Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Dante's Inferno

Part 4 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Lost both his ears, still with his visage downward,
Said:"Why dost thou so mirror thyself in us?

If thou desire to know who these two are,
The valley whence Bisenzio descends
Belonged to them and to their father Albert.

They from one body came, and all Caina
Thou shalt search through, and shalt not find a shade
More worthy to be fixed in gelatine;

Not he in whom were broken breast and shadow
At one and the same blow by Arthur's hand;
Focaccia not; not he who me encumbers

So with his head I see no farther forward,
And bore the name of Sassol Mascheroni;
Well knowest thou who he was, if thou art Tuscan.

And that thou put me not to further speech,
Know that I Camicion de' Pazzi was,
And wait Carlino to exonerate me."

Then I beheld a thousand faces, made
Purple with cold; whence o'er me comes a shudder,
And evermore will come, at frozen ponds.

And while we were advancing tow'rds the middle,
Where everything of weight unites together,
And I was shivering in the eternal shade,

Whether 'twere will, or destiny, or chance,
I know not; but in walking 'mong the heads
I struck my foot hard in the face of one.

Weeping he growled; "Why dost thou trample me?
Unless thou comest to increase the vengence
Of Montaperti, why does thou molest me?"

And I:"My Master, now wait here for me,
That I through him may issue from a doubt;
Then thou mayst hurry me, as thou shalt wish."

The Leader stopped; and to that one I said
Who was blaspheming vehemently still:
"Who art thou, that thus reprehendest others?"

"Now who art thou, that goest through Antenora
Smiting," replied he, " other people's cheeks,
So that, if thou wert living, 'twere too much?"

" Living I am, and dear to thee it may be,"
Was my response, ' if thou demandest fame,
That 'mid the other notes thy name I place."

And he to me: " For the reverse I long;
Take thyself hence, and give me no more trouble;
For ill thou knowest to flatter in this hollow."

Then by the scalp behind I seized upon him,
And said: " It must needs be thou name thyself,
Or not a hair remain upon thee here."

Whence he to me:"Though thou strip off my hair,
I will not tell thee who I am, nor show thee,
If on my head a thousand times thou fall."

I had his hair in hand already twisted,
And more than one shock of it had pulled out,
He barking, with his eyes held firmly down,

When cried another:"What doth ail thee, Bocca?
Is't not enough to clatter with thy jaws,
But thou must bark ? what devil touches thee?"

"Now," said I,"I care not to have thee speak,
Accursed traitor; for unto thy shame
I will report of thee veracious news."

"Begone," replied he,"and tell what thou wilt,
But be not silent, if thou issue hence,
Of him who had just now his tongue so prompt;

He weepeth here the silver of the French;
'I saw,' thus canst thou phrase it, ' him of Duera
There where the sinners stand out in the cold.'

If thou shouldst questioned be who else was there,
Thou hast beside thee him of Beccaria,
Of whom the gorget Florence slit asunder;

Gianni del Soldanier, I think, may be
Yonder with Ganellon, and Tebaldello
Who oped Faenza when the people slep

Already we had gone away from him,
When I beheld two frozen in one hole,
So that one head a hood was to the other;

And even as bread through hunger is devoured,
The uppermost on the other set his teeth,
There where the brain is to the nape united.

Not in another fashion Tydeus gnawed
The temples of Menalippus in disdain,
Than that one di-l the skull and the other things.

"O thou, who showest by such bestial sign
Thy hatred against him whom thou art eating,
Tell me the wherefore," said I,"with this compact, us

That if thou rightfully of him complain,
In knowing who ye are, and his transgression,
I in the world above repay thee for it,

If that wherewith I speak be not dried up."


His mouth uplifted from his grim repast,
That sinner, wiping it upon the hair
Of the same head that he behind had wasted.

Then he began:"Thou wilt that I renew
The desperate grief, which wrings my heart already
To think of only, ere I speak of it;

But if my words be seed that may bear fruit
Of infamy to the traitor whom I gnaw,
Speaking and weeping shalt thou see together.

I know not who thou art, nor by what mode
Thou hast come down here; but a Florentine
Thou seemest to me truly, when I hear thee.

Thou hast to know I was Count Ugolino,
And this one was Ruggieri the Archbishop;
Now I will tell thee why I am such a neighbour.

That, by effect of his malicious thoughts
Trusting in him I was made prisoner,
And after put to death, I need not say;

But ne'ertheless what thou canst not have heard,
That is to say, how cruel was my death,
Hear shalt thou, and shalt know if he has wronged me.

A narrow perforation in the mew,
Which bears because of me the title of Famine,
And in which others still must be locked up,

Had shown me through its opening many moons
Already, when I dreamed the evil dream
Which of the future rent for me the veil.

This one appeared to me as lord and master,
Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.

With sleuth-hounds gaunt, and eager, and well trained,
Gualandi with Sismondi and Lanfranchi
He had sent out before him to the front

After brief course seemed unto me forespent
The father and the sons, and with sharp tushes
It seemed to me I saw their flanks ripped open.

When I before the morrow was awake,
Moaning amid their sleep I heard my sons
Who with me were, and asking after bread.

Cruel indeed art thou, if yet thou grieve not,
Thinking of what my heart foreboded me,
And weep'st thou not, what art thou wont to weep at?

They were awake now, and the hour drew nigh
At which our food used to be brought to us,
And through his dream was each one apprehensive;

And I heard locking up the under door
Of the horrible tower; whereat without a word
I gazed into the faces of my sons.

I wept not, I within so turned to stone;
They wept; and darling little Anselm mine
Said:'Thou dost gaze so, father, what doth ail thee?'

Still not a tear I shed, nor answer made
All of that day, nor yet the night thereafter,
Until another sun rose on the world.

As now a little glimmer made its way
Into the dolorous prison, and I saw
Upon four faces my own very aspect

Both of my hands in agony I bit,
And, thinking that I did it from desire
Of eating, on a sudden they uprose,

And said they:'Father, much less pain 'twill give us
If thou do eat of us; thyself didst clothe us
With this poor flesh, and do thou strip it off.'

I calmed me then, not to make them more sad.
That day we all were silent, and the next.
Ah! obdurate earth, wherefore didst thou not open?

When we had come unto the fourth day, Gaddo
Threw himself down outstretched before my feet,
Saying,'My father, why dost thou not help me?'

And there he died; and, as thou seest me,
I saw the three fall, one by one, between
The fifth day and the sixth; whence I betook me,

Already blind,to groping over each,
And three days called them after they were dead;
Then hunger did what sorrow could not do."

When he had said this, with his eyes distorted,
The wretched skull resumed he with his teeth,
Which, as a dog's, upon the bone were strong.

Ah! Pisa, thou opprobrium of the people
Of the fair land there where the Si doth sound,
Since slow to punish thee thy neighbours are,

Let the Capraia and Gorgona move,
And make a hedge across the mouth of Arno
That every person in thee it may drown!

For if Count Ugolino had the fame
Of having in thy castles thee betrayed,
Thou shouldst not on such cross have put his sons.

Guiltless of any crime, thou modern Thebes!
Their youth made Uguccione and Brigata,
And the other two my song doth name above!

We passed still farther onward, where the ice
Another people ruggedly enswathes,
Not downward turned, but all of them reversed.

Weeping itself there does not let them weep,
An(l grief that finds a barrier in the eyes
Turns itself inward to increase the anguish;

Because the earliest tears a cluster form,
And, in the manner of a crystal visor,
Fill all the cup beneath the eyebrow full.

And notwithstanding that, as in a callus,
Because of cold all sensibility
Its station had abandoned in my face,

Still it appeared to me I felt some wind;
Whence I:"My Master, who sets this in motion?
Is not below here every vapour quenched?"

Whence he to me:"Full soon shalt thou be where
Thine eye shall answer make to thee of this,
Seeing the cause which raineth down the blast."

And one of the wretches of the frozen crust
Cried out to us:"O souls so merciless
That the last post is given unto you,

Lift from mine eyes the rigid veils, that I
May vent the sorrow which impregns my heart
A little, e'er the weeping recongeal."

Whence I to him:"If thou wouldst have me help thee
Say who thou wast; and if I free thee not,
May I go to the bottom of the ice."

Then he replied:"I am Friar Alberigo;
He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
Who here a date am getting for my fig."

"O,"said I to him, " now art thou, too, dead?"
And he to me: " How may my body fare
Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.

Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea,
That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.

And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
From off my countenance these glassy tears,
Know that as soon as any soul betrays

As I have done, his body by a demon
Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
Until his time has wholly been revolved.

Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
And still perchance above appears the body
Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.

This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
It is Ser Branca d' Oria, and many years
Have passed away since he was thus locked up."

"I think," said I to him,"thou dost deceive me;
For Branca d' Oria is not dead as yet,
And eats, and drinks, and sleeps, and puts on clothes."

"In moat above,"said he,"of Malebranche,
There where is boiling the tenacious pitch,
As yet had Michel Zanche not arrived,

When this one left a devil in his stead
In his own body and one near of kin,
Who made together with him the betrayal.

But hitherward stretch out thy hand forthwith,
Open mine eyes ;"--and open them I did not,
And to be rude to him was courtesy.

Ah, Genoese ! ye men at variance
With every virtue, full of every vice
Wherefore are ye not scattered from the world

For with the vilest spirit of Romagna
I found of you one such, who for his deeds
In soul already in Cocytus bathes,

And still above in body seems alive!


Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni
Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,"
My Master said,"if thou discernest him."
My Master said,"if thou discernest him."

As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when
Our hemisphere is darkening into night,
Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,

Methought that such a building then I saw;
And, for the wind, I drew myself behind
My Guide, because there was no other shelter.

Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it,
There where the shades were wholly covered up,
And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.

Some prone are Iying, others stand erect,
This with the head, and that one with the soles;
Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.

When in advance so far we had proceeded,
That it my Master pleased to show to me
The creature who once had the beauteous semblance-

He from before me moved and made me stop,
Saying:"Behold Dis, and behold the place
Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself"

How frozen I became and powerless then,
Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not,
Because all language would be insufficient.

I did not die, and I alive remained not;
Think for thyself now, hast thou aught of wit,
What I became, being of both deprived.

The Emperor of the kingdom dolorous
From his mid-breast forth issued from the ice,
And better with a giant I compare

Than do the giants with those arms of his;
Consider now how great must be that whole,
Which unto such a part conforms itself.

Were he as fair once, as he now is foul,
And lifted up his brow against his Maker,
Well may proceed from him all tribulation.

O, what a marvel it appeared to me,
When I beheld three faces on his head!
The one in front, and that vermilion was;

Two were the others, that were joined with this
Above the middle part of either shoulder,
And they were joined together at the crest;

And the right-hand one seemed 'twixt white and yellow
The left was such to look upon as those
Who come from where the Nile falls valley-ward.

Underneath each came forth two mighty wings,
Such as befitting were so great a bird;
Sails of the sea I never saw so large.

No feathers had they, but as of a bat
Their fashion was; and he was waving them,
So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.

Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed.
With six eyes did he weep, and down three chins
Trickled the tear-drops and the bloody drivel.

At every mouth he with his teeth was crunching
A sinner, in the manner of a brake,
So that he three of them tormented thus.

To him in front the biting was as naught
Unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine
Utterly stripped of all the skin remained.

"That soul up there which has the greatest pain,"
The Master said, " is Judas Iscariot;
With head inside, he plies his legs without.

Of the two others, who head downward are,
The one who hangs from the black jowl is Brutus;
See how he writhes himself, and speaks no word.

And the other, who so stalwart seems, is Cassius.
But night is reascending, and 'tis time
That we depart, for we have seen the whole."

As seemed him good, I clasped him round the neck,
And he the vantage seized of time and place,
And when the wings were opened wide apart,

He laid fast hold upon the shaggy sides;
From fell to fell descended downward then
Between the thick hair and the frozen crust.

When we were come to where the thigh revolves
Exactly on the thickness of the haunch,
The Guide. with labour and with hard-drawn breath.

Turned round his head where he had had his legs,
And grappled to the hair, as one who mounts,
So that to Hell I thought we were returning.

"Keep fast thy hold, for by such stairs as these,"
The Master said, panting as one fatigued,
"Must we perforce depart from so much evil."

Then through the opening of a rock he issued,
And down upon the margin seated me;
Then tow'rds me he outstretched his wary step.

I lifted up mine eyes and thought to see
Lucifer in the same way I had left him;
And I beheld him upward hold his legs.

And if I then became disquieted,
Let stolid people think who do not see
What the point is beyond which I had passed.

"Rise up,"the Master said,"upon thy feet;
The way is long, and difficult the road,
And now the sun to middle-tierce returns."

It was not any palace corridor
l here where we were, but dungeon natural,
With floor uneven and unease of light.

"Ere from the abyss I tear myself away,
My Master," said I when I had arisen?
"To draw me from an error speak a little;

Where is the ice ?"and how is this one fixed
Thus upside down? and how in such short time
From eve to morn has the sun made his transit?"

And he to me:"Thou still imaginest
Thou art beyond the centre, where I grasped
The hair of the fell worm, who mines the world.

That side thou wast, so long as I descended;
When round I turned me, thou didst pass the point
To which things heavy draw from every side,

And now beneath the hemisphere art come
Opposite that which overhangs the vast
Dry-land, and 'neath whose cope was put to death

The Man who without sin was born and lived.
Thou hast thy feet upon the little sphere
Which makes the other face of the Judecca

Here it is morn when it is evening there;
And he who with his hair a stairway made us
Still fixed remaineth as he was before.

Upon this side he fell down out of heaven;
And all the land, that whilom here emerged,
For fear of him made of the sea a veil,

And came to our hemisphere; and peradventure
To flee from him, what on this side appears
Left the place vacant here, and back recoiled"

A place there is below, from Beelzebub
As far receding as the tomb extends,
Which not by sight is known, but by the sound

Of a small rivulet, that there descendeth
Through chasm within the stone, which it has gnawed
With course that winds about and slightly falls.

The Guide and I into that hidden road
Now entered, to return to the bright world;
And without care of having any rest

We mounted up, the first and I the second,
Till I beheld through a round aperture
Some of the beauteous things that Heaven doth bear;

Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.


The Divine Comedy.__The Vita Nuova of Dante closes with these
words: "After ths connet there appeared to me a wonderful vision,
in which I beheld things that made me propose to say no more of
this blessed one, until I shall be able to say no more of this
blessed one, until I shall be able to treat of her more worthily.
And to attain thereunto, truly I strive with all my power, as she
knoweth. So that if ti shall be the pleasure of Him, through
whom all things live, that my life continue somewhat longer, I
hope to say of her what never yet was said of any woman. And
then may it please Him, w3ho is the Sire of courtesy, that my
soul may depart to look upon the glory of its Lady, that is to
say, of the blessed Beatrice, who in glories gazes into the fave
of him, qui est per oimnia saecula benedictus."

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

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

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

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

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

II. Malice: 1. The Vilent against their neighbor, in person or
property. 2. The Vi0lent against themselves, in person or
property. 3. The Violent against God, or against Nature, the
daughter of God, or against Art, the daughter of Nature.

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

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

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

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

Next to these may be memtioned Cicero's Vision of Scipio, of
which Chaucer says.--

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

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

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

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

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

See upon this subject, Cancellieri, Osservasioni Sopra
l'Originalita di Dante;--Wright, St. Patrick's Purgatory, and
Essay on the Legens of Purgatory, Hell, and Paradise, current
during the Middle Ages;--Ozanam, Dante et la Philosophie
Catholique au Treizieme Siecle;--Labitte, La Divine Comedie avant
Dante, published as an Introduction to the translation of
Brizeux;-- and Delepierre, Le Livre des Visions, ou l'Enfer et le
Cie decrits par ceux qui les ont vus. Se also the Illustrations
at the end of volume ten.

Canto 1

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

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

Brunetto Latini, Tesoretto, II. 75:

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

Spenser, Faerie Queene, Iv. ii. 45: --

"Seeking adventures in the salvage wood."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

48. Some editions read temesse, others tremesse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

116. I give preference to the reading, Vedrai gli antichi spiriti

122. Beatrice.

Canto 2

1. The evening of Good Friday. Dante, Convito III. 2, says:
"Man is called by philosophers the divine animal." Chaucer's
Assemble of Foules:--

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

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

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

13. Aeneas, founder of the Roman Empire. Virgil, Aenid, B. VI.

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

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

42. Shakespear, Macbeth, IV. i:

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

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

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

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

56. Shakespeare, King Lear, V. 3:--

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

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

70. Beatrice Portinari, Dante's first love, the inspiration of
his song and in his mind the symbol of the Divine. He says of her
in the Vita Nuova:--

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

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

84. The ampler circles of Paradise.

94. Divine Mercy.

97. St Lucia, emblem of enlightening Grace.

102. Rachel, emblem of Divine Contemplation. See Par. XXXII. 9.
108. Beside that flood, where ocean has no vaunt; "That is," says
Boccacio, Comento, "the sea cannot boast of being more impetuous
or more dangerous than that."

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

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

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

Canto 3

1. This canto begins with a repetition of sounds like the tolling
of a funeral bell: dolente...dolore! Ruskin, Modern Painters,
III. 215, speaking of the Inferno, says:--

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

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

18 . Aristotle says: "The good of the intellect is the highest
beatitude"; and Dante in the Convito: "The True is the good of
the intellect. " In other words, the knowledge of God is
intellectual good. "It is a most just punishment," says St.
Augustine, "that man should lose that freedom which man could not
use, yet had power to keep, if he would, and that he who had
knowledge to do what was right, and did not do it, should be
deprived of the knowledge of what was right; and that he who
would not do righteously, when he had the power, should lose the
power to do it when he had the will. "

22. The description given of the Mouth of Hell by Frate Alberico,
Visio, 9, is in the grotesque spirit of the Mediaeval Mysteries.
"After all these things, I was led to the Tartarean Regions, and
to the mouth of the Internal Pit, which seemed like unto a well;
regions full of horrid darkness, of fetid exhalations, of shrieks
and loud howlings. Near this Hell there was a Worm of immeasurable
size, bound with a huge chain, one end of which seemed to be
fastened in Hell. Before the mouth of this Hell there stood a great
multitude of souls, which he absorbed at once, as if they were
flies; so that, drawing in his breath, he swallowed them all together;
then, breathing, exhaled them all on fire, like sparks."

36 . The reader will here be reminded of Bunyan's town of
Fairspeech. "Christian. Pray who are you kindred there, if a man
may be so bold." "By-ends. Almost the whole town; and in
particular my Lord Turnabout, my Lord Timeserver, my Lord
Fairspeech, from whose ancestors that town first took its name;
also Mr. Smoothman, Mr. Facing- both-ways, Mr. Any-thing,
--and the parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, was my
mother's own brother by father's side....
"There Christian stepped a little aside to his fellow Hopeful,
saying, `It runs in my mind that this is one By- ends of Fair-
speech; and if it be he, we have as very a knave in our company
as dwelleth in all these parts.'"

42 . Many commentators and translators interpret alcuna in its
usual signification of some: "For some glory the damned would
have from them." This would be a reason why these pusillanimous
ghosts should not be sent into the profounder abyss, but not reason
why they should not be received there. This is strengthened by what
comes afterwards, l. 63. These souls were "hateful to God, and to
his enemies." They were not good enough for Heaven, nor bad
enough for Hell. "So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither
cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Revelation iii. 16.
Macchiavelli represents this scorn of inefficient mediocrity
in an epigram on Peter Soderini:--

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

The same idea is intensified in the old ballad of Carle of Kelly-
Burn Brees, Cromek, p. 37:--She's nae fit for heaven, an' she'll
ruin a' hell."

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

59 . Generally supposed to be Pope Celestine V. whose great
refusal, or abdication, of the papal office is thus described by
in his Comento:-- Being a simple man of a holy life, living as a hermit
in the
mountains of Morrone in Abruzzo, above Selmona, he was elected
Pope in Perugia after the death of Pope Niccola d'Ascoli; and his
name being Peter, he was called Celestine. Considering his
simplicity, Cardinal Messer Benedetto Gatano, a very cunning man,
of great courage and desirous of being Pope, managing astutely,
began to show him that he held this high office much to the
prejudice of his own soul, inasmuch as he did not feel himself
competent for it; -- others pretend that he contrived with some
private servants of his to have voices heard in the chamber of
the aforesaid Pope, which, as if they were voices of angels sent
from heaven, said, `Resign, Celestine! Resign, Celestine!'--moved
by which, and being an idiotic man, he took counsel with Messer
Benedetto aforesaid, as to the best method of resigning."
Celestine having relinquished the papal office, this "Messer
Benedetto aforesaid" was elected Pope, under the title of
Boniface VIII. His greatest misfortune was that he had Dante for
an adversary. Gower gives this legend of Pope Celestine in his
Confessio Amantis, Book II., as an example of "the vice of
supplantacion." He says: --

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

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

"The abdication of Celestine V. was an event unprecedented in the
annals of the Church, and jarred harshly against some of the
first principle of the Papal authority. It was a confession of
common humanity, of weakness below the ordinary standard of men
in him whom the Conclave, with more than usual certitude, as
guided by the special interposition of the Holy Ghost, had raised
to the spiritual throne of the world. The Conclave had been, as
it seemed, either under an illusion as to this declared
manifestation of the Holy Spirit, or had been permitted to
deceive itself. Nor was there less incongruity in a Pope, whose
office invested him in something at least approaching to
infallibility, acknowledging before the world his utter
incapacity, his undeniable fallibility. That idea, formed out of
many conflicting conceptions, yet forcibly harmonized by long,
traditionary reverence, of unerring wisdom, oracular truth,
authority which it was sinful to question or limit, strangely
disturbed and confused, not as before by too overweening
ambition, or even awful yet still unacknowledged crime, but by
avowed weakness, bordering on imbecility. His profound piety
hardly reconciled the confusion. A saint after all made but a bad
Pope. "It was viewed, in his own time, in a different light by
different minds. The monkish writers held it up as the most noble
example of monastic, of Christian perfection. Admirable as was
his election, his abdication was even more to be admired. It was
an example of humility stupendous to all, imitable by few. The
divine approval was said to be shown by a miracle which followed
directly on his resignation; but the scorn of man has been
expressed by the undying verse of Dante, who condemned him who
was guilty of the baseness of the `great refusal' to that circle
of hell where are those disdained alike by mercy and justice, on
whom the poet will not condescend to look. This sentence, so
accordant with the stirring and passionate soul of the great
Florentine, has been feebly counteracted, if counteracted, by the
praise of Petrarch in his declamation on the beauty of a solitary
life, for which the lyrist a somewhat hollow and poetic
admiration. Assuredly there was no magnanimity contemptuous of
the Papal greatness in the abdication of Celestine; it was the
weariness, the conscious inefficiency, the regret of a man
suddenly wrenched away from all his habits, pursuits, and
avocations, and unnaturally compelled or tempted to assume an
uncongenial dignity. It was the cry of passionate feebleness to
be released from an insupportable burden. Compassion is the
highest emotion of sympathy which it would have desired or could

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

82 . Virgil, Aeneid, VI., Davidson's translation:--

"A grim ferryman guards these floods and rivers, Charon, of
frightful slovenliness; on whose chin a load of gray hair
neglected lies; his eyes are flame: his vestments hang from his
shoulders by a knot, with filth overgrown. Himself thrusts on the
barge with a pole, and tends the sails, and wafts over the bodies
in his iron- colored boat, now in years: but the god is of fresh
and green old age. Hither the whole tribe in swarms come pouring
to the banks, matrons and men, the souls of magnanimous heroes
who had gone through life, boys and unmarried maids, and young
men who had been stretched on the funeral pile before the eyes of
their parents; as numerous as withered leaves fall in the woods
with the first cold of autumn, or as numerous as birds flock to
the land from deep ocean, when the chilling year drives them
beyond sea, and sends them to sunny climes. They stood praying to
cross the flood the first, and were stretching forth their hands
with fond desire to gain the further bank: but the sullen boatman
admits sometimes these, sometimes those; while others to a great
distance removed, he debars from the banks."
And Shakespeare, Richard III., I. 4: --

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

87 . Shakepeare, Measure for Measure, III. I:--

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

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

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

94 . Many critics, and foremost among them Padre Pompeo Venturi,
blame Dante for mingling together things Pagan and Christian. But they
should remember how through all the Middle Ages human thought was
wrestling with the old traditions; how many Pagan observances
passed into Christianity in those early days; what reverence
Dante had for Virgil and the classics; and how many Christian
nations still preserve some traces of Paganism in the names of
the stars, the months, and the days. Padre Pompeo should not have
forgotten that he, though a Christian, bore a Pagan name, which
perhaps is as evident a brutto miscuglio in a learned Jesuit, as
any which he has pointed out in Dante. Upon him and other
commentators of the Divine Poem, a very amusing chapter
might be written. While the great Comedy is going on
upon the scene above, with all its pomp and music, these critics
in the pit keep up such a perpetual wrangling among themselves, as
seriously to disturb the performance. Biaglioli is the most
violent of all, particularly against Venturi, whom he calls an
"infamous dirty
dog," sozzo can vituperato, an epithet hardly permissible in the
most heated literary controversy. Whereupon in return Zani de'
Ferranti calls Biagioli "an inurbane grammarian," and a "most
ungrateful ingrate."--quel grammatico inurbano...ingrato
ingratissimo. Any one who is desirous of tracing out the
presence of Paganism in Christianity will find the subject amply
discussed by Middleton in his Letter from Rome.

109. Dryden's Aene,is, B. VI.:--

"His eyes like hollow furnaces on fire."

112 . Homer, Iliad, VI.:"As is the race of leaves, such is that
of men; some leaves the wind scatters upon the ground, and others the
budding wood produces, for they come again in the season of
Spring. So is the race of men, one springs up and the other
See also Note 82 of the canto.
Mr. Ruskin, Modern Painters, III. 160, says:--

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

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

Canto 4

1. Dante is borne across the river Acheron in his sleep, he does
not tell us how, and awakes on the brink of "the dolorous valley of
the abyss." He now enters the First Circle of the Inferno; the
Limbo of the Unbaptized, the border land, as the name denotes.
Frate Alberico in {paragraph} 2 of his Vision says, that the
divine punishments are tempered to extreme youth and old age.
"Man is first a little child, then grows and reaches adolescence,
and attains to youthful vigor; and, little by little growing
weaker, declines into old age; and at every step of life the sum
of his sins increases. So likewise the little children are
punished least, and more and more the adolescents and the youths;
until, their sins decreasing with the long-continued torments,
punishment also begins to decrease, as if by a kind of old age
("veluti quadam senectute ")."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

106. This is the Noble Castle of human wit and learning,
encircled with its seven scholastic walls, the " Trivium", Logic,
Rhetoric, and the "Quadrivium ", Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry,
Music. The fair rivulet is Eloquence, which Dante does not seem
to consider a very profound matter, as he and Virgil pass over it
as if it were dry ground.

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

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

And yet just before, line 111, Dante speaks of this meadow as a
"meadow of fresh verdure."
Compare Brunetto's "Tesoretto", XIII.

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

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

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

"About this time (1193) died the great Sultan Saladin, the
greatest terror of the Christians, who, mindful of man's
fragility and the vanity of worldly honors, commanded at the time
of his death no solemnity to be used at his burial, but only his
shirt, in manner of an ensign, made fast unto the point of a
lance, to be carried before his dead body as an ensign, a plain
priest going before, and crying aloud unto the people in this
sort, `Saladin' Conqueror of the East, of all the greatness and
riches he had in his life, carrieth not with him anything more
than his shirt. ' A sight worthy so great a king, as wanted
nothing to his eternal commendation more than the true knowledge
of his salvation in Christ Jesus. He reigned about sixteen years
with great honor. " The following story of Saladin is from the
"Cento Novelle Antiche. "
Roscoe's "Italian Novelists", I. 18:--

"On another occasion the great Saladin, in the career of victory,
proclaimed a truce between the Christian armies and his own.
During this interval he visited the camp and the cities belonging
to his enemies, with the design, should he approve of the customs
and manners of the people, of embracing the Christian faith. He
observed their tables spread with the finest damask coverings
ready prepared for the feast, and he praised their magnificence.
On entering the tents of the king of France during a festival, he
was much pleased with the order and ceremony with which
everything was conducted, and the courteous manner in which he
feasted his nobles; but when he approached the residence of the
poorer class, and perceived them devouring their miserable
pittance upon the ground, he blamed the want of gratitude which
permitted so many faithful followers of their chief to fare so
much worse than the rest of their Christian brethren.
"Afterwards, several of the Christian leaders returned with the
Sultan to observe the manners of the Saracens. They appeared much
shocked on seeing all ranks of people take their meals sitting
upon the ground. The Sultan led them into a grand pavilion where
he feasted his court, surrounded with the most beautiful
tapestries, and rich foot-cloths, on which were wrought large
embroidered figures of the cross. The Christian chiefs trampled
them under their feet with the utmost indifference, and even
rubbed their boots, and spat upon them. "On perceiving this,
the Sultan turned towards them in the greatest anger, exclaiming:
`And do you who pretend to preach the cross treat it thus
ignominiously? Gentlemen, I am shocked at your conduct.
Am I to suppose from this that the worship of your Deity
consists only in words, not in actions? Neither your manners nor
your conduct please me.' And on this he dismissed them,
breaking off the truce and commencing hostilities more
warmly than before."

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

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

Canto 5

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

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

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

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

21. Thou, too, as well as Charon, to whom[*]Virgil has already
made the same reply, Canto 06. 022.

28. In Canto 01. 060, the sun is silent; here the light is dumb.

51. Gower, "Confession Amantis", VIII., gives a similar list "of
gentil folke that whilom were lovers," seen by him as he lay in a
swound and listened to the music Of bombarde and of clarionne
With cornemuse and shalmele."

61. Queen Dido.

65. Achilles, being in love with Polyxena, a daughter of Priam,
went unarmed to the temple of Apollo, where he was put to death by
Paris. Gower, "Confessio Amantis ", IV., says:--

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

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

67. Paris of Troy, of whom Spenser says, "Faerie Queene", III.ix.

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

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

71 . Shakespeare, Sonnet CVI.:--

"When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights."

See also the "wives and daughters of chieftains" that appear to
Ulysses, in the " Odyssey", Book XI. Also Milton, "[*]Paradise
Regained", II. 357:--

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

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

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

The Glossary defines it, "skie colored, of a bluish gray." The
word is again used, VII. 103 and " Purg." 09. 097.

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

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

103. Here the word "love" is repeated, as the word "honor " was
in Canto 04. 072. The verse murmurs with it, like the "moan of doves
in immemorial elms." St. Augustine says in his " Confessions",
III. 1: "I loved not yet, yet I loved to love.....I sought what I
might love, in love with loving."

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

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

116. Francesca, daughter of Guido da Polenta, Lord of Ravenna,
and wife of Gianciotto Malatesta, son of the Lord of Rimini. The
lover, Paul Malatesta, was the brother of the husband, who,
discovering their amour, put them both to death with his own
hand. Carlyle, "Heroes and Hero Worship", Lect. III., says:--
"Dante's painting is not graphic only, brief, true, and of a
vividness as of fire in dark night; taken on the wider scale, it
is every way noble, and the outcome of a great soul. Francesca
and her Lover, what qualities in that! A thing woven as out of
rainbows, on a ground of eternal black. A small flute-voice of
infinite wail speaks there, into our very heart of hearts. A
touch of womanhood in it too: "della bella persona", "che mi fu
tolta"; and how, even in the Pit of woe, it is a solace that "
he" will never part from her! Saddest tragedy in these " alti
guai." And the racking winds, in that "aer bruno ", whirl them
away again, to wail forever! -- Strange to think: Dante was the
friend of this poor Francesca's father; Francesca herself may
have sat upon the Poet's knee, as a bright, innocent little
child. Infinite pity, yet also infinite rigor of law: it is so
Nature is made; it is so Dante discerned that she was made."
Later commentators assert that Dante's friend Guido was not the
father of Francesca, but her nephew. Boccaccio's account,
translated from his Commentary by Leigh Hunt, " Stories from the
Italian Poets", Appendix II., is as follows:--"You must know that
this lady, Madonna Francesca, was daughter of Messer Guido the
Elder, lord of Ravenna and of Cervia, and that a long and
grievous war having been waged between him and the lords
Malatesta of Rimini, a treaty of peace by certain mediators was
at length concluded between them; the which, to the end that it
might be the more firmly established, it pleased both parties to
desire to fortify by relationship; and the matter of this
relationship was so discoursed, that the said Messer Guido agreed
to give his young and fair daughter in marriage to Gianciotto,
the son of Messer Malatesta. Now, this being made known to
certain of the friends of Messer Guido, one of them said to him:
`Take care what you do; for if you contrive not matters
discreetly, such relationship will beget scandal. You know what
manner of person your daughter is, and of how lofty a spirit; and
if she see Gianciotto before the bond is tied, neither you nor
any one else will have power to persuade her to marry him;
therefore, if it so please you, it seems to me that it would be
good to conduct the matter thus: namely, that Gianciotto should
not come hither himself to marry her, but that a brother of his
should come and espouse her in his name.' "Gianciotto was a man
of great spirit, and hoped, after his father's death, to become
lord of Rimini; in the contemplation of which event, albeit he
was rude in appearance and a cripple, Messer Guido desired him
for a son-in-law above any one of his brothers. Discerning,
therefore, the reasonableness of what his friend counselled, he
secretly disposed matters according to his device; and a day
being appointed, Polo, a brother of Gianciotto, came to Ravenna
with full authority to espouse Madonna Francesca. Polo was a
handsome man, very pleasant, and of a courteous breeding; and
passing with other gentlemen over the court-yard of the palace of
Messer Guido, a damsel who knew him pointed him out to Madonna
Francesca through an opening in the casement, saying, `That is he
that is to be your husband'; and so indeed the poor lady
believed, and incontinently placed in him her whole affection;
and the ceremony of the marriage having been thus brought about,
and the lady conveyed to Rimini, she became not aware of the
deceit till the morning ensuing the marriage, when she beheld
Gianciotto rise from her side; the which discovery moved her to
such disdain, that she became not a whit the less rooted in her
love for Polo. Nevertheless, that it grew to be unlawful I never
heard, except in what is written by this author (Dante), and
possibly it might so have become; albeit I take what he says to
have been an invention framed on the possibility, rather than
anything which he knew of his own knowledge. Be this as it may,
Polo and Madonna Francesca living in the same house, and
Gianciotto being gone into a certain neighboring district as
governor, they fell into great companionship with one another,
suspecting nothing; but a servant of Gianciotto's, noting it,
went to his master and told him how matters looked; with the
which Gianciotto being fiercely moved, secretly returned to
Rimini; and seeing Polo enter the room of Madonna Francesca the
while he himself was arriving, went straight to the door, and
finding it locked inside, called to his lady to come out; for,
Madonna Francesca and Polo having descried him, Polo thought to
escape suddenly through an opening in the wall, by means of which
there was a descent into another room; and therefore, thinking to
conceal his fault either wholly or in part, he threw himself into
the opening, telling the lady to go and open the door. But his
hope did not turn out as he expected; for the hem of a mantle
which he had on caught upon a nail, and the lady opening the door
meantime, in the belief that all would be well by reason of
Polo's not being there, Gianciotto caught sight of Polo as he was
detained by the hem of the mantle, and straightway ran with his
dagger in his hand to kill him; whereupon the lady, to prevent
it, ran between them; but Gianciotto having lifted the dagger,
and put the whole force of his arm into the blow, there came to
pass what he had not desired,--namely, that he struck the dagger
into the bosom of the lady before it could reach Polo; by which
accident, being as one who had loved the lady better than
himself, he withdrew the dagger and again struck at Polo, and
slew him; and so leaving them both dead, he hastily went his way
and betook him to his wonted affairs; and the next morning the
two lovers, with many tears, were buried together in the same

121. This thought is from Boethius, "De Consolat. Philos")., Lib.
II. Prosa 4: "In omni adversitate fortunae, infelicissimum genus est
infortunii fuisse felicem et non esse. " In the "Convito", II. 16,
Dante speaks of Boethius and Tully as having directed him
"to the love, that is to the study, of this most gentle lady
" From this Venturi and Biagioli infer that, by the Teacher, Boethius
is meant, not Virgil. This interpretation, however, can hardly be
accepted, as not in one place only, but throughout the Inferno and
the Purgatorio, Dante proclaims Virgil as his teacher, " il mio
" Lombardi thinks that Virgil had experience of this "greatest sorrow,"

finding himself also in "the infernal prison"; and that it is to this,
contrast with his happy life on earth, that Francesca alludes, and not
anything in his writings.

128. The Romance of Launcelot of the Lake. See Delvan,
"Biblioteque Bleue ":--

"Chap. 39. Comment Launcelot et la Reine Genievre deviserent de
choses et d'autres, et surtout de choses amoureuses.....
"La Reine, voyant qu'il n'osait plus rien faire ni dire, le prit
par le menton et le baisa assez longuement en presence de
Gallehault. "
The Romance was to these two lovers, what Galeotto
(Gallehault or Sir Galahad) had been to Launcelot and Queen
Guenever. Leigh Hunt speaks of the episode of Francesca as
standing in the Inferno "like a lily in the mouth of Tartarus."

142. Chaucer, "Knightes Tale":--

"The colde death, with mouth gaping upright."

Canto 6

1. The sufferings of these two, and the pity it excited in him.
As in Shakespeare, " Othello", IV. 1:

"But yet the pity of it, Iago!
-- O Iago, the pity of it, Iago!"

7. In this third circle are punished the Gluttons. Instead of the
feasts of former days, the light, the warmth, the comfort, the
luxury, and "the frolic wine" of dinner tables, they have the
murk and the mire, and the "rain eternal, maledict, and cold, and
heavy"; and are barked at and bitten by the dog in the yard. Of
Gluttony, Chaucer says in "The Persones Tale", p. 239:--
"He that is usant to this sinne of glotonie, he ne may no sinne
withstond, he must be in servage of all vices, for it is the
devils horde, ther he hideth him and resteth. This sinne hath
many spices. The first is dronkennesse, that is the horrible
sepulture of mannes reson: and therefore whan a man is dronke, he
hath lost his reson: and this is dedly sinne. But sothly, whan
that a man is not wont to strong drinkes, and peraventure ne
knoweth not the strength of the drinke, or hath feblenesse in his
hed, or hath travailled, thurgh which he drinketh the more, al be
he sodenly caught with drinke, it is no dedly sinne, but venial.
The second spice of glotonie is, that the spirit of a man wexeth
all trouble for dronkennesse, and bereveth a man the discretion
of his wit. The thridde spice of glotonie is, whan a man
devoureth his mete, and hath not rightful maner of eting. The
fourthe is, whan thurgh the gret abundance of his mete, the
humours in his body ben distempered. The fifthe is,
foryetfulnesse by to moche drinking, for which sometime a man
forgeteth by the morwe, what he did over eve."

52. It is a question whether "Ciacco", Hog, is the real name of
this person, or a nickname. Boccaccio gives him no other. He speaks of
him, "Comento ", VI. , as a noted diner-out in Florence, "who
frequented the gentry and the rich, and particularly those who
ate and drank sumptuously and delicately; and when he was invited by
to dine, he went; and likewise when he was not invited by them, he
invited himself; and for this vice he was well known to all
though apart from this he was a well-bred man according to his
condition, eloquent, affable, and of good feeling; on account of which
was welcomed by every gentleman."
The following story from the "Decamerone", Gior. IX., Nov. viii.,
translation of 1684, presents a lively picture of social life
in Florence in Dante's time, and is interesting for the glimpse
it gives, not only of Ciacco, but of Philippo Argenti, who is
spoken of hereafter, Canto VIII. 061. The Corso Donati here
mentioned is the Leader of the Neri. His violent death is
predicted, " Purg. " XXIV. 82:--
"There dwelt somtime in Florence one that was generally called by
the name of Ciacco, a man being the greatest Gourmand and
grossest Feeder as ever was seen in any Countrey, all his means
and procurements meerly unable to maintain expences for filling
his belly. But otherwise he was of sufficient and commendable
carriage, fairly demeaned, and well discoursing on any Argument:
yet not as a curious and spruce Courtier, but rather a frequenter
of rich mens Tables, where choice of good chear is seldom
wanting, and such should have his Company, albeit not invited, he
had the Courage to bid himself welcome. "At the same time, and in
our City of Florence also, there was another man named Biondello,
very low of stature, yet comely formed, quick witted, more neat
and brisk than a Butterflie, always wearing a wrought silk Cap on
his head, and not a hair standing out of order, but the tuft
flourishing above the forehead, and he such another trencher flie
for the Table, as our forenamed Ciacco was. It so fell out on a
morning in the Lent time, that he went into the Fish-market,
where he bought two goodly Lampreys for Messer Viero de Cerchi,
and was espyed by Ciacco, who, coming to Biondello, said, `What
is the meaning of this cost, and for whom is it?' Whereto
Biondello thus answered, `Yesternight three other Lampreys, far
fairer than these, and a whole Sturgeon, were sent unto Messer
Corso Donati, and being not sufficient to feed divers Gentlemen,
whom he hath invited this day to dine with him, he caused me to
buy these two beside: Dost not thou intend to make one of them?'
`Yes, I warrant thee,' replyed Ciacco, `thou knowest I can invite
my self thither, without any other bidding.'
"So parting, about the hour of dinner time Ciacco went to the
house of Messer Corso, whom he found sitting and talking with
certain of his Neighbours, but dinner was not as yet ready,
neither were they come thither to dinner. Messer Corso demanded
of Ciacco, what news with him, and whether he went? `Why Sir,'
said Ciacco, `I come to dine with you, and your good Company.'
Whereto Messer Corso answered, That he was welcome: and his other
friends being gone, dinner was served in, none else thereat
present but Messer Corso and Ciacco: all the diet being a poor
dish of Pease, a little piece of Tunny, and a few small fishes
fryed, without any other dishes to follow after. Ciacco seeing no
better fare, but being disappointed of his expectation, as
longing to feed on the Lampreys and Sturgeon, and so to have made
a full dinner indeed, was of a quick apprehension, and apparently
perceived that Biondello had meerly gull'd him in a knavery,
which did not a little vex him, and made him vow to be revenged
on Biondello, as he could compass occasion afterward.
"Before many days were past, it was his fortune to meet with
Biondello, who having told his jest to divers of his friends, and
much good merryment made thereat: he saluted Ciacco in a kind
manner, saying, `How didst thou like the fat Lampreys and
Sturgeon which thou fed'st on at the house of Messer Corso?'
`Well, Sir,' answered Ciacco, `perhaps before Eight days pass
over my head, thou shalt meet with as pleasing a dinner as I
did.' So, parting away from Biondello, he met with a Porter, such
as are usually sent on Errands; and hyring him to do a message
for him, gave him a glass Bottle, and bringing him near to the
Hall-house of Cavicciuli, shewed him there a Knight, called
Signior Philippo Argenti, a man of huge stature, very cholerick,
and sooner moved to Anger than any other man. `To him thou must
go with this Bottle in thy hand, and say thus to him. Sir,
Biondello sent me to you, and courteously entreateth you, that
you would erubinate this glass Bottle with your best Claret Wine;
because he would make merry with a few friends of his. But beware
he lay no hand on thee, because he may be easily induced to
misuse thee, and so my business be disappointed.' `Well, Sir,'
said the Porter, `shall I say any thing else unto him?' `No,'
quoth Ciacco, `only go and deliver this message, and when thou
art returned, I'll pay thee for thy pains.' The Porter being gone
to the house, delivered his message to the Knight, who, being a
man of no great civil breeding, but very furious, presently
conceived that Biondello, whom he knew well enough, sent this
message in meer mockage of him, and, starting up with fierce
looks, said, `What erubination of Claret should I send him? and
what have I to do with him or his drunken friends? Let him and
thee go hang your selves together.' So he stept to catch hold on
the Porter, but he being nimble and escaping from him, returned
to Ciacco and told him the answer of Philippo. Ciacco, not a
little contented, payed the Porter, tarried in no place till he
met Biondello, to whom he said, `When wast thou at the Hall of
Cavicciuli?' `Not a long while,' answered Biondello; `but why
dost thou demand such a question?' `Because,' quoth Ciacco,
`Signior Philippo hath sought about for thee, yet know not I what
he would have with thee.' `Is it so,' replied Biondello, `then I
will walk thither presently, to understand his pleasure.' "When
Biondello was thus parted from him, Ciacco followed not far off
behind him, to behold the issue of this angry business; and
Signior Philippo, because he could not catch the Porter,
continued much distempered, fretting and fuming, because he could
not comprehend the meaning of the Porter's message, but only
surmised that Biondello, by the procurement of some body else,
had done this in scorn of him. While he remained thus deeply
discontented, he espyed Biondello coming towards him, and meeting
him by the way, he stept close to him and gave him a cruel blow
on the Face, Biondello, `wherefore do you strike me?' Signior
Philippo, catching him by the hair of the head, trampled his
Night Cap in the dirt, and his Cloak also, when, laying many
violent blows on him, he said, `Villanous Traitor as thou art,
I'll teach thee what it is to erubinate with Claret, either thy
self or any of thy cupping Companions. Am I a Child to be jested
"Nor was he more furious in words than in stroaks also, beating
him about the Face, hardly leaving any hair on his head, and
dragging him along in the mire, spoiling all his Garments, and he
not able, from the first blow given, to speak a word in defence
of himself. In the end Signior Philippo having extreamly beaten
him, and many people gathering about them, to succour a man so
much misused, the matter was at large related, and manner of the
message sending. For which they all did greatly reprehend
Biondello, considering he knew what kind of man Philippo was, not
any way to be jested withal. Biondello in tears maintained that
he never sent any such message for Wine, or intended it in the
least degree; so, when the tempest was more mildly calmed, and
Biondello, thus cruelly beaten and durtied, had gotten home to
his own house, he could then remember that (questionless) this
was occasioned by Ciacco. "After some few days were passed over,
and the hurts in his face indifferently cured, Biondello
beginning to walk abroad again, chanced to meet with Ciacco, who,
laughing heartily at him, said, `Tell me, Biondello, how dost
thou like the erubinating Claret of Signior Philippo?' `As well,'
quoth Biondello, `as thou didst the Sturgeon and Lampreys at
Messer Corso Donaties.' `Why then, ' said Ciacco, `let these
tokens continue familiar between thee and me, when thou wouldest
bestow such another dinner on me, then will I erubinate thy Nose
with a Bottle of the same Claret.' But Biondello perceived to his
cost that he had met with the worser bargain, and Ciacco got
cheer without any blows; and therefore desired a peacefull
attonement, each of them always after abstaining from flouting
one another."
Ginguene, "Hist. Lit. de l'Italie", II. 53, takes Dante severely
to task for wasting his pity upon poor Ciacco, but probably the
poet had pleasant memories of him at Florentine banquets in the
olden time. Nor is it remarkable that he should be mentioned only
by his nickname. Mr. Forsyth calls Italy "the land of nicknames.
" He says in continuation, " Italy", p. 145:--
"Italians have suppressed the surnames of their principal artists
under various designations. Many are known only by the names of
their birthplace, as Correggio, Bassano, etc. Some by those of
their masters, as Il Salviati, Sansovino, etc. Some by their
father's trade, as Andrea del Sarto, Tintoretto, etc. Some by
their bodily defects, as Guercino, Cagnacci, etc. Some by the
subjects in which they excelled, as M. Angelo delle battaglie,
Agostino delle perspettive. A few (I can recollect only four) are
known, each as the " prince" of his respective school, by their
Christian names alone: Michael Angelo, Raphael, Guido, Titian."

65. The Bianchi are called the "Parte selvaggia", because its
leaders, the Cerchi, came from the forest lands of Val di Sieve.
The other party, the Neri, were led by the Donati.
The following account of these factions is from Giovanni
Fiorentino, a writer of the fourteenth century; " Il Pecorone",
Gior. XIII. Nov. i., in Roscoe's "Italian Novelists ", I. 327.
"In the city of Pistoia, at the time of its greatest splendor,
there flourished a noble family, called the Cancellieri, derived
from Messer Cancelliere, who had enriched himself with his
commercial transactions. He had numerous sons by two wives, and
they were all entitled by their wealth to assume the title of
Cavalieri, valiant and worthy men, and in all their actions
magnanimous and courteous. And so fast did the various branches
of this family spread, that in a short time they numbered a
hundred men at arms, and being superior to every other, both in
wealth and power, would have still increased, but that a cruel
division arose between them, from some rivalship in the
affections of a lovely and enchanting girl, and from angry words
they proceeded to more angry blows. Separating into two parties,
those descended from the first wife took the title of Cancellieri
Bianchi, and the others, who were the offspring of the second
marriage, were called Cancellieri Neri.
"Having at last come to action, the Neri were defeated, and
wishing to adjust the affair as well as they yet could, they sent
their relation, who had offended the opposite party, to entreat
forgiveness on the part of the Neri, expecting that such
submissive conduct would meet with the compassion it deserved. On
arriving in the presence of the Bianchi, who conceived themselves
the offended party, the young man, on bended knees, appealed to
their feelings for forgiveness, observing, that he had placed
himself in their power, that so they might inflict what
punishment they judged proper; when several of the younger
members of the offended party, seizing on him, dragged him into
an adjoining stable, and ordered that his right hand should be
severed from his body. In the utmost terror the youth, with tears
in his eyes, besought them to have mercy, and to take a greater
and nobler revenge, by pardoning one whom they had it in their
power thus deeply to injure. But heedless of his prayers, they
bound his hand by force upon the manger, and struck it off; a
deed which excited the utmost tumult throughout Pistoia, and such
indignation and reproaches from the injured party of the Neri, as
to implicate the whole city in a division of interests between
them and the Bianchi, which led to many desperate encounters.
"The citizens, fearful lest the faction might cause insurrections
throughout the whole territory, in conjunction with the Guelfs,
applied to the Florentines in order to reconcile them; on which
the Florentines took possession of the place, and sent the
partisans on both sides to the confines of Florence, whence it
happened that the Neri sought refuge in the house of the
Frescobaldi, and the Bianchi in that of the Cerchi nel Garbo,
owing to the relationship which existed between them. The seeds
of the same dissension being thus sown in Florence, the whole
city became divided, the Cerchi espousing the interests of the
Bianchi, and the Donati those of the Neri.
"So rapidly did this pestiferous spirit gain ground in Florence,
as frequently to excite the greatest tumult; and from a peaceable
and flourishing state, it speedily became a scene of rapine and
devastation. In this stage Pope Boniface VIII. was made
acquainted with the state of this ravaged and unhappy city, and
sent the Cardinal Acqua Sparta on a mission to reform and pacify
the enraged parties. But with his utmost efforts he was unable to
make any impression, and accordingly, after declaring the place
excommunicated, departed. Florence being thus exposed to the
greatest perils, and in a continued state of insurrection, Messer
Corso Donati, with the Spini, the Pazzi, the Tosinghi, the
Cavicciuli, and the populace attached to the Neri faction,
applied, with the consent of their leaders, to Pope Boniface.
They entreated that he would employ his interest with the court
of France to send a force to allay these feuds, and to quell the
party of the Bianchi. As soon as this was reported in the city,
Messer Donati was banished, and his property forfeited, and the
other heads of the sect were proportionally fined and sent into
exile. Messer Donati, arriving at Rome, so far prevailed with his
Holiness, that he sent an embassy to Charles de Valois, brother
to the king of France, declaring his wish that he should be made
Emperor, and King of the Romans; under which persuasion Charles
passed into Italy, reinstating Messer Donati and the Neri in the
city of Florence. From this there only resulted worse evils,
inasmuch as all the Bianchi, being the least powerful, were
universally oppressed and robbed, and Charles, becoming the enemy
of Pope Boniface, conspired his death, because the Pope had not
fulfilled his promise of presenting him with an imperial crown.
From which events it may be seen that this vile faction was the
cause of discord in the cities of Florence and Pistoia, and of
the other states of Tuscany; and no less to the same source was
to be attributed the death of Pope Boniface VIII."

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

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

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

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

115. Plutus, the God of Riches, of which Lord Bacon says in his
"Essays ": --
"I cannot call riches better than the baggage of virtue; the
Roman word is better, `impedimenta'; for as the baggage is to an
army, so is riches to virtue; it cannot be spared nor left

Book of the day: