The Divine Comedy of Dante: Paradise

Part 4 out of 4

v. 91. At the poop.] Many editions read porta, "gate." -The
same metaphor is found in Aeschylus, Supp. 356, and is there also
scarce understood by the critics. [GREEK HERE] Respect these
wreaths, that crown your city's poop.

v. 99. The gilded hilt and pommel.] The symbols of knighthood

v. 100. The column cloth'd with verrey.] The arms of the Pigli.

v. 103. With them.] Either the Chiaramontesi, or the Tosinghi
one of which had committed a fraud in measuring out the wheat
from the public granary. See Purgatory, Canto XII. 99

v. 109. The bullets of bright gold.] The arms of the Abbati, as
it is conjectured.

v. 110. The sires of those.] "Of the Visdomini, the Tosinghi
and the Cortigiani, who, being sprung from the founders of the
bishopric of Florence are the curators of its revenues, which
they do not spare, whenever it becomes vacant."

v. 113. Th' o'erweening brood.] The Adimari. This family was
so little esteemed, that Ubertino Donato, who had married a
daughter of Bellincion Berti, himself indeed derived from the
same stock (see Note to Hell Canto XVI. 38.) was offended with
his father-in-law, for giving another of his daughters in
marriage to one of them.

v. 124. The gateway.] Landino refers this to the smallness of
the city: Vellutello, with less probability, to the simplicity of
the people in naming one of the gates after a private family.

v. 127. The great baron.] The Marchese Ugo, who resided at
Florence as lieutenant of the Emperor Otho III, gave many of the
chief families license to bear his arms. See G. Villani, 1. iv.
c. 2., where the vision is related, in consequence of which he
sold all his possessions in Germany, and founded seven abbeys, in
one whereof his memory was celebrated at Florence on St. Thomas's
v. 130. One.] Giano della Bella, belonging to one of the
families thus distinguished, who no longer retained his place
among the nobility, and had yet added to his arms a bordure or.
See Macchiavelli, 1st. Fior. 1. ii. p. 86. Ediz. Giolito.

v. 132. -Gualterotti dwelt
And Importuni.]
Two families in the compartment of the city called Borgo.

v. 135. The house.] Of Amidei. See Notes to Canto XXVIII. of
Hell. v. 102.

v. 142. To Ema.] "It had been well for the city, if thy
ancestor had been drowned in the Ema, when he crossed that stream
on his way from Montebuono to Florence."

v. 144. On that maim'd stone.] See Hell, Canto XIII. 144. Near
the remains of the statue of Mars. Buondelmonti was slain, as if
he had been a victim to the god; and Florence had not since known
the blessing of peace.

v. 150. The lily.] "The arms of Florence had never hung
reversed on the spear of her enemies, in token of her defeat; nor
been changed from argent to gules;" as they afterwards were, when
the Guelfi gained the predominance.


v. 1. The youth.] Phaeton, who came to his mother Clymene, to
inquire of her if he were indeed the son of Apollo. See Ovid,
Met. 1. i. ad finem.

v. 6. That saintly lamp.] Cacciaguida.

v. 12. To own thy thirst.] "That thou mayst obtain from others
a solution of any doubt that may occur to thee."

v. 15. Thou seest as clear.] "Thou beholdest future events,
with the same clearness of evidence, that we discern the simplest
mathematical demonstrations."

v. 19. The point.] The divine nature.

v. 27. The arrow.]
Nam praevisa minus laedere tela solent.

Che piaga antiveduta assai men duole.
Petrarca, Trionfo del Tempo

v. 38. Contingency.] "The evidence with which we see the future
portrayed in the source of all truth, no more necessitates that
future than does the image, reflected in the sight by a ship
sailing down a stream, necessitate the motion of the vessel."

v. 43. From thence.] "From the eternal sight; the view of the

v. 49. There.] At Rome, where the expulsion of Dante's party
from Florence was then plotting, in 1300.

v. 65. Theirs.] "They shall be ashamed of the part they have
taken aga'nst thee."

v. 69. The great Lombard.] Either Alberto della Scala, or
Bartolommeo his eldest son. Their coat of arms was a ladder and
an eagle.

v. 75. That mortal.] Can Grande della Scala, born under the
influence of Mars, but at this time only nine years old

v. 80. The Gascon.] Pope Clement V.

v. 80. Great Harry.] The Emperor Henry VII.

v. 127. The cry thou raisest.] "Thou shalt stigmatize the
faults of those who are most eminent and powerful."


v. 3. Temp'ring the sweet with bitter.]
Chewing the end of sweet and bitter fancy.
Shakespeare, As you Like it, a. 3. s. 3.

v. 26. On this fifth lodgment of the tree.] Mars, the fifth ot
the @

v. 37. The great Maccabee.] Judas Maccabeus.

v. 39. Charlemagne.] L. Pulci commends Dante for placing
Charlemagne and Orlando here:
Io mi confido ancor molto qui a Dante
Che non sanza cagion nel ciel su misse
Carlo ed Orlando in quelle croci sante,
Che come diligente intese e scrisse.
Morg. Magg. c. 28.

v. 43. William and Renard.] Probably not, as the commentators
have imagined, William II of Orange, and his kinsman Raimbaud,
two of the crusaders under Godfrey of Bouillon, (Maimbourg, Hist.
des Croisades, ed. Par. 1682. 12mo. t. i. p. 96.) but rather the
two more celebrated heroes in the age of Charlemagne. The
former, William l. of Orange, supposed to have been the founder
of the present illustrious family of that name, died about 808,
according to Joseph de la Piser, Tableau de l'Hist. des Princes
et Principante d'Orange. Our countryman, Ordericus Vitalis,
professes to give his true life, which had been misrepresented in
the songs of the itinerant bards." Vulgo canitur a joculatoribus
de illo, cantilena; sed jure praeferenda est relatio
authentica." Eccl. Hist. in Duchesne, Hist. Normann Script.
p. 508. The latter is better known by having been celebrated by
Ariosto, under the name of Rinaldo.

v. 43. Duke Godfey.] Godfrey of Bouillon.

v. 46. Robert Guiscard.] See Hell, Canto XXVIII. v. 12.

v. 81. The characters.] Diligite justitiam qui judicatis
terrarm. "Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth "
Wisdom of Solomon, c. i. 1.

v. 116. That once more.] "That he may again drive out those who
buy and sell in the temple."

v. 124. Taking the bread away.] "Excommunication, or the
interdiction of the Eucharist, is now employed as a weapon of

v. 126. That writest but to cancel.] "And thou, Pope Boniface,
who writest thy ecclesiastical censures for no other purpose than
to be paid for revoking them."

v. 130. To him.] The coin of Florence was stamped with the
impression of John the Baptist.


v. 38. Who turn'd his compass.] Compare Proverbs, c. viii. 27.
And Milton, P. L. b. vii 224.

v. 42. The Word] "The divine nature still remained
incomprehensible. Of this Lucifer was a proof; for had he
thoroughly comprehended it, he would not have fallen."

v. 108. The Ethiop.] Matt. c. xii. 41.

v. 112. That volume.] Rev. c. xx. 12.

v. 114. Albert.] Purgatory, Canto VI. v. 98.

v. 116. Prague.] The eagle predicts the devastation of Bohemia
by Albert, which happened soon after this time, when that Emperor
obtained the kingdom for his eldest son Rodolph. See Coxe's
House of Austria, 4to. ed. v. i. part 1. p. 87

v. 117. He.] Philip IV of France, after the battle of Courtrai,
1302, in which the French were defeated by the Flemings, raised
the nominal value of the coin. This king died in consequence of
his horse being thrown to the ground by a wild boar, in 1314

v. 121. The English and Scot.] He adverts to the disputes
between John Baliol and Edward I, the latter of whom is commended
in the Purgatory, Canto VII. v. 130.

v. 122. The Spaniard's luxury.] The commentators refer this to
Alonzo X of Spain. It seems probable that the allusion is to
Ferdinand IV who came to the crown in 1295, and died in 1312, at
the age of twenty four, in consequence, as it was supposed, of
his extreme intemperance.
See Mariana, Hist I. xv. c. 11.

v. 123. The Bohemian.] Winceslaus II. Purgatory, Canto VII. v.

v. 125. The halter of Jerusalem.] Charles II of Naples and
Jerusalem who was lame. See note to Purgatory, Canto VII. v.
122, and XX. v. 78.

