The Divine Comedy of Dante: Hell
Part 4 out of 4
the Lateran by Constantine to Silvester, of which Dante himself
seems to imply a doubt, in his treatise "De Monarchia." - "Ergo
scindere Imperium, Imperatori non licet. Si ergo aliquae,
dignitates per Constantinum essent alienatae, (ut dicunt) ab
Imperio," &c. l. iii.
The gift is by Ariosto very humorously placed in the moon, among
the things lost or abused on earth.
Di varj fiori, &c.
O. F. c. xxxiv. st. 80.
Milton has translated both this passage and that in the text.
Prose works, vol. i. p. 11. ed. 1753.
v. 11. Revers'd.] Compare Spenser, F. Q. b. i. c. viii. st. 31
v. 30. Before whose eyes.] Amphiaraus, one of the seven kings
who besieged Thebes. He is said to have been swallowed up by an
opening of the earth. See Lidgate's Storie of Thebes, Part III
where it is told how the "Bishop Amphiaraus" fell down to hell.
And thus the devill for his outrages,
Like his desert payed him his wages.
A different reason for his being doomed thus to perish is
assigned by Pindar.
For thee, Amphiaraus, earth,
By Jove's all-riving thunder cleft
Her mighty bosom open'd wide,
Thee and thy plunging steeds to hide,
Or ever on thy back the spear
Of Periclymenus impress'd
A wound to shame thy warlike breast
For struck with panic fear
The gods' own children flee.
v. 37. Tiresias.]
Duo magnorum viridi coeuntia sylva
Corpora serpentum baculi violaverat ictu, &c.
Ovid. Met. iii.
v. 43. Aruns.] Aruns is said to have dwelt in the mountains of
Luni (from whence that territory is still called Lunigiana),
above Carrara, celebrated for its marble. Lucan. Phars. l. i.
575. So Boccaccio in the Fiammetta, l. iii. "Quale Arunte," &c.
"Like Aruns, who amidst the white marbles of Luni, contemplated
the celestial bodies and their motions."
v. 50. Manto.] The daughter of Tiresias of Thebes, a city
dedicated to Bacchus. From Manto Mantua, the country of Virgil
derives its name. The Poet proceeds to describe the situation of
v. 61. Between the vale.] The lake Benacus, now called the
Lago di Garda, though here said to lie between Garda, Val
Camonica, and the Apennine, is, however, very distant from the
v. 63. There is a spot.] Prato di Fame, where the dioceses of
Trento, Verona, and Brescia met.
v. 69. Peschiera.] A garrison situated to the south of the
lake, where it empties itself and forms the Mincius.
v. 94. Casalodi's madness.] Alberto da Casalodi, who had got
possession of Mantua, was persuaded by Pinamonte Buonacossi, that
he might ingratiate himself with the people by banishing to their
own castles the nobles, who were obnoxious to them. No sooner
was this done, than Pinamonte put himself at the head of the
populace, drove out Casalodi and his adherents, and obtained the
sovereignty for himself.
v. 111. So sings my tragic strain.]
Suspensi Eurypilum scitatum oracula Phoebi
Virg. Aeneid. ii. 14.
v. 115. Michael Scot.] Sir Michael Scott, of Balwearie,
astrologer to the Emperor Frederick II. lived in the thirteenth
century. For further particulars relating to this singular man,
see Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. i. diss. ii. and
sect. ix. p 292, and the Notes to Mr. Scott's "Lay of the Last
Minstrel," a poem in which a happy use is made of the traditions
that are still current in North Britain concerning him. He is
mentioned by G. Villani. Hist. l. x. c. cv. and cxli. and l. xii.
c. xviii. and by Boccaccio, Dec. Giorn. viii. Nov. 9.
v. 116. Guido Bonatti.] An astrologer of Forli, on whose skill
Guido da Montefeltro, lord of that place, so much relied, that he
is reported never to have gone into battle, except in the hour
recommended to him as fortunate by Bonatti.
Landino and Vellutello, speak of a book, which he composed on the
subject of his art.
v. 116. Asdente.] A shoemaker at Parma, who deserted his
business to practice the arts of divination.
v. 123. Cain with fork of thorns.] By Cain and the thorns, or
what is still vulgarly called the Man in the Moon, the Poet
denotes that luminary. The same superstition is alluded to in
the Paradise, Canto II. 52. The curious reader may consult Brand
on Popular Antiquities, 4to. 1813. vol. ii. p. 476.
v. 7. In the Venetians' arsenal.] Compare Ruccellai, Le Api,
165, and Dryden's Annus Mirabilis, st. 146, &c.
v. 37. One of Santa Zita's elders.] The elders or chief
magistrates of Lucca, where Santa Zita was held in especial
veneration. The name of this sinner is supposed to have been
v. 40. Except Bonturo, barterers.] This is said ironically of
Bonturo de' Dati. By barterers are meant peculators, of every
description; all who traffic the interests of the public for
their own private advantage.
v. 48. Is other swimming than in Serchio's wave.]
Qui si nuota altrimenti che nel Serchio.
Serchio is the river that flows by Lucca. So Pulci, Morg. Mag.
Qui si nuota nel sangue, e non nel Serchio.
v. 92. From Caprona.] The surrender of the castle of Caprona to
the combined forces of Florence and Lucca, on condition that the
garrison should march out in safety, to which event Dante was a
witness, took place in 1290. See G. Villani, Hist. l. vii. c.
v. 109. Yesterday.] This passage fixes the era of Dante's
descent at Good Friday, in the year 1300 (34 years from our
blessed Lord's incarnation being added to 1266), and at the
thirty-fifth year of our poet's age. See Canto I. v. 1.
The awful event alluded to, the Evangelists inform us, happened
"at the ninth hour," that is, our sixth, when "the rocks were
rent," and the convulsion, according to Dante, was felt even in
the depths in Hell. See Canto XII. 38.
v. 16. In the church.] This proverb is repeated by Pulci, Morg.
Magg. c. xvii.
v. 47. Born in Navarre's domain.] The name of this peculator is
said to have been Ciampolo.
v. 51. The good king Thibault.] "Thibault I. king of Navarre,
died on the 8th of June, 1233, as much to be commended for the
desire he showed of aiding the war in the Holy Land, as
reprehensible and faulty for his design of oppressing the rights
and privileges of the church, on which account it is said that
the whole kingdom was under an interdict for the space of three
entire years. Thibault undoubtedly merits praise, as for his
other endowments, so especially for his cultivation of the
liberal arts, his exercise and knowledge of music and poetry in
which he much excelled, that he was accustomed to compose verses
and sing them to the viol, and to exhibit his poetical
compositions publicly in his palace, that they might be
criticized by all." Mariana, History of Spain, b. xiii. c. 9.
An account of Thibault, and two of his songs, with what were
probably the original melodies, may be seen in Dr. Burney's
History of Music, v. ii. c. iv. His poems, which are in the
French language, were edited by M. l'Eveque de la Ravalliere.
Paris. 1742. 2 vol. 12mo. Dante twice quotes one of his verses
in the Treatise de Vulg. Eloq. l. i. c. ix. and l. ii. c. v. and
refers to him again, l. ii. c. vi.
From "the good king Thibault" are descended the good, but more
unfortunate monarch, Louis XVI. of France, and consequently the
present legitimate sovereign of that realm. See Henault, Abrege
Chron. 1252, 2, 4.
v. 80. The friar Gomita.] He was entrusted by Nino de' Visconti
with the government of Gallura, one of the four jurisdictions
into which Sardinia was divided. Having his master's enemies in
his power, he took a bribe from them, and allowed them to escape.
Mention of Nino will recur in the Notes to Canto XXXIII. and in
the Purgatory, Canto VIII.
v. 88. Michel Zanche.] The president of Logodoro, another of
the four Sardinian jurisdictions. See Canto XXXIII.
v. 5. Aesop's fable.] The fable of the frog, who offered to
carry the mouse across a ditch, with the intention of drowning
him when both were carried off by a kite. It is not among those
Greek Fables which go under the name of Aesop.
v. 63. Monks in Cologne.] They wore their cowls unusually
v. 66. Frederick's.] The Emperor Frederick II. is said to have
punished those who were guilty of high treason, by wrapping them
up in lead, and casting them into a furnace.
v. 101. Our bonnets gleaming bright with orange hue.] It is
observed by Venturi, that the word "rance" does not here signify
"rancid or disgustful," as it is explained by the old
commentators, but "orange-coloured," in which sense it occurs in
the Purgatory, Canto II. 9.
v. 104. Joyous friars.] "Those who ruled the city of Florence
on the part of the Ghibillines, perceiving this discontent and
murmuring, which they were fearful might produce a rebellion
against themselves, in order to satisfy the people, made choice
of two knights, Frati Godenti (joyous friars) of Bologna, on whom
they conferred the chief power in Florence. One named M.
Catalano de' Malavolti, the other M. Loderingo di Liandolo; one
an adherent of the Guelph, the other of the Ghibelline party. It
is to be remarked, that the Joyous Friars were called Knights of
St. Mary, and became knights on taking that habit: their robes
were white, the mantle sable, and the arms a white field and red
cross with two stars. Their office was to defend widows and
orphans; they were to act as mediators; they had internal
regulations like other religious bodies. The above-mentioned M.
Loderingo was the founder of that order. But it was not long
before they too well deserved the appellation given them, and
were found to be more bent on enjoying themselves than on any
other subject. These two friars were called in by the
Florentines, and had a residence assigned them in the palace
belonging to the people over against the Abbey. Such was the
dependence placed on the character of their order that it was
expected they would be impartial, and would save the commonwealth
any unnecessary expense; instead of which, though inclined to
opposite parties, they secretly and hypocritically concurred in
promoting their own advantage rather than the public good." G.
Villani, b. vii. c.13. This happened in 1266.
v. 110. Gardingo's vicinage.] The name of that part of the city
which was inhabited by the powerful Ghibelline family of Uberti,
and destroyed under the partial and iniquitous administration of
Catalano and Loderingo.
v. 117. That pierced spirit.] Caiaphas.
v. 124. The father of his consort.] Annas, father-in-law to
v. 146. He is a liar.] John, c. viii. 44. Dante had perhaps
heard this text from one of the pulpits in Bologna.
v. 1. In the year's early nonage.] "At the latter part of
January, when the sun enters into Aquarius, and the equinox is
drawing near, when the hoar-frosts in the morning often wear the
appearance of snow but are melted by the rising sun."
v. 51. Vanquish thy weariness.]
