Part 3 out of 4
The Hellespont, where Xerxes pass'd it o'er,
(A curb for ever to the pride of man)
Was by Leander not more hateful held
For floating, with inhospitable wave
'Twixt Sestus and Abydos, than by me
That flood, because it gave no passage thence.
"Strangers ye come, and haply in this place,
That cradled human nature in its birth,
Wond'ring, ye not without suspicion view
My smiles: but that sweet strain of psalmody,
'Thou, Lord! hast made me glad,' will give ye light,
Which may uncloud your minds. And thou, who stand'st
The foremost, and didst make thy suit to me,
Say if aught else thou wish to hear: for I
Came prompt to answer every doubt of thine."
She spake; and I replied: "l know not how
To reconcile this wave and rustling sound
Of forest leaves, with what I late have heard
Of opposite report." She answering thus:
"I will unfold the cause, whence that proceeds,
Which makes thee wonder; and so purge the cloud
That hath enwraps thee. The First Good, whose joy
Is only in himself, created man
For happiness, and gave this goodly place,
His pledge and earnest of eternal peace.
Favour'd thus highly, through his own defect
He fell, and here made short sojourn; he fell,
And, for the bitterness of sorrow, chang'd
Laughter unblam'd and ever-new delight.
That vapours none, exhal'd from earth beneath,
Or from the waters (which, wherever heat
Attracts them, follow), might ascend thus far
To vex man's peaceful state, this mountain rose
So high toward the heav'n, nor fears the rage
0f elements contending, from that part
Exempted, where the gate his limit bars.
Because the circumambient air throughout
With its first impulse circles still, unless
Aught interpose to cheek or thwart its course;
Upon the summit, which on every side
To visitation of th' impassive air
Is open, doth that motion strike, and makes
Beneath its sway th' umbrageous wood resound:
And in the shaken plant such power resides,
That it impregnates with its efficacy
The voyaging breeze, upon whose subtle plume
That wafted flies abroad; and th' other land
Receiving (as 't is worthy in itself,
Or in the clime, that warms it), doth conceive,
And from its womb produces many a tree
Of various virtue. This when thou hast heard,
The marvel ceases, if in yonder earth
Some plant without apparent seed be found
To fix its fibrous stem. And further learn,
That with prolific foison of all seeds,
This holy plain is fill'd, and in itself
Bears fruit that ne'er was pluck'd on other soil.
"The water, thou behold'st, springs not from vein,
As stream, that intermittently repairs
And spends his pulse of life, but issues forth
From fountain, solid, undecaying, sure;
And by the will omnific, full supply
Feeds whatsoe'er On either side it pours;
On this devolv'd with power to take away
Remembrance of offence, on that to bring
Remembrance back of every good deed done.
From whence its name of Lethe on this part;
On th' other Eunoe: both of which must first
Be tasted ere it work; the last exceeding
All flavours else. Albeit thy thirst may now
Be well contented, if I here break off,
No more revealing: yet a corollary
I freely give beside: nor deem my words
Less grateful to thee, if they somewhat pass
The stretch of promise. They, whose verse of yore
The golden age recorded and its bliss,
On the Parnassian mountain, of this place
Perhaps had dream'd. Here was man guiltless, here
Perpetual spring and every fruit, and this
The far-fam'd nectar." Turning to the bards,
When she had ceas'd, I noted in their looks
A smile at her conclusion; then my face
Again directed to the lovely dame.
Singing, as if enamour'd, she resum'd
And clos'd the song, with "Blessed they whose sins
Are cover'd." Like the wood-nymphs then, that tripp'd
Singly across the sylvan shadows, one
Eager to view and one to 'scape the sun,
So mov'd she on, against the current, up
The verdant rivage. I, her mincing step
Observing, with as tardy step pursued.
Between us not an hundred paces trod,
The bank, on each side bending equally,
Gave me to face the orient. Nor our way
Far onward brought us, when to me at once
She turn'd, and cried: "My brother! look and hearken."
And lo! a sudden lustre ran across
Through the great forest on all parts, so bright
I doubted whether lightning were abroad;
But that expiring ever in the spleen,
That doth unfold it, and this during still
And waxing still in splendor, made me question
What it might be: and a sweet melody
Ran through the luminous air. Then did I chide
With warrantable zeal the hardihood
Of our first parent, for that there were earth
Stood in obedience to the heav'ns, she only,
Woman, the creature of an hour, endur'd not
Restraint of any veil: which had she borne
Devoutly, joys, ineffable as these,
Had from the first, and long time since, been mine.
While through that wilderness of primy sweets
That never fade, suspense I walk'd, and yet
Expectant of beatitude more high,
Before us, like a blazing fire, the air
Under the green boughs glow'd; and, for a song,
Distinct the sound of melody was heard.
O ye thrice holy virgins! for your sakes
If e'er I suffer'd hunger, cold and watching,
Occasion calls on me to crave your bounty.
Now through my breast let Helicon his stream
Pour copious; and Urania with her choir
Arise to aid me: while the verse unfolds
Things that do almost mock the grasp of thought.
Onward a space, what seem'd seven trees of gold,
The intervening distance to mine eye
Falsely presented; but when I was come
So near them, that no lineament was lost
Of those, with which a doubtful object, seen
Remotely, plays on the misdeeming sense,
Then did the faculty, that ministers
Discourse to reason, these for tapers of gold
Distinguish, and it th' singing trace the sound
"Hosanna." Above, their beauteous garniture
Flam'd with more ample lustre, than the moon
Through cloudless sky at midnight in her full.
I turn'd me full of wonder to my guide;
And he did answer with a countenance
Charg'd with no less amazement: whence my view
Reverted to those lofty things, which came
So slowly moving towards us, that the bride
Would have outstript them on her bridal day.
The lady called aloud: "Why thus yet burns
Affection in thee for these living, lights,
And dost not look on that which follows them?"
I straightway mark'd a tribe behind them walk,
As if attendant on their leaders, cloth'd
With raiment of such whiteness, as on earth
Was never. On my left, the wat'ry gleam
Borrow'd, and gave me back, when there I look'd.
As in a mirror, my left side portray'd.
When I had chosen on the river's edge
Such station, that the distance of the stream
Alone did separate me; there I stay'd
My steps for clearer prospect, and beheld
The flames go onward, leaving, as they went,
The air behind them painted as with trail
Of liveliest pencils! so distinct were mark'd
All those sev'n listed colours, whence the sun
Maketh his bow, and Cynthia her zone.
These streaming gonfalons did flow beyond
My vision; and ten paces, as I guess,
Parted the outermost. Beneath a sky
So beautiful, came foul and-twenty elders,
By two and two, with flower-de-luces crown'd.
All sang one song: "Blessed be thou among
The daughters of Adam! and thy loveliness
Blessed for ever!" After that the flowers,
And the fresh herblets, on the opposite brink,
Were free from that elected race; as light
In heav'n doth second light, came after them
Four animals, each crown'd with verdurous leaf.
With six wings each was plum'd, the plumage full
Of eyes, and th' eyes of Argus would be such,
Were they endued with life. Reader, more rhymes
Will not waste in shadowing forth their form:
For other need no straitens, that in this
I may not give my bounty room. But read
Ezekiel; for he paints them, from the north
How he beheld them come by Chebar's flood,
In whirlwind, cloud and fire; and even such
As thou shalt find them character'd by him,
Here were they; save as to the pennons; there,
From him departing, John accords with me.
The space, surrounded by the four, enclos'd
A car triumphal: on two wheels it came
Drawn at a Gryphon's neck; and he above
Stretch'd either wing uplifted, 'tween the midst
And the three listed hues, on each side three;
So that the wings did cleave or injure none;
And out of sight they rose. The members, far
As he was bird, were golden; white the rest
With vermeil intervein'd. So beautiful
A car in Rome ne'er grac'd Augustus pomp,
Or Africanus': e'en the sun's itself
Were poor to this, that chariot of the sun
Erroneous, which in blazing ruin fell
At Tellus' pray'r devout, by the just doom
Mysterious of all-seeing Jove. Three nymphs
,k the right wheel, came circling in smooth dance;
The one so ruddy, that her form had scarce
Been known within a furnace of clear flame:
The next did look, as if the flesh and bones
Were emerald: snow new-fallen seem'd the third.
Now seem'd the white to lead, the ruddy now;
And from her song who led, the others took
Their treasure, swift or slow. At th' other wheel,
A band quaternion, each in purple clad,
Advanc'd with festal step, as of them one
The rest conducted, one, upon whose front
Three eyes were seen. In rear of all this group,
Two old men I beheld, dissimilar
In raiment, but in port and gesture like,
Solid and mainly grave; of whom the one
Did show himself some favour'd counsellor
Of the great Coan, him, whom nature made
To serve the costliest creature of her tribe.
His fellow mark'd an opposite intent,
Bearing a sword, whose glitterance and keen edge,
E'en as I view'd it with the flood between,
Appall'd me. Next four others I beheld,
Of humble seeming: and, behind them all,
One single old man, sleeping, as he came,
With a shrewd visage. And these seven, each
Like the first troop were habited, hut wore
No braid of lilies on their temples wreath'd.
Rather with roses and each vermeil flower,
A sight, but little distant, might have sworn,
That they were all on fire above their brow.
Whenas the car was o'er against me, straight.
Was heard a thund'ring, at whose voice it seem'd
The chosen multitude were stay'd; for there,
With the first ensigns, made they solemn halt.