v. 127. He.] Frederick of Sicily son of Peter III of Arragon.
Purgatory, Canto VII. v. 117. The isle of fire is Sicily, where
was the tomb of Anchises.

v. 133. His uncle.] James, king of Majorca and Minorca, brother
to Peter III.

v. 133. His brother.] James II of Arragon, who died in 1327.
See Purgatory, Canto VII. v. 117.

v. 135. Of Portugal.] In the time of Dante, Dionysius was king
of Portugal. He died in 1328, after a reign of near forty-six
years, and does not seem to have deserved the stigma here
fastened on him. See Mariana. and 1. xv. c. 18. Perhaps the
rebellious son of Dionysius may be alluded to.

v. 136. Norway.] Haquin, king of Norway, is probably meant;
who, having given refuge to the murderers of Eric VII king of
Denmark, A D. 1288, commenced a war against his successor, Erie
VIII, "which continued for nine years, almost to the utter ruin
and destruction of both kingdoms." Modern Univ. Hist. v. xxxii
p. 215.

v. 136. -Him
Of Ratza.]
One of the dynasty of the house of Nemagna, which ruled the
kingdom of Rassia, or Ratza, in Sclavonia, from 1161 to 1371, and
whose history may be found in Mauro Orbino, Regno degli Slavi,
Ediz. Pesaro. 1601. Uladislaus appears to have been the sovereign
in Dante's time, but the disgraceful forgery adverted to in the
text, is not recorded by the historian v. 138. Hungary.] The
kingdom of Hungary was about this time disputed by Carobert, son
of Charles Martel, and Winceslaus, prince of Bohemia, son of
Winceslaus II. See Coxe's House of Austria, vol. i. p. 1. p. 86.

4to edit.

v. 140. Navarre.] Navarre was now under the yoke of France.
It soon after (in 1328) followed the advice of Dante and had a
monarch of its own. Mariana, 1. xv. c. 19.

v. 141. Mountainous girdle.] The Pyrenees.

v. 143. -Famagosta's streets
And Nicosia's.]

Cities in the kingdom of Cyprus, at that time ruled by Henry II a
pusillanimous prince. Vertot. Hist. des Chev. de Malte, 1. iii.
iv. The meaning appears to be, that the complaints made by those
cities of their weak and worthless governor, may be regarded as
an earnest of his condemnation at the last doom.


v. 6. Wherein one shines.] The light of the sun, whence he
supposes the other celestial bodies to derive their light

v. 8. The great sign.] The eagle, the Imperial ensign.

v. 34. Who.] David.

v. 39. He.] Trajan. See Purgatory, Canto X. 68.

v. 44. He next.] Hezekiah.

v. 50. 'The other following.] Constantine. There is no passage
in which Dante's opinion of the evil; that had arisen from the
mixture of the civil with the ecclesiastical power, is more
unequivocally declared.

v. 57. William.] William II, king of Sicily, at the latter part
of the twelfth century He was of the Norman line of sovereigns,
and obtained the appellation of "the Good" and, as the poet says
his loss was as much the subject of regret in his dominions, as
the presence of Charles I of Anjou and Frederick of Arragon, was
of sorrow and complaint.

v. 62. Trojan Ripheus.]
Ripheus, justissimus unus
Qui fuit in Teneris, et servantissimus aequi.
Virg. Aen. 1. ii. 4--.

v. 97. This.] Ripheus.

v. 98. That.] Trajan.

v. 103. The prayers,] The prayers of St. Gregory

v. 119. The three nymphs.] Faith, Hope, and Charity. Purgatory,
Canto XXIX. 116.
v. 138. The pair.] Ripheus and Trajan.


v. 12. The seventh splendour.] The planet Saturn

v. 13. The burning lion's breast.] The constellation Leo.

v. 21. In equal balance.] "My pleasure was as great in
with her will as in beholding her countenance."

v. 24. Of that lov'd monarch.] Saturn. Compare Hell, Canto
XIV. 91.

v. 56. What forbade the smile.] "Because it would have overcome

v. 61. There aloft.] Where the other souls were.

v. 97. A stony ridge.] The Apennine.

