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" The Poet in a golden clime was born, 
With golden stars above, 
Dowered with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn. 
The love of love." 


" At the Round Table of King Arthur there was left always one seat vacant for 
liim who should accomplish the adventure of the Holy Grail. It was called the 
' perilous seat,' because of the dangers be must encounter who would win it. In che 
company of the Epic poets there was a place left for whoever should embody the 
Christian idea of a triumphant life, outwardly all defeat, inwardly victorious, who 
should make us partakers of that cup of sorrow in which all are communicants with 
Christ. He who should do this would indeed achieve the 'perilous seat,' for he must 
combine poesy with doctrine in such cunning wise, that one lose not its beauty nor 
the other its severity — and Dante has done it. " 



AT RAVSllirNrA AJ5.1321. 

"Vincent Broofen Dav"& Son,!!!!.. 

UJXi^ 1 


By E i.UMr 


15 & i6 'i 








fSSitfj i^otcs Cssags antJ a ISiosrapfjtcal Cntrotrnctfon 



' Ergo vivida vis animi pervicit, et extra 
Processit longe flammantia moenia mundi. 
Lucret. i. 72 

Vol. II. 


Wm. ISBISTER Limited 



[Second Edition] 

Saflantgne ptetra 









XLbis iDolumc, 






To bear the burden of an Empire's care, 
The ruler of a people proud and free, 
This was the New Life, Lady, given to thee, 

When yet the dawn of youth was gleaming fair. 

Then came a Newer Life, more rich and rare, 
Soul knit with sovd, abiding unity, 
The open page where all the world might see 

The pattern of a bliss beyond compare. 

Then through the vale of shadows thou wast led. 
Bearing thy Cross, though wearer of a Crown : 

Men might have deemed that hope and joy had fled, 
That thou must walk alway with eyes cast down. 

Lo ! yet a New Life waits thee ere the night : 

Calm and serene, at eventide 'tis light. 


The appearance of this volume has been delayed by illness 
and by some grave anxieties. The kindness of the friends 
who have helped me in seeing it through the press has, I hope, 
been a sufficient safeguard against the imperfections which 
might otherwise have resulted from these causes. Among 
those friends I have, as before, to tender my special thanks 
to Mr. J. A. Picton, M.P., the Eev. H. W. Pereira, and 
Colonel Gillum for many valuable suggestions, and to add 
to their names, as regards the present volume, those of Mr. 
G. J. Pickering, and Dr. R. Garnett of the British Museum. 
For valuable help given in connexion with special points 
I have to thank Cardinal Planning and Father William 
Lockhart, ^Ir. H. J. S. Cotton, Mr. Ernest Newton, Mr. 
Pteginald Barratt. I wish also to make a grateful acknow- 
ledgment of the loving labour of Mr. Pereira in the prepara- 
tion of the Indices of both volumes, which add in no small 
measure to the completeness of tlie work. 

In translating the Minor Poems, I have thought it best to 
follow the order of Fraticelli's edition, as being at least an 
attempt at the chronological arrangement which throws most 
light on Dante's life and character, and have, with one or 
two exceptions, confined myself to those which he has 
received as genuine. My limits have not allowed me to 
discuss in detail the arguments for or against the authenti- 

viii PREFACE. 

city of the poems not in Fraticelli's text, which Witte has 
admitted into his collection. I have so far yielded to the 
authority of tradition as to include the Metrical Paraphrase 
of the Creed, the Decalogue, and the Lord's Prayer that have 
been ascribed to Dante. The Eclogues which passed between 
the poet and his friend Joannes de Virgilio appear, I be- 
lieve, for the first time in an English version. I have ven- 
tured on giving " headings " to the Sonnets and Canzoni as 
indicating their leading thoughts. 

Want of space has hindered me, even after the most 
liberal allowance on the part of the publishers, from fully 
carrying out the programme of Dante Studies announced in 
the first volume. Those which now appear will, I hope, be 
found of some interest. The others must wait for a more 
or less distant opportunity, or, more probably, be left to 
other hands. 

I have no reason, on the whole, to complain of the recep- 
tion which my work has so far met with at the hands of its 
critics. It is not my intention to convert my preface into an 
apologia, discussing the points which they have raised, either 
as to my translation or my biography, and I am content to 
endeavour to profit, as I best may, alike by their praise or 
blame. A translator of Dante has spent his labour in vain 
if he has not learnt to say Lascia dir le genti. 

E. H. P. 

Oct. 2oth, 1887. 


I. Dedicatory Sonnet v 

II. Preface vii 



I. Invocation — Ascent to the First Heaven — The Poet's Trans- 
figuration I 

II. The Heaven of the Moon — Theories of its Spots ... 7 

III. Diversity of Rewards — Unity of Blessedness— The Souls 

■who have not Kept their Vows — Piccarda — Constance . i3 

IV. The Poet's Questions — Do Souls Return to the Stars? — Free- 

will and Force as Factors in Broken Vows . . .18 
v. The Doctrine of Dispensations — The Second Heaven, of 

INIercury — The Love of Fame 23 

VI. Justinian — The Flight of the Roman Eagle — The Pilgrim 

Romeo 29 

VII. Dogmas — The Sin of Adam— The Incarnation— The Cor- 
ruptible and Incorruptible 35 

VIII. The Third Heaven, of Venus— Charles Martel of Hungary 

— Eternal Providence — Diversities of Gifts ... 40 
IX. The Lovers in the Heaven of Venus — Cunizza — Folco of 

^Marseilles — Rahab 46 

X. The Fourth Heaven, of the Sun— The Theologians— Albert 

of Cologne—Thomas Aquinas, and others • • • 53 

XI. Life of St. Francis of Assisi, as told by Thomas Aquinas . 60 

XII. The Life of St. Dominic as told by St. Bonaventura . . 65 

XIII. The Jlysteries of Human Birth and of the Incarnation — 

The "Wisdom of Solomon 72 

XIV. The Fifth Heaven, of Mar-s— The Starry Cross— The Souls 

of Martyrs and Crusaders 78 

XV. Cacciaguida'— The Good Old Times of Florence ... 83 
XVI. Cacciaguida's History of the Greatness and Fall of 

Florence 89 

XVII. Cacciaguida's Prophecy of Dante's Exile— Can Grande 

della Scala 97 

XVIII. The Sixth Heaven, of Jupiter— The Souls of Righteous 

Kings— The Starry Eagle 103 



XIX. The Eagle on the Conditions of Salvation— Tlie Hope 

of the Heathen — Condemnation of Unrighteous Kings loS 
XX. The Eagle's Praises of Righteous Kings— William the 

Good — Khipeus— Trajan 115 

XXI. Tiie Seventh Heaven, of Saturn — The Star-Ladder of 

Contemplation — St. Peter Damian . . . .121 
XXII. St. Benedict's Lamentations over his Order — Dante in 
Gemini — The Backward Look from the Eighth 
Heaven, of the Fixed Stars 126 

XXIII. The Stars of the Triumph of Clirist — The Rose and the 

Lilies — The Hymn " Rogina Cceli " . . . -132 

XXIV. St. Peter Examines Dante ;is to Faith — Trinity in Unity . 137 
XXV. St. James Examines Dante as to Hope .... 144 

XXVI. St. John Examines Dante as to Love — The Soul of Adam 149 
XXVII. St. Peter on his Corrupt Successors — The Ascent to the 

Primum jNIobile — The Evil of the Times . . .155 
XXVIII. The Central Sun — The Hierarchy of Angels in Concentric 

Circles 161 

XXIX. Beatrice on the Creation and Fall of Angels, and on the 

Faults and Follies of Preachers 167 

XXX. The Tenth Heaven — The Emjiyrean — Beatrice in Glory 
— The River of Light — The Flowers and the Sparks 
of Paradise — The Eternal Rose — Henry of Luxem- 
burg 173 

XXXI. The Rose of Heaven — St. Bernard takes the place of 

Beatrice 179 

XXXII. The Saints in the Rose of Heaven— St. John Baptist, 

Rachel, Beatrice, Lucia, and others . . . .185 
XXXIII. St. Bernard's Prayer to the Blessed Virgin— The Beatific 
Vision of the Eternal Trinity and the Word nuule 
Flesh 191 


SoMNET I. The First Vision of Love 199 

,, II. What might have been 200 

Ballata I. " De Profundis " 201 

Sonnet III. Death of Beatrice's Friend (i) 202 

Ballata II. Death of Beatrice's Friend (2) 203 

Sonnet IV. Love as Pilgrim 204 

,, V. Separation 205 

Canzone I. The Lover's Plea for Pity 205 

Ballata III. Eyes Dim Avith Sorrow 208 

„ IV. "Apologia pro Vita Sua" 209 

Sonnet VI. Inner Conflict 210 

VII. Transformation 211 





















































, J 






















Sonnet XXXIII. 






Sonnet XXXVI. 








Drunk, but not with Wine . 

" Nee Morbos, nee Kemedia Pati Pos: 

Laudes Bcatricis . 


The Birth of Love 

Beatrice's Salutation . 

Beatrice's Sorrow (i) . 

Beatrice's Sorrow (2) . 

Tlie Company of Mourners 

What Tidings of Beatrice ? 

Forebodings . 

Giovanna and Beatrice 

" Beatrice, God's True Praise " 

Tiie Beauty of Holiness 

All Saints' Day, 1289 . 

Dawning of New Hope 

Credentials Withdrawn 

Repulsion and Attraction 

The Moth and the Candle 

" The Fear of Death is Fallen upon Me 

Sighs for Beatrice's Greeting 

Beatrice in Paradise 

Grief too Deep for Tears 

Beatrice witli the Angels 

A Year After 

The Relief of Tears 

Sorrow Finding Sympathy 

The Wanderings of the Eyes 

Pity Akin to Love 

Sighs and Thoughts 

Pilgrims in Florence 

Beatrice Transfigured . 

Pain of Separation 

The Lover's Threats 

The Lover's Anathema 

Ignorance in Asking . 


The Garland . 

Love's Sovereignty 

The Envoj^'s Instructions 

For Others' Sake . 

Terrible in Beauty 

Beautiful and Pitiless . 

A Cry for Help 

Disappointment . 

Stellar Influences . 

The Scorn of Scorn 

Similitudes of Love 














Sestina II. Similitudes of Love 263 

„ III. Similitudes of Love ....... 264 

Canzone X. Hard as a Rock 265 

„ XI. Wiuter . 268 

„ XII. Return of Spring 270 

„ XIII. Love's Service 273 

„ XIV. The Angels of the Third Heaven . . , .277 

„ XV. The ]\Iiracle of Beauty 279 

XVI. True Nobility 282 

XVII. Virtus Sola Nobilitas 288 

„ XVIII. Freedom and Bondage 292 

XIX. The Three Exiles 297 

„ XX. Laudes Florentise 301 

Sonnet XL. Friendly Warning 304 

,, XLI. Quis Locus Ingenio ? 305 

,, XLII. Rivals or Partners 305 

,, XLIII. Fair but Cruel . 306 

„ XLIV. Faith and Unfaith 307 

Ballata XI. The Beatific Vision 308 

„ XII. Spring-tide Joy 308 

Sonnet XLV. What is Love ? 310 

„ XLVI. Spring after Winter 311 

„ XLVIL Gold Tried in the Fire 312 

„ XLVIII. Ad Misericordiam 312 

„ XLIX. Strength in Weakness 313 

Canzone XXI. In Memoriam 314 

Dante's Confession of Faith . . . . . . . .318 

Credo 318 

Sacramenta 321 

Decalogus 323 

Septem Peccata Mortalia 324 

Paternoster , . . 324 

Ave Maria 325 


I. Johannes de Virgilio to Dante Alighieri . , , , . 326 

II. Dante Alighieri to Johannes de Virgilio 329 

III. Johannes de Virgilio to Dante Alighieri ..... 333 

IV. Dante Alighieri to Johannes de Virgilio . . . .337 

I. The Genesis and Growth of the " Commedia." . » . . 345 

Part I. Hell 365 

„ II. Purgatory 374 

„ III. Paradise 394 


II. Estimates, Contemporary and Later 409 

Part I. Contemporary 409 

XL England 424 

ni. Italy 431 

IV. England 437 

V. France 466 

VI. Germany 4S0 

VII. America 496 

III. Dante as an Observer and Traveller 504 

IV. Portraits of Dante 529 

L'Envoi . 533 

Index of Subjects and Names 535 

Index of First Lines of the Minor Poems (Italian and Latin) , 555 

Index of First Lines of the ISIinor Poems (Translation) . . . 557 

Index of Scripture Texts 559 




VOL. I. 

Page xxiii, V., and page 199, for " Buon Conte," read " Buonconte," 

„ xliv, line 29, and xlv, line 2. Both dates, 1274 and 1279, should be 

followed by ( ? ). 

,, Ivi, line 5 from foot, for " Danfcs thcologus," read " Theologus Dantes." 

„ lix, line 18, after " O.M." insert " III," 

„ xcii, line 4 from foot, for "25th," read "27th." 

,, xcviii, line 10, for " Xovember 7," read "November 27." 

„ cxiii, note, line 2, for " 1814," read " 1314." 

,, cxix, line 13, for " auto de fe," read " auto da f^." 

,, 15, line 5 from foot, for " 1410," read " 1310." 

„ 23, line 3 from foot, for " Heracletus," read "Heracleitus." 

„ 26, line 23, for " framed," read " owned." 

„ 12^, line 3 from foot, for " Vulg." read " Vnlg." 

,, 128, last line, for " Commentators," read " Commedia." 

„ 142, last line, for " Angiolello," read " Angioletto." 

,, 167, line 32, for "Guarlandi," read "Gualandi." 

„ 177, line 9 from foot, "for "noon," read "morn." 

„ 190, line 10, for "he," read "be." 

,, 192, line 4 from foot, for "back," read " beck." 

,, 193, note on 1 15, for " Arragon," read " Aragon." 

., 216, note on 112, for "Nov. 20," read "March 30." 

„ 221, line 7 from foot. " InEridanus," read "and;" and for "Meridian," 

read " Eridanus." 

„ 232, line 17, dele "to." 

,, 253, line 9, for "da Calboli," read "de' Calboli." 

,, 256, line 13. for "coming," read "grievous." 

„ 270, note on line 97, "Quid frosunt ..." read '■'■Quid leges, sine 

moribiis, ranee jiroficlunt ? " 

,, 292, line 17, dele " , " after " see." 

„ 296, line 2 from foot, dele " with her shears." 

,, 310, line 20, for "ere," read "e'er." 

„ 318, last note, for " 11," read " 22." 

„ 36S, lines 4-9, substitute the following : 

And Bentrice, breathing many a sigh, 

And sad, in such wise listening stood, her hue 
With iMary's pallor at the cross might vie ; 

But when the others from their song withdrew, 
Then, standing up to speak, aloud cried she, 
And answer made, all fiery red to view : 

„ 372, line 2, read " Those words I hoped my longing thirst would cool." 
„ 372, line 23, after '• meridian" add "bright." 
1. 377. col. 2, dele " Thomas Carlyle, 98." 




Invocation— Ascent to the First Heaven— The Poet's Tmnsfiguralion. 

The glory bright of Him who moveth all 
Doth penetrate the universe, and shine, 
In one part more, while less doth elsewhere fall. 

I to that Heaven v/hich most His light divine 

Receives, had come, and saw things which to tell s 

Lack power and skill who pass to lower line ; 

Because, the closer comes our mind to dwell 
With that it longs for, it so deep doth go, 
That memory faileth to renew the spell. 

Yet all I could in my mind's treasure stow i" 

Of that high realm of perfect holiness, 
In this my song shall now its subject know. 

O good Apollo ! these last labours bless, 

And make me such a vessel of thy grace. 

That I thy dear-loved laurel may possess. i5 

1 As indicated in the last lire of Purgatory, the pilgrimage through Paradise is a journcv 
through the starry heavens, as they were conceived in the Ptolemaic system. The can h 
i< the centre of the universe, and the nine spheres (answering to the circles of Hell jxni 
Purgatory) are those of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, ihe tixed 
Stars, and the Prinnnn Mobile. Beyond all these, in we may call the Christian addi- 
tion to Ptolemy's astronomy, is the Empyrean Heaven, the dwelling-place of God, and the 
real abode of the blessed ones, who yet manifest themselves, according to their characters and 
degrees of bliss, in the lower spheres. The poem opens with what is, in fact, a remin scence 
of its close. He had been in that Empyrean (I. 4), and, like St. Paul in Paradise (2 C^r. .xii. 
2-4 ; I Cor. ii. 9), had seen what surpassed human speech (Com: ii. 4 ; £/>■ to C. G. c. 24;. 
All that he can do is to retrace his journey thither, as far as his powers allowed him. 

13 The poet had invoked the Muses in H. ii. 7, x.\.xii. 10, and again, specially Calliope, 
in Purg. i. 9. Now he turns from them to their Lord and Master, the source of all hght 
and inspiration, Apollo being for him the symbol of divine illumination, as the somm^ 
Giove" o{ Purg. vi. 118 had been of the sovereignty of the Christ. 

15 Possibly an aspiration, like that of 1. 26 and C. xxv. 9, after the outward honours of the 


So far one peak that crowns Parnassus' face 

"Was found enough, but now, with aids from twain, 
I needs must enter the ring's vacant space. 

Oh, enter then my breast, and breathe again, 

As when poor Marsyas' carcase thou didst skin, 20 

And strip the sheath which did his limbs contain. 

O Power Divine ! if I such grace may win, 
That I the shadow of the Kingdom blest 
Should now make known, thus stamped my brain within, 

Thou shalt see me by thy loved laurel rest, 25 

And with those leaves I then shall crown my head, 
Eoth through my theme, and thee, owned worthiest. 

So seldom, Father, are they gathered 

For Caesar's triumph or for poet's brow, 

(0 sin and shame in human natures bred !), so 

That joy from the Peneian leaf should flow 
To the all-joyous Delphic deity, 
"When any eager for its wreath doth grow. 

A little spark will make the flame rise high, 

And after me, perchance, with tones more sweet, S5 

One will so pray that Cirrha may reply. 

16 Of the two summits of Parnnssus {Met. i. 316), one was sacred to Bacchus and the Muses, 
the other to Apollo himself {Luc. v. 73). S. T. Coleridge (MS. note in Gary's Dante in 
Brit. Mus.)finds a mystic meaning in the passage. " In other words, the poet says : Hitherto 
the poet and the moralist have sufficed, but henceforward the philosopher must be added. 
But how? Hie labor est. Both the powers of the intellect, the discursive sensuous and the 
rational supersensuous, must unite at their summits." 

-'0 The thought which lies on the surface is that Dante thinks of his critics with something 
of the same divine "scorn of scorn" which Apollo showed for Marsyas. A striking but 
perhaps over-subtiC thought is suggested by S. T. Coleridge, as before, in a MS. note in 
Cary. " Dante asks for an evacuation or exinanition of all self in him, like the unsheathing 
of Marsyas, that so he may become a mere vessel or wine-skin of the Deity." 

28 Apollo is addressed as the f.ither of all true poets. The complaint is that neither the 
Emperors nor the poets of his time were worthy of the laurel crown, 'i heir failure was the 
guilt and shame of human wills. The lines, if written after the failure of Henry VII. 's enter- 
prise, may be Dante's protest against the stiff-necked generation who would not recognise 
either their true Emperor or their true poet. 

33 Daphne (= the laurel) wa> the daughter of Peneus {Met. i. 452-476). Her tree ought 
to gladden the Delphic deity with fresh foliage when any one was found to aspire (as Dauic 
liimself was now aspiring) to the true ideal of poetry. Comp. Purg. xxiv. 49-62. 

3* The comparison appears also in Conv. iii. i. Is the humility real or feigned? Did 
Dante think of himself as only leading the way to a higher school of poetry in the future 
than had obtained in the past? Did he think that better voices than his own would ask for 
the highest inspiration witii a greater prospect of success ? That view seems to me, on the 
whole, the truest? i he thought expressed is that of one who, while conscious of great 
gifts, which, as in H. iv. 100, placed him on a level with the great poets of the world, and 
above all his contemporaries, feels that he has fallen "on evil tongues and evil days," and 
fails therefore to attain his own ideal. That consciousness of failure is, one might almost say, 
the note of the supreme artist. Cirrha is identified by Dante with Delphi, and so with Apollo. 


At different points our mortal gaze doth greet 

The world's great lamp, but at that point where we 
Four circles, with three crosses blending, meet, 

With happier course and happier stars we see 
It issue, and the wax of this our earth 
Fashion and mould in more complete degree. 

On this side noon, that midnight, neared their birth ; 
And wholly bright was all one hemisphere, 
The other swatlied in gloom through all its girth, 

"Wlien to the left I looked, beholding there 
jNIy Beatrice, turned to see the sun ; 
Never did eagle's glance so fixed appear. 

And as a second ray is wont to run 

Forth from the first, and reascend on high. 
Like pilgrim turning when his course is done, 

So from her act, upon my phantasy 

Through sight impressed, my own its biith did take. 
And on the sun fixed unaccustomed eye. 

There much may be that here the law would break 

Which our sense limits, thanks to that high place, 
Fashioned that there mankind their home miglit make. 

37-42 Matilda and Statiusdisaprear from the scene, and the poet is alone with Beatrice. It 
IS the dawn of the diy, and the time is defined astronomically, alter Dante's manner, as that 
when the three circle--, the equator, the ecliptic, and the equinoctial cnlure meet, forming 
three crosses with the horizon, i.e., when the sun is in Aries, as in //. i. 3S-40, with all its 
memories of the Creation, Incarnation, and Crucifixion, and its supposed beneficent influences 
on plants, animals, and men. Readers will note the recurrence of the "seal aiui wax" 
imagery of Purg. xxxiii 79. 

■M The word quasi is added because it was not precisely the equinox. A i'. I. connects it, 
however, with tutto. 

^5 Morning, or mid day {Purg. xxxiii. 104), in the hemisphere of Purgatory, night in that 
of earth. Dante writes from his standpoint as a mortal man, not from that of the vision. 

4^ The comparison reminds one of the hymn of Adam of St. Victor on the Evangelists, 
speaking of St. John — 

" Volat avis sine met a. 
Quo nee vates nee prof^heta 
Evolavit altius ; " 

and suggests that here too there is a mystic, or at least a moral, meaning. Divine Wisdom 
^azes upon the sun as the symbol of the Uncreated Light. The soul, purified and 
strengthened, turns to the same source of illumination. Ihe ray passes from the sun to the 
eye of Beatrice, then to that of Dante, then, as a pilgrim to its home, turns to the sun again. 
Was there, mingling with the mysticism, a memory of the eyes of the personal Beatrice? 
Had Dante prepared himself for the Paradise by a special study, fuller than before, both of 
optics and astronomy? The facts that will meet us (C. ii. 64-148, xxii. 133-154, xxv. 100, 
xxix. 1-6) lead me to answer the latter question in the affirmative (vol. i. p. xcii.) The moment 
described is that selected by Ary Scheffer in his picture of " Dante and Beatrice," now in the 
possession of Mr. Perrins of Great Malvern. 

55-57 The region made for the human race is the Earthly Paradise. There the soul gains 
new powers, and can gaze on what before it shrank from. 


2^ot long I Lore it, nor for such short space 

But that I saw the sparks fly all around, 

As molten iron from furnace flows apace. 6o 

And suddenly it seemed as day were found 

Added to day, as though the Omnipotent 

AVith yet another sun the heaven had crowned. 
And Beatrice, with her whole gaze bent 

On the eternal spheres, stood still, and then 65 

I, with my glance down-turned and eyes intent, 
In gazing on her, felt within as when 

Glaucos of old of that strange herb did eat, 

\ATiich with the sea-gods made him denizen. 
To paint that life transhumanised unmeet 7o 

Were any words : this instance may suffice 

Him for whom Grace keeps that experience sweet. 
If I was then all Thou did'st last devise 

In Thy creative work, Supremest Love, 

Thou know'st, Who with Tliy light did'st bid me rise. 75 
When that high sphere Thou dost for ever move 

With strong desire, my thoughts towards it drew 

By music Thou dost temper and approve. 
It seemed as though the sky so fiery grew 

With the sun's flame, that never rain nor flood so 

A lake across a wider surface threw. 

58 With a subtle adroitness Dante does not describe his ascent. All that he is conscious 
of is that the sun p ows more and more, sparkling lilie moltun iron. The light is that ol iwo 
suns (comp. /sai. xxx. 26). He is, in the cosmology of the time, in the sphere of fire which 
revolved between the earth and the moon. Beatrice ■^till gazes on the heavens, but his gaze, 
-hrinkiiig Irom the brightness, turns to her. And with that gaze there comes something hke 
aa apotheo>is, or at least a transiijuraiion, of his human nature. The story of Glaucos, who, 
as he tasted of the plant that grew on tne sea-shore, was changed into a seasod {Met. v. 
930), comes into his mind as a parabie of his own transformation. The wind ''trans- 
humanise" — to pass fiom the human to the divine — which Dante coins for the purpose, 
reminds us that we are in the scholastic period of language, which condensed a great dognia 
into the one word Transubstantiation. Such a change could not be told in words ; it niiglu 
be apprehended by those who had a like experience. 

"4 The Love which rules the heavens— the phrase comes from Brctli. ii. 8, 15, " Calo 
imperitans Amor" — is identified in C. xxxiii. 145 with God the Creator. 

'B 'Jhe thought is that given more fully in Coiw. ii 4, Ef>. to C. G c. r6, that the 
Pritniiin Mobile moves with an immeasurable velocity in its d-rsire to unite itself with the 
Empyrean in its eternal rest, as the dwelling-place of God. Coleridge (MS. note tit ■ni'ira 
in note on 1. 1£) translates " Dost sempiternalise as thing desired," as agauist Gary's " Wnich 
Thou dost ever guide, desired Spirii ; " but his rendering leaves it uuc.rtain whether the 
"thing desired " is God or the sphere that He makes eternal. 

7" The Pythagorean and Ph.touic thought of the music of the spheres (C. vi. 126 ; Pur^. 
xxx. 93) was probably learnt from Cic. Soiiin. Sci/>. c. 5, where the eight spheres are 
represented as forming a complete musical octave. With this music sounding in his ears, the 
pilgrim's eyes are met by a great .sea of fire which flows around him. He has passed xha 


The strange new sounds and wondrous liglit imbued 
My soul with such desire the cause to know, 
As never until then had stirred my blood. 

And she who, as I saw myself, e'en so 85 

Saw me, to set my troubled soul at rest. 
Spake ere I spake, and from her mouth did flow 

These words : " Thyself art by thyself opprest 

With false conceptions, that thou canst not see 

What thou would'st see, could'st thou their course arrest. 90 

Thou art not on the earth, as seems to thee ; 
But lightning, fleeing from its proper seat, 
Ne'er moved as thou, who back to thine dost flee." 

Tf my first doubt I thus beheld retreat, 

Through those few words which, as she smiled them, sped, 
Within a new net tangled were my feet : 9<i 

And thus I spake : " Awhile my wonder fled, 
And I had rest, but now I marvel why 
Above these bodies light I nimbly tread." 

And she, first breathing out a pitying sigh, io» 

Turned her full gaze, with such a look on me, 
As mother on her boy's insanity ; 

AnrI thus began : "A law of order due 

Have all things 'mong themselves ; a unity 

That makes the world to God bear likeness true. 103 

fiammanfta mcrma mund! iLiicret. i. 7'^). He asks in his wonder, " How can these things 
lie?" The an-wer reveals the truth. He has, without knowing it, left the earth and is in 
ths sphere of fire. 

92 Li^htnin? leaves its own resion. the sphere of fire; the soul returns to its heavenly 
birthplace, the object of its desire- (Piirg. .xvi. S5-90 ; Conv. iv. 18), and therefore, when 
freed from the hindrance of sin, with an infinitely greater velocity. Comp. 11. 137-142. 

»5 The ^race of the original " snrrise pnrohtte " is almost or altogether untranslatable. 
The new wonder is how he m mortal flesh can rise into the higher spheres. Is the law 
of gravitat'on suspended? 

102 Another study of child-nature. A reminiscence of early home-days brings tefoj'.e ^'™ 
the picture of a mother watching over a sick child in tlie delirium of fever Did the 
marvellous precocity of which F. M c. i tells us affect for a time the boy's brain? Did the 
poet remember his own mother's anxious tenderness at that time ? 

103-lo.'j The words are an echo uf Aquinas. There is a twofold order in the univer-e— one 
that which determines the relation of the parts to each other ; tiie other that which determines 
the relation of the whole to God. The universe, finding thus its centre in God, so tar 
resembles God, who is a centre to Himself (Sutitiii. i. 21. i, 47. 3. io3- 4 ) Conip. yl/y«. i. 
6. and Hooker, E. P. i. 3, 4. For those who cannot read Aquinas I recommend the study 
of the fir>t book of Hooker a- the best training for understandinj the Pnradiso. _ Here, e.g., 
hi^ word< are almost as a quotation : " Things natural . . . observe their certain . . . 
and, ss long as they keep iho<e forms which give them their beins, . • • cannot be apt to do 
. . . otherwise than they do." 


The higher creatures liere the impress see 

Of that Eternal Power, which is the end 
Whereto that self-same law must subject be. 

And in that order things diversely tend, 

Some more, some less, according to their kind, no 

In nearness to the Source whence they descend. 

To diverse ports their several ways they wind 
O'er the great sea of Being, and each one. 
With impulse given to seek the part assigned. 

This beareth fire on high towards the moon; us 

This is in mortal hearts the motive spring ; 
By this the earth its form compact hath won. 

Kor only doth this bow from oif its string 

Shoot forth the things without intelligence. 

But those who with them Love and Reason bring. 120 

That which thus orders all things, Providence, 

Doth with its light the heaven keep ever still, 
Wherein that turns whose speed is most immense ; 

And thither now, as to site fixed by Will, 

That bow-string's power mysterious bears us on, 125 

Which at glad mark to aim its darts hath skill. 

True is it that, as oft accord is none 

Between the form and purpose of an art. 
Through the brute matter that we work upon, 

106 " Here" refers not to the sphere of flame, but the order of the universe. The higher 
cre.itures are those, men on earth or in HeHVen, or angels, who have the power to discern 
that order, and to trace the vestiges of the Creator, as the Will which appoints the end to 
which all is subservient (Frov. xvi. 4; Siiiniit. i. 44. 4J. And the creatures severally, 
according to their relative nearness to God, tend in a stream of being, which in intelligent 
creatures ripens into volition, to that centre. All are seen moving on the "great sea" 01 
existence, and so for man even death brings him, if he has been true to the law of his 
being, to the "haven where he would be" {Conv. iv. 28 ; Suinm. ii. q. 102. 2). 

1'5 Fire rises — so taught medieval physics — towards the moon, as seeking its own home 
in the sphere of fire which lies above the air. And, with an anticipation of later thoughts, 
scientific and religious, Dante finds the same law working, as throughout the material uni- 
verse, so in the wills of men (Hooker, E. P. i. 5, i, 2). 

121 The "quiet heaven" is the Empyrean, within which the Primtnn Mobile revolves 
(Conv. ii. 4). 

124 The ascent of Beatrice and Dante had then been an illustration of the universal law. 
Thtry gravitated iif-ivards. One notes, though there is no evidence that he studied Dante, 
ihe parallelism of Keble's Christian Year : 

" Heaven will o'ercome the attraction of my birth, 
And I .shall sink in yonder sea of light." — Tivelfth Sunday after Trinity. 

127 The thought is almost a commonplace of the schools. Art requires (i) the mind 
of the artist ; (2) an idea conceived by him as an end ; (3) material to work on. Defects in 
either lead to incompleteness (Mon. ii. 2; Conv. ii. i ; Suinm. i. 15. i, 17. i). So in the 
moral and material universe there are exceptions to the law. The creature's freedom may 
deviate from the path which leads to its final good ; the fire may fall from the cloud, con- 


So from this course too often doth depart iso 

The creature, which retaineth yet the power, 
Though thus impelled, on other lines to start, — 
Even as one may see, when tempests lower, 
Fire from the clouds fall— if first impulse true 
To earth is drawn by false joy of the hour. 135 

Nor, if I judge well, is more wonder due 
To thy ascent than to a rivulet, 
Which from a high mount flows the low vale through. 

Wonder it would be if, with nought to let 

Or hinder, thou wert seated still below, i« 

As if on earth swift flame should linger yet." 

And then once more her gaze did heavenward go. 

CANTO 11. 

The Heaven of the Moon— Theories of its Spots. 

O YE who follow me in little boat 

On this my voyage, eager still to hear. 
Behind my ship that sings as she doth float, 

Turn now and look where yet your shores appear ; 

Into the wide sea put not out, lest ye, 6 

'Me losing, should have not whereby to steer. 

"Where I sail on none yet hath tracked the sea ; 
Breeze doth Minerva give, Apollo lead, 
And Muses nine point out the Bears to me. 

trary to its nature. The error of the free agent is explained, as in Par^. x xx. 1 31, by Ms being 
misled by faUe shnws of good. Dui of the soul in its true state it may be said, as Wilton s 
rebel angels say, " Descent and fall to us is adverse." " You don t wonder _says Beatrice, 
" when a river flows down ; why should it seem strange that man should rise/ 1 he wonder 
and the pity of it is that men are so often willing that it should be other\vise, and Uve Uke 
Milton's Mammon, with "looks downward bent." 

1 A parallel and a contrast to Pwr^. i. 1-3- The poem is no longer a " navicella:' but a ship 
which other boats follow. Like another Gideon (/«^. viL 3), he bids all '"''".'pack except 
the noble few. In words which seem addressed prophetically to those \vho, like \ oltaire 
and Goethe, Leigh Hunt and Savage Landor. have turned av.ay in weariness and distaste 
from the philosophy and theology of the Paradiso, he warns those who have toliowea mm 
hitherto that they had better turn to the shore. He is about to sail on an untried sea- 
Like Lucretius, he treads the " avia Pieridum loca" and passes beyond the hery ramparts 
of the world " (i. 76). 

9 A w. /. gives nurue for nove, " new Muses," but is probably the reading of an "improver " 
on Dante. Had the Muses been "new." we. should have had also ^"^l?ll°^f^r,l'^l 
Apollo. The Bears = Ursa Major and Minor, include the Pole Star as the guide of sailors. 

8 THE HEA VEN OF THE MOON. [par. c ri. 

Ye other few, who stretched your necks indeed lo 

Betimes in seeking for the angels' bread, 
"Whereon, though still unsated, here we feed, 

Through the deep sea your voyage may be sped 
Eight well, if ye will keep my furrowed way 
Upon the water, now more smoothly spread is 

Those heroes old, who sailed where Colclios lay, 
"Wondered not half so much as ye will do, 
"U^hen they a ploughman's part saw Jason play. 

The concreate thirst, which lasts the ages through, 

Of that realm deiform upbore us high, 20 

Swift as the heavens which ye revolving view ; 

And Beatrice upward looked, and I 

'On her ; and, e'en in such time as in air 
The bolt fixed in the cross-bow forth doth fly, 

I saw myself arrived where wonder rare 25 

Drew my gaze on it. Wherefore she — from whom 
I could not hide one thought of anxious care — 

Turned to me in her beauty's joyous bloom. 

*' Eaise thankful heart to God," she said, " who thus 

In the first planet hath for us found room." 30 

It seemed as though a cloud had covered us. 
Translucent, solid, dense, and full of light, 
Like diamond struck by sunbeam glorious ; 

"Within itself that pearl eternal, bright. 

Received us, as a pool receives a ray, ss 

Nor doth its mirror-surface disunite. 

10 The "bread of angels" (Ps. Ixxviii. 25), the manna of the wilderness, is with Dante a 
favourite symbol of the higher wisdom (Conv. \. i). On earth men live by it, but are never 
fully satisfied (Ecclus. xv. 3, xxiv. 21), for we " know in part." Those who have eaten of thai 
bread betimes, and they only, can follow him, and they must take care to keep in his wake. 

16 For the wonder of the Argonauts when tbey saw Jason plowing with a yoke of fire- 
breathing oxen, see Met. iii. 120. Conip. C. xxxiii. g6. 

19 The thirst is perpetual, for the ocean of Wisdom is inexhaustible {Ecclus. xxiv. 29). 
The "deiform" kingdom (C. i. 105) is pre-eminently the Empyrean Heaven. 

21 The ascent is as rapid (i)a^ the motion of the starry heavens, which .nppaient'y revolve 
round the earth in twenty-four hours ; (2) with a more familiar image, as a bolt shot from a 
croasbow ; and it takes them to the sphere of the moon, the first planet of the Ptolemaic 

^ A.V. I. gives ovra for aira without much affecting the sense. 

S^ We note the contrast between the poet's conception of the moon's appearance as a 
diamond on which the sun shines, a lucid "eternal pearl," and that which we find in Milton 
after Galileo's telescope had revolutionised men's tlioughtsof the heavens {P. L. iv. 606-609, 
vi. 12). The term " p-jarl " is applied to Mercury also (C vi. 127). 


If I a body was^and here no way 

We know two solids in one space may fare, 
As needs if body into body stray-^ 

So much the more should strong desire appear lo 

To see that Essence in the which is seen 
How with man's nature God His own can share. 

There shall we see what here by faith hath been 
By us received unproved, but then shall be 
Self-witnessed, as first truths man's credence win. 43 

I made reply : "Dear Lady, gratefully 

With all my soul my thanks to Him I give 
Who from that mortal world hath lifted me : 

But tell me what those dark spots we perceive 

In this same body are, which down below so 

Make common folk the tale of Cain believe." 

She smiled a little, and then said : " If so 

The thoughts of mortals are in error found, 
Where key of sense fails through the wards to go, 

37 A new m:racle presents itself. Dante, with his body subject to the laws of bodies, 
has entered another b idy. Here science pronounced th.nt two bodies could not be in the 
same space at the same Ume(Summ. ;. 67. 2), naturaliter, but only " virtuie Dei" (Siiintn. 
i;i. Suppl. 63. 2-4). 

4* The physical wonder leads on to the thought of the yet greater mystery of the Incarna- 
tion, the "perfect God and perfect Man," two natures in O le Person, as in the language 
of the Creed, with which Dante was fnmiliar, and the teaching of which he reproduces in 
C. xxxiii. Comp. also the Credo ascribed to him. 

*3 " Theri?," is the life eternal. What we now accept in faith, unproved, not as the 
result of deductive or inductive reasoning, but on the authority of Scripture and the Church, 
will then seem to us as an axiom, self-evident as the primal truths which are now thefounaa- 
tion of all reasoning. 1 wili not enter on the discussion whether Dante thought of these as 
known intuitively, or received by an unconscious induction through the senses or by inherited 

*9 The episode strmds on somewhat the same footing as the embrj-ology of Purg. xxv. 
Dante has embraced anew scientific theory, and it has for him an irresisiible fascination. He 
must correct the false theories of others and of his own earlier years. In Conv. ii. 14 he 
had discussed the same question — one of the favourite problems of mediaeval phj'sics — and 
had explained the moon s spots, as he does here (fullowing Averrhoes), as rising from the 
different degrees of density ia the moon's substance, some of the sun's rays penetrating 
farther than others, and therefore reflected wiih a diminished lustre. Now be explains them 
as caused by variations in the formal principle of luminosity. Roger Bacon alone, or ail 
but alone, among the phy-icists of his time, taught with a like confidence the same theor\-. 
The moon's light with him is not reflected, but the proper light of the moon evolved through 
virtue of the sun from the potency of its matter {Op. Tert. c. 37). The coincidence takes its 
place in the list which make it probable that the two thinkers may have met, and that Bacon 
may have been to Dante what Galileo was to Milton (C. R. Drc. i83r). Tnere is, however, 
if I m stake not, here also, as in Pttrg. xxv., a dogmatic bearing underlying the apparently 
physical discussion which gives it a new significance. The text of the "two great lights" 
(Gen. i. i5) was the favourite argument of the Popes who claimed authority over the Empire. 
The sun and the moon were symbols of the Church and the State, and the moon derived its 
light from the sun. " Xo," is Dante's answer. " I admit the symbolism, but I deny the fact. 
The moon shines by its own li^ht. The Empire has its own independent right--." Comp. 
l^Ion. iii. 4. For the legend of Cain see H. xx. 126, and Baring-Gould's Curious Myths, 

pp. I90-20<). 

lo SPOTS ON THE MOON. [par. c. ii. 

Xo shafts of wonder should thy soul astound, 55 

Since now thou dost perceive that, following sense, 
The wings of reason move in narrowest bound. 

But tell me what to thy intelligence 

They seem." And I : " The varied aspect here 

Is caused, I deem, by bodies rare and dense." eo 

And she : "That thought of thine shall soon appear 
In falsehood sunk, if tliou wilt list to me 
While I my adverse reasonings bid thee hear. 

In the eighth sphere full many an orb we see 

AVhich, in their quale and their quantum, too, ea 

Of many a diverse kind and aspect be. 

If rare and dense alone all this could do. 

Then would be found in all one power alone, 
In measure more or less proportioned true. 

Virtues diverse are as the product known 7o 

Of formal causes, and, save one, all these 
Would be on that hypothesis o'erthrown. 

Again, if those dark spots thy vision sees 

Were caused, as thou deem'st, by their rarity. 

Either this orb throughout were ill at ease, 75 

Its matter thinned, or, as in bodies lie 

The fat and lean in layers, so would this 
A change of pages in its book supply ; 

And it were seen, on that hypothesis, 

Transparent in the sun's eclipse, as when so 

Through rarer bodies light transmitted is. 

This is not so, and we may reason then 

Of that thy second premiss, which, if I 
Confute, thy view will false appear to men, 

'6 We note the parallel with F. Bacon's phrase," flying on the wings of sense . . ." as he 
allegorises the myth of Icarus. 

60 Rarity seems identified by Dante with translucency. An eclipse of the sun shows that 
there is no such tr.inslucency in any part of the moon. 

6-* By a tour de force y in which he felt, it may be. a conscious pride, as Milton obviously 
felt in his exposition of what he had learnt from Galileo (/". L. iii. in), Dante puts a lecture, 
like his treatise De AquA et Terra, into eighty-eight lines of his terza, riina. Each 
argument is di^-tiiictly stated : (i) The eighth sphere, that of the fixed stars, presents 
variations of brightness, one star differing from another star in glory ; but there we do not 
bring in the reflection theory, with its appendages of denser and rarer portions in the moon's 
structure, as an explanation, but are content to ascribe their brightness and other virtues to 
their own proper formal causes. The words are almost a quotation from the treatise just 
mentioned (Aq. Ter. c. 21). 


If through the whole pass not this rarity, g; 

Then must there be a boundary from Avhence 
Its opposite permits no passing by ; 
And so the foreign rays, reflected thence, 

Are as the colours mirrored from a glass, 
"Which hides a leaden surface from our sense. so 

Xow, thou wilt say that there more dim doth pass 
The sunbeam than from any other place, 
As further back reflected in the mass. 
But that objection shall give way apace 

Before experience, if thou wilt it prove, 95 

To which, as fount, all streams of art you trace. 
Take thou three mirrors, two of them remove 
From thee at equal distance, and the last 
Between the two, and further from them, move ; 
And turned towards them let a light be cast, ,100 

Behind thy back, upon those mirrors three, 
So that from all reflected rays are passed. 
Then, though tlie light which furthest stands from theo 
May not with them in magnitude compete, 
Yet will it shine in brightness equally. 105 

Xow, as before the sun's rays in their heat 
The substance of the snow is naked seen, 
Stript both of hue and cold that erst did meet, 
So thee, to thy pure reason left, I mean 

To fill with such a clear and living light, no 

That it shall dazzle thee with radiant sheen. 
Within the heaven where peace divine its site 
Hath found, revolves a body whose content 
In all its power from that heaven draws its might. 

. Ut!^ f^^' !"' '^P '^"^ '^^' "'^ translucent matter did not go through the moon, but 
existed to such an extent as to put the portions which reflected the sun's rays at w ddv 
different distances, and so to produce different degrees of brightness. The answef is found 
ZZ:rforT:l-rc\'""'''''^]''%fT^\ ^^ '" ^^V^^^"'- ^5>. entirely after Rogtr Bacon's 
ry":":t^h''4e'^iincJ^ofVh;-n^;rroT.'^ '"^''°"^ "''''' reflection of aluminous p'oint didnot 

(De C^.1i.^4',1i'r ^"" '°'° '^^ "°"'^ °^ ^^"'^ " ''°""^ ^'™°'' ^'''''^'" ""'^'^ '" Avicenna 

of'trnfh' '"Tr.'^?"\-"'!'' t|^\s""'s rays, so will Dante-s ignorance vanish before the liaht 
^UuKh^H frn,. ,^^ -A ° '^^'r'" ""^Y^^ either, scholastically, the substance, as dis- 
^Trfhf^ ri K ''^^ ^ccidents of form and colour, or more probably, etymologically, the 
earth that lies beneath the snow. j .wiuj,n.c»uy, mc 

the^f Jh! lf"r 'J''''' ^°"T '^n '■o'■t^ the ideal plan of the Ptolemaic system. The Empyrean, 
the abode of God, encircles all ; within it revolves the Primum Mobile (how far the Privium 

12 THE MOTION OF THE SPHERES. [par. c. ii. 

Kext this the lieaven, which is with stars besprent, us 

This power through divers natures doth divide, 
Distinguished from it, yet within it pent. 

The other spheres, in series varying wide, 
All things with several qualities endow, 
Each, e'en in germ, to its true end applied. 120 

These organs of the world move onward so. 
As thou see'st now, degree upon degree, 
Swayed from above and swaying those below. 

Look well on me, how I am leading thee 

Up to the truth which thou dost crave to learn, 125 

That thou to cross the ford alone may'st see. 

These powers and motions of the spheres that turn. 

As the smith wields the hammer's ponderous might, 
]\Iust needs wheel on, by blessed ISIovers borne. 

And that same heaven, made fair by many a light, iso 

From the high Mind that dotli its motion sway. 
The image takes, and with its seals aright. 

And, as your soul, within its house of clay. 

Through different members, severally designed 

To different powers, still finds its separate way, 135 

Mobile impre-ses its motion upon the other spheres. Dante {Conv. ii. 6) thinks it pre- 
sumptuous to inquire), and then the sphere of the fixed stars (L 64). Then come the 
spheres of the pl.anets, each receiving an influence from above, and transmitting it below, 
ordering their several attributes both to their appointed results and to the seeds or 
potencies that produce them {^Purg, xxx. no; Conv. ii. 7, 14, iv. 21) Dante borrows here 
from Aquinas [Suinvt. i. 106, 4), as he from Dionysius the Areopagite (Hier. Coel. c. 15). 

1-6 The triumph of the discoverer of a new birth reminds us of .lEsch. Ag. 757, "I, 
apart from others, alone in thought." For the simile of the lord, comp. Furg. viii. 6g. 

1-8 Th*^ movement of the hammer implies the smith {Mon. iii. 6; Conv. i 13, iv. 4; Brun. 7V/.f. ii. 30 ; Kx\->\.. De An. ii.) ; so that of the -plieresimp'ies agents that move them, an: 
these, as ministers of God, must be angels. (Comp. H. vii. 74 ; Conv. ii. 6 ; Canz. 14 ; 
Suittin. i. no. 3.) 

130 'J'he " mind " that moves the sphere of th-; fixed stars is not that of God, but of the 
angel of the cherubic order, who is its appointed guardian (Conv. ii. 6) It receives from 
above an impress which becomes in its turn a seal, and leaves its impression on the spheres 

133 The comparison comes from the Timaiis of Plato (p. 29), probnbly through /^n. vi. 
726-727 — 

" Sf<iyit7is inius alii, iotaviijue, infiisn per artus, 
i^/cns iigitat ntolein et magtio ie corpore miscel." 

As the soul, working through its several senses, retains itsunity, so does the angelic intelligence 
which works through the starry sphere. The different virtues of eiich sp lere combine in lik'? 
m.inner witn its man-rial fabric, " precious " as being eternal, and shine tlirough it, as joy mani- 
fests itself in the human eye. And so the spots in the moon, as its greater and lesser bright- 
ness, are ihe result^ of different degrees of the formal piinciple of luminosity. A. J. Butler 
quotes the touching confession of P. Dante, the son who could not fathom his father's know- 
ledge, "Alia per te vide., imo omnia, quia nil vidi, nee intellexi." We are reminded 
Somewhat painlully of Molicre, " L'opiinn endormit,parciguil a line vcriu sopori/iqzte." 

PAR. cm.] "EUR&KA." 

So spreads its goodness that supremest Mind, 
Through all the stars in phases manifold, 
Revolving still in unity defined ; 

And diverse virtues diverse compounds mould 
"With bodies precious which they animate, 
Wherein, as life in you, their place they hold. 

Through the glad nature which doth radiate, 

The infused virtue shines through body bright, 
As gladness doth your eyes illuminate. 

Hence comes it that there seems 'twixt light and light 
This variance, and not from dense and rare : 
This is the formal cause which works in might. 

Proportioned to its goodness, dull or clear." 



Diversity of Rewards — Unity of Blessedness — The Souls ivho have not kept their 
Voivs — Piccarda — Constance. 

That sun which erst with love had warmed my breast, 

Had, proving and reproving, shown to me 

The sweet aspect of truth with beauty blest ; 
And I, to own myself from error free. 

And firm in faith as far as met the need, s 

Lifted my head as if for colloqiiy. 
But then a vision came and bade me heed. 

And fixed my gaze with such a binding spel], 

That my confession I forgot to speed. 
E'en as in mirror clear and bright, or well 10 

Of waters pure and tranquil and serene. 

So deep, its bottom is just visible, 

1 The sun is, as in C. xxx. 75, Beatrice, as illuminating and vivifying Dante's intellect. So 
Virgil in H. xi. 91, and Philosophy in Conv. iv. i. 

3 The two words " proi'aiido e riprovando," proving truth and refuting error, are said 10 
have been taken as a motto by the Florentine Experimental Academy {Accad, del Chiiento) 
as the true method of scieniific discovery. 

10 We seem to see the poet still in his optical laboratory. He sees as "through a glass 
darkly" (not in this instance in a mirror), faces that gleam through ti.e moon's light, as a 
pearl is f een on a white forehead. Did he remember such a pearl on Beatrice's brow i^V. N. 
c 37)? I take/^/-j/, as in H. v. 89, vii. 103, for "dark," not ^s,=^perduti. 

14 UNFULFILLED VOWS. [pad. o. ni. 

The features of our face by us are seen 

So faintly that a pearl on snow-white brow 

Meets not our gaze with stroke less quick and clean, is 

So many faces prompt to speak I now 
Beheld, and into opposite error ran 
To his who love did to the fountain vow. 

And I, when to perceive them I began, 

Esteeming them as mirrored semblance vain, ^o 

Turned mine eyes round me, whose they were to scan ; 

And nothing saw, and turned them back again, 

Straight to the light of that my sweetest Guide, 
"Within whose holy eyes bright smiles did reign. 

" Let not thy spirit be with wonder tried," 25 

She said, "because I smiled at thy young thought, 
Since still thy foot from Truth's firm base doth glide, 

And turns thee, as is woiit, to shadowy nought. 

True substances are these which thou dost see, 

Here set apart through vow they left unwrought. so 

Wherefore speak with them ; hear, believing be ; 
For the true light which them doth satisfy 
Permitteth not their feet from it to flee." 

And to that shade which seemed most eagerly 

Converse to crave I turned, beginning so, ss 

As one on whom strong wish weighs heavily. 

" Spirit, made for good, in whom doth glow 
Tlie sweetness of the rays of life eterne, 
"Which he who tastes not ne'er can fully know, 

1' Narcissus (Met. iii. 41;) mistook tlie reflection of his own form for reality. Dante 
mistook the real faces for reflections, and therefore luoked behind him. We note the associa- 
tion of ideas with C. ii. 97. 

2S Co/<J = thought, is derived from coitare = cogitare [Diez, p. 106). It is sa'd to have been 
commonly used by boys in their games at hide-aiid-seek, who, when they had found the thing 
sought for, end out "^oto!" and is therefore, perhaps, used with a specialio propriateness 

■J" 'J'he words are the first that indicate the character of the souls who dwell in the moon's 
sphere, as the emblem of the mutability which, though it had not kept them out of Paradise, 
had yet placed them in the lowest of its spheres. 

** The soul is that of Piccarda, the si.ster of Corso and Forese Donati (Purg. xxiv. 10 «. ) 
She entered the convent of St. Clara (the "Poor Clares" of the followers of St. Francis). 
Her brothers forced her into a marriage with Rossellino della Tosa. Corso was said (Oit.) to 
have done penance in his shirt for his offence, and Piccarda was removed by her death, for 
which she was said '.o have prayed (Benv.), from her earthly to her heavenly bridegroom. 
Line 49 implies that Dante had known her personally, though at first (1. 59) he does not 
recognise her in her glorified beauty. So he had been slow, for a different reason, to recog- 
nise Forese (Purg. x.\iii. 43). 

PAR. cm.] PICCARDA. 15 

To me 'twill grateful be if I may learn « 

Somewhat about thy name and thine estate." 
Then she with laughing eyes did promptly turn, 

And said : " Our charity ne'er bars the gate 
To just desire, no more than this is done 
By That which wills that all it imitate. 45 

I in the world was known as virgin nun ; 

And if on me thou turn thy mind and eye, 
Though now more fair, I shall not be unknown ; 

But thou in me Piccarda wilt descry, 

Who, with the other blessed ones placed here, so 

Am blest in sphere that moves most tardily. 

All our desires, that kindle bright and clear. 
In the joy perfect of the Spirit blest. 
Rejoice, as each His order's mark doth bear. 

And this same lot, which seems so low deprest, so 

Is given to us because of our neglect, 
Which in some point made void our vows profest." 

And I : "In thy most wondrous fair aspect 

There shines I know not what of the divine, 
Transfiguring thee from what I recollect ; eo 

Hence slow of memory was this mind of mine ; 

But now what thou hast told me comes in aid. 
So that I trace thee clear as Latin line. 

But tell me, ye who here are happy made, 

Do ye desire to gain a loftier place, ^ 

To see more, make more friends 1 " With many a shade 

** The will of the blessed is one with the love of God, who wishes all to be conformed to 
His own likeness. 

51 In the Ptolemaic system, the moon, as the lowest sphere, was also the slowest in its 

S5 The lot appears great tn the pilgrim who has just entered Paradise, and j'et is really 
the " least in the kingdom of heaven." 

6* The question was one which had almost from the first occupied the minds of Christian 
thinkers— Augustine (C. D. xxii. 30), Jerome (atfv. Jorr. ii.), Gregory of Nazianzus (Orai. 
xxvii. 8), and many others. On earth men naturally desire a greater happiness than they have, 
and are thus tempted to covetousness and envy. In Heaven, accordmg to the teaching of 
Hugo of St. Victor, which Dante reproduces, there is no envj'. The will of every blessed -oiil 
is in entire harmony with tr.e Divine will, and finds in it all the bliss and peace of which it 
is capable (De Sacr. Fid. ii. xviii. 20 ; Insttt. Mon. de An. iv. 15, in Scart.) So Aqumas 
(Sunim. ii. i. 19, 10). Comp. Ozan. p. i63. 

66 The words point to the sources of joy : (i) the Beatific Vis on ; (2), the Communion of 
Saints, the joy itself increasuig with the number of those with whom we are in fellowship. 
The phrase seems taken from Luke xvi. g. 

i6 THE HARMONY OF WILL. [par. c. iii. 

That near her stood, she first, with smiling face, 

Looked on me, then made answer with such joy, 
She seemed to glow with fire of love's first grace: 

" Brother, the might of Love gives such employ 70 

To our desires, that it can make us will 
Just what we have, unmixed with thirst's alloy. 

If we desired to pass on higher still, 

Then our desires would he at variance found 

With His who bids us here His mansions fill : " 

This thou wilt see in these spheres hath no ground, 
If love be still the one thing needful here, 
And if its nature thou search well all round. 

So of our bliss this is cause formal, clear, 

That each upon God's will himself should stay, so 

That so our wills may all one Will appear. 

So our whole realm rejoiceth in the way 

In which from stage to stage we upward mount, 
As doth the King whose Will doth our wills sway; 

And in His Will of our peace is the fount ; ss 

That is the Sea whereto all beings move. 
Which as its works or Nature's works we count." 

Full clearly then her words to me did prove 
How everywhere in Heaven is Paradise, 
Though not on all alike God's grace pours love. so 

But as it is when one food satisfies, 

And for another longs our appetite. 

One asks for this ; for that, " No, thanks," replies ; 

So I in act and word did her invite 

To tell me what that web was wherein she 95 

Plied not the shuttle to the end aright. 

"Her perfect life and merit great," to me 

She said, "insphere more high, a maid whose train 
Obedient, with her garb and veil agree, 

86 The sea of Divine love, to wrhich all souls tend, as that of C. i. 113 had been of the 
life that pervades the universe. 

H2_«7 I Jo not often stop to po'.nt out beauties which are better felt, but most readers will, 
I think, agree that tliese si.'c lines are among the noblest in the whole poem. 

*J1_96 Of D inte's two questions, (1) whether the souls of the blessed were content each 
with its own portion ? (2) how it was that Piccarda had broken her vow, and what had been 
the effects of that broken vow on her state in heaven? the fir>t had been answered; the 
second was yet to seek. Beatrice had not drawn the shuttle to the end of the web. 

98 The lady is St. Cl.ira, of the family of .Scifli, at Assisi, 6. 1194. In 1212, under the 


That they may watch or sleep, till death they gain, m 

With that true Spouse who every vow will own, 
Which love to His good pleasure doth constrain. 

To follow her I did the world disown 

In girlhood's prime, and in her garb was drest, 

And vowed to take her order's path alone ; 105 

Dut men, with worst more conversant than best, 
Stole me from out the cloister's dear retreat: 
What my life then was is to God confest. 

And this bright form which here thy gaze doth meet 

Upon my right, and is illumined no 

With all the light that makes our sphere complete. 

Hears what I say as though of her 'twere said. 
She was a Sister, and from her was torn 
The shadow of the blest veil round her head ; 

But when she backward to the world was borne, 115 

Against her will, against all custom right, 
For ever on her heart the veil was worn. 