Soon as the polar light, which never knows
Setting nor rising, nor the shadowy veil
Of other cloud than sin, fair ornament
Of the first heav'n, to duty each one there
Safely convoying, as that lower doth
The steersman to his port, stood firmly fix'd;
Forthwith the saintly tribe, who in the van
Between the Gryphon and its radiance came,
Did turn them to the car, as to their rest:
And one, as if commission'd from above,
In holy chant thrice shorted forth aloud:
"Come, spouse, from Libanus!" and all the rest
Took up the song--At the last audit so
The blest shall rise, from forth his cavern each
Uplifting lightly his new-vested flesh,
As, on the sacred litter, at the voice
Authoritative of that elder, sprang
A hundred ministers and messengers
Of life eternal. "Blessed thou! who com'st!"
And, "O," they cried, "from full hands scatter ye
Unwith'ring lilies;" and, so saying, cast
Flowers over head and round them on all sides.
I have beheld, ere now, at break of day,
The eastern clime all roseate, and the sky
Oppos'd, one deep and beautiful serene,
And the sun's face so shaded, and with mists
Attemper'd at lids rising, that the eye
Long while endur'd the sight: thus in a cloud
Of flowers, that from those hands angelic rose,
And down, within and outside of the car,
Fell showering, in white veil with olive wreath'd,
A virgin in my view appear'd, beneath
Green mantle, rob'd in hue of living flame:
And o'er my Spirit, that in former days
Within her presence had abode so long,
No shudd'ring terror crept. Mine eyes no more
Had knowledge of her; yet there mov'd from her
A hidden virtue, at whose touch awak'd,
The power of ancient love was strong within me.
No sooner on my vision streaming, smote
The heav'nly influence, which years past, and e'en
In childhood, thrill'd me, than towards Virgil I
Turn'd me to leftward, panting, like a babe,
That flees for refuge to his mother's breast,
If aught have terrified or work'd him woe:
And would have cried: "There is no dram of blood,
That doth not quiver in me. The old flame
Throws out clear tokens of reviving fire:"
But Virgil had bereav'd us of himself,
Virgil, my best-lov'd father; Virgil, he
To whom I gave me up for safety: nor,
All, our prime mother lost, avail'd to save
My undew'd cheeks from blur of soiling tears.
"Dante, weep not, that Virgil leaves thee: nay,
Weep thou not yet: behooves thee feel the edge
Of other sword, and thou shalt weep for that."
As to the prow or stern, some admiral
Paces the deck, inspiriting his crew,
When 'mid the sail-yards all hands ply aloof;
Thus on the left side of the car I saw,
(Turning me at the sound of mine own name,
Which here I am compell'd to register)
The virgin station'd, who before appeared
Veil'd in that festive shower angelical.
Towards me, across the stream, she bent her eyes;
Though from her brow the veil descending, bound
With foliage of Minerva, suffer'd not
That I beheld her clearly; then with act
Full royal, still insulting o'er her thrall,
Added, as one, who speaking keepeth back
The bitterest saying, to conclude the speech:
"Observe me well. I am, in sooth, I am
Beatrice. What! and hast thou deign'd at last
Approach the mountain? knewest not, O man!
Thy happiness is whole?" Down fell mine eyes
On the clear fount, but there, myself espying,
Recoil'd, and sought the greensward: such a weight
Of shame was on my forehead. With a mien
Of that stern majesty, which doth surround
mother's presence to her awe-struck child,
She look'd; a flavour of such bitterness
Was mingled in her pity. There her words
Brake off, and suddenly the angels sang:
"In thee, O gracious Lord, my hope hath been:"
But went no farther than, "Thou Lord, hast set
My feet in ample room." As snow, that lies
Amidst the living rafters on the back
Of Italy congeal'd when drifted high
And closely pil'd by rough Sclavonian blasts,
Breathe but the land whereon no shadow falls,
And straightway melting it distils away,
Like a fire-wasted taper: thus was I,
Without a sigh or tear, or ever these
Did sing, that with the chiming of heav'n's sphere,
Still in their warbling chime: but when the strain
Of dulcet symphony, express'd for me
Their soft compassion, more than could the words
"Virgin, why so consum'st him?" then the ice,
Congeal'd about my bosom, turn'd itself
To spirit and water, and with anguish forth
Gush'd through the lips and eyelids from the heart.
Upon the chariot's right edge still she stood,
Immovable, and thus address'd her words
To those bright semblances with pity touch'd:
"Ye in th' eternal day your vigils keep,
So that nor night nor slumber, with close stealth,
Conveys from you a single step in all
The goings on of life: thence with more heed
I shape mine answer, for his ear intended,
Who there stands weeping, that the sorrow now
May equal the transgression. Not alone
Through operation of the mighty orbs,
That mark each seed to some predestin'd aim,
As with aspect or fortunate or ill
The constellations meet, but through benign
Largess of heav'nly graces, which rain down
From such a height, as mocks our vision, this man
Was in the freshness of his being, such,
So gifted virtually, that in him
All better habits wond'rously had thriv'd.
The more of kindly strength is in the soil,
So much doth evil seed and lack of culture
Mar it the more, and make it run to wildness.
These looks sometime upheld him; for I show'd
My youthful eyes, and led him by their light
In upright walking. Soon as I had reach'd
The threshold of my second age, and chang'd
My mortal for immortal, then he left me,
And gave himself to others. When from flesh
To spirit I had risen, and increase
Of beauty and of virtue circled me,
I was less dear to him, and valued less.
His steps were turn'd into deceitful ways,
Following false images of good, that make
No promise perfect. Nor avail'd me aught
To sue for inspirations, with the which,
I, both in dreams of night, and otherwise,
Did call him back; of them so little reck'd him,
Such depth he fell, that all device was short
Of his preserving, save that he should view
The children of perdition. To this end
I visited the purlieus of the dead:
And one, who hath conducted him thus high,
Receiv'd my supplications urg'd with weeping.
It were a breaking of God's high decree,
If Lethe should be past, and such food tasted
Without the cost of some repentant tear."
"O Thou!" her words she thus without delay
Resuming, turn'd their point on me, to whom
They but with lateral edge seem'd harsh before,
'Say thou, who stand'st beyond the holy stream,
If this be true. A charge so grievous needs
Thine own avowal." On my faculty
Such strange amazement hung, the voice expir'd
Imperfect, ere its organs gave it birth.
A little space refraining, then she spake:
"What dost thou muse on? Answer me. The wave
On thy remembrances of evil yet
Hath done no injury." A mingled sense
Of fear and of confusion, from my lips
Did such a "Yea " produce, as needed help
Of vision to interpret. As when breaks
In act to be discharg'd, a cross-bow bent
Beyond its pitch, both nerve and bow o'erstretch'd,
The flagging weapon feebly hits the mark;
Thus, tears and sighs forth gushing, did I burst
Beneath the heavy load, and thus my voice
Was slacken'd on its way. She straight began:
"When my desire invited thee to love
The good, which sets a bound to our aspirings,
What bar of thwarting foss or linked chain
Did meet thee, that thou so should'st quit the hope
Of further progress, or what bait of ease
Or promise of allurement led thee on
Elsewhere, that thou elsewhere should'st rather wait?"
A bitter sigh I drew, then scarce found voice
To answer, hardly to these sounds my lips
Gave utterance, wailing: "Thy fair looks withdrawn,
Things present, with deceitful pleasures, turn'd
My steps aside." She answering spake: "Hadst thou
Been silent, or denied what thou avow'st,
Thou hadst not hid thy sin the more: such eye
Observes it. But whene'er the sinner's cheek
Breaks forth into the precious-streaming tears
Of self-accusing, in our court the wheel
Of justice doth run counter to the edge.
Howe'er that thou may'st profit by thy shame
For errors past, and that henceforth more strength
May arm thee, when thou hear'st the Siren-voice,
Lay thou aside the motive to this grief,
And lend attentive ear, while I unfold
How opposite a way my buried flesh
Should have impell'd thee. Never didst thou spy
In art or nature aught so passing sweet,
As were the limbs, that in their beauteous frame
Enclos'd me, and are scatter'd now in dust.
If sweetest thing thus fail'd thee with my death,
What, afterward, of mortal should thy wish
Have tempted? When thou first hadst felt the dart
Of perishable things, in my departing
For better realms, thy wing thou should'st have prun'd
To follow me, and never stoop'd again
To 'bide a second blow for a slight girl,
Or other gaud as transient and as vain.
The new and inexperienc'd bird awaits,
Twice it may be, or thrice, the fowler's aim;
But in the sight of one, whose plumes are full,
In vain the net is spread, the arrow wing'd."
I stood, as children silent and asham'd
Stand, list'ning, with their eyes upon the earth,
Acknowledging their fault and self-condemn'd.
And she resum'd: "If, but to hear thus pains thee,
Raise thou thy beard, and lo! what sight shall do!"
With less reluctance yields a sturdy holm,
Rent from its fibers by a blast, that blows
From off the pole, or from Iarbas' land,
Than I at her behest my visage rais'd:
And thus the face denoting by the beard,
I mark'd the secret sting her words convey'd.
No sooner lifted I mine aspect up,
Than downward sunk that vision I beheld
Of goodly creatures vanish; and mine eyes
Yet unassur'd and wavering, bent their light
On Beatrice. Towards the animal,
Who joins two natures in one form, she turn'd,
And, even under shadow of her veil,
And parted by the verdant rill, that flow'd
Between, in loveliness appear'd as much
Her former self surpassing, as on earth
All others she surpass'd. Remorseful goads
Shot sudden through me. Each thing else, the more
Its love had late beguil'd me, now the more
I Was loathsome. On my heart so keenly smote
The bitter consciousness, that on the ground
O'erpower'd I fell: and what my state was then,
She knows who was the cause. When now my strength
Flow'd back, returning outward from the heart,
The lady, whom alone I first had seen,
I found above me. "Loose me not," she cried:
"Loose not thy hold;" and lo! had dragg'd me high
As to my neck into the stream, while she,
Still as she drew me after, swept along,
Swift as a shuttle, bounding o'er the wave.
