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Dante's Inferno

Part 6 out of 8

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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 defroque, 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 17

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 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 it was 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 grevious pain; and certainly
My proper blame shoud not be disavowed;
Though hereof somewhat, I declare aloud,
Where due to others, not alone to me.
False hopes, true poverty, and therewithal
The blinded judgement 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
"soverign cavalier."

74. As the ass-driver did in the streets of Florence, when Dante
beat him for singing his verses amiss. See Sachetti, 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 studden 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 counry, 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 was, 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 18

1. Here begins the third division of the Inferno, embracing the
Eight 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 Forli (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
Julilee, to date from the Christmas of 1299, and appointed a
similar celebration for each hundreth 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 neighbouring 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 Romae fuerunt quo ego ibi fui et per
dies xv. steti. De pane, vino, carnibus, piscibus, et avena,
bonum mercatum ibi erat; foenum carissimum ibi fuit; hospitia
carissima; taliter quod lectus meus et equi mei super faeno 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 eorum 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 goint 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

50. "This Caccinimico," 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
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 si.

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 inhabitans
of the island, Hypsipyle concealed her father Thaos, and spared his
life. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautics, II., Fawke's Tr.: --

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

122. "Allessio Interminelli," says Benvenuto da Imola, "a
soldier, a nobleman, and of gentle manners was of Lucca, and from his
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. Thais, the famous courtesan of Athens. Terence, The Eunuch,
Act III, Sc. I:--

"Thraso. Did Tha,is 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

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 19

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,
Che tocca a ta' persone,
Che non e 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 therefore understond ye,
that both he that selleth and he that byeth thinges spirituel ben
called Simoniakes, be it by catel, be it by prcuring, 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 Deliciae 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
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
with such utter neglect, that the torches set fire to the catafalque
which he lay, not in a 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 interered."

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 alter,
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 actualy
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 20

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.
Aeschylus, 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
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;
neverthelss 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 Paenae, watered by the brooklets
flowing into the Sarca, which is the principal tributary of

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

70. At the outlet of the lake.

77. Aeneid, 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. Aeneid, 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 Achaeans to Ilium, by the
power of prophecy which Phoebus Apollo gave him."

112. Aeneid, 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 make 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 Benvuenuto 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 Law 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 Forli, who
accompanied Guido di Montefeltro when he marched out of
Forli 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 Forli, 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 today. '
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
astrolable, observed the aspect of the heavens. And on returning
he said that it was impossible it should rain that day. But the
rustic obstinately affirmed what he had said, Guido asked him,
`Howe dost thou know?' The rustic answered, `Because to-day my
ass, in coming out of the stable, shook his head and picked 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 eyes 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
The time here indicated is an hour after sunrise on Saturday

Canto 19

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
entrace 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 non-
descript animals, of the class commonly called heraldic, and can
be syled 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

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
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

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 the 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

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 over-throw."

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 XVIII. 75.

Canto 22

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 o{f} 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
"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

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 Lev#eque de la
Ravalli@ ere, under the title of Les Poesies 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

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
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 pius l'istringo sunt passada."

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

Canto 23

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 Aesop, by Sir Roger L'Estrang, 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
Ministrelsy 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, Glo. 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. Bolgna 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 nighthood
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
Podest@a. 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

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

134. The great outer circle surrounding this division of the

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

Canto 24

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 mediaeval 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 Amphisbaena 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 amphisbaena 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
Of the Amphisbaena, 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 Phoenix: "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

"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 25

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

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

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 contended 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 stinks 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 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 posessed.'
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 impetous 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 posessed
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 Shelly's Arethusa:--

"Arethusa arose
From her couch of snows
In the Acroceraunian mountains,--
From the 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
the old Italian style, thus causing Gaville to lament the murder.

Canto 26

1. The Eighth Bolgia, in which Fraudulent Counsellors are

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 glorius stars! O light impregnated
With mighty virtue, from which I acknowledge
All of my genius, whatso'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. II:--"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 Oedipus, 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 Aeneas went forth to
establish the Roman empire in Italy.

62. Deidamia was a daughter of Lycomedes of Sycros, 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

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 Aeneid.

108. The Pillars of Hercules at the straits of Gibraltar; Abyla
on the African shore, and Gibraltar on the Spanish; in which the
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 on
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
nebulae, 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 27

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 has 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
Also in Gower, Confes. Amant., VII.:--

"He had of counseil 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 when 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
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 Caesarean 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 o 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, showed my mind's eye,"

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

Of all the cities in Romanian lands,
The chief, and most removed, 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
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 Forli, 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

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, becaue 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 o 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 mountaintown. 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 Coelian
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 amoung 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 behald 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. Amatis, 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
its Latin name Praeneste.

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,
Whereof ben fewe now a day."

Canto 28

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 Cannae, 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,

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