Of great Costanza here is seen the light, 

Who to the second Suabian storm-blast bore 

The third, and last, of line of puissant might." 120 

So spake she, and began her strain to pour, 
" Ave Maria" parting, with that song, 
As sinks a stone by deep pool covered o'er. 

guidance of St. Francis, she took vows of poverty and chastity in the Church of the Portiun- 
cula, and became the head of a sisterhood conspicuous for its austerity and good works. 
She died in 1253, and was canonised by Alexander IV. in 1253. The Order, known as the 
"Poor Clares," spread through all the cities of Italy, and even into Germany and Bohemia. 

106 The men referred to are the two Donati brothers. Commentators have seen in the 
suppression of the name a delicate consideration on the poet's part for the feelings of his 
wife, but (?). He had not shrunk froui writing hard things of them in Pzirg. xxiv. 82, 115. 

1U8 Xhe outline is left to be filled up. Remorse, patient endurance, rigorous asceticism, 
prayers to depart and be at rest, may all be included iu the pregnant words, as full of 
meaning as those which tell the story of La Pia {Pmg. v. 133). 

'Oa The "other splendour " is Constance, daughter of Roger, king of Sicily, and grand- 
daughter of Robert Guiscard. Her nephew, William the Good, who succeeded to the throne 
on the death of his father William the Bad, had no issue, and Constance was therefore pre- 
sumptive heire-s to the crown. Her brother William had placed her in the convent of St. Sai- 
vatore, as an alternative to putting her to death. Frederick Barbarossa, an.\ious to add Sicily 
to his dominions, brought about a marriage between Constance and his sou Henry VI. Celes- 
tine III. gave her a dispensation from her vows, and at the age of thirty-one or thirty-seven 
(some chroniclers say fifty) she was married to Henry, who was then only twenty-one. After 
seven years of barrenness she gave birth, with circumstances of publicity and precaution 
which remind us of the confinement of Mary Beatrice of Modena, to a son, who, as the Emperor 
Frederick II., grew up to fulfil the prediction of the Abbot Joachim of Calabria, that he 
would be the torch to set all Italy on fire. That monarch Dante sorrowfully looks on as the 
last of his line, the last of the true emperors {Barl. p. 340 ; Arriv. p. 6 ; Kington, i. c. i). 

123 The form sinks, it will be remembered, as in a "sea of light," in the lustre of the 
"eternal pearl." Dante g.ized on the vanishing form for a moment, but Beatrice was more 
to him than Piccarda or Constance, and he turned to her. 


i8 THE POET'S DOUBTS. [^^a. c. iv. 

My gaze, which followed her for full as long 

As it was possible, when she was gone, 125 

Turned to the object of a love more strong, 

And all to Beatrice wandered on ; 

But she so flashed her lightnings on mine eye. 
My sight at first no strength to meet it %voa, 

And that caused me to question tardily. »» 


TJie Poet's Questions — Do Souls return to the Stars ?—Free-icill and Force as 
Factors in Broken I'ows. 

Between two dainties, distant equally 

And tempting, a free man would waste away 
Ere he his teeth to either could apply ; 

So would a lamb stand that should chance to stray 

'Twixt two fierce wolves that each caused equal fear ; 5 
So would a dog between two does at bay. 

"Wherefore my silence, as bewildered there 

I stood in doubt's suspense, I do not blame, 

Since " needs must " ruled it so, and praise I spare. 

Silent I stood, but my desire became w 

In my looks painted, and thus my request 
More fervent was than clearest speech could frame. 

And Beatrice did as, at the hest 
Of Nabuchodonosor, Daniel, 
Taming the rage that filled the tyrant's breast ; is 

And said: "I see how draweth thee the spell 

Now of this wish, now that, and so thy pain 
Is smothered, and thy care thou caust not tell. 

1 The proverb of "the ass between two bundles of hay " had its parallel in the teaching 
of Aqu nas, who presents the problem of the position of the will with an absolute equilibrium 
of motives, as in the case here put, being logically or absolutely insoluble {Siimm. i. 2. 13, 
61). So, Dante says, it was with liis two doubts. They vexed him equally, and so he held 
his peace and uttered neither. 

1* See Dim. ii. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar both his dream and its interpretation. 
Beatrice tells Dante his doubts and their solution. And the doubts are on one side moral, 
on the other physical, (i) If the vow of chastity was broken involuntarily, why did it 
involve any loss of blessedness? (2) VVas the doctrine of Plato {Ti»!. p. ^i. g'), that the 
souls of men came from ihe stars and returned to their several spheres, true, as the appear- 
ance of Piccarda and others in the moon seemed to indicate '! 


Thou arguest, ' If good-will yet remain, 

On what ground can another's violence 20 

Make less the measure of my merit's gain ? ' 

Also thou findest cause for doubting hence, 
That spirits seem unto the stars to go, 
As Plato's judgment deemed the soundest sense. 

These are the questions which thou seek'st to know 2i 

In equal measure, therefore first will I 
Treat of the one that doth most venom show. 

The Seraph who most dwells in Deity, 

Moses and Samuel, and the blest St. John — 

Take which thou wilt, and pass not Mary by — so 

Have in no other sphere of Heaven their throne 

Than those same spirits that thou looked'st on here, 
Nor years or more or less hath any one : 

But all make beautiful the primal sphere, 

And have their joyous life in varied guise, a 

As more or less the Breath eterne is there. 

Here they appeared, not that in this sphere lies 
The lot assigned them, but in token true 
Of life celestial which doth lowest rise. 

This speech to thy mind bears proportion due, -jo 

Since through the senses it doth apprehend 
What then is meet for intellect to view. 

Wherefore the Scripture thus doth condescend 

Unto your weakness, and both hands and feet 

Assigns to God, yet doth not so intend ; « 

And Holy Church in human figure meet 

Gabriel and ^liehael to you doth present. 
And him who made Tobias' cure complete. 

28 The second question is discussed first, as the more perilous. The Platonic thought, 
to which Dante may have been led through Georg. iv. 221-228, tended on the one hand to 
Pantheism, and on the other to localised and separate heavens, at variance with the 
Church's teaching as to the blessedness of the saints, and with Dante's own belief as to the 

28 1 he explanation given is that the souls of the highest Seraphim, of all Saints, of the 
Virgin Mother, are in the Empyrean Heaven, the abode of God, and that Piccarda and 
Constance are there also, though they and the souls in other spheres manifest themselves, 
according to their several merits, as those named have done in that of the Moon, which is 
the lowest of all. The interpretation which sees in 1. 30 an exception in the Virgin's favotir 
is at variance with Dante's central thought as well as with Catholic theology. 

40 What Dante had seen was therefore an accommodation to human infirmity, hke that 
which is seen in the anthropomorphic language of the Bible and the artistic representations 
(was he thinking of Cimabue and Giotto?) of Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael ( 7<7iJ. iii. 17, 
v. 4, 6, ;i). 

SOULS IN THE STARS. [par. c. iv. 

That which Timaeus states in argument 

Is no wise like to that thou saw'st of late, sc 

Since what he says, 'twould seem, is his intent. 
He saith that for each soul its star doth wait, 

Deeming that it from that clime hither fell, 

When Nature gave it as a form innate. 
And yet, perchance, his words a meaning tell k 

Beyond their sound, and so the tliought may be 

Not such as men may laugh and mock at well. 
If he but means in these same orbs to see 

The honour of their influence, or their blame, 

Perchance his bow hath hit some verity. ut 

III understood, this doctrine was the same 

As that which well-nigh drew the world, or Jove 

Or INIars or Mercury as gods to name. 
The other doubt which doth thy spirit move 

Hath less of poison, since no evil lust ci 

Therefrom could lead thy steps from me to rove. 
That this our Justice should appear unjust 

In mortal eyes is but an argument, 

Not for vile heresy, but faith and trust. 
But since to this truth and its high intent ti 

Thy understanding Avell may penetrate, 

I, as thou seekest, will thy soul content. 

'•■' Dante may have known the Timcpus through the Latin translation and commentarj" of 
Clialcidius, which was well known in the thirteenth century (IVitie), or from Cicero's treatise 
of the same name. Comp. Aquin. c. Gentes, ii. 47, 48 ; Conv. iv. 21. 

^'' The habit of finding manifold meanings passed naturally from Scripture to other books, 
and Dante apologetically suggests that Plato may have meant only to refer to the stellar 
influences, in which Dante recognised the determining elements, not of man's will, but of his 
qualities and tendencies. The words of Plato (Tim. p. 40 d.), if Dante had read them, 
would have suggested such a thought (Bui/.) 

•"* The readings vary, " ?iominar" in the sense of invoking, numerar = to reckon, and 
fiiiminar — to deify. The common adjectives "jovial," mercurial," ''martial," bear 
witness to what was an almost universal belief. Butler compares Augustine's " noniinibus 
nuncupaveriint " (C. D. vji. 15). 

** The other doubt is trea'ed as one which did not involve a departure from a true 
theology. If there was a seeming injustice in the divine government, with which Beatrice, 
as the symbol of Wisdom, identifies herself (Prov. viii.), that ought to strengthen, not to 
weaken, faith ; for that, when the finite contemplates the infinite, is precisely what anahgy 
would lead us t j expect, and the very doubt in a single instance implies faith in the general 
justice of God, and not the pravity of the heretic. This seems, on the whole, the best 
' xplanation, though it must be admitted it applies the word " argument " in iwo slightly 
different senses. The subjective meaning "evidence of faith " would be tenable enuugh in 
Itself, but then one does not see why the doubt should be said to have any -ilemcnt of evil 
in it. Comp. Aquin. c. Gent. Proem, c. 9 ; Anselm. De liicarii. c. 1 1 ; Cm Dens, i. 2. 


If 'tis constraint when lie who bears his fate 

No wise allows what twists his deeds awry, 

Then doth it not these spirits liberate : ■a 

For will, unless it wills, can never die, 

But works as Nature worketh in the fire, 
Though force a thousand times to twist it try. 

If mo re or less it yieldeth to desire, 

It seconds the constraint ; and thus did they, m 

Being able to the cloister to retire. 

If then their will had trod the perfect way, 
As Laurence did, upon the hot bars laid. 
Or Mucius, stern to make his hand obey. 

Back on that road it would have them conveyed s; 

Whence they were dragged, as soon as they were free : 
But all too rare is will so firmly stayed. 

And by these words, if they are stored by thee, 

As thou should'st store them, is the objection met 
Which else would oft have caused perplexity. sa 

But now another passage hard is set 

Before thine eyes, whence of thyself alone, 

Thou could'st not 'scape ere thou should'st weary get. 

I, as a certain truth, to thee have shown 

That blessed spirits know not how to lie, 10 

Since to the First Truth they are nearer grown ; 

And so Piccarda this might certify. 

That Constance kept her fondness for the veil. 
Seeming to speak another thing than I. 

And often, brother mine — so runs the tale — la 

We, to flee danger, 'gainst our better will. 
Do that which makes us from our dutj' fail, 

73 The solution of the diflficnity is an echo of Aquinas {Summ. P. iL 2. 83, i). In ths 
constraint which excuses altogether there is no co-operation of the wi 1. Piccarda and those 
like her had consented, though against their wilL They had not, Hke martyrs, "resisted 
vinto blood." Nothing constrains fire to tend downward; nothing should so constrain the 
soul. Those who had been torn from convents might have returned to them when they had 
an opporiunity, 

82 The story of St. Laurence and his martyrdom on his fiery bed of steel and that of 
Mucius ScsEvola (to which Dante refers also in Conv. iv. 5 ; Mon. iL s-) are examples of the 
will that does not yield one jot or tittle. 

*" Yet another difficulty. Piccarda had said that Constance never ceased to love her life 
as nun. How could that be true when she did not return to it ? 

'"1 Another casuistic distinction solves the problem. Men will to act against their will, 
i.e., against their inclination, to avoid a danger. When they so act against conscience they 
caniiot plead 

22 ABSOLUTE WILL. [par. c. iv. 

E'en as Alcmoeon did his mother kill, 

Obedient to his father's urgent prayer. 

And in his impious deed was pious still. los 

And at this point I wish thee to compare 

How force with will doth blend itself, and make 

The sin to be of all excuses bare. 
Absolute will consents not law to break ; 

But it consents, so far as it feels fear, no 

If it refrain, for greater danger's sake. 
So when Piccarda's utterance met thine ear, 

She spoke of that will absolute, and I 

Of the other ; so we both the truth speak here." 
With such calm course the holy stream flowed by, n's 

Which sprang from fount whence flows each truth divine. 

And both my cravings thus did satisfy. 
"0 loved of Love supreme, goddess mine," 

I said, approaching, "whose words o'er me flow, 

And to a warmer, fuller life incline ; i-o 

Not all my feeling to such depth can go 

As to requite thee fully, grace for grace : 

Let Him do that who all doth see and know. 
I see that nought can fill the mind's vast space. 

Unless Truth's light dwell there as denizen, 123 

Eeyond which nothing true can find a place. 
In that it rests, like wild beast in its den, 

When it attains it ; and it can attain, 

Else frustrate would be all desires of men. 

103 For the story of Alcmaeon, see ff. xx. 34 n. ; Purg. xii. 50 n. The antithesis in I. 105 
reminds us of // xx. 28 ; both being echoes of Met. ix. 408 : " Facto puis et sceleratus 

113 The "absolute will" — will not constrained — of Constance was for the convent life ; her 
mixed will, consenting to fear as well as force, led her to remain an Empress. Here again 
we have Aquinas (Sitwm. i. 2. 6, 6). Comp. throughout the discussion. Hooker, E. P. i. 7. 

U6 Beatrice is the river ; God the source of truth, from which the river flows. 

lis The words ri<;e almost to the level of an apotheosis ; but Beatrice, we must remember, 
has become the representation of Divine Wisdom, and the language has its parallel in that 
of Hooker (£. P. i. ad /in.) when he says of Law that " her seat is the bosom of God, her 
voice the harmony of the world ; " that "all things do her homage as the mother of their 
peace and joy." 

127 The comparison has its parallel in Ps. xlii. i. The " hart desiring the water-brooks" 
is a parable of the soul's thirst for God ; the rest of the hart in its lair, free from danger, sets 
forth the peace of the intellect when it rests, after its restless wanderings, vexed and driven 
by the dogs of doubt, in the possession of assured truth. 

129 Medixval thought assumed that the existence of a desire implied that of the desired 
object. Staiting from the belief in a creative Will, wise, mighty, loving, it would not admit 
that God had given men desires only that they might be frustrated. " Man seeks for truihj 


And thence springs, like a scion, doubt again 130 

Hard by Truth's stem, and such is Nature's law, 
Which, height on height, leads upward from the plain. 

This gives assurance, this my mind doth draw 
With reverence. Lady, yet to ask of thee 
Of other truth which as obscure I saw. 133 

I wish to know if man, for vows that he 

Breaks, may with other good deeds satisfy, 
That in your scales they not too light may be." 

And Beatrice looked on me with eye 

So full of glow of love and so divine, no 

That, my strength failing, then my back turned I, 

And, almost fainting, did mine eyes incline. 


The Doctrine of Dispensations — Tlic Second Heaven, of Mercury — The Love 
of Fame. 

*' If I so glowing seem in heat of love, 

Beyond the fashion that on earth is known, 

Scf that too much for thine eyes' strength I prove, 

theiefore truth' is to be found," seemed to thera to be a natural, almost an axiomatic, infer- 
ence {Sn»i»i. i. 12). 

130 The thought is that of one who had known the doubts from which even the thirteenth 
century was not exempt. To him those doubts are not like the cinker that eats into the 
he.irt of the tree, or the ivy which sucks out its vigour. They, the kind of doubts of which 
we have here a sample, were the suckers that proved the tree's vitality, though they needed 
to be pruned. 

136 One such question meets us, that of the commutation of vows {Lev. xx^-ii.), and the 
general principle of the obligation of promises seemed against it. Yet the Church claimed 
the power to dispense from vows, and this included the right to commute. Was either act 
legitimate, and if so, on what conditions? 

•*1 A difference of reading, " diedi " or " diede" and of punctuation, gives two alternative 
rendernigs — 

" My strength being overpowered, fled away ;" 

" I, my strength overpowered, turned away from her." 
Italian commentators gravely discuss whether the act thus described would have been that 
of a gentleman. 

1 The visible beauty of Beatrice had even in the V. N. c. 21, 26, overwhelmed the pilgrim, as 
in the last lines of C. iv., and been as a foretaste of Paradise. He cannot separate that beauty 
from the most spiritual conception of Paradise, that it is the joy of finding intellectual truth. 
In Conv. iii. 15 we have poetry turned into prose, and the dissolving views stereotyped in 
the formula that Philosophy is a ''fair lady," and that her eyes are "demonstrations." 
What he now hears is that the beauty which so enchants him grows, snd will grow, brighter 
as they advance to higher regions of contemplation. The "perfect vi>ion " is that witJi 

24 FREEDOM OF WILL. [par. c. v. 

IMarvcl thou not ; from pei-fect sight alone 

Doth this proceeil, which, as it sees aright, 6 

To the good seen still moves its footsteps on. 
Well I perceive how that Eternal Light 

Already shines on thine intelligence, 

Which, when 'tis seen, makes love's flame ever bright ; 
And if anght else thy love seduces thence, lo 

'Tis nothing hut its vestige which is tracked, 

111 understood, that penetrates the sense. 
Thou seek'st to know if thou canst give in act 

For broken vow some service, which, when paid, 

Should keep the soul from claim of law intact." '■''' 

So Beatrice this Canto's opening made, 

And, as a man who tslls his tale apace. 

Her holy argument full open laid. 
"The greatest gift that God of His free grace 

Gave at creation, and most near in kind ai 

To His own goodness, foremost in the race 
For praise, is freedom of the will and mind. 

Which to all living things intelligent, 

And those alone, hath been and is assigned. 
Now thou wilt see in this high argument 25 

How high the worth of vows, if made but so 

That God consenteth unto thy consent ; 
For in this bond 'twixt God and man we show 

We of this treasure make a sacrifice. 

Such as I tell ; its own act bids it go. so 

What then can come as compensating price ? 

Think'st thou to use well things thus consecrate, 

'Twere to do good with wealth obtained by vice. 

which Beatrice sees truth. Aquinas (S7imm. i. 60, ?) and Aristotle {E. N- xx. 12) are 

again paraphrased. The lovers of physical beauty find their chief joy in gazing on it ; so the 
spiritual beauty of truth presents in varying degrees the vision which is joy. 

10 The doubts or errors which are in the mind of the seeker after truth do not spring from 
the pravity of will, which is the essence of heresy (C. iv. 65), but from the imperfect appre- 
hension of partial truth, which leads it to take the part for the whole. Tnere is a truth, that 
is, underlying the error (Svmni. i. 60, 2). 

li* The discussion begins by postulating freedom of will as the highest gift bestowed on 
intellectual cieatures, men and angels, and on them alone. In making a vow, man, fettering 
his freedom by a self-imposed restraint, offers to God the highest sacrifice within his reach. 
To employ what has been thus con'^ecrated even for pious tiscs is to rob God in order to give 
alms. This appears self-evident, but ihen comes in the Church's power of dispensation, wtiich 
«eeras to set aside that axiom. 

r.ui. c. v.] CO^\IMUTATION OF VOWS. 2 

Now art thou certain of that problem great : 

But since the Church doth oft dispense with it, ; 

Which seems against the truth I showed of late, 

'Tis meet that thou awhile at table sit, 

Because the strong meat thou hast ta'en doth call 
For aid, thy stomach's feeble power to fit. 
Open thy mind to that which I let fall, ^ 

And fix it there, for knowledge is not found 
In having heard, without retaining all. 
Two things there are as with the essence bound 
Of that same sacrifice ; the one is that 
Of which 'tis made, and one the compact's ground. 4: 

This last is never cancelled save by what 
Fulfils it, and of this enough I said. 
In words that pointed specially thereat. 
So on the Hebrews it was binding made 

To offer, though the things they offered might k 

Be changed, and this should in thy mind be weighed. 
The other, which as matter meets thy sight, 

]\ray well be such that promise doth not fail, 
If it for somewhat else be changed aright. 
But no one may to shift the load prevail 55 

By his own choice, unless the keys shall turn, 
One golden and the other silver pale ; 
And every change to count as foolish learn, 

Unless the old in that which takes its place 
As four in six included thou discern. w. 

Therefore, whatever hath such weight of grace 
That it doth every counterpoise outweigh, 
No other spending ever can replace. 

37 We note the recurrence of the lead n? thought of C^nv. i. i, that truth is the "anEels' 
food, which the teacher offers to his scholars. Comp. i Cor. ii. 14 ; ///* v 14 ^ 

,hfJ-}l^ • °.'T°" °'" '^s.P'-°bIem begins with a dis/^n,^,^. The vow includes two elements 
he Trmer m^l"f,r°'""''' "^""^ 'ff surrender of will; The latter cannot be dispensed with; 
the former may be commuted. Dante shou's himself a more ngorous, or ^t least a more 

<^l,;,nTu I 8% " Sn -f- ''''? '"r^ '"T di^P^"^at,on for tL sake of a g"lr good 
h s ow intht fetfer' ,W ^" .'^"^^'l'« "i^de a vow, he was bound, as a rule, to perform 
commTted for hl^Vt fU^^'Ty}''''''^ r^^' the first-born nf m^n might be redeemed, i.e., 
commutea tor, by the hr>t-born of beast (/.tTv xxvii. g, 10, 28-33) 

which^no mT'mVv ^"7' ''"■ "^.^'"'^ '^' ■^'"'H^ of Chu'rch wisdom and authority, without 
hin And^to%^;^d ! T '^"^ commutation to interest or pleasure m^y tempt 

e ft m,^, h. LTf^ ^T'' '''^'^'"P'^'t"'" 'he further rule is laid down that the substituted 

"» Tne general principle excludes commutation in the case of vows of chastity, and a /or- 


Let mortals then no vows in jesting say ; 

Be faithful, nor to act so rashly stirred, es 

As Jephthah was his ' first chance ' vow to pay, 

"Who more becomingly had said, 'I've erred,' 
Than to do worse in bondage to such ties. 
Nor less the blame the Greeks' great duke incurred, 

Whence Avept Iphigenia her fair eyes, vo 

And made tears flow alike from fool and sage, 
When they heard tell of such a sacrifice. 

Christians ! with less haste yourselves engage ; 
Be not like feather blown by every wind. 
Nor think all streams can cleanse guilt's heritage. 75 

Ye have the Scriptures Old and New in mind, 
The Pastor of the Church to be your guide ; 
Enough for your salvation there ye'll find. 

If evil lust aught else to you hath cried, 

Be ye as men, and not like silly beasts, «o 

Lest e'en the Jews among you you deride. 

Be not like lamb that leaves its mother's breasts, 
And, in its wanton and unwise delight. 
At its own pleasure, with itself contests." 

So Beatrice spake, and so I write, 83 

And then again she turned with yearning keen, 
There where the world shows most of life and light. 

//o>'f'disoensation. Nothing can tal^e the place of the sacrifice which the vow imphes. So 
Srimjii. ii. 2. 78, 11. 

61 Dante follows Aquinas (i) in assuming that Jephthah slew his daughter ; (2) in con- 
demning the act (Stiiiitit. ii. 2. 88, 2). The parallel of Iphigenia may have been read either 
in /En. ii. 116 or Boeth. iv. 7. There is no trace of his having known Lucretius (i. 85). 

"3 The counsels of Wisdom take a wider range, and lay down the position that Scripture 
interpreted by the Church are the Christian's ^egtila fidei. Line 75 seems like an echo of 
"one baptism for the remission of sins." 

8" An echo from Ps. xx.\ii. 9; 2 Pet. ii. 12. Had Dante come in contact with Jew^, 
Immanuel of Rome, or others (vol. i. Ixxvi.), who sneered at the indulgent laxity with which 
Christians observed their vows? 

*' (i) The East ; (2) the Sun seen on the Equator ; (3) the Empyrean Heaven, have all 
found advocates. I incline to (i). The whole discussion, which thus ends, seems to us at 
first to belong to the dreariest regions of casuistry, with no clement either of life or poetry. 
But what if between the lines we were to find an element of personality as intense and 
living as that which meets us in Ptirs;. xxxi. xxxii., of principles as important as those 
underlying the discussions of C. ii.? What if Dante found in his own life a parallel to 
th it of Piccarda? What if, behind the memory of Beatrice and the cord of the Tertiary 
Order, not in itself binding to celibacy, there had been an inward purpose, half-formulated 
into a vow, of which the celibate life would have been the natural outcome, and his friends had 
pressed marriage upon him, marriage with a Donati, as Corso Donati had pressed it on 
Piccarda? They had urged the pleas of health, wealth, worldly prosperity, and he had 
yirrlded, without " the gold or silver key," without consulting his spiritual director, to his 
own great loss. He had consented against his will, and what his friends had thought would 
be a safeguard against sensual temptation proved to be no safeguard at all, rather in the 


Her silence, and the change in look and mien, 
Eestraint to my desire administ'red, 
Which still new questions in advance had seen ; so 

And as an arrow hits, ere yet hath fled 

The bow-string's trembling, that whereto 'twas sent. 
So to the Second Eealm our way we sped. 

And there my Lady saw I so content. 

As she within that light of Heaven passed on, 95 

That brighter glory she the planet lent. 

And if the star, thus changed, in smiling shone, 
"What should I do, of nature frail the heir, 
Who in all ways as changeable am known 1 

As, in a fishpond which is calm and clear, ico 

The fishes draw to what may on it light, 
In way that shows they count on new food there. 

So I saw more than thousand splendours brio-ht 

Draw nigh towards us, and from each was heard, 

"Lo ! this is she who shall increase Love's might." 105 

And as each one of them our presence neared, 
The shade was seen as full of blessedness, 
By the clear light that streaming forth appeared. 

Bethink thee. Reader, how it would distress 

Thy mind, how eager thou would'st be to know, 110 

If the tale thus begun should not progress ; 

And thou wilt see within thyself that so 

I sought to hear them tell me of their state. 

As to mine eyes their forms themselves did show. 

absence of any true ideal of marriage even partially realised, left him more exno'^ed to it 
lh,s at least IS what I find in the discussion. If it is only a hypothesis it has at least the 
ment of includmg all phenomena, explaining what has hitherto been left unexplained 

92 In a moment, as in a world beyond human measurement, the travellers pass from the 
pte7, tit dTs Dlt'e'l^itSLff!'^^^"'^- ^"'^ ^^"""^^ ^^°^^^ ^"^'^-' -^ - '^^ ^^ 
^99 We note the curious self-analysis of the line which describes the true poetic tempera- 

100 It would be worth while to find out when gold and silver fish (CyPri»«s aurai,^) were 
,h^l ■ ^^""'^,'"'° '^^ fish-ponds of Italy. If Dante had seen them in their brightrss 
Ind^ ™mb es' lrrV° ^'^T'^]^l' °^'^" '^^-^Z'^^'^' ^Plendours, almost like the "tSpazes'- 
fLx W I H ,?• ^'"'- i^' '^^i ^hey/'-e sa.d to have been introduced into England in 
1691, but I do not know when they first found their way from China to Europe. ^ ^ " '" 

105 The line expresses the idea of the Communion of Saints. As the angels rejoice " over 
v^rh ='-^U '^P^"'f \ (^"^'•^•■^^i°). 50 the spirits of the blest over one we note that the 
verb .s in the smgular) who comes a fresh object of their love. They seek therefore to know 

TpeL-f ,n l"nnf ""i.^" K^' "l"'^" "?^ new comer is. Da..te, in his turn, and in the same spirit, 
seeks to know who has thus spoken to him. 

28 THE LOVE OF FAME. [par. c. v. 

" O born to good, to whom the favour great 115 

Is given to see the eternal Triumph's throne, 

Ere thou thy warfare's close canst celebrate. 
We by the light that o'er all Heaven is thrown 

Are kindled, wherefore if 'tis thy desire 

To know us, all shall at thy Avill be shown." 1:0 

Such words from lips of one of that blest choir 

I heard, and " Speak, speak," Beatrice said ; 

"Trust them as gods; let nothing doubt inspire." 
"I see full well how thou a nest hast made 

In thine own light, and draw'st it from thine eyes, 125 

For lo ! they flashed as thy smiles on me played ; 
Ihit thee I know not, nor why for thee lies, 

O worthiest soul, thy home within the sphere. 

Veiled from men's eyes b}^ rays that elsewhere rise." 
So spake I straight towards that radiance clear iso 

Who first had spoken, and so it became 

^lore lucid than at first it did appear : 
And like the sun, that in excess of flame 

Hides himself, when the heat hath scattered 

The vapours dense that did his glory maim, ics 

So in their joy o'er-great had vanished 

In their own light those holy lineaments ; 

And hidden, hidden, thus the answer said, 
Which the next Canto in its song presents. 

1-^ The phrase explains the use of "goddess" in C. iv. ii8. Was John x. 34, 35, in 
Dante's thoughts. 

J29 Mercury, as nearest to the sun, is for the most part invisible. 

133 We are reminded of Milton's " dark with excess of light." The figure of the speaker 
withdraws into a veil of greater brightness. 



Justinian — The Fli(jht of the Roman Eagle — The Pilgrim Itomco. 