The blessed shore approaching then was heard
So sweetly, "Tu asperges me," that I
May not remember, much less tell the sound.
The beauteous dame, her arms expanding, clasp'd
My temples, and immerg'd me, where 't was fit
The wave should drench me: and thence raising up,
Within the fourfold dance of lovely nymphs
Presented me so lav'd, and with their arm
They each did cover me. "Here are we nymphs,
And in the heav'n are stars. Or ever earth
Was visited of Beatrice, we
Appointed for her handmaids, tended on her.
We to her eyes will lead thee; but the light
Of gladness that is in them, well to scan,
Those yonder three, of deeper ken than ours,
Thy sight shall quicken." Thus began their song;
And then they led me to the Gryphon's breast,
While, turn'd toward us, Beatrice stood.
"Spare not thy vision. We have stationed thee
Before the emeralds, whence love erewhile
Hath drawn his weapons on thee. "As they spake,
A thousand fervent wishes riveted
Mine eyes upon her beaming eyes, that stood
Still fix'd toward the Gryphon motionless.
As the sun strikes a mirror, even thus
Within those orbs the twofold being, shone,
For ever varying, in one figure now
Reflected, now in other. Reader! muse
How wond'rous in my sight it seem'd to mark
A thing, albeit steadfast in itself,
Yet in its imag'd semblance mutable.
Full of amaze, and joyous, while my soul
Fed on the viand, whereof still desire
Grows with satiety, the other three
With gesture, that declar'd a loftier line,
Advanc'd: to their own carol on they came
Dancing in festive ring angelical.
"Turn, Beatrice!" was their song: "O turn
Thy saintly sight on this thy faithful one,
Who to behold thee many a wearisome pace
Hath measur'd. Gracious at our pray'r vouchsafe
Unveil to him thy cheeks: that he may mark
Thy second beauty, now conceal'd." O splendour!
O sacred light eternal! who is he
So pale with musing in Pierian shades,
Or with that fount so lavishly imbued,
Whose spirit should not fail him in th' essay
To represent thee such as thou didst seem,
When under cope of the still-chiming heaven
Thou gav'st to open air thy charms reveal'd.
Mine eyes with such an eager coveting,
Were bent to rid them of their ten years' thirst,
No other sense was waking: and e'en they
Were fenc'd on either side from heed of aught;
So tangled in its custom'd toils that smile
Of saintly brightness drew me to itself,
When forcibly toward the left my sight
The sacred virgins turn'd; for from their lips
I heard the warning sounds: "Too fix'd a gaze!"
Awhile my vision labor'd; as when late
Upon the' o'erstrained eyes the sun hath smote:
But soon to lesser object, as the view
Was now recover'd (lesser in respect
To that excess of sensible, whence late
I had perforce been sunder'd) on their right
I mark'd that glorious army wheel, and turn,
Against the sun and sev'nfold lights, their front.
As when, their bucklers for protection rais'd,
A well-rang'd troop, with portly banners curl'd,
Wheel circling, ere the whole can change their ground:
E'en thus the goodly regiment of heav'n
Proceeding, all did pass us, ere the car
Had slop'd his beam. Attendant at the wheels
The damsels turn'd; and on the Gryphon mov'd
The sacred burden, with a pace so smooth,
No feather on him trembled. The fair dame
Who through the wave had drawn me, companied
By Statius and myself, pursued the wheel,
Whose orbit, rolling, mark'd a lesser arch.
Through the high wood, now void (the more her blame,
Who by the serpent was beguil'd) I past
With step in cadence to the harmony
Angelic. Onward had we mov'd, as far
Perchance as arrow at three several flights
Full wing'd had sped, when from her station down
Descended Beatrice. With one voice
All murmur'd "Adam," circling next a plant
Despoil'd of flowers and leaf on every bough.
Its tresses, spreading more as more they rose,
Were such, as 'midst their forest wilds for height
The Indians might have gaz'd at. "Blessed thou!
Gryphon, whose beak hath never pluck'd that tree
Pleasant to taste: for hence the appetite
Was warp'd to evil." Round the stately trunk
Thus shouted forth the rest, to whom return'd
The animal twice-gender'd: "Yea: for so
The generation of the just are sav'd."
And turning to the chariot-pole, to foot
He drew it of the widow'd branch, and bound
There left unto the stock whereon it grew.
As when large floods of radiance from above
Stream, with that radiance mingled, which ascends
Next after setting of the scaly sign,
Our plants then burgeon, and each wears anew
His wonted colours, ere the sun have yok'd
Beneath another star his flamy steeds;
Thus putting forth a hue, more faint than rose,
And deeper than the violet, was renew'd
The plant, erewhile in all its branches bare.
Unearthly was the hymn, which then arose.
I understood it not, nor to the end
Endur'd the harmony. Had I the skill
To pencil forth, how clos'd th' unpitying eyes
Slumb'ring, when Syrinx warbled, (eyes that paid
So dearly for their watching,) then like painter,
That with a model paints, I might design
The manner of my falling into sleep.
But feign who will the slumber cunningly;
I pass it by to when I wak'd, and tell
How suddenly a flash of splendour rent
The curtain of my sleep, and one cries out:
"Arise, what dost thou?" As the chosen three,
On Tabor's mount, admitted to behold
The blossoming of that fair tree, whose fruit
Is coveted of angels, and doth make
Perpetual feast in heaven, to themselves
Returning at the word, whence deeper sleeps
Were broken, that they their tribe diminish'd saw,
Both Moses and Elias gone, and chang'd
The stole their master wore: thus to myself
Returning, over me beheld I stand
The piteous one, who cross the stream had brought
My steps. "And where," all doubting, I exclaim'd,
"Is Beatrice?"--"See her," she replied,
"Beneath the fresh leaf seated on its root.
Behold th' associate choir that circles her.
The others, with a melody more sweet
And more profound, journeying to higher realms,
Upon the Gryphon tend." If there her words
Were clos'd, I know not; but mine eyes had now
Ta'en view of her, by whom all other thoughts
Were barr'd admittance. On the very ground
Alone she sat, as she had there been left
A guard upon the wain, which I beheld
Bound to the twyform beast. The seven nymphs
Did make themselves a cloister round about her,
And in their hands upheld those lights secure
From blast septentrion and the gusty south.
"A little while thou shalt be forester here:
And citizen shalt be forever with me,
Of that true Rome, wherein Christ dwells a Roman
To profit the misguided world, keep now
Thine eyes upon the car; and what thou seest,
Take heed thou write, returning to that place."
Thus Beatrice: at whose feet inclin'd
Devout, at her behest, my thought and eyes,
I, as she bade, directed. Never fire,
With so swift motion, forth a stormy cloud
Leap'd downward from the welkin's farthest bound,
As I beheld the bird of Jove descending
Pounce on the tree, and, as he rush'd, the rind,
Disparting crush beneath him, buds much more
And leaflets. On the car with all his might
He struck, whence, staggering like a ship, it reel'd,
At random driv'n, to starboard now, o'ercome,
And now to larboard, by the vaulting waves.
Next springing up into the chariot's womb
A fox I saw, with hunger seeming pin'd
Of all good food. But, for his ugly sins
The saintly maid rebuking him, away
Scamp'ring he turn'd, fast as his hide-bound corpse
Would bear him. Next, from whence before he came,
I saw the eagle dart into the hull
O' th' car, and leave it with his feathers lin'd;
And then a voice, like that which issues forth
From heart with sorrow riv'd, did issue forth
From heav'n, and, "O poor bark of mine!" it cried,
"How badly art thou freighted!" Then, it seem'd,
That the earth open'd between either wheel,
And I beheld a dragon issue thence,
That through the chariot fix'd his forked train;
And like a wasp that draggeth back the sting,
So drawing forth his baleful train, he dragg'd
Part of the bottom forth, and went his way
Exulting. What remain'd, as lively turf
With green herb, so did clothe itself with plumes,
Which haply had with purpose chaste and kind
Been offer'd; and therewith were cloth'd the wheels,
Both one and other, and the beam, so quickly
A sigh were not breath'd sooner. Thus transform'd,
The holy structure, through its several parts,
Did put forth heads, three on the beam, and one
On every side; the first like oxen horn'd,
But with a single horn upon their front
The four. Like monster sight hath never seen.
O'er it methought there sat, secure as rock
On mountain's lofty top, a shameless whore,
Whose ken rov'd loosely round her. At her side,
As 't were that none might bear her off, I saw
A giant stand; and ever, and anon
They mingled kisses. But, her lustful eyes
Chancing on me to wander, that fell minion
Scourg'd her from head to foot all o'er; then full
Of jealousy, and fierce with rage, unloos'd
The monster, and dragg'd on, so far across
The forest, that from me its shades alone
Shielded the harlot and the new-form'd brute.
"The heathen, Lord! are come!" responsive thus,
The trinal now, and now the virgin band
Quaternion, their sweet psalmody began,
Weeping; and Beatrice listen'd, sad
And sighing, to the song', in such a mood,
That Mary, as she stood beside the cross,
Was scarce more chang'd. But when they gave her place
To speak, then, risen upright on her feet,
She, with a colour glowing bright as fire,
Did answer: "Yet a little while, and ye
Shall see me not; and, my beloved sisters,
Again a little while, and ye shall see me."