v. 112. Pietro Damiano.] "S. Pietro Damiano obtained a great
and well-merited reputation, by the pains he took to correct the
abuses among the clergy. Ravenna is supposed to have been the
place of his birth, about 1007. He was employed in several
important missions, and rewarded by Stephen IX with the dignity
of cardinal, and the bishopric of Ostia, to which, however, he
preferred his former retreat in the monastery of Fonte Aveliana,
and prevailed on Alexander II to permit him to retire thither.
Yet he did not long continue in this seclusion, before he was
sent on other embassies. He died at Faenza in 1072. His
letters throw much light on the obscure history of these times.
Besides them, he has left several treatises on sacred and
ecclesiastical subjects. His eloquence is worthy of a better
age." Tiraboschi, Storia della Lett Ital. t. iii. 1. iv. c. 2.

v. 114. Beside the Adriatic.] At Ravenna. Some editions have
FU instead of FUI, according to which reading, Pietro
distinguishes himself from another Pietro, who was termed
"Peccator," the sinner.

v. 117. The hat.] The cardinal's hat.

v. 118. Cephas.] St. Peter.

v. 119 The Holy Spirit's vessel.] St. Paul. See Hell, Canto II.

v. 130. Round this.] Round the spirit of Pietro Damiano.


v. 14. The vengeance.] Beatrice, it is supposed, intimates the
approaching fate of Boniface VIII. See Purgatory, Canto XX. 86.

v. 36. Cassino.] A castle in the Terra di Lavoro.

v. 38. I it was.] "A new order of monks, which in a manner
absorbed all the others that were established in the west, was
instituted, A.D. 529, by Benedict of Nursis, a man of piety and
reputation for the age he lived in." Maclaine's Mosheim,
Eccles. Hist. v. ii. cent. vi. p. 2. ch. 2 - 6.

v. 48. Macarius.] There are two of this name enumerated by
Mosheim among the Greek theologians of the fourth century, v. i.
cent. iv p. 11 ch. 2 - 9. In the following chapter, 10, it is
said, "Macarius, an Egyptian monk, undoubtedly deserves the first
rank among the practical matters of this time, as his works
displayed, some few things excepted, the brightest and most
lovely portraiture of sanctity and virtue."

v. 48. Romoaldo.] S. Romoaldo, a native of Ravenna, and the
founder of the order of Camaldoli, died in 1027. He was the
author of a commentary on the Psalms.

v. 70. The patriarch Jacob.] So Milton, P. L. b. iii. 510:
The stairs were such, as whereon Jacob saw
Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright.

v. 107. The sign.] The constellation of Gemini.

v. 130. This globe.] So Chaucer, Troilus and Cresseide, b. v,

And down from thence fast he gan avise
This little spot of earth, that with the sea
Embraced is, and fully gan despite
This wretched world.

Compare Cicero, Somn. Scip. "Jam ipsa terra ita mihi parva visa
est." &c. Lucan, Phar 1. ix. 11; and Tasso, G. L. c. xiv.
st, 9, 10, 11.

v. 140. Maia and Dione.] The planets Mercury and Venus.


v. 11. That region.] Towards the south, where the course of the
sun appears less rapid, than, when he is in the east or the west.

v. 26. Trivia.] A name of Diana.

v. 26. Th' eternal nymphs.] The stars.

v. 36. The Might.] Our Saviour

v. 71. The rose.] The Virgin Mary.

v. 73. The lilies.] The apostles.

v. 84. Thou didst exalt thy glory.] The diving light retired
upwards, to render the eyes of Dante more capable of enduring the
spectacle which now presented itself.

v. 86. The name of that fair flower.] The name of the Virgin.

v. 92. A cresset.] The angel Gabriel.

v. 98. That lyre.] By synecdoche, the lyre is put for the angel

v. 99. The goodliest sapphire.] The Virgin

v. 126. Those rich-laden coffers.] Those spirits who, having
sown the seed of good works on earth, now contain the fruit of
their pious endeavours.

v. 129. In the Babylonian exile.] During their abode in this

v. 133. He.] St. Peter, with the other holy men of the Old and
New testament.


v. 28. Such folds.] Pindar has the same bold image:
On which Hayne strangely remarks: Ad ambitus stropharum vldetur

v. 65. Faith.] Hebrews, c. xi. 1. So Marino, in one of his
sonnets, which calls Divozioni:

Fede e sustanza di sperate cose,
E delle non visioili argomento.

v. 82. Current.] "The answer thou hast made is right; but let
me know if thy inward persuasion is conformable to thy

v. 91. The ancient bond and new.] The Old and New Testament.

v. 114. That Worthy.] Quel Baron.
In the next Canto, St. James is called "Barone." So in
Boccaccio, G. vi. N. 10, we find "Baron Messer Santo Antonio."
v. 124. As to outstrip.] Venturi insists that the Poet has
here, "made a slip;" for that John came first to the sepulchre,
though Peter was the first to enter it. But let Dante have leave
to explain his own meaning, in a passage from his third book De
Monarchia: "Dicit etiam Johannes ipsum (scilicet Petrum)
introiisse SUBITO, cum venit in monumentum, videns allum
discipulum cunctantem ad ostium." Opere de Dante, Ven. 1793. T.
ii. P. 146.


v. 6. The fair sheep-fold.] Florence, whence he was banished.

v. 13. For its sake.] For the sake of that faith.

v. 20. Galicia throng'd with visitants.] See Mariana, Hist. 1.

v. 13. "En el tiempo," &c. "At the time that the sepulchre of
the apostle St. James was discovered, the devotion for that place
extended itself not only over all Spain, but even round about to
foreign nations. Multitudes from all parts of the world came to
visit it. Many others were deterred by the difficulty for the
journey, by the roughness and barrenness of those parts, and by
the incursions of the Moors, who made captives many of the
pilgrims. The canons of St. Eloy afterwards (the precise time is
not known), with a desire of remedying these evils, built, in
many places, along the whole read, which reached as far as to
France, hospitals for the reception of the pilgrims."

v. 31. Who.] The Epistle of St. James is here attributed to the
elder apostle of that name, whose shrine was at Compostella, in
Galicia. Which of the two was the author of it is yet doubtful.
The learned and candid Michaelis contends very forcibly for its
having been written by James the Elder. Lardner rejects that
opinion as absurd; while Benson argues against it, but is well
answered by Michaelis, who after all, is obliged to leave the
question undecided. See his Introduction to the New Testament,
translated by Dr. Marsh, ed. Cambridge, 1793. V. iv. c. 26. -
1, 2, 3.

v. 35. As Jesus.] In the transfiguration on Mount Tabor.

v. 39. The second flame.] St. James.

v. 40. I lifted up.] "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help." Ps. Cxxi. 1.

v. 59. From Egypt to Jerusalem.] From the lower world to

v. 67. Hope.] This is from the Sentences of Petrus Lombardus.
"Est autem spes virtus, qua spiritualia et aeterna bona speratam,
id est, beatitudinem aeternam. Sine meritis enim aliquid
sperare non spes, sed praesumptio, dici potest." Pet. Lomb.
Sent. 1. Iii. Dist. 26. Ed. Bas. 1486. Fol.

v. 74. His anthem.] Psalm ix. 10.

v. 90. Isaias ] Chap. lxi. 10.

v. 94. Thy brother.] St. John in the Revelation, c. vii. 9.

v. 101. Winter's month.] "If a luminary, like that which now
appeared, were to shine throughout the month following the winter
solstice during which the constellation Cancer appears in the
east at the setting of the sun, there would be no interruption to
the light, but the whole month would be as a single day."

v. 112. This.] St. John, who reclined on the bosom of our
Saviour, and to whose charge Jesus recommended his mother.

v. 121. So I.] He looked so earnestly, to descry whether St.
John were present there in body, or in spirit only, having had
his doubts raised by that saying of our Saviour's: "If I will,
that he tarry till I come what is that to thee."

v. 127. The two.] Christ and Mary, whom he has described, in
the last Canto but one, as rising above his sight


v. 2. The beamy flame.] St. John.

v. 13. Ananias' hand.] Who, by putting his hand on St. Paul,
restored his sight. Acts, c. ix. 17.

v. 36. From him.] Some suppose that Plato is here meant, who,
in his Banquet, makes Phaedrus say: "Love is confessedly amongst
the eldest of beings, and, being the eldest, is the cause to us
of the greatest goods " Plat. Op. t. x. p. 177. Bip. ed. Others
have understood it of Aristotle, and others, of the writer who
goes by the name of Dionysius the Areopagite, referred to in the
twenty-eighth Canto.

v. 40. I will make.] Exodus, c. xxxiii. 19.

v. 42. At the outset.] John, c. i. 1. &c.

v. 51. The eagle of our Lord.] St. John

v. 62. The leaves.] Created beings.

v. 82. The first living soul.] Adam.

v. 107. Parhelion.] Who enlightens and comprehends all things;
but is himself enlightened and comprehended by none.

v. 117. Whence.] That is, from Limbo. See Hell, Canto II. 53.
Adam says that 5232 years elapsed from his creation to the time
of his deliverance, which followed the death of Christ.

v. 133. EL] Some read UN, "One," instead of EL: but the latter
of these readings is confirmed by a passage from Dante's Treatise
De Vulg. Eloq. 1. i. cap. 4. "Quod prius vox primi loquentis
sonaverit, viro sanae mentis in promptu esse non dubito ipsum
fuisse quod Deus est, videlicet El." St. Isidore in the
Origines, 1. vii. c. 1. had said, "Primum apud Hebraeos Dei
nomen El dicitur."

v. 135. Use.] From Horace, Ars. Poet. 62.

v. 138. All my life.] "I remained in the terrestrial Paradise
only tothe seventh hour." In the Historia Scolastica of Petrus
Comestor, it is said of our first parents: Quidam tradunt eos
fuisse in Paradiso septem horae." I. 9. ed. Par. 1513. 4to.


v. 1. Four torches.] St. Peter, St. James, St. John, and Adam.

v. 11. That.] St. Peter' who looked as the planet Jupiter
would, if it assumed the sanguine appearance of liars.

v. 20. He.] Boniface VIII.

v. 26. such colour.]
Qui color infectis adversi solis ab ietu
Nubibus esse solet; aut purpureae Aurorae.
Ovid, Met. 1. iii. 184.

v. 37. Of Linus and of Cletus.] Bishops of Rome in the first

v. 40. Did Sextus, Pius, and Callixtus bleed
And Urban.]
The former two, bishops of the same see, in the second; and the
others, in the fourth century.
v. 42. No purpose was of ours.] "We did not intend that our
successors should take any part in the political divisions among
Christians, or that my figure (the seal of St. Peter) should
serve as a mark to authorize iniquitous grants and privileges."

v. 51. Wolves.] Compare Milton, P. L. b. xii. 508, &c.

v. 53. Cahorsines and Gascons.] He alludes to Jacques d'Ossa, a
native of Cahors, who filled the papal chair in 1316, after it
had been two years vacant, and assumed the name of John XXII.,
and to Clement V, a Gascon, of whom see Hell, Canto XIX. 86, and

v. 63. The she-goat.] When the sun is in Capricorn.

v. 72. From the hour.] Since he had last looked (see Canto
XXII.) he perceived that he had passed from the meridian circle
to the eastern horizon, the half of our hemisphere, and a quarter
of the heaven.

v. 76. From Gades.] See Hell, Canto XXVI. 106

v. 78. The shore.] Phoenicia, where Europa, the daughter of
Agenor mounted on the back of Jupiter, in his shape of a bull.

v. 80. The sun.] Dante was in the constellation Gemini, and the
sun in Aries. There was, therefore, part of those two
constellations, and the whole of Taurus, between them.

v. 93. The fair nest of Leda.] "From the Gemini;" thus called,
because Leda was the mother of the twins, Castor and Pollux

v. 112. Time's roots.] "Here," says Beatrice, "are the roots,
from whence time springs: for the parts, into which it is
divided, the other heavens must be considered." And she then
breaks out into an exclamation on the degeneracy of human nature,
which does not lift itself to the contemplation of divine things.

v. 126. The fair child of him.] So she calls human nature.
Pindar by a more easy figure, terms the day, "child of the sun."

v. 129. None.] Because, as has been before said, the shepherds
are become wolves.

v. 131. Before the date.] "Before many ages are past, before
those fractions, which are drops in the reckoning of every year,
shall amount to so large a portion of time, that January shall be
no more a winter month." By this periphrasis is meant " in a
short time," as we say familiarly, such a thing will happen
before a thousand years are over when we mean, it will happen

v. 135. Fortune shall be fain.] The commentators in general
suppose that our Poet here augurs that great reform, which he
vainly hoped would follow on the arrival of the Emperor Henry
VII. in Italy. Lombardi refers the prognostication to Can Grande
della Scala: and, when we consider that this Canto was not
finished till after the death of Henry, as appears from the
mention that is made of John XXII, it cannot be denied but the
conjecture is probable.


v. 36. Heav'n, and all nature, hangs upon that point.] [GREEK
Aristot. Metaph. 1. xii. c. 7. "From that beginning depend
heaven and nature."

v. 43. Such diff'rence.] The material world and the
intelligential (the copy and the pattern) appear to Dante to
differ in this respect, that the orbits of the latter are more
swift, the nearer they are to the centre, whereas the contrary is
the case with the orbits of the former. The seeming contradiction
is thus accounted for by Beatrice. In the material world, the
more ample the body is, the greater is the good of which itis
capable supposing all the parts to be equally perfect. But in the
intelligential world, the circles are more excellent and
powerful, the more they approximate to the central point, which
is God. Thus the first circle, that of the seraphim, corresponds
to the ninth sphere, or primum mobile, the second, that of the
cherubim, to the eighth sphere, or heaven of fixed stars; the
third, or circle of thrones, to the seventh sphere, or planet of
Saturn; and in like manner throughout the two other trines of
circles and spheres.

In orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb
Milton, P. L. b. v. 596.

v. 70. The sturdy north.] Compare Homer, II. b. v. 524.

v. 82. In number.] The sparkles exceeded the number which would
be produced by the sixty-four squares of a chess-board, if for
the first we reckoned one, for the next, two; for the third,
four; and so went on doubling to the end of the account.

v. 106. Fearless of bruising from the nightly ram.] Not
injured, like the productions of our spring, by the influence of
autumn, when the constellation Aries rises at sunset.

v. 110. Dominations.]
Hear all ye angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, domination's, princedoms, virtues, powers.
Milton, P. L. b. v. 601.

v. 119. Dionysius.] The Areopagite, in his book De Caelesti

v. 124. Gregory.] Gregory the Great. "Novem vero angelorum
ordines diximus, quia videlicet esse, testante sacro eloquio,
scimus: Angelos, archangelos, virtutes, potestates, principatus,
dominationae, thronos, cherubin atque seraphin." Divi Gregorii,
Hom. xxxiv. f. 125. ed. Par. 1518. fol.

v. 126. He had learnt.] Dionysius, he says, had learnt from St.
Paul. It is almost unnecessary to add, that the book, above
referred to, which goes under his name, was the production of a
later age.


v. 1. No longer.] As short a space, as the sun and moon are in
changing hemispheres, when they are opposite to one another, the
one under the sign of Aries, and the other under that of Libra,
and both hang for a moment, noised as it were in the hand of the

v. 22. For, not in process of before or aft.] There was neither
"before nor after," no distinction, that is, of time, till the
creation of the world.

v. 30. His threefold operation.] He seems to mean that
spiritual beings, brute matter, and the intermediate part of the
creation, which participates both of spirit and matter, were
produced at once.

v. 38. On Jerome's pages.] St. Jerome had described the angels
as created before the rest of the universe: an opinion which
Thomas Aquinas controverted; and the latter, as Dante thinks,
had Scripture on his side.

v. 51. Pent.] See Hell, Canto XXXIV. 105.

v. 111. Of Bindi and of Lapi.] Common names of men at Florence

v. 112. The sheep.] So Milton, Lycidas.
The hungry sheep look up and are not fed,
But, swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly.

v. 121. The preacher.] Thus Cowper, Task, b. ii.

'Tis pitiful
To court a grin, when you should woo a soul, &c.

v. 131. Saint Anthony.
Fattens with this his swine.]
On the sale of these blessings, the brothers of St. Anthony
supported themselves and their paramours. From behind the swine
of St. Anthony, our Poet levels a blow at the object of his
inveterate enmity, Boniface VIII, from whom, "in 1297, they
obtained the dignity and privileges of an independent
congregation." See Mosheim's Eccles. History in Dr. Maclaine's
Translation, v. ii. cent. xi. p. 2. c. 2. - 28.

v. 140. Daniel.] "Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." Dan. c. vii.


v. 1. Six thousand miles.] He compares the vanishing of the
vision to the fading away of the stars at dawn, when it is
noon-day six thousand miles off, and the shadow, formed by the
earth over the part of it inhabited by the Poet, is about to

v. 13. Engirt.] " ppearing to be encompassed by these angelic
bands, which are in reality encompassed by it."

v. 18. This turn.] Questa vice.
Hence perhaps Milton, P. L. b. viii. 491.
This turn hath made amends.

v. 39. Forth.] From the ninth sphere to the empyrean, which is
more light.

v. 44. Either mighty host.] Of angels, that remained faithful,
and of beatified souls, the latter in that form which they will
have at the last day.
v. 61. Light flowing.] "And he showed me a pure river of water
of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God
and of the Lamb." Rev. cxxii. I.

--underneath a bright sea flow'd
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl.
Milton, P. L. b. iii. 518.

v. 80. Shadowy of the truth.]
Son di lor vero ombriferi prefazii.
So Mr. Coleridge, in his Religious Musings, v. 406.
Life is a vision shadowy of truth.

v. 88. --the eves
Of mine eyelids.]
Thus Shakespeare calls the eyelids "penthouse lids." Macbeth, a,
1. s, 3.

v. 108. As some cliff.]
A lake
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crown'd
Her crystal mirror holds.
Milton, P. L. b. iv. 263.

v. 118. My view with ease.]
Far and wide his eye commands
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade, But all sunshine.
Milton, P. l. b. iii. 616.

v. 135. Of the great Harry.] The Emperor Henry VII, who died in

v. 141. He.] Pope Clement V. See Canto XXVII. 53.

v. 145. Alagna's priest.] Pope Boniface VIII. Hell, Canto XIX.



v. 6. Bees.] Compare Homer, Iliad, ii. 87. Virg. Aen. I. 430,
and Milton, P. L. b. 1. 768.

v. 29. Helice.] Callisto, and her son Arcas, changed into the
constellations of the Greater Bear and Arctophylax, or Bootes.
See Ovid, Met. l. ii. fab. v. vi.

v. 93. Bernard.] St. Bernard, the venerable abbot of Clairvaux,
and the great promoter of the second crusade, who died A.D. 1153,
in his sixty-third year. His sermons are called by Henault,
"chefs~d'oeuvres de sentiment et de force." Abrege Chron. de
l'Hist. de Fr. 1145. They have even been preferred to al1 the
productions of the ancients, and the author has been termed the
last of the fathers of the church. It is uncertain whether they
were not delivered originally in the French tongue.

That the part he acts in the present Poem should be assigned to
him. appears somewhat remarkable, when we consider that he
severely censured the new festival established in honour of the
Immaculate Conception of the virgin, and opposed the doctrine
itself with the greatest vigour, as it supposed her being
honoured with a privilegewhich belonged to Christ Alone Dr.
Maclaine's Mosheim, v. iii. cent. xii. p. ii. c. 3 - 19.

v. 95. Our Veronica ] The holy handkerchief, then preserved at
Rome, on which the countenance of our Saviour was supposed to
have been imprest.

v. 101. Him.] St. Bernard.

v. 108. The queen.] The Virgin Mary.

v. 119. Oriflamb.] Menage on this word quotes the Roman des
-Iignages of Guillaume Ghyart.
Oriflamme est une banniere
De cendal roujoyant et simple
Sans portraiture d'autre affaire,


v. 3. She.] Eve.

v. 8. Ancestress.] Ruth, the ancestress of David.

v. 60. In holy scripture.] Gen. c. xxv. 22.
v. 123. Lucia.] See Hell, Canto II. 97.


v. 63. The Sybil's sentence.] Virg. Aen. iii. 445.

v. 89. One moment.] "A moment seems to me more tedious, than
five-and-twenty ages would have appeared to the Argonauts, when
they had resolved on their expedition.

v. 92. Argo's shadow]
Quae simul ac rostro ventosnm proscidit aequor,
Tortaque remigio spumis incanduit unda,
Emersere feri candenti e gurgite vultus
Aequoreae monstrum Nereides admirantes.
Catullus, De Nupt. Pel. et Thet. 15.

v. 109. Three orbs of triple hue, clipt in one bound.] The

v. 118. That circling.] The second of the circles, "Light of
Light," in which he dimly beheld the mystery of the incarnation.


Back to Full Books