" When Constuntine had turned the eagle's flight, 
Against Heaven's order, heretofore obeyed. 
Following Lavinia's old heroic knight, 

That bird of God two hundred years had made, 

And more, in Europe's furthest coast its nest, 5 

Near to the hills where first it left the shade ; 

And 'neath the shadow of its wide wings blest. 
From hand to hand the world's dominion ran, 
And changing thus, at last with me did rest. 

Csesar I was, and am Justinian, 10 

Who, feeling will of primal Love, was bent 
To make laws free from vain and cumbrous pUiii. 

And ere I was upon that work intent, 

In Christ one nature only, and no more, 

I held, and was with that my faith content. i& 

But the blest Agapetus, he who bore 

The ofiice of chief shepherd, to my view 
Brought by his words the true faith's better lore. 

Him I believed, and now, with judgment new. 

Discern what he then taught, as thou canst see, 20 

In contradiction marshalled, false and true. 

1 It is not with a sense of relief that we pass from the physical and moral problems of C 
ii.-v. to the splendid epitome of Roman history with which the Canto opens. The speaker 
(1. 10) is Justinian. 

- The progress of empire had been from East to West. Constantine turned it back towards 
its source. 

3 The ''ancient" hero is of course yEneas, as the founder of the Roman power (il/oM. ii. 3). 

4 Two hundred years are reckoned from Constantine (326) to Justinian (527). The border- 
land of Europe is Constantinople, near the plain of Troy, from which yEneas had started. 

12 The great task was that of consolidating the confused mass of edicts and opinions into 
a great code The words are almost a quotation from the Emperor's Preface ioihs Institutes : 
^' Opus desperatum coelesti favore jam adiinplevbnus" (Buil.) The chaff was sifted from 
the wheat, and the result was found in the Codex, the Pandects, and the Novelise which 
bear Justinian's name. 

13 Strictly speaking, it was the Empress Theodora who was jealous for the Eutychian or 
Monophysite dogma, Justinian only so far as he was under her influence. She had insisted 
on the appointment of the Monophysite Anthimus as Patriarch of Constantinople, and when 
Agapetus, Bishop of Rome, anived there, the Emperor insisted on the Pope's communicating 
with him. He rebuked the Emperor for hs Eutychian leanings, obtained his signature to 
an orthodox confession, and succeeded in obtaining the deposition of Anthimus. The story 
is told fully in Paul Diac. xvii., but Dante may have learnt it from Latini's Tresor, ii. 23. 

'■'1 The first axiom of dialectic was tliat of two contradictory pr. positions one must be true 

30 THE FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE. [pak. c. vi. 

Soon as my steps did witli the Church agree, 

It was God's will through grace my mind to thrust 
To my high task, and this was all to me. 

To Belisarius I the arms did trust, 25 

With whom was joined such aid from hand of Heaven 
That it was token that my rest was just. 

To thy first question thus is answer given ; 

But now, such is that very question's state. 

That I to touch on other grounds am driven. so 

That thou may'st see with argument of weight 
How men contend against the sacred sign, 
Who or oppose it or appropriate, 

See thou what virtue great hath made it shine. 

Worthy of homage ; and I there begin ss 

When Pallas died to found its kingly line. 

Thou know'st how it in Alba home did win. 

And there for more than centuries three abode, 
Till champions three met three in conflict's din. 

Thou know'st how 'twas on those seven kings bestowed, n> 
From Sabine rape to chaste Lucretia's pain, 
While it o'er neighbouring nations conquering strode. 

Thou know'st what great achievements it did gain, 

By Romans famed 'gainst Brennus, Pyrrhus borne, 
And other chieftains in confederate train. 

and the oiher false. The dogma of the two natures in one person now seemed to Justinian 
as axiomatic. The symbolism of ihe Gryphon indicates the stress which Dante himself laid 
on the dogma {^Purg. xxix. io8). Comp. also C. xxxiii. 130. 

22 As a matter of history, the work of codifying was begun before the visit of Agapetus. 

25 The victories of Belis.irius were accepted as a sign that the Emperor need not lead 
his armies hitriself, but might give himself to the arts of peace. Did Dante know of the 
way in which Belisarius was rewarded ? Probably not. Villani (ii. 6) lells the story as if he 
had continued in the Emperor's favour till his death. 

SI The lines that foUou' sum up the argument of the De Monarchia. The eagle was the 
sacred symbol of the ideal Empire. Ghibeilines who used it for their selfish ends, and 
Guelphs who opposed it, were alike impious (1. 103). The footsteps of the Divine order are 
traced in its history. (Comp. Mon. ii. 10; Conv. iv. 5.) 

36 Pallas, the son of Evander, king of Latium, died as the ally of .iEneas, fighting against 
Turnus {/En. viii.-x.) Apneas, from Dante's standpoint, became his heir. 

S'' The received dates give 11 84 B.C. for capture of Troy, 753 for foundation of Rome. Line 
39 refers to the combat of the Horatii and Curiatii {Liv. i 24), which resulted in the transfer 
of power from Alba Longa to Rome. The rape of the Sabine women and that of Lucretia 
are taken as the limits of the period of the kings during which Rome was extending her 

43 The next salient points are (t) the capture of Rome by the Gauls, followed by their 
'lefeat by Camillus, B.C. 389 [Conv. iv. 5) ; (2) the defeat of Pyrrhus (b.c. 275), whom we 
liave met in //. xii. 135. Then, selecting the chief heroes, he names T. Manlius, Quinctius 
Cincinnatus (we note that he explains the name), the Dec;i, who fought against the 

TAK. c. VI.] JULIUS C^SAR. 31 

And then Torquatus, Quinctius, named in scorn 
From locks unkempt, the Decii, Fabii too, 
"Won fame to which my myrrh I gladly burn. 

It did the pride of Arabs fierce subdue, 

Who crossed, behind the steps of Hannibal, ;o 

The Alps, whence thou, Po, dost glide to view. 

Young heroes to their triumph did it call, 

Scipio and Pompey, and on that same hill 
"Where thou wast born, full fiercely did it fall. 

Then at the time wherein all Heaven's high will 55 

Would bring the world beneath its law serene, 
At Rome's behest 'twas borne by Caesar's skill : 

And what it did from Varo to the Ehene, 
By Isar, Arar, Seine, and every vale 
That pays its tribute to the Rhone, was seen. co 

But what it did when, mighty to prevail, 
It left Ravenna, leapt the Rubicon, 
Nor tongue nor pen could tell the Avondrous tale. 

Then towards Spain it wheeled its legions on ; 

Then towards Durazzo, and Pharsalia smote, c3 

So that hot Nile felt sharp pangs through it run. 

Samnites, the great Fabian house which found its chief representatives in Maxiraus and the 
" Citn^tator." 

49 Commentators have perplexed themselves as to why Dante spoke of the Carthaginians 
as Arabs, but it was quite after his manner to use modern names for the ancient inhabitants 
of the same region. So Virgil is a Lombard (//. i. 68) and the Gauls are "Franceschi" 
(Conv. iv. 5). The people of North Africa were Arabs in the thirteenth century, and that 
was enough. 

*'- Scipio ?eems to have been a special hero of Dante's. So in Conv. iv. 5 he appears as 
" gitello hcnedetio giovajie." The '" hill" is Fiesole, which was said to have been destroyed 
by Cnseus Pompeius, and again by Julius Csesar (,Vitl. i. 36, 37). 

55 The peace which was wrought by the victories of Caesar and Augustus, and of which the 
closing of the Temple of Janus at the time of the birth of Christ (1. 81) was the outward 
token, was a favourite topic with Dante, as indicating the Divine purpose working in history 
{Conv. iv. 5 ; Man. i. 16). 

58_60 The Var, a river on the west of Nice, is named as the boundary between Gallia 
Transalpina and Cisalpina ; Isara = the Isere, which flows into the Khone at Valence : Era 
= Saone, falhng into the same river at Lyons ; Senna = S'--ine. The description finds a 
parallel in Luc. i. 39^446. " Rhene " finds a preceder.t in Milton, P. L., i. 352. 

•'I Caesar halted at Ravenna before he crossed the Rubicon (Suet. Jul. C. 30), and Dante, 
who had probably been staying at Ravenna (comp. Purg. x.wiii. 20) before he wrote tiiis 
Canto, naturally dwelt on the ancient glories of the city. 

M Caesar, .nnd not Pompeius, isrecoc;nised as the true champion of the Roman eagle. The 
lines epitomise his conquests over Pompeius' legates in Spain, the siege of Durazzo ( = 
Dyrrachium = Epidamnus) by the Pompeian forces, the great victory of Pharsalia. Here 
again Dante loUows Lucan (vii., viii.) The readings in 1. 66 vary <i/and //. The gener.d 
meaning is clear enough The effects of the victory of Phar.ealia were felt even on the 
banks of the Nile, where Pcmpeius was slain by Ptolemy {Luc. v\n.) 


Autandros then and Siniois remote, 

Its birthplace, it resaw, where Hector lay ; 

Thence with ill speed for Ptolemy did float, 
And so to Juba flashing made its way ; 70 

And then it wheeled itself towards your west, 

Where Pompey's clarion notes were heard to play. 
For what he wrought, next bearer of its crest, 

Brutus and Cassius howl in nether Hell ; 

Perugia, Modena, sorely it distrest. 73 

Still Cleopatra's tears of anguish well, 

Whom, fleeing from it, by the serpent's bite 

A death dark, sudden, terrible befell. 
To the Red Sea with him it winged its flight ; 

With him the world it settled in such peace sc 

That Janus' temple closed its gates of might. 
Eut what the sign, of which to tell doth please, 

Had done before and was about to do 

For the world's kingdom, ruled by its decrees, 
Scant and obscure becomes to outward view, m 

When the third Caesar's hands the sceptre swayed, 

If eye be clear and our affection true. 
For then the living Justice, which hath made 

Me wise, gave it, through him of whom I speak, 

The boast of vengeance to His anger paid. sc 

•i^ After Pharsalia Cs^ar led his troops to Antandros, a city in Phrygia; to Simois, the 
famed river of Troy, and so the eagle once more saw the nest from winch it had flown, the 
cradle of the Roman peop'e, the tomb of Hector (/£■»;. i. 99, v. 371). Hence the Dictator led 
his forces to the conquest of Egypt ; then against Juba, king of Numidia, who had all along 
been astrong Pompcian ; then finally to Spain, where the war ended by thi defeat of Labienus 
and the sons of Pompeius. 

73 The "next standard-bearer" is Augustus. It is characteristic that the crime for which 
Brutus and Cassius are in Hell (//. xxxiv. 65-67)13 not so much the murder of Julius as 
their resistance to his successor as the divinely-appointed Emperor. 

'^ Augustus defeated Marcus Antonius near Modena, and afterwards besieged Perugia, 
where Lucius Antonius had taken refuge with Fulvia. 

7B The battle of Actium is not named, but is implied in the death of Cleopatra, which 
followed on it. For the " Red Sea" comp. yEn. viii. 686. 

S3 All earthly conquests, however, fell into insignificance as compared with the great glory 
given to the Empire under 'I'ibcrius, as the third Caesar. The Christ had been born under 
Augustus, but it was given to his successor that the great redemption should be wrought out 
in his time, and through the instrumentality of the Empire (Man. i. 13). The death of 
Christ satisfied the righteous wrath of God, and that death was the act of a Roman governor. 
For that act Dante, however, clearly held that the Jews, and not Pilate, were responsible, 
and so Titus in his turn had the glory of being a niiuister of the Divine vengeance. c. VI.] GUELPHS AND GHIBELLINES. 

At my rejoinder marvel now, and seek : — 

Later it sped with Titus, vengeance right 
Upon that vengeance of old sin to wreak. 

And when the Lombard tooth began to bite 

The Holy Church, beneath its sheltering wing 
Came Charlemagne to help with conquering might. 

Kow canst thou judge what wrong and woe they bring 
"Whom 1 but now to thee as guilty named. 
And see how from them all your mischiefs spring ? 

These 'gainst the public standard have proclaimed 
The golden lilies : those make it their own ; 
Uncertain is it who should most be blamed. 

Let then the Ghibellines make known, make known, 
Their arts 'neath other standard ; this is slow 
To join with those who justice will dethrone. 

And let not this new Charles aim at it blow, 

With those his Guelphs, but hold those claws in fear 
Which of its hide stripped nobler lion-foe. 

Full oft have children shed a bitter tear 

For sins of sires, and never let men deem 
That God those lilies for His arms shall bear. 

This star, though small, as well-adorned doth beam, 
Through spirits good that have been seen in act. 
That men may them as great and good esteem. 

91 Butler ingeniously suggests that the term "reply" is used in its technical sense as ihe 
answer of the plaintiff in a suit to the " exceptions " taken by the defendant. 

^ The sketch passes rapidly over the decline and fall of the first Empire to its revivnl 
tinder Charlemagne, in which Dante saw the Divine sanction given to the perpetuity v{ the 
Empire, and then passes to an impartial condemnation of th; factions by which Italy ".'as ia 
h's own time divided. The idealist has formed a party by himself (comp. I. 33 ; C. xvii. 69). 
and condemns alike those who bore the yellow Jleuf-de-Iys of France, borne by the house o? 
Anjou at Naples (Charles II. \v is king in 1300), as the head of the Guelphs, and the Ghibel- 
lines who turned the sacred eagle into a badge of faction. We note the agreement of tone 
with Henry VII. 's proclainat on on entering Italy (i. p. ci.) 

106 The "new Charles" has been identified by Witte as possibly Charles of Valois, but 
at ihe assumed date of the vision he had nr>t appeared in Italy, and when Dante wrote ihe 
Paradise had vanish-d from the scene. I adhere, therefore, with most commentators, in 
applying the words to Charles II. of Naples, who was king in 1300, though the warning was 
probably meant for his successor. Robert, who succeeded to the throne in 1309. 

108 Xhe words may refer to any of the kings who had been conquered by the Roman 
eagle, Pyrrhus, Jugurtha, Ptolemy, and the like. 

112 With this warning the history ends, and Justinian proceeds to tell how Mercury, the 
smallest of the planets (Cowf. ii. 14), is assigned to the souls that have sought true fame on 
earth. They ought to have sought something higher, and therefore they are in the lowest 
sphere but one ; but they accept it as all that they deserve, and find their joy in the perfect 
justice of the Divine award. 


34 THE PILGRIM ROMEO. . [par. c. vi. 

And when desires have settled in that tract, n^ 

And from the true path turn aside, the ray 
Of true Love needs must show less life in act. 

Eut in the due proportion of our pay 

To merits is large measure of our joy, 

Since nor o'er-prized nor under-paid are they. i-^ 

The living Justice doth our thoughts employ 
So sweetly that they ne'er aside decline, 
To work for others evil or annoy. 

As divers tones in music sweet combine. 

So in our life the several steps uprise, i-3 

And in these spheres make harmony divine. 

And so within this fair pearl of the skies 

Shines the bright sheen of Romeo, he whose name 
And work, though great and fair, gained meagre piize ; 

But those Provencals who against him came i3o 

Have found no cause for mirth ; so he fares ill 
Who counts as loss another's deeds of fame. 

Four daughters, destined each a throne to fill, 
Had Raimond Berengario, and 'twas he, 
Romeo, the low-born stranger, worked his will ; 135 

Yet was he led by envious calumny 

To call to strict account this man so just, 
That he for ten gave twelve as usury. 

So, old and poor, he parted from his trust ; 

And if the world but knew the heart he bore, ho 

Begging, for very life's sake, crust on crust. 

Who praise him much would praise him then yet more." 

l^' For " pearl " see C. ii. 34. The history of Romeo (the word, at first used for one who 
had been on a pilgrimage to Rome, seems to have passed into a proper name — the Romeo 
of Verona was probably a contemporary) seems to have been chosen by Dante as a typical 
instance of the love of fame at the opposite pole to that of Justinian. As told in Vili. vi. 90, 
the story runs thus : — Kaimond Berlinghieri (or Berenger) was Count ot Provence. A 
pilgrim came to his court from the shrine of .St. James of Compostella, and rose into high 
favour with the Count. By his counsels the fuur daughters of Raimond, who had no sons, 
were married, Margaret to Louis IX. of France (Pz/r^. x.\. 61), Eleanor to Henry III. of 
England, Sanzia to Richard, Earl of Cornwall (brother of Henry ill.), Beatrice to Charles of 
Anjou. The barons of Provence, envious of his influence, accused him of wasting his lord's 
i'oods. Romeo cleared himself of the charge, gave an account of his stewardship, and then 
left the court, as he had come to it, on his mule and with his pilgrim's staff. Later historians 
(Scart.) affirm that the latter part of the story has no founJation, and that Romeo died in 
Provence in 1250, but Dante may well have believed what Villani writes. One can fancy 
l.ow the magnanimity of the man who thus chose exile and poverty, the result of an unjust 
accusation, rather than disgrace, would commend itself to the soul of Dante, as not without 
a parallel in his own character and fortunes {.Lije, c. S). Such a soul was a fit comrade even 
for the greatest of the Emperors. 

PAR. c. VII.] DOGMAS. 35 


Dogmas — The Sin of Adam — The Incarnation — TTie Corruptible and 

^* HosAiVNA, Sandus Deus Sahaoth, 

Superillustrans claritate tud 

Felices ignes horum MalaJioth." 
Thus, turning to his song, appeared to say 

That form I saw, upon whose kingly head s 

Shone, with a twofold lustre, twy-form ray. 
It and the others danced in measured tread, 

And like to sparks that flit their swift-winged wa}-. 

In sudden distance from me vanished. 
I doubted, and within me, " Say it, say," w 

I cried, " say it to my Lady fair, 

"Who with her sweet dew doth my cravings stay." 
But that deep awe, which o'er me sway doth bear, 

Whenever I or BE or ICE spell, 
. Bowed me as one who doth to sleep prepare. 15 

Short while let Beatrice that doubt dwell, 

And then began with such a radiant smile, 

'Twould make a man i' the fire say. All was well. 
" My mind, which no deception can beguile, 

Hath seen that thou o'er doubt how vengeance just 20 

Can justly be avenged, dost brood awhile ; 
But I that bondage from thy mind will thrust : 

And give thou heed, for know these words of mine 

Will to thy soul a doctrine high intrust. 

1 The three Hebrew words indicate possibly an elementary knowledge of Hebrew, for 
which Dante's friendship with Immanuel of Rome (i. p. Ixxvi.) may suflSciently account. 
" Hosanna," however, is used by him not in its strict meaning as = "Save us," but as in 
lilait. xxi. 3, 15 ; Mark xi. q; Jnkti xii. 13, as a vague utterance of praise. " Sabaoth" he 
would find m the Vulg. oi James v. 4 and in the Te Deum. " Malachoth" appears, instead 
of the more correct " Maiiilaclioth," in the Prol. Gal. of Jerome prefixed to the Vulg. in 
the sense of "kingdoms," as it is used here (Witte, D. F. ii. 43). 

5 The "substance" is the soul of Justinian, the "double light" that of the lawgiver and 
the emperor. 

10 The words_ of Justinian (C. vi. 90-93) had raised a question in Dante's mind. Thrice he 
whispered to himself "Tell it to her," but thrice his reverence for the very syllables of 
Beatrice's name (S. 2 ; V. N. c. i) restrained his utterance. His silence was rewarded by a 
smile which would have brought blessedness even in the flames of Purg. xxvii. 52. She 
reads his thoughts and solves the problem. How could the death of Christ, in itself a 
(ighteous expiation of the Divine wrath, call in its turn for another expiation? 

THE INCARNATION, [par. c. vii. 

Eecause he would not power of will resign 25 

To curb meant for his good, the man not born. 
Damning himself, damned also all his line ; 

And so man's race lay feeble and forlorn, 

For many an age, in grievous error's way, 

Till God's Word pleased on earth to make sojourn, 3p 

"Where man's frail nature, wont so far to stray 
From its Creator, in one Person met 
With IT, as Love Eternal showed the way. 

Kow fix thy glance at that before thee set : 

This nature, with its own Creator wed, ss 

Was pure and good, as when unfallen yet ; 

Eut by itself alone 'twas banished 

From Paradise, because itself it tore 

From way whicli would to truth and life have led. 

]f, therefore, by the nature that it bore w 

Be measured what the Cross wrought out of pain, 
None ever had of righteous vengeance more. 

Cut never was such cruel wrong again, 

If we the Person suffering there behold, 

Who did that nature with His own sustain. « 

Thus from one act spring things of diverse mould ; 
God and the Jews the same death did delight ; 
Earth quaked, and Heaven its portals did unfold. 

It ought not then to seem hard in thy sight. 

When it is said that righteous punishment m 

Was afterwards avenged by judgment right. 

Lut now I see thy mind is straitly pent, 

With thought on thought entangled and entwined, 
Fiom which to free itself it waits ii.tent. 

25 We enter on a profound theological discussion of the Atonement as taught bj- Aquinas. 
Adam, by transgressing the restraint imposed upon his will, brought condemnation on himself 
and all descended from him. So mankind lay diseased and in the darkness of error till the 
time of the Incarnation of the Divine Word {Siiimn. i. 34, 22, iii. 32, i) The human nature 
which He took was sinless, as that of Adam had been at his creation, but it was human 
nature still, and, as such, exiled fiom Paradise and rightly subject to the punishment of the 
cross. Not so, however, the sinless Person who had taken that nature into union with Him- 
self. For Him the death on the cross was an unjust punishment, and the Jews were guilty 
of ihat injustice. What on one side " satisfied " the justice of God, " satisfied," on the other, 
their malice, and the punishment of whi. h Titus was the agent was therefore a righteous 
vengeance. It will be seen that Dnnte's theory of the Atonement is not identical with either 
that of the early Church, or thai of Ansehii in the Cu/Vcus Homo, or that of Aquinas {Sitvtm. 
ii. 46, 1), or the forensic view of a vicarious satisfaction which has been dominant in 
Protestant theology. Here also he seems to take his own ground and to form a "parte pet 
es siesso." Of 'the great n;ediffi\al theologians, Hugh of St. Victor seems the one in whose 


Thou say'st, * What I now hear full clear I find, 55 

But why this was God's will is unrevealed. 
For our redemption this one way assignetl' 

This His decree, my brother, lies concealed 

From each man's eyes who doth a spirit own, 

O'er which Love's fire no full-grown power doth wiekl «» 

Yet truly since at this same mark 'tis known 

We may gaze long, with little clearly learned, 
I'll tell why such plan was as worthiest shown. 

Goodness Divine, which from Itself hath spurned 

All envy, burning in Itself doth glow, 65 

So that eternal beauties are discerned. 

Whate'er from It doth as immediate flow, 

No limit knows, because It knows no change, 
Where, as a seal, It doth Its impress show, 

Whate'er from It doth as immediate range, 70 

Is wholly free, as subject unto none 
Of things endowed with novel power and strange 

IMore it d« lights as it is more Its own. 
For the blest beams that all irradiate 
In that most like them are most vivid known, 75 

In all these blessings doth participate 

The human creature, and, if one should fail, 
Needs must he fall from that his high estate. 

Sin only can to disendow prevail, 

And make him unlike to the Good Supreme, & 

For then but little doth Its light avail : 

footsteps he treads most closely. Comp. Oxenham, Ca(/i. Doctr. of Atonement, c. iv. ; 
Dorner, Person o/ Christ, P. i. sect. 3, both for this and the next question. 

56 The question is an instance of the Rationalism of the inquiring intellect even in the 
Media:\al Church. Why were the Incarnation and the Passion the method chosen for 
redemption ? Could not God have pardoned mankind without them ? To this Beatrice 
answers on the thieshold of the discussion, in the very spirit of Hugh of St. Victor, that 
none can rightly judge in the matter whose mind has not been ripened in the glow of Divine 

66 The solution starts from the conception of the absolute goodness of the Divine Will. 
In it there can be no touch of envy (James i. 5 ; Boeth. iii. 9). What He creates by a direct 
act, i.e., the angels and the souls of men, bears on it His stamp of eternity, and its annihila- 
tion is inconceivable (Summ. i. 65, i). It is free, and not subject to new or second causes, such, 
e.g., as the influences of the stars, from which Dante uniformly represents man's will as 
exempted. The more it resembles Him the more He delights therein ; and man has this 
resemblance in a hgher measure than any other material creature. If freedom or likeness to 
God be net found in him, he is fallen from his ntbility, and sin has brought about this fall, 
;ind so he shares but little in the light of God. 

38 DIVINE SATISFACTION. [par. c. vu^ 

And ne'er can he his dignity redeem, 

Unless, where sin leaves void, he satisfy 

With righteous pains for evil's pleasant dream. 
Your nature, when it sinned so utterly 85 

lo its first seed, was driven from Paradise, 

As from the glory of such dignity : 
Nor could it be regained, if, subtly wise, 

Thou takest note, by any other way 

Than that which through or this or that ford lies ; oo 
Either that God should put the guilt away 

Of His free bounty, or that man for sin 

Due satisfaction should in person pay. 
Fix now thine ej^es the deep abyss within / 

Of the eternal counsels, with thy might, 95 

Bent the full meaning of my words to win. 
Man, in his limitations, ne'er aright / 

Could satisfy, since ne'er could he descend. 

Obeying now, depths answering to the height,: 
Which he thought, disobeying, to ascend ; 100 

And this the reason is why man could ne'er. 

Left to himself, make due and full amend. 
So was it meet that God the task should bear, 

And in His own ways man's whole life renew ; 

I say, or in the one, or in the pair. ms 

Eut forasmuch as favour doth accrue ; 

To work from worker, as it doth disclose 

Of that heart whence it springs the goodness true, 
Goodness Divine, whose seal the whole world shows, 

To work Its will, by all and every way, no 

To raise you up again to true life, chose : 
Nor 'twixt the last night and the primal day 

Was ever process so sublime and high 

Wrought or by this or that, or shall for aye; 

^ The next stage in the argument is that restoration is impossible without penitence and 
satisfaction, or, in their absence, the free love of God pardoning without them. could 
not make satisfaction by iiimself, for his guilt had consisted in aspiring to be like God (Gen. 
ill. 5), and there was no depth of lowliness to which his obedience could descend as a set-off 
against that guilt. God magnified His goodness more in manife-ting Himself in Christ 
than in remitting sins by a simple act of power, for in that He set forth both His attributes of 
justice and of mercy. That sell-humiliation of the Son of God was of all methods the most 
magnificent. So far Dante's theory of the Atonement approximates to that of the Cur Deits 
Homo of Anselm, though it is not identical with it. 


For God was far more bounteous in supply, 115 

Giving Himself that man himself might raise, 
Than if He of Himself had put sin by. 

And scant and poor had proved all other ways 

For claims of justice, but that God's own Son, 

Become incarnate, should Himself abase. 120 

And now to fill thy cravings every one, 

I turn again one point to make more clear, 
That thou may'st see it e'en as I have done. 

Thou say'st, ' I see the fire, I see the air, 

The earth and water, and each compound blent, 125 

Last but a while and then corruption share.' 

Yet these things God's creative work present ; 
Therefore, if that which I have said be sure. 
Corruption's touch for them were never meant. 

The angels, Brother, and this region pure iso 

In which thou art, created we may call. 
In their whole being, as they now endure ; 

But those, the elements thou namest, all, 

And those things also which of them are made^ 

Formed by created virtue, lower fall. 135 

Created was the matter there displayed ; 
Created was that virtue which inspires 
These stars, which rolling round them are conveyed. 

The soul that every plant or brute acquires 

Draws, with potential elements combined, 1-10 

The light and motion of those holy fires. 

But this your life immediate source doth find 
In the Supreme Beneficence, and Love 
So fills it that It thither drav/s our mind. 

124 Yet another doubt arises. Beatrice had said (1. 67) that the creatures of God's hands 
were sharers in His eternity. But men see that the four elements, and the creatures that are 
compounded of them, are transitory and corruptible. How is that seeming contradiction to 
be reconciled? And so there comesanother c'/f/Zw^jft?. Angels and the heavenly spheres and 
the souls of men (Purg: xvi, 85, xxv. 72) are the result of an immediate act of creation. 
They therefore are incorruptible {Smum. i. 66, 2, i. 2. 49, 4). But the visible material world, 
compounded of the elements, is the work of intermediate and created agents, the effect of 
second causes, and therefore subject to decay. This holds good of the stars as distinct 
fronri the heavenly spheres, of the "soul" or life of animals or plants. But man's soul, 
as had been said before, comes from the creative act of God without any intermediate 
agency. Yes, and this is true also of man's body. 1 hat also was represented in G^/t. i. as 
created by the hand of God. And on this ground, as in itself sufficient, Dante is content to 
rest not only the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the body. I state, without 
discussing, his argument. It will be clear, at least, how far his belief was from what we 
have learnt to call the doctrine of Conditional Immortality. 

40 THE HEAVEN OF VENUS. [par. c. viu. 

And thus thou may'st Avitli further reasoning prove "5 

Your resurrection, if thou meditate 
How human flesh was fashioned from above, 

Then, when our two first parents were create." 


The TInr-cl Heaven, of Venus — Charles Martd of Iliinrjary— Eternal Provi- 
dence — Diversities of Gifts. 

To its own cost, the world to hear was found 

How the fair Cyprian darted love insane, 

In that third epicycle moving round ; 
Wherefore not only in old error vain 

Did ancient nations give her honour due s 

Of votive cries and sacrifices slain, 
But worshipped Cupid and Dione too. 

This as her mother, that as her dear son, 

And said that Dido's lap his presence knew ; 
And so from her, through whom my song's begun, lo 

They took the name of that same planet fair, 

"Which, from one side or the other, woos the sun. 
I did not see that I had mounted there, 

But proof enough my Lady gave to me 

Through wondrous increase of her beauty rare. is 

1 From the sphere of Mercury the travellers pass to that of Venus. Following the same 
path of thought as to stellar influences as before, the souls that are met here are thosewhose 
earthly life was coloured by the temperament (one shrinks in this case from the adjective 
which corresponds to " mercurial " or "jovial') which that planet was believed to impress on 
those born under its influence, and which, even when Divine grace triumphed over the tempta- 
tions which it brought with it, made them djflerent from other blessed souls. 

>* An epicycle was one of the special terms of the Ptolemaic system, which assumed that 
each planet moved in a circle which always had its centre in the circumference of the great 
orbit of the planet. I need not enter into the astronomic reason for this. Milton, it will be 
remembered, probably following Galileo, sneers at them (/\ L. viii. S4). 

" Dione, the daughter of Ocearius and IV.thys, was the mother of Venus Aphrodite, and, 
with Cupid, the son of Venus, shared the worship which was paid to her (Hesiod, Theog. 
353 ; Horn. IL. v. 370). For Dido, see yEn. i. 657-660. 

12 Venus as a planet is now before the sun, and now behind, known in the morning as 
Lucifer (Jsa. xiv. 12), in the evening as Hesperus. 

1-* The ascent, as before (C. ii 23), is instantaneous. All that he knows is that the face of 
Beatrice is radiant with a new glory ; and in the brightness, lamps yet more br ght are dis- 
cerned, dancing rhythmically in their joy. 

PAR. c. nil.] THE POETS WELCOME. 41 

And as within a flame a spark we see, 

And as within a voice a voice we hear, 

"When one is firm, one changes fitfully, 
So then in that b"ght other lamps appear, 

Moving in circle, more or less in speed, so 

Methinks, as is their gaze eternal clear. 
Never did Avinds from chilly clouds proceed 

So swift, invisible or visible, 

That would not seem as slack and slow indeed 
To one who had those lights divine seen Avell, 25 

Come to lis, leaving off their winding dance, 

Begun where Seraphim in glory dwell. 
And behind those that did in front advance 

Sounded " Hosanna," so that aye since then 

I long it should once more my soul entrance. so 

And one of them drew nigh, and in this strain 

Began alone : " All ready now are we 

To do thy will, that in us joy thou gain. 
"We turn with princedoms that in high Heaven be, 

One orbit, one revolving, and one love, ss 

As in the world 'twas said of old by thee, 
* Ye icho ioith simple loill the tldrd Heaven move^ 

And are so full of love, that, thee to please. 

Rest for a while shall not less welcome prove." 
And when mine eyes had turned away from these « 

To seek my Lady with due reverence, 

And were by her content and set at ease, 

18 Tlie deicription comes from an expert in music, who distinguished between the canto 
Jermo of one who sustained the main theme of song, while other voices varied in their 
melodious play around it. 

2' The "visible" winds are the lightning-flashes which mediaeval meteorology explained 
as being caused by the collision of opposing currents (Tres. ii. 37). 

28 Seraphim are named as being, in the current Angelo'ogy of the time, those who excelled 
in love, as the Cherubim (C. xi. 36-38, xxviii. gg) excelled in knowledge. 

30 Have we the feeling which had been often felt after the psalmody of earth transferred 
to the Hosanna of Paradise? For Dante's love of music, comp. Purg. ii. 108. 

32 The joy of the blessed souls consists in imparting joy. They are ready to satisfy the 
desires of the poet because his very presence among them has satisfied their desires. That 
presence is dear to them because in the Canzone which they quote (C. xiv.), and on which 
he evidently looks back with a parental fondness, he had already sung their praises. 
According to the classific.Ttion of the seven spheres, that of Venus belongs to the Princ paU- 
liei (C. xxviii. 125; Conv. ii, t). 

42 CHARLES MARTEL: frAi?. c. viit. 

Back to that light tlicy turned whose doqueirce • ' 
So ranch had promised, and "Speak, who are ye?" 
My voice exclaimed with eagerness intense. « 

Ah ! how that light grew more and more to see 

When I thus spoke, through that great gladness new 
Which came to crown its old felicity. 

Thus changed, it spake ; " Tlie world my presence knew 

Short time beloAv, and had it been but more, so 

Much ill that shall be then should not ensue. 

My great joy hides me from thee, and doth pour 
Its. radiance round about me, and conceals, 
Like creature whom its own silk covers o'er. 

Thou lov'dst me much, good cause that love reveals ; S5 

For had I stayed below I then had shown 
More than the budding leaves of what love feels. 

That left bank that is watered by the Rhone, 
Where with the Sorga's waters it is blent, 
Me for a while as sovereign lord did own, w 

■!■* I follow the reading " Di' chi siete" rather than its variants " Deh! chi," and others. 

49 The speaker is Charles Martel {h. 1270, d. 1295), son of Charles II. of Naples {Purg. vii. 
127, XX. 79), and king of Hungary. He married (1251) Clemenza, daugliter of the 
Emperor Rudolph of Hapslmrg. Commentators describe hiEn as fair in person, a lover of 
music, and song, and beauty in all its forms. In 1294 he stayed for twenty days in Florence 
waiting for the return of his two brothers from I'rance, and, as lines 55-57 show, he and 
Dante were drawn together by the ties of a warm and intimate friendship. Possibly he took 
the place in the poet's heart which had been left vacant by Guido Cavalcanti (//. x. 63). 
Villani (viii. 13) dwells at length on the magnificence of his retinue, in green and scarlet, with 
shields on which the arms of Naples and Hungary were emblazoned in red and gold. 

5" The words probably point to hopes, which he had shared with Dante, that he might 
have averted the contest between his father's house and that of Aragoii. 

S2 Few comparisons are more absolutely original. The silkworm hides itself in its own 
silk ; the spirits are sheathed by the effulgence of their own joy. In C. xxvi. 97 we have 
another of the same kind, perhaps even stranger. 

•^5 The words seem almost to imply a David and Jonathan attachment, yet, unless we 
assume that he was one of an embassy to Naples at the time of Charles's coronation 
there asking of Humary in 1290, their personal intercourse must have been limited to the 
short period of Charles's stay at Florence. Possibly the idealist, " tras)i!utal>ile sent fire" 
(C. v. 99), dreamt a dream of being a king's friend with an opening for doing great things. 
Charles was at once the heir of Provence through his grandmother, Beatrice, of Naples, in 
direct succession to hi- father, of Hungary (thoui;h with a title not undisputed), through his 
mother Mary, of Sicily, through his wife, Clemenza, and would have found in his children 
heirs at once of the houses of Hapsburg and of Anjou. Such a prince, bright, fascinating, 
friendly, might well have seemed to Dante likely to be among the mightiest potentates of 
the time, inaugur iting a reign of peace. His death was probably the first of the great dis- 
appointments which were the discipline of his life, and which culminated in the death of Henry 
of Luxemburg (vol. i. p. cix.) As it was, the succession of Charles Robert, son of Charles 
Martel, to the throne of Naples was disputed by his uncle Robert, the third son of Charles II., 
who was recognised as heir by his father's will. Clemenza died a few days after her husband. 

59 The Sorgue, memorable in its connexion with Petrarch, flows from Vaucluse into the 
Rhone a little above Avignon. 


And that horn of Ausonia who.?e extent 
Ban, Catona, Gaeta doth hold, 
Whence to the sea are Tronto, Verde sent. 

Already did my brow the crown enfold 

Of that fair land where Danube's waters flow, « 

"When they no more their German banks behold ; 

And fair Trinacria, which doth darkened show 
Between Pachynum and Pelorus, near 
The gulf where Eurus doth most fiercely blow, 

(Xot through Typhoeus, but the sulphur there,) 70 

Would have still waited for the kingly line 
That through me Charles' and Rudolph's stamp doth bear, 

If evil rule, which ever wrath dotli twine 

I^ound subjects' hearts, had let Palermo be, 

Xdi to the cry of 'Death ! Death ! Death !' incline, 75 

And if my brother had foreseen this, he 
The greedy Catalonians' poverty 
Had fled, that he from trouble might be free ; 

For truly there is need of heedful eye, 

His own, or others', that upon his boat, so 

O'erladen, no more heavy load should lie. 

His nature, which doth bear degenerate note, 

Kiggard from bounteous, such troops had employed 
As had not cared o'er heaped-up chest to gloat." 

61 Bar!, on the Adriatic coast ; Gaeta, on the Bay of Naples ; Catona (with v. I. Crotona), 
on the southern point of Calabria, opposite Messina, are named as limits which practically 
include the whole of Ausonia = Southern Italy. Two rivers bear the name of Verde, one a 
tributary of the Tronto, not far from Ascoli, the other is identified with the Garigliano. Here 
probably the latter is meant, the object being to give the two boundaries of the kingdom of 
Naples. Comp. Purg. iii. 131. 

65 The countrj' watered by the Danube = Hungary; Trinacria = Sicily. Pachj-num and 
Pelorus are two of the promontories which form the points of its triangle. 

69 Eurus is the south east wind, or sirocco, which blows over the Gulf of Catania. 
Dante, as a physicist, is careiul to note that he does not accept tlie legend that the Titan 
Typhoeus, buried under yEtna {Met. v. 346-352 ; yEn. iii. 560-5S7), was the cause of the 
eruption and the wind. 

"3 Dante puts the condemnation of the tyranny which led to the Sicilian Vespers (he was 
seventeen when the tidings reached Italy in April 1282) into the mouth of the grandson of the 
tyrant. That cry of " Death " rang through all Italy, and was even now echoing in his ears. 
If I mistake not, we may find other echoes in S. viii. 8 ; Cam. iv. 42. Had the two friends 
conversed on the tragedy when they met in 1294? 

"S Robert, the young- r brother of Charles !MarteI («. on 1. 55), was Duke of Calabria, but 
did not come to the throne of Naples till 1309. He and his brother John were left as 
hostages in the hands of Alphonso of Aragon in 1291, and were only liberated on the 
intervention of Boniface VIII. in June 1295 [Ptirg. vii. 119, xx. 79). Robert, on his return 
to Naples, brought with him many Catalan officers and other dependants, and their gieed of 
gain passed into a proverb, at least in Naples, as a burden which the exchequer could 
scarcely bear. 

82 The liberality of Charles II. is the only virtue wl.ich Dante allows him (C. xix. 128). 

44 DIVINE PROVIDENCE. [par. c. vm. 

" Because I deem the lofty bliss enjoyed bs 

Through this thy speech, by me, Master mine, 
There, whence all good starts, where its goal doth bide, 

Is, as I see it, seen by eyes of thine. 

It more delights me, and this too is dear, 

That thou discern'st it in the Mind divine. so 

Glad hast thou made me ; e'en so make it clear, 
Since in thy speech I find perplexity, 
How from sweet seed can bitter plant appear." 

So I to him ; and he to me : " Could I 

To this thy question but one truth explain, ws 

To what thou turn'st thy back thou'lt turn thine eye. 

The Good which all this realm thy steps attain 

Turns and contents, so works that, as a might, 
Its Providence in these vast orbs doth reign : 

And not alone things seen with prescient sight loo 

Dwell in that Mind that's in itself complete. 
But with them all that works to keep them right. 

And so where'er this bow sends arrow fleet. 
It falls, predestined, to its end foreseen, 
As dart directed to its centre meet. los 

If this were not so, then this Heaven had been. 

Where now thou walkest, such that it would be 
Of ruin, not of wisest art the scene. 

This cannot chance unless those stars we see 

Be ruled by Minds that feeble are and frail, "o 

The First Cause failing to work perfectly. 

Would'st thou this truth should more itself unveil 1 " 
" Not so," said I, " for 'tis impossible 
That Nature should in necessaries fail." 

The avarice of Robert is noted bj' Viliani (xii. io\ Petrarch, on the other hand, who 
received his crown of laurel at his hands, praises him to the skies as a patron of letters. 
Henvenuto confirms Dante with an anecdote. Robert had quoted to his Chancellor the text 
" Spirittts ubi Tult spirat" and the Chancellor replied ^^ Roberius, ubivult pitat" {Scart. 
and Butl.) Comp. Purg. vii. 124, xx. 79. 

"3 The joy of Dante at seeing and hearing his friend are mingled with a new difficulty. 
He had believed in the doctrine of heredity. His friend's words (1. 82) seemed to imply the 
opposite. The answer is found (i) in the general truth that the providence of God, working 
through the stellar influences (1. 99), ordereth all things well. If that were not so, the cosmos 
of the world would become a chaos (comp. Hcioker, E. P. i. i. %, 2 ; Conv. iii. 15), and this 
would imply imperfection not only in the angelic intelligences (1. 37) which guide the stirs, 
but in their Primal Cause, i.e.^ in God Himself. 


Then he : " Xow say if it would be less well 
For man on earth were he not citizen." 
" Yea," said I ; " here no reason needst thou tell ' 
"And can this be unless the lives of men 
Differ on earth, through office dilFerent ? 
No, if your Master writes with wisdom's pen." 
So to this point deductively he went, 

And then concluded : " Therefore needs must be 
That diverse are the roots of each man's bent : 
So here a Solon, Xerxes there we see, 

Here a Melchizedek, and there the man ,. 

Whose flight through air marred his son's destiny • 
The spheral nature, which, like seal, its plan 

Stamps on man's mortal wax, works well its art, 
But difference of hostel doth not scan. 
Thence comes it Esau hath his separate part 
In birth from Jacob, that Quirinus came 
From sire so base he claims from 3Iars to start 
A generated nature still the same 

Pathway would take as those that generate 
Unless God's providence that law o'ercame 1^5 

Kow before thee is that behind of late, 

But that thou know that I in thee delight, 
Thee with corollary I'll decorate. 
Ever doth Nature, if perchance it light 

On alien fortune, like all other°seed .^, 

Out of its own soil, fail to work aright ; 

an individual, l.fe. He finds his perfec ion as m.^K^^^V"""""'' ^°"' ^"' ^ corporate, not 
diversity of gifts, characters, funct ens ard,herefo?^t^'°^v^- ^i^'^' ■ ^"' ^ ''^'^ ^P"" 
.hrou.h the stellar influences, n the characters nff^ '' '\' ^'^"'''>'' ^'^^^^ 
•nstances of this diversity we have Solon Xeve. il^T '':^'V°"'?°A^ '"■ ''^^ ^-'^'^^■"^ 
planets work out their appointed function wi ho If In I '^'^'^'^C ^""^ Daedalus. A,.d the 
spring Esau and Jacob are children of the ".m. ° '°/.'^^ "'""'^ ^""^ ^^'^h men 

;Ogically takes them as an argume ,t a^ain.r f^ ^T"'^ (Augustine somewh -t more 

.= Romulus), the so. of Kh^airvu b/an ;„k^,own f,^^^"'' ^'''- /'"'' "• ")• Q-rinus 

a n-IX' la?buf nJ-aTt'j^t^^^^^^^^^^^ &o^^^ '° l^^ P-."-" ">- '^ - -t 

other\vise. "^ ""'"^° ^V ^^^ i>'vine WiU working through the stars or 


46 CLEMENZA. [par. c. ix. 

And if the world below would give good heed 
To Nature's first and fundamental rule, 
Then would it have a virtuous race indeed ; 

T>\\t ye still turn off to religion's school ws 

One who was born to gird himself with sword, 
And take as king some sermonising fool ; 

And so your track the right road hath ignored," 


The Lovers in the Heaven of Venus — Cunizza — Folco of 
Marseilles — Eahai, 

When that thy Charles had thus, Clemenza fair, 
Made all things clear, he cited, one by one, 
The ills his seed through cunning frauds should bear, 

But said, "Be dumb, and let the years roll on." 

So I can say but this, that wailing due e 

Will come for all wrongs that to you are done. 

And now that holy light's life yet anew 

Turned to the Sun which fills it with its rays. 
As to that Good where " All in all " is true. 

Ah ! souls deceived, unholy in your ways, lo 

Who turn your hearts from good like this, and long 
With upturned brows for vain and false displays ! 

elder brotVier Lewis abdicated his princely rights, became a Franciscan friar, and in 1296 was 
mode Bishop of Toulouse by Boniface VIII. Robert, who became king of Naples, on the 
contrary {Vil/. xii. 10), gave himself to philosophy and theology as if he had been a 
Dominican preacher. How he could sermonise, when occasion ofifered, maybe seen in his letter 
lo the Florentines after the memorable inundation of the Arno in 1333 (Vill. xii. 4). Dante's 
feelings were embittered by the fact that he had been the ally of the Florentines throughout 
in their resistance to Henry of Luxemburg, and on the Emperor's death had been appointed 
Vicar of the Empire in Italy by the Pope. 

1 The wife and daughter of Charles Martel were both named Clemenza. Most of the 
ancient commentators refer the words to the latter. The former, however, seems more likely. 
She was known to Dante in the beauty of her youth, and her daughter, wile of Louis X. of 
France, was probably not so known. Some writers identify Clemenza with the mother of 
Charles, but she was Mary of Hungary. 

6 The words refer to the treatment of Charles's children by his brother Robert, who 
maintained his position as king of Naples in defiance of their rightful claims (see «. on C. viii. 
55). The retribution implied in 1. 6 is found in the death of Robert's brother Peter and his 
nephew Carlntto at the battle of Monte Cattini, in that of his onlv son, Charles, Duke of 
Calabria, and the invasion of Apulia by Lewis, king of Hungary (Vill. ix. 62). 

10 The reproach is general in terms, but is obviously meant for the wrong-dners, Robert and 
his counsellors, implied in 1. 2. The readings vary between "fatitfe eiiipie," and " fatuc ed 
einpie. " 

PAR. c. IX.] CUNIZZA. 47 

And lo ! another of that shining throng 

Approached me, and its will to give delight 

Made known by flashing forth a ray more strong. 15 

The eyes of Beatrice, fixed aright 

Upon me, as before, assured me well 
Of dear assent to my desire for light. 

" I pray thee, quickly meet my wish, and tell, 

O Spirit blest," I said, " by some sure sign 20 

That in thy mind my thoughts reflected dwell." 

And then that light, which yet as new did shine, 

From out the depth whence erst its song flowed on, 
Drew near, as though good deed brought joy divine. 

" In that part of the land that vile has grown, 25 

Italian, which between Rialto lies 
And where Piava's, Brenta's springs are known, 

A hill is seen, not over-high, to rise, 

Whence 'gainst that land erewhile was downward driven 
A fiery torch in hostile enterprise. so 

13 The other splendour is, as 1. 32 shows, Cunizza, who, inan-wer to Dante's wish, tells the 
story of her life. It was a sufficiently strange one. The sister of Ezzelin d^ Romano (/•. 
11S9). she had been married in 1212 (piobably it was a political marriage) to Richard, Count 
of St. Boniface, the head of the Guelphs of Verona. She fascinated Sordello (Piirg-. vi. 74, 
vii. 3), and with him left her husband's house. Sordello went to Provence, and she retired 
to her brother's Alberic's court at Treviso, where she had an intrigue wiih a knight named 
Bonio. On his death Ezzelin gave her in marriage to Count Rainier of Br.iganza. She ne.xt 
appears, on his death, as the wife of Salione Buzzicarini, Ezzelin's astrologer. After the 
death of Ezzelin (//. xii. no) and his brother, she found a retreat in Florence. 'Ihe last 
fact known of her is th^it she made her will in that city (1265), in the hou^e of Cavalcante del 
Cavalcanti, father of Dante's friend Guido (//. .\. 53). One wonders at first that so stern a 
judge as Dante oid not place Her along with Semiramisor Dido, or, at lea-t, as waiting to pass 
through the cleansing fire of Piir^. xxvii. 49. The fact just recorded contains, perhaps, the 
solution of the problem. Her latter days at Florence were said to have been marked by 
piety and charity. Even before that, slie was said to have relieved, as far as she could, the 
victims of Ezzelin's oppression. By her will she gave freedom to her serfs (Troja, I'elt. 1S56, p. 
294). The date of her death is unknown. It is possible that Dante himself may have had early 
memories of the gracious penitent lady, still retaining much of the fascination of her former 
beauty, or may have heard of such memories, and of the romance of her love for the great 
Mantuan poet from Guido Cavalcanti, who was sixteen years older than himself. Anyhow, 
he believed that she had repented, and therefore did not shrink from placing her in ParaJise. 
He remembered, it may be, the story of a certain woman who also had had five husbands (y^.'i« 
iv. iS), of a woman whose sins, that were many, were forgiven her because she loved much 
{Luke vii. 47). We Englishmen, at all events, may remember that Archbishop Teiiison did 
not refuse to preach Nell Gwynne's funeral sermon, and assumed in it that she also had found 
pardon and peace in the Paradise of God. Browning, whj identifies Cunizza with the P.alma of 
h\s Sordello, the daughter of Ezzelin, gives a very different version of her story and char.icter ; 
but, as in the case of Sordello, we have to regret the absence of scay pieces jtistijicatives. 

25 The Marca Trevigiana is described, after Dante's manner, by its boundaries, the Rialto 
of Venice, the Brenta on the east (//. xv. 7), which rises in the hiU-country of Chiarentana, 
and the Piava on the west, boih flowing into the Gulf of Venice. 

28 The hill is Romano, between Padua and Eassano, on which stood the castle of the 
tyrant Ezzelin. P. Dante reports a tradition the mother of Ezzelin dreamt before his 
birth that she brought forth a fiery torch, the flame of which devoured the whole country 
icund (//. xii. i:c). 

48 CUNIZZA. [PAB. c. IX. 

To this and me one parent stock was given : 

Cunizza was I called, and I shine here 

Because o'ercome by this bright star of Heaven. 
But joyfully, self-pardoning, I bear 

What caused my fate, nor doth it breed annoy, 35 

Which to your crowd, perchance, will strange appear. 
Of this bright jewel, radiant in its joy, 

Which of our heaven nearest is to me, 

Great fame remained, nor aught shall it destroy. 
Until this century quintupled shall be. 40 

See if man's course for virtue should decide. 

So that new life may come when this shall flee ! 
And yet they think not thus who now abide 

'Twixt Tagliamento and Adige's shore. 

And, though sore smitten, mourn not for their jiriJe. 45 
But soon shall Padua dye the lake with gore 

Which bathes the walls of old Vicenza's town, 

As stubborn against duty as of yore. 
And where Cagnan' and Sile both flow down, 

One lords it proudly, goes with head reared high, so 

The web to catch whom is already thrown. 
And Feltro yet will wail the treachery 

Of its base shepherd, guilty so that none 

To ]\ralta came for like delinquency. 

** The thought is a development of that of Lethe and Eunoe in Purg. xxviii. Ciiniz7a 
tells how her life had been swayed by the influence of Venus, with no touch of shame, or even 
sorrow. All had worked for good, and, strange as it might seem to those who knew not the 
secrets of the new life, she could rejoice in all. 

37 The light is Folco of Marseilles (1. 94). The words of 1. 40 have been interpreted as 
meaning that Folco's fame (he died in 1231) shou'd last to the year 1500, or 1800, or 6500, 
according to the meanincj given to " incinqiia." Was the poet reckoning on the immortality 
of fame given to Folco through his own verse? 

43 The people of the Trcvisa March (the two boundaries are named in 1. 44) are con- 
demned as wanting in the energy which seeks after fame. Their sufferings under Ezzelin 
bad not led them to repentance, and therefore Cunizza prophesies of the yet sharper pimish- 
ments that are in store for them. 

J*> Vicenza lay between the Cuelph city Padua and the Ghibelline Verona. After the 
death of E/zelin in 1259 it b"canie subjei t to Padua, which in 1311 expelled Henry VII. 's 
vicar, and massacred the Ghibellines (Vill. ix. 36; Purg. vi. 91). Can Grande was then 
appointed Imperial Vicar of Vicenza, and defeated the Paduans in 1314 on the banks of the 
Bacchiglione, on which both cities stand, dyeing its waters with their blood, because they 
had held out against their duty to the Emperor, Henry VII. 

■JS The two rivers named meet at Trevisa. The noble who lords it haughtily is Richard 
da Camino, son of the good GherTrdo of Pufg. xv. 124, who was assassinated (1312) while 
pi lying at chess, as some said, at the instigation of Can Grande, while others saw in it the 
levenge of a noble whose wife he had seduced. For him, therefore, Cunizza says, the web 
of destiny was already woven {Murat. Ann. 1312, in Scart.) 

52 The Bishop of Feltro was Alessandro Novello (i29S-i32o\ In 1314 he surrendered 
some Ghibelline fugitives who had taken refuge in his palace to the Podesti of Ferrara, hy 


Full large would be the vat in which should run r^, 

The blood of the Ferrarese that he shed, 
And weary he who, weighing, one by one, 

The drops this kind priest shall have lavished 
To show his zeal for party ; gifts thus famed 
To that land's life shall be close fashioned. o» 

Above are mirrors. Thrones ye them have named, 
And tlience God doth, as judging, on us shine, 
So that right good seems all we've thus proclaimed."' 

Here she was silent, giving me a sign 

That she had turned elsewhither, as she flew, g5 

Along her orbit, on her former line. 

The other glad one, whom before I knew, 

Became a thing resplendent to my sight, 
As when the sun lights up a ruby's hue. 

On high through joy there comes increase of light, 70 

As smiles appear on earth ; but down below, 
As the mind grieves the shade grows dark as night. 

*' God seeth all; from Him thy sight doth flow," 
I said, " blessed spirit, so that nought 
Of what He wills escapes thy power to know, ". 

That voice of thine, whence joy to Heaven is brought, 
"With song that ever flows from those blest fires, 
Who of their six wings have a mantle wrought. 

Why fails it now to answer my desires ? 

I had not lingered so for thy demands, so 

Knew I, as thou my heart, what thine requires." 

whom they were put to death. Malta was apparently a prison where priestly crimiiiaU were 
sentenced to a life-long confinement, but commentators are at sea as to its local'ty, Rome, 
Montefiascone on the Lake of Bols'^na, and Cittadella in the Paduan territory, being all 
named. The Chron. Patav. in Murat. Aiitiq. Ital. iv. 1139, describes the opening of this 
prison in 1256, when its inmates were led out, worn and haggard and shrinking from the 
light. On the other hand, Scartazzini decides in favour of a prison at Viterbo, mentioned in an 
unpublished chronicle as having been built in 1255 for prisoners condemned by the Pope, and 
known as La Malt<-i. Such a prison, Dante says, would be the fit abode for the priest who 
had taken this w.iy of showing that he was true to his party — a way only too congenial to 
the sanguinary temper of his countrymen. 

"1 The Thrones are the third order of the hierarchy of Dionj'siiis the Areopagite (c. 7). 
They, like other angels, areas mirrors reflecting the Divine knowledge of things past, present, 
and to come, and thus Cunizza can vouch for the truth of her predictions. Comp. C- x.wiii. 
103 ; Conv. ii. 6. 

67 On Cunizza's departure the soul of Folco glows with a new brightness, that being the 
sign of joy in Paradise, as are smiles on earth, even as gloom or darkness are signs of sorrow 
in Hell. Encouraged by that brightness, Dante applies to him for further knowledge. The 
student will note the tojtr de Jorce of the verbs formed from pronouns in 1. 73. Si — s'vtluia, 
m'intuassi. t'iiiunii — which I have been compelled to paraphrase. The fires with the six 
wings are the Seraphim of hat vi. 2. 


so FOLCO OF MARSEILLES. [par. c. ix. 

" The greatest valley -svliere the sea expanda," 
Then in this strain his words began to flow, 
'* Except that ocean compassing all lands, 

Between discordant shores so far doth go 85 

'Gainst the sun's course, it makes meridian 
There where at first it forms horizon low. 

Along that valley's shore my childhood ran, 

'Twixt Ebro and the Magra, which divides 

With short course Genoese from Tuscan man. so 

With the same sun from dawn till darkness hides, 
Lie Buggea and the land from whence I came, 
That with its own blood warmed its harbour-tides. 

Folco that people called me, who my name 

Knew well, and now this sphere by me in turn as 

Imprest becomes, as I by it became ; 

Because not more did Belus' daughter burn, 
SychsBus and Creusa both betrayed, 
Than I while yet my youth was apt to learn, 

Nor that deluded Rhodopean maid, uo 

Demophoon's victim, nor Alcides, when 
At lole's fair shrine his soul was laid. 

*2 The greatest valley is the Mediterranean ; the sea that engirdles the earth is the great 
ocean. The lurmer is described after Dante's astroiomical manner as making its western 
cxtremitv the horizon to the meridian of its eastern, i.e., as extending over ninety degrees of 
the earth's surface {Pjtrg. xxvii. i). 