Before her then she marshall'd all the seven,
And, beck'ning only motion'd me, the dame,
And that remaining sage, to follow her.
So on she pass'd; and had not set, I ween,
Her tenth step to the ground, when with mine eyes
Her eyes encounter'd; and, with visage mild,
"So mend thy pace," she cried, "that if my words
Address thee, thou mayst still be aptly plac'd
To hear them." Soon as duly to her side
I now had hasten'd: "Brother!" she began,
"Why mak'st thou no attempt at questioning,
As thus we walk together?" Like to those
Who, speaking with too reverent an awe
Before their betters, draw not forth the voice
Alive unto their lips, befell me shell
That I in sounds imperfect thus began:
"Lady! what I have need of, that thou know'st,
And what will suit my need." She answering thus:
"Of fearfulness and shame, I will, that thou
Henceforth do rid thee: that thou speak no more,
As one who dreams. Thus far be taught of me:
The vessel, which thou saw'st the serpent break,
Was and is not: let him, who hath the blame,
Hope not to scare God's vengeance with a sop.
Without an heir for ever shall not be
That eagle, he, who left the chariot plum'd,
Which monster made it first and next a prey.
Plainly I view, and therefore speak, the stars
E'en now approaching, whose conjunction, free
From all impediment and bar, brings on
A season, in the which, one sent from God,
(Five hundred, five, and ten, do mark him out)
That foul one, and th' accomplice of her guilt,
The giant, both shall slay. And if perchance
My saying, dark as Themis or as Sphinx,
Fail to persuade thee, (since like them it foils
The intellect with blindness) yet ere long
Events shall be the Naiads, that will solve
This knotty riddle, and no damage light
On flock or field. Take heed; and as these words
By me are utter'd, teach them even so
To those who live that life, which is a race
To death: and when thou writ'st them, keep in mind
Not to conceal how thou hast seen the plant,
That twice hath now been spoil'd. This whoso robs,
This whoso plucks, with blasphemy of deed
Sins against God, who for his use alone
Creating hallow'd it. For taste of this,
In pain and in desire, five thousand years
And upward, the first soul did yearn for him,
Who punish'd in himself the fatal gust.
"Thy reason slumbers, if it deem this height
And summit thus inverted of the plant,
Without due cause: and were not vainer thoughts,
As Elsa's numbing waters, to thy soul,
And their fond pleasures had not dyed it dark
As Pyramus the mulberry, thou hadst seen,
In such momentous circumstance alone,
God's equal justice morally implied
In the forbidden tree. But since I mark thee
In understanding harden'd into stone,
And, to that hardness, spotted too and stain'd,
So that thine eye is dazzled at my word,
I will, that, if not written, yet at least
Painted thou take it in thee, for the cause,
That one brings home his staff inwreath'd with palm.
"I thus: "As wax by seal, that changeth not
Its impress, now is stamp'd my brain by thee.
But wherefore soars thy wish'd-for speech so high
Beyond my sight, that loses it the more,
The more it strains to reach it?" --"To the end
That thou mayst know," she answer'd straight, "the school,
That thou hast follow'd; and how far behind,
When following my discourse, its learning halts:
And mayst behold your art, from the divine
As distant, as the disagreement is
'Twixt earth and heaven's most high and rapturous orb."
"I not remember," I replied, "that e'er
I was estrang'd from thee, nor for such fault
Doth conscience chide me." Smiling she return'd:
"If thou canst, not remember, call to mind
How lately thou hast drunk of Lethe's wave;
And, sure as smoke doth indicate a flame,
In that forgetfulness itself conclude
Blame from thy alienated will incurr'd.
From henceforth verily my words shall be
As naked as will suit them to appear
In thy unpractis'd view." More sparkling now,
And with retarded course the sun possess'd
The circle of mid-day, that varies still
As th' aspect varies of each several clime,
When, as one, sent in vaward of a troop
For escort, pauses, if perchance he spy
Vestige of somewhat strange and rare: so paus'd
The sev'nfold band, arriving at the verge
Of a dun umbrage hoar, such as is seen,
Beneath green leaves and gloomy branches, oft
To overbrow a bleak and alpine cliff.
And, where they stood, before them, as it seem'd,
Tigris and Euphrates both beheld,
Forth from one fountain issue; and, like friends,
Linger at parting. "O enlight'ning beam!
O glory of our kind! beseech thee say
What water this, which from one source deriv'd
Itself removes to distance from itself?"
To such entreaty answer thus was made:
"Entreat Matilda, that she teach thee this."
And here, as one, who clears himself of blame
Imputed, the fair dame return'd: "Of me
He this and more hath learnt; and I am safe
That Lethe's water hath not hid it from him."
And Beatrice: "Some more pressing care
That oft the memory 'reeves, perchance hath made
His mind's eye dark. But lo! where Eunoe cows!
Lead thither; and, as thou art wont, revive
His fainting virtue." As a courteous spirit,
That proffers no excuses, but as soon
As he hath token of another's will,
Makes it his own; when she had ta'en me, thus
The lovely maiden mov'd her on, and call'd
To Statius with an air most lady-like:
"Come thou with him." Were further space allow'd,
Then, Reader, might I sing, though but in part,
That beverage, with whose sweetness I had ne'er
Been sated. But, since all the leaves are full,
Appointed for this second strain, mine art
With warning bridle checks me. I return'd
From the most holy wave, regenerate,
If 'en as new plants renew'd with foliage new,
Pure and made apt for mounting to the stars.
NOTES TO PURGATORY
Verse 1. O'er better waves.] Berni, Orl. Inn. L 2. c. i.
Per correr maggior acqua alza le vele,
O debil navicella del mio ingegno.
v. 11. Birds of chattering note.] For the fable of the
daughters of Pierus, who challenged the muses to sing, and were
changed into magpies, see Ovid, Met. 1. v. fab. 5.
v. 19. Planet.] Venus.
v. 20. Made all the orient laugh.] Hence Chaucer, Knight's
Tale: And all the orisont laugheth of the sight.
It is sometimes read "orient."
v. 24. Four stars.] Symbolical of the four cardinal virtues,
Prudence Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. See Canto XXXI v.
v. 30. The wain.] Charles's wain, or Bootes.
v. 31. An old man.] Cato.
v. 92. Venerable plumes.] The same metaphor has occurred in
Hell Canto XX. v. 41:
That mark'd the better sex.
It is used by Ford in the Lady's Trial, a. 4. s. 2.
Now the down
Of softness is exchang'd for plumes of age.
v. 58. The farthest gloom.] L'ultima sera. Ariosto, Oroando
Furioso c. xxxiv st. 59:
Che non hen visto ancor l'ultima sera.
And Filicaja, c. ix. Al Sonno.
v. 79. Marcia.]
Da fredera prisci
Illibata tori: da tantum nomen inane
Connubil: liceat tumulo scripsisse, Catonis
Lucan, Phars. 1. ii. 344.
v. 110. I spy'd the trembling of the ocean stream.]
Connubil il tremolar della marina.
Trissino, in the Sofonisba.]
E resta in tremolar l'onda marina
And Fortiguerra, Rleelardetto, c. ix. st. 17.
--visto il tremolar della marine.
v. 135. another.] From Virg, Aen. 1. vi. 143.
Primo avulso non deficit alter
v. 1. Now had the sun.] Dante was now antipodal to Jerusalem,
so that while the sun was setting with respect to that place
which he supposes to be the middle of the inhabited earth, to him
it was rising.
v. 6. The scales.] The constellation Libra.
v. 35. Winnowing the air.]
Trattando l'acre con l'eterne penne.
80 Filicaja, canz. viii. st. 11.
Ma trattar l'acre coll' eterne plume
v. 45. In exitu.] "When Israel came out of Egypt." Ps. cxiv.
v. 75. Thrice my hands.]
Ter conatus ibi eollo dare brachia eircum,
Ter frustra eomprensa manus effugit imago,
Par levibus ventis voluerique simillima sommo.
Virg. Aen. ii. 794.
Compare Homer, Od. xl. 205.
v. 88. My Casella.] A Florentine, celebrated for his skill in
music, "in whose company," says Landine, "Dante often recreated
his spirits wearied by severe studies." See Dr. Burney's History
of Music, vol. ii. c. iv. p. 322. Milton has a fine allusion to
this meeting in his sonnet to Henry Lawes.
v. 90. Hath so much time been lost.] Casella had been dead some
years but was only just arrived.
v. 91. He.] The eonducting angel.
v. 94. These three months past.] Since the time of the Jubilee,
during which all spirits not condemned to eternal punishment,
were supposed to pass over to Purgatory as soon as they pleased.
v. 96. The shore.] Ostia.
v. 170. "Love that discourses in my thoughts."]
"Amor che nella mente mi ragiona."
The first verse of a eanzone or song in the Convito of Dante,
which he again cites in his Treatise de Vulg. Eloq. 1. ii. c.
v. 9. How doth a little failing wound thee sore.]
(Ch'era al cor picciol fallo amaro morso.
Tasso, G. L. c. x. st. 59.
v. 11. Haste, that mars all decency of act. Aristotle in his
Physiog iii. reekons it among the "the signs of an impudent
man," that he is "quick in his motions." Compare Sophoeles,
v. 26. To Naples.]
Virgil died at Brundusium, from whence his body is said to have
been removed to Naples.
v. 38. Desiring fruitlessly.] See H. Canto IV, 39.
v. 49. 'Twixt Lerice and Turbia.] At that time the two
extremities of the Genoese republic, the former on the east, the
latter on the west. A very ingenious writer has had occasion,
for a different purpose, to mention one of these places as
remarkably secluded by its mountainous situation "On an eminence
among the mountains, between the two little cities, Nice and
Manoca, is the village of Torbia, a name formed from the Greek
[GREEK HERE] Mitford on the Harmony of Language, sect. x. p. 351.
v. 78. As sheep.] The imitative nature of these animals
supplies our Poet with another comparison in his Convito Opere,
t. i. p 34. Ediz. Ven. 1793.
v. 110. Manfredi. King of Naples and Sicily, and the natural
son of Frederick II. He was lively end agreeable in his manners,
and delighted in poetry, music, and dancing. But he was luxurious
and ambitious. Void of religion, and in his philosophy an
Epicurean. See G. Villani l. vi. c. xlvii. and Mr. Matthias's
Tiraboschi, v. I. p. 38. He fell in the battle with Charles of
Anjou in 1265, alluded to in Canto XXVIII, of Hell, v. 13,
"Dying, excommunicated, King Charles did allow of his being
buried in sacred ground, but he was interred near the bridge of
Benevento, and on his grave there was cast a stone by every one
of the army whence there was formed a great mound of stones. But
some ave said, that afterwards, by command of the Pope. the
Bishop of Cosenza took up his body and sent it out of the
kingdom, because it was the land of the church, and that it was
buried by the river Verde, on the borders of the kingdom and of
Carapagna. this, however, we do not affirm." G. Villani, Hist.
l. vii. c. 9.
v. 111. Costanza.] See Paradise Canto III. v. 121.
v. 112. My fair daughter.] Costanza, the daughter of Manfredi,
and wife of Peter III. King of Arragon, by whom she was mother
to Frederick, King of Sicily and James, King of Arragon With the
latter of these she was at Rome 1296. See G. Villani, 1. viii. c.
18. and notes to Canto VII.
v. 122. Clement.] Pope Clement IV.
v. 127. The stream of Verde.] A river near Ascoli, that falls
into he Toronto. The "xtinguished lights " formed part of the
ceremony t the interment of one excommunicated.
v. 130. Hope.]
Mentre che la speranza ha fior del verde.
Tasso, G. L. c. xix. st. 53.
--infin che verde e fior di speme.
v. 1. When.] It must be owned the beginning of this Canto is
somewhat obscure. Bellutello refers, for an elucidation of it, to
the reasoning of Statius in the twenty-fifth canto. Perhaps some
illustration may be derived from the following, passage in
South's Sermons, in which I have ventured to supply the words
between crotchets that seemed to be wanting to complete
the sense. Now whether these three, judgement memory, and
invention, are three distinct things, both in being distinguished
from one another, and likewise from the substance of the soul
itself, considered without any such faculties, (or whether the
soul be one individual substance) but only receiving these
several denominations rom the several respects arising from the
several actions exerted immediately by itself upon several
objects, or several qualities of the same object, I say whether
of these it is, is not easy to decide, and it is well that it is
not necessary Aquinas, and most with him, affirm the former, and
Scotus with his followers the latter." Vol. iv. Serm. 1.
v. 23. Sanleo.] A fortress on the summit of Montefeltro.
v. 24. Noli.] In the Genoese territory, between Finale and
v. 25. Bismantua.] A steep mountain in the territory of Reggio.
v. 55. From the left.] Vellutello observes an imitation of
Lucan in this passage:
Ignotum vobis, Arabes, venistis in orbem,
Umbras mirati nemornm non ire sinistras.
Phars. s. 1. iii. 248
v. 69 Thou wilt see.] "If you consider that this mountain of
Purgatory and that of Sion are antipodal to each other, you will
perceive that the sun must rise on opposite sides of the
v. 119. Belacqua.] Concerning this man, the commentators afford
v. 14. Be as a tower.] Sta ome torre ferma
Berni, Orl. Inn. 1. 1. c. xvi. st. 48:
In quei due piedi sta fermo il gigante
Com' una torre in mezzo d'un castello.
And Milton, P. L. b. i. 591.
Stood like a tower.
v. 36. Ne'er saw I fiery vapours.] Imitated by Tasso, G. L, c.
xix t. 62:
Tal suol fendendo liquido sereno
Stella cader della gran madre in seno.
And by Milton, P. L. b. iv. 558:
Swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fir'd
Impress the air.
v. 67. That land.] The Marca d'Ancona, between Romagna and
Apulia, the kingdom of Charles of Anjou.
v. 76. From thence I came.] Giacopo del Cassero, a citizen of
Fano who having spoken ill of Azzo da Este, Marquis of Ferrara,
was by his orders put to death. Giacopo, was overtaken by the
assassins at Oriaco a place near the Brenta, from whence, if he
had fled towards Mira, higher up on that river, instead of making
for the marsh on the sea shore, he might have escaped.
v. 75. Antenor's land.] The city of Padua, said to be founded
v. 87. Of Montefeltro I.] Buonconte (son of Guido da
Montefeltro, whom we have had in the twenty-seventh Canto of
Hell) fell in the battle of Campaldino (1289), fighting on the
side of the Aretini.
v. 88. Giovanna.] Either the wife, or kinswoman, of Buonconte.
v. 91. The hermit's seat.] The hermitage of Camaldoli.
v. 95. Where its name is cancel'd.] That is, between Bibbiena
and Poppi, where the Archiano falls into the Arno.
v. 115. From Pratomagno to the mountain range.] From Pratomagno
now called Prato Vecchio (which divides the Valdarno from
Casentino) as far as to the Apennine.
v. 131. Pia.] She is said to have been a Siennese lady, of the
family of Tolommei, secretly made away with by her husband, Nello
della Pietra, of the same city, in Maremma, where he had some
v. 14. Of Arezzo him.] Benincasa of Arezzo, eminent for his
skill in jurisprudence, who, having condemned to death Turrino da
Turrita brother of Ghino di Tacco, for his robberies in Maremma,
was murdered by Ghino, in an apartment of his own house, in the
presence of many witnesses. Ghino was not only suffered to escape
in safety, but (as the commentators inform us) obtained so high a
reputation by the liberality with which he was accustomed to
dispense the fruits of his plunder, and treated those who fell
into his hands with so much courtesy, that he was afterwards
invited to Rome, and knighted by Boniface VIII. A story is told
of him by Boccaccio, G. x. N. 2.
v. 15. Him beside.] Ciacco de' Tariatti of Arezzo. He is said
to have been carried by his horse into the Arno, and there
drowned, while he was in pursuit of certain of his enemies.
v. 17. Frederic Novello.] Son of the Conte Guido da Battifolle,
and slain by one of the family of Bostoli.
v. 18. Of Pisa he.] Farinata de' Scornigiani of Pisa. His
father Marzuco, who had entered the order of the Frati Minori, so
entirely overcame the feelings of resentment, that he even kissed
the hands of the slayer of his son, and, as he was following the
funeral, exhorted his kinsmen to reconciliation.
v. 20. Count 0rso.] Son of Napoleone da Cerbaia, slain by
Alberto da Mangona, his uncle.
v. 23. Peter de la Brosse.] Secretary of Philip III of France.
The courtiers, envying the high place which he held in the king's
favour, prevailed on Mary of Brabant to charge him falsely with
an attempt upon her person for which supposed crime he suffered
death. So say the Italian commentators. Henault represents the
matter very differently: "Pierre de la Brosse, formerly barber to
St. Louis, afterwards the favorite of Philip, fearing the too
great attachment of the king for his wife Mary, accuses this
princess of having poisoned Louis, eldest son of Philip, by his
first marriage. This calumny is discovered by a nun of Nivelle in
Flanders. La Brosse is hung." Abrege Chron. t. 275, &c.
v. 30. In thy text.] He refers to Virgil, Aen. 1, vi. 376.
Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando, 37. The sacred height
Of judgment. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, a. ii. s. 2.
If he, which is the top of judgment
v. 66. Eyeing us as a lion on his watch.]
A guisa di Leon quando si posa.
A line taken by Tasso, G. L. c. x. st. 56.
v. 76. Sordello.] The history of Sordello's life is wrapt in
the obscurity of romance. That he distinguished himself by his
skill in Provencal poetry is certain. It is probable that he was
born towards the end of the twelfth, and died about the middle of
the succeeding century. Tiraboschi has taken much pains to sift
all the notices he could collect relating to him. Honourable
mention of his name is made by our Poet in the Treatise de Vulg.
Eloq. 1. i. c. 15.
v. 76. Thou inn of grief.]
Thou most beauteous inn
Why should hard-favour'd grief be lodg'd in thee?
Shakespeare, Richard II a. 5. s. 1.
v. 89. Justinian's hand.] "What avails it that Justinian
delivered thee from the Goths, and reformed thy laws, if thou art
no longer under the control of his successors in the empire?"
v. 94. That which God commands.] He alludes to the precept-
"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's."
v. 98. O German Albert!] The Emperor Albert I. succeeded
Adolphus in 1298, and was murdered in 1308. See Par Canto XIX
114 v. 103. Thy successor.] The successor of Albert was Henry
of Luxembourg, by whose interposition in the affairs of Italy our
Poet hoped to have been reinstated in his native city.
v. 101. Thy sire.] The Emperor Rodolph, too intent on
increasing his power in Germany to give much of his thoughts to
Italy, "the garden of the empire."
v. 107. Capulets and Montagues.] Our ears are so familiarized
to the names of these rival families in the language of
Shakespeare, that I have used them instead of the "Montecchi" and
v. 108. Philippeschi and Monaldi.] Two other rival families in
v. 113. What safety, Santafiore can supply.] A place between
Pisa and Sienna. What he alludes to is so doubtful, that it is
not certain whether we should not read "come si cura"--" How
Santafiore is governed." Perhaps the event related in the note to
v. 58, Canto XI. may be pointed at.
v. 127. Marcellus.]
