrada, who was still unmarried. And as they sat there with the others, the maiden being beautiful in face and figure, nearly all present turned round to look at her, and among the rest the Emperor. And having much commended her beauty and manners, he asked Messer Berto, who was near him, who she was. To which Messer Berto smiling answered: 'She is the daughter of one who, I dare say, would let you kiss her if you wished.' These words the young lady heard. being near the speaker; and somewhat troubled by the opinion her father seemed to have of her, that, if he wished it, she would suffer herself to be kissed by any one in this free way, rising, and looking a moment at her father, and blushing with shame, said: 'Father, do not make such courteous promises at the expense of my modesty, for certainly, unless by violence, no one shall ever kiss me, except him whom you shall give me as my husband.' The Emperor, on hearing this, much commended the words and the young lady. . . . . And calling forward a noble youth named Guido Beisangue, who was afterwards called Guido the Elder, who as yet had no wife, he insisted upon his marrying her; and gave him as her dowry a large territory in Cassentino and the Alps, and made him Count thereof."

Ampère says in his Voyage Dantesque, page 242: "Near the battle-field of Campaldino stands the little town of Poppi, whose castle was built in 1230 by the father of the Arnolfo who built some years later the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence. In this castle is still shown the bedroom of the beautiful and modest Gualdrada."

Francesco Sansovino, an Italian novelist of the sixteenth century, has made Gualdrada the heroine of one of his tales, but has strangely perverted the old tradition. His story may be found in Roscoe's Italian Novelists, III. p. 107.

41. Tegghiajo Aldobrandi was a distinguished citizen of Florence, and opposed what Malespini calls "the ill counsel of the people," that war should be declared against the Sienese, which war resulted in the battle of Monte Aperto and the defeat of the Florentines.

44. Jacopo Rusticucci was a rich Florentine gentleman, whose chief misfortune seems to have been an ill-assorted marriage. Whereupon the amiable Boccaccio in his usual Decameron style remarks: "Men ought not then to be over-hasty in getting married; on the contrary, they should come to it with much precaution." And then he indulges in five octavo pages against matrimony and woman in general.

45. See Macchiavelli's story of Belfagor, wherein Minos and Rhadamanthus, and the rest of the infernal judges, are greatly surprised to hear an infinite number of condemned souls "lament nothing so bitterly as their folly in having taken wives, attributing to them the whole of their misfortune."

70. Boccaccio, in his Comento, speaks of Guglielmo Borsiere as "a courteous gentleman of good breeding and excellent manners"; and in the Decameron, Gior. I. Nov. 8, tells of a sharp rebuke administered by him to Messer Ermino de' Grimaldi, a miser of Genoa.

"It came to pass, that, whilst by spending nothing he went on accumulating wealth, there came to Genoa a well-bred and witty gentleman called Gulielmo Borsiere, one nothing like the courtiers of the present day; who, to the great reproach of the debauched dispositions of such as would now be reputed fine gentlemen, should more properly style themselves asses, brought up amidst the filthiness and sink of mankind, rather than in courts. . . . .

"This Gulielmo, whom I before mentioned, was much visited and respected by the better sort of people at Genoa; when having made some stay here, and hearing much talk of Ermino's sordidness, he became desirous of seeing him. Now Ermino had been informed of Gulielmo's worthy character, and having, however covetous he was, some small sparks of gentility, he received him in a courteous manner, and, entering into discourse together, he took him, and some Genoese who came along with him, to see a fine house which he had lately built: and when he had showed every part of it, he said: 'Pray, sir, can you, who have heard and seen so much, tell me of something that was never yet seen, to have painted in my hall?' To whom Gulielmo, hearing him speak so simply, replied: 'Sir, I can tell you of nothing which has never yet been seen, that I know of; unless it be sneezing, or some thing of that sort; but if you please, I can tell you of a thing which, I believe, you never saw.' Said Ermino (little expecting such an answer as he received), 'I beg you would let me know what that is.' Gulielmo immediately replied, 'Paint Liberality.' When Ermino heard this, such a sudden shame seized him, as quite changed his temper from what it had hitherto been; and he said: 'Sir, I will have her painted in such a manner that neither you, nor any one else, shall be able to say, hereafter, that I am unacquainted with her.' And from that time such effect had Gulielmo's words upon him, he became the most liberal and courteous gentleman, and was the most respected, both by strangers and his own citizens, of any in Genoa."

95. Monte Veso is among the Alps, between Piedmont and Savoy, where the Po takes its rise. From this point eastward to the Adriatic, all the rivers on the left or northern slope of the Apennines are tributaries to the Po, until we come to the Montone, which above Forlì is called Acquacheta. This is the first which flows directly into the Adriatic, and not into the Po. At least it was so in Dante's time. Now, by some change in its course, the Lamone, farther north, has opened itself a new outlet, and is the first to make its own way to the Adriatic. See Barlow, Contributions to the Study of the Divine Comedy, p. 131. This comparison shows the delight which Dante took in the study of physical geography. To reach the waterfall of Acquacheta he traverses in thought the entire valley of the Po, stretching across the whole of Northern Italy.

102. Boccaccio's interpretation of this line, which has been adopted by most of the commentators since his time, is as follows: "I was for a long time in doubt concerning the author's meaning in this line; but being by chance at this monastery of San Benedetto, in company with the abbot, he told me that there had once been a discussion among the Counts who owned the mountain, about building a village near the waterfall, as a convenient place for a settlement, and bringing into it their vassals scattered on neighboring farms; but the leader of the project dying, it was not carried into effect; and that is what the author says, Ove dovea per mille, that is, for many, esser ricetto, that is, home and habitation."

Doubtless grammatically the words will bear this meaning. But evidently the idea in the author's mind, and which he wished to impress upon the reader's, was that of a waterfall plunging at a single leap down a high precipice. To this idea, the suggestion of buildings and inhabitants is wholly foreign, and adds neither force nor clearness. Whereas, to say that the river plunged at one bound over a precipice high enough for a thousand cascades, presents at once a vivid picture to the imagination, and I have interpreted the line accordingly, making the contrast between una scesa and mille. It should not be forgotten that, while some editions read dovea, others read dovria, and even potria.

106. This cord has puzzled the commentators exceedingly. Boccaccio, Volpi, and Venturi do not explain it. The anonymous author of the Ottimo, Benvenuto da Imola, Buti, Landino, Vellutello, and Daniello, all think it means fraud, which Dante had used in the pursuit of pleasure,—"the panther with the painted skin." Lombardi is of opinion that, "by girding himself with the Franciscan cord, he had endeavored to restrain his sensual appetites, indicated by the panther; and still wearing the cord as a Tertiary of the Order, he makes it serve here to deceive Geryon, and bring him up." Biagioli understands by it "the humility with which a man should approach Science, because it is she that humbles the proud." Fraticelli thinks it means vigilance; Tommaseo, "the good faith with which he hoped to win the Florentines, and now wishes to deal with their fraud, so that it may not harm him"; and Gabrielli Rossetti says, "Dante flattered himself, acting as a sincere Ghibelline, that he should meet with good faith from his Guelf countrymen, and met instead with horrible fraud."

Dante elsewhere speaks of the cord in a good sense. In Purgatorio, VII. 114, Peter of Aragon is "girt with the cord of every virtue." In Inferno, XXVII. 92, it is mortification, "the cord that used to make those girt with it more meagre"; and in Paradiso, XI. 87, it is humility, "that family which had already girt the humble cord."

It will be remembered that St. Francis, the founder of the Cordeliers (the wearers of the cord), used to call his body asino, or ass, and to subdue it with the capestro, or halter. Thus the cord is made to symbolize the subjugation of the animal nature. This renders Lombardi's interpretation the most intelligible and satisfactory, though Virgil seems to have thrown the cord into the abyss simply because he had nothing else to throw, and not with the design of deceiving.

112. As a man does naturally in the act of throwing.

131. That Geryon, seeing the cord, ascends, expecting to find some moine défroqué, and carry him down, as Lombardi suggests, is hardly admissible; for that was not his office. The spirits were hurled down to their appointed places, as soon as Minos doomed them. Inferno, V. 15.

132. Even to a steadfast heart.


CANTO XVII.

1. In this Canto is described the punishment of Usurers, as sinners against Nature and Art. See Inf. XI. 109:—

"And since the usurer takes another way,
Nature herself and in her follower
Disdains he, for elsewhere he puts his hope."

The monster Geryon, here used as the symbol of Fraud, was born of Chrysaor and Callirrhoe, and is generally represented by the poets as having three bodies and three heads. He was in ancient times King of Hesperia or Spain, living on Erytheia, the Red Island of sunset, and was slain by Hercules, who drove away his beautiful oxen. The nimble fancy of Hawthorne thus depicts him in his Wonder-Book, p. 148:—

"But was it really and truly an old man? Certainly at first sight it looked very like one; but on closer inspection, it rather seemed to be some kind of a creature that lived in the sea. For on his legs and arms there were scales, such as fishes have; he was web-footed and web-fingered, after the fashion of a duck; and his long beard, being of a greenish tinge, had more the appearance of a tuft of sea-weed than of an ordinary beard. Have you never seen a stick of timber, that has been long tossed about by the waves, and has got all overgrown with barnacles, and at last, drifting ashore, seems to have been thrown up from the very deepest bottom of the sea? Well, the old man would have put you in mind of just such a wave-tost spar."

The three bodies and three heads, which old poetic fable has given to the monster Geryon, are interpreted by modern prose as meaning the three Balearic Islands, Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica, over which he reigned.

10. Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, XIV. 87, Rose's Tr., thus depicts Fraud:—

"With pleasing mien, grave walk, and decent vest,
Fraud rolled her eyeballs humbly in her head;
And such benign and modest speech possest,
She might a Gabriel seem who Ave said.
Foul was she and deformed in all the rest;
But with a mantle, long and widely spread,
Concealed her hideous parts; and evermore
Beneath the stole a poisoned dagger wore."

The Gabriel saying Ave is from Dante, Purgatory, X. 40:—

"One would have sworn that he was saying Ave."

17. Tartars nor Turks, "who are most perfect masters therein," says Boccaccio, "as we can clearly see in Tartarian cloths, which truly are so skilfully woven, that no painter with his brush could equal, much less surpass them. The Tartars are . . . ." And with this unfinished sentence close the Lectures upon Dante, begun by Giovanni Boccaccio on Sunday, August 9, 1373, in the church of San Stefano, in Florence. That there were some critics among his audience is apparent from this sonnet, which he addressed "to one who had censured his public Exposition of Dante." See D. G. Rosetti, Early Italian Poets, p. 447:—

"If Dante mourns, there wheresoe'er he be,
That such high fancies of a soul so proud
Should be laid open to the vulgar crowd,
(As, touching my Discourse, I'm told by thee,)
This were my grievous pain; and certainly
My proper blame should not be disavowed;
Though hereof somewhat, I declare aloud,
Were due to others, not alone to me.
False hopes, true poverty, and therewithal
The blinded judgment of a host of friends,
And their enteaties, made that I did thus.
But of all this there is no gain at all
Unto the thankless souls with whose base ends
Nothing agrees that's great or generous."

18. Ovid, Metamorph. VI.:—

"One at the loom so excellently skilled
That to the Goddess she refused to yield."

57. Their love of gold still haunting them in the other world.

59. The arms of the Gianfigliacci of Florence.

63. The arms of the Ubbriachi of Florence.

64. The Scrovigni of Padua.

68. Vitaliano del Dente of Padua.

73. Giovanni Bujamonte, who seems to have had the ill-repute of being the greatest usurer of his day, called here in irony the "sovereign cavalier."

74. As the ass-driver did in the streets of Florence, when Dante beat him for singing his verses amiss. See Sacchetti, Nov. CXV.

78. Dante makes as short work with these usurers, as if he had been a curious traveller walking through the Ghetto of Rome, or the Judengasse of Frankfort.

107. Ovid, Metamorph. II., Addison's Tr.:—

"Half dead with sudden fear he dropt the reins;
The horses felt 'em loose upon their manes,
And, flying out through all the plains above,
Ran uncontrolled where'er their fury drove;
Rushed on the stars, and through a pathless way
Of unknown regions hurried on-the day.
And now above, and now below they flew,
And near the earth the burning chariot drew.

·····

At once from life and from the chariot driv'n,
Th' ambitious boy fell thunder-struck from heav'n.
The horses started with a sudden bound,
And flung the reins and chariot to the ground:
The studded harness from their necks they broke,
Here fell a wheel, and here a silver spoke,
Here were the beam and axle torn away;
And, scatter'd o'er the earth, the shining fragments lay.
The breathless Phaeton, with flaming hair,
Shot from the chariot, like a falling star,
That in a summer's ev'ning from the top
Of heav'n drops down, or seems at least to drop;
Till on the Po his blasted corpse was hurled,
Far from his country, in the Western World."

108. The Milky Way. In Spanish El camino de Santiago; in the Northern Mythology the pathway of the ghosts going to Valhalla.

109. Ovid, Metamorph. VIII., Croxall's Tr.:—

"The soft'ning wax, that felt a nearer sun,
Dissolv'd apace, and soon began to run.
The youth in vain his melting pinions shakes,
His feathers gone, no longer air he takes.
O father, father, as he strove to cry,
Down to the sea he tumbled from on high,
And found his fate; yet still subsists by fame,
Among those waters that retain his name.
The father, now no more a father, cries,
Ho, Icarus! where are you? as he flies:
Where shall I seek my boy? he cries again,
And saw his feathers scattered on the main."

136. Lucan, Pharsal. I.:—

"To him the Balearic sling is slow,
And the shaft loiters from the Parthian bow."


CANTO XVIII.

1. Here begins the third division of the Inferno, embracing the Eighth and Ninth Circles, in which the Fraudulent are punished.

"But because fraud is man's peculiar vice
More it displeases God; and so stand lowest
The fraudulent, and greater dole assails them."

The Eighth Circle is called Malebolge, or Evil-budgets, and consists of ten concentric ditches, or Bolge of stone, with dikes between, and rough bridges running across them to the centre like the spokes of a wheel.

In the First Bolgia are punished Seducers, and in the Second, Flatterers.

2. Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. p. 237, says:—

"Our slates and granites are often of very lovely colors; but the Apennine limestone is so gray and toneless, that I know not any mountain district so utterly melancholy as those which are composed of this rock, when unwooded. Now, as far as I can discover from the internal evidence in his poem, nearly all Dante's mountain wanderings had been upon this ground. He had journeyed once or twice among the Alps, indeed, but seems to have been impressed chiefly by the road from Garda to Trent, and that along the Cornice, both of which are either upon those limestones, or a dark serpentine, which shows hardly any color till it is polished. It is not ascertainable that he had ever seen rock scenery of the finely colored kind, aided by the Alpine mosses: I do not know the fall at Forlì (Inferno, XVI. 99), but every other scene to which he alludes is among these Apennine limestones; and when he wishes to give the idea of enormous mountain size, he names Tabernicch and Pietra-pana,—the one clearly chosen only for the sake of the last syllable of its name, in order to make a sound as of crackling ice, with the two sequent rhymes of the stanza,—and the other is an Apennine near Lucca.

"His idea, therefore, of rock color, founded on these experiences, is that of a dull or ashen gray, more or less stained by the brown of iron ochre, precisely as the Apennine limestones nearly always are; the gray being peculiarly cold and disagreeable. As we go down the very hill which stretches out from Pietra-pana towards Lucca, the stones laid by the road-side to mend it are of this ashen gray, with efflorescences of manganese and iron in the fissures. The whole of Malebolge is made of this rock, 'All wrought in stone of iron-colored grain.'"

29. The year of Jubilee 1300. Mr. Norton, in his Notes of Travel and Study in Italy, p. 255, thus describes it:—

"The beginning of the new century brought many pilgrims to the Papal city, and the Pope, seeing to what account the treasury of indulgences possessed by the Church might now be turned, hit upon the plan of promising plenary indulgence to all who, during the year, should visit with fit dispositions the holy places of Rome. He accordingly, in the most solemn manner, proclaimed a year of Jubilee, to date from the Christmas of 1299, and appointed a similar celebration for each hundredth year thereafter. The report of the marvellous promise spread rapidly through Europe; and as the year advanced, pilgrims poured into Italy from remote as well as from neighboring lands. The roads leading to Rome were dusty with bands of travellers pressing forward to gain the unwonted indulgence. The Crusades had made travel familiar to men, and a journey to Rome seemed easy to those who had dreamed of the Farther East, of Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Giovanni Villani, who was among the pilgrims from Florence, declares that there were never less than two hundred thousand strangers at Rome during the year; and Guglielmo Ventura, the chronicler of Asti, reports the total number of pilgrims at not less than two millions. The picture which he draws of Rome during the Jubilee is a curious one. 'Mirandum est quod passim ibant viri et mulieres, qui anno illo Romæ fuerunt quo ego ibi fui et per dies XV. steti. De pane, vino, carnibus, piscibus, et avena, bonum mercatum ibi erat; fænum carissimum ibi fuit; hospitia carissima; taliter quod lectus meus et equi mei super fæno et avena constabat mihi tornesium unum grossum. Exiens de Roma in Vigilia Nativitatis Christi, vidi turbam magnam, quam dinumerare nemo poterat; et fama erat inter Romanos, quod ibi fuerant plusquam vigenti centum millia virorum et mulierum. Pluries ego vidi ibi tam viros quam mulieres conculcatos sub pedibus aliorum; et etiam egomet in eodem periculo plures vices evasi. Papa innumerabilem pecuniam ab eisdem recepit, quia die ac nocte duo clerici stabant ad altare Sancti Pauli tenentes in corum manibus rastellos, rastellantes pecuniam infinitam.' To accommodate the throng of pilgrims, and to protect them as far as possible from the danger which Ventura feelingly describes, a barrier was erected along the middle of the bridge under the castle of Sant' Angelo, so that those going to St. Peter's and those coming from the church, passing on opposite sides, might not interfere with each other. It seems not unlikely that Dante himself was one of the crowd who thus crossed the old bridge, over whose arches, during this year, a flood of men was flowing almost as constantly as the river's flood ran through below."