8' The river Macra or Ma^ra, in the Lunigiana. was recognised in Dante's time as the 
boundary between the Genoese territory and that of Florence. The Ebro is the Spanish river 
of that name. Marseilles is supposed to lie half-w.iy between the two, nearly in the same 
meridian of longitude as Ruggea, a city in Algeria. The slaughter referred to is that described 
by Lucan (iii. 572) as taking place when Brutus besieged Marseilles. 

a* Folco or Fol'-hetto is named in V. E. ii. 6 as a Provencal poet. The facts reported of 
him are that he was the son of a wealthy merchant of Genoa ; that he wrote Canzoni and 
.^«T'('»;^/ after the manner of the Troubadours ; that he was high in favour with Richard I. 
of England and Count Raymond of Toulouse ; that he loved the wife of another patron, 
Uarale of Marseilles, and to conceal his passion pretended to love her sister ; that on her death, 
and that of his own wife, he renounced the world and entered a Cistercian monastery ; that 
he was afterwards Bishop of Marseilles, and took an active part in the persecution of the 
Albigenses. It is obvious that some portions of this history presented a parallel, more or less 
close, to Dante's own experience, and may have drawn out his sympathy for the strangely 
adventurous life. 

"8 The daughter of Belus = Dido. Sychaus was her first husband. Creusa, the first wife 
of ./Eneas {,H. v. 62 ; j^n. i. 720-722). 

100 Phyllis, of Mount Rhodope in Thrace, was beloved by Demophuon of Athens. On his 
deserting her she was changed into an almond tree (Ovid, iieroid. ii.) Hercules, after 
conquering Eurytus, king of Thrace, fell in love with his daughter, lole, brought her to his 
home, and hence roused the jealousy of Deianeira (Met. ix. 134-238 ; Hero:d. ix. 5, and 
Soph. Track.) 

PAR. c. IX.] RAHAB. 51 

Here mourn we not, but smile for what was then ; 
Not at the guilt — that comes not to our mind — ■ 
Eut at the Foresight ordering all for men. m 

Here gaze we on the skill which hatii designed 
Such vast effect, and so the good we see, 
From world on high to world below consigned. 

But that each wish of thine thou bear with thee 

Fulfilled, that had its birth in this our sphere, no 

My speech a little while prolonged must be. 

Thou fain would'st know whom light encircleth here, 
One who beside me sparkling so is seen, 
As flashes sunlight on the waters clear, 

Kow know thou that within there rests serene, 115 

Eahab, and being in our hosts arrayed. 
Is in their highest order sealed as queen. 

She by this Heaven, where comes to point the shade 
Which your earth casts, was welcomed first of all 
The souls with which the Christ His triumph made. 120 

Well was it she, as trophy, should recall 

Somewhere in Heaven that glorious victory, 
Which to the lot of outstretched hands did fall, 

Because she saw with fond and favouring eye 

Joshua's first glory in that Holy Land, iJo 

Which the Pope keeps not much in memory. 

103 The secret of the calm joy of the souls that had been sinful is explained. Lethe has 
taken away all painful memory of evil {Pur^. xxxiii. 96), and it is seen only as being what, 
when repented of, itactually was— a stepping-stone to higher things. The induction is carried 
farther in the case of Rahab the harlot [Josh, ii.-iv.), who was foremost among the souls 
rescued by the Descent into Hell. I have not found any earlier trace of th;s belief. She is 
named as an example of the "harlots" who "enter the kingdom of Heaven" (Isid. Hisp. 
Comm. in Jos. li ) Rahab is not named in the Gospel of Nicodemus, which is the starting- 
point of most traditions on the subject. 

H8 The earth's shadow is assumed to terminate on the surface of Venus. The souls that 
were in the three lower spheres were, that is, still in the shadow of earthly affections, and 
therefore excluded from the higher degrees of blessedness. 

'■•20 Rahab, i.e., had been in the Limbus Patrum {H. iv. 46-63), waiting for salvation. She 
shared in the triumph of the Descent into Hades, and of all tlie souls then rescued, she was 
the first to find h»r appointed sphere in Venus. One wonders at not finding the ^lagdalene 
in that planet. Did Dante avoid the commonplaces of medieval tradition, or did he question 
the trauition, _which, from Gregory the Great onward, identified her with the " woman which 
was a sinner " o{ Luke vii. 42 ? 

I'-iS The words have been explained (i) of the two hands that were nailed on the cross, 
(2) of ihose of Rahab as she let down the spies, (3) of those which Joshua stretched out in 
prayer and thus obtained victory (Ecclus. xlvi. 1-3). Of these, (i) s- ems preferable. The 
fact that the harlot of Jericho was in Paradi>e was a witness of the redeeming love. 

12f". Acre had been taken by the Saracens in 1291. Neither Nicholas III. nor Boniface 
VIII. had taken active measures for a new crusade. Still less was that to be expected from 
the spontaneous action of one of the Avignon Popes. If, as is probable, this Canto was 
written after the death of Henry VII., we may remember he had planned a crusade 

5- FLORENCE AND THE POPES. [par. c. ix. 

Thy cit}', ■\vliieh was planted by his hand 

Who first in rebel jiride his Maker spurned, 
And by whose envy so much woe was planned, 

Brings forth and spreads the flower which curse hath earned, iso 
Which leads the sheep and eke the lambs astray, 
Since it the shepherd to a wolf hath turned. 

For this the Gospels men have cast away, 

And the great Doctors, while Decretals claim 

Such study as their margins soiled betray. jss 

The Cardinals and Pope devour the same. 

Nor ever turn their thoughts to Nazareth, 
Where Gabriel once with wings wide open came. 

But Vaticano, and what else is yet 

Sacred in Rome, the chosen burial-place iw 

Of warriors who in Peter's line were set. 

Shall soon be freed from the adulterous race." 

(I'm. ix. i). Clement V. and John XXII. contented themselves with raising money for it 
(vol. i. p. cxiii.) The transition from Jericlio to Florence and the vices of tne Popes seem^ sume- 
what abrupt. Her resistance to the Emperor had clearly embittered the feelings of the exi e 
against the city of his birth and the Guelph cause with which she was identified. To him 
Florence is a plant of Satan s planting, fruitful in a malignant envy like his (Matt. xv. 13 ; 
Wisd. ii. 24). The coins of Florence, gold as well as silver, were stamped with the lily, a 
/leur-iie-lys, which was the badge of the city, and were hence knoun as florins. They 
served as a standard of currency throughout Italy, and were reproduced, with the addition of 
his name, by Pope John XXII. at Avignon in 1322 (Vill. ix. 171). So Dante says the 
greed of gain had turned the shepherd into a wolf (//. i. 49). 

134 Forged decretals, edicts, and letters of the early Popes first appeared under Nicholas 
I. in the ninth century. They were received as authentic by Innocent III., and became the 
chief armoury of the Popes m their warfare against the Empire. Gregory IX. had five books 
of them compiled by Raymond da Pennaforte. Boniface VIII. added a sixth. In Mon. iii. 
3 and Rp. ix. 7 Dante speaks with the utmost scorn of the theologians who gave their 
whole time and study to them, deserting Augustine and Gregory, Ambrose, Dionysius, and 
Beda. Roger Bacon, on the othtr hand, vents his wrath upon the students who devoted 
themselves to the civil law, the basis of the Ghibelline theory uf polity, which was " destroy- 
ing the Church of God, and through which the whole wor.d was lying in wickedness.' 
Co7>ip. Stud, c 55 ; Op. Tert. c. 24. 

137 The Popes care little for Nazareth, either as part of the Holy Land, which they ought 
to recover to Christendom by a new crusade, or as the starting-point of the Gospel record. 

I'l^ The propiiecy is of the nature of an echo of that of the Veltro of H. i. loi, and of the 
vision oi Purg. xxxii., and refers prob.nbly to the death of Boniface VIII. in 1303, as the great 
corrupter of the Papacy. Possibly there may be an expression of a hope not quite extin- 
guished even by Henry VII. 's death. 



The Fourth Heaven, of the Sun — Tlie Theologians — Alheii, of Cologne — 
Thomas Aquin<u, and others. 

Gazing upon His Son, with that high Love 
Which each alike breathes forth eternally, 
The first great Power, all human speech above, 

Whate'er in mind or place revolves on high, 

Made with such order that who looks thereon 5 

Can never fail to taste His majesty. 

Look thou with me, Reader — look straight on 
To those high spheres, and chiefly to the i>ait 
"Where the two movements intersecting run. 

And there begin to revel in the art »« 

Of that Workmaster, who doth love it so 
Within Himself, His eyes ne'er from it part. 

See how fi<jni thence the path oblique doth go 

Of that great circle which the stars doth bear 

To satisfy the world that seeks to know. is 

And if their path did not thus wind and veer. 

Much of Heaven's virtue would be spent in vain, 
And every power below would feel death near. 

And should it distance more or less attain 

From the straight line, then much were incomplete, 2* 
Above, below, throughout the world's domain. 

Kow, Reader, sit thou still upon thy seat, 

Musing o'er that which doth full meal precede, 
If thou would'st rather jo}' than tedium meet. 

'-* The theology of the poet is an echo of that of John L 3-10; Col. i 16 ; Heb. i. 2 ; as 
also of the Xicene and Athanas an Creeds. The Primal Might, sc. the Father, created the 
iinivcr-e through the agency of the Son. The love of which he speaks is the Spirit that 
"proceedeth from the Father and the Sou." To contemplate this is to " taste " something of 
the Divine perfection, and to this the reader is invited to uplift himself. 

9 The two motions which intersect are those of the apparent diurnal motion from east 
to west, and that of the sun and the planets on the ecliptic, and the point of intersection is 
that of the vernal equinox, which is assumed, as in H. i. 38, as near the date of the poem. 

i<> The thought is like that of Hooker, E. P. i. 3, 2. If the relation of the ecliptic to the 
equator were other than it is, seasons and climates and stellar influences would be thrown 
into confusion, and life would pass into death, and the Divine purpose would be frustrated 
{CtiHV. ii. t5). Virtue and potency are distinguished from each other, as, in the terminology 
of Aristotle, the form and the matter. 

^■- The bench on which the reader sits is either that on which the stuJeu: sits at his desk, 

54 THE POET'S ASCENT. (par. c. x. 

I serve tlie meal ; thyself from henceforth feed ; 25 

Because the subject whereof noAV I write 
My whole attention for itself will need. 

The minister of Nature, chief in might, 

"Who on the world imprints Heaven's virtue great^ 

And measures time's succession with its light, so 

Arriving at the point I named of late, ' 

Was circling forward, in the spires whereon 
Each hour it doth to us approximate ; 

And I was with him ; yet had knowledge none 

Of that ascent, except as one doth know, ?£ 

Just as it comes, the thought he lighteth on. 

'Tis Beatrice who doth guide us so 

From good to better thus immediately. 

Time can no measure of her movements show. 

IIow lustrous must have been her brilliancy 40 

Within the sun's bright sphere, to which I came, 
By light, and not by hue, seen vividly ! 

Though help from art, use, genius I should claim, 
I could not others to conceive it teach : 
Let them believe, and long to see the same. 45 

And if our thoughts are poor, and dull our speech 
For such high theme, no wonder need there be, 
For ne'er beyond the sun man's eye might reach. 

Such was e'en there the fourth great family 

Of the great Sire who doth its thirst allay, 50 

Showing what "Son" and "Spirit" signify. 

jr. as in the metaphor of Cenv. i. i, the guest at the banquet. The " foretaste " of I. 23 rather 
points 1 1 the latter. We note in 1. 27 D.inte's consciousness of his calling as the prophet- 
poet of science as well as theology. Seldom, perhaps, has any one fulfilled (looking to his 
environment) so entirely as he did, Dr. Westcott's description of the "perfect theologian " as 
(ine who " would require to be a perfect scholar, a perfect physicist, and a perfect philosopher" 
(Paper on Theological Examinations). 

■-"* We pass to the sphere of the greater light that rules the day, qnickens the world with 
its heat, and with its light givfs the measurement of time. And the season is tnat from 
which the sun rises earlier everj' d.iy, so. the vernal equino.\ (1. 33), the sun being in Aries. 
'J he ascent, as before (C. ii. 23, v. 93), had been instantaneous, as are the movements of 
ihought. In this he was in accord with Aquinas, who discusses the question whether the 
saints in heaven move in time, and answers it in the afliimative ; the time, however, being 
imperceptible on account of its extreme, infinitesimal brevity (Summ. iii. Supp. 84, 3). 

43 The souls in the sun, those of the great theologians, are visible not by features, or even 
by colour, but only by a brightness which was greater than that of the body of the sun, and 
words were wanting to describe that brightness. 

51 The two verbs imply the C itholic doctrine of the eternal generation of the Son, the 
eternal procession of the Spirit, the Father being Himself the "Sun of Angels," and standing 
in the same relation to the other two Divine Persons as the sun does to the light and heat 
which issue from it (Conv i i. 12). 


Then Beatrice spake : "Give thanks, I say, 
Give thanks unto the Sun of Angels, who 
To this, the Sun of Sense, hath led thy way." 

No heart of man did e'er itself subdue t^ 

To worship God in self-surrendering fear, 
With loyalty of will so promptly true. 

As I did when those words fell on mine ear; 
And so my love in Him was fixed awhile, 
E'en Beatrice, eclipsed, no more seemed near. eo 

She was not wroth thereat, but so did smile, 
That the bright glory of her laughing eyes 
Did my one thought to many things beguile. 

jMore lights I saw in life and triumph rise, 

And, making us their centre, wreathe us round ; c- 

Less bright their look than sweet their melodies. 

So oft see we Latona's daughter crowned. 
And halo spread, when misty is the air. 
So that it keeps the zone wherewith she's bound. 

Ill Heaven's high court, whence hither I repair, 70 

Are many gems so beautiful and bright. 
They may not from that realm pass otherwhere. 

Such was the song of those thus clothed with light ■ 
Who takes not wings that he may thither fly, 
IMay wait until the dumb bring news aright. 75 

Then, with sweet songs, those burning suns on high 
Around us wheeled three times in measure due, 
As round fixed poles the stars move equably. 
Dames in unfinished dance I seemed to view, 

"VVho pause awhile, in silence giving heed, so 

Till they have learnt the new notes through and through ; 

^ The adoring gaze is, as it were, an anticipation of the beatific vision and the hfghest 
object of human love. Even B-atrice in her idealised character, as impersonating Heavenly 
Wisdom, suffers a temporary eclipse. The human consciousness, which had been for a 
moment one with God, is restored to its perception of the plurality of creation by her smile. 

67 The lunar halo seems to have been a special object of Dante's contemplation {Purg. 
xxix. 78). 

'2 The jewels of the treasury of Heaven are like those of a king's regalia on earth, which 
may not be taken out of his kingdom, and such was the song of the blessed spirits in the sun. 
He who does not soar ihiiher in heart and mind may as well look for speech from the dumb 
as expect the translation of the untranslatable. One feels in writing the words that they 
apply to those who follow in Dante's footsteps as well as to himself. 

'''' T|ie threefold circling may be connected with the sacredness of the number as a 
symbol of the Trinity, or may represent the influence of ihe Masters of those who know on 
memory, intellect, and will. 

'9 The image reads like a remini-cence of Dante's youthful days, when lie watched the 

56 THOMAS AQUINAS. [par. c. x. 

And within one I heard thus : "When indeed 
The ray of grace, by which is kindled love, 
True love, which still, in loving, love doth breed, 

In thee shall shine all former light above, 85 

So that it guide thee on that ladder high. 
Whence who descends again must upward move, 

Who to thy thirst should from his cup deny 
The wine to quench it, knoAvs not liberty, 
But is like streams that far from ocean die. so 

Thou Avould'st fain know what kind of plants they be, 
Thus garlanded, encompassing with praise 
The Lady fair who for Heaven strengtheneth thee. 

I with the flock of holy lambs did graze 

AVhich Dominic along a pathway led, 95 

Where well he fattens who ne'er vainly strays ; 

Near on the right is he who was my head. 
Master and brother, Albert of Cologne ; 
And I am Thomas, in Aquino bred. 

If 'tis thy wish the others should be shown, mo 

Follow the words I speak with wandering eyes 
Along the blessed wreath in order thrown. 

movements of the fair dames of Florence as they danced, halting during a pause in the mu^ic 
to catch up the time of a new melody, to which they then adapted their rhythmic motion. 
Comp. Purg. xxviii. 53, xxxi. 132. 

82 The speaker is identified in line 99 with Thomas Aquinas. He reads, without a word 
spoken, the desire that is in Dante's heart, and to gratify that desire is as natural for the 
spirits that glow with Divine love as for water to flow downwards to the sea. Its very 
presence is a proof that it shall be satisfied. To be in Paradise, to taste of eternal life, is the 
foretaste and pledge of ultimate fruition. The theologians gather round Beatrice, for she 
represents Wisdom, and wisdom is inseparable from a true theology. 

91' The condition of all growth in the knowledge of Divine things is the soul's withdrawal 
k'rom the vanities of earth. 

"8 Albert of Cologne [b. 1193) was a student at Pavia, and moved by a sermon of Giordano, 
who succeeded Dominic as General of the Dominican or Preaching Friars, joined the Order in 
1223. In 1244 he was at Cologne and had St. Thomas as a pupil. With him he went to Paris 
in 1248, was elected Provincial of the Order in 1254, and Bishop of Kegensburg (Ratisbon) in 
1260, and died at Cologne in 12S0. In the list of schoolmen he stands as the Ihntor Uni- 
versalis. It is probable that Dante had been at Cologne, and may have heard of his fame 
both there and at Paris {H. xxiii. 63). 

'JS Thomas, the Doctor Angclirus, b. 1227 at Roccasecca, near Monte Cassino, where he 
received his early education. Thence he went to Naples, where he joined the Dominican 
Order, and in 1244-48 was with Albert at Cologne and Paris. He was chosen as Master of 
the Students in the former city, but returned to Paris in 1252, and there became acquainted 
with Bonaventura. His abstract manner and habit of silent meditation led to his being known 
as the "dumb ox of Sicily" (Naples = one of the two Sicilies), but Albert prophesied that 
the bellowing of that ox would echo through the world. Later on we find him at Rome, and 
once again at Naples. He died on his way to the Council of Lyons in 1274, poisoned, as it was 
reported, by Charles of Anjou {Purg. xx. 69), and was canonised in 1323. Dante appears to 
have been in his later years a profound student of his works, especially, as the numerous 
references in these notes will ha\. e shown, of the great Siimma Theologicn. 

PAR. c. X.] SOLOMON. 57 

That other fire-flame from the smile doth rise 

Of Gratian, who each sphere of Law's domain 

So helped that he gives joy in Paradise. m 

The next from whom our choir doth beauty gain 
That Peter was, who, like the widow poor, 
His treasure gave the true Church to sustain. 

The fifth light, shining with a beauty pure, 

Ereathes from such love that all the world below no 

Craves to have tidings of him true and sure. 

Within it is the lofty mind, where so 

Deep knowledge dwelt, that, if the truth be true. 
Such insight ne'er a second rose to know. 

Next may'st thou light of that bright taper view us 

Which, in the flesh, had fullest insight clear 
Into the angels' life and office due : 

And in that little flame that smileth here 

Thou see'st of Christian times the advocate, 

Whose Latin pen was to Augustine dear. 120 

104 Xhe special merit of Gratian, the canonist of Chiusi, was that he undertook the work 
of reconciling the civil and the canon law. His work, with the title of the Concordia 
Discordatitiuin Cnnoitiiiit, was written about 1150. He taught at Bologna, but is said to have 
been a monk at Chiassi, near Ravenna, and Dante may thus have had a local reason for 
giving prominence to his name. 

107 Peter the Lombard, the M agister Sententiaruin, was bom circ. iioo near Novara, was 
the son of poor parents, studied at Bologna and Paris, and died in 1164 as Bishop of the 
latter city. His four Books 0/ Sentences, a compendium of the theology of Latin Christendom 
in the 12th century, became the basis of all works of a like character, notably of the Su7n>na 
of Aquinas. The reference to the widow\ mite of Luke xxi. 1-4 i» Irom his preface, " Cufiientes 
aliquid de pemiria ac teTiuitate nostra cum pattfiercula in gazofhy lacuiin Domini jnittere." 
'1 he words that follow, " Ardua scandcrc, opus ultra vires nostras agere prcssumjisimus,' 
may well have been in Dante's inind as applicable to his own task. 

109 With the four schoolmen is joined Solomon. Dante answers the question much 
discussed in the Middle Ages, whether he had been saved, in the affirmative. An elaborate 
treatise, De la Salui de Salomon, will be found in Calmet, Diction, (art. Salomon). The 
theologians of the Greek Church, headed by Chrysostom, were mostly for a favourable jtidg- 
ment : Augustine and the Latin fathers for an adverse. So in the "Last Judgment" of 
Orcagna in the Strozzi Chapel in Florence and the Campo Santo at Pisa, Solomon appears as 
rising between the blessed :ind the lost, almost as if halting between two opinions as to his own 
destiny. The scale was probably turned in Dante's mind by the mystical interpretation of 
the So7ig of Songs in St. Bernard and Hugh of St. Victor. The " iovc " 01 1. j 10 clearly refer.-< 
to this. 

1'3 Instead of the name of Solomon we have the description of i Kitigs iii. 12, which after- 
wards (C. xiii. 34-1 11) becomes the startmg-point of a long explanation. 

115 The pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who, in the traditions of Dante's time, was 
believed to have been Bishop of Paris, to have suffered martyrdom under Domitian, and to 
have written a treati-<e on the " Hierarchy of Angels " which Dante had clearly studied, and 
which he expounds in C. xxx. and in Conv. ii- 6. The writings ascribed to Dionysius belong 
probably to the 5th century. 

s 119 Who is meant has been matter for conjecture, (i) Ambrose ; (2) Paulus Orosius, a priest 
of Tarragona, who wrote a compendium of universal history of the Bossuet type, Adversus 
Paganos, at the request of Augustine, as a companion volume to the De Civitate Dei; and (3) 
Lactantius, chiefly known by his treatise De Mortibus Persecutornm. Of the three guesses, 
(2) seeii.s most probable. Brunetto's Tresor, as far as its history was concerned, was larj;ely 
based, as indeed was the ancient history of the Co}?imedia {H. v. 58 «, ), on Orosius. Dame 
names him with Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Cicero, Livy, as among his faveurite authors (/''■ E. li. 6). 

58 DOETIIIUS—SIGIER. [i-ar.c. x.' 

Kow if tliy mind's eye doth expatiate, 

Following my praises on from light to light, 
The eighth flame thou dost thirst to penetrate. 

In vision of all Good there finds delight 

That- holy soul who maketh manifest 125 

The cheating world to him who hears aright ; 

The hody whence 'twas hunted lies at rest 
In Cieldauro, and from agony 
And exile came it to this region blest. 

Eeyond see thou the burning breath-flame high iso 

Of Isidore and Bede, and that Richard, 
"With whom in contemplation none might vie. 

He from whom now turns to me thy regard, 
Is of a soul the light so gravely wise, 
It deemed the way to death both slow and hard. 135 

There Sigier's light eternal meets thine eyes, 

Who, lecturing in the street that's named of Straw, 
Unpalatable truths did syllogise." 

Butler suggests Victorinus, also a contemporary of Augustine, and mentioned by him as 
having translated Plato (i. p. 145, ed. Ben.) ; but there are no indications that Dante knew 
his writings, nor were they at any time as widely read as those of Orosius. Alfred translated 
the latter, with additions, into Anglo-Saxon. 

125 AH commentators agree that Boethius is meant. The strange vicissitudes of his life 
(i. 470) — high in favour with Theodoric ; t onsul in 510 ; then suspected of plotting against his 
master; imprisoned at Pavia and then tortured to death — might well point the moral of the 
vanity of earthly greatness. Dante names him (Conv. ii. 13) as one of his chief guides and 
comforters in the sorrow that fe^l on him after the death of Beatrice. 'J'he Church of St. 
Peter di Cieldauro (of the Golden C-riling)at Pavia was his burial-place. Ihe local traditions 
of that city have canonised him as St. Severino (Gibb. c. 39; Milm. L. C- i. 407-414). 
Boethius also, like Orosius, was translated by Alfred. It is not without interest to note that 
the same books fashioned the min^is o: the Florentine poet and the Enj; ish king. 

131 (i) Isidore, Bishop of Seville {d. 636), wrote an encyclopsedic book under the title of 
Otig-ncs sen Eiymologicn, atreati-e /'<■ EcclesiasiicisOfficiis. and another, De Summo Bono. 
His works were much studied in all mediaeval universities, (x) Beda, known as the Venerable, 
the Monk of Jarrow, is be^t known by his Ercles-astical History, but was also a voluminous 
writer on astronomy, chronology, and other subjects. The fact that the Italian poet places 
the English historian in Paradise at least falls in with the tradition that he had visited 
O.xford. Richard, the Magnus Cotitemfilator, Prior of the monastery of St. Victor, was one 
01 the great mystical writers of the I2th century (d. 1173). His treatises, De statu interiori. 
Benjamin minor, Df frtefiaratione aiiiini ad conteinplationL-in, Benjamin major, De gratia 
contcinplatio7iis, present so many suggf stive parallelisms with the Com7n. that Lub. (pp. 227- 
257) has thought it worth while to devote thirty pages of his introduction to printing them in 
parallel columns. For Hugh of St. Victor see C. .\ii. 133. Here again the reverence shown 
for the two great writers of the great monastery at Paris falls in with the tradition that Dante 
had studied in that city. 

136 Still more is this the case with Sigier. Here we have at once a local knowledge hardly 
likely to have been gaii.ed els.where, and an enthusiastic admiration for one of the least 
known of the schoolmen. The Street of Straw, J\ne du Fouarre, or, in Petrarch's Latin 
{Epist. de .Sen. iv. 1), " Eragosiis stramimnn vicns," near the Church of St. Jnlien le 
Pauvre and the Hotel de Ville, was the Haym.-irket of Paris. There the students of the four 
nations of the Faculty of Arts— -(i) Fr.uice, which inchiUcd the archbishoprics of Paris, Sens, 
Bourges, and Rheims, and also Italy and Spain ; (2) England, which included Germany ; (3) 
Normandy; (4) Pieardy — met to hear their lectures, seated, in the absence of benches, on tne 
bundles of straw which were ready to their hand (Laer. pp 4-25). The few facts known as to 
Sigier aie that he was born in the early part of the 13th century near Courtray ; that he was 

PAK. c. X.] THE HE A VENL Y MUSIC. ' 59 

Then, like a clock, that calls us, as by law, 

"What time the Bride of God from sleep doth rise, iw 
"With matin praise her Bridegroom's love to draw. 

Where the one wheel iipon the other flies, 

Sounding " Ting-ting, fing-ting" with note so sweet 
That souls attuned feel love's high ecstasies, 

So saw I then that glorious circle fleet 145 

Around, and voice to voice make melody, 
So rich that none may know it as complete 

Save there, where joy endures eternallj', 

one of the first disciples of Robert Sorbonne, the founder of the college that bears his name ; 
that he taught thephilosopliy of Aquinas ; was Dean of Notre-Dame at Conrtray, and was at 
Paris again in 1255. Ozaii. (p. 320) quotes from a document of 1306 the fact that he left a 
legacy, before 1300, of books, chiefly the writings of Aquinss, for the poor students of the 
Sorbonne. On the other hand, he was accused of here-y in 1278 before the Dominican 
Inquisitor, Simon du Val, and acquitted. To th .t accusation Dante probably refers, not 
without a touch of fellow-feeling, in the " itivzdiosi veri" of 1. 138. Bart. (W. D. p. 21S) 
quotes from an It.ilian paraphrase oilhe Roman de la Rose (publi-hed by Castels, Montpellier, 
1881), recently discovered, the further statement that Sigier died, after great suffering, to 
which 1. 135 probably refers (comp. Ptcg. xvi. 122), in Orvieto, so that Dante may possib:y 
hive met him in Italy as well as Paris. Arou.\ (p. 232) charges Sigier with lollouing 
Ave rhoes in teaching a pantheistic materialism, destructive of true thoughts of the per- 
sonalitv of man and God, and cites Dante's praise of him as evidence of complicity. 1 he 
suspicion which was roused against him drifted probably in ihis direction, but it will be 
remembered that he was acquitted, and that Dante puts his praises in the mouth 01 the 
great opponent of Averrhoes. He was said to iiave written a treatise with the title of 
Jiiipossibilia, in which he at least stated the arguments that might be alleged for Atheism, 
and this was probably the ground of the suspicion from which he suffered. It is interesting 
for English readers to remember that he must have been a contemporary of Roger Uacon's 
at Paris, and th>t he too was condemned as a heretic in 127S. He was released in 1292, and 
died at O.xford between that date and 1294 {Charles, pp. 37-41). It may be well to note, 
however, that Mr. Paget Toynbee, in a letter to the Academy (xxi.\. 328), gives evidence to 
prove that Sigier de Courtrai did not die till 1341 (the passage from tne Romnu ae ia Rose 
probably referring to him), and that Dante reters to Sigier ot Brabant, who has been con- 
founded with his namesake, and to whom the fac's stated by Ozanam probably re er. Mr. 
'J'oynbee arrives at the conclusion that he was executed in Italy bef re 1300. See Additional 
Notes in Appendix. 