Un Marcel diventa
Ogni villan che parteggiando viene.
Repeated by Alamanni in his Coltivazione, 1. i.
v. 51. I sick wretch.] Imitated by the Cardinal de Polignac in
his Anti-Lucretius, 1. i. 1052.
Ceu lectum peragrat membris languentibus aeger
In latus alterne faevum dextrumque recumbens
Nec javat: inde oculos tollit resupinus in altum:
Nusquam inventa quies; semper quaesita: quod illi
Primum in deliciis fuerat, mox torquet et angit:
Nec morburm sanat, nec fallit taedia morbi.
v. 14. Where one of mean estate might clasp his lord.]
Ariosto Orl. F. c. xxiv. st. 19
E l'abbracciaro, ove il maggior s'abbraccia
Col capo nudo e col ginocchio chino.
v. 31. The three holy virtues.] Faith, Hope and Charity.
v. 32. The red.] Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.
v. 72. Fresh emeralds.]
Under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth with rich inlay
Broider'd the ground, more colour'd than with stone
Of costliest emblem.
Milton, P. L. b. iv. 793
Compare Ariosto, Orl. F. c. xxxiv. st. 49.
v. 79. Salve Regina.] The beginning of a prayer to the Virgin.
It is sufficient here to observe, that in similar instances I
shall either preserve the original Latin words or translate them,
as it may seem best to suit the purpose of the verse.
v. 91. The Emperor Rodolph.] See the last Canto, v. 104. He
died in 1291.
v. 95. That country.] Bohemia.
v. 97. Ottocar.] King of Bohemia, was killed in the battle of
Marchfield, fought with Rodolph, August 26, 1278. Winceslaus II.
His son,who succeeded him in the kingdom of Bohemia. died in
1305. He is again taxed with luxury in the Paradise Canto XIX.
v. 101. That one with the nose deprest. ] Philip III of France,
who died in 1285, at Perpignan, in his retreat from Arragon.
v. 102. Him of gentle look.] Henry of Naverre, father of Jane
married to Philip IV of France, whom Dante calls "mal di Francia"
-" Gallia's bane."
v. 110. He so robust of limb.] Peter III called the Great,
King of Arragon, who died in 1285, leaving four sons, Alonzo,
James, Frederick and Peter. The two former succeeded him in the
kingdom of Arragon, and Frederick in that of Sicily.
See G. Villani, 1. vii. c. 102. and Mariana, I. xiv. c. 9.
He is enumerated among the Provencal poets by Millot, Hist. Litt.
Des Troubadours, t. iii. p. 150.
v. 111. Him of feature prominent.] "Dal maschio naso"-with the
masculine nose." Charles I. King of Naples, Count of Anjou, and
brother of St. Lonis. He died in 1284. The annalist of Florence
remarks, that "there had been no sovereign of the house of
France, since the time of Charlemagne, by whom Charles
was surpassed either in military renown, and prowess, or in the
loftiness of his understanding." G. Villani, 1. vii. c. 94.
We shall, however, find many of his actions severely reprobated
in the twentieth Canto.
v. 113. That stripling.] Either (as the old commentators
suppose) Alonzo III King of Arragon, the eldest son of Peter III
who died in 1291, at the age of 27, or, according to Venturi,
Peter the youngest son. The former was a young prince of virtue
sufficient to have justified the eulogium and the hopes of Dante.
See Mariana, 1. xiv. c. 14.
v. 119. Rarely.]
Full well can the wise poet of Florence
That hight Dante, speaken in this sentence
Lo! in such manner rime is Dantes tale.
Full selde upriseth by his branches smale
Prowesse of man for God of his goodnesse
Woll that we claim of him our gentlenesse:
For of our elders may we nothing claime
But temporal thing, that men may hurt and maime.
Chaucer, Wife of Bathe's Tale.
Compare Homer, Od. b. ii. v. 276; Pindar, Nem. xi. 48 and
Euripides, Electra, 369.
v. 122. To Charles.] "Al Nasuto." -"Charles II King of Naples,
is no less inferior to his father Charles I. than James and
Frederick to theirs, Peter III."
v. 127. Costanza.] Widow of Peter III She has been already
mentioned in the third Canto, v. 112. By Beatrice and Margaret
are probably meant two of the daughters of Raymond Berenger,
Count of Provence; the former married to St. Louis of France, the
latter to his brother Charles of Anjou.
See Paradise, Canto Vl. 135. Dante therefore considers Peter as
the most illustrious of the three monarchs.
v. 129. Harry of England.] Henry III.
v. 130. Better issue.] Edward l. of whose glory our Poet was
perhaps a witness, in his visit to England.
v. 133. William, that brave Marquis.] William, Marquis of
Monferrat, was treacherously seized by his own subjects, at
Alessandria, in Lombardy, A.D. 1290, and ended his life in
prison. See G. Villani, 1. vii. c. 135. A war ensued between the
people of Alessandria and those of Monferrat and the Canavese.
v. 6. That seems to mourn for the expiring day.]
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day. Gray's Elegy.
v. 13. Te Lucis Ante.] The beginning of one of the evening
v. 36. As faculty.]
My earthly by his heav'nly overpower'd
* * * *
As with an object, that excels the sense,
Dazzled and spent.
Milton, P. L. b. viii. 457.
v. 53. Nino, thou courteous judge.] Nino di Gallura de'
Visconti nephew to Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi, and betrayed
by him. See Notes to Hell Canto XXXIII.
v. 65. Conrad.] Currado Malaspina.
v. 71 My Giovanna.] The daughter of Nino, and wife of
Riccardo da Cammino of Trevigi.
v. 73. Her mother.] Beatrice, marchioness of Este wife of Nino,
and after his death married to Galeazzo de' Visconti of Milan.
v. 74. The white and wimpled folds.] The weeds of widowhood.
v. 80. The viper.] The arms of Galeazzo and the ensign of the
v. 81. Shrill Gallura's bird.] The cock was the ensign of
Gallura, Nino's province in Sardinia. Hell, Canto XXII. 80. and
v. 115. Valdimagra.] See Hell, Canto XXIV. 144. and Notes.
v. 133. Sev'n times the tired sun.] "The sun shall not enter
into the constellation of Aries seven times more, before thou
shalt have still better cause for the good opinion thou
expresses" of Valdimagra, in the kind reception thou shalt there
meet with." Dante was hospitably received by the Marchese
Marcello Malaspina, during his banishment. A.D. 1307.
v. 1. Now the fair consort of Tithonus old.]
La concubina di Titone antico.
So Tassoni, Secchia Rapita, c. viii. st. 15.
La puttanella del canuto amante.
v. 5. Of that chill animal.] The scorpion.
v. 14. Our minds.] Compare Hell, Canto XXVI. 7.
v. 18. A golden-feathered eagle. ] Chaucer, in the house of
Fame at the conclusion of the first book and beginning of the
second, represents himself carried up by the "grim pawes" of a
golden eagle. Much of his description is closely imitated from
v. 50. Lucia.] The enIightening, grace of heaven Hell, Canto
v. 85. The lowest stair.] By the white step is meant the
distinctness with which the conscience of the penitent reflects
his offences, by the burnt and cracked one, his contrition on,
their account; and by that of porphyry, the fervour with which he
resolves on the future pursuit of piety and virtue. Hence, no
doubt, Milton describing "the gate of heaven," P. L. b.
Each stair mysteriously was meant.
v. 100. Seven times.] Seven P's, to denote the seven sins
(Peccata) of which he was to be cleansed in his passage through
v. 115. One is more precious.] The golden key denotes the
divine authority by which the priest absolves the sinners the
silver expresses the learning and
judgment requisite for the due discharge of that office.
v. 127. Harsh was the grating.]
On a sudden open fly
With impetuous recoil and jarring, sound
Th' infernal doors, and on their hinges grate
Milton, P. L. b. ii 882
v. 128. The Turpeian.]
Protinus, abducto patuerunt temple Metello.
Tunc rupes Tarpeia sonat: magnoque reclusas
Testatur stridore fores: tune conditus imo
Eruitur tempo multis intactus ab annnis
Romani census populi, &c.
Lucan. Ph. 1. iii. 157.
v. 6. That Wound.] Venturi justly observes, that the Padre
d'Aquino has misrepresented the sense of this passage in his
--dabat ascensum tendentibus ultra
Scissa tremensque silex, tenuique erratica motu.
The verb "muover"' is used in the same signification in the
Inferno, Canto XVIII. 21.
Cosi da imo della roccia scogli
--from the rock's low base
Thus flinty paths advanc'd.
In neither place is actual motion intended to be expressed.
v. 52. That from unbidden. office awes mankind.] Seo 2 Sam. G.
v 58. Preceding.] Ibid. 14, &c.
v. 68. Gregory.] St. Gregory's prayers are said to have
delivered Trajan from hell. See Paradise, Canto XX. 40.
v. 69. Trajan the Emperor. For this story, Landino refers to
two writers, whom he calls "Heunando," of France, by whom he
means Elinand, a monk and chronicler, in the reign of Philip
Augustus, and "Polycrato," of England, by whom is meant John of
Salisbury, author of the Polycraticus de Curialium Nugis, in the
twelfth century. The passage in the text I find to be
nearly a translation from that work, 1. v. c. 8. The original
appears to be in Dio Cassius, where it is told of the Emperor
Hadrian, lib. I xix. [GREEK HERE]
When a woman appeared to him with a suit, as he was on a journey,
at first he answered her, 'I have no leisure,' but she crying
out to him, 'then reign no longer' he turned about, and heard her
v. 119. As to support.] Chillingworth, ch.vi. 54. speaks of
"those crouching anticks, which seem in great buildings to labour
under the weight they bear." And Lord Shaftesbury has a similar
illustration in his Essay on Wit and Humour, p. 4. s. 3.
v. 1. 0 thou Mighty Father.] The first four lines are borrowed
by Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. vi.
Dante, in his 'Credo,' has again versified the Lord's prayer.
v. 58. I was of Latinum.] Omberto, the son of Guglielino
Aldobrandeseo, Count of Santafiore, in the territory of Sienna
His arrogance provoked his countrymen to such a pitch of fury
against him, that he was murdered by them at Campagnatico.
v. 79. Oderigi.] The illuminator, or miniature painter, a
friend of Giotto and Dante
v. 83. Bolognian Franco.] Franco of Bologna, who is said to
have been a pupil of Oderigi's.
v. 93. Cimabue.] Giovanni Cimabue, the restorer of painting,
was born at Florence, of a noble family, in 1240, and died in
1300. The passage in the text is an illusion to his epitaph:
Credidit ut Cimabos picturae castra tenere,
Sic tenuit vivens: nunc tenet astra poli.
v. 95. The cry is Giotto's.] In Giotto we have a proof at how
early a period the fine arts were encouraged in Italy. His
talents were discovered by Cimabue, while he was tending sheep
for his father in the neighbourhood of Florence, and he was
afterwards patronized by Pope Benedict XI and Robert King of
Naples, and enjoyed the society and friendship of Dante, whose
likeness he has transmitted to posterity. He died in 1336, at
the age of 60.
v. 96. One Guido from the other.] Guido Cavalcanti, the friend
of our Poet, (see Hell, Canto X. 59.) had eclipsed the literary
fame of Guido Guinicelli, of a noble family in Bologna, whom we
shall meet with in the twenty-sixth Canto and of whom frequent
mention is made by our Poet in his Treatise de Vulg. Eloq.
Guinicelli died in 1276. Many of Cavalcanti's writings, hitherto
in MS. are now publishing at Florence" Esprit des Journaux, Jan.
v. 97. He perhaps is born.] Some imagine, with much
probability, that Dante here augurs the greatness of his own
poetical reputation. Others have fancied that he prophesies the
glory of Petrarch. But Petrarch was not yet born.
v. 136. suitor.] Provenzano salvani humbled himself so far for
the sake of one of his friends, who was detained in captivity by
Charles I of Sicily, as personally to supplicate the people of
Sienna to contribute the sum required by the king for his ransom:
and this act of self-abasement atoned for his general ambition
v. 140. Thy neighbours soon.] "Thou wilt know in the time of
thy banishment, which is near at hand, what it is to solicit
favours of others and 'tremble through every vein,' lest they
should be refused thee."
v. 26. The Thymbraen god.] Apollo
Si modo, quem perhibes, pater est Thymbraeus Apollo. Virg. Georg.
v. 37. Mars.]
With such a grace,
The giants that attempted to scale heaven
When they lay dead on the Phlegren plain
Mars did appear to Jove.
Beaumont and Fletcher, The Prophetess, a. 2. s. 3.
v. 42. O Rehoboam.] 1 Kings, c. xii. 18.
v. 46. A1cmaeon.] Virg. Aen. l. vi. 445, and Homer, Od. xi. 325.
v. 48. Sennacherib.] 2 Kings, c. xix. 37.
v. 58. What master of the pencil or the style.]
--inimitable on earth
By model, or by shading pencil drawn.
Milton, P. L. b. iii. 509.
v. 94. The chapel stands.] The church of San Miniato in
Florence situated on a height that overlooks the Arno, where it
is crossed by the bridge Rubaconte, so called from Messer
Rubaconte da Mandelia, of Milan chief magistrate of Florence, by
whom the bridge was founded in 1237. See G. Villani, 1. vi. c.
v. 96. The well-guided city] This is said ironically of
v. 99. The registry.] In allusion to certain instances of fraud
committed with respect to the public accounts and measures See
Paradise Canto XVI. 103.
v. 26. They have no wine.] John, ii. 3. These words of the
Virgin are referred to as an instance of charity.
v. 29. Orestes] Alluding to his friendship with Pylades
v. 32. Love ye those have wrong'd you.] Matt. c. v. 44.
v. 33. The scourge.] "The chastisement of envy consists in
hearing examples of the opposite virtue, charity. As a curb and
restraint on this vice, you will presently hear very different
sounds, those of threatening and punishment."
v. 87. Citizens Of one true city.]
"For here we have no continuing city, but we seek to come." Heb.
C. xiii. 14.
v. 101. Sapia.] A lady of Sienna, who, living in exile at
Colle, was so overjoyed at a defeat which her countrymen
sustained near that place that she declared nothing more was
wanting to make her die contented.
v. 114. The merlin.] The story of the merlin is that having
been induced by a gleam of fine weather in the winter to escape
from his master, he was soon oppressed by the rigour of the
v. 119. The hermit Piero.] Piero Pettinagno, a holy hermit of
v. 141. That vain multitude.] The Siennese. See Hell, Canto
XXIX. 117. "Their acquisition of Telamone, a seaport on the
confines of the Maremma, has led them to conceive hopes of
becoming a naval power: but this scheme will prove as chimerical
as their former plan for the discovery of a subterraneous stream
under their city." Why they gave the appellation of Diana to the
imagined stream, Venturi says he leaves it to the antiquaries of
Sienna to conjecture.
v. 34. Maim'd of Pelorus.] Virg. Aen. 1. iii. 414.
Torn from Pelorus
Milton P. L. b. i. 232
v. 45. 'Midst brute swine.] The people of Casentino.
v. 49. Curs.] The Arno leaves Arezzo about four miles to the
v. 53. Wolves.] The Florentines.
v. 55. Foxes.] The Pisans
v. 61. Thy grandson.] Fulcieri de' Calboli, grandson of
Rinieri de' Calboli, who is here spoken to. The atrocities
predicted came to pass in 1302. See G. Villani, 1. viii c. 59
v. 95. 'Twixt Po, the mount, the Reno, and the shore.] The
boundaries of Romagna.
v. 99. Lizio.] Lizio da Valbona, introduced into Boccaccio's
Decameron, G. v. N, 4.
v. 100. Manardi, Traversaro, and Carpigna.1 Arrigo Manardi of
Faenza, or as some say, of Brettinoro, Pier Traversaro, lord of
Ravenna, and Guido di Carpigna of Montefeltro.
v. 102. In Bologna the low artisan.] One who had been a
mechanic named Lambertaccio, arrived at almost supreme power in
v. 103. Yon Bernardin.] Bernardin di Fosco, a man of low
origin but great talents, who governed at Faenza.
v. 107. Prata.] A place between Faenza and Ravenna
v. 107. Of Azzo him.] Ugolino of the Ubaldini family in Tuscany
He is recounted among the poets by Crescimbeni and Tiraboschi.
v. 108. Tignoso.] Federigo Tignoso of Rimini.
v. 109. Traversaro's house and Anastagio's.] Two noble families
of Ravenna. She to whom Dryden has given the name of Honoria, in
the fable so admirably paraphrased from Boccaccio, was of the
former: her lover and the specter were of the Anastagi family.
v. 111. The ladies, &c.] These two lines express the true
spirit of chivalry. "Agi" is understood by the commentators whom
I have consulted,to mean "the ease procured for others by the
exertions of knight-errantry." But surely it signifies the
alternation of ease with labour.
v. 114. O Brettinoro.] A beautifully situated castle in
Romagna, the hospitable residence of Guido del Duca, who is here
v. 118. Baynacavallo.] A castle between Imola and Ravenna
v. 118. Castracaro ill
And Conio worse.] Both in Romagna.
v. 121. Pagani.] The Pagani were lords of Faenza and Imola. One
of them Machinardo, was named the Demon, from his treachery.
See Hell, Canto XXVII. 47, and Note.
v. 124. Hugolin.] Ugolino Ubaldini, a noble and virtuous person
in Faenza, who, on account of his age probably, was not likely to
leave any offspring behind him. He is enumerated among the poets
by Crescimbeni, and Tiraboschi. Mr. Matthias's edit. vol. i. 143
v. 136. Whosoever finds Will slay me.] The words of Cain, Gen.
e. iv. 14.
v. 142. Aglauros.] Ovid, Met. I, ii. fate. 12.
v. 145. There was the galling bit.] Referring to what had been
before said, Canto XIII. 35.
v. 1. As much.] It wanted three hours of sunset.
v. 16. As when the ray.] Compare Virg. Aen. 1.viii. 22, and
Apol. Rhod. 1. iii. 755.
v. 19. Ascending at a glance.] Lucretius, 1. iv. 215.
v. 20. Differs from the stone.] The motion of light being
quicker than that of a stone through an equal space.
v. 38. Blessed the merciful. Matt. c. v. 7.
v. 43. Romagna's spirit.] Guido del Duea, of Brettinoro whom we
have seen in the preceding Canto.
v. 87. A dame.] Luke, c. ii. 18
v. 101. How shall we those requite.] The answer of Pisistratus
the tyrant to his wife, when she urged him to inflict the
punishment of death on a young man, who, inflamed with love for
his daughter, had snatched from her a kiss in public. The story
is told by Valerius Maximus, 1.v. 1.
v. 105. A stripling youth.] The protomartyr Stephen.
v. 94. As thou.] "If thou wert still living."
v. 46. I was of Lombardy, and Marco call'd.] A Venetian
gentleman. "Lombardo" both was his surname and denoted the
country to which he belonged. G. Villani, 1. vii. c. 120, terms
him "a wise and worthy courtier."
v. 58. Elsewhere.] He refers to what Guido del Duca had said in
the thirteenth Canto, concerning the degeneracy of his
v. 70. If this were so.] Mr. Crowe in his Lewesdon Hill has
expressed similar sentiments with much energy.
Of this be sure,
Where freedom is not, there no virtue is, &c.
Compare Origen in Genesim, Patrum Graecorum, vol. xi. p. 14.
v. 79. To mightier force.] "Though ye are subject to a higher
power than that of the heavenly constellations, e`en to the power
of the great Creator himself, yet ye are still left in the
possession of liberty."
v. 88. Like a babe that wantons sportively.] This reminds one
of the Emperor Hadrian's verses to his departing soul:
Animula vagula blandula, &c
v. 99. The fortress.] Justice, the most necessary virtue in the
chief magistrate, as the commentators explain it.
v. 103. Who.] He compares the Pope, on account of the union of
the temporal with the spiritual power in his person, to an
unclean beast in the levitical law. "The camel, because he
cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof, he is unclean unto
you." Levit. c. xi. 4.
v. 110. Two sons.] The Emperor and the Bishop of Rome.
v. 117. That land.] Lombardy.
v. 119. Ere the day.] Before the Emperor Frederick II was
defeated before Parma, in 1248. G. Villani, 1. vi. c. 35.
v. 126. The good Gherardo.] Gherardo di Camino of Trevigi.
He is honourably mentioned in our Poet's "Convito." Opere di
Dante, t. i. p. 173 Venez. 8vo. 1793. And Tiraboschi supposes
him to have been the same Gherardo with whom the Provencal poets
were used to meet with hospitable reception. See Mr. Matthias's
edition, t. i. p. 137, v. 127.
Conrad.] Currado da Palazzo, a gentleman of Brescia.
v. 127. Guido of Castello.] Of Reggio. All the Italians were
called Lombards by the French.
v. 144. His daughter Gaia.] A lady equally admired for her
modesty, the beauty of her person, and the excellency of her
talents. Gaia, says Tiraboschi, may perhaps lay claim to the
praise of having been the first among the Italian ladies, by whom
the vernacular poetry was cultivated. Ibid. p. 137.
v. 21. The bird, that most Delights itself in song.]
I cannot think with Vellutello, that the swallow is here meant.
Dante probably alludes to the story of Philomela, as it is found
in Homer's Odyssey, b. xix. 518 rather than as later poets have
told it. "She intended to slay the son of her husband's brother
Amphion, incited to it, by the envy of his wife, who had six
children, while herself had only two, but through mistake slew
her own son Itylus, and for her punishment was transformed by
Jupiter into a nightingale."
Cowper's note on the passage.
In speaking of the nightingale, let me observe, that while some
have considered its song as a melancholy, and others as a
cheerful one, Chiabrera appears to have come nearest the truth,
when he says, in the Alcippo, a. l. s. 1,
Non mal si stanca d' iterar le note
O gioconde o dogliose,
Al sentir dilettose.
Unwearied still reiterates her lays,
Jocund or sad, delightful to the ear.
v. 26. One crucified.] Haman. See the book of Esther, c. vii.
v. 34. A damsel.] Lavinia, mourning for her mother Amata, who,
impelled by grief and indignation for the supposed death of
Turnus, destroyed herself. Aen. 1. xii. 595.
v. 43. The broken slumber quivering ere it dies.] Venturi
suggests that this bold and unusual metaphor may have been formed
on that in Virgil.
Tempus erat quo prima quies mortalibus aegris
Incipit, et dono divun gratissima serpit.
Aen. 1. ii. 268.
v. 68. The peace-makers.] Matt. c. v. 9.
v. 81. The love.] "A defect in our love towards God, or
lukewarmness in piety, is here removed."
v. 94. The primal blessings.] Spiritual good.
v. 95. Th' inferior.] Temporal good.
v. 102. Now.] "It is impossible for any being, either to hate
itself, or to hate the First Cause of all, by which it exists.
We can therefore only rejoice in the evil which befalls others."
v. 111. There is.] The proud.
v. 114. There is.] The envious.
v. 117. There is he.] The resentful.
v. 135. Along Three circles.] According to the allegorical
commentators, as Venturi has observed, Reason is represented
under the person of Virgil, and Sense under that of Dante. The
former leaves to the latter to discover for itself the three
carnal sins, avarice, gluttony and libidinousness; having already
declared the nature of the spiritual sins, pride, envy, anger,
and indifference, or lukewarmness in piety, which the Italians
call accidia, from the Greek word.
v. 1. The teacher ended.] Compare Plato, Protagoras, v. iii.
p. 123. Bip. edit. [GREEK HERE] Apoll. Rhod. 1. i. 513,
and Milton, P. L. b. viii. 1.
The angel ended, &c.
v. 23. Your apprehension.] It is literally, "Your apprehensive
faculty derives intention from a thing really existing, and
displays the intention within you, so that it makes the soul turn
to it." The commentators labour in explaining this; and whatever
sense they have elicited may, I think, be resolved into the words
of the translation in the text.
v. 47. Spirit.] The human soul, which differs from that of
brutes, inasmuch as, though united with the body, it has a
separate existence of its own.
v. 65. Three men.] The great moral philosophers among the
v. 78. A crag.] I have preferred the reading of Landino,
scheggion, "crag," conceiving it to be more poetical than
secchion, "bucket," which is the common reading. The same cause,
the vapours, which the commentators say might give the appearance
of increased magnitude to the moon, might also make her seem
broken at her rise.
v. 78. Up the vault.] The moon passed with a motion opposite to
that of the heavens, through the constellation of the scorpion,
in which the sun is, when to those who are in Rome he appears to
set between the isles of Corsica and Sardinia.
v. 84. Andes.] Andes, now Pietola, made more famous than Mantua
near which it is situated, by having been the birthplace of
v. 92. Ismenus and Asopus.] Rivers near Thebes
v. 98. Mary.] Luke, c i. 39, 40
v. 99. Caesar.] See Lucan, Phars. I. iii. and iv, and
Caesar de Bello Civiii, I. i. Caesar left Brutus to complete
the siege of Marseilles, and hastened on to the attack of
Afranius and Petreius, the generals of Pompey, at Ilerda (Lerida)
v. 118. abbot.] Alberto, abbot of San Zeno in Verona, when
Frederick I was emperor, by whom Milan was besieged and reduced
v. 121. There is he.] Alberto della Scala, lord of Verona, who
had made his natural son abbot of San Zeno.
v. 133. First they died.] The Israelites, who, on account of
their disobedience, died before reaching the promised land.
v. 135. And they.] Virg Aen. 1. v.
v. 1. The hour.] Near the dawn.
v. 4. The geomancer.] The geomancers, says Landino, when they
divined, drew a figure consisting of sixteen marks, named from so
many stars which constitute the end of Aquarius and the beginning
of Pisces. One of these they called "the greater fortune."
v. 7. A woman's shape.] Worldly happiness. This allegory
reminds us of the "Choice of Hercules."
v. 14. Love's own hue.]
A smile that glow'd
Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue.
Milton, P. L. b. viii. 619
--facies pulcherrima tune est
Quum porphyriaco variatur candida rubro
Quid color hic roseus sibi vult? designat amorem:
Quippe amor est igni similis; flammasque rubentes
Ignus habere solet.
Palingenii Zodiacus Vitae, 1. xii.
v. 26. A dame.] Philosophy.
v. 49. Who mourn.] Matt. c. v. 4.
v. 72. My soul.] Psalm cxix. 5
v. 97. The successor of Peter Ottobuono, of the family of
Fieschi Counts of Lavagna, died thirty-nine days after he became
Pope, with the title of Adrian V, in 1276.
v. 98. That stream.] The river Lavagna, in the Genoese
v. 135. nor shall be giv'n in marriage.] Matt. c. xxii. 30.
"Since in this state we neither marry nor are given in marriage,
I am no longer the spouse of the church, and therefore no longer
retain my former dignity.
v. 140. A kinswoman.] Alagia is said to have been the wife of
the Marchese Marcello Malaspina, one of the poet's protectors
during his exile. See Canto VIII. 133.
v. 3. I drew the sponge.] "I did not persevere in my inquiries
from the spirit though still anxious to learn more."
v. 11. Wolf.] Avarice.
v. 16. Of his appearing.] He is thought to allude to
Can Grande della Scala. See Hell, Canto I. 98.
v. 25. Fabricius.] Compare Petrarch, Tr. della Fama, c. 1.
Un Curio ed un Fabricio, &c.
v. 30. Nicholas.] The story of Nicholas is, that an angel
having revealed to him that the father of a family was so
impoverished as to resolve on exposing the chastity of his three
daughters to sale, he threw in at the window of their house three
bags of money, containing a sufficient portion for each of them.
v. 42. Root.] Hugh Capet, ancestor of Philip IV.
v. 46. Had Ghent and Douay, Lille and Bruges power.] These
cities had lately been seized by Philip IV. The spirit is made
to imitate the approaching defeat of the French army by the
Flemings, in the battle of Courtrai, which happened in 1302.