31. The castle is the Castle of St. Angelo, and the mountain Monte Gianicolo. See Barlow, Study of Dante, p. 126. Others say Monte Giordano.

50. "This Caccianimico," says Benvenuto da Imola, "was a Bolognese; a liberal, noble, pleasant, and very powerful man." Nevertheless he was so utterly corrupt as to sell his sister, the fair Ghisola, to the Marquis of Este.

51. In the original the word is salse. "In Bologna," says Benvenuto da Imola, "the name of Salse is given to a certain valley outside the city, and near to Santa Maria in Monte, into which the mortal remains of desperadoes, usurers, and other infamous persons are wont to be thrown. Hence I have sometimes heard boys in Bologna say to each other, by way of insult, 'Your father was thrown into the Salse.'"

61. The two rivers between which Bologna is situated. In the Bolognese dialect sipa is used for .

72. They cease going round the circles as heretofore, and now go straight forward to the centre of the abyss.

86. For the story of Jason, Medea, and the Golden Fleece, see Ovid, Metamorph. VII. Also Chaucer, Legende of Goode Women:

"Thou roote of fals loveres, duke Jason!
Thou slye devourer and confusyon
Of gentil wommen, gentil creatures!"

92. When the women of Lemnos put to death all the male inhabitants of the island, Hypsipyle concealed her father Thoas, and spared his life. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautics, II., Fawkes's Tr.:—

"Hypsipyle alone, illustrious maid,
Spared her sire Thoas, who the sceptre swayed."

122. "Allessio Interminelli," says Benvenuto da Imola, "a soldier, a nobleman, and of gentle manners, was of Lucca, and from him descended that tyrant Castruccio who filled all Tuscany with fear, and was lord of Pisa, Lucca, and Pistoja, of whom Dante makes no mention, because he became illustrious after the author's death. Alessio took such delight in flattery, that he could not open his mouth without flattering. He besmeared everybody, even the lowest menials."

The Ottimo says, that in the dialect of Lucca the head "was facetiously called a pumpkin."

133. Thaïs, the famous courtesan of Athens. Terence, The Eunuch, Act III. Sc. 1:—

"Thraso. Did Thaïs really return me many thanks?

"Gnatho. Exceeding thanks.

"Thraso. Was she delighted, say you?'

"Gnatho. Not so much, indeed, at the present itself, as because it was given by you; really, in right earnest, she does exult at that."

136. "The filthiness of some passages," exclaims Landor, Pentameron, p. 15, "would disgrace the drunkenest horse-dealer; and the names of such criminals are recorded by the poet, as would be forgotten by the hangman in six months."


CANTO XIX.

1. The Third Bolgia is devoted to the Simoniacs, so called from Simon Magus, the Sorcerer mentioned in Acts viii. 9, 18. See Par. XXX. Note 147.

Brunetto Latini touches lightly upon them in the Tesoretto, XXI. 259, on account of their high ecclesiastical dignity. His pupil is less reverential in this particular.

"Altri per simonia
Si getta in mala via,
E Dio e' Santi offende
E vende le prebende,
E Sante Sagramente,
E mette 'nfra la gente
Assempri di mal fare.
Ma questo lascio stare,
Chè tocca a ta' persone,
Che non è mia ragione
Di dirne lungamente."

Chaucer, Persones Tale, speaks thus of Simony:—

"Certes simonie is cleped of Simon Magus, that wold have bought for temporel catel the yefte that God had yeven by the holy gost to Seint Peter, and to the Apostles: and therfore understond ye, that both he that selleth and he that byeth thinges spirituel ben called Simoniackes, be it by catel, be it by procuring, or by fleshly praier of his frendes, fleshly frendes, or spirituel frendes, fleshly in two maners, as by kinrede or other frendes: sothly, if they pray for him that is not worthy and able, it is simonie, if he take the benefice: and if he be worthy and able, ther is non."

5. Gower, Confes. Amant. I.:—

"A trompe with a sterne breth,
Which was cleped the trompe of deth.

·····

He shall this dredfull trompe blowe
To-fore his gate and make it knowe,
How that the jugement is yive
Of deth, which shall nought be foryive."

19. Lami, in his Deliciæ Eruditorum, makes a strange blunder in reference to this passage. He says: "Not long ago the baptismal font, which stood in the middle of Saint John's at Florence, was removed; and in the pavement may still be seen the octagonal shape of its ample outline. Dante says, that, when a boy, he fell into it and was near drowning; or rather he fell into one of the circular basins of water, which surrounded the principal font." Upon this Arrivabeni, Comento Storico, p. 588, where I find this extract, remarks: "Not Dante, but Lami, staring at the moon, fell into the hole."

20. Dante's enemies had accused him of committing this act through impiety. He takes this occasion to vindicate himself.

33. Probably an allusion to the red stockings worn by the Popes.

50. Burying alive with the head downward and the feet in the air was the inhuman punishment of hired assassins, "according to justice and the municipal law in Florence," says the Ottimo. It was called Propagginare, to plant in the manner of vine-stocks.

Dante stood bowed down like the confessor called back by the criminal in order to delay the moment of his death.

53. Benedetto Gaetani, Pope Boniface VIII. Gower, Conf. Amant. II., calls him

"Thou Boneface, thou proude clerke,
Misleder of the papacie."

This is the Boniface who frightened Celestine from the papacy, and persecuted him to death after his resignation. "The lovely Lady" is the Church. The fraud was his collusion with Charles II. of Naples. "He went to King Charles by night, secretly, and with few attendants," says Villani,VIII. ch. 6, "and said to him: 'King, thy Pope Celestine had the will and the power to serve thee in thy Sicilian wars, but did not know how: but if thou wilt contrive with thy friends the cardinals to have me elected Pope, I shall know how, and shall have the will and the power'; promising upon his faith and oath to aid him with all the power of the Church." Farther on he continues: "He was very magnanimous and lordly, and demanded great honor, and knew well how to maintain and advance the cause of the Church, and on account of his knowledge and power was much dreaded and feared. He was avaricious exceedingly in order to aggrandize the Church and his relations, not being over-scrupulous about gains, for he said that all things were lawful which were of the Church."

He was chosen Pope in 1294. "The inauguration of Boniface," says Milman, Latin Christ., Book IX., ch. 7, "was the most magnificent which Rome had ever beheld. In his procession to St. Peter's and back to the Lateran palace, where he was entertained, he rode not a humble ass, but a noble white horse, richly caparisoned: he had a crown on his head; the King of Naples held the bridle on one side, his son, the King of Hungary, on the other. The nobility of Rome, the Orsinis, the Colonnas, the Savellis, the Stefaneschi, the Annibaldi, who had not only welcomed him to Rome, but conferred on him the Senatorial dignity, followed in a body: the procession could hardly force its way through the masses of the kneeling people. In the midst, a furious hurricane burst over the city, and extinguished every lamp and torch in the church. A darker omen followed: a riot broke out among the populace, in which forty lives were lost. The day after, the Pope dined in public in the Lateran; the two Kings waited behind his chair."

Dante indulges towards him a fierce Ghibelline hatred, and assigns him his place of torment before he is dead. In Canto XXVII. 85, he calls him "the Prince of the new Pharisees"; and, after many other bitter allusions in various parts of the poem, puts into the mouth of St. Peter, Par. XXVII. 22, the terrible invective that makes the whole heavens red with anger.

"He who usurps upon the earth my place,
My place, my place, which vacant has become
Now in the presence of the Son of God,
Has of my cemetery made a sewer
Of blood and fetor, whereat the Perverse,
Who fell from here, below there is appeased."

He died in 1303. See Note 87, Purg. XX.

70. Nicholas III., of the Orsini (the Bears) of Rome, chosen Pope in 1277. "He was the first Pope, or one of the first," says Villani, VII. ch. 54, "in whose court simony was openly practised." On account of his many accomplishments he was surnamed Il Compiuto. Milman, Lat. Christ., Book XI. ch. 4, says of him: "At length the election fell on John Gaetano, of the noble Roman house, the Orsini, a man of remarkable beauty of person and demeanor. His name, 'the Accomplished,' implied that in him met all the graces of the handsomest clerks in the world, but he was a man likewise of irreproachable morals, of vast ambition, and of great ability." He died in 1280.

83. The French Pope Clement V., elected in 1305, by the influence of Philip the Fair of France, with sundry humiliating conditions. He transferred the Papal See from Rome to Avignon, where it remained for seventy-one years in what Italian writers call its "Babylonian captivity." He died in 1314, on his way to Bordeaux. "He had hardly crossed the Rhone," says Milman, Lat. Christ., Book XII. ch. 5, "when he was seized with mortal sickness at Roquemaure. The Papal treasure was seized by his followers, especially his nephew; his remains were treated with such utter neglect, that the torches set fire to the catafalque under which he lay, not in state. His body, covered only with a single sheet, all that his rapacious retinue had left to shroud their forgotten master, was half burned . . . . . before alarm was raised. His ashes were borne back to Carpentras and solemnly interred."

85. Jason, to whom Antiochus Epiphanes granted a "license to set him up a place for exercise, and for the training up of youth in the fashions of the heathen."

2 Maccabees iv. 13: "Now such was the height of Greek fashions, and increase of the heathenish manners, through the exceeding profaneness of Jason, that ungodly wretch and not high priest, that the priests had no courage to serve any more at the altar, but, despising the temple, and neglecting the sacrifices, hastened to be partakers of the unlawful allowance in the place of exercise, after the game of Discus called them forth."

87. Philip the Fair of France. See Note 82. "He was one of the handsomest men in the world," says Villani, IX. 66, "and one of the largest in person, and well proportioned in every limb,—a wise and good man for a layman."

94. Matthew, chosen as an Apostle in the place of Judas.

99. According to Villani, VII. 54, Pope Nicholas III. wished to marry his niece to a nephew of Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily. To this alliance the King would not consent, saying: "Although he wears the red stockings, his lineage is not worthy to mingle with ours, and his power is not hereditary." This made the Pope indignant, and, together with the bribes of John of Procida, led him to encourage the rebellion in Sicily, which broke out a year after the Pope's death in the "Sicilian Vespers," 1282.

107. The Church of Rome under Nicholas, Boniface, and Clement. Revelation xvii. 1–3:—

"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me. Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns."

The seven heads are interpreted to mean the Seven Virtues, and the ten horns the Ten Commandments.

110. Revelation xvii. 12, 13:—

"And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, . . . . . and shall give their power and strength unto the beast."

117. Gower, Confes. Amant., Prologus:

"The patrimonie and the richesse
Which to Silvester in pure almesse
The firste Constantinus lefte."

Upon this supposed donation of immense domains by Constantine to the Pope, called the "Patrimony of St. Peter," Milman, Lat. Christ., Book I. ch. 2, remarks:—

"Silvester has become a kind of hero of religious fable. But it was not so much the genuine mythical spirit which unconsciously transmutes history into legend; it was rather deliberate invention, with a specific aim and design, which, in direct defiance of history, accelerated the baptism of Constantine, and sanctified a porphyry vessel as appropriated to, or connected with, that holy use: and at a later period produced the monstrous fable of the Donation.

"But that with which Constantine actually did invest the Church, the right of holding landed property, and receiving it by bequest, was far more valuable to the Christian hierarchy, and not least to the Bishop of Rome, than a premature and prodigal endowment."


CANTO XX.

1. In the Fourth Bolgia are punished the Soothsayers:—

"Because they wished to see too far before them,
Backward they look, and backward make their way."

9. Processions chanting prayers and supplications.

13. Ignaro in Spenser's Faerie Queene, I. viii. 31:—

"But very uncouth sight was to behold
How he did fashion his untoward pace;
For as he forward moved his footing old,
So backward still was turned his wrinkled face."

34. Amphiaraus was one of the seven kings against Thebes. Foreseeing his own fate, he concealed himself, to avoid going to the war; but his wife Eriphyle, bribed by a diamond necklace (as famous in ancient story as the Cardinal de Rohan's in modern), revealed his hiding-place, and he went to his doom with the others.

Æschylus, The Seven against Thebes: "I will tell of the sixth, a man most prudent and in valor the best, the seer, the mighty Amphiaraus. . . . . And through his mouth he gives utterance to this speech . . . . . 'I, for my part, in very truth shall fatten this soil, seer as I am, buried beneath a hostile earth.'"

Statius, Thebaid, VIII. 47, Lewis's Tr.:—

"Bought of my treacherous wife for cursed gold,
And in the list of Argive chiefs enrolled,
Resigned to fate I sought the Theban plain;
Whence flock the shades that scarce thy realm contain;
When, how my soul yet dreads! an earthquake came,
Big with destruction, and my trembling frame,
Rapt from the midst of gaping thousands, hurled
To night eternal in thy nether world."

40. The Theban soothsayer. Ovid, Met., III., Addison's Tr.:—

"It happen'd once, within a shady wood,
Two twisted snakes he in conjunction view'd,
When with his staff their slimy folds he broke,
And lost his manhood at the fatal stroke.
But, after seven revolving years, he view'd
The self-same serpents in the self-same wood:
'And if,' says he, 'such virtue in you lie,
That he who dares your slimy folds untie
Must change his kind, a second stroke I'll try.'
Again he struck the snakes, and stood again
New-sex'd, and straight recovered into man.

·····

When Juno fired,
More than so trivial an affair required,
Deprived him, in her fury, of his sight,
And left him groping round in sudden night.
But Jove (for so it is in heav'n decreed
That no one god repeal another's deed)
Irradiates all his soul with inward light,
And with the prophet's art relieves the want of sight."

45. His beard. The word "plumes" is used by old English writers in this sense. Ford, Lady's Trial:

"Now the down
Of softness is exchanged for plumes of age."

See also Purg. I. 42.

46. An Etrurian soothsayer. Lucan, Pharsalia, I., Rowe's Tr.:—

"Of these the chief, for learning famed and age,
Aruns by name, a venerable sage,
At Luna lived."

Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. p. 246, says:—

"But in no part of the poem do we find allusion to mountains in any other than a stern light; nor the slightest evidence that Dante cared to look at them. From that hill of San Miniato, whose steps he knew so well, the eye commands, at the farther extremity of the Val d' Arno, the whole purple range of the mountains of Carrara, peaked and mighty, seen always against the sunset light in silent outline, the chief forms that rule the scene as twilight fades away. By this vision Dante seems to have been wholly unmoved, and, but for Lucan's mention of Aruns at Luna, would seemingly not have spoken of the Carrara hills in the whole course of his poem: when he does allude to them, he speaks of their white marble, and their command of stars and sea, but has evidently no regard for the hills themselves. There is not a single phrase or syllable throughout the poem which indicates such a regard. Ugolino, in his dream, seemed to himself to be in the mountains, 'by cause of which the Pisan cannot see Lucca'; and it is impossible to look up from Pisa to that hoary slope without remembering the awe that there is in the passage; nevertheless it was as a hunting-ground only that he remembered these hills. Adam of Brescia, tormented with eternal thirst, remembers the hills of Romena, but only for the sake of their sweet waters."

55. Manto, daughter of Tiresias, who fled from Thebes, the "City of Bacchus," when it became subject to the tyranny of Cleon.

63. Lake Benacus is now called the Lago di Garda. It is pleasantly alluded to by Claudian in his "Old Man of Verona," who has seen "the grove grow old coeval with himself."

"Verona seems
To him remoter than the swarthy Ind;
He deems the Lake Benacus as the shore
Of the Red Sea."

65. The Pennine Alps, or Alpes Pœnæ, watered by the brooklets flowing into the Sarca, which is the principal tributary of Benaco.

69. The place where the three dioceses of Trent, Brescia, and Verona meet.

70. At the outlet of the lake.

77. Æneid, X.:—

"Mincius crowned with sea-green reeds."

Milton, Lycidas:

"Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal reeds."

82. Manto. Benvenuto da Imola says: "Virgin should here be rendered Virago."

93. Æneid, X.: "Ocnus, . . . . son of the prophetic Manto, and of the Tuscan river, who gave walls and the name of his mother to thee, O Mantua!"

95. Pinamonte dei Buonacossi, a bold, ambitious man, persuaded Alberto, Count of Casalodi and Lord of Mantua, to banish to their estates the chief nobles of the city, and then, stirring up a popular tumult, fell upon the rest, laying waste their houses, and sending them into exile or to prison, and thus greatly depopulating the city.

110. Iliad, I. 69: "And Calchas, the son of Thestor, arose, the best of augurs, a man who knew the present, the future, and the past, and who had guided the ships of the Achæans to Ilium, by that power of prophecy which Phœbus Apollo gave him."

112. Æneid, II. 114: "In suspense we send Eurypylus to consult the oracle of Apollo, and he brings back from the shrine these mournful words: 'O Greeks, ye appeased the winds with blood and a virgin slain, when first ye came to the Trojan shores; your return is to be sought by blood, and atonement made by a Grecian life.'"

Dante calls Virgil's poem a Tragedy, to mark its sustained and lofty style, in contrast with that of his own Comedy, of which he has already spoken once, Canto XVI. 138, and speaks again, Canto XXI. 2; as if he wished the reader to bear in mind that he is wearing the sock, and not the buskin.

116. "Michael Scott, the Magician," says Benvenuto da Imola, "practised divination at the court of Frederick II., and dedicated to him a book on natural history, which I have seen, and in which among other things he treats of Astrology, then deemed infallible. . . . . It is said, moreover, that he foresaw his own death, but could not escape it. He had prognosticated that he should be killed by the falling of a small stone upon his head, and always wore an iron skull-cap under his hood, to prevent this disaster. But entering a church on the festival of Corpus Domini, he lowered his hood in sign of veneration, not of Christ, in whom he did not believe, but to deceive the common people, and a small stone fell from aloft on his bare head."

The reader will recall the midnight scene of the monk of St. Mary's and William of Deloraine in Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto II.:—

"In these far climes it was my lot
To meet the wondrous Michael Scott;
A wizard of such dreaded fame
That when, in Salamanca's cave,
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame!
Some of his skill he taught to me;
And, warrior, I could say to thee
The words that cleft Eildon hills in three,
And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone;
But to speak them were a deadly sin;
And for having but thought them my heart within,
A treble penance must be done."

And the opening of the tomb to recover the Magic Book:—

"Before their eyes the wizard lay,
As if he had not been dead a day.
His hoary beard in silver rolled,
He seemed some seventy winters old;
A palmer's amice wrapped him round,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,
Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea;
His left hand held his book of might;
A silver cross was in his right;
The lamp was placed beside his knee:
High and majestic was his look,
At which the fellest fiends had shook,
And all unruffled was his face:—
They trusted his soul had gotten grace."

See also Appendix to the Lay of the Last Minstrel.

118. Guido Bonatti, a tiler and astrologer of Forlì, who accompanied Guido di Montefeltro when he marched out of Forlì to attack the French "under the great oak." Villani, VII, 81, in a passage in which the he and him get a little entangled, says: "It is said that the Count of Montefeltro was guided by divination and the advice of Guido Bonatti (a tiler who had become an astrologer), or some other strategy, and he gave the orders; and in this enterprise he gave him the gonfalon and said, 'So long as a rag of it remains, wherever thou bearest it, thou shalt be victorious'; but I rather think his victories were owing to his own wits and his mastery in war."

Benvenuto da Imola reports the following anecdote of the same personages. "As the Count was standing one day in the large and beautiful square of Forlì, there came a rustic mountaineer and gave him a basket of pears. And when the Count said, 'Stay and sup with me,' the rustic answered, 'My Lord, I wish to go home before it rains; for infallibly there will be much rain to-day.' The Count, wondering at him, sent for Guido Bonatti, as a great astrologer, and said to him, 'Dost thou hear what this man says?' Guido answered, 'He does not know what he is saying; but wait a little.' Guido went to his study, and, having taken his astrolabe, observed the aspect of the heavens. And on returning he said that it was impossible it should rain that day. But the rustic obstinately affirming what he had said, Guido asked him, 'How dost thou know?' The rustic answered, 'Because to-day my ass, in coming out of the stable, shook his head and pricked up his ears, and whenever he does this, it is a certain sign that the weather will soon change.' Then Guido replied, 'Supposing this to be so, how dost thou know there will be much rain?' 'Because,' said he, 'my ass, with his ears pricked up, turned his head aside, and wheeled about more than usual.' Then, with the Count's leave, the rustic departed in haste, much fearing the rain, though the weather was very clear. And an hour afterwards, lo, it began to thunder, and there was a great down-pouring of waters, like a deluge. Then Guido began to cry out, with great indignation and derision, 'Who has deluded me? Who has put me to shame?' And for a long time this was a great source of merriment among the people."

Asdente, a cobbler of Parma. "I think he must have had acuteness of mind, although illiterate; some having the gift of prophecy by the inspiration of Heaven." Dante mentions him in the Convito, IV. 16, where he says that, if nobility consisted in being known and talked about, "Asdente the shoemaker of Parma would be more noble than any of his fellow-citizens."

126. The moon setting in the sea west of Seville. In the Italian popular tradition to which Dante again alludes. Par. II. 51, the Man in the Moon is Cain with his Thorns. This belief seems to have been current too in England, Midsummer Night's Dream, III. 1: "Or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, and say he comes to disfigure, or to present, the person of moon-shine." And again, V, 1: "The man should be put into the lantern. How is it else the man i' the moon? All that I have to say is to tell you, that the lantern is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog."

The time here indicated is an hour after sunrise on Saturday morning.


CANTO XXI.

1. The Fifth Bolgia, and the punishment of Barrators, or "Judges who take bribes for giving judgment."

2. Having spoken in the preceding Canto of Virgil's "lofty Tragedy," Dante here speaks of his own Comedy, as if to prepare the reader for the scenes which are to follow, and for which he apologizes in Canto XXII. 14, by repeating the proverb,

"In the church
With saints, and in the tavern with carousers."

7. Of the Arsenal of Venice Mr. Hillard thus speaks in his Six Months in Italy, I. 63:—

"No reader of Dante will fail to pay a visit to the Arsenal, from which, in order to illustrate the terrors of his 'Inferno,' the great poet drew one of these striking and picturesque images, characteristic alike of the boldness and the power of his genius, which never hesitated to look for its materials among the homely details and familiar incidents of life. In his hands, the boiling of pitch and the calking of seams ascend to the dignity of poetry. Besides, it is the most impressive and characteristic spot in Venice. The Ducal Palace and the Church of St. Mark's are symbols of pride and power, but the strength of Venice resided here. Her whole history, for six hundred years, was here epitomized, and as she rose and sunk, the hum of labor here swelled and subsided. Here was the index-hand which marked the culmination and decline of her greatness. Built upon several small islands, which are united by a wall of two miles in circuit, its extent and completeness, decayed as it is, show what the naval power of Venice once was, as the disused armor of a giant enables us to measure his stature and strength. Near the entrance are four marble lions, brought by Morosini from the Peloponnesus in 1685, two of which are striking works of art. Of these two, one is by far the oldest thing in Venice, being not much younger than the battle of Marathon; and thus, from the height of twenty-three centuries, entitled to look down upon St. Mark's as the growth of yesterday. The other two are nondescript animals, of the class commonly called heraldic, and can be styled lions only by courtesy. In the armory are some very interesting objects, and none more so than the great standard of the Turkish admiral, made of crimson silk, taken at the battle of Lepanto, and which Cervantes may have grasped with his unwounded hand. A few fragments of some of the very galleys that were engaged in that memorable fight are also preserved here."

37. Malebranche, Evil-claws, a general name for the devils.

38. Santa Zita, the Patron Saint of Lucca, where the magistrates were called Elders, or Aldermen. In Florence they bore the name of Priors.

41. A Barrator, in Dante's use of the word, is to the State what a Simoniac is to the Church; one who sells justice, office, or employment.

Benvenuto says that Dante includes Bontura with the rest, "because he is speaking ironically, as who should say, 'Bontura is the greatest barrator of all.' For Bontura was an arch-barrator, who sagaciously led and managed the whole commune, and gave offices to whom he wished. He likewise excluded whom he wished."

46. Bent down in the attitude of one in prayer; therefore the demons mock him with the allusion to the Santo Volto.

48. The Santo Volto, or Holy Face, is a crucifix still preserved in the Cathedral of Lucca, and held in great veneration by the people. The tradition is that it is the work of Nicodemus, who sculptured it from memory.

See also Sacchetti, Nov. 73, in which a preacher mocks at the Santo Volto in the church of Santa Croce at Florence.

49. The Serchio flows near Lucca. Shelley, in a poem called The Boat, on the Serchio, describes it as a "torrent fierce,"

"Which fervid from its mountain source,
Shallow, smooth, and strong, doth come;
Swift as fire, tempestuously
It sweeps into the affrighted sea.
In morning's smile its eddies coil,
Its billows sparkle, toss, and boil,
Torturing all its quiet light
Into columns fierce and bright."

63. Canto IX. 22:—

"True is it once before I here below
Was conjured by that pitiless Erictho,
Who summoned back the shades unto their bodies."

95. A fortified town on the Arno, in the Pisan territory. It was besieged by the troops of Florence and Lucca in 1289, and capitulated. As the garrison marched out under safe-guard, they were terrified by the shouts of the crowd, crying: "Hang them! hang them!" In this crowd was Dante, "a youth of twenty-five," says Benvenuto da Imola.

110. Along the circular dike that separates one Bolgia from another.

111. This is a falsehood, as all the bridges over the next Bolgia are broken. See Canto XXIII. 140.

112. At the close of the preceding Canto the time is indicated as being an hour after sunrise. Five hours later would be noon, or the scriptural sixth hour, the hour of the Crucifixion. Dante understands St. Luke to say that Christ died at this hour. Convito, IV. 23: "Luke says that it was about the sixth hour when he died; that is, the culmination of the day." Add to the "one thousand and two hundred sixty-six years," the thirty-four of Christ's life on earth, and it gives the year 1300, the date of the Infernal Pilgrimage.

114. Broken by the earthquake at the time of the Crucifixion, as the rock leading to the Circle of the Violent, Canto XII. 45:—

"And at that moment this primeval rock
Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow."

As in the next Bolgia Hypocrites are punished, Dante couples them with the Violent, by making the shock of the earthquake more felt near them than elsewhere.

125. The next crag or bridge, traversing the dikes and ditches.

137. See Canto XVII. 75.

 

CANTO XXII.

1. The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

5. Aretino, Vita di Dante, says, that Dante in his youth was present at the "great and memorable battle, which befell at Campaldino, fighting valiantly on horseback in the front rank." It was there he saw the vaunt-couriers of the Aretines, who began the battle with such a vigorous charge, that they routed the Florentine cavalry, and drove them back upon the infantry.

7. Napier, Florentine Hist., I. 214–217, gives this description of the Carroccio and the Martinella of the Florentines:—

"In order to give more dignity to the national army and form a rallying point for the troops, there had been established a great car, called the Carroccio, drawn by two beautiful oxen, which, carrying the Florentine standard, generally accompanied them into the field. This car was painted vermilion, the bullocks were covered with scarlet cloth, and the driver, a man or some consequence, was dressed in crimson, was exempt from taxation, and served without pay; these oxen were maintained at the public charge in a public hospital, and the white and red banner of the city was spread above the car between two lofty spars. Those taken at the battle of Monteaperto are still exhibited in Siena Cathedral as trophies of that fatal day.

"Macchiavelli erroneously places the adoption of the Carroccio by the Florentines at this epoch, but it was long before in use, and probably was copied from the Milanese, as soon as Florence became strong and independent enough to equip a national army. Eribert, Archbishop of Milan, seems to have been its author, for in the war between Conrad I. and that city, besides other arrangements for military, organization, he is said to have finished by the invention of the Carroccio: it was a pious and not impolitic imitation of the ark as it was carried before the Israelites. This vehicle is described, and also represented in ancient paintings, as a four-wheeled oblong car, drawn by two, four, or six bullocks: the car was always red, and the bullocks, even to their hoofs, covered as above described, but with red or white according to the faction; the ensign staff was red, lofty, and tapering, and surmounted by a cross or golden ball: on this, between two white fringed veils, hung the national standard, and half-way down the mast, a crucifix. A platform ran out in front of the car, spacious enough for a few chosen men to defend it, while behind, on a corresponding space, the musicians with their military instruments gave spirit to the combat: mass was said on the Carroccio ere it quitted the city, the surgeons were stationed near it, and not unfrequently a chaplain also attended it to the field. The loss of the Carroccio was a great disgrace, and betokened utter discomfiture; it was given to the most distinguished knight, who had a public salary and wore conspicuous armor and a golden belt: the best troops were stationed round it, and there was frequently the hottest of the fight. . . . .

"Besides the Carroccio, the Florentine army was accompanied by a great bell, called Martinella, or Campana degli Asini, which, for thirty days before hostilities began, tolled continually day and night from the arch of Porta Santa Maria, as a public declaration of war, and, as the ancient chronicle hath it, 'for greatness of mind, that the enemy might have full time to prepare himself.' At the same time also, the Carroccio was drawn from its place in the offices of San Giovanni by the most distinguished knights and noble vassals of the republic, and conducted in state to the Mercato Nuovo, where it was placed upon the circular stone still existing, and remained there until the army took the field. Then also the Martinella was removed from its station to a wooden tower placed on another car, and with the Carroccio served to guide the troops by night and day. 'And with these two pomps, of the Carroccio and Campana,' says Malespini, 'the pride of the old citizens, our ancestors, was ruled.'"

15. Equivalent to the proverb, "Do in Rome as the Romans do."

48. Giampolo, or Ciampolo, say all the commentators; but nothing more is known of him than his name, and what he tells us here of his history.

52. It is not very clear which King Thibault is here meant, but it is probably King Thibault IV., the crusader and poet, born 1201, died 1253. His poems have been published by Lévêque de la Ravallière, under the title of Les Poésies du Roi de Navarre; and in one of his songs (Chanson 53) he makes a clerk address him as the Bons Rois Thiebaut. Dante cites him two or three times in his Volg. Eloq., and may have taken this expression from his song, as he does afterwards. Canto XXVIII. 135, lo Re joves, the Re Giovane, or Young King, from the songs of Bertrand de Born.

65. A Latian, that is to say, an Italian.

82. This Frate Gomita was a Sardinian in the employ of Nino de' Visconti, judge in the jurisdiction of Gallura, the "gentle Judge Nino" of Purg. VIII. 53. The frauds and peculations of the Friar brought him finally to the gallows. Gallura is the northeastern jurisdiction of the island.

88. Don Michael Zanche was Seneschal of King Enzo of Sardinia, a natural son of the Emperor Frederick II. Dante gives him the title of Don, still used in Sardinia for Signore. After the death of Enzo in prison at Bologna, in 1271, Don Michael won by fraud and flattery his widow Adelasia, and became himself Lord of Logodoro, the northwestern jurisdiction, adjoining that of Gallura.

The gossip between the Friar and the Seneschal, which is here described by Ciampolo, recalls the Vision of the Sardinian poet Araolla, a dialogue between himself and Gavino Sambigucci, written in the soft dialect of Logodoro, a mixture of Italian, Spanish, and Latin, and beginning:—

"Dulche, amara memoria de giornadas
Fuggitivas cun doppia pena mia,
Qui quanto pìus l' istringo sunt passadas."

See Valery, Voyages en Corse et en Sardaigne, II. 410.


CANTO XXIII.

1. In this Sixth Bolgia the Hypocrites are punished.

"A painted people there below we found,
Who went about with footsteps very slow,
Weeping and in their looks subdued and weary."

Chaucer, Knightes Tale, 2780:—

"In his colde grave
Alone, withouten any compagnie."

And Gower, Conf. Amant.:—

"To muse in his philosophie
Sole withouten compaignie."

4. The Fables of Æsop, by Sir Roger L'Estrange, IV.: "There fell out a bloody quarrel once betwixt the Frogs and the Mice, about the sovereignty of the Fenns; and whilst two of their champions were disputing it at swords point, down comes a kite powdering upon them in the interim, and gobbles up both together, to part the fray."

7. Both words signifying "now"; mo, from the Latin modo; and issa, from the Latin ipsa; meaning ipsa hora. "The Tuscans say mo," remarks Benvenuto, "the Lombards issa."

37. "When he is in a fright and hurry, and has a very steep place to go down, Virgil has to carry him altogether," says Mr. Ruskin. See Canto XII., Note 2.

63. Benvenuto speaks of the cloaks of the German monks as "ill-fitting and shapeless."

66. The leaden cloaks which Frederick put upon malefactors were straw in comparison. The Emperor Frederick II. is said to have punished traitors by wrapping them in lead, and throwing them into a heated caldron. I can find no historic authority for this. It rests only on tradition; and on the same authority the same punishment is said to have been inflicted in Scotland, and is thus described in the ballad of "Lord Soulis," Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, IV. 256:—

"On a circle of stones they placed the pot,
On a circle of stones but barely nine;
They heated it red and fiery hot,
Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine.

"They roll'd him up in a sheet of lead,
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall,
And plunged him into the caldron red,
And melted him,—lead, and bones, and all."

We get also a glimpse of this punishment in Ducange, Glos. Capa Plumbea, where he cites the case in which one man tells another: "If our Holy Father the Pope knew the life you are leading, he would have you put to death in a cloak of lead."

67. Comedy of Errors, IV. 2:—

"A devil in an everlasting garment hath him."

91. Bologna was renowned for its University; and the speaker, who was a Bolognese, is still mindful of his college.

95. Florence, the bellissima e famosissima figlia di Roma, as Dante calls it, Convito, I. 3.

103. An order of knighthood, established by Pope Urban IV. in 1261, under the title of "Knights of Santa Maria." The name Frati Gaudenti, or "Jovial Friars," was a nickname, because they lived in their own homes and were not bound by strict monastic rules. Napier, Flor. Hist. I. 269, says:—

"A short time before this a new order of religious knighthood under the name of Frati Gaudenti began in Italy: it was not bound by vows of celibacy, or any very severe regulations, but took the usual oaths to defend widows and orphans and make peace between man and man: the founder was a Bolognese gentleman, called Loderingo di Liandolo, who enjoyed a good reputation, and along with a brother of the same order, named Catalano di Malavolti, one a Guelph and the other a Ghibelline, was now invited to Florence by Count Guido to execute conjointly the office of Podestà. It was intended by thus dividing the supreme authority between two magistrates of different politics, that one should correct the other, and justice be equally administered; more especially as, in conjunction with the people, they were allowed to elect a deliberative council of thirty-six citizens, belonging to the principal trades without distinction of party."

Farther on he says that these two Frati Gaudenti "forfeited all public confidence by their peculation and hypocrisy." And Villani, VII. 13: "Although they were of different parties, under cover of a false hypocrisy, they were of accord in seeking rather their own private gains than the common good."

108. A street in Florence, laid waste by the Guelfs.

113. Hamlet, I. 2:—

"Nor windy suspiration of forced breath."

115. Caiaphas, the High-Priest, who thought "expediency" the best thing.

121. Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas.

134. The great outer circle surrounding this division of the Inferno.

142. He may have heard in the lectures of the University an exposition of John viii. 44: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it."

 

CANTO XXIV.

