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V. 48. In my verse described.] The commentators explain this, “If he could have believed, in consequence of my assurances alone, that of which he hath now had ocular proof, be would not have stretched forth his hand against thee.” But I am of opinion that Dante makes Virgil allude to his own story of Polydorus, in the third book of the Æneid.
v. 56. That pleasant word of thine.] “Since you have inveigled me to speak my holding forth so gratifying an expectation, let it not displease you if I am as it were detained in the snare you have spread for me, so as to be somewhat prolix in my answer."
v. 60. I it was.] Pietro delle Vigne, a native of Capua, who, from a low condition, raised himself by his eloqnence and legal knowledge to the office of Chancellor to the Einperor Frederick II. whose confidence in him was such, that his influence in the empire became unbounded. The courtiers, envious of his exalted situation, contrived, by means of forged letters, to make Frederick believe that he held a secret and traitorons intercourse with the Pope, who was then at enmity with the Emperor. In consequence of this supposed crime he was cruelly condemned by luis too credulous sovereign to lose his eyes, and, being driven to despair by his unmerited calamity and disgrace, he put an end to his life by dashing out his brains against the walls of a church, in the year 1285. Both Frederick and Pietro delle Vigne composed verses in the Sicilian dialect, which are yet extant.
v. 67. The harlot.) Envy. Chaucer alludes to this in the Prologue to the Legende of Good Women.
Envie is lavender to the court alway,
Out of the house of Cesar ; thus saith Dant.
P. L. b. v. 6. v. 122, Lano.] Lano, a Siennese, who, being reduced by prodigality to a state of extreme want, found his existence no longer supportable ; and, having been sent by his countryinen on a military expedition, to assist the Florentines against the Aretini, took that opportunity of exposing himself to certain death, in the engagement which took place at Toppo near Arezzo. See G. Villani. Hist. 1. 7. c. cxix. v. 133.
Of Sant' Andrea !!] Jacopo da Sant' Andrea, a Paduan, who, having wasted his property in the most wanton acts of profusion, killed himself in despair.
v. 144. In that city.] “I was an inhabitant of Florence, that city which changed her first patron Mars for St. John the Baptist, for which reason the vengeance of the deity thus slighted will never be appeased ; and, if some remains of his statue were not still visible on the bridge over the Arno, she would have been already levelled to the ground ; and thus the citizens, who raised her again from the ashes to which Attila had reduced her, would have laboured in vain.” See Paradise, Canto XVI. 44.
The reli antiquity, to which the superstition of Florence attached so high an importance, was carried away by a flood, that destroyed the bridge on which it stood, in the year 1337, but without the ill effects that were apprehended from the loss of their fancied Palladium.
v. 152. I sluny the fatal noose.] We are not informed who this suicide was.
v. 15. By Cato's foot.] See Lucan, Phars, 1. 9. v. 26. Dilated flakes of fire.] Compare Tasso. G. L. C. X. st. 61. v. 28. ds, in the torrid Indian clime. Landino refers to Albertus Magnus for the circumstance here alluded to. v. 53. In Mongibello.] More hot than Ætn' or flaming Mongibell.
Spenser, F. Q. b. ii. c. ix. st. 29. See Virg. Æn. 1. viii. 416. and Berni. Orl. Iun. 1. i. c. xvi. st. 21. It would be endless to refer to parallel passages in the Greek writers.
v. 64. This of the seven kings was one.] Compare Æsch. Seven Chiefs, 425. Euripides, Phæn. 1179. and Statius. Theb. 1. x. 821.
v. 76. Bulicame.) A warm medicinal spring near Viterbo, the waters of which, as Landino and Vellutelli affirm, passed by a place of ill fame. Venturi, with less probability, conjectures that Dante would imply, that it was the scene of much licentious merriment among those who frequented its baths. v. 91. Under whose monarch.]
Credo pudicitiam Saturno rege moratam
Juv. Satir. vi.
v. 10. Chiarentana.) A part of the Alps where the Brenta rises, which river is much swoln as soon as the snow begins to dissolve on the mountains.
v. 28. Brunetto.] “Ser Brunetto, a Florentine, the secretary or chancellor of the city, and Dante's preceptor, hath left us a work so little read, that both the subject of it and the language of it have been mistaken. It is in the French spoken in the reign of St. Louis, under the title of Tresor, and contains a species of philosophical course of lectures divided into theory and practice, or, as he expresses it, un enchaussement des choses divines et humaines,” &c. Sir R. Clayton's Translation of Tenhove's Memoirs of the Medici, vol. i. ch. ii. p. 104. The Tresor has never been printed in the original langnage. There is a fine manuscript of it in the British Museum, with an illuminated portrait of Brunetto in his study prefixed. Mus. Brit. MSS. 17, E. 1. Tesor. It is divided into four books; the first, on Cosmogony and Theology ; the second, a translation of Aristotle's Ethics ; the third on Virtues and Vices; the fourth, on Rhetoric. For an interesting memoir relating to this work, see Hist. de l'Acad. des Inscriptions, tom. vii. 296.
His Tesoretto, one of the earliest productions of Italian poetry, is a curious work, not unlike the writings of Chaucer in style and numbers, though Bembo remarks, that his pupil, however largely he had stolen from it, could not have much enriched himself. As it is perhaps but little known, I will here add a slight sketch of it.
Brunetto describes himself as returning from an embassy to the King of Spain, on which he had been sent by the Guelph party from Florence. On the plain of Roncesvalles he meets a scholar on å bay mule, who tells him that the Guelfi are driven out of the city with great loss. Struck with grief at these mournful tidings, and musing with his head bent downwards, he loses his road, and wanders into a wood. llere Nature, whose figure is described with sublimity, appears, and discloses to him the secrets of her operations. After this he wanders into a desert ; but at length proceeds on his way, under the protection of a banner, with which Nature had furnished him, till on the third day he finds himself in a large pleasant champaign, where are assembled many emperors, kings, and sages. It is the habitation of Virtue and her daughters, the four Cardinal Virtues. Here Brumetto sees also Courtesy, Bounty, Loyalty, and Prowess, and hears the instructions they give to a knight, which occupy about a fourth part of the poem. Leaving this territory, he passes over valleys, níountains, woods, forests, and bridges, till he arrives in a beautiful valley covered with flowers on all sides, and the richest in the world ; but which was continually shifting its appearance from a round figure to a square, from obscurity to light, and from populousness to soltitude. This is the region of Pleasure, or Cupid, who is accompanied by four ladies, Love, Hope, Fear, and Desire. In one part of it he meets with Ovid, and is iustrncted by him how to conquer the passion of love, and to escape from that place. After his escape he makes his confession to a friar, and then returns to the forest of visions : and ascending a mountain, he meets with Ptolemy, a venerable old man. Here the narrative breaks off. The poem ends, as it began, with an address to Rustico di Filippo, on whom he lavishes every sort of praise.
It has been observed, that Dante derived the idea of opening his poem by describing himself as lost in a wood, from the Tesoretto of his master. I know not whether it has been remarked, that the crime of usury is branded by both these poets as offensive to God and Nature : or that the sin for which Brunetto is condemned by his pupil, is mentioned in the Tesoretto with great horror. Dante's twenty-fifth sonnet is a jocose one, addressed to Brunetto. He died in 1295.
v. 62. Who in old times came down from Fesole.] See G. Villani, Hist. 1. iv. c. 5. and Macchiav. Hist. of Flor. b. ii.
With another text.] He refers to the prediction of Farinata, in Canto X.
v. 110. Priscian.] There is no reason to believe, as the commentators observe, that the grammarian of this name was stained with the vice imputed to him ; and we must therefore suppose that Dante puts the individual for the species, and implies the frequency of the crime among those who abused the opportunities which the education of youth afforded them, to so abominable a purpose.
v. 111. Francesco.] Son of Accorso, a Florentine, celebrated for his skill in jurisprudence, and commonly known by the name of Accürsius.
v. 113. Him.] Andrea de' Mozzi, who, that his scandalous life miglit be less exposed to observation, was translated either by Nicholas III. or Boniface VIII. from the see of Florence to that of Vicenza, through which passes the river Bacchiglione. At the latter of these places he died.
v. 114. The servants' servant.] Servo de' servi. So Ariosto, Sat. 3.
Io sia il gran servo. 5. 124. I commend my Treasure to thee.] Brunetto's great work, the Tresor.
Sieti raccomandato 'l mio Tesoro.
So Giusto de' Conti, in his Bella Mano, Son. “Occhi:”
Siavi raccommandato il mio Tesoro.
V. 38. Gualdrada.) Gualdrada was the daughter of Bellincione Berti, of whom mention is made in the Paradise, Canto XV. and XVI. He was of the family of Ravignani, a branch of the Adimari. The Emperor Otho IV. being at a festival in Florence, where Gualdrada was present, was struck with her beauty ; and inquiring who she was, was answered by Bellincione, that she was the daughter of one who, if it was liis Majesty's pleasure, wonld make her admit the honour of liis salute. On overhearing this, she arose from lier seat, and blushing, in an animated tone of voice, desired her father that he would not be so liberal in his offers, for that no man should ever be allowed that freedom, except him who should be her lawful husband. The Emperor was not less delighted by her resolute modesty than he had before been by the loveliness of her person, and calling to him Guido, one of his barons, gave her to him in marriage, at the same time raising him to the rank of a count, and be stowing on her the whole of Casentino, and a part of the territory of Romagna, as her portion. Two sons were the offspring of this union, Guglielmo and Ruggieri, the latter of whom was father of Guidognerra, a man of great military skill and prowess ; who, at the head of four hundred Florentines of the Guelph party, was signally instrumental 10 the victory obtained at Benevento by Charles of Anjou, over Manfredi, King of Naples, in 1265. One of the consequences of this victory was the expulsion of the Ghibellini, and the re-establishment of the Guelfi at Florence.
v. 39. Many a noble act.] Compare Tasso, G. L. c. i. st. 1.
v. 42. Alilobrandi.] Tegghiaio Aldobrandi was of the noble family of Adimari, and much esteemed for his military talents. He endeavoured to dissuade the Florentines from the attack which they meditated against the Siennese, and the rejection of his counsel occasioned the memorable defeat which the former sustained at Montaperto, and the consequent banishment of the Guelfi from Florence.
v. 45. Rusticucci.] Giacopo Rusticucci, a Florentine, remarkable for his opulence and the generosity of his spirit.
v. 70. Borsiere.) Guglielmo Borsiere, another Florentine, whom Boccaccio, in a story which he relates of him, terms a man of courteous and elegant manners, and of great readiness in conversation.” Dec. Giorn. i. Nov. 8. V. 84. When thou with pleasure shalt retrace the past.]
Quando ti gioverà dicere io fui. So Tasso, G. L. C. xv. st. 38.
Quando mi gioverà narrar altrui.
Le novità vedute, e dire; io fui. v. 121. Ever to that truth.] This memorable apophthegm is repeated by Luigi Pulci and Trissino.
Sempre a quel ver, ch' ha faccia di menzogna
Morgante Magg. c. xxiv.)
La verità, che par mensogna,
Italia Lib. c. xvi.
p. 1. The fell monster.) Fraud.
v. 53. A pouch.] A purse, whereon the armorial bearings of cach were emblazoned. According to Landino, our poet implies that the nsurer can pretend to no other honour, than such as he derives from his purse and his family.
v. 57. A yellow purse.] The arms of the Gianfigliazzi of Florence. v. 60. Another.) Those of the Ubbriachi, another Florentine family of high distinction.
v. 62. A fat and azure swine.] The arms of the Scrovigni a noble family of Padna.
v. 65. Vitaliano.] Vitaliano del Dente, a Paduan.
v. 69. That noble knight.] Giovanni Bujamonti, a Florentine usurer, the most infamous of his time.
v. 28. With us beyond.) Beyond the middle point they tended the same way with us, but their pace was quicker than ours.
v. 29. Een thus the Romans.] In the year 1300, Pope Boniface VIII., to remedy the inconvenience occasioned by the press of people, who were passing over the bridge of St. Angelo during the time of the Jubilee, caused it to be divided length wise by a partition, and ordered, that all those who were going to St. Peter's should keep one side, and these returning the other.
v. 50. Venedico.] Venedico Caccianimico, a Bolognese, who prevailed on his sister Ghisola to prostitute herself to Obizzo da Este, Marquis of Ferrara, whom we have seen among the tyrants, Canto XII.
v. 62. To answer Sipa.] Hedenotes Bologna by its situation between the rivers Savena to the east, and Reno to the west of that city; and by a peculiarity of dialect, the use of the affirmative sipa instead of si.
V. 90. Hypsipyle.] See Apollonius Rhodius, 1. i. and Valerius Flaccus, 1. ii. Hypsipyle deceived the other women by concealing her father Thoas, when they had agreed to put all their males to death.
v. 120. Alessio.] Alessio, of an ancient and considerable family in Lucca, called the interminei.
v. 130. Thuis.) He alludes to that passage in the Eunuchus of Terence, where Thraso asks if Thais was obliged to him for the present he had sent her, and Gnatho replies, that she had expressed her obligation in the most forcible terms.
T. Magnas vero agere gratias Thais mihi ?
Eun. a. iii. 8. i.
v. 18. Saint John's fair dome.] The apertures in the rock were of the same dimensions as the fonts of St. Jolin the Baptist at Florence, one of which, Dante says, he had broken, to rescue a child that was playing