133 Xhe comparl.son with which the Canto ends seems drawn from one of the mediaeval 
clocks, of which the Cathedrals of Strasburg and Wells furnish examples, and in which, as the 
clock struck the hours, figures came forth and wheeled round and round, as in a dance. Such 
a clock, calling to the INIatin lauds, seemed to D.inte the nearest approach to the movements 
of the twelve great students of divine things whom he hid enumerated. Dante is said 
to have been the first writer who mentions a striking clock (Penny Cycl. art. Horology). 
Chaucer (Jy. 1328) mentions them as common in England. Speaking of the cock, he says — 
" Full sickerer was his crowing in his loge, 
As is a clock, or any abbey orloge." 
The date of the Wells clock, make by a monk of Glastonbury (Peter Eightfoot), is said to be 
the early part of the 14th century. I am indebted to a letter from Lord Grimthorpe, who 
ranks as an e.xpert in these matters, for the following additional facts : that the invention 
of clocks of some kind driven by machinery is generally attributed to P.icificus, Archdeacon 
of Verona, in the 9th century, and also to Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester II., who 
made a clock at Magdeburg in 996 when Archbishop of that city. One was made for West- 
minster Abbey in 12S3, and another for Sl Alban's in 1326. Of none of these, however, is it 
recorded that they had the circular moving figures which Dante describes, and which I find 
in our clock at Wells. For another reference to clocks see C. xxiv. 13-18. Froissart (i. p. 
750) describes a clock of like structure at Dijon (1382). One was sent in 1232 by the Sultan 
of Egypt to the Emperor Frederick II. See Appendix. 



Life of St. Francis of Assist, as told hy Thomas Aquinas. 

IxSENSATE care, that liaunts each mortal breast, 
How inconclusive are those syllogisms 
Which make thee flutter down to baser rest ! 

This man to law turns, that to aphorisms, 

And one the priesthood takes with lower aim, s 

And one seeks power by force or by sophisms ; 

One seeks the robber's, one the statesman's fame ; 
One, whom the pleasures of the flesh ensnare, 
Sinks back exhausted to inaction tame, 

While I, set free from every clinging care, lo 

With Beatrice in that Heaven on high 
Received, so gloriously am welcomed there. 

And then, when each to that point had passed by 
0' the circle where he was before, he stayed, 
As candle in its stand stays fixedly. 15 

And from within that form, in light arrayed, 

Who spake to me before, now seen more bright 
With smiles and purer, words I heard conveyed : 

" As I in His rays kindle into light, 

So, looking on that light which is eterne, in 

What stirreth now thy thoughts I read aright. 

1 The opening words seem an echo ui Pers. i. i — 

" O ciiras hovthiuni '. O Quant mn est in rebus iuauc." 
The thought of the defective syllosisms that \fs.A the mind to earthly things seems to rise in 
contrast with the true syllogisms of Sigier, C. x. 138. The term " aphorisms," the title of the 
great work of Hippocrates (//. iv. 143), is used with a technical precision for the studies 
with which Dante, as a member of the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries, was familiar. 

The "sophisms" are probably those of the legists of Paris, such as William de No:;aret, 
who were the counsellors of Philip the Fair in his processes against Boniface VIII. ami 
the Templars {Piirg. xx. S5-93). So the poet contrasts the serenity of his sojourn in Paradise 
with the manilolJ " cares of this world " in which men were engaged below. 

12 The image of the clock (C. x. 139-144) is still before the poet's eyes, as the figures stop 
when the clock has done striking, each light as in its own candle->tick. 

19 St. Thomas speaks again. He reads (as in C. x. 91) in the mirror of the divine know- 
ledge the doubts that are in Dante's mind, and proceeds to solve them, after his manner, 
with a disthiguo. 'I'he first, turning on C. x. 96, leads to the history of the ureal Mendicant 
< Irdcrsand their founders, whom Providence had raised up (II. 28-36) to guide the Church into 
true paths of peace and joy. Starting from the teaching of Siunvt, i. 63, 7, St. Francis 
represents the Seraphim, that excel in luve ; St. Dominic, the Cherubim, that excel in know- 
ledge. To praise one is to praise also the other; but Aquinas, himself a Dominican, in 
the true spirit of brothLrhood, prefers to te 1 the story of St. Francis. As we follow that 
story it will be well to remember that Dante had probably been with Giotto at Asaisi, guiding 
him in his designs for the great Franciscan church there {Lindsay, ii. 28-48). 


Thou doubtest, and dost wisli my speech should turn 
To words so open and intelligent 
That to thy sense it should be plain to learn 

What, when I said 'he fattens well,' I meant, s 

And when I said ' no second e'er arose ; ' 
And here we must distinguish each intent. 

The Providence, — which all things doth dispose 
With such deep counsels that all mortal gaze 
Is baffled ere to that great depth it goes — 30 

That unto Him she loves might bend her ways 
The Bride of Him who, with a bitter cry, 
Espoused her with the blood we bless and praise, 

In fuller peace, more steadfast loyalty, — 

Her, for her good, with two high chiefs endowed, 35 

That they on either side her guides might be. 

The soul of one with love seraphic glowed ; 
The other by his wisdom on our earth 
A splendour of cherubic glory showed. 

Of one I'll speak ; for, if we tell the worth 40 

Of one, 'tis true of both, whiche'er we take, 
For to one end each laboured from his birth. 

Between Tupino and the streams that break 
From the hill chosen by Ubaldo blest, 
A lofty movmt a fertile slope doth make ; 45 

Perugia's Sun-gate from that lofty crest 

Feels heat and cold ; Nocer' and Gualdo pine 
Behind it, by their heavy yoke opprest. 

On this slope, where less steeply doth incline 

The hill, was born into this world a sun, so 

Bright as this orb doth oft o'er Ganges sliine. 

43 The Tupino, a stream which rises in the Apennines, and passing by Nocera and FoHgno 
(memorable for the first edition of the Commedia, printed there in 1472), flows into the Tiber. 
The descripiion in its opening, as throughout, gives evidence of direct local knowledge. 
The other stream is the Chiascio, flowing from a hill on which St. Ubaldo hnd lived as a 
hermit before he became Bishop of Gubbio. The hill is that knov.-n as Subasio, on the slope 
of which stands Assisi, equidistant from the two rivers just n.nmed. The road from Perugia 
to Assisi passes through the Porta Sole, and is exposed in winter to the cold blasts from the 
hills, and in summer to the scorching reflection of the sun. Dante had obviously felt 
both extremes when he was at Assisi with Giotto. I can testify to the cold of the Porta 
Sole on a windy day in February. The "grievous yoke" of Nocera and Gualdo may refer 
to their oppression by the kings of Naples, or more probably by the Guelphs of Perugi 1. 
Benvenuto, however, takes the "yoke" as referring to the mountain ridge and the cold 
and storms which it brought on the two cities. 

^9 After the full description of Assisi we have the birth of St. Francis (i 182). Dante begins 
the life in almost the same terms as Thomas of Celano, " Quasi sol oriens in iniiniio." So 

62 ST. FRANCIS. [par. c. xi. 

Whence, naming this spot, let not any one 

Call it ' Ascesi ' — that were tame in sense ; — 
As ' Orient ' doth its proper title run. 

Such was his rise, nor was he far from thence, 55 

When he began to make the wide earth shave 
Some comfort from his glorious excellence ; 

For he, a youth, his father's wrath did dare 

For maid, for whom not one of all the crowd, 

As she were death, would pleasure's gates unbar. 6« 

And then before court spiritual he vowed, 
at coram patre — marriage-pledge to her, 
And day by day more fervent love he showed. 

Of her first spouse bereaved, a thousand were. 

And more, the years she lived, despised, obscure, cs 

And, till he came, none did his suit prefer. 

K ought it availed that she was found secure 

With that Amyclas when the voice was heard 
Which made the world great terror-pangs endure ; 

Nought it availed that she nor shrank nor feared, vo 

So that, when Mary tarried yet below. 
She on the Cross above with Christ appeared. 

Bonaventura sees in him the fulfilment of /^e^/. vii. 2. The "Ganges" may have been 
suggested by the claims of rhyme, but from Dante's geographical standpoint, as the eastern 
Ijoundary of the l:ind hemisphere, it marked the first region in which the sun's beams fell on 
the iiabitable world, its true birthplace. It may be, too, that he had heard from Marco 
Kolo or other trave lers of the glory of an Eastern dawn. Comp. Piitg. ii. 5, xxvii. 4. 
Such a "day-spring from on high" had come upon those who were in darkness and the 
shadow of death, and Assisi (I keep in the text the old form, with its allusive meaning, used 
by Dante) had becuuie the true Orient of Christendom. 

*5 Francis, the son of Pietro di Bernardone. a merchant of Assisi, followed his father's 
calling in early life, was taken prisoner in a baitle between the citizens of Assisi and those 
of Perugia, and on his re ease began to fee! the calling to a higher life, uhich should 
reproduce the poverty and the lowliness of Christ. The call came to him as he heard 
Matt. X. read as the Gospel of the day in the church of the Portiuncula. For the bride 
whom he then chose. Poverty, from whom most men shrink as from death itself, he incurred 
his f.ither's wrath, and in his presence, and in that of the Bishop of Assisi, solemnly re- 
nounced, as in his espousals with her, all worldly possessions. Giotto's frescoes in the 
church at Assisi, probably suggested by Dante himself, perpetuate the memory of that 
marriage. The Latin phrase is introduced .ts part of the formula of the solemn covenant. 

•i* The first husband of Poverty had been the Christ (Luke ix. 58 ; 2 Cor. viii. 9). The 
marriage with her second spouse, St. Francis, was in 1207. 

68 As elsewhere, memories of Lucan (v. 519-532) minale with those of Scripture. Amyclas 
is the poor fisherman on the shore of the Adriatic who received Csesar in his cottage, and, 
secure in his poverty, felt no touch of fear. 

"O z>ii.-F iutafacultas 
Pauperis angusiique lares ! U niunca nundunt 
Intellecta Deum." 

Dante quotes the passage in Conv. iv. 13. 

'- The Mater Dolorosa stood by the cross, but as the Crucified One hung there, naked 
and bleeding, Poverty also was with H.m. 


But lest I tell it too obscurely so, 

By these two lovers, in my speech diffuse, 

Thou Poverty and Francis now may'st know. 75 

Tlicir concord and their looks of joy profuse, 

The love, the wonder, and the aspect sweet. 
Made men in holy meditation muse ; 

So that the holy Bernard bared his feet, 

The first to start, and for such peace so tried, so 

That ,^Iow he thought his pace, though it was fleet. 

wealth unknown, true good that doth abide ! 
iEgidius bared his feet, Sylvester too, 
Following the Biidegroom, so they loved the Bride. 

Then went that Father and that Master true 8.3 

"With that his Bride and that his family. 
Who round their loins the lowly girdle drew ; 

Nor was faint heart betrayed in downcast eye, 
As being Pietro Bernardone's son, 
Nor yet as one despised wondrously ; cu 

But like a king his stern intention 

To Innocent he opened, who did give 
The first seal to that new religion. 

Then, when the race content as poor to live 

Grew behind him, whose life, so high renowned, 95 

"Would, in Heaven's glory, higher ongs receive, 

With a new diadem once more was crowned 
By Pope Honorius, from on high inspired, 
This Archimandrite's purpose, holy found. 

87 The joy of the bridegroom and the Lrid 

' ine joy ot the bridegroom and the Lride thus strangely brought together attracted 
°l^tZ- J,ZT/^°.°ISZ"1^''^^^X Tu"= i^^<^"' f° J°'" the Order ; Agidiut, author of the 


liome, and before long offered himself as a member of the brotherhood. 

6* St. Francis went with h.s eleven disciples, and with the Rule of his Order, the Jlfa^ia 
is Tin ^(nf^t A '°<-^u""?,' !i"'^ obtained the approval of Innocent III. Th^ same wnrd 

Mterest for n.nT/ .^ /^K ^/m "" V '? c ' '"^^"- 9^' ^"^ "^^V "°'^' ^^ ^ ■"^'"er of local 
Franciscan (>der "" ° '^ ^""^ ^' Florence was connected with the 

n!nf^nnf*"!l°"f '' "^f"''^' .sympathy and possibly also with a reminiscence of Amyclas, 
Uante notes the kingly bearing of St. Francis before the Pope, in spite of his lowly origin 
and the scorn to which his rule of lile exposed him. p u a u ly origin 

!*? Honorius III. solemnly sanctioned the Order in 1223. 

u^A^?^"^''"'^"'-^ = 'v'^'f °/,^ sheepfold, was the word used in the Greek Church for the 
-.^ of^jno'iastery. It had been used by Pope Leo the Great, and m .y have survived in 
bome of the mo. astenes of Southern Italy (Suicer T/ies s ■:■ ) 

f4 DEATH OF ST. FRANCIS. [par. c. xi. 

And after that, with martyr zeal untired, mo 

He, in the presence of the Soldan proud 
Preached Christ, and those whom His example fired; 

And finding that that race no ripeness showed 
For their conversion, not to toil in vain, 
He to Italia's fields his labours vowed. los 

On the rough rock 'twixt Tiber's, Arno's, plain. 

From Christ received he the last seal's impress, 
Which he two years did in his limbs sustain. 

AVhen it pleased Him, who chose him thus to bless, 

To lead him up the high reward to share no 

Which he had merited by lowliness, 

Tlien to his brothers, each as rightful heir. 

He gave in charge his lady-love most dear, 
And bade them love her with a steadfast care ; 

And from her breast that soul so high and clear ,15 

Would fain depart and to its kingdom turn, 
Nor for his body sought another bier. 

Think now what he was who the fame did earn 
To be his comrade, and for Peter's barque 
On the high seas the true path to discern. 120 

And such was he, our honoured Patriarch ; 

Wherefore, who follows him as he commands, 
Him laden with rich treasures thou may'st mark. 

But now his flock so eagerly demands 

New food, that it, of sheer necessity, 125 

In pastures widely different strays and stands. 

100 Dante follows the tradition that St. Francis, af er sending forth his disciples two and 
two to pre ich the Gospel to the nations (1212), started for Acre, where he preached Christ 
to the Sultan. The whole series of events here related mav be seen in the frescoes of the 
Franciscan convent at Orta, at Assisi, and in the Chapel of Santa Croce, Florence. 

106 The rock is that of Alvernia, where St. Francis founded an oratory in 1215, and where, 
according to tradition, two years before liis death, in 1226, he received the .r//^!ii,iia as th-r 
crowning seal of his mission, concealing them from the eyes of men, so that they were scarcely 
known by any till after his death. 

1'3 Poverty, as the lady he had loved and wedded, he left to the care of his brethren. 
From her bosom he departed to his reward, and desired no funeral honours but those which 
she could give him. 

118 We are again reminded of Giottn, who painted his famous " Navicella" probably when 
he was at Rome in 1295-1300. Dante may have seen it either in his jubilee visit or in his 
later embassy (Lindsay, ii. g). Tlie mosaic from the painting, originally in the choir of the 
old basilica, is now seen in the portico of St. Peter's. The "patriarch "of whom Aquinas 
speaks is Dominic, the founder of his own Order. 

124 The "new food" may be either the wealth, dignity, and fame which the degenerate 
Dominicans were seeking, or the new and more secular studies lor which they were forsaking 
those by which their great teachers had risen to eminence. In the '' milk " there is probably 


And as the more his sheep thus scattered lie, 
And further from him wander to and fro, 
"With less milk come they for the fold's supply. 

Some are there who, in fear of that loss, go 130 

Back to their shepherd, but so few they he, 
That little cloth would make them cowls, I trow. 

Now, if my words are not obscure to thee, 

If thine own ears have been to learn intent. 

If what I said thou call'st to memory, 135 

In part at least thy wish shall find content; 

For thou shalt see the plant which thus decays, • 

Shalt see what he, the leather-girded, meant 

By ' well he fattens who ne'er vainly strays.' " 


The Life of St. Dominic as told by St. Bonaientura. 

As soon as that last word had spoken been 
By that blest flame who gave it utterance, 
That holy mill to wheel again was seen ; 

Xor did it wholly through one whirl advance. 

Before another compassed it around, 5 

"With song to song conformed, and dance to dance, — 

Song which above our Muse doth so redound. 
Above our Sirens, in those organs sweet, 
As primal ray above the ray's rebound. 

an allusion to i Cor. iii. 2 ; i Pei. ii. 2. The new pur'uits of the Order had marred the sim- 
plicity and effectiveness of their work as preachers. There were some who retained the older 
and better spirit, hut qiiotiisqtiisque religtius? Comp. Roger Bacon's complaint of a like 
degeneracy among both Dominicans and Franciscans (f/. Tert. c. 65). 

139 I take the readings vedrai, and not vedra; corres^gier, and not " corregger" {= correc- 
tion). The Dominicans wore a leathern girdle, as distinguished from the "cord "of St. Francis. 
Tliey were correggiers as the Franciscans were cordeliers (//. xxvii. 67). What had been said 
to Dante would explain the meaning of the words (C. x. 96) that had perplexed him. 

5 Another circle of twelve blessed spirits gathers round the first, Dante and Heal rice still 
remaining in the centre, and moves with rhythmic dance and song. So, the observer of nature 
notes, we see two rainbows (Iris = the messenger of Juno), one (by a bold transfer of imagery 
from sight to sound), the echo of the other. For the story of Echo, see iMei. iii. 395. The 
forsaken nymph fades away in her sorrow, and nothing is left of her but her voice. 

66 THE GARLAND OF SOULS. [par. c. xu. 

As oft our eyes through floating cloud-mists meet . n> 

Two rainbows parallel and like in hue, 
When Juno bids her handmaid ply swift feet, 

The outer from the inner born to view, 

Like to the speech of that poor wandering one 

Whom Love consumed as hot sun doth the dew ; is 

And thus they lead man's thoughts forecasting on, 
By reason of God's pact with Noah made, 
That earth no more shall be with flood o'errun ; 

So of such roses bright as never fade 

There circled round us those fair garlands twain, 20 

The inner in the outer re-portrayed. 

Now when the dance and all the festal strain, 
Both of the music and the radiant flame. 
Of joyous love-lights all at once refrain, 

Instant and impulse for them all the same, k 

Just as the eyes, which, when the will invites, 
Or shut or open with a single aim. 

Then, from the heart of one of those new lights. 
There came a voice which made me turn to see, 
E'en as the star the needle's course incites. a 

And it began : " The love which shines in me 
Draws me to name that other Leader great, 
Through whom my Master gains such eulogy. 

'Tis meet that each should share the other's fate, 

That, as they fought together side by side, s 

Tocrether we their fame should celebrate. 

'6 The thouglit seems to be that when men see the rainbow they remember Goi. ix. S-17, 
and have a forecast of better thijigs than the plague of waters. 

■-0 The thought of the rose-garland of souls, of which we have the first fruits here, cul- 
minates in the grand vision of C. xxxi. 1-24. 

30 The allusion to the mariner's compass is worth noting, like the mention of the clock in 
C. X. 139, as showing Dante's interest in applied science. Marco Polo is said to have 
brought back a knowledge of the properties of the magnetic needle from Cathay. It is 
described by Guyot de Provins in a satiric poem called La Bible in 1190. On the other 
hand, Vincent de Beauvais and C-irdinal de Vitry speak of it as a marvel which they had 
seen in the East, and there is no evidence of its having been used for nautical purposes. Guido 
-Guinicelli, Dante's master {Purg. xxvi. 97), alludes to it in nearly the same terms as Dante 
(Rime Ant. p. 295). The fact that Roger Bacon dwells on it as a " viimcttlum in pane 
notuin " (pp. Min. p. 383) indicates a possible source of Dante's knowledge (C. ii. 64-14S n.) 

31 The speaker is Bonaventura (</. 1274), General of the Franciscm Order, who, in return 
for the htory of St. Francis told by Aquinas, narrates the life of St. Dominic. Both had fought 
together ; both should be united in men's honour. Sometimes the one, sometimes the 
other, appear in old Italian paintings, engaged in the act of propping up the falling edifice 
of the Church. Comp. 1. 106. 


The liost of Christ so dearly re-supplied 

With armour, in the rear of its high sign 

Was following, few and slow, by doubt sore tried, 

Wlien the great Emperor of the realm divine 40 

Was moved for that imperilled band to care, 
iN'ot for its merits, but through grace benign ; 

And help, as I have said, to His Spouse bare 

By those two champions, through whose words and deeds 
The scattered people homeward 'gan repair. 43 

In that fair clime whence zephyr soft proceeds 
The young and tender leaves to open wide, 
With which our Europe clothes its verdant meads, 

Xot far off from the surgings of the tide. 

Behind which, when its heat is long and great, so 

The.suu at times from sight of all doth hide, 

There Calaroga stands, the fortunate, 

Beneath the shelter of the mighty shield, 
"^Miere lions subject are, and subjugate. 

Therein the zealous lover was revealed 55 

Of Christ's true faith, the athlete consecrate, 
• Kind to her friends, to those who hate her steeled. 

His mind, when it the Maker did create. 
Was Avith that living energy replete, 
It made his mother prophet of his fate ; eo 

53 The re-arming of the host of Christ is identical with their redemption and renewal. 
They had lost through sin the weapons of the armoury of light <^Eph. vi. 11-17), and Christ 
came to equip His soldiers *ith them. The description that follows gives us Dante s view of 
the state of Western Christendom at the beginning of the 13th centurj' — heresy rampant, 
epicurean unbelief creeping in (//. x. 32. 63 «.), prelates and priests tainted With simony 
(H. xix. 1-6) and leading corrupt lives (//. xv. 109-113), and the champions of the faith few 
and far between. 

■w We note the recurrence of the name Emperor, used in H. i. 124. It appears once more 
in C. XXV. 41. 

^ Spain is described as the region from which the zephyr blows. St. Dominic was bom at 
Calaroga in Castile, near the sources of the Ebro and the Tagus (now Calahorra), about 
eighty miles from the shores of the Bay of Biscay. The " sometimes " is a note of accuracy. 
It was in the summer that the sun seemed, after its long journey from the east, to sink in 
the waters of the Atlantic beyond Calaroga. The description is perhaps not without a touch 
of symbolism. The Church was to be wakened out of the " winter of its discontent " by the 
Saint who came from the land of the zephyrs. Comp. a like analogy in C. xi. 54. 

53 As in H. xvii. 55-75, Dante displays his knowledge of heraldry by describing the arms 
of Castile, in which two lions and two castles are quartered in normal fashion. 

55 The word for "lover" is the same as that used in inalain partem of the giant who 
woos the harlot in Purg. xxxii. 155. Diez (p. 128) derives it from Germ, ireu, the true 
servant or lover. Dominic b. 1170. 

*" Apparently an echo of /En. vi. 854 — 

" Parcere sttbjectis et debellare superbos." 

60 The legend was that his mother dreamt that she was to give birth to a dog with a 

68 YOUTH OF ST. DOMINIC. [pah. c. xii 

And soon as the espousals were complete, 

Which at the font did him to true faith wed, 
Where dower of blessing equal dower did meet, 

The lady, who for him that promise said, 

Saw in her dreams the issue wondrous rare, ss 

Destined from him and from his heirs to spread. 

And that the words his calling should declare, 
A spirit went from hence the boy to name, 
Named after Ilim, who all his soul did share. 

He Dominic was called, and his the fame, to 

As of the tiller of the ground, whom Christ 
Chose as His help His garden to reclaim. 

Servant and envoy was he seen of Christ ; 

For the first love which in his soul found home. 

Was for the first great counsel given by Christ. 75 

Silent and wakeful oft in midnight's gloom, 

He by his nurse was seen upon the ground, 
As though he said, 'To this end have I come.' 

father ! Felix both in fact and sound ! 

mother ! true Joanna in thy deed, so 

If that name means what in it men have foxind ! 

burning torch in its mouth ; that, troubled by the vision, she went for comfort to the shrine of 
an earlier St. Dominic near her home, and on the birth of her son called him by the same 
name. A trace of the legend survived in the mediaeval pun that the Dominicans were 
Domini Canes. 

61 The espousals of St. Francis were celebrated when he was of full age, with Poverty. 
Those of Dominic, as the great champion of the faith, from which he never swerved, were 
celebrated at his baptism. 

6* The godmother of Dominic also had her dream, and saw one star on the child's forehead, 
and another on the nape of his neck, in token that he was to illuminate both East and West 

70 The words probably refer to Aquinas (Smiiiit. iii. i6, 3), who gives the meaning of 
Domi'iicus as meaning "one who belongs altogether to the Dotninus." The man Clirist 
Jesus, he argues, is Himself the Lord, and thereloie cannot be rightly ca led Dominicus, but 
his flesh may be called caro dominica. 

71 It is Dante's rule that Christ should never be combined with any other word as rhyme. 
Comp. C. xiv. 104, xix. 104, xx.\ii. 83. Like instances of the same word thrice repeated for 
the sake of emphasis ;.refoundin the z//rf/ of C. .\xx. 95 and in the ammeiida o^ Purg. xx. 65. 

75 The word "counsel "is used in itsstiict ethical sense, as contrasted with "precept" 
{Suiiim i. 2. 108, 4), as not binding upon all men. and with special reference to the command 
of Matt. xix. 21 given to the rich young ruler. '1 he Order of the Preachers, like that of the 
Fratres Uliiiores, was to be an Order of Mendicants. In the traditions of the Saint's life, 
Dominic sold even his books that he might relieve the poor in a time of famine, and offered to 
sell himself that he might ransom a captive from the Moors. 

77 Often in his childhood the boy wa~ found at midnight kneeling on the hard ground, and 
when his remonstrated, answered in the words which Dante puts into his mouth. 

7!* Dominic's father was Felix Guzman. Dante knows enough of Hebrew to give the 
etymology of Giovanni (Joannes = Jochanan = tbe Lord is gracious), but a Hebrew scholar 
would hardly have spoken in the half-doubting tone of 1. 81. Comp. Witte, D. F. ii. 43. An 
interesting paper on Iiinitainiel and Dante in D. Gesell. iii. 423-462 shows that Daiite was 
acquainted with an eminent Jewish poet and scholar. Comp. C. vii. 1-3 ; vol. i. p. Ixxvi. 

SAB. c. xn.] THE VINE-DRESSER. 69 

Not as men labour now, for worldly greed, 
Following the Ostian, or Taddeo's fame. 
But for that Manna which is food indeed, 

In little time great doctor he became, 85 

So that he gave himself to tend the vine, 
Which withers if the dresser merits blame : 

And from the See, less now than then benign 

To the honest poor, not through its own offence, 

But his who sits there in degenerate line ; so 

Not that he might with payment full dispense, 
Nor yet reversion of first vacant see, 
Nor tithes, which are of God's own poor the pence, 

Did he demand, but only liberty 

Against the erring world for that seed true as 

To fight, whose plants twice twelve encompass thee. 

"With will and doctrine then himself he threw 
In Apostolic office to proceed. 
Like torrent which its streams from hicrh source drew ; 

83 The Ostian is Henry of Susa, Arcliljishop of Embrun, who was made Cardinal of Ostia 
in 1261 and died 1271. He wrote a commentary on the Decretals, and is here taken as the 
representative of tnose who gave themselves to such studies. Taddeo is named in most MS. 
of the Coiiv. (ii. 10) as having translated the Ethics of Aristotle into Italian. He is said to 
have been of Florence (or Bologna), to have been a student of Hippocrates and Galen, and 
a personal friend of Dante's {Benv.\. and to have died in 1295. Dante's medical studies as a 
memljer of the Guild of Apothecaries would naturally bring him into contact with such a 
man (//. iv. 143), and he appears here as their representative, as the Ostian is of Canon 
Law. The name appears as a surname in Vill. ,\-ii. 18. Some of ihe older commentators, 
however, identify him with Taddeo Pepoli, a jurisconsult of Bologna, and therefore grouped 
with the Ostian. In either case, what is meant is that Dominic abaudonetl secular studies for 
the true "manna" of heavenly wisdom. 

86 The words imply a survey, almost a visitation, of the Church as the vineyard of the 
Lord (Isni. v. 4; Jer. ii. 21 ; Matt. xx. 1-16). It is noticeable that the same word is used 
here for the withering of the vine as had been used in H. ii. 128 for the revival of drooping 
flowers, the whiten:;ss being in one case that of the fading leaf, in tiie other of the opening 

89 The See is that of Rome ; the degenerate occupant of that See at the date of Dante's 
vision was Boniface VIII. 

92 The three applications which are scornfully noted as commonly made to the Pope are (i) 
for a dispensation from full payment of what was due, either as the fulfilm<nt of a contract 
or by way of restitution, so that there might be an abatement of 50 or even 66 per cent. ; (2) 
the promise of appointment to the first bishopric or other d gnity that might become vacant — 
a power largely exercised bv Popes Boniface VIII. and Clement V- in the case of cathedrals 
and the like, even in England [Wells Historical MSS. pp. 75, 81); (3) an assignment, for 
their personal use, of the tithes which were rightfully the inheritance of the poor. 

9" Tlie four-and-twenty plants are obviously (though most of the older commentators take 
them as the four-and-tu-^nty elders in Pitrg^. xxix. 82 for the canonical books of the Old 
1'esiament) the two circles of Dominican and Fianciscan teachers by whom the poet is now 

93 Dominic obtained the sanction of Innocent III. in 1215, and proceeded, with the sanction 
of Honorius III. in 1216, to the persecution of the Albigenses in Provence, and specially in 
Toulouse, calling in the secular arm of Simon de Montfort. For the horrors of that persecu- 
tion see Milm. L. C. vi. 8-22. The watering of the Catholic garden points to the labours of 
the Dominican Order as preachers and theologians. Dominic himself died August 6, 1221. 