1. The Seventh Bolgia, in which Thieves are punished.

2. The sun enters Aquarius during the last half of January, when the Equinox is near, and the hoar-frost in the morning looks like snow on the fields, but soon evaporates. If Dante had been a monk of Monte Casino, illuminating a manuscript, he could not have made a more clerkly and scholastic flourish with his pen than this, nor have painted a more beautiful picture than that which follows. The mediæval poets are full of lovely descriptions of Spring, which seems to blossom and sing through all their verses; but none is more beautiful or suggestive than this, though serving only as an illustration.

21. In Canto I.

43. See what Mr. Ruskin says of Dante as "a notably bad climber," Canto XII. Note 2.

55. The ascent of the Mount of Purgatory.

73. The next circular dike, dividing the fosses.

86. This list of serpents is from Lucan, Phars. IX. 711, Rowe's Tr.:—

"Slimy Chelyders the parched earth distain
And trace a reeking furrow on the plain.
The spotted Cenchris, rich in various dyes,
Shoots in a line, and forth directly flies.

·····

The Swimmer there the crystal stream pollutes,
And swift thro' air the flying Javelin shoots.

·····

The Amphisbæna doubly armed appears
At either end a threatening head she rears;
Raised on his active tail Pareas stands,
And as he passes, furrows up the sands."

Milton, Parad. Lost, X. 521:—

"Dreadful was the din
Of hissing through the hall, thick-swarming now
With complicated monsters head and tail,
Scorpion, and asp, and amphisbæna dire,
Cerastes horned, hydrus, and elops drear,
And dipsas."

Of the Phareas, Peter Comestor, Hist. Scholast., Gloss of Genesis iii. 1, says: "And this he (Lucifer) did by means of the serpent; for then it was erect like man; being afterwards made prostrate by the curse; and it is said the Phareas walks erect even to this day."

Of the Amphisbæna, Brunetto Latini, Tresor I. v. 140, says: "The Amphimenie is a kind of serpent which has two heads; one in its right place, and the other in the tail; and with each she can bite; and she runs swiftly, and her eyes shine like candles."

93. Without a hiding-place, or the heliotrope, a precious stone of great virtue against poisons, and supposed to render the wearer invisible. Upon this latter vulgar error is founded Boccaccio's comical story of Calandrino and his friends Bruno and Buffulmacco, Decam., Gior. VIII., Nov. 3.

107. Brunetto Latini, Tresor I. v. 164, says of the Phœnix: "He goeth to a good tree, savory and of good odor, and maketh a pile thereof, to which he setteth fire, and entereth straightway into it toward the rising of the sun."

And Milton, Samson Agonistes, 1697:

"So Virtue, given for lost,
Depressed and overthrown, as seemed,
Like that self-begotten bird
In the Arabian woods embost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay erewhile a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teemed,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deemed;
And, though her body die, her fame survives
A secular bird ages of lives."

114. Any obstruction, "such as the epilepsy," says Benvenuto. "Gouts and dropsies, catarrhs and oppilations," says Jeremy Taylor.

125. Vanni Fucci, who calls himself a mule, was a bastard son of Fuccio de' Lazzari. All the commentators paint him in the darkest colors. Dante had known him as "a man of blood and wrath," and seems to wonder he is here, and not in the circle of the Violent, or of the Irascible. But his great crime was the robbery of a sacristy. Benvenuto da Imola relates the story in detail. He speaks of him as a man of depraved life, many of whose misdeeds went unpunished, because he was of noble family. Being banished from Pistoia for his crimes, he returned to the city one night of the Carnival, and was in company with eighteen other revellers, among whom was Vanni della Nona, a notary; when, not content with their insipid diversions, he stole away with two companions to the church of San Giacomo, and, finding its custodians absent, or asleep with feasting and drinking, he entered the sacristy and robbed it of all its precious jewels. These he secreted in the house of the notary, which was close at hand, thinking that on account of his honest repute no suspicion would fall upon him. A certain Rampino was arrested for the theft, and put to the torture; when Vanni Fucci, having escaped to Monte Carelli, beyond the Florentine jurisdiction, sent a messenger to Rampino's father, confessing all the circumstances of the crime. Hereupon the notary was seized "on the first Monday in Lent, as he was going to a sermon in the church of the Minorite Friars," and was hanged for the theft, and Rampino set at liberty.

No one has a good word to say for Vanni Fucci, except the Canonico Crescimbeni, who, in the Comentarj to the Istoria della Volg. Poesia, II. ii., p. 99, counts him among the Italian Poets, and speaks of him as a man of great courage and gallantry, and a leader of the Neri party of Pistoia, in 1300. He smooths over Dante's invectives by remarking that Dante "makes not too honorable mention of him in the Comedy"; and quotes a sonnet of his, which is pathetic from its utter despair and self-reproach:—

"For I have lost the good I might have had
Through little wit, and not of mine own will."

It is like the wail of a lost soul, and the same in tone as the words which Dante here puts into his mouth. Dante may have heard him utter similar self-accusations while living, and seen on his face the blush of shame, which covers it here.

143. The Neri were banished from Pistoia in 1301; the Bianchi, from Florence in 1302.

145. This vapor or lightning flash from Val di Magra is the Marquis Malaspini, and the "turbid clouds" are the banished Neri of Pistoia, whom he is to gather about him to defeat the Bianchi at Campo Piceno, the old battle-field of Catiline. As Dante was of the Bianchi party, this prophecy of impending disaster and overthrow could only give him pain. See Canto VI. Note 65.


CANTO XXV.

1. The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

2. This vulgar gesture of contempt consists in thrusting the thumb between the first and middle fingers. It is the same that the ass-driver made at Dante in the street; Sacchetti, Nov. CXV.: "When he was a little way off, he turned round to Dante, and, thrusting out his tongue and making a fig at him with his hand, said, 'Take that.'"

Villani, VI. 5, says: "On the Rock of Carmignano there was a tower seventy yards high, and upon it two marble arms, the hands of which were making the figs at Florence." Others say these hands were on a finger-post by the road-side.

In the Merry Wives of Windsor, I. 3, Pistol says: "Convey, the wise it call; Steal! foh; a fico for the phrase!" And Martino, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Widow, V. 1:—

"The fig of everlasting obloquy
Go with him."

10. Pistoia is supposed to have been founded by the soldiers of Catiline. Brunetto Latini, Tresor, I. i. 37, says: "They found Catiline at the foot of the mountains and he had his army and his people in that place where is now the city of Pestoire. There was Catiline conquered in battle, and he and his were slain; also a great part of the Romans were killed. And on account of the pestilence of that great slaughter the city was called Pestoire."

The Italian proverb says, Pistoia la ferrigna, iron Pistoia, or Pistoia the pitiless.

15. Capaneus, Canto XIV. 44.

19. See Canto XIII. Note 9.

25. Cacus was the classic Giant Despair, who had his cave in Mount Aventine, and stole a part of the herd of Geryon, which Hercules had brought to Italy. Virgil, Æneid, VIII., Dryden's Tr.:—

"See yon huge cavern, yawning wide around,
Where still the shattered mountain spreads the ground:
That spacious hold grim Cacus once possessed,
Tremendous fiend! half human, half a beast:
Deep, deep as hell, the dismal dungeon lay,
Dark and impervious to the beams of day.
With copious slaughter smoked the purple floor,
Pale heads hung horrid on the lofty door,
Dreadful to view! and dropped with crimson gore."

28. Dante makes a Centaur of Cacus, and separates him from the others because he was fraudulent as well as violent. Virgil calls him only a monster, a half-man, Semihominis Caci facies.

35. Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, and Puccio Sciancato.

38. The story of Cacus, which Virgil was telling.

43. Cianfa Donati, a Florentine nobleman. He appears immediately, as a serpent with six feet, and fastens upon Agnello Brunelleschi.

65. Some commentators contend that in this line papiro does not mean paper, but a lamp-wick made of papyrus. This destroys the beauty and aptness of the image, and rather degrades

"The leaf of the reed,
Which has grown through the clefts in the ruins of ages."

73. These four lists, or hands, are the fore feet of the serpent and the arms of Agnello.

76. Shakespeare, in the "Additional Poems to Chester's Love's Martyrs," Knight's Shakespeare, VII. 193, speaks of "Two distincts, division none"; and continues:—

"Property was thus appalled
That the self was not the same,
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was called.

"Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either neither,
Simple were so well compounded."

83. This black serpent is Guercio Cavalcanti, who changes form with Buoso degli Abati.

95. Lucan, Phars., IX., Rowe's Tr.:—

"But soon a fate more sad with new surprise
From the first object turns their wondering eyes.
Wretched Sabellus by a Seps was stung:
Fixed on his leg with deadly teeth it hung.
Sudden the soldier shook it from the wound,
Transfixed and nailed it to the barren ground.
Of all the dire, destructive serpent race,
None have so much of death, though none are less.
For straight around the part the skin withdrew,
The flesh and shrinking sinews backward flew,
And left the naked bones exposed to view.
The spreading poisons all the parts confound,
And the whole body sinks within the wound.

·····

Small relics of the mouldering mass were left,
At once of substance as of form bereft;
Dissolved, the whole in liquid poison ran,
And to a nauseous puddle shrunk the man.

·····

So snows dissolved by southern breezes run,
So melts the wax before the noonday sun.
Nor ends the wonder here; though flames are known
To waste the flesh, yet still they spare the bone:
Here none were left, no least remains were seen,
No marks to show that once the man had been.

····

A fate of different kind Nasidius found,—
A burning Prester gave the deadly wound,
And straight a sudden flame began to spread,
And paint his visage with a glowing red.
With swift expansion swells the bloated skin,—
Naught but an undistinguished mass is seen,
While the fair human form lies lost within;
The puffy poison spreads and heaves around,
Till all the man is in the monster drowned.
No more the steely plate his breast can stay,
But yields, and gives the bursting poison way.
Not waters so, when fire the rage supplies,
Bubbling on heaps, in boiling caldrons rise;
Nor swells the stretching canvas half so fast,
When the sails gather all the driving blast,
Strain the tough yards, and bow the lofty mast.
The various parts no longer now are known,
One headless, formless heap remains alone."

97. Ovid, Metamorph., IV., Eusden's Tr.:—

"'Come, my Harmonia, come, thy face recline
Down to my face: still touch what still is mine.
O let these hands, while hands, be gently pressed,
While yet the serpent has not all possessed.'
More he had spoke, but strove to speak in vain,—
The forky tongue refused to tell his pain,
And learned in hissings only to complain.
"Then shrieked Harmonia, 'Stay, my Cadmus, stay!
Glide not in such a monstrous shape away!
Destruction, like impetuous waves, rolls on.
Where are thy feet, thy legs, thy shoulders, gone?
Changed is thy visage, changed is all thy frame,—
Cadmus is only Cadmus now in name.
Ye Gods! my Cadmus to himself restore,
Or me like him transform,—I ask no more.'"

And V., Maynwaring's Tr.:—

"The God so near, a chilly sweat possessed
My fainting limbs, at every pore expressed;
My strength distilled in drops, my hair in dew,
My form was changed, and all my substance new:
Each motion was a stream, and my whole frame
Turned to a fount, which still preserves my name."

See also Shelley's Arethusa:

"Arethusa arose
From her couch of snows
In the Acroceraunian mountains,—
From cloud and from crag
With many a jag
Shepherding her bright fountains.
She leapt down the rocks,
With her rainbow locks
Streaming among the streams;
Her steps paved with green
The downward ravine
Which slopes to the western gleams;
And gliding and springing,
She went, ever singing,
In murmurs as soft as sleep.
The Earth seemed to love her,
And Heaven smiled above her,
As she lingered towards the deep."

144. Some editions read la penna, the pen, instead of la lingua, the tongue.

151. Gaville was a village in the Valdarno, where Guercio Cavalcanti was murdered. The family took vengeance upon the inhabitants in the old Italian style, thus causing Gaville to lament the murder.

 

CANTO XXVI.

1. The Eighth Bolgia, in which Fraudulent Counsellors are punished.

4. Of these five Florentine nobles, Cianfa Donati, Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, and Guercio Cavalcanti, nothing is known but what Dante tells us. Perhaps that is enough.

7. See Purg. IX. 13:—

"Just at the hour when her sad lay begins
The little swallow, near unto the morning,
Perchance in memory of her former woes,
And when the mind of man, a wanderer
More from the flesh, and less by thought imprisoned,
Almost prophetic in its visions is."

9. The disasters soon to befall Florence, and in which even the neighboring town of Prato would rejoice, to mention no others. These disasters were the fall of the wooden bridge of Carraia, with a crowd upon it, witnessing a Miracle Play on the Arno; the strife of the Bianchi and Neri; and the great fire of 1304. See Villani, VIII. 70, 71. Napier, Florentine History, I. 394, gives this account:—

"Battles first began between the Cerchi and Giugni at their houses in the Via del Garbo; they fought day and night, and with the aid of the Cavalcanti and Antellesi the former subdued all that quarter: a thousand rural adherents strengthened their bands, and that day might have seen the Neri's destruction if an unforseen disaster had not turned the scale. A certain dissolute priest, called Neri Abati, prior of San Piero Scheraggio, false to his family and in concert with the Black chiefs, consented to set fire to the dwellings of his own kinsmen in Orto-san-Michele; the flames, assisted by faction, spread rapidly over the richest and most crowded part of Florence: shops, warehouses, towers, private dwellings and palaces, from the old to the new market-place, from Vacchereccia to Porta Santa Maria and the Ponte Vecchio, all was one broad sheet of fire: more than nineteen hundred houses were consumed; plunder and devastation revelled unchecked amongst the flames, whole races were reduced in one moment to beggary, and vast magazines of the richest merchandise were destroyed. The Cavalcanti, one of the most opulent families in Florence, beheld their whole property consumed, and lost all courage; they made no attempt to save it, and, after almost gaining possession of the city, were finally overcome by the opposite faction."

10. Macbeth, I. 7:—

"If it were done when 't is done, then 't were well
It were done quickly."

23. See Parad. XII. 112:—

"O glorious stars! O light impregnated
With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
All of my genius, whatsoe'er it be."

24. I may not balk or deprive myself of this good.

34. The Prophet Elisha, 2 Kings ii. 23:—

"And he went up from thence unto Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him. Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord: and there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."

35. 2 Kings ii. 11:—

"And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

54. These two sons of Œdipus, Eteocles and Polynices, were so hostile to each other, that, when after death their bodies were burned on the same funeral pile, the flames swayed apart, and the ashes separated. Statius, Thebaid, XII. 430, Lewis's Tr.:—

"Again behold the brothers! When the fire
Pervades their limbs in many a curling spire,
The vast hill trembles, and the intruder's corse
Is driven from the pile with sudden force.
The flames, dividing at the point, ascend,
And at each other adverse rays extend.
Thus when the ruler of the infernal state,
Pale-visaged Dis, commits to stern debate
The sister-fiends, their brands, held forth to fight,
Now clash, then part, and shed a transient light."

56. The most cunning of the Greeks at the siege of Troy, now united in their punishment, as before in warlike wrath.

59. As Troy was overcome by the fraud of the wooden horse, it was in a poetic sense the gateway by which Æneas went forth to establish the Roman empire in Italy.

62. Deidamia was a daughter of Lycomedes of Scyros, at whose court Ulysses found Achilles, disguised in woman's attire, and enticed him away to the siege of Troy, telling him that, according to the oracle, the city could not be taken without him, but not telling him that, according to the same oracle, he would lose his life there.

63. Ulysses and Diomed together stole the Palladium, or statue of Pallas, at Troy, the safeguard and protection of the city.

75. The Greeks scorned all other nations as "outside barbarians." Even Virgil, a Latian, has to plead with Ulysses the merit of having praised him in the Æneid.

108. The Pillars of Hercules at the straits of Gibraltar; Abyla on the African shore, and Gibraltar on the Spanish; in which the popular mind has lost its faith, except as symbolized in the columns on the Spanish dollar, with the legend. Plus ultra.

Brunetto Latini, Tesor. IX. 119:—

"Appresso questo mare,
Vidi diritto stare
Gran colonne, le quali
Vi mise per segnali
Ercules il potente,
Per mostrare alla gente
Che loco sia finata
La terra e terminata."

125. Odyssey, XI. 155: "Well-fitted oars, which are also wings to ships."

127. Humboldt, Personal Narrative, II. 19, Miss Williams's Tr., has this passage: "From the time we entered the torrid zone, we were never wearied with admiring, every night, the beauty of the Southern sky, which, as we advanced toward the south, opened new constellations to our view. We feel an indescribable sensation, when, on approaching the equator, and particularly on passing from one hemisphere to the other, we see those stars, which we have contemplated from our infancy, progressively sink, and finally disappear. Nothing awakens in the traveller a livelier remembrance of the immense distance by which he is separated from his country, than the aspect of an unknown firmament. The grouping of the stars of the first magnitude, some scattered nebula, rivalling in splendor the milky way, and tracks of space remarkable for their extreme blackness, give a particular physiognomy to the Southern sky. This sight fills with admiration even those who, uninstructed in the branches of accurate science, feel the same emotion of delight in the contemplation of the heavenly vault, as in the view of a beautiful landscape, or a majestic site. A traveller has no need of being a botanist, to recognize the torrid zone on the mere aspect of its vegetation; and without having acquired any notions of astronomy, without any acquaintance with the celestial charts of Flamstead and De la Caille, he feels he is not in Europe, when he sees the immense constellation of the Ship, or the phosphorescent clouds of Magellan, arise on the horizon."

142. Compare Tennyson's Ulysses:

"There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me,—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and, sitting well in order, smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts.
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

 

CANTO XXVII.

1. The subject of the preceding Canto is continued in this.

7. The story of the Brazen Bull of Perillus is thus told in the Gesta Romanorum. Tale 48, Swan's Tr.:—

"Dionysius records, that when Perillus desired to become an artificer of Phalaris, a cruel and tyrannical king who depopulated the kingdom, and was guilty of many dreadful excesses, he presented to him, already too well skilled in cruelty, a brazen bull, which he had just constructed. In one of its sides there was a secret door, by which those who were sentenced should enter and be burnt to death. The idea was, that the sounds produced by the agony of the sufferer confined within should resemble the roaring of a bull; and thus, while nothing human struck the ear, the mind should be unimpressed by a feeling of mercy. The king highly applauded the invention, and said, 'Friend, the value of thy industry is yet untried: more cruel even than the people account me, thou thyself shalt be the first victim.'"

Also in Gower, Confes. Amant., VII.:—

"He had of counsell many one,
Among the whiche there was one,
By name which Berillus hight.
And he bethought him how he might
Unto the tirant do liking.
And of his own ymagining
Let forge and make a bulle of bras,
And on the side cast there was
A dore, where a man may inne,
Whan he his peine shall beginne
Through fire, which that men put under.
And all this did he for a wonder,
That whan a man for peine cride,
The bull of bras, which gapeth wide,
It shulde seme, as though it were
A bellewing in a mannes ere
And nought the crieng of a man.
But he, which alle sleightes can,
The devil, that lith in helle fast,
Him that it cast hath overcast,
That for a trespas, which he dede,
He was put in the same stede.
And was himself the first of alle,
Which was into that peine falle
That he for other men ordeigneth."

21. Virgil being a Lombard, Dante suggests that, in giving Ulysses and Diomed license to depart, he had used the Lombard dialect, saying, "Issa t' en va." See Canto XXIII. Note 7.

28. The inhabitants of the province of Romagna, of which Ravenna is the capital.

29. It is the spirit of Guido da Montefeltro that speaks. The city of Montefeltro lies between Urbino and that part of the Apennines in which the Tiber rises. Count Guido was a famous warrior, and one of the great Ghibelline leaders. He tells his own story sufficiently in detail in what follows.

40. Lord Byron, Don Juan, III. 105, gives this description of Ravenna, with an allusion to Boccaccio's Tale, versified by Dryden under the title of Theodore and Honoria:

"Sweet hour of twilight!—in the solitude
Of the pine forest, and the silent shore
Which bounds Ravenna's immemorial wood,
Rooted where once the Adrian wave flow'd o'er,
To where the last Cæsarean fortress stood,
Ever-green forest! which Boccaccio's lore
And Dryden's lay made haunted ground to me,
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee!

"The shrill cicalas, people of the pine,
Making their summer lives one ceaseless song,
Were the sole echoes, save my steed's and mine,
And vesper-bell's that rose the boughs along;
The spectre huntsman of Onesti's line,
His hell-dogs, and their chase, and the fair throng,
Which learned from this example not to fly
From a true lover, shadowed my mind's eye."

Dryden's Theodore and Honoria begins with these words:—

"Of all the cities in Romanian lands,
The chief, and most renowned, Ravenna stands,
Adorned in ancient times with arms and arts,
And rich inhabitants, with generous hearts."

It was at Ravenna that Dante passed the last years of his life, and there he died and was buried.

41. The arms of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna, Dante's friend, and father (or nephew) of Francesca da Rimini, were an eagle half white in a field of azure, and half red in a field of gold. Cervia is a small town some twelve miles from Ravenna.

43. The city of Forlì, where Guido da Montefeltro defeated and slaughtered the French in 1282. See Canto XX. Note 118.

45. A Green Lion was the coat of arms of the Ordelaffi, then Lords of Forlì.

46. Malatesta, father and son, tyrants of Rimini, who murdered Montagna, a Ghibelline leader. Verrucchio was their castle, near the city. Of this family were the husband and lover of Francesca. Dante calls them mastiffs, because of their fierceness, making "wimbles of their teeth" in tearing and devouring.

49. The cities of Faenza on the Lamone, and Imola on the Santerno. They were ruled by Mainardo, surnamed "the Devil," whose coat of arms was a lion azure in a white field.

52. The city of Cesena.

67. Milton, Parad. Lost, III. 479:—

"Dying put on the weeds of Dominic,
Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised."

70. Boniface VIII., who in line 85 is called "the Prince of the new Pharisees."

81. Dante, Convito, IV. 28, quoting Cicero, says; "Natural death is as it were a haven and rest to us after long navigation. And the noble soul is like a good mariner; for he, when he draws near the port, lowers his sails, and enters it softly with feeble steerage."

86. This Papal war, which was waged against Christians, and not against pagan Saracens, nor unbelieving Jews, nor against the renegades who had helped them at the siege of Acre, or given them aid and comfort by traffic, is thus described by Mr. Norton, Travel and Study in Italy, p. 263:—

"This 'war near the Lateran' was a war with the great family of Colonna. Two of the house were Cardinals. They had been deceived in the election, and were rebellious under the rule of Boniface. The Cardinals of the great Ghibelline house took no pains to conceal their ill-will toward the Guelf Pope. Boniface, indeed, accused them of plotting with his enemies for his overthrow. The Colonnas, finding Rome unsafe, had withdrawn to their strong town of Palestrina, whence they could issue forth at will for plunder, and where they could give shelter to those who shared in their hostility toward the Pope. On the other hand, Boniface, not trusting himself in Rome, withdrew to the secure height of Orvieto, and thence, on the 14th of December, 1297, issued a terrible bull for a crusade against them, granting plenary indulgence to all, (such was the Christian temper of the times, and so literally were the violent seizing upon the kingdom of Heaven,) granting plenary indulgence to all who would take up arms against these rebellious sons of the Church and march against their chief stronghold, their 'alto seggio' of Palestrina. They and their adherents had already been excommunicated and put under the ban of the Church; they had been stripped of all dignities and privileges; their property had been confiscated; and they were now by this bull placed in the position of enemies, not of the Pope alone, but of the Church Universal. Troops gathered against them from all quarters of Papal Italy. Their lands were ravaged, and they themselves shut up within their stronghold; but for a long time they held out in their ancient high-walled mountain-town. It was to gain Palestrina that Boniface 'had war near the Lateran.' The great church and palace of the Lateran, standing on the summit of the Cœlian Hill, close to the city wall, overlooks the Campagna, which, in broken levels of brown and green and purple fields, reaches to the base of the encircling mountains. Twenty miles away, crowning the top and clinging to the side of one of the last heights of the Sabine range, are the gray walls and roofs of Palestrina. It was a far more conspicuous place at the close of the thirteenth century than it is now; for the great columns of the famous temple of Fortune still rose above the town, and the ancient citadel kept watch over it from its high rock. At length, in September, 1298, the Colonnas, reduced to the hardest extremities, became ready for peace. Boniface promised largely. The two Cardinals presented themselves before him at Rieti, in coarse brown dresses, and with ropes around their necks, in token of their repentance and submission. The Pope gave them not only pardon and absolution, but hope of being restored to their titles and possessions. This was the 'lunga promessa con l' attender corto'; for, while the Colonnas were retained near him, and these deceptive hopes held out to them, Boniface sent the Bishop of Orvieto to take possession of Palestrina, and to destroy it utterly, leaving only the church to stand as a monument above its ruins. The work was done thoroughly;—a plough was drawn across the site of the unhappy town, and salt scattered in the furrow, that the land might thenceforth be desolate. The inhabitants were removed from the mountain to the plain, and there forced to build new homes for themselves, which, in their turn, two years afterwards, were thrown down and burned by order of the implacable Pope. This last piece of malignity was accomplished in 1300, the year of the Jubilee, the year in which Dante was in Rome, and in which he saw Guy of Montefeltro, the counsellor of Boniface in deceit, burning in Hell."

94. The story of Sylvester and Constantine is one of the legends of the Legenda Aurea. The part of it relating to the Emperor's baptism is thus condensed by Mrs. Jameson in her Sacred and Legendary Art, II. 313:—

"Sylvester was born at Rome of virtuous parents; and at a time when Constantine was still in the darkness of idolatry and persecuted the Christians, Sylvester, who had been elected Bishop of Rome, fled from the persecution, and dwelt for some time in a cavern, near the summit of Monte Calvo. While he lay there concealed, the Emperor was attacked by a horrible leprosy: and having called to him the priests of his false gods, they advised that he should bathe himself in a bath of children's blood, and three thousand children were collected for this purpose. And as he proceeded in his chariot to the place where the bath was to be prepared, the mothers of these children threw themselves in his way with dishevelled hair, weeping, and crying aloud for mercy. Then Constantine was moved to tears, and he ordered his chariot to stop, and he said to his nobles and to his attendants who were around him, 'Far better is it that I should die, than cause the death of these innocents!' And then he commanded that the children should be restored to their mothers with great gifts, in recompense of what they had suffered; so they went away full of joy and gratitude, and the Emperor returned to his palace.

"On that same night, as he lay asleep, St. Peter and St. Paul appeared at his bedside: and they stretched their hands over him and said, 'Because thou hast feared to spill the innocent blood, Jesus Christ has sent us to bring thee good counsel. Send to Sylvester, who lies hidden among the mountains, and he shall show thee the pool in which, having washed three times, thou shalt be clean from thy leprosy; and henceforth thou shalt adore the God of the Christians, and thou shalt cease to persecute and to oppress them.' Then Constantine, awaking from this vision, sent his soldiers in search of Sylvester. And when they took him, he supposed that it was to lead him to death; nevertheless he went cheerfully: and when he appeared before the Emperor, Constantine arose and saluted him, and said, 'I would know of thee who are those two gods who appeared to me in the visions of the night?' And Sylvester replied, 'They were not gods, but the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.' Then Constantine desired that he would show him the effigies of these two apostles; and Sylvester sent for two pictures of St. Peter and St. Paul, which were in the possession of certain pious Christians. Constantine, having beheld them, saw that they were the same who had appeared to him in his dream. Then Sylvester baptized him, and he came out of the font cured of his malady."

Gower also, Confes. Amantis, II., tells the story at length:—

"And in the while it was begunne
A light, as though it were a sunne,
Fro heven Into the place come
Where that he toke his christendome,
And ever amonge the holy tales
Lich as they weren fisches scales
They fellen from him now and efte,
Till that there was nothing belefte
Of all this grete maladie."

96. Montefeltro was in the Franciscan monastery at Assisi.

102. See Note 86 of this Canto. Dante calls the town Penestrino from its Latin name Præneste.

105. Pope Celestine V., who made "the great refusal," or abdication of the papacy. See Canto III. Note 59.

118. Gower, Confes. Amantis, II.:—

"For shrifte stant of no value
To him, that woll him nought vertue,
To leve of vice the folie,
For worde is wind, but the maistrie
Is, that a man himself defende
Of thing whiche is nought to commende,
Wherof ben fewe now a day."


CANTO XXVIII.

1. The Ninth Bolgia, in which are punished the Schismatics, and

"where is paid the fee
By those who sowing discord win their burden";

a burden difficult to describe even with untrammelled words, or in plain prose, free from the fetters of rhyme.

9. Apulia, or La Puglia, is in the southeastern part of Italy, "between the spur and the heel of the boot."

10. The people slain in the conquest of Apulia by the Romans. Of the battle of Maleventum, Livy, X. 15, says:—

"Here likewise there was more of flight than of bloodshed. Two thousand of the Apulians were slain, and Decius, despising such an enemy, led his legions into Samnium."

11. Hannibal's famous battle at Cannæ, in the second Punic war. According to Livy, XXII. 49, "The number of the slain is computed at forty thousand foot, and two thousand seven hundred horse."

He continues, XXII. 51, Baker's Tr.: "On the day following, as soon as light appeared, his troops applied themselves to the collecting of the spoils, and viewing the carnage made, which was such as shocked even enemies; so many thousand Romans, horsemen and footmen, lay promiscuously on the field, as chance had thrown them together, either in the battle, or flight. Some, whom their wounds, being pinched by the morning cold, had roused from their posture, were put to death by the enemy, as they were rising up, all covered with blood, from the midst of the heaps of carcasses. Some they found lying alive, with their thighs and hams cut, who, stripping their necks and throats, desired them to spill what remained of their blood. Some were found, with their heads buried in the earth, in holes which it appeared they had made for themselves, and covering their faces with earth thrown over them, had thus been suffocated. The attention of all was particularly attracted by a living Numidian with his nose and ears mangled, stretched under a dead Roman, who lay over him, and who, when his hands had been rendered unable to hold a weapon, his rage being exasperated to madness, had expired in the act of tearing his antagonist with his teeth."

When Mago, son of Hamilcar, carried the news of the victory to Carthage, "in conformation of his joyful intelligence," says the same historian, XXIII. 12, "he ordered the gold rings taken from the Romans to be poured down in the porch of the senate-house, and of these there was so great a heap that, according to some writers, on being measured, they filled three pecks and a half; but the more general account, and likewise the more probable is, that they amounted to no more than one peck. He also explained to them, in order to show the greater extent of the slaughter, that none but those of equestrian rank, and of these only the principal, wore this ornament."

14. Robert Guiscard, the renowned Norman conqueror of southern Italy. Dante places him in the Fifth Heaven of Paradise, in the planet Mars. For an account of his character and achievements see Gibbon, Ch. LVI. See also Parad. XVIII. Note 20.

Matthew Paris, Giles's Tr., I. 171, A. D. 1239, gives the following account of the manner in which he captured the monastery of Monte Cassino:—

"In the same year, the monks of Monte Cassino (where St. Benedict had planted a monastery), to the number of thirteen, came to the Pope in old and torn garments, with dishevelled hair and unshorn beards, and with tears in their eyes; and on being introduced to the presence of his Holiness, they fell at his feet, and laid a complaint that the Emperor had ejected them from their house at Monte Cassino. This mountain was impregnable, and indeed inaccessible to any one unless at the will of the monks and others who dwelt on it; however R. Guiscard, by a device, pretending that he was dead and being carried thither on a bier, thus took possession of the monks' castle. When the Pope heard this, he concealed his grief, and asked the reason; to which the monks replied, 'Because, in obedience to you, we excommunicated the Emperor.' The Pope then said, 'Your obedience shall save you'; on which the monks went away without receiving anything more from the Pope."

16. The battle of Ceperano, near Monte Cassino, was fought in 1265, between Charles of Anjou and Manfred, king of Apulia and Sicily. The Apulians, seeing the battle going against them, deserted their king and passed over to the enemy.

17. The battle of Tagliacozzo in Abruzzo was fought in 1268, between Charles of Anjou and Curradino or Conradin, nephew of Manfred. Charles gained the victory by the strategy of Count Alardo di Valleri, who,

"weaponless himself,
Made arms ridiculous."

This valiant but wary crusader persuaded the king to keep a third of his forces in reserve; and when the soldiers of Curradino, thinking they had won the day, were scattered over the field in pursuit of plunder, Charles fell upon them, and routed them.

Alardo is mentioned in the Cento Novelle Antiche, Nov. LVII., as "celebrated for his wonderful prowess even among the chief nobles, and no less esteemed for his singular virtues than for his courage."

31. Gibbon, ch. L., says: "At the conclusion of the Life of Mahomet, it may perhaps be expected that I should balance his faults and virtues, that I should decide whether the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to that extraordinary man. Had I been intimately conversant with the son of Abdallah, the task would still be difficult, and the success uncertain; at the distance of twelve centuries, I darkly contemplate his shade through a cloud of religious incense; and could I truly delineate the portrait of an hour, the fleeting resemblance would not equally apply to the solitary of Mount Hera, to the preacher of Mecca, and to the conqueror of Arabia. . . . .From enthusiasm to imposture the step is perilous and slippery; the dæmon of Socrates affords a memorable instance how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud."

Of Ali, the son-in-law and faithful follower of Mahomet, he goes on to say: "He united the qualifications of a poet, a soldier, and a saint; his wisdom still breathes in a collection of moral and religious sayings; and every antagonist, in the combats of the tongue or of the sword, was subdued by his eloquence and valor. From the first hour of his mission to the last rites of his funeral, the apostle was never forsaken by a generous friend, whom he delighted to name his brother, his vicegerent, and the faithful Aaron of a second Moses."

55. Fra Dolcino was one of the early social and religious reformers in the North of Italy. His sect bore the name of "Apostles," and its chief, if not only, heresy was a desire to bring back the Church to the simplicity of the apostolic times. In 1305 he withdrew with his followers to the mountains overlooking the Val Sesia in Piedmont, where he was pursued and besieged by the Church party, and, after various fortunes of victory and defeat, being reduced by "stress of snow" and famine, was taken prisoner, together with his companion, the beautiful Margaret of Trent. Both were burned at Vercelli on the 1st of June, 1307. This "last act of the tragedy" is thus described by Mr. Mariotti, Historical Memoir of Fra Dolcino and his Times, p. 290:—

"Margaret of Trent enjoyed the precedence due to her sex. She was first led out into a spot near Vercelli, bearing the name of 'Arena Servi,' or more properly 'Arena Cervi,' in the sands, that is, of the torrent Cervo, which has its confluent with the Sesia at about one mile above the city. A high stake had been erected in a conspicuous part of the place. To this she was fastened, and a pile of wood was reared at her feet. The eyes of the inhabitants of town and country were upon her. On her also were the eyes of Dolcino. She was burnt alive with slow fire.

"Next came the turn of Dolcino: he was seated high on a car drawn by oxen, and thus paraded from street to street all over Vercelli. His tormentors were all around him. Beside the car, iron pots were carried, filled with burning charcoals; deep in the charcoals were iron pincers, glowing at white heat. These pincers were continually applied to the various parts of Dolcino's naked body, all along his progress, till all his flesh was torn piecemeal from his limbs: when every bone was bare and the whole town was perambulated, they drove the still living carcass back to the same arena, and threw it on the burning mass in which Margaret had been consumed."

Farther on he adds:—

"Divested of all fables which ignorance, prejudice, or open calumny involved it in, Dolcino's scheme amounted to nothing more than a reformation, not of religion, but of the Church; his aim was merely the destruction of the temporal power of the clergy, and he died for his country no less than for his God. The wealth, arrogance, and corruption of the Papal See appeared to him, as it appeared to Dante, as it appeared to a thousand other patriots before and after him, an eternal hindrance to the union, peace, and welfare of Italy, as it was a perpetual check upon the progress of the human race, and a source of infinite scandal to the piety of earnest believers. . . . .

"To this clear mission of Italian protestantism Dolcino was true throughout. If we bring the light of even the clumsiest criticism to bear on his creed, even such as it has been summed up by the ignorance or malignity of men who never utter his name without an imprecation, we have reason to be astonished at the little we find in it that may be construed into a wilful deviation from the strictest orthodoxy. Luther and Calvin would equally have repu- diated him. He was neither a Pres- byterian nor an Episcopalian, but an uncompromising, stanch Papist. His was, most eminently, the heresy of those whom we have designated as 'literal Christians.' He would have the Gospel strictly — perhaps blindly —adhered to. Neither was that, in the abstract, an unpardonable offence in the eyes of the Romanism of those times — witness St. Francis and his early flock — provided he had limited himself to make Gospel-law binding upon himself and his followers only. But Dolcino must needs enforce it upon the whole Christian community, en- force it especially on those who set up as teachers of the Gospel, on those who laid claim to Apostolical succes- sion. That was the error that damned him."

Of Margaret he still farther says, referring to some old manuscript as authority:—

"She was known by the emphatic appellation of Margaret the Beautiful. It is added, that she was an orphan, heiress of noble parents, and had been placed for her education in a monastery of St. Catherine in Trent ; that there Dolcino — who had also been a monk, or at least a novice, in a convent of the Order of the Humiliati, in the same town, and had been expelled in consequence either of his heretic te- nets, or of immoral conduct — suc- ceeded nevertheless in becoming do- mesticated in the nunnery of St. Cath- erine, as a steward or agent to the nuns, and there accomplished the fascination and abduction of the wealthy heiress."

59. Val Sesia, among whose moun- tains Fra Dolcino was taken prisoner, is in the diocese of Novara.

73. A Bolognese, who stirred up dissensions among the citizens.

74. The plain of Lombardy sloping down two hundred miles and more, from Vercelli in Piedmont to Marcabo, a village near Ravenna.

76. Guido del Cassero and Angio- lello da Cagnano, two honorable citi- zens of Fano, going to Rimini by invitation of Malatestino, were by his order thrown into the sea and drowned, as here prophesied or narrated, near the village of Cattolica on the Adriatic.

85. Malatestino had lost one eye.

86. Rimini.

89. Focara is a headland near Cat- tolica, famous for dangerous winds, to be preserved from which mariners of- fered up vows and prayers. These men will not need to do it ; they will not reach that cape.

102. Curio, the banished Tribune, who, fleeing to Cjesar's camp on the Rubicon, urged him to advance upon Rome. Lucan, Pharsalia, I., Rowe's Tr.:—

"To Cæsar's camp the busy Curio fled;
Curio, a speaker turbulent and bold,
Of venal eloquence, that served for gold,
And principles that might be bought and sold.

·····

To Cæsar thus, while thousand cares infest,
Revolving round the warrior's anxious breast,
His speech the ready orator addressed.

·····

'Haste, then, thy towering eagles on their way;
When fair occasion calls, 't is fatal to delay.'"

106. Mosca degl' Uberti, or dei Lamberti, who, by advising the mur- der of Buondelmonte, gave rise to the parties of Guelf and Ghibelline, which so long divided Florence. See Canto X. Note 51.

134. Bertrand de Born, the turbu- lent Troubadour of the last half of the twelfth century, was alike skilful with his pen and his sword, and passed his life in alternately singing and fighting, and in stirring up dissension and strife among his neighbors. He is the author of that spirited war-song, well known to all readers of Troubadour verse, beginning

"The beautiful spring delights me well, When flowers and leaves are growing j And it pleases my heart to hear the swell Of the birds' sweet chorus flowing In the echoing wood ; And I love to see, all scattered around. Pavilions and tents on the martial ground ; And my spirit finds it good. To see, on the level plains beyond Gay knights and steeds caparison'd";—

and ending with a challenge to Richard Cceur de Lion, telling his minstrel Papiol to go

"And tell the Lord of Yes and No' That peace already too long has been."

"Bertrand de Born," says the old Provençal biography, published by Raynouard, Choix de Poesies Originales des Troubadours, V. 76, " was a chate- lain of the bishopric of Périgueux, Vis- count of Hautefort, a castle with nearly a thousand retainers. He had a broth- er, and would have dispossessed him of his inheritance, had it not been for the king of England. He was always at war with all his neighbors, with the Count of Perigueux, and with the Vis- count of Limoges, and with his brother Constantine, and with Richard, when he was Count of Poitou. He was a good cavalier, and a good warrior, and a good lover, and a good troubadour ; and well informed and well spoken ; and knew well how to bear good and evil fortune. Whenever he wished, he was master of King Henry of England and of his son; but always desired that father and son should be at war with each other, and one brother with the other. And he always wished that the king of France and the king of Eng- land should be at variance ; and if there were either peace or truce, straightway he sought and endeavored by his sat- ires to undo the peace, and to show how each was dishonored by it. And he had great advantages and great mis- fortunes by thus exciting feuds between them. He wrote many satires, but only two songs. The king of Aragon called the songs of Giraud de Borneil the wives of Bertrand de Born's sat- ires. And he who sang for him bore the name of Papiol. And he was handsome and courteous ; and called the Count of Britany, Rassa ; and the king of England, Yes and No; and his son, the young king, Marinier. And he set his whole heart on fomenting war; and embroiled the father and son of England, until the young king was killed by an arrow in a castle ot Ber- trand de Born.

"And Bertrand used to boast that he had more wits than he needed. And when the king took him prisoner, he asked him, 'Have you all your wits, for you will need them now ? ' And he answered, *I lost them all when the young king died.' Then the king wept, and pardoned him, and gave him robes, and lands, and honors. And he lived long and became a Cistercian monk."

Fauriel, Histoire de la Poesie Proven- ^ale, Adler's Tr., p. 483, quoting part of this passage, adds:—

"In this notice the old biographer indicates the dominant trait of Ber- trand's character very distinctly ; it was an unbridled passion for war. He loved it not only as the occasion for exhibiting proofs of valor, for acquir- ing power, and for winning glory, but also, and even more on account of its hazards, on account of the exaltation of courage and of life which it produced, nay, even for the sake of the tumult, the disorders, and the evils which are accustomed to follow in its train. Ber- trand de Born is the ideal of the un- disciplined and adventuresome warrior of the Middle Age, rather than that of the chevalier in the proper sense of the term."

See also Millot, Hist. Litt. des Trou- badours, I. 210, and Hist. Litt. de la France par les Bene die tins de St. Maur, continuation, XVII. 425.

Bertrand de Born, if not the best of the Troubadours, is the most prominent and striking character among them. His life is a drama full of romantic in- terest; beginning with the old castle in Gascony, " the dames, the cavaliers, the arms, the loves, the courtesy, the bold emprise " ; and ending in a Cis- tercian convent, among friars and fast- ings and penitence and prayers.

135. A vast majority of manuscripts and printed editions read in this line. Re Giovanni, King John, instead of Re Giovane, the Young King. Even Boc- caccio's copy, which he wrote out with his own hand for Petrarca, has Re Gio- vanni. Out of seventy-nine Codici examined by Barlow, he says, Study of the Divina Commedia, p. 153, "Only five were found with the correct read- ing — re giovane. . . . The reading re giovane is not found in any of the early editions, nor is it noticed by any of the early commentators." See also Ginguene, Hist. Litt. de PItalie, II. 586, where the subject is elaborately discussed, and the note of Biagioli, who takes the opposite side of the question.

Henry II. of England had four sons, all of whom were more or less rebel- lious against him. They were, Henry, surnamed Curt-Mantle, and called by the Troubadours and novelists of his time " The Young King," because he was crowned during his father's life ; Richard Coeur-de-Lion, Count of Gui- enne and Poitou ; Geoffroy, Duke of Brittany; and John Lackland. Henry was the only one of these who bore the title of king at the time in ques- tion. Bertrand de Born was on terms of intimacy with him, and speaks of him in his poems as lo Reys joves, sometimes lauding, and sometimes re- proving him. One of the best of these poems is his Complainte, on the death of Henry, which took place in 1183, from disease, say some accounts, from the bolt of a crossbow say others. He complains that he has lost " the best king that was ever born of mother"; and goes on to say, "King of the cour- teous, and emperor of the valiant, you would have been Seigneur if you had lived longer ; for you bore the name of the Young King, and were the chief and peer of youth. Ay ! hauberk and sword, and beautiful buckler, helmet and gonfalon, and purpoint and sark, and joy and love, there is none to maintain them ! " See Raynouard, Choix de Poésies, IV. 49.

In the Bible Guiot de Provins, Bar- bazan. Fabliaux et Contes, II. 518, he is spoken of as

" 11 Jones Rois, Li proux, li saiges, li cortois."

In the Cento Novelle Antiche, XVIIL, XIX., XXXV., he is called // Re Gio- z>ane ; and in Roger de Wendover's F bluer 5 of History, A, D. 1179- 1^83, " Henry the Young King."

It was to him that Bertrand de Born " gave the evil counsels," embroiling him with his father and his brothers. Therefore, when the commentators challenge us as Pistol does Shallow, " Under which king, Bezonian ? speak or die ! " I think we must answer as Shallow does, " Under King Harry."

137. See 2 Samuel xvii. 1, 2:—

"Moreover, Ahithophel said unto Absalom, let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pur- sue after David this night. And 1 will come upon him while he is weary and weak-handed, and will make him afraid ; and all the people that are with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only."

Dryden, in his poem oi Absalom and Achitopbel, gives this portrait of the latter:—

"Of these the false Achitophel was first ; A name to all succeeding ages curst; For close designs and crooked counsels fit; Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit; Restless, unfix'd in principles and place ; In power unpleas'd, impatient of disgrace : A fiery soul, which, working out its way. Fretted the pigmy body to decay, And o'er inform'd the tenement of clay."

Then he puts into the mouth of Achitophel the following description of Absalom:—

"Auspicious prince, at whose nativity Some royal planet rul'd the southern sky; Thy longing country's darling and desire ; Their cloudy pillar and their guardian fire; Their second Moses, whose extended wand Divides the seas, and shows the promised land ; Whose dawning day, in every distant age, Has exercised the sacred prophet's rage; The people's prayer, the glad diviner's theme, The young men's vision, and the old men's dream."

 

CANTO XXIX.

1. The Tenth and last "cloister of Malebolge," where

"Justice infallible
Punishes forgers,"

and falsifiers of all kinds. This Canto is devoted to the alchemists.

27. Geri del Bello was a disreputable member of the Alighieri family, and was murdered by one of the Sacchetti. His death was afterwards avenged by his brother, who in turn slew one of the Sacchetti at the door of his house.

29. Bertrand de Born.

35. Like the ghost of Ajax in the Odyssey, XI. " He answered me not at all, but went to Erebus amongst the other souls of the dead."

36. Dante seems to share the feeling of the Italian vendetta, which required retaliation from some member of the injured family.

"Among the Italians of this age," says Napier, Florentine Hist., I. Ch.VII., "and for centuries after, private offence was never forgotten until revenged, and generally involved a succession of mutual injuries; vengeance was not only considered lawful and just, but a positive duty, dishonorable to omit; and, as may be learned from ancient private journals, it was sometimes allowed to sleep for five-and-thirty years, and then suddenly struck a victim who perhaps had not yet seen the light when the original injury was inflicted."

46. The Val di Chiana, near Arezzo, was in Dante's time marshy and pestilential. Now, by the effect of drainage, it is one of the most beautiful and fruitful of the Tuscan valleys. The Maremma was and is notoriously unhealthy; see Canto XIII. Note 9, and Sardinia would seem to have shared its ill repute.

57. Forgers or falsifiers in a general sense. The "false semblaunt" of Gower, Confes. Amant., II.:—

"Of fals semblaunt if I shall telle,
Above all other it is the welle
Out of the which deceipte floweth."

They are registered here on earth to be punished hereafter.

59. The plague of Ægina is described by Ovid, Metamorph. VII., Stonestreet's Tr.:—

"Their black dry tongues are swelled, and scarce can move,
And short thick sighs from panting lungs are drove.
They gape for air, with flatt'ring hopes t' abate
Their raging flames, but that augments their heat.
No bed, no cov'ring can the wretches bear,
But on the ground, exposed to open air,
They lie, and hope to find a pleasing coolness there.
The suff'ring earth, with that oppression curst,
Returns the heat which they imparted first.

·····

"Here one, with fainting steps, does slowly creep
O'er heaps of dead, and straight augments the heap;
Another, while his strength and tongue prevailed,
Bewails his friend, and falls himself bewailed;
This with imploring looks surveys the skies,
The last dear office of his closing eyes,
But finds the Heav'ns implacable, and dies."

The birch of the Myrmidons, "who still retain the thrift of ants, though now transformed to men," is thus given in the same book:—

"As many ants the num'rous branches bear,
The same their labor, and their frugal care;
The branches too alike commotion found,
And shook th' industrious creatures on the ground,
Who by degrees (what 's scarce to be believed)
A nobler form and larger bulk received,
And on the earth walked an unusual pace,
With manly strides, and an erected face;
Their num'rous legs, and former color lost,
The insects could a human figure boast."

88. Latian, or Italian; any one of the Latin race.

109. The speaker is a certain Griffolino, an alchemist of Arezzo, who practised upon the credulity of Albert, a natural son of the Bishop of Siena. For this he was burned; but was "condemned to the last Bolgia of the ten for alchemy."

116. The inventor of the Cretan labyrinth. Ovid, Metamorph. VIII.:—

"Great Daedalus of Athens was the man
Who made the draught, and formed the wondrous plan."

Not being able to find his way out of the labyrinth, he made wings for himself and his son Icarus, and escaped by flight.

122. Speaking of the people of Siena, Forsyth, Italy, 532, says: "Vain, flighty, fanciful, they want the judgment and penetration of their Florentine neighbors; who, nationally severe, call a nail without a head chiodo Sanese. The accomplished Signora Rinieri told me, that her father, while Governor of Siena, was once stopped in his carriage by a crowd at Florence, where the mob, recognizing him, called out: 'Lasciate passare il Governatore de' matti.' A native of Siena is presently known at Florence; for his very walk, being formed to a hilly town, detects him on the plain."

125. The persons here mentioned gain a kind of immortality from Dante's verse. The Stricca, or Baldastricca, was a lawyer of Siena; and Niccolò dei Salimbeni, or Bonsignori, introduced the fashion of stuffing pheasants with cloves, or, as Benvenuto says, of roasting them at a fire of cloves. Though Dante mentions them apart, they seem, like the two others named afterwards, to have been members of the Brigata Spendereccia, or Prodigal Club, of Siena, whose extravagances are recorded by Benvenuto da Imola. This club consisted of "twelve very rich young gentlemen, who took it into their heads to do things that would make a great part of the world wonder." Accordingly each contributed eighteen thousand golden florins to a common fund, amounting in all to two hundred and sixteen thousand florins. They built a palace, in which each member had a splendid chamber, and they gave sumptuous dinners and suppers; ending their banquets sometimes by throwing all the dishes, table-ornaments, and knives of gold and silver out of the window. "This silly institution," continues Benvenuto, "lasted only ten months, the treasury being exhausted, and the wretched members became the fable and laughing-stock of all the world."

In honor of this club, Folgore da San Geminiano, a clever poet of the day (1260), wrote a series of twelve convivial sonnets, one for each month of the year, with Dedication and Conclusion. A translation of these sonnets may be found in D. G. Rossetti's Early Italian Poets. The Dedication runs as follows:—

"Unto the blithe and lordly Fellowship,
(I know not where, but wheresoe'er, I know,
Lordly and blithe,) be greeting; and thereto,
Dogs, hawks, and a full purse wherein to dip;
Quails struck i' the flight; nags mettled to the whip;
Hart-hounds, hare-hounds, and blood-hounds even so;
And o'er that realm, a crown for Niccolò,
Whose praise in Siena springs from lip to lip.
Tingoccio, Atuin di Togno, and Ancaiàn,
Bartolo, and Mugaro, and Faënot,
Who well might pass for children of King Ban,
Courteous and valiant more than Lancelot,—
To each, God speed! How worthy every man
To hold high tournament in Camelot."

136. "This Capocchio," says the Ottimo, "was a very subtle alchemist; and because he was burned for practising alchemy in Siena, he exhibits his hatred to the Sienese, and gives us to understand that the author knew him."


CANTO XXX.

1. In this Canto the same Bolgia is continued, with different kinds of Falsifiers.

4. Athamas, king of Thebes and husband of Ino, daughter of Cadmus. His madness is thus described by Ovid, Metamorph. IV., Eusden's Tr.:—

"Now Athamas cries out, his reason fled,
'Here, fellow-hunters, let the toils be spread.
I saw a lioness, in quest of food,
With her two young, run roaring in this wood.'
Again the fancied savages were seen,
As thro' his palace still he chased his queen;
Then tore Learchus from her breast: the child
Stretched little arms, and on its father smiled,—
A father now no more,—who now begun
Around his head to whirl his giddy son,
And, quite insensible to nature's call,
The helpless infant flung against the wall.
The same mad poison in the mother wrought;
Young Melicerta in her arms she caught,
And with disordered tresses, howling, flies,
'O Bacchus, Evôe, Bacchus!' loud she cries.
The name of Bacchus Juno laughed to hear,
And said, 'Thy foster-god has cost thee dear.'
A rock there stood, whose side the beating waves
Had long consumed, and hollowed into caves.
The head shot forwards in a bending steep,
And cast a dreadful covert o'er the deep.
The wretched Ino, on destruction bent,
Climbed up the cliff,—such strength her fury lent:
Thence with her guiltless boy, who wept in vain,
At one bold spring she plunged into the main."

16. Hecuba, wife of Priam of Troy, and mother of Polyxena and Polydorus. Ovid, XIII., Stanyan's Tr.:—

"When on the banks her son in ghastly hue
Transfixed with Thracian arrows strikes her view,
The matrons shrieked; her big swoln grief surpassed
The power of utterance; she stood aghast;
She had nor speech, nor tears to give relief:
Excess of woe suppressed the rising grief.
Lifeless as stone, on earth she fix'd her eyes;
And then look'd up to Heav'n with wild surprise,
Now she contemplates o'er with sad delight
Her son's pale visage; then her aking sight
Dwells on his wounds: she varies thus by turns,
Till with collected rage at length she burns,
Wild as the mother-lion, when among
The haunts of prey she seeks her ravished young:
Swift flies the ravisher; she marks his trace,
And by the print directs her anxious chase.
So Hecuba with mingled grief and rage
Pursues the king, regardless of her age.

·····

Fastens her forky fingers in his eyes;
Tears out the rooted balls; her rage pursues,
And in the hollow orbs her hand imbrues.
"The Thracians, fired at this inhuman scene,
With darts and stones assail the frantic queen.
She snarls and growls, nor in an human tone;
Then bites impatient at the bounding stone;
Extends her jaws, as she her voice would raise
To keen invectives in her wonted phrase;
But barks, and thence the yelping brute betrays."

31. Griffolino d'Arezzo, mentioned in Canto XXIX. 109.

42. The same "mad sprite," Gianni Schicchi, mentioned in line 32. "Buoso Donati of Florence," says Benvenuto, "although a nobleman and of an illustrious house, was nevertheless like other noblemen of his time, and by means of thefts had greatly increased his patrimony. When the hour of death drew near, the sting of conscience caused him to make a will in which he gave fat legacies to many people; whereupon his son Simon, (the Ottimo says his nephew,) thinking himself enormously aggrieved, suborned Vanni Schicchi dei Cavalcanti, who got into Buoso's bed, and made a will in opposition to the other. Gianni much resembled Buoso." In this will Gianni Schicchi did not forget himself, while making Simon heir; for, according to the Ottimo, he put this clause into it: "To Gianni Schicchi I bequeath my mare." This was the "lady of the herd," and Benvenuto adds, "none more beautiful was to be found in Tuscany; and it was valued at a thousand florins."

61. Messer Adamo, a false-coiner of Brescia, who at the instigation of the Counts Guido, Alessandro, and Aghinolfo of Romena, counterfeited the golden florin of Florence, which bore on one side a lily, and on the other the figure of John the Baptist.

64. Tasso, Gerusalemme, XIII. 60, Fairfax's Tr.:—

"He that the gliding rivers erst had seen
Adown their verdant channels gently rolled,
Or filling streams, which to the valleys green,
Distilled from tops of Alpine mountains cold,
Those he desired in vain, new torments been
Augmented thus with wish of comforts old;
Those waters cool he drank in vain conceit,
Which more increased his thirst, increased his heat."

65. The upper valley of the Arno is in the province of Cassentino. Quoting these three lines. Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, 246, says: "In these untranslatable verses, there is a feeling of humid freshness, which almost makes one shudder. I owe it to truth to say, that the Cassentine was a great deal less fresh and less verdant in reality than in the poetry of Dante, and that in the midst of the aridity which surrounded me, this poetry, by its very perfection, made one feel something of the punishment of Master Adam."

73. Forsyth, Italy, 116, says: "The castle of Romena, mentioned in these verses, now stands in ruins on a precipice about a mile from our inn, and not far off is a spring which the peasants call Fonte Branda. Might I presume to differ from his commentators, Dante, in my opinion, does not mean the great fountain of Siena, but rather this obscure spring; which, though less known to the world, was an object more familiar to the poet himself, who took refuge here from proscription, and an image more natural to the coiner who was burnt on the spot."

Ampère is of the same opinion, Voyage Dantesque, 246: "The Fonte Branda, mentioned by Master Adam, is assuredly the fountain thus named, which still flows not far from the tower of Romena, between the place of the crime and that of its punishment."

On the other hand, Mr. Barlow, Contributions, remarks: "This little fount was known only to so few, that Dante, who wrote for the Italian people generally, can scarcely be thought to have meant this, when the famous Fonte Branda at Siena was, at least by name, familiar to them all, and formed an image more in character with the insatiable thirst of Master Adam."

Poetically the question is of slight importance; for, as Fluellen says, "There is a river in Macedon, and there is also moreover a river at Monmouth, {{..|5}} and there is salmons in both."

86. This line and line 11 of Canto XXIX. are cited by Gabrielle Rossetti in confirmation of his theory of the "Principal Allegory of the Inferno," that the city of Dis is Rome. He says, Spirito Antipapale, I. 62, Miss Ward's Tr.:—

"This well is surrounded by a high wall, and the wall by a vast trench; the circuit of the trench is twenty-two miles, and that of the wall eleven miles. Now the outward trench of the walls of Rome (whether real or imaginary we say not) was reckoned by Dante's contemporaries to be exactly twenty-two miles; and the walls of the city were then, and still are, eleven miles round. Hence it is clear, that the wicked time which looks into Rome, as into a mirror, sees there the corrupt place which is the final goal to its waters or people, that is, the figurative Rome, 'dread seat of Dis.'"

The trench here spoken of is the last trench of Malebolge. Dante mentions no wall about the well; only giants standing round it like towers.

97. Potiphar's wife.

98. Virgil's "perjured Sinon," the Greek who persuaded the Trojans to accept the wooden horse, telling them it was meant to protect the city, in lieu of the statue of Pallas, stolen by Diomed and Ulysses.

Chaucer, Nonnes Preestes Tale:

"O false dissimilour, O Greek Sinon,
That broughtest Troye at utterly to sorwe."

103. The disease of tympanites is so called "because the abdomen is distended with wind, and sounds like a drum when struck."

128. Ovid, Metamorph. III.:—

"A fountain in a darksome wood,
Nor stained with falling leaves nor rising mud."


CANTO XXXI.

1. This Canto describes the Plain of the Giants, between Malebolge and the mouth of the Infernal Pit.

4. Iliad, XVI.: "A Pelion ash, which Chiron gave to his (Achilles') father, cut from the top of Mount Pelion, to be the death of heroes."

Chaucer, Squieres Tale:

"And of Achilles for his queinte spere,
For he coude with it bothe hele and drere."

And Shakespeare, in King Henry the Sixth, V. i.:—

"Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles' spear,
Is able with the change to kill and cure."

16. The battle of Roncesvalles,

"When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabia."

18. Archbishop Turpin, Chronicle, XXIII., Rodd's Tr., thus describes the blowing of Orlando's horn:—

"He now blew a loud blast with his horn, to summon any Christian concealed in the adjacent woods to his assistance, or to recall his friends beyond the pass. This horn was endued with such power, that all other horns were split by its sound; and it is said that Orlando at that time blew it with such vehemence, that he burst the veins and nerves of his neck. The sound reached the king's ears, who lay encamped in the valley still called by his name, about eight miles from Ronceval, towards Gascony, being carried so far by supernatural power. Charles would have flown to his succor, but was prevented by Ganalon, who, conscious of Orlando's sufferings, insinuated it was usual with him to sound his horn on light occasions. 'He is, perhaps,' said he, 'pursuing some wild beast, and the sound echoes through the woods; it will be fruitless, therefore, to seek him.' O wicked traitor, deceitful as Judas! What dost thou merit?"

Walter Scott in Marmion, VI. 33, makes allusion to Orlando's horn:—

"O for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,
That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer,
On Roncesvalles died!"

Orlando's horn is one of the favorite fictions of old romance, and is surpassed in power only by that of Alexander, which took sixty men to blow it and could be heard at a distance of sixty miles!

41. Montereggione is a picturesque old castle on an eminence near Siena. Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, 251, remarks: "This fortress, as the commentators say, was furnished with towers all round about, and had none in the centre. In its present state it is still very faithfully described by the verse,

'Montereggion di torri si corona.'"

59. This pine-cone of bronze, which is now in the gardens of the Vatican, was found in the mausoleum of Hadrian, and is supposed to have crowned its summit. "I have looked daily," says Mrs. Kemble, Year of Consolation, 152, "over the lonely, sunny gardens, open like the palace halls to me, where the wide-sweeping orange-walks end in some distant view of the sad and noble Campagna, where silver fountains call to each other through the silent, overarching cloisters of dark and fragrant green, and where the huge bronze pine, by which Dante measured his great giant, yet stands in the midst of graceful vases and bass-reliefs wrought in former ages, and the more graceful blossoms blown within the very hour."

And Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, 277, remarks: "Here Dante takes as a point of comparison an object of determinate size; the pigna is eleven feet high, the giant then must be seventy; it performs, in the description, the office of those figures which are placed near monuments to render it easier for the eye to measure their height."

Mr. Norton, Travel and Study in Italy, 253, thus speaks of the same object:—

"This pine-cone, of bronze, was set originally upon the summit of the Mausoleum of Hadrian. After this imperial sepulchre had undergone many evil fates, and as its ornaments were stripped one by one from it, the cone was in the sixth century taken down, and carried off to adorn a fountain, which had been constructed for the use of dusty and thirsty pilgrims, in a pillared enclosure, called the Paradiso, in front of the old basilica of St. Peter. Here it remained for centuries; and when the old church gave way to the new, it was put where it now stands, useless and out of place, in the trim and formal gardens of the Papal palace."

And adds in a note:—

"At the present day it serves the bronze-workers of Rome as a model for an inkstand, such as is seen in the shop-windows every winter, and is sold to travellers, few of whom know the history and the poetry belonging to its original."

67. "The gaping monotony of this jargon," says Leigh Hunt, "full of the vowel a, is admirably suited to the mouth of the vast half-stupid speaker. It is like a babble of the gigantic infancy of the world."

77. Nimrod, the " mighty hunter before the Lord," who built the tower of Babel, which, according to the Italian popular tradition, was so high that whoever mounted to the top of it could hear the angels sing.

Cory, Ancient Fragments, 51, gives this extract from the Sibylline Oracles:

"But when the judgments of the Almighty God
Were ripe for execution; when the Tower
Rose to the skies upon Assyria's plain,
And all mankind one language only knew;
A dread commission from on high was given
To the fell whirlwinds, which with dire alarms
Beat on the Tower, and to its lowest base
Shook it convulsed. And now all intercourse,
By some occult and overruling power,
Ceased among men: by utterance they strove
Perplexed and anxious to disclose their mind;
But their lip failed them, and in lieu of words
Produced a painful babbling sound: the place
Was thence called Babel; by th' apostate crew
Named from the event. Then severed far away
They sped uncertain into realms unknown;
Thus kingdoms rose, and the glad world was filled."

94. Odyssey, XI., Buckley's Tr.: "God-like Otus and far-famed Ephialtes; whom the faithful earth nourished, the tallest and far the most beautiful, at least after illustrious Orion. For at nine years old they were also nine cubits in width, and in height they were nine fathoms. Who even threatened the immortals that they would set up a strife of impetuous war in Olympus. They attempted to place Ossa upon Olympus, and upon Ossa leafy Pelion, that heaven might be accessible. And they would have accomplished it, if they had reached the measure of youth; but the son of Jove, whom fair-haired Latona bore, destroyed them both, before the down flowered under their temples and thickened upon their cheeks with a flowering beard."

98. The giant with a hundred hands. Æneid, X.: "Ægæon, who, they say, had a hundred arms and a hundred hands, and flashed fire from fifty mouths and breasts; when against the thunderbolts of Jove he on so many equal bucklers clashed; unsheathed so many swords."

He is supposed to have been a famous pirate, and the fable of the hundred hands arose from the hundred sailors that manned his ship.

100. The giant Antæus is here unbound, because he had not been at "the mighty war" against the gods.

115. The valley of the Bagrada, one of whose branches flows by Zama, the scene of Scipio's great victory over Hannibal, by which he gained his greatest renown and his title of Africanus.

Among the neighboring hills, according to Lucan, Pharsalia, IV., the giant Antæus had his cave. Speaking of Curio's voyage, he says:—

"To Afric's coast he cuts the foamy way,
Where low the once victorious Carthage lay.
There landing, to the well-known camp he hies,
Where from afar the distant seas he spies;
Where Bagrada's dull waves the sands divide,
And slowly downward roll their sluggish tide.
From thence he seeks the heights renowned by fame,
And hallowed by the great Cornelian name:
The rocks and hills which long, traditions say,
Were held by huge Antæus' horrid sway.

·····

But greater deeds this rising mountain grace,
And Scipio's name ennobles much the place,
While, fixing here his famous camp, he calls
Fierce Hannibal from Rome's devoted walls.
As yet the mouldering works remain in view,
Where dreadful once the Latian eagles flew."

124. Æneid, VI.: "Here too you might have seen Tityus, the foster-child of all-bearing earth, whose body is extended over nine whole acres; and a huge vulture, with her hooked beak, pecking at his immortal liver." Also Odyssey, XI., in similar words.

Typhœus was a giant with a hundred heads, like a dragon's, who made war upon the gods as soon as he was born. He was the father of Geryon and Cerberus.

132. The battle between Hercules and Antæus is described by Lucan, Pharsalia, IV.:—

"Bright in Olympic oil Alcides shone,
Antæus with his mother's dust is strown,
And seeks her friendly force to aid his own."

136. One of the leaning towers of Bologna, which Eustace, Classical Tour, I. 167, thinks are "remarkable only for their unmeaning elevation and dangerous deviation from the perpendicular."


CANTO XXXII.

1. In this Canto begins the Ninth and last Circle of the Inferno, where Traitors are punished.

"Hence in the smallest circle, at the point
Of all the Universe, where Dis is seated,
Whoe'er betrays forever is consumed."

3. The word thrust is here used in its architectural sense, as the thrust of a bridge against its abutments, and the like.

9. Still using the babble of childhood.

11. The Muses; the poetic tradition being that Amphion built the walls of Thebes by the sound of his lyre; and the prosaic interpretation, that he did it by his persuasive eloquence.

15. Matthew xxvi. 24: "Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born."

28. Tambernich is a mountain of Sclavonia, and Pietrapana another near Lucca.

55. These two "miserable brothers" are Alessandro and Napoleone, sons of Alberto degli Alberti, lord of Falterona in the valley of the Bisenzio. After their father's death they quarrelled, and one treacherously slew the other.

58. Caina is the first of the four divisions of this Circle, and takes its name from the first fratricide.

62. Sir Mordred, son of King Arthur. See La Mort d' Arthure, III. ch. 167: "And there King Arthur smote Sir Mordred under the shield with a foine of his speare throughout the body more than a fadom."

Nothing is said here of the sun's shining through the wound, so as to break the shadow on the ground, but that incident is mentioned in the Italian version of the Romance of Launcelot of the Lake, L' illustre e famosa istoria di Lancillotto del Lago, III. ch. 162: "Behind the opening made by the lance there passed through the wound a ray of the sun so manifestly, that Girflet saw it."

63. Focaccia was one of the Cancellieri Bianchi, of Pistoia, and was engaged in the affair of cutting off the hand of his half-brother. See Note 65, Canto VI. He is said also to have killed his uncle.

65. Sassol Mascheroni, according to Benvenuto, was one of the Toschi family of Florence. He murdered his nephew in order to get possession of his property; for which crime he was carried through the streets of Florence nailed up in a cask, and then beheaded.

68. Camicion de' Pazzi of Valdarno, who murdered his kinsman Ubertino. But his crime will seem small and excusable when compared with that of another kinsman, Carlino de' Pazzi, who treacherously surrendered the castle of Piano in Valdarno, wherein many Florentine exiles were taken and put to death.

81. The speaker is Bocca degli Abati, whose treason caused the defeat of the Guelfs at the famous battle of Montaperti in 1260. See Note 86, Canto X.

"Messer Bocca degli Abati, the traitor," says Malispini, Storia, ch. 171, "with his sword in hand, smote and cut off the hand of Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi of Florence, who bore the standard of the cavalry of the Commune of Florence. And the knights and the people, seeing the standard down, and the treachery, were put to rout."

88. The second division of the Circle, called Antenora, from Antenor, the Trojan prince, who betrayed his country by keeping up a secret correspondence with the Greeks. Virgil, Æneid, I. 242, makes him founder of Padua.

106. See Note 81 of this Canto.

116. Buoso da Duera of Cremona, being bribed, suffered the French cavalry under Guido da Monforte to pass through Lombardy on their way to Apulia, without opposing them as he had been commanded.

117. There is a double meaning in the Italian expression sta fresco, which is well rendered by the vulgarism, left out in the cold, so familiar in American politics.

119. Beccaria of Pavia, Abbot of Vallombrosa, and Papal Legate at Florence, where he was beheaded in 1258 for plotting against the Guelfs.

121. Gianni de' Soldanieri, of Florence, a Ghibelline, who betrayed his party. Villani, VII. 14, says: "Messer Gianni de' Soldanieri put himself at the head of the populace from motives of ambition, regardless of consequences which were injurious to the Ghibelline party, and to his own detriment, which seems always to have been the case in Florence with those who became popular leaders."

122. The traitor Ganellon, or Ganalon, who betrayed the Christian cause at Roncesvalles, persuading Charlemagne not to go to the assistance of Orlando. See Canto XXXI. Note 18.

Tebaldello de' Manfredi treacherously opened the gates of Faenza to the French in the night.

130. Tydeus, son of the king of Calydon, slew Menalippus at the siege of Thebes and was himself mortally wounded. Statius, Thebaid, VIII., thus describes what followed:—

"O'ercome with joy and anger, Tydeus tries
To raise himself, and meets with eager eyes
The deathful object, pleased as he surveyed
His own condition in his foe's portrayed.
The severed head impatient he demands,
And grasps with fervor in his trembling hands,
While he remarks the restless balls of sight
That sought and shunned alternately the light.
Contented now, his wrath began to cease,
And the fierce warrior had expired in peace;
But the fell fiend a thought of vengeance bred,
Unworthy of himself and of the dead.
Meanwhile, her sire unmoved, Tritonia came,
To crown her hero with immortal fame;
But when she saw his jaws besprinkled o'er
With spattered brains, and tinged with living gore,
Whilst his imploring friends attempt in vain
To calm his fury, and his rage restrain,
Again, recoiling from the loathsome view,
The sculptur'd target o'er her face she threw."


CANTO XXXIII.

1. In this Canto the subject of the preceding is continued.

13. Count Ugolino della Gherardesca was Podestà of Pisa. "Raised to the highest offices of the republic for ten years," says Napier, Florentine History, I. 318, "he would soon have become absolute, had not his own nephew, Nino Visconte, Judge of Gallura, contested this supremacy and forced himself into conjoint and equal authority; this could not continue, and a sort of compromise was for the moment effected, by which Visconte retired to the absolute government of Sardinia. But Ugolino, still dissatisfied, sent his son to disturb the island; a deadly feud was the consequence, Guelph against Guelph, while the latent spirit of Ghibellinism, which filled the breasts of the citizens and was encouraged by priest and friar, felt its advantage; the Archbishop Ruggiero Rubaldino was its real head, but he worked with hidden caution as the apparent friend of either chieftain. In 1287, after some sharp contests, both of them abdicated, for the sake, as it was alleged, of public tranquillity; but, soon perceiving their error, again united, and, scouring the streets with all their followers, forcibly re-established their authority. Ruggieri seemed to assent quietly to this new outrage, even looked without emotion on the bloody corpse of his favorite nephew, who had been stabbed by Ugolino; and so deep was his dissimulation, that he not only refused to believe the murdered body to be his kinsman's, but zealously assisted the Count to establish himself alone in the government, and accomplish Visconte's ruin. The design was successful; Nino was overcome and driven from the town, and in 1288 Ugolino entered Pisa in triumph from his villa, where he had retired to await the catastrophe. The Archbishop had neglected nothing, and Ugolino found himself associated with this prelate in the public government; events now began to thicken; the Count could not brook a competitor, much less a Ghibelline priest: in the month of July both parties flew to arms, and the Archbishop was victorious. After a feeble attempt to rally in the public palace. Count Ugolino, his two sons, Uguccione and Gaddo, and two young grandsons, Anselmuccio and Brigata, surrendered at discretion, and were immediately imprisoned in a tower, afterwards called the Torre della fame, and there perished by starvation. Count Ugolino della Gherardesca, whose tragic story after five hundred years still sounds in awful numbers from the lyre of Dante, was stained with the ambition and darker vices of the age; like other potent chiefs, he sought to enslave his country, and checked at nothing in his impetuous career; he was accused of many crimes; of poisoning his own nephew, of failing in war, making a disgraceful peace, of flying shamefully, perhaps traitorously, at Meloria, and of obstructing all negotiations with Genoa for the return of his imprisoned countrymen. Like most others of his rank in those frenzied times he belonged more to faction than his country, and made the former subservient to his own ambition; but all these accusations, even if well founded, would not draw him from the general standard; they would only prove that he shared the ambition, the cruelty, the ferocity, the recklessness of human life and suffering, and the relentless pursuit of power in common with other chieftains of his age and country. Ugolino was overcome, and suffered a cruel death; his family was dispersed, and his memory has perhaps been blackened with a darker coloring to excuse the severity of his punishment; but his sons, who naturally followed their parent's fortune, were scarcely implicated in his crimes, although they shared his fate; and his grandsons, though not children, were still less guilty, though one of these was not unstained with blood. The Archbishop had public and private wrongs to revenge, and had he fallen, his sacred character alone would probably have procured for him a milder destiny."

Villani, VII. 128, gives this account of the imprisonment:—

"The Pisans, who had imprisoned Count Ugolino and his two sons and two grandsons, children of Count Guelfo, as we have before mentioned, in a tower on the Piazza degli Anziani, ordered the door of the tower to be locked, and the keys to be thrown into the Arno, and forbade any food should be given to the prisoners, who in a few days died of hunger. And the five dead bodies, being taken together out of the tower, were ignominiously buried; and from that day forth the tower was called the Tower of Famine, and shall be forever more. For this cruelty the Pisans were much blamed through all the world where it was known; not so much for the Count's sake, as on account of his crimes and treasons he perhaps deserved such a death, but for the sake of his children and grandchildren, who were young and innocent boys; and this sin, committed by the Pisans, did not remain unpunished."

Chaucer's version of the story in the Monkes Tale is as follows:—

"Of the erl Hugelin of Pise the langour
Ther may no tonge tellen for pitee.
But litel out of Pise stant a tour,
In whiche tour in prison yput was he,
And with him ben his litel children three,
The eldest scarsely five yere was of age:
Alas! fortune, it was gret crueltee
Swiche briddes for to put in swiche a cage.

Dampned was he to die in that prison,
For Roger, which that bishop of Pise,
Had on him made a false suggestion,
Thurgh which the peple gan upon him rise,
And put him in prison, in swiche a wise,
As ye han herd; and mete and drinke he had
So smale, that wel unnethe it may suffise,
And therwithal it was ful poure and bad.

And on a day befell, that in that houre,
Whan that his mete wont was to be brought,
The gailer shette the dores of the toure;
He hered it wel, but he spake right nought.
And in his herte anon ther fell a thought,
That they for hunger wolden do him dien;
Alas! quod he, alas that I was wrought!
Therwith the teres fellen fro his eyen.

His yonge sone, that three yere was of age,
Unto him said, fader, why do ye wepe?
Whan will the gailer bringen our potage?
Is ther no morsel bred that ye do kepe?
I am so hungry, that I may not slepe.
Now wolde God that I might slepen ever,
Than shuld not hunger in my wombe crepe;
Ther n'is no thing, sauf bred, that me were lever.

Thus day by day this childe began to crie,
Til in his fadres barme adoun it lay,
And saide, farewel, fader, I mote die;
And kist his fader, and dide the same day.
And whan the woful fader did it sey,
For wo his armes two he gan to bite,
And saide, alas! fortune, and wala wa!
Thy false whele my wo all may I wite.

His children wenden, that for hunger it was
That he his armes gnowe, and not for wo,
And sayden: fader, do not so, alas!
But rather ete the flesh upon us two.
Our flesh thou yaf us, take our flesh us fro,
And ete ynough: right thus they to him seide,
And after that, within a day or two,
They laide hem in his lappe adoun, and deide.

Himself dispeired eke for hunger starf.
Thus ended is this mighty Erl of Pise:
From high estat fortune away him carf.
Of this tragedie it ought ynough suffice;
Who so wol here it in a longer wise,
Redeth the grete poete of Itaille,
That highte Dante, for he can it devise
Fro point to point, not o word wol he faille."

Buti, Commento, says: "After eight days they were removed from prison and carried wrapped in matting to the church of the Minor Friars at San Francesco, and buried in the monument, which is on the side of the steps leading into the church near the gate of the cloister, with irons on their legs, which irons I myself saw taken out of the monument."

22. The remains of this tower," says Napier, Florentine History, I. 319, note, "still exist in the Piazza de' Cavalieri, on the right of the archway as the spectator looks toward the clock." According to Buti it was called the Mew, "because the eagles of the Commune were kept there to moult."

Shelley thus sings of it, Poems, III. 91:—

"Amid the desolation of a city,
Which was the cradle, and is now the grave
Of an extinguished people, so that pity
Weeps o'er the shipwrecks of oblivion's wave,
There stands the Tower of Famine. It is built
Upon some prison-homes, whose dwellers rave
For bread, and gold, and blood: pain, linked to guilt,
Agitates the light flame of their hours,
Until its vital oil is spent or spilt;
There stands the pile, a tower amid the towers
And sacred domes; each marble-ribbed roof,
The brazen-gated temples, and the bowers
Of solitary wealth! The tempest-proof
Pavilions of the dark Italian air
Are by its presence dimmed,—they stand aloof,
And are withdrawn,—so that the world is bare,
As if a spectre, wrapt in shapeless terror,
Amid a company of ladies fair
Should glide and glow, till it became a mirror
Of all their beauty, and their hair and hue,
The life of their sweet eyes, with all its error,
Should be absorbed till they to marble grew."

30. Monte San Giuliano, between Pisa and Lucca.

Shelley, Poems, III. 166:—

"It was that hill whose intervening brow
Screens Lucca from the Pisan's envious eye,
Which the circumfluous plain waving below,
Like a wide lake of green fertility,
With streams and fields and marshes bare,
Divides from the far Apennine, which lie
Islanded in the immeasurable air."

31. The hounds are the Pisan mob; the hunters, the Pisan noblemen here mentioned; the wolf and whelps, Ugolino and his sons.

46. It is a question whether in this line chiavar is to be rendered nailed up or locked. Villani and Benvenuto say the tower was locked, and the keys thrown into the Arno; and I believe most of the commentators interpret the line in this way. But the locking of a prison door, which must have been a daily occurrence, could hardly have caused the dismay here portrayed, unless it can be shown that the lower door of the tower was usually left unlocked.

"The thirty lines from Ed io senti' are unequalled," says Landor, Pentameron, 40, "by any other continuous thirty in the whole dominions of poetry."

80. Italy; it being an old custom to call countries by the affirmative particle of the language.

82. Capraia and Gorgona are two islands opposite the mouth of the Arno. Ampère, Voyage Dantesque, 217, remarks: "This imagination may appear grotesque and forced if one looks at the map, for the isle of Gorgona is at some distance from the mouth of the Arno, and I had always thought so, until the day when, having ascended the tower of Pisa, I was struck with the aspect which the Gorgona presented from that point. It seemed to shut up the Arno. I then understood how Dante might naturally have had this idea, which had seemed strange to me, and his imagination was justified in my eyes. He had not seen the Gorgona from the Leaning Tower, which did not exist in his time, but from some one of the numerous towers which protected the ramparts of Pisa. This fact alone would be sufficient to show what an excellent interpretation of a poet travelling is."

86. Napier, Florentine History, I. 313: "He without hesitation surrendered Santa Maria a Monte, Fuccechio, Santa Croce, and Monte Calvole to Florence; exiled the most zealous Ghibellines from Pisa, and reduced it to a purely Guelphic republic; he was accused of treachery, and certainly his own objects were admirably forwarded by the continued captivity of so many of his countrymen, by the banishment of the adverse faction, and by the friendship and support of Florence."

87. Thebes was renowned for its misfortunes and grim tragedies, from the days of the sowing of the dragon's teeth by Cadmus, down to the destruction of the city by Alexander, who commanded it to be utterly demolished, excepting only the house in which the poet Pindar was born. Moreover, the tradition runs that Pisa was founded by Pelops, son of King Tantalus of Thebes, although it derived its name from "the Olympic Pisa on the banks of the Alpheus."

118. Friar Alberigo, of the family of the Manfredi, Lords of Faenza, was one of the Frati Gaudenti, or Jovial Friars, mentioned in Canto XXIII. 103. The account which the Ottimo gives of his treason is as follows: "Having made peace with certain hostile fellow-citizens, he betrayed them in this wise. One evening he invited them to supper, and had armed retainers in the chambers round the supper-room. It was in summer-time, and he gave orders to his servants that, when after the meats he should order the fruit, the chambers should be opened, and the armed men should come forth and should murder all the guests. And so it was done. And he did the like the year before at Castello delle Mura at Pistoia. These are the fruits of the Garden of Treason, of which he speaks." Benvenuto says that his guests were his brother Manfred and his (Manfred's) son. Other commentators say they were certain members of the Order of Frati Gaudenti. In 1300, the date of the poem, Alberigo was still living.

120. A Rowland for an Oliver.

124. This division of Cocytus, the Lake of Lamentation, is called Ptolomæa from Ptolomeus, 1 Maccabees xvi. 11, where "the captain of Jericho inviteth Simon and two of his sons into his castle, and there treacherously murdereth them"; for "when Simon and his sons had drunk largely, Ptolomee and his men rose up, and took their weapons, and came upon Simon into the banqueting-place, and slew him, and his two sons, and certain of his servants."

Or perhaps from Ptolemy, who murdered Pompey after the battle of Pharsalia.

126. Of the three Fates, Clotho held the distaff, Lachesis spun the thread, and Atropos cut it.

Odyssey, XI.: "After him I perceived the might of Hercules, an image; for he himself amongst the immortal gods is delighted with banquets, and has the fair-legged Hebe, daughter of mighty Jove, and golden-sandalled Juno,"

137. Ser Branco d' Oria was a Genoese, and a member of the celebrated Doria family of that city. Nevertheless he murdered at table his father-in-law, Michel Zanche, who is mentioned Canto XXII. 88.

151. This vituperation of the Genoese reminds one of the bitter Tuscan proverb against them: "Sea without fish; mountains without trees; men without faith; and women without shame."

154. Friar Alberigo.


CANTO XXXIV.

1. The fourth and last division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca,—

"the smallest circle, at the point
Of all the Universe, where Dis is seated."

The first line, "The banners of the king of Hell come forth," is a parody of the first line of a Latin hymn of the sixth century, sung in the churches during Passion week, and written by Fortunatus, an Italian by birth, but who died Bishop of Poitiers in 600, The first stanza of this hymn is,—

"Vexilla regis prodeunt,
Fulget crucis mysterium,
Quo carne carnis conditor,
Suspensus est patibulo."

See Königsfeld, Lateinische Hymnen und Gesänge aus dem Mittelalter, 64.

18. Milton, Parad. Lost, V, 708:—

"His countenance as the morning star, that guides
The starry flock."

28. Compare Milton's descriptions of Satan, Parad. Lost, I. 192, 589, II. 636, IV. 985:—

"Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian, or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,
Briareus, or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream:
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.
So stretched out huge in length the Arch-fiend lay
Chained on the burning lake."

"He, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower: his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appeared
Less than archangel ruined, and the excess
Of glory obscured: as when the sun new-risen
Looks through the horizontal misty air,
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs: darkened so, yet shone
Above them all the Archangel."

"As when far off at sea a fleet descried
Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds
Close sailing from Bengala or the isles
Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring
Their spicy drugs: they on the trading flood
Through the wide Æthiopian to the Cape
Ply, stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed
Far off Tthe flying fiend."

"On the other side, Satan, alarmed,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:
His stature reached the sky, and on his crest
Sat horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp
What seemed both spear and shield."

38. The Ottimo and Benvenuto both interpret the three faces as symbolizing Ignorance, Hatred, and Impotence. Others interpret them as signifying the three quarters of the then known world, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

45. Æthiopia; the region about the Cataracts of the Nile.

48. Milton, Parad. Lost, II. 527:—

"At last his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground."

55. Landor in his Pentameron, 527, makes Petrarca say: "This is atrocious, not terrific nor grand. Alighieri is grand by his lights, not by his shadows; by his human affections, not by his infernal. As the minutest sands are the labors of some profound sea, or the spoils of some vast mountain, in like manner his horrid wastes and wearying minutenesses are the chafings of a turbulent spirit, grasping the loftiest things, and penetrating the deepest, and moving and moaning on the earth in loneliness and sadness."

62. Gabriele Rossetti, Spirito Anti-papale, I. 75, Miss Ward's Tr., says: "The three spirits, who hang from the mouths of his Satan, are Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. The poet's reason for selecting those names has never yet been satisfactorily accounted for; but we have no hesitation in pronouncing it to have been this,—he con- sidered the Pope not only a betrayer and seller of Christ, — 'Where gain- ful merchandise is made of Christ throughout the livelong day,' (Parad. 17,) and for that reason put Judas into his centre mouth ; but a traitor and rebel to Cæsar, and therefore placed Brutus and Cassius in the other two mouths ; for the Pope, who was origi- nally no more than Cæsar's vicar, became his enemy, and usurped the capital of his empire, and the supreme authority. His treason to Christ was not discovered by the world in general ; hence the face of Judas is hidden, — 'He that hath his head within, and plies the feet without ' (Inf, 34) ; his treason to Cæsar was open and mani- fest, therefore Brutus and Cassius show their faces."

He adds in a note : " The situation of Judas is the same as that of the Popes who were guilty of simony."

68. The evening of Holy Saturday.

77. Iliad, V. 305 : " With this he struck the hip of ^neas, where the thigh turns on the hip."

95. The canonical day, from sun- rise to sunset, was divided into four equal parts, called in Italian Terza, Sesta, Nona, and Vespro, and varying in length with the change of season. " These hours," says Dante, Convito, III. 6, " are short or long. . . . . ac- cording as day and night increase or diminish." Terza was the first divis- ion after sunrise ; and at the equinox would be from six till nine. Conse- quently mezza terza, or middle tierce, would be half past seven.

114. Jerusalem.

125. The Mountain of Purgatory, rising out of the sea at a point directly opposite Jerusalem, upon the other side of the globe. It is an island in the South Pacific Ocean.

130. This brooklet is Lethe, whose source is on the summit of the Moun- tain of Purgatory, flowing down to mingle with Acheron, Styx, and Phle- gethon, and form Cocytus. 9ce Canto XIV. 136.

138. It will be observed that each of the three divisions of the Divine Comedy ends with the word " Stars," suggesting and symbolizing endless as- piration. At the end of the Inferno Dante " re-beholds the stars"; at the end of the Purgatorio he is " ready to ascend to the stars"; at the end of the Paradiso he feels the power of " that Love which moves the sun and other stars." He is now looking upon the morning stars of Easter Sunday.