Imagens da página

v. 91. By necessity.) This sentiment called forth the reprehension of Cecco d'Ascoli, in his Acerba, 1. 1. c. i.

In ció peccasti, O Fiorentin poeta, &c.
Herein, O bard of Florence, didst thou err,
Laying it down that fortune's largesses
Are fated to their goal. Fortune is none,
That reason cannot conquer. Mark thou, Dante,
If any argument may gainsay this.

CANTO VIII. v. 18. Phlegyas.) Phlegyas, who was so incensed against Apollo, for having violated his daugliter Coronis, that he set fire to the temple of that deity, by whose vengeance he was cast into Tartarus. See Virg. Æn. 1. vi. 618.

v. 59. Filippo Argenti.] Boccaccio tells us, "he was a man remarkable for the large proportions and extraordinary vigor of his bodily frame, and the extreme waywarduess and irascibility of his temper." Decam. g. ix. n. 8.

v. 66. The city, that of Dis is nam'd.] So Ariosto. Orl. Fnr. c. xl. st. 32.

v. 94. Seven times.] The commentators, says Venturi, perplex themselves with the inquiry what seren perils these were from which Dante had been delivered by Virgil. Reckoning the beasts in the first Canto as one of them, and adding Charon, Minos, Cerberus, Plutus, Phlegyas, and Filippo Argenti, as so many others, we shall have the number ; and if this be not satisfactory, we may suppose a determinate to have been put for an indeterminate number. v. 109. At war 'twixt will and will not.]

Che sì, e nò nel capo mi tenzona. So Boccaccio, Ninf. Fiesol. st. 233.

Il si e il nò nel capo gli contende. The words I have adopted as a translation, are Shakspeare's, Measure for Measure. a. ii. s. 1.

v. 122. This their insolence, not new.) Virgil assures our poet, that these evil spirits had formerly shown the same insolence when our Savior descended into hell. They attempted to prevent him from entering at the gate, over which Dante had read the fatal inscription. “That gate which,” says the Roman poet, "an angel has just passed, by whose aid we shall overcome this opposition, and gain admittance into the city.”

CANTO IX. v. 1. The hue.] Virgil, perceiving that Dante was pale with fear, restrained those outward tokens of displeasure which his own countenance had betrayed.

v. 23. Erictho.] Erictho, a Thessalian sorceress, according to Lucan, Pharsal. l. vi. was employed by Sextus, son of Pompey the Great, to

onjure up a spirit, who should inform him of the issue of the civil wars between his father and Cæsar.

No long space my flesh

Was naked of me.]
Quæ corpus complexa animæ tam fortis inane.

Ovid. Met. l. xiii. f. 2.

V. 25.

Dante appears to have fallen into a strange anachronism. Virgil's death did not happen till long after this period. v. 42. Adders and cerastes. ] Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.

Virg. Æn. I. vi. 281.
-spinâque vagi torquente cerastæ

et torrida dipsas
Et gravis in geminum vergens caput amphisbæna.

Lucan. Pharsal. 1. ix. 719. So Milton :

Scorpion and asp, and amphisbæna dire,
Cerastes horn'd, hydrus and elops drear,
And dipsas.

P. L. b. x. 524.
V. 67. A wind.] Imitated by Berni, Orl. Inn. l. 1. c. ii. st. 6.
v. 88. With his wand.]

She with her rod did softly smite the raile,
Which straight flew ope.

Spenser. F. Q. b. iv. c. ii. st. 46. v. 96. What profits at the fays to but the horn.] “Of what avail can it be to offer violence to impassive beings?.

v. 97. Your Cerberus.) Cerberus is feigned to have been dragged by Hercules, bound with a three-fold chain, of which, says the angel, le still bears the marks.

v. 111. The plains of Arles.] In Provence. See Ariosto, Orl. Fur. c. xxxix. st. 72.

v. 112. At Pola.] A city of Istria, situated near the gulf of Quarnaro, in the Adriatic sea.


v. 12. Josaphat.] It seems to have been a common opinion among the Jews, as well as among many Christians, that the general judgment will be held in the valley of Josaphat, or Jehoshaphat: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people, and for my lieritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land." Joel, iii. 2.

v. 32. Farinata.] Farinata degli Uberti, a noble Florentine, was the leader of the Ghibelline faction, when they obtained a signal victory over the Guelfi at Montaperto, near the river Arbia. Macchiavelli calls him “a man of exalted soul, and great military talents.” Hist. of Flor, b. ii.

v. 52. A shade.) The spirit of Cavalcante Cavalcanti, a noble Flore!). tine, of the Guelph party.

v. 59. My son.) Guido, the son of Cavalcante Cavalcanti ; "he whom I call the first of my friends," says Dante in his Vita Nuova, where the commencement of their friendship is related. From the character given of him by contemporary writers, his temper was well formed to assimilate with that of our poet. “He was,” according to G. Villani, 1. viii. c. 41. “ of a philosophical and elegant mind, if he had not been too delicate and fastidious." And Dino Compagni terms him “

a young and noble V. 62.

Guido are,

knight, brave and courteous, but of a lofty scornful spirit, much addicted to solitude and study.” Muratori. Rer. Ital. Script. t. 9. I. 1. p. 481. He died, either in exile at Serrazana, or soon after his return to Florence, December 1300, during the spring of which year the action of this poem is supposed to be passing.

Guido thy son

Had in contempt.] Guido Cavalcanti, being more given to philosophy than poetry, was perhaps no great admirer of Virgil. Some poetical compositions by

however, still extant; and his reputation for skill in the art was such as to eclipse that of his predecessor and namesake Guido Gunicelli, as we shall see in the Purgatory, Canto XI. His “Canzone sopra il Terreno Amore” was thought worthy of being illustrated by numerous and ample commentaries. Crescimbeni Ist. della Volg. Poes. 1. v.

For a playful sonnet which Dante addressed to him, and a spirited translation of it, see Hayley's Essay on Epic Poetry, Notes to Ep. iii.

v. 66. Saidst thou he had?] In Æschylus, the shade of Darius is represented as inquiring with similar anxiety after the fate of his son Xerxes.

Atossa. Μονάδα δε Ξέρξην έρημον φασιν ού πολλών μέτα- ":
Darius. Πως δε δή και που τελευταν έστι και τις σωτηρία ;

ΠΕΓΣΑΙ. 723.
Atossa. Xerxes astonishid, desolate, alone-
Ghost of Dar. How will this end ? Nay, pause not. Is he safe?

The Persians. Potter's Translation. v. 77. Not yet fifty times.) “Not fifty months shall be passed, before thou shalt learn, by woeful experience, the difficulty of returning from banishment to thy native city.”

v. 83. The slaughter.] By means of Farinata degli Uberti, the Guelfi were conquered by the army of King Manfredi, near the river Arbia, with so great a slaughter, that those who escaped from that defeat took refuge not in Florence, which city they considered as lost to them, but in Lucca.” Macchiavelli. Hist. of Flor. Í 2.

v. 86. Such orisons.] This appears to allude to certain prayers which were offered up in the churches of Florence, for deliverance from the hostile attempts of the Uberti.

v. 90. Singly there I stood.] Guido Novello assembled a council of the Ghibellini at Empoli, where it was agreed by all, that, in order to maintain the ascendency of the Ghibelline party in Tuscany, it was necessary to destroy Florence, which could serve only (the people of that city being Guelfi) to enable the party attached to the church to recover its strength. This cruel sentence, passed upon so noble a city, met with no opposition from any of its citizens or friends, except Farinata degli Uberti, who openly and without reserve forbade the measure, affirming that he had endured so many hardships, and encountered so many dangers, with no other view than that of being able to pass his days in his own country. Macchiarelli. Hist. of Flor. b. 2.

v. 103. My fault.] Dante felt remorse for not having returned an immediate answer to the inquiry of Cavalcante, from which delay he was led to believe that his son Guido was no longer living.

v. 120. Frederick.] The Emperor Frederick the Second, who died in 1250. See Notes to Canto XIII.

v. 121. The Lord Cardinal.] Ottaviano Ubaldini, a Florentine, made Cardinal in 1245, and deceased about 1273. On account of his great influence, he was generally known by the appellation of “the Cardinal.” It is reported of him that he declared, if there were any such thing as a human soul, he had lost his for the Ghibellini.

v. 132 Her gracious beam.] Beatrice.


v. 9. Pope Anastasius.] The commentators are not agreed concerning the identity of the person, who is here mentioned as a follower of the heretical Photinus. By some he is supposed to have been Anastasius the Second ; by others, the Fourth of that name; while a third set, jealous of the integrity of the papal faith, contend that our poet has confounded him with Avastasius I. Emperor of the East.

v. 17. My son.] The remainder of the present Canto may be considered as a syllabus of the whole of this part of the poem.

v. 48. And sorrows.] This fine moral, that not to enjoy our being is to be ungrateful to the Author of it, is well expressed in Spenser, F. Q. b. iv. c. viii. st. 15.

For he whose daies in wilful woe are worne,
The grace of his Creator doth despise,

That will not use his gifts for thankless nigardise.
v. 53. Cahors.) A city in Guienne, much frequented by usurers.

V. 83. Thy ethic page.] He refers to Aristotle's Ethics. «Μετά δε ταύτα λεκτέον άλλην ποιησαμένους αρχήν, ότι των περί τα ήθη φευκτών τρία έστιν είδη, κακία, ακρασία, θηριότης. Ethic. Nicomach. 1. vii. c. i.

“In the next place, entering on another division of the subject, let it be defined, that respecting morals there are three sorts of things to be avoided, malice, incontinence, and brutishness.”

v. 104. Her laws.] Aristotle's Physics.-" Ý Téxvn Miueitai Tņu púow.” Arist. DYE. AKP. 1. ii. c. ii. “Art imitates nature."-See the Coltivazione of Alamanni, 1. i.

- l'arte umana, &c. v. 111. Creation's holy book.] Genesis, c. iii. v. 19. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread."**

v. 119. The wain.] The constellation Boötes, or Charles's wain.

CANTO XII. V. 17. The king of Athens. ] Theseus, who was enabled, by the Instructions of Ariadne, the sister of the Minotaur, to destroy that monster. v. 21. Like to a bull.]

“Ως δ' όταν όξυν έχων πέλεκυν αιζήιος ανήρ,
Κόψας εξόπιθεν κεράων βοός άγραύλoιο, ,
“Ινα τάμη δια πάσαν, ο δε προθορών ερίπησιν.

Homer. II. 1. xvii. 522.
As when some vigʻroug youth with sharpen’d axe
A pastur'd bullock smites behind the horns,
Aud hews the muscle through ; he, at the stroke
Springs forth and falls.

Cowper's Translation.

v 36. He arriv'd.] Our Saviour, who, according to Dante, when he ascended from hell, carried with him the souls of the patriarchs, and other just men, out of the first circle. See Canto IV.

v. 96. Nessus.] Our poet was probably induced, by the following line in Ovid, to assign to Nessus the task of conducting them over the ford : Nessus adit membrisque valens scitusque vadorum.

Metum. 1. ix. And Ovid's authority was Sophocles, who says of this Centaur

Ος τον βαθύρρουν ποταμόν Εύηνον βρoτους
Μισθού πόρευε χερσίν ούτε πομπίμοις
Κώπαις ερέσσων,ούτε λαίφεσιν νεώς.

Tach. 570.
He in his arms, Evenus' stream
Deep-flowing, bore the passenger for hire,

Without or sail or billow-cleaving oar. v. 110. Ezzolino.] Ezzolino, or Azzolino di Romano, a most cruel ty rant in the Marca Trivigiana, Lord of Padua, Vicenza, Verona, and Brescia, who died in 1260. His atrocities form the subject of a Latin tragedy, called Eccerinis, by Albertino Mussato, of Padua, the contemporary of Dante, and the most elegant writer of Latin verse of that age. See also the Paradise, Canto IX. Berni. Orl. Iun. 1. ii. c. xxv. st. 50. Ariosto. Orl. Fur. c. iii. st. 33. and Tassoni Secchia Rapita, C. viii. st. 11.

v. 111. Obizzo' of Este.] Marquis of Ferrara and of the Marca d'Ancona, was murdered by his own son (whom, for the most unatural act, Dante calls his step-son), for the sake of the treasures which his rapacity had amassed. See Ariosto. Orl. Fur. c. iii. st. 32. He died in 1293, according to Gibbon. Ant. of the House of Brunswick. Posth. Works, v. ii. 4to,

v. 119. He.] Henrie, the brother of this Edmund, and son to the foresaid king of Almaine (Richard, brother of Henry III. of England) as he returned from Affrike, where he had been with Prince Edward, was slain at Viterbo in Italy (whither he was come about business which he had to do with the Pope) by the hand of Guy de Montfort, the son of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, in revenge of the same Simon's death. The murther was committed afore the high altar, as the same Henrie kneeled there to hear divine service.” A.D. 1272, Holinshed's Chron. p. 275. See also Giov. Villani Hist. I. vii. c. 40.

v. 135. On Sextus and on Pyrrhus.] Sextus, either the son of Tarquin the Proud, or of Pompey the Great ; or, as Vellutelli conjectures, Sextus Claudius Nero, and Pyrrhus king of Epirus. v. 137.

The Rinieri, of Corneto this,

Pazzo the other named.] Two noted marauders, by whose depredations the public ways in Italy were infested. The latter was of the noble family of Pazzi in Florence.

[ocr errors]


V. 10. Betwixt Corneto and Cecina's eam. A wild and woody tract of country, abounding in deer, goats, and wild boars. Cecina is a river not far to the south of Leghorn ; Corneto, a small city on the same coast, in the patrimony of the church.

v. 12. The Strophades.] See Virg. Æn. 1. iii. 210.
v. 14. Broad are their pennons.] From Virg. Æn. I. iii. 216.

« AnteriorContinuar »