70 DEGENERACY OF ORDER. [par. c. xii.: 

And so upon tlie heretics' false breed loo 

He fiercely swept, most vehemently there, 
Wliere rebel will did most his course impede. 

Full many streams from him their waters bare 
The garden Catholic to irrigate. 
So that its plants more living might appear. los 

If such AYas one ivheel of the car where late 

The holy Church found stronghold to defend. 
And proved in civil strife inviolate. 

Then should thy spirit clearly apprehend 

The goodness of the other, in whose cause no 

Thomas, ere I came, proved so kind a friend. 

But now the wheel no more its circuit draws 

O'er the same track, neglected and unloved ; 

And mould is seen where wine's crust won applausi- 

His brotherhood, that once straight onward moved us 

And in his footsteps trod, now turns so far 
That what was foremost now is hindmost proved ; 

And soon it will be seen what harvests are 

Of that bad culture gathered, when the tares 

Shall mourn the sentence that the barn doth bar. 120 

I say that one who, leaf by leaf, compares 

Our book, will find some pages where 'tis writ — 
' As I was wont to be, so life still fares ; ' 

M7 '1 he chariot of the Church reminds us of the imagery of Purg. xxi,\-. 107. Here, how- 
ever, it is A two-wheeled chariot, and the two wheels are Dominic and Francis and the Orders 
they respectively represented. 

113 As Aquinas had noted the degeneracy of the Dominicans, so does Eonaventiira that of 
the Franciscans, which is described in four similitudes. Th^; track of the wheels of its highest 
point, i.e., the life of its founder, is no longer followed. The good wine has turned sour, and 
there is the mould of decay instead of the crust of ripeness. The words are said to have been 
proverbial, " Good wine shows crust, bad wine mould." The third c^ mparison is that they 
place their heel where St. Francis and his companions had placed the point of their feet, i.e., 
their course was retrograde ; the fourth, that the tares have taken the place of the wheat. 

120 'f he words probably refer to the events which, when Dante wrote, were fresh in men's 
memories. In 1294 Celestine V. during his short pontificate had endeavoured to heal the 
divisions between the " Spiritual" Franciscans, who claimed to tread in the footsteps of their 
founder, and the main body of the Order, by gathering the former into a new Order as the 
Poor Hermits of Celestine. Boniface VHI. abi)lished the Order in 1302, and persecuted 
its members as heretical. They were thus thrust out of the Church, and as the " Fraticelli," 
taking the "Everlasting Gos/cl" of the Abbot Joachim as their standard, became the bete 
noire of orthodox theologians, and were condemned by two Bulls of John XXII. in 1317-18, 
probably, i.e., just before Dante wrote the Paiadiso. They complained that the ark of 
Christ's Church (this seems to me a more natural rendering than the "store-chest" of Butler 
(comp. C. XX. 39), though there may be an allusion to both meanings) had been taken from 
them (Milm. L. C. vii. 91, 34s). 

l-'2 The volume is the register of the Order, the leaves are the individual members. 

125 Ubertino of Casale was the head of the Spiritual Franciscans, and as such enforced the 
rules of the Order with the e.xtremest rigour. Matteo, Cardinal of Acquasparta, and General 


But not Casal' or Acquasparta it 

Produces ; when these men our law apply, 125 

This narrowing rules, that doth, too lax, acquit. 
Eonaventura's life and soul am I, 

Of Bagnoregio, who each left-hand care 

Placed ever far below his ofltice high ; 
Illuminato, Augustine, are there, 130 

First of those poor bare-footed mendicants. 

Who in their girdle-cord God's friendship share. 
Hugh of St. Victor near them doth advance ; 

Peter Mangiador, and he of Spain, 

Who through twelve volumes full of light descants ; 135 
Nathan the seer ; the Metropolitane, 

Chrysostom ; Anselm, and Donatus too, 

- Who our first art to teach did not disdain ; 
Eabanus too is there, and, full in view. 

Shines the Calabrian Abbot Joachin, 140 

Whom the prophetic spirit did imbue. 

of the Order, took a more liberal view, and, from Dante's point of view, encouraged a 
<langerous laxity. The poet had probably seen him when he came to Florence in 1300 as a 
legate from Boniface VIII. (Vill. viii. 40, 49). 

128 Assuming, as I do, the good faith of Dante, the list that follows has the interest of 
showing whom, among the Franciscans, he most delighted to honour, (t) Eonaventus-a him- 
self, the Doctor Se>-ii/>/t/ctis, b. 1221 at Bagnoregio, near the lake of Bolsena, joined the Order 
124;^, General in 1256, Cardinal and Bishop ot Albano in 1272, d. at Lyons 1274, canonised 
by Sixtus V. in 1482. As the epithet attached to his name implies, Bonaventura represented 
the emotional, mystical side of mediaeval thought, rather than the logical. He lectured at Paris 
on the 5'f«/r?;f^i of Lombard. Aquinas, on fiiidinghim writing the jC//^ (j/" 5'^. /"^vc/r/j, is said 
to have exclaimed, " Siimtnus sanciutn lie samio scritere." For " left-hand " see Prov. iii. 16. 

'■*! lUurainatus of Rieti was one of the earliest followers of St. Francis, and went with him 
to Egypt. Augtistine was another. It is related of him that being ill at the time of St. 
Francis's death, he called out and begged the Saint to wait for him and then fell asleep. 

i'iJ Hugh of St. Victor, h. 1097 at Ypres(?)or Blankenberg (?), entered the monastery of 
Haniersleben and then removed to that of St. Victor at Paris, from which he takes his name. 
Aquinas {Stiintn. i. 2. 5, i) speaks in the highest terms of his writings [De Saciaittentis and 
'•thers), which fill three folio volumes. Pietro Mangiador (z/;t' isa/f^; "as he so c.illed as a 
helhw lihroriiin ?), Z'. at Troyes in Champagne, was Chancellor of the University of Paris in 
1164, and </. 1179 in the monastery of St. Victor. Peter of Spain (/.c, of Lisbon), li. 1226, first 
a physician, then a priest, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum, and elected to the Papacy as John 
XXI. in 1276 (d. 1277), is noticeable as the only Pope whom Dante places in Paradise. The 
twelve books of 1. 136 were on Logic. The famous " Barbara, celarent," is ascribed to him 

l'^7 By a strange grouping, for which it is difficult to give any satisfactory explanation, we 
pass to the more famous names of the prophet who rebuked David, the Patriarch who was 
exiled for rebuking the Empress Eudoxia, and the Archbishop who was exiled for rebuking 
William Rufus (was this the link that connected them together in Dante's mind?), Donatus, 
who is only known as the friend of St. Jerome and the author of the Latin Grammar used 
in all mediaeval schools, so that a " Donat " became a synonym for a lesson-book. Here 
we may peihaps allow something for the imperative urgency of rhyme. 

139 Rabanus Manrus, l>. at Mayence 776, and trained in the Abbey of Fulda, became Abbot 
in 822 and Aichbi^hop of Mayence in 847, d. 856. He was the pupil of Alcuin, the master 
of Walafrid Strabo, wrote many commentaries on Scripture, and other works, historical and 
linguistic, after the manner of the time. One may perhaps speak of him as the Beda of 
Germany. Curiously enough all the early commentaries on the Cornviedia speak of hmi 
as Beda's brother. 

•l*" The strange list ends with the Abbot Joachim of the Cistercian monastery of Flora in 

72 THE MYSTIC DANCE. [par. c. xiii. 

To celebrate so great a paladin 

I was stirred up by that warm courtesy 

Of brother Thomas, backed by words that win, 

And with me too was stirred this company." us 


The Mysteries of Human Birth and of the Incarnation — Tlie Wisdom 
of Solomon. 

Let him imagine, who to know doth long 

That which I saw, and let the picture stay 
While I am speaking, fixed as mountain strong. 

Stars ten and five, which in the heavens display, 

In different regions, light so wondrous clear s 

That densest air is conquered by its ray ; 
■ Let him imagine then the "Wain appear, 

For which our heaven sufficeth day and night, 
So that to turn its pole it fails not there ; 

Imagine then the horn with opening bright, ro 

That from the point starts of that axle tree 
Eound which the primal wheel revolves aright. 

Had made two signs in Heaven for man to see. 

Like that which Minos' daughter made of old, 

Then when she felt death's chill and ceased to be ; is 

Calabria (^. 1130). He was conspicuous as a commentator on the Apocalypse, predicting 
the coming of Antichrist in 1260. He was said to have foretold the failure of the third 
crusade to Richard I. and Philip II. on the ground that the time had not yet came. After 
his death he was on the otic side received as a saint and prophet, inaugurating the new 
period of the Church's history, in which she was to be under the im^nediate guidance of the 
Spirit, and, on the other, denounced as a heretic. A book known as the Everlasting Gospel, 
and believed to embody his revelations, was the rallying-point of the seceding Spiritual 
Franciscans known as the Kraticelli, and as such was condemned, exphcitly or implicitly, by 
BonifaceVIIl. D.-)nte without being prepared /!<n;?r in verba w/a?7'j/r/cleatly sympathised 
with him, probably all the more because he had been so condemned liMilni. L. C. vii. 317). 
It is noticeable, as pointing probably to D.aite's influence wiih the Order, that the stricter 
Franciscansappearafter his death a> strong Ghibellines (/i/i/. vii. 37S). 

1 The mystic dance of the two companies of saints is described in one of Dante's most 
elaborate displays of astronomical knowledge Take fifteen stars of the first magnitude (the 
exact number of such stars in the Ptolemaic regisier), the Wain or Great Bear with its seven 
stars, that never leave the northern hemisphere, the two bright stars at the base of Ursa 
Minor (here pictured as a horn), which begins from the pole-star, the pomt of the axis 
round which the Priinutn Mobile revolves ; picture ihese arranged in iwo concentric circles, 
as in the constellation of Ariadne, whose crown of flowers was turned by Bacchus into a 
group of stars (the Gnosia corona of Georg. i. 222; I^Ut. viii. 174-1S2), revolving in the 
same direction, and then we shall have a picture like that which met Dante's gaze as he 
looked on the two companies of theologians. 


And each of them round each its rays to fold, 
And both go whirling onward in such mode 
That one went first, the other, following, rolled ; 

Then will some shadow faint to him be showed 

Of that true constellation, and the dance 20 

Twofold that circled round me where I stood ; 

For it excels all wonted cricumstance. 

Far as outspeeds Chiana's sluggish Qow 
The highest heaven's revolving radiance. 

No Paean nor " lo Eacche " sang they so, 25 

But Persons Three who in one Nature shine, 
And in one Person that in manhood show. 

The song and dance each measured out its line. 
And then those holy lights to us gave heed, 
Joy growing, as they task with task combine. so 

At last the hush of saints in will agreed 

"Was broken by the light from which I knew 
Of God's poor saint the wondrous life and deed. 

It said : " One sheaf being threshed in measure due. 

Now that the garner hath received the grain, 33 

Love leads me on to thresh the other too. 

Thou deem'st that in the breast from which was ta'en 
The rib to form that cheek so wondrous fair, 
"Whose tasting Avrought the world such bitter pain, 

And in that other, pierced by the spear, 40 

"Which past and future so did satisfy. 
That it outweighs all guilt that man doth bear, 

"Whate'er of light in our humanity 

Is possible, was poured on each of those 

By Him who fa>]iioned both so gloriously. « 

23 The Chiana (// xxix. 47), now turned into a canal, flows towards the Northern Arno 
near Arezzo. In Dante s time its course was southward, and it flowed into the Tiber near 
Urvieto. As the most sluggish of Itahan rivers, it is contrasted with the velocity of the 
/'nmum Mobile. As this surpassed that, so did the brightness of the constellation which 
JJ.inte saw surpass any imagined grouping of the stars of heaven. And the hymn they san-' 
was not such as had been heard in the festivals of Bacchus or Apollo, which the name of 
Ariadne suggested, but praised the ever-blessed Three in One and One in Three. Was Dante 
thinking of the Qmcungite vult as sung in Paradise, and as summing up the te..ching of 
Aquinas and Bonaventura, or did his thoughts rest on the more familiar CP/^r/a Patri? 

•i- Aquinas resumes his teaching as the Ductor Dubiianti:i,u. The history of the Fran- 
ciscans had e-xplained C. x. 96. There remains the difficulty connected with C. x. 114. How 
ft°" ■, ^' r ^u- /m ' Solomon was the wisest of all men? What was to be said of Adam 
(1. 37; before his fall, and of the Christ (1. 40), each of wnom is described in his relation to tne 
preal work of redemption ? 

41 The term "satisfy" is used in its strictly scholastic sense, as in Anselm's theory of 
satisfaction in the C ur Deus Homo .' 

7'4 THE DIVINE EFFLUENCE. [par. c. xiii.- 

And so thy gaze perplexM wonder shows, 
Because I said that ne'er a second yet 
"Was like the good that fifth light did enclose. 

Xow on niine answer let thine eyes be set, 

And thou wilt see thy thought and my reply so 

Fit true, as centre with its circle met. 

That which dies not, and that too which may die, 
Are but the radiance of that Thought Supreme 
AVhich, in His love, our Sire begets on' high ; 

So that the living Light which forth doth stream 55 

From His effulgence, and ne'er from it strays, 
Nor from the Love which is Triune with them. 

Through its own goodness gathers all its rays, 
As though reflected, in nine substances, 
While in Itself for ever One it stays, . oo 

Thence to the lowest powers pours effluences, 

Downward from act to act, and so doth end, 
That all its works are brief contingencies : 

I by these things contingent comprehend 

All things created which the high heavens frame, cs 

With or without seed, as their way they wend. 

Their wax-like stuff, and that which moulds the same, 
Are not alike in all, and, this being so. 
The ideal stamp they more or less proclaim ; 

51 The two truths, that the highest illumination possible for human nature was found in 
the first Adam before his fall, and in the second Adam, and that there was none like Solomon 
for wisdom, will be found to be in perfect harmony. 

52 We enter on the highest rec;ior.s of scholastic theology. All beings, immortal, like 
angels, or mortal, like men, are but rays of the Divine Idea, i.e., the Word, in St. John's 
sense, which the Father, in His love, eternally begets {Svjinn. i. 34, 3), and that Wnnl, 
as the true Light of the world, is never parted from Him or from the Love, i.e., the Holy 
Spirit, who completes the Divine Trinity. 

59 The readings vary between nuove and nove, of which the last is best supported ; and 
the thought is that the Divine Light imparts itself, still remaining One, to the nine orders of 
the heavenly hierarchy, who are the movers of the spheres (C. .vxix. 142-145; Conv. ii. 6, 
iii. 14). From them it passes downwards to the "ultimate potencies," i.e., the concrete 
material beings who are seen on earth (Snjnin. i. 41, 5). Its products in this lower sphere 
are, in scholastic language, "contingencies," varying in qualities and degrees; not the work 
of chance, but of Divine power working through the heavens, and pmduced either from 
seeds which contain the germ of hfe or by spontaneous generation. In them, therefore, the 
Light of the Idea, i.e., of the Divine Word, shines forth in varying measure. Hence the 
" diversity of gifts," seen alike in the fruits of the earth and in the minds of men (Stamn. i. 
115, 6 ; Conv. iii. 7). Assume a perfect recipient (the " wax " of 1. 67) and a perfect heaven, 
and then the light would shine in its perfect brightu'ss. But it is not so. Nature fails, 
(Arist. Probl. x. 44 ; Pliys. ii. 8), as the artist fails whose hand is unequal to his conceptions 
(Hooker, E. P. i. 3, 3). If the creative action of the Divine Love, however, is immediate, 
then the result is absolute, and this was the ca-e (i) in the creation of the world, which was 
pronounced " very good " {Gen. i. 32), and in the incarnation of the Word. So far Dante 
had been right. Solomon was inferior both to Adam and to Christ. 

PAH. c. xiii.] WISDOM OF SOLOMON. ' y^. 

And thus it comes that on the same stock grow, "'70 

In varying kind, or worse or better fruit, 
And ye are born with minds that diverse show.' 

If that same wax should quite exactly suit, 

And did the Heavens' high virtue never fail. 

Then nothing would the seal's bright stamp dispute ; 75 

Cut Mature ever gives it weak and frail, 

E'en as the artist works who hath the skill 

Of art, and hands that, trembling, nought avail. 

If then the burning Love that worketh still 

Clear view of that first Virtue should assign, so 

Then all perfection doth the impress fill. 

So once the earth was wrought to temper fine, ' 

For highest animal perfection meet ; 
So was the Virgin for her birth divine. 

So I thy judgment with approval greet, ss 

That human nature ne'er was, nor will be, 
Like that which had in those two forms its seat. 

Now if no further I my way should see, 

' How then to him was never equal known 1 ' 

So would thy questioning words proceed from thee. '.'u 

But that the yet unseen may now be shown, 

Think who he was, and what his motive too, 
Who to his prayers the answer ' Ask thou ' won. 

Not so I've spoken as to hide from view 

That he was king who asked for wisdom's dower, ys 

That a king's duty he might ably do ; 

'Twas not to know the number or the power 
Of these high spheres, nor if necesse wed 
With thing contingent, e'er necesse bore ; 

Nor si est dare primum motum said, 100 

Or if in semicircle there can be 
Triangle other than right-angled made. 

91 The doubt Is solved after the manner of Aqumas by a disth,g,io. .'^olomon had asked 
for wisdom, not absolutely but as a kmg, that he n.ight govern wisely (i Kings iii. 5-9^ In 
contrast with that high knowledge Dante men.ions the chief questions of the scliools 
which were most remote frona practice. How many are the angelic movers of the spheres? 
rnmino^^^^r-TT ;"l?"-'^°'i^r 'X"™ P'-e'"'^s<=5 of which one is necessary and the other 
contingent (Arist AnaL Pr. i. 16)? Can motion, and therefore the universe which moves, be 
treated as eternal, or must we postulate a First Cause, itself unmoved, as the beginning of 
all motion? Can the angle in a semicircle be ever other than a right angle? It was not to 
.such questions that the unequalled in^ght of Solomon applied itself 

76 DELUSIONS OF SELF-LOVE. fpAR, c. xiii. 

Hence, if thou note what things I've said to theo, 
That peerless sight as kingly wisdom's seen, 
On which my meaning's arrow lighteth free. los 

And if, clear-eyed, thou scan what 'rose' may mean, 
Thou'lt see that it to kings alone referred, 
Kings that are many, but few good, I ween. 

With this distinction take what thou hast heard, 

And thus it may accord with thy conceit lo 

Of our first sire, and Him to us endeared ; 

And let this be as lead unto thy feet, 

That thou, like wearied man, ply slower pace 
When ' Yes ' or ' Xo ' thou blindly would'st repeat ; 

For he among the fools holds lowest place us 

Who, without due distinction, or denies, 
Or else affirms, and this in either case; 

Because it chances oft men's judgment flies 

With speed o'er-quick towards the falser part, 

And self-love binds our understanding's eyes. 120 

He more than vainly from the shore will start. 
Since he returneth not as first he came. 
Who angles for the truth j'et fails in art ; 

And in the world, proofs open of the same, 

Parmenides, Melissos, Brissos stand, 125 

And many wanderers, more than I can name, 

lO'i Another subtle liistin^uo. Aquinas had applied the word ''rose" to Solomon, and this 
could apply only to those who are placed above others, sc. to kings. It was with them, there- 
fore, and not with Adam or Christ, that Solomon had been compared. The reasoning seems 
to us almost a caricature of the method of Aquinas, but I see no ground for questioning the 
good faith of Dante in his use of it, .iny more than i i the casuistic discussion of C. v. 

112 Xhe scholar is taught by his e.\perience of his own haste to be slow in affirming or 
denying when he sits in judgment on things too high for him. Ha-te in such matters is but 
a proof of unwisdom. Men may be swayed either by the opinion of the crowd around them 
or by their own prepossessions— what Bacon called the cidolafori and the eidola sfeciis. To 
seek for truth uithout knowing the method of dialectics is lo put forth on the wide sea in 
search of fish without the art of the fisherman, and of this the philosophers who are named 
were iitstances. 

12.5 It is, to ^ay the least, a noteworthy coincidence that two of these, Parmenides and 
Melissus, are named by Roger Bacon [Op. TcJi. c. 39) in much the same way. The first was 
the founder of the Eleatic School of Greek philosophy (Jl. circ. B.C. 502). The error which 
Dante notes was probably that he accounted for tiie existence of the universe by the working 
of the two contrasted elements of fire as force and earth as matter, excluding the creative 
and disposing activity of God, and taught that matter was eternal. Melissus was of the same 
period and of the same school, probably a disciple of Parmenides, and carried his specula- 
tions, anticipating Berkeley, to the conclusion that the actual world of which the senses take 
cognisance has no real e.vistence when contemplated by the reason. Brissus or Bryson, 
said to have been the disciple of Euclid or of Stilpo of Megara, was said to have occupied 
himself with the quadrature of the circle (C. xxxiii. 134). Of all these attempts to solve the 
mystery of the universe without revelation Dante affirms that " they knew not whither ttiey 
went," did not see, i.e.., that the-, were drifting to Pantheism or Atheism. With them he 
classes Sabellius, who confounded the Persons of the Trinity in Unity, and Arius, who denied 
the divinity and eternity of the Perion of the Son. 


Sabellius and Arius, too, the band 

Of fools, Avho -were as swords to Scripture's sense, 
To make its clear looks twist at their command. 

Xor let men now with caution due dispense mo 

In judging, as he does who ere the hour 
Of ripeness counts the harvest's opulence. 

For I have seen, through winter's frost and shower, 
The briar appear all stiff and hard to see, 
Then on its summit bear its roseate flower; m 

And I have seen a ship drive fast and free 

O'er the wide waves in safety all the way, 
And at the harbour's entrance shipwrecked be. 

Let not Dame Berta or Ser Martin say, 

Seeing one man rob, another sacrifice, ,,0 

They see the doom of God's great judgment-day ; 

For one may fall, the other too may rise." 

127 The comparison may be either (,) that, like swords, they hacked ard mutilated the fair 
face of truth, or (2) that they reflected that truth, as a sword reflects the features of a man 
dimiy and distortedly. Of these, (2) seems preferable. C'lLureb 01 a man, 

130 A warning like that of C. xix. 97, xx. 133, against haste in judging, parily an echo of 
I Cor. IV. s panly of Matt, xn.. 29. The two examples of prematurf jud|me,I are chosen 
Tar'cfThich will <=°"d-'""^;'°" °'- ^^^'y P^-i'^e. We rnay condemn a character ^s wi d and 
hard which will afterwards blossom irto beauty. We may think that a man has almost 
finished h,s voyage across the sea of life, and yet he may at last make ship. reck. Was 
Dante thinking of h.mself >n the first case, of Celestine V. or Bnmetto Latin! in the second' 
We are reminded of the words with which Eunyan ends his Piign,ns /',cJ,-css- - 1 saw 
De!tr^c'tion!"''' ^ ^^^ '° "'" ^™"' '^^ ^^'^' °^ "'^^^" ^' ^'^'^ ^ ^'"'" the City of 

138 The two names are taken as among the most common to represent the self-confidence of 
he Ignorant, the un earned" of , Cor. xiv 16. ." Martin " is used in the same way in c" ° 
.. 8. Such persons form their judgments from single acts without taking into account he 
infinite rnmn f*vir\r nf ^r^r^t^1?t^<: -t.^^ ,-t.a,, ti .t ., . ** ""-u rtL.^,uuuL tiie 


THE GLORIFIED BODY. [pae. c. xiv. 


Tlie Fifth Heaven, of Mars — The Starry Cross—The Souls of Martyrs 
and Crusaders. 

From rim to centre, centre to the rim, 

The water moves itself in vessel round, 
As struck from out or inside of the brim. 

AVithin my thoughts dropt suddenly, I found 

This that I speak of, when the glorious shade 5 

Of great St, Thomas no more uttered sound, 

Through the resemblance to my mind conveyed, 
'Twixt his discourse and that of Beatrice, 
V Who after him thus her beginning made : 

" This man hath need, nor yet with voice applies lo 

To tell it, no, nor even in his mind. 
To reach the root where yet one more truth lies ; 

Tell if the light wherewith enflowered we find 
Your substance will remain with you for aye 
As now it is, while endless ages wind ; is 

And if it so remain, then after say. 

How, when once more ye visilDle are made, 
It shall not vex your eyesiglit with its ray." 

As now and then, by joy's excess betrayed. 

They lift their voice who circling dance along, 20 

And the whole game with greater mirth is played, 

Thus at that prayer, so earnest and so strong. 
The circles of the blessed showed new joy 
In their quick whirling and their wondrous song. 

Whoso at thought of dying feels annoy 25 

To live above, be sure he doth not see 
The eternal shower of gladness they enjoy. 

1 The words indicate the miiiute observer of phaenomena (C. ii. 100-T05) watching the 
vibrations of the water in a basin and endeavouring to discover the law which governs them. 
The voice of Aquinas came from the circumference to the centre ; that of Beatrice from the 
centre to the circumference. 

13 Beatrice becomes the interpreter of another question in Dante's mind, as yet not uttered 
in words, scarcely even formulated in thought. Would the light which now hid form and 
features from Dante's gaze continue after the Resurrection and for ever? and if so, how could 
the eyes of the resurrection body look on them without injury ? As in other instances, question 
and answer are both versified from Aquinas {Summ. iii. 85, i). 

19 The rejoicing of the souls in Paradise is likened to the dances, at once vocal and panto- 
mimic, of Italy, in which every varying emotion found expression. 

25 The thought seems to rise out of the memory of what his own sorrow had been at the 


The ever-living One and Two and Three, 

The ever-reigning Three and Two and One, 

Boundless Himself, bounds all things else that be — so 

Three times to Him due praise by each was done, 
Of those blest spirits, with such melody. 
Full guerdon 'twere for all that merit won. 

And in the light that shone most gloriously 

In the near ring I heard as modest strain 35 

As Gabriel's when to Mary he drew nigh, 

Answer : " As long as with us shall remain 
The joy of Paradise, so long our love 
Such vesture radiant round us shall retain. 

Its brightness doth our ardour's measure prove, 40 

The ardour comes from vision, and that grows. 
As it has grace its natural strength above. 

And when reclothed with flesh our body shows, 
Glorious and holy, then our being's bliss 
"Will be more sweet as it completeness knows ; 45 

And so will grow and brighten in us this, 

The light the Chief Good gives of His free grace, 
The light by which we see Him as He is. 

And thus that vision needs must grow apace. 

Grow too the ardour kindled by that sight ; so 

Grow too the brightness shed from it through space. 

But as a coal that giveth flame and light, 

Yet these by its white heat surpasseth so, 
That its own aspect still maintains its right, 

death of Beatrice {Cam. v. vi.) Had he rightly judged, I'e would have rejoiced instead of 
lamenting at the death of any whose life gave good grounds for hoping, as hers did, that 
they were meet for Paradise. 

30 An echo o^ Purg. xi. i and Conv. iv. 9. Looking to Dante's constant reference to the 
services of the Latin Church, the words were probably meant to refer to the Ter-Sanctus, or 
to the yet more familar Doxology. 

34 The light which speaks is identified by C. x. log as the soul of Solomon, the author, not 
only of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, bur also of the Song 0/ Songs, in which the mediaeval mystics 
had seen a revelation of the joy> of Paradise. Comp. Piirg. xxx. 10 Possibly, also, as Builer 
suggests, Dante may have thought of him, as most mediaeval scholars did, as the author of 
the Book of Wisdom. 

37 The answer is that the glory with which the saints are clothed comes from their love, 
and their love from the beatific vision, and their vision from the grace of Gud — "super- 
effiuent grace," as Ken would have called it — added to the merit which each had gained by 
his personal holiness. It will, therefore, be eternal, and, in accordance with the doctrine of 
H. vi. 106, it will be increased when the soul is clothed again with its spiritual body And 
that body will have organs of its own, stronger and more perfect than those of the natural 
body, and will therefore be able to bear «hat these shrink from. 

8o THE TRIPLE CIRCLE. [pab. c. xiv. 

So shall the glory that doth round us show 55 

Yield in its radiance to the fleshly frame 
"Which now the earth hides sepulchred below ; 

Nor shall we wearied grow Avith that bright flame, 
For all our body's organs will be strong 
For every object that delights the same."' eo 

So quick and eager in their burst of song, 

With loud Amen, seemed each ring of the choirs, 
They seemed for their dead bodies much to long ; 

Not for themselves alone were their desires, 

Perchance, but mothers, fathers, others, dear, 65 

Ere yet they shone among the eternal fires. 

And lo ! all round, with equal brightness clear, 
A glory shone, the former light above, 
As when the horizon's glow doth reappear. 

And, as when early eve begins to move, 70 

New stars are seen in the bright firmament, 
And whether true or false we scarce can prove, 

So then new forms of being did present 

Themselves to me, and made an outer ring 

That far beyond those other circles went. 73 

Holy Spirit's true illumining ! 

How sudden on mine eyes its burning light 
So poured, that they shrank back in sufi'ering ! 

But Beatrice then so wondrