Part 4 out of 4
v. 51. The slaughter's trade.] This reflection on the birth of
his ancestor induced Francis I to forbid the reading of Dante in
his dominions Hugh Capet, who came to the throne of France in
987, was however the grandson of Robert, who was the brother of
Eudes, King of France in 888.
v. 52. All save one.] The posterity of Charlemagne, the second
race of French monarchs, had failed, with the exception of
Charles of Lorraine who is said, on account of the melancholy
temper of his mind, to have always clothed himself in black.
Venturi suggest that Dante may have confounded him with Childeric
III the last of the Merosvingian, or first, race, who was
deposed and made a monk in 751.
v. 57. My son.] Hugh Capet caused his son Robert to be crowned
v. 59. The Great dower of Provence.] Louis IX, and his brother
Charles of Anjou, married two of the four daughters of Raymond
Berenger Count of Provence. See Par. Canto VI. 135.
v. 63. For amends.] This is ironical
v. 64. Poitou it seiz'd, Navarre and Gascony.] I venture to
Potti e Navarra prese e Guascogna,
Ponti e Normandia prese e Guascogna
Seiz'd Ponthieu, Normandy and Gascogny.
Landino has "Potti," and he is probably right for Poitou was
annexed to the French crown by Philip IV. See Henault, Abrege
Chron. A.D. l283, &c. Normandy had been united to it long before
by Philip Augustus, a circumstance of which it is difficult to
imagine that Dante should have been ignorant, but Philip IV, says
Henault, ibid., took the title of King of Navarre: and the
subjugation of Navarre is also alluded to in the
Paradise, Canto XIX. 140. In 1293, Philip IV summoned Edward I.
to do him homage for the duchy of Gascogny, which he had
conceived the design of seizing. See G. Villani, l. viii. c. 4.
v. 66. Young Conradine.] Charles of Anjou put Conradine to death
in 1268; and became King of Naples. See Hell, Canto XXVIII, 16,
v. 67. Th' angelic teacher.] Thomas Aquinas. He was reported
to have been poisoned by a physician, who wished to ingratiate
himself with Charles of Anjou. G. Villani, I. ix. c. 218. We
shall find him in the Paradise, Canto X.
v. 69. Another Charles.] Charles of Valois, brother of Philip
IV, was sent by Pope Boniface VIII to settle the disturbed state
of Florence. In consequence of the measures he adopted for that
purpose, our poet and his friend, were condemned to exile and
v. 71. -with that lance
Which the arch-traitor tilted with.]
con la lancia
Con la qual giostro Guida.
If I remember right, in one of the old romances, Judas is
represented tilting with our Saviour.
v. 78. The other.] Charles, King of Naples, the eldest son of
Charles of Anjou, having, contrary to the directions of his
father, engaged with Ruggier de Lauria, the admiral of Peter of
Arragon, was made prisoner and carried into Sicily, June, 1284.
He afterwards, in consideration of a large sum of money, married
his daughter to Azzo VI11, Marquis of Ferrara.
v. 85. The flower-de-luce.] Boniface VIII was seized at Alagna
in Campagna, by order of Philip IV., in the year 1303, and soon
after died of grief. G. Villani, 1. viii. c. 63.
v. 94. Into the temple.] It is uncertain whether our Poet
alludes still to the event mentioned in the preceding Note, or to
the destruction of the order of the Templars in 1310, but the
latter appears more probable.
v. 103. Pygmalion.] Virg. Aen. 1. i. 348.
v. 107. Achan.] Joshua, c. vii.
v. 111. Heliodorus.] 2 Maccabees, c. iii. 25. "For there
appeared unto them a horse, with a terrible rider upon him, and
adorned with a very fair covering, and he ran fiercely and smote
at Heliodorus with his forefeet."
v. 112. Thracia's king.] Polymnestor, the murderer of
Polydorus. Hell, Canto XXX, 19.
v. 114. Crassus.] Marcus Crassus, who fell miserably in the
Parthian war. See Appian, Parthica.
v. 26. She.] Lachesis, one of the three fates.
v. 43. --that, which heaven in itself
Doth of itself receive.]