Quin corpus onustum
Hesternis vitiis animum quoque praegravat una,
Atque affigit humi divinae particulam aurae.
Hor. Sat. ii. l. ii. 78.
v. 82. Of her sands.] Compare Lucan, Phars. l. ix. 703.
v. 92. Heliotrope.] The occult properties of this stone are
described by Solinus, c. xl, and by Boccaccio, in his humorous
tale of Calandrino. Decam. G. viii. N. 3.
In Chiabrera's Ruggiero, Scaltrimento begs of Sofia, who is
sending him on a perilous errand, to lend him the heliotrope.
In mia man fida
L'elitropia, per cui possa involarmi
Secondo il mio talento agli occhi altrui.
Trust to my hand the heliotrope, by which
I may at will from others' eyes conceal me
Compare Ariosto, II Negromante, a. 3. s. 3. Pulci, Morg. Magg.
c xxv. and Fortiguerra, Ricciardetto, c. x. st. 17.
Gower in his Confessio Amantis, lib. vii, enumerates it among the
jewels in the diadem of the sun.
Jaspis and helitropius.
v. 104. The Arabian phoenix.] This is translated from Ovid,
Metam. l. xv.
Una est quae reparat, seque ipsa reseminat ales,
See also Petrarch, Canzone:
"Qual piu," &c.
v. 120. Vanni Fucci.] He is said to have been an illegitimate
offspring of the family of Lazari in Pistoia, and, having robbed
the sacristy of the church of St. James in that city, to have
charged Vanni della Nona with the sacrilege, in consequence of
which accusation the latter suffered death.
v. 142. Pistoia.] "In May 1301, the Bianchi party, of Pistoia,
with the assistance and favor of the Bianchi who ruled Florence,
drove out the Neri party from the former place, destroying their
houses, Palaces and farms." Giov. Villani, Hist. l. viii. e
v. 144. From Valdimagra.] The commentators explain this
prophetical threat to allude to the victory obtained by the
Marquis Marcello Malaspina of Valdimagra (a tract of country now
called the Lunigiana) who put himself at the head of the Neri and
defeated their opponents the Bianchi, in the Campo Piceno near
Pistoia, soon after the occurrence related in the preceding note.
Of this engagement I find no mention in Villani. Currado
Malaspina is introduced in the eighth Canto of Purgatory; where
it appears that, although on the present occaision they espoused
contrary sides, some important favours were nevertheless
conferred by that family on our poet at a subsequent perid of his
exile in 1307.
v.1. The sinner ] So Trissino
Poi facea con le man le fiche al cielo
Dicendo: Togli, Iddio; che puoi piu farmi?
L'ital. Lib. c. xii
v. 12. Thy seed] Thy ancestry.
v. 15. Not him] Capanaeus. Canto XIV.
v. 18. On Marenna's marsh.] An extensive tract near the
sea-shore in Tuscany.
v. 24. Cacus.] Virgil, Aen. l. viii. 193.
v. 31. A hundred blows.] Less than ten blows, out of the
hundred Hercules gave him, deprived him of feeling.
v. 39. Cianfa] He is said to have been of the family of Donati
v. 57. Thus up the shrinking paper.]
--All my bowels crumble up to dust.
I am a scribbled form, drawn up with a pen
Upon a parchment; and against this fire
Do I shrink up.
Shakespeare, K. John, a. v. s. 7.
v. 61. Agnello.] Agnello Brunelleschi
v. 77. In that part.] The navel.
v. 81. As if by sleep or fev'rous fit assail'd.]
O Rome! thy head
Is drown'd in sleep, and all thy body fev'ry.
Ben Jonson's Catiline.
v. 85. Lucan.] Phars. l. ix. 766 and 793.
v. 87. Ovid.] Metam. l. iv. and v.
v. 121. His sharpen'd visage.] Compare Milton, P. L. b. x. 511
v. 131. Buoso.] He is said to have been of the Donati family.
v. 138. Sciancato.] Puccio Sciancato, a noted robber, whose
familly, Venturi says, he has not been able to discover.
v. 140. Gaville.] Francesco Guercio Cavalcante was killed at
Gaville, near Florence; and in revenge of his death several
inhabitants of that district were put to death.
v. 7. But if our minds.]
Namque sub Auroram, jam dormitante lucerna,
Somnia quo cerni tempore vera solent.
Ovid, Epist. xix
The same poetical superstition is alluded to in the Purgatory,
Cant. IX. and XXVII.
v. 9. Shall feel what Prato.] The poet prognosticates the
calamities which were soon to befal his native city, and which he
says, even her nearest neighbor, Prato, would wish her. The
calamities more particularly pointed at, are said to be the fall
of a wooden bridge over the Arno, in May, 1304, where a large
multitude were assembled to witness a representation of hell nnd
the infernal torments, in consequence of which accident many
lives were lost; and a conflagration that in the following month
destroyed more than seventeen hundred houses, many ofthem
sumptuous buildings. See G. Villani, Hist. l. viii. c. 70 and
v. 22. More than I am wont.] "When I reflect on the punishment
allotted to those who do not give sincere and upright advice to
others I am more anxious than ever not to abuse to so bad a
purpose those talents, whatever they may be, which Nature, or
rather Providence, has conferred on me." It is probable that
this declaration was the result of real feeling Textd have
given great weight to
any opinion or party he had espoused, and to whom indigence and
exile might have offerred strong temptations to deviate from that
line of conduct which a strict sense of duty prescribed.
v. 35. as he, whose wrongs.] Kings, b. ii. c. ii.
v. 54. ascending from that funeral pile.] The flame is said to
have divided on the funeral pile which consumed tile bodies of
Eteocles and Polynices, as if conscious of the enmity that
actuated them while living.
Ecce iterum fratris, &c.
Statius, Theb. l. xii.
Ostendens confectas flamma, &c.
Lucan, Pharsal. l. 1. 145.
v. 60. The ambush of the horse.] "The ambush of the wooden
horse, that caused Aeneas to quit the city of Troy and seek his
fortune in Italy, where his descendants founded the Roman
v. 91. Caieta.] Virgil, Aeneid. l. vii. 1.
v. 93. Nor fondness for my son] Imitated hp Tasso, G. L. c.
Ne timor di fatica o di periglio,
Ne vaghezza del regno, ne pietade
Del vecchio genitor, si degno affetto
Intiepedir nel generoso petto.
This imagined voyage of Ulysses into the Atlantic is alluded to
E sopratutto commendava Ulisse,
Che per veder nell' altro mondo gisse.
Morg. Magg. c. xxv
And by Tasso, G. L. c. xv. 25.
v. 106. The strait pass.] The straits of Gibraltar.
v. 122. Made our oars wings.l So Chiabrera, Cant. Eroiche. xiii
Faro de'remi un volo.
And Tasso Ibid. 26.
v. 128. A mountain dim.] The mountain of Purgatorg
v. 6. The Sicilian Bull.] The engine of torture invented by
Perillus, for the tyrant Phalaris.
v. 26. Of the mountains there.] Montefeltro.
v. 38. Polenta's eagle.] Guido Novello da Polenta, who bore an
eagle for his coat of arms. The name of Polenta was derived from
a castle so called in the neighbourhood of Brittonoro. Cervia is
a small maritime city, about fifteen miles to the south of
Ravenna. Guido was the son of Ostasio da Polenta, and made
himself master of Ravenna, in 1265. In 1322 he was deprived of
his sovereignty, and died at Bologna in the year following. This
last and most munificent patron of Dante is himself enumerated,
by the historian of Italian literature, among the poets of his
time. Tiraboschi, Storia della Lett. Ital. t. v. 1. iii. c. ii.
13. The passnge in the text might have removed the uncertainty
wwhich Tiraboschi expressed, respecting the duration of Guido's
absence from Ravenna, when he was driven from that city in 1295,
by the arms of Pietro, archbishop of Monreale. It must evidently
have been very short, since his government is here represented
(in 1300) as not having suffered any material disturbance for
v. 41. The land.l The territory of Forli, the inhabitants of
which, in 1282, mere enabled, hy the strategem of Guido da
Montefeltro, who then governed it, to defeat with great
slaughter the French army by which it had been besieged. See G.
Villani, l. vii. c. 81. The poet informs Guido, its former
ruler, that it is now in the possession of Sinibaldo Ordolaffi,
or Ardelaffi, whom he designates by his coat of arms, a lion
v. 43. The old mastiff of Verucchio and the young.] Malatesta
and Malatestino his son, lords of Rimini, called, from their
ferocity, the mastiffs of Verruchio, which was the name of their
v. 44. Montagna.] Montagna de'Parcitati, a noble knight, and
leader of the Ghibelline party at Rimini, murdered by
v. 46. Lamone's city and Santerno's.] Lamone is the river at
Faenza, and Santerno at Imola.
v. 47. The lion of the snowy lair.] Machinardo Pagano, whose
arms were a lion azure on a field argent; mentioned again in the
Purgatory, Canto XIV. 122. See G. Villani passim, where he is
called Machinardo da Susinana.
v. 50. Whose flank is wash'd of SSavio's wave.] Cesena,
situated at the foot of a mountain, and washed by the river
Savio, that often descends with a swoln and rapid stream from the
v. 64. A man of arms.] Guido da Montefeltro.
v. 68. The high priest.] Boniface VIII.
v. 72. The nature of the lion than the fox.]
Non furon leonine ma di volpe.
So Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. xix.
E furon le sua opre e le sue colpe
Non creder leonine ma di volpe.
v. 81. The chief of the new Pharisee.] Boniface VIII. whose
enmity to the family of Colonna prompted him to destroy their
houses near the Lateran. Wishing to obtain possession of their
other seat, Penestrino, he consulted with Guido da Montefeltro
how he might accomplish his purpose, offering him at the same
time absolution for his past sins, as well as for that which he
was then tempting him to commit. Guido's advice was, that kind
words and fair promises nonld put his enemies into his power; and
they accordingly soon aftermards fell into the snare laid for
them, A.D. 1298. See G. Villani, l. viii. c. 23.
v. 84. Nor against Acre one
He alludes to the renegade Christians, by whom the Saracens, in
Apri., 1291, were assisted to recover St.John d'Acre, the last
possession of the Christians in the Iloly Land. The regret
expressed by the Florentine annalist G. Villani, for the loss of
this valuable fortress, is well worthy of observation, l. vii. c.
v. 89. As in Soracte Constantine besought.] So in Dante's
treatise De Monarchia: "Dicunt quidam adhue, quod Constantinus
Imperator, mundatus a lepra intercessione Syvestri, tunc summni
pontificis imperii sedem, scilicet Romam, donavit ecclesiae, cum
multis allis imperii dignitatibus." Lib.iii.
v. 101. My predecessor.] Celestine V. See Notes to Canto III.
v.8. In that long war.] The war of Hannibal in Italy. "When
Mago brought news of his victories to Carthage, in order to make
his successes more easily credited, he commanded the golden rings
to be poured out in the senate house, which made so large a heap,
that, as some relate, they filled three modii and a half. A more
probable account represents them not to have exceeded one
modius." Livy, Hist.
v. 12. Guiscard's Norman steel.] Robert Guiscard, who conquered
the kingdom of Naples, and died in 1110. G. Villani, l. iv. c.
18. He is introduced in the Paradise, Canto XVIII.
v. 13. And those the rest.] The army of Manfredi, which, through
the treachery of the Apulian troops, wns overcome by Charles of
Anjou in 1205, and fell in such numbers that the bones of the
slain were still gathered near Ceperano. G. Villani, l. vii. c.
9. See the Purgatory, Canto III.
v. 10. O Tagliocozzo.] He alludes to tile victory which Charles
gained over Conradino, by the sage advice of the Sieur de Valeri,
in 1208. G. Villani, l. vii. c. 27.
v. 32. Ali.] The disciple of Mohammed.
v. 53. Dolcino.] "In 1305, a friar, called Dolcino, who
belonged to no regular order, contrived to raise in Novarra, in
Lombardy, a large company of the meaner sort of people, declaring
himself to be a true apostle of Christ, and promulgating a
community of property and of wives, with many other such
heretical doctrines. He blamed the pope, cardinals, and other
prelates of the holy church, for not observing their duty, nor
leading the angelic life, and affirmed that he ought to be pope.
He was followed by more than three thousand men and women, who
lived promiscuously on the mountains together, like beasts, and,
when they wanted provisions, supplied themselves by depredation
and rapine. This lasted for two years till, many being struck
with compunction at the dissolute life they led, his sect was
much diminished; and through failure of food, and the severity of
the snows, he was taken by the people of Novarra, and burnt, with
Margarita his companion and many other men and women whom his
errors had seduced." G. Villanni, l. viii. c. 84.
Landino observes, that he was possessed of singular eloquence,
and that both he and Margarita endored their fate with a firmness
worthy of a better cause. For a further account of him, see
Muratori Rer. Ital. Script. t. ix. p. 427.
v. 69. Medicina.] A place in the territory of Bologna. Piero
fomented dissensions among the inhabitants of that city, and
among the leaders of the neighbouring states.
v. 70. The pleasant land.] Lombardy.
v. 72. The twain.] Guido dal Cassero and Angiolello da Cagnano,
two of the worthiest and most distinguished citizens of Fano,
were invited by Malatestino da Rimini to an entertainment on
pretence that he had some important business to transact with
them: and, according to instructions given by him, they mere
drowned in their passage near Catolica, between Rimini and Fano.
v. 85. Focara's wind.] Focara is a mountain, from which a wind
blows that is peculiarly dangerous to the navigators of that
v. 94. The doubt in Caesar's mind.] Curio, whose speech
(according to Lucan) determined Julius Caesar to proceed when he
had arrived at Rimini (the ancient Ariminum), and doubted whether
he should prosecute the civil war.
Tolle moras: semper nocuit differre paratis
Pharsal, l. i. 281.
v. 102. Mosca.] Buondelmonte was engaged to marry a lady of the
Amidei family, but broke his promise and united himself to one of
the Donati. This was so much resented by the former, that a
meeting of themselves and their kinsmen was held, to consider of
the best means of revenging the insult. Mosca degli Uberti
persuaded them to resolve on the assassination of Buondelmonte,
exclaiming to them "the thing once done, there is an end." The
counsel and its effects were the source of many terrible
calamities to the state of Florence. "This murder," says G.
Villani, l. v. c. 38, "was the cause and beginning of the
accursed Guelph and Ghibelline parties in Florence." It happened
in 1215. See the Paradise, Canto XVI. 139.
v. 111. The boon companion.]
What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted?
Shakespeare, 2 Hen. VI. a. iii. s. 2.
v. 160. Bertrand.] Bertrand de Born, Vicomte de Hautefort, near
Perigueux in Guienne, who incited John to rebel against his
father, Henry II. of England. Bertrand holds a distinguished
place among the Provencal poets. He is quoted in Dante, "De
Vulg. Eloq." l. ii. c. 2. For the translation of some extracts
from his poems, see Millot, Hist. Litteraire des Troubadors t. i.
p. 210; but the historical parts of that work are, I believe, not
to be relied on.
v. 26. Geri of Bello.] A kinsman of the Poet's, who was
murdered by one of the Sacchetti family. His being placed here,
may be considered as a proof that Dante was more impartial in the
allotment of his punishments than has generally been supposed.
v. 44. As were the torment.] It is very probable that these
lines gave Milton the idea of his celebrated description:
Immediately a place
Before their eyes appear'd, sad, noisome, dark,
A lasar-house it seem'd, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseas'd, all maladies, &c.
P. L. b. xi. 477.
v. 45. Valdichiana.] The valley through which passes the river
Chiana, bounded by Arezzo, Cortona, Montepulciano, and Chiusi. In
the heat of autumn it was formerly rendered unwholesome by the
stagnation of the water, but has since been drained by the
Emperor Leopold II. The Chiana is mentioned as a remarkably
sluggish stream, in the Paradise, Canto XIII. 21.
v. 47. Maremma's pestilent fen.] See Note to Canto XXV. v. 18.
v. 58. In Aegina.] He alludes to the fable of the ants changed
into Myrmidons. Ovid, Met. 1. vii.
v. 104. Arezzo was my dwelling.] Grifolino of Arezzo, who
promised Albero, son of the Bishop of Sienna, that he would teach
him the art of flying; and because be did not keep his promise,
Albero prevailed on his father to have him burnt for a
Was ever race
Light as Sienna's?]
The same imputation is again cast on the Siennese, Purg. Canto
v. 121. Stricca.] This is said ironically. Stricca, Niccolo
Salimbeni, Caccia of Asciano, and Abbagliato, or Meo de
Folcacchieri, belonged to a company of prodigal and luxurious
young men in Sienna, called the "brigata godereccia." Niccolo
was the inventor of a new manner of using cloves in cookery, not
very well understood by the commentators, and which was termed
the "costuma ricca."
v. 125. In that garden.] Sienna.
v. 134. Cappocchio's ghost.] Capocchio of Sienna, who is said to
have been a fellow-student of Dante's in natural philosophy.
v. 4. Athamas.] From Ovid, Metam. 1. iv.
Protinos Aelides, &c.
v. 16. Hecuba. See Euripedes, Hecuba; and Ovid, Metnm. l. xiii.
v. 33. Schicchi.] Gianni Schicci, who was of the family of
Cavalcanti, possessed such a faculty of moulding his features to
the resemblance of others, that he was employed by Simon Donati
to personate Buoso Donati, then recently deceased, and to make a
will, leaving Simon his heir; for which service he was
renumerated with a mare of extraordinary value, here called "the
lady of the herd."
v. 39. Myrrha.] See Ovid, Metam. l. x.
v. 60. Adamo's woe.] Adamo of Breschia, at the instigation of
Cuido Alessandro, and their brother Aghinulfo, lords of Romena,
coonterfeited the coin of Florence; for which crime he was burnt.
Landino says, that in his time the peasants still pointed out a
pile of stones near Romena as the place of his execution.
v. 64. Casentino.] Romena is a part of Casentino.
v. 77. Branda's limpid spring.] A fountain in Sienna.
v. 88. The florens with three carats of alloy.] The floren was
a coin that ought to have had tmenty-four carats of pure gold.
Villani relates, that it was first used at Florence in 1253, an
aera of great prosperity in the annals of the republic; before
which time their most valuable coinage was of silver. Hist. l.
vi. c. 54.
v. 98. The false accuser.] Potiphar's wife.
v. 1. The very tongue.]
Vulnus in Herculeo quae quondam fecerat hoste
Vulneris auxilium Pellas hasta fuit.
Ovid, Rem. Amor. 47.
The same allusion was made by Bernard de Ventadour, a Provencal
poet in the middle of the twelfth century: and Millot observes,
that it was a singular instance of erudition in a Troubadour.
But it is not impossible, as Warton remarks, (Hist. of Engl.
Poetry, vol. ii. sec. x. p 215.) but that he might have been
indebted for it to some of the early romances.
In Chaucer's Squier's Tale, a sword of similar quality is
And other folk have wondred on the sweard,
That could so piercen through every thing;
And fell in speech of Telephus the king,
And of Achillcs for his queint spere,
For he couth with it both heale and dere.
So Shakspeare, Henry VI. p. ii. a. 5. s. 1.
Whose smile and frown like to Achilles' spear
Is able with the change to kill and cure.
v. 14. Orlando.l
When Charlemain with all his peerage fell
Milton, P. L. b. i. 586.
See Warton's Hist. of Eng. Poetrg, v. i. sect. iii. p. 132.
"This is the horn which Orlando won from the giant Jatmund, and
which as Turpin and the Islandic bards report, was endued with
magical power, and might be heard at the distance of twenty
miles." Charlemain and Orlando are introduced in the Paradise,
v. 36. Montereggnon.] A castle near Sienna.
v. 105. The fortunate vale.] The country near Carthage. See
Liv. Hist. l. xxx. and Lucan, Phars. l. iv. 590. Dante has kept
the latter of these writers in his eye throughout all this
v. 123. Alcides.] The combat between Hercules Antaeus is
adduced by the Poet in his treatise "De Monarchia," l. ii. as a
proof of the judgment of God displayed in the duel, according to
the singular superstition of those times.
v. 128. The tower of Carisenda.] The leaning tower at Bologna
v. 8. A tongue not us'd
To infant babbling.]
Ne da lingua, che chiami mamma, o babbo.
Dante in his treatise " De Vulg. Eloq." speaking of words not
admissble in the loftier, or as he calls it, tragic style of
poetry, says- "In quorum numero nec puerilia propter suam
simplicitatem ut Mamma et Babbo," l. ii. c. vii.
v. 29. Tabernich or Pietrapana.] The one a mountain in
Sclavonia, the other in that tract of country called the
Garfagnana, not far from Lucca.
v. 33. To where modest shame appears.] "As high as to the
v. 35. Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork.]
Mettendo i denti in nota di cicogna.
So Boccaccio, G. viii. n. 7. "Lo scolar cattivello quasi cicogna
divenuto si forte batteva i denti."
v. 53. Who are these two.] Alessandro and Napoleone, sons of
Alberto Alberti, who murdered each other. They were proprietors
of the valley of Falterona, where the Bisenzio has its source, a
river that falls into the Arno about six miles from Florence.
v. 59. Not him,] Mordrec, son of King Arthur.
v. 60. Foccaccia.] Focaccia of Cancellieri, (the Pistoian
family) whose atrocious act of revenge against his uncle is said
to have given rise to the parties of the Bianchi and Neri, in the
year 1300. See G. Villani, Hist. l, viii. c. 37. and
Macchiavelli, Hist. l. ii. The account of the latter writer
differs much from that given by Landino in his Commentary.
v. 63. Mascheroni.] Sassol Mascheroni, a Florentiue, who also
murdered his uncle.
v. 66. Camiccione.] Camiccione de' Pazzi of Valdarno, by whom
his kinsman Ubertino was treacherously pnt to death.
v. 67. Carlino.] One of the same family. He betrayed the
Castel di Piano Travigne, in Valdarno, to the Florentines, after
the refugees of the Bianca and Ghibelline party had defended it
against a siege for twenty-nine days, in the summer of 1302. See
G. Villani, l. viii. c. 52 and Dino Compagni, l. ii.
v. 81. Montaperto.] The defeat of the Guelfi at Montaperto,
occasioned by the treachery of Bocca degli Abbati, who, during
the engagement, cut off the hand of Giacopo del Vacca de'Pazzi,
bearer of the Florentine standard. G. Villani, l. vi. c. 80, and
Notes to Canto X. This event happened in 1260.
v. 113. Him of Duera.] Buoso of Cremona, of the family of
Duera, who was bribed by Guy de Montfort, to leave a pass between
Piedmont and Parma, with the defence of which he had been
entrusted by the Ghibellines, open to the army of Charles of
Anjou, A.D. 1265, at which the people of Cremona were so enraged,
that they extirpated the whole family. G. Villani, l. vii. c. 4.
v. 118. Beccaria.] Abbot of Vallombrosa, who was the Pope's
Legate at Florence, where his intrigues in favour of the
Ghibellines being discovered, he was beheaded. I do not find the
occurrence in Vallini, nor do the commentators say to what pope
he was legate. By Landino he is reported to have been from Parma,
by Vellutello from Pavia.
v. 118. Soldanieri.] "Gianni Soldanieri," says Villani, Hist.
l. vii. c14, "put himself at the head of the people, in the hopes
of rising into power, not aware that the result would be mischief
to the Ghibelline party, and his own ruin; an event which seems
ever to have befallen him, who has headed the populace in
Florence." A.D. 1266.
v. 119. Ganellon.] The betrayer of Charlemain, mentioned by
Archbishop Turpin. He is a common instance of treachery with the
poets of the middle ages.
Trop son fol e mal pensant,
Pis valent que Guenelon.
Thibaut, roi de Navarre
O new Scariot, and new Ganilion,
O false dissembler, &c.
Chaucer, Nonne's Prieste's Tale
And in the Monke's Tale, Peter of Spaine.
v. 119. Tribaldello.] Tribaldello de'Manfredi, who was bribed
to betray the city of Faonza, A. D. 1282. G. Villani, l. vii. c.
v. 128. Tydeus.] See Statius, Theb. l. viii. ad finem.
v. 14. Count Ugolino.] "In the year 1288, in the month of July,
Pisa was much divided by competitors for the sovereignty; one
party, composed of certain of the Guelphi, being headed by the
Judge Nino di Gallura de'Visconti; another, consisting of others
of the same faction, by the Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi; and
the third by the Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, with the
Lanfranchi, Sismondi, Gualandi, and other Ghibelline houses. The
Count Ugolino,to effect his purpose, united with the Archbishop
and his party, and having betrayed Nino, his sister's son, they
contrived that he and his followers should either be driven out
of Pisa, or their persons seized. Nino hearing this, and not
seeing any means of defending himself, retired to Calci, his
castle, and formed an alliance with the Florentines and people of
Lucca, against the Pisans. The Count, before Nino was gone, in
order to cover his treachery, when everything was settled for his
expulsion, quitted Pisa, and repaired to a manor of his called
Settimo; whence, as soon as he was informed of Nino's departure,
he returned to Pisa with great rejoicing and festivity, and was
elevated to the supreme power with every demonstration of triumph
and honour. But his greatness was not of long continuauce. It
pleased the Almighty that a total reverse of fortune should
ensue, as a punishment for his acts of treachery and guilt: for
he was said to have poisoned the Count Anselmo da Capraia, his
sister's son, on account of the envy and fear excited in his mind
by the high esteem in which the gracious manners of Anselmo were
held by the Pisans. The power of the Guelphi being so much
diminished, the Archbishop devised means to betray the Count
Uglino and caused him to be suddenly attacked in his palace by
the fury of the people, whom he had exasperated, by telling them
that Ugolino had betrayed Pisa, and given up their castles to the
citizens of Florence and of Lucca. He was immediately compelled
to surrender; his bastard son and his grandson fell in the
assault; and two of his sons, with their two sons also, were
conveyed to prison." G. Villani l. vii. c. 120.
"In the following march, the Pisans, who had imprisoned the Count
Uglino, with two of his sons and two of his grandchildren, the
offspring of his son the Count Guelfo, in a tower on the Piazza
of the Anzania, caused the tower to be locked, the key thrown
into the Arno, and all food to be withheld from them. In a few
days they died of hunger; but the Count first with loud cries
declared his penitence, and yet neither priest nor friar was
allowed to shrive him. All the five, when dead, were dragged out
of the prison, and meanly interred; and from thence forward the
tower was called the tower of famine, and so shall ever be."
Ibid. c. 127.
Chancer has briefly told Ugolino's story. See Monke's Tale,
Hugeline of Pise.
v. 29. Unto the mountain.] The mountain S. Giuliano, between
Pisa and Lucca.
v. 59. Thou gav'st.]
Tu ne vestisti
Queste misere carni, e tu le spoglia.
Imitated by Filicaja, Canz. iii.
Di questa imperial caduca spoglia
Tu, Signor, me vestisti e tu mi spoglia:
Ben puoi'l Regno me tor tu che me'l desti.
And by Maffei, in the Merope:
Queste misere membra e tu le annodi.
v. 79. In that fair region.]
Del bel paese la, dove'l si suona.
Italy as explained by Dante himself, in his treatise De Vulg.
Eloq. l. i. c. 8. "Qui autem Si dicunt a praedictis finibus.
(Januensiem) Oreintalem (Meridionalis Europae partem) tenent;
videlicet usque ad promontorium illud Italiae, qua sinus
Adriatici maris incipit et Siciliam."
v. 82. Capraia and Gorgona.] Small islands near the mouth of
v. 94. There very weeping suffers not to weep,]
Lo pianto stesso li pianger non lascia.
So Giusto de'Conti, Bella Mano. Son. "Quanto il ciel."
Che il troppo pianto a me pianger non lassa.
v. 116. The friar Albigero.] Alberigo de'Manfredi, of Faenza,
one of the Frati Godenti, Joyons Friars who having quarrelled
with some of his brotherhood, under pretence of wishing to be
reconciled, invited them to a banquet, at the conclusion of which
he called for the fruit, a signal for the assassins to rush in
and dispatch those whom he had marked for destruction. Hence,
adds Landino, it is said proverbially of one who has been
stabbed, that he has had some of the friar Alberigo's fruit.
Thus Pulci, Morg. Magg. c. xxv.
Le frutte amare di frate Alberico.
v. 123. Ptolomea.] This circle is named Ptolomea from Ptolemy,
the son of Abubus, by whom Simon and his sons were murdered, at a
great banquet he had made for them. See Maccabees, ch xvi.
v. 126. The glazed tear-drops.]
-sorrow's eye, glazed with blinding tears.
Shakspeare, Rich. II. a. 2. s. 2.
v. 136. Branca Doria.] The family of Doria was possessed of
great influence in Genoa. Branca is said to have murdered his
father-in-law, Michel Zanche, introduced in Canto XXII.
v. 162 Romagna's darkest spirit.] The friar Alberigo.
v. 6. A wind-mill.] The author of the Caliph Vathek, in the
notes to that tale, justly observes, that it is more than
probable that Don Quixote's mistake of the wind-mills for giants
was suggested to Cervantes by this simile.
v. 37. Three faces.] It can scarcely be doubted but that Milton
derived his description of Satan in those lines,
Each passion dimm'd his face
Thrice chang'd with pale, ire, envy, and despair.
P. L. b. iv. 114.
from this passage, coupled with the remark of Vellutello upon it:
"The first of these sins is anger which he signifies by the red
face; the second, represented by that between pale and yellow is
envy and not, as others have said, avarice; and the third,
denoted by the black, is a melancholy humour that causes a man's
thoughts to be dark and evil, and averse from all joy and
v. 44. Sails.]
--His sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight.
Milton, P. L. b. ii. 927.
Compare Spenser, F. Q. b. i. c. xi. st. 10; Ben Jonson's Every
Man out of his humour, v. 7; and Fletcher's Prophetess, a. 2. s.
v. 46. Like a bat.] The description of an imaginary being, who
is called Typhurgo, in the Zodiacus Vitae, has some touches very
like this of Dante's Lucifer.
Ingentem vidi regem ingentique sedentem
In solio, crines flammanti stemmate cinctum
Alae humeris magnae, quales vespertilionum
Membranis contextae amplis--
Nudus erat longis sed opertus corpora villis.
M. Palingenii, Zod. Vit. l. ix.
A mighty king I might discerne,
Plac'd hie on lofty chaire,
His haire with fyry garland deckt
Puft up in fiendish wise.
x x x x x x
Large wings on him did grow
Framde like the wings of flinder mice, &c.
v. 61. Brutus.] Landino struggles, but I fear in vain, to
extricate Brutus from the unworthy lot which is here assigned
him. He maintains, that by Brutus and Cassius are not meant the
individuals known by those names, but any who put a lawful
monarch to death. Yet if Caesar was such, the conspirators might
be regarded as deserving of their doom.
v. 89. Within one hour and half of noon.] The poet uses the
Hebrew manner of computing the day, according to which the third
hour answers to our twelve o'clock at noon.
v. 120. By what of firm land on this side appears.] The
mountain of Purgatory.
v.123. The vaulted tomb.] "La tomba." This word is used to
express the whole depth of the infernal region.
End Notes for Hell.
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