Venturi, I think rightly interprets this to be light.
v. 49. Thaumantian.] Figlia di Taumante
Compare Plato, Theaet. v. ii. p. 76. Bip. edit., Virg; Aen.
ix. 5, and Spenser, Faery Queen, b. v. c. 3. st. 25.
v. 85. The name.] The name of Poet.
v. 89. From Tolosa.] Dante, as many others have done, confounds
Statius the poet, who was a Neapolitan, with a rhetorician of the
same name, who was of Tolosa, or Thoulouse. Thus Chaucer, Temple
of Fame, b. iii. The Tholason, that height Stace.
v. 94. Fell.] Statius lived to write only a small part of the
v. 5. Blessed.] Matt. v. 6.
v. 14. Aquinum's bard.] Juvenal had celebrated his contemporary
Statius, Sat. vii. 82; though some critics imagine that there is
a secret derision couched under his praise.
v. 28. Why.] Quid non mortalia pecaora cogis
Anri sacra fames?
Virg. Aen. 1. iii. 57
Venturi supposes that Dante might have mistaken the meaning of
the word sacra, and construed it "holy," instead of "cursed."
But I see no necessity for having recourse to so improbable a
v. 41. The fierce encounter.] See Hell, Canto VII. 26.
v. 46. With shorn locks.] Ibid. 58.
v. 57. The twin sorrow of Jocasta's womb.] Eteocles and
v. 71. A renovated world.] Virg. Ecl. iv. 5
v. 100. That Greek.] Homer
v. 107. Of thy train. ] Of those celebrated in thy Poem."
v. 112. Tiresias' daughter.] Dante appears to have forgotten
that he had placed Manto, the daughter of Tiresias, among the
sorcerers. See Hell Canto XX. Vellutello endeavours, rather
awkwardly, to reconcile the inconsistency, by observing, that
although she was placed there as a sinner, yet, as one of famous
memory, she had also a place among the worthies in Limbo.
Lombardi excuses our author better, by observing that Tiresias
had a daughter named Daphne. See Diodorus Siculus, 1. iv. 66.
v. 139. Mary took more thought.] "The blessed virgin, who
answers for yon now in heaven, when she said to Jesus, at the
marriage in Cana of Galilee, 'they have no wine,' regarded not
the gratification of her own taste, but the honour of the nuptial
v. 142 The women of old Rome.] See Valerius Maximus, 1. ii. c.
v. 9. My lips.] Psalm ii. 15.
v. 20. The eyes.] Compare Ovid, Metam. 1. viii. 801
v. 26. When Mary.] Josephus, De Bello Jud. 1. vii. c. xxi. p.
954 Ed Genev. fol. 1611. The shocking story is well told
v. 27. Rings.]
In this habit
Met I my father with his bleeding rings
Their precious stones new lost.
Shakespeare, Lear, a. 5. s. 3
v. 28. Who reads the name.] "He, who pretends to distinguish
the letters which form OMO in the features of the human face,
"might easily have traced out the M on their emaciated
countenances." The temples, nose, and forehead are supposed to
represent this letter; and the eyes the two O's
placed within each side of it.
v. 44. Forese.] One of the brothers of Piccarda, she who is
again spoken of in the next Canto, and introduced in the
Paradise, Canto III.
V. 72. If the power.] "If thou didst delay thy repentance to
the last, when thou hadst lost the power of sinning, how happens
it thou art arrived here so early?"
v. 76. Lower.] In the Ante-Purgatory. See Canto II.
v. 80. My Nella.] The wife of Forese.
v. 87. The tract most barb'rous of Sardinia's isle.] The
Barbagia is part of Sardinia, to which that name was given, on
account of the uncivilized state of its inhabitants, who are said
to have gone nearly naked.
v. 91. The' unblushing domes of Florence.] Landino's note
exhibits a curious instance of the changeableness of his
countrywomen. He even goes beyond the acrimony of the original.
"In those days," says the commentator, "no less than in ours, the
Florentine ladies exposed the neck and bosom, a dress, no doubt,
more suitable to a harlot than a matron. But, as
they changed soon after, insomuch that they wore collars up to
the chin, covering the whole of the neck and throat, so have I
hopes they will change again; not indeed so much from motives of
decency, as through that fickleness, which pervades every action
of their lives."
v. 97. Saracens.] "This word, during the middle ages, was
indiscriminately applied to Pagans and Mahometans; in short, to
all nations (except the Jew's) who did not profess Christianity."
Mr. Ellis's specimens of Early English Metrical Romances, vol. i.
page 196, a note. Lond. 8vo. 1805.
v. 20. Buonaggiunta.] Buonaggiunta Urbiciani, of Lucca.
"There is a canzone by this poet, printed in the collection made
by the Giunti, (p. 209,).land a sonnet to Guido Guinicelli in
that made by Corbinelli, (p 169,) from which we collect that he
lived not about 1230, as Quadrio supposes, (t. ii. p. 159,) but
towards the end of the thirteenth century. Concerning, other
poems by Buonaggiunta, that are preserved in MS. in some
libraries, Crescimbeni may be consulted." Tiraboschi, Mr.
Matthias's ed. v. i. p. 115.
v. 23. He was of Tours.] Simon of Tours became Pope, with the
title of Martin IV in 1281 and died in 1285.
v. 29. Ubaldino.] Ubaldino degli Ubaldini, of Pila, in the
v. 30. Boniface.] Archbishop of Ravenna. By Venturi he is
called Bonifazio de Fieschi, a Genoese, by Vellutello, the son of
the above, mentioned Ubaldini and by Laudino Francioso, a
v. 32. The Marquis.] The Marchese de' Rigogliosi, of Forli.
v. 38. gentucca.] Of this lady it is thought that our Poet
became enamoured during his exile.
v. 45. Whose brow no wimple shades yet.] "Who has not yet
assumed the dress of a woman."
v. 46. Blame it as they may.] See Hell, Canto XXI. 39.
v. 51. Ladies, ye that con the lore of love.]Donne ch' avete
intelletto d'amore.The first verse of a canzone in our author's
v. 56. The Notary.] Jucopo da Lentino, called the Notary, a
poet of these times. He was probably an Apulian: for Dante, (De
Vulg. Eloq. I. i. c 12.) quoting a verse which belongs to a
canzone of his published by the Giunti, without mentioning the
writer's name, terms him one of "the illustrious Apulians,"
praefulgentes Apuli. See Tiraboschi, Mr. Matthias's
edit. vol. i. p. 137. Crescimbeni (1. i. Della Volg. Poes p.
72. 4to. ed. 1698) gives an extract from one of his poems,
printed in Allacci's Collection, to show that the whimsical
compositions called "Ariette " are not of modern
v. 56. Guittone.] Fra Guittone, of Arezzo, holds a
distinguished place in Italian literature, as besides his poems
printed in the collection of the Giunti, he has left a collection
of letters, forty in number, which afford the earliest specimen
of that kind of writing in the language. They were
published at Rome in 1743, with learned illustrations by Giovanni
Bottari. He was also the first who gave to the sonnet its
regular and legitimate form, a species of composition in which
not only his own countrymen, but many of the best poets in all
the cultivated languages of modern Europe, have since so much
Guittone, a native of Arezzo, was the son of Viva di Michele.
He was of the order of the " Frati Godenti," of which an account
may be seen in the Notes to Hell, Canto XXIII. In the year 1293,
he founded a monastery of the order of Camaldoli, in Florence,
and died in the following year. Tiraboschi, Ibid. p. 119.
Dante, in the Treatise de Vulg. Eloq. 1. i. c. 13, and 1. ii. c.
6., blames him for preferring the plebeian to the mor
courtly style; and Petrarch twice places him in the company of
our Poet. Triumph of Love, cap. iv. and Son. Par. See "Sennuccio
v. 63. The birds.] Hell, Canto V. 46, Euripides, Helena, 1495,
and Statius; Theb. 1. V. 12.
v. 81. He.] Corso Donati was suspected of aiming at the
sovereignty of Florence. To escape the fury of his fellow
citizens, he fled away on horseback, but failing, was overtaken
and slain, A.D. 1308. The contemporary annalist, after relating
at length the circumstances of his fate, adds, "that he was one
of the wisest and most valorous knights the best speaker, the
most expert statesman, the most renowned and enterprising, man of
his age in Italy, a comely knight and of graceful carriage, but
very worldly, and in his time had formed many conspiracies in
Florence and entered into many scandalous practices, for the sake
of attaining state and lordship." G. Villani, 1. viii. c. 96.
The character of Corso is forcibly drawn by another
of his contemporaries Dino Compagni. 1. iii., Muratori, Rer.
Ital. Script. t. ix. p. 523.
v. 129. Creatures of the clouds.] The Centaurs. Ovid. Met. 1.
fab. 4 v. 123. The Hebrews.] Judges, c. vii.
v. 58. As sea-sponge.] The fetus is in this stage is zoophyte.
v. 66. -More wise
Than thou, has erred.]
Averroes is said to be here meant. Venturi refers to his
commentary on Aristotle, De Anim 1. iii. c. 5. for the opinion
that there is only one universal intellect or mind pervading
every individual of the human race. Much of the knowledge
displayed by our Poet in the present Canto appears to have been
derived from the medical work o+ Averroes, called the Colliget.
Lib. ii. f. 10. Ven. 1400. fol.
v. 79. Mark the sun's heat.] Redi and Tiraboschi (Mr.
Matthias's ed. v. ii. p. 36.) have considered this an
anticipation of a profound discovery of Galileo's in natural
philosophy, but it is in reality taken from a passage in Cicero
"de Senectute," where, speaking of the grape, he says, " quae, et
succo terrae et calore solis augescens, primo
est peracerba gustatu, deinde maturata dulcescit."
v. 123. I do, not know a man.] Luke, c. i. 34.
v. 126. Callisto.] See Ovid, Met. 1. ii. fab. 5.
v. 70. Caesar.] For the opprobrium east on Caesar's effeminacy,
see Suetonius, Julius Caesar, c. 49.
v. 83. Guinicelli.] See Note to Canto XI. 96.
v. 87. lycurgus.] Statius, Theb. 1. iv. and v. Hypsipile had
left her infant charge, the son of Lycurgus, on a bank, where it
was destroyed by a serpent, when she went to show the Argive army
the river of Langia: and, on her escaping the effects of
Lycurgus's resentment, the joy her own children felt at the sight
of her was such as our Poet felt on beholding his
The incidents are beautifully described in Statius, and seem to
have made an impression on Dante, for he again (Canto XXII. 110.)
characterizes Hypsipile, as her-
Who show'd Langia's wave.
v. 111. He.] The united testimony of Dante, and of Petrarch,
in his Triumph of Love, e. iv. places Arnault Daniel at the head
of the Provencal poets. That he was born of poor but noble
parents, at the castle of Ribeyrae in Perigord, and that he was
at the English court, is the amount of Millot's information
concerning him (t. ii. p. 479).
The account there given of his writings is not much more
satisfactory, and the criticism on them must go for little better
It is to be regretted that we have not an opportunity of judging
for ourselves of his "love ditties and his tales of prose "
Versi d'amore e prose di romanzi.
Our Poet frequently cities him in the work De Vulgari Eloquentia.
According to Crescimbeni, (Della Volg. Poes. 1. 1. p. 7. ed.
1698.) He died in 1189.
v. 113. The songster of Limoges.] Giraud de Borneil, of
Sideuil, a castle in Limoges. He was a troubadour, much admired
and caressed in his day, and appears to have been in favour with
the monarchs of Castile, Leon, Navarre, and Arragon He is quoted
by Dante, De Vulg. Eloq., and many of his poems are still
remaining in MS. According to Nostradamus he died in 1278.
Millot, Hist. Litt. des Troub. t. ii. p. 1 and 23. But I suspect
that there is some error in this date, and that he did not live
to see so late a period.
v. 118. Guittone.] See Cano XXIV. 56.
v. 123. Far as needs.] See Canto XI. 23.
v. 132. Thy courtesy.] Arnault is here made to speak in his own
tongue, the Provencal. According to Dante, (De Vulg. Eloq. 1. 1.
c. 8.) the Provencal was one language with the Spanish. What he
says on this subject is so curious, that the reader will perhaps
not be displeased it I give an abstract of it.
He first makes three great divisions of the European languages.
"One of these extends from the mouths of the Danube, or the lake
of Maeotis, to the western limits of England, and is bounded by
the limits of the French and Italians, and by the ocean. One
idiom obtained over the whole of this space: but was
afterwards subdivided into, the Sclavonian, Hungarian, Teutonic,
Saxon, English, and the vernacular tongues of several other
people, one sign remaining to all, that they use the affirmative
io, (our English ay.) The whole of Europe, beginning from the
Hungarian limits and stretching towards the east, has a second
idiom which reaches still further than the end of Europe into
Asia. This is the Greek. In all that remains of Europe, there is
a third idiom subdivided into three dialects, which may be
severally distinguished by the use of the affirmatives, oc, oil,
and si; the first spoken by the Spaniards, the next by the
French, and the third by the Latins (or Italians). The first
occupy the western part of southern Europe, beginning from the
limits of the Genoese. The third occupy the eastern part
from the said limits, as far, that is, as the promontory of
Italy, where the Adriatic sea begins, and to Sicily. The second
are in a manner northern with respect to these for they have the
Germans to the east and north, on the west they are bounded by
the English sea, and the mountains of Arragon, and on the
south by the people of Provence and the declivity of the
Apennine." Ibid. c. x. "Each of these three," he observes, "has
its own claims to distinction The excellency of the French
language consists in its being best adapted, on account of its
facility and agreeableness, to prose narration, (quicquid
redactum, sive inventum est ad vulgare prosaicum suum
est); and he instances the books compiled on the gests of the
Trojans and Romans and the delightful adventures of King Arthur,
with many other histories and works of instruction. The Spanish
(or Provencal) may boast of its having produced such
as first cultivated in this as in a more perfect and sweet
language, the vernacular poetry: among whom are Pierre
d'Auvergne, and others more ancient.
The privileges of the Latin, or Italian are two: first that it
may reckon for its own those writers who have adopted a more
sweet and subtle style of poetry, in the number of whom are Cino,
da Pistoia and his friend, and the next, that its writers seem to
adhere to, certain general rules of grammar, and in so doing give
it, in the opinion of the intelligent, a very weighty pretension
v. 1. The sun.] At Jerusalem it was dawn, in Spain midnight,
and in India noonday, while it was sunset in Purgatory
v. 10. Blessed.] Matt. c. v. 8.
v. 57. Come.] Matt. c. xxv. 34.
v. 102. I am Leah.] By Leah is understood the active life, as
Rachel figures the contemplative. The divinity is the mirror in
which the latter looks. Michel Angelo has made these allegorical
personages the subject of two statues on the monument of Julius
II. in the church of S. Pietro in Vincolo. See Mr. Duppa's Life
of Michel Angelo, Sculpture viii. And x. and p 247.
v. 135. Those bright eyes.] The eyes of Beatrice.
v. 11. To that part.] The west.
v. 14. The feather'd quiristers] Imitated by Boccaccio,
Fiammetta, 1. iv. "Odi i queruli uccelli," &c. --"Hear the
querulous birds plaining with sweet songs, and the boughs
trembling, and, moved by a gentle wind, as it were keeping tenor
to their notes."
v. 7. A pleasant air.] Compare Ariosto, O. F. c. xxxiv. st. 50.
v. Chiassi.] This is the wood where the scene of Boccaccio's
sublimest story is laid. See Dec. g. 5. n. 8. and Dryden's
Theodore and Honoria Our Poet perhaps wandered in it daring his
abode with Guido Novello da Polenta.
v. 41. A lady.] Most of the commentators suppose, that by this
lady, who in the last Canto is called Matilda, is to be
understood the Countess Matilda, who endowed the holy see with
the estates called the Patrimony of St. Peter,
and died in 1115. See G. Villani, 1. iv. e. 20 But it seems more
probable that she should be intended for an allegorical
v. 80. Thou, Lord hast made me glad.] Psalm xcii. 4
v. 146. On the Parnassian mountain.]
In bicipiti somniasse Parnasso.
v. 76. Listed colours.]
Di sette liste tutte in quel colori, &c.
Conspicuous with three listed colours gay.
Milton, P. L. b. xi. 865.
v. 79. Ten paces.] For an explanation of the allegorical
meaning of this mysterious procession, Venturi refers those "who
would see in the dark" to the commentaries of Landino,
Vellutello, and others: and adds that it is evident the Poet has
accommodated to his own fancy many sacred images in the
Apocalypse. In Vasari's Life of Giotto, we learn that Dante
recommended that book to his friend, as affording fit
subjects for his pencil.
v. 89. Four.] The four evangelists.
v. 96. Ezekiel.] Chap. 1. 4.
v. 101. John.] Rev. c. iv. 8.
v. 104. Gryphon.] Under the Gryphon, an imaginary creature, the
forepart of which is an eagle, and the hinder a lion, is shadowed
forth the union of the divine and human nature in Jesus Christ.
The car is the church.
v. 115. Tellus' prayer.] Ovid, Met. 1. ii. v. 279.
v. 116. 'Three nymphs.] The three evangelical virtues: the
first Charity, the next Hope, and the third Faith. Faith may be
produced by charity, or charity by faith, but the inducements to
hope must arise either from one or other of these.
v. 125. A band quaternion.] The four moral or cardinal virtues,
of whom Prudence directs the others.
v. 129. Two old men.] Saint Luke, characterized as the writer
of the Arts of the Apostles and Saint Paul.
v. 133. Of the great Coan.] Hippocrates, "whom nature made for
the benefit of her favourite creature, man."
v. 138. Four others.] "The commentators," says Venturi;
"suppose these four to be the four evangelists, but I should
rather take them to be four principal doctors of the church."
Yet both Landino and Vellutello expressly call them the authors
of the epistles, James, Peter, John and Jude.
v. 140. One single old man.] As some say, St. John, under his
character of the author of the Apocalypse. But in the poem
attributed to Giacopo, the son of our Poet, which in some MSS,
accompanies the original of this work, and is descriptive of its
plan, this old man is said to be Moses.
E'l vecchio, ch' era dietro a tutti loro
And the old man, who was behind them all,
See No. 3459 of the Harl. MSS. in the British Museum.
v. 1. The polar light.] The seven candlesticks.
v. 12. Come.] Song of Solomon, c. iv. 8.
v. 19. Blessed.] Matt. c. xxi. 9.
v. 20. From full hands.] Virg. Aen 1. vi. 884.
v. 97. The old flame.]
Agnosco veteris vestigia flammae
Virg. Aen. I. I. 23.
Conosco i segni dell' antico fuoco.
Giusto de' Conti, La Bella Mano.
v. 61. Nor.] "Not all the beauties of the terrestrial Paradise;
in which I was, were sufficient to allay my grief."
v. 85. But.] They sang the thirty-first Psalm, to the end of
the eighth verse.
v. 87. The living rafters.] The leafless woods on the Apennine.
v. 90. The land whereon no shadow falls.] "When the wind blows,
from off Africa, where, at the time of the equinox, bodies being
under the equator cast little or no shadow; or, in other words,
when the wind is south."
v. 98. The ice.] Milton has transferred this conceit, though
scarcely worth the pains of removing, into one of his Italian
v. 3. With lateral edge.] The words of Beatrice, when not
addressed directly to himself, but speaking to the angel of hell,
Dante had thought sufficiently harsh.
v. 39. Counter to the edge.] "The weapons of divine justice are
blunted by the confession and sorrow of the offender."
v. 58. Bird.] Prov. c. i. 17
v. 69. From Iarbas' land.] The south.
v. 71. The beard.] "I perceived, that when she desired me to
raise my beard, instead of telling me to lift up my head, a
severe reflection was implied on my want of that wisdom which
should accompany the age of manhood."
v. 98. Tu asperges me.] A prayer repeated by the priest at
sprinkling the holy water.
v. 106. And in the heaven are stars.] See Canto I. 24.
v. 116. The emeralds.] The eyes of Beatrice.
v. 2. Their ten years' thirst.] Beatrice had been dead ten
v. 9. Two fix'd a gaze.] The allegorical interpretation of
Vellutello whether it be considered as justly terrible from the
text or not, conveys so useful a lesson, that it deserves our
notice. "The understanding is sometimes so intently engaged in
contemplating the light of divine truth in the scriptures, that
it becomes dazzled, and is made less capable of attaining
such knowledge, than if it had sought after it with greater
v. 39. Its tresses.] Daniel, c. iv. 10, &c.
v. 41. The Indians.]
Quos oceano proprior gerit India lucos.
Virg. Georg. 1. ii. 122,
Such as at this day to Indians known.
Milton, P. L. b. ix. 1102.
v. 51. When large floods of radiance.] When the sun enters into
Aries, the constellation next to that of the Fish.
v. 63. Th' unpitying eyes.] See Ovid, Met. 1. i. 689.
v. 74. The blossoming of that fair tree.] Our Saviour's
v. 97. Those lights.] The tapers of gold.
v. 101. That true Rome.] Heaven.
v. 110. The bird of Jove.] This, which is imitated from
Ezekiel, c. xvii. 3, 4. appears to be typical of the
persecutions which the church sustained from the Roman Emperors.
v. 118. A fox.] By the fox perhaps is represented the treachery
of the heretics.
v. 124. With his feathers lin'd.]. An allusion to the donations
made by the Roman Emperors to the church.
v. 130. A dragon.] Probably Mahomet.
v. 136. With plumes.] The donations before mentioned.
v. 142. Heads.] By the seven heads, it is supposed with
sufficient probability, are meant the seven capital sins, by the
three with two horns, pride, anger, and avarice, injurious both
to man himself and to his neighbor: by the four with one horn,
gluttony, lukewarmness, concupiscence, and envy, hurtful, at
least in their primary effects, chiefly to him who is
guilty of them.
v. 146. O'er it.] The harlot is thought to represent the state
of the church under Boniface VIII and the giant to figure Philip
IV of France.
v. 155. Dragg'd on.] The removal of the Pope's residence from
Rome to Avignon is pointed at.
v. 1. The Heathen.] Psalm lxxix. 1.
v. 36. Hope not to scare God's vengeance with a sop.] "Let not
him who hath occasioned the destruction of the church, that
vessel which the serpent brake, hope to appease the anger of the
Deity by any outward acts of religious, or rather superstitious,
ceremony, such as was that, in our poet's time, performed by a
murderer at Florence, who imagined himself secure from vengeance,
if he ate a sop of bread in wine, upon the grave of the person
murdered, within the space of nine days."
v. 38. That eagle.] He prognosticates that the Emperor of
Germany will not always continue to submit to the usurpations of
the Pope, and foretells the coming of Henry VII Duke of
Luxembourg signified by the numerical figures DVX; or, as
Lombardi supposes, of Can Grande della Scala, appointed the
leader of the Ghibelline forces. It is unnecessary to point out
the imitation of the Apocalypse in the manner of this prophecy.
v. 50. The Naiads.] Dante, it is observed, has been led into a
mistake by a corruption in the text of Ovid's Metam. I. vii.
75, where he found-
Carmina Naiades non intellecta priorum;
instead of Carmina Laiades, &c. as it has been since corrected.
Lombardi refers to Pansanias, where "the Nymphs" are spoken of as
expounders of oracles for a vindication of the poet's accuracy.
Should the reader blame me for not departing from the error of
the original (if error it be), he may substitute
Events shall be the Oedipus will solve, &c.
v. 67. Elsa's numbing waters.] The Elsa, a little stream, which
flows into the Arno about twenty miles below Florence, is said to
possess a petrifying quality.
v. 78. That one brings home his staff inwreath'd with palm.]
"For the same cause that the pilgrim, returning from Palestine,
brings home his staff, or bourdon, bound with palm," that is, to
show where he has been.
Che si reca 'I bordon di palma cinto.
"In regard to the word bourdon, why it has been applied to a
pilgrim's staff, it is not easy to guess. I believe, however
that this name has been given to such sort of staves, because
pilgrims usually travel and perform their pilgrimages on foot,
their staves serving them instead of horses or mules, then called
bourdons and burdones, by writers in the middle ages."
Mr. Johnes's Translation of Joinville's Memoirs.
Dissertation xv, by M. du Cange p. 152. 4to. edit.
The word is thrice used by Chaucer in the Romaunt of the Rose.
End Notes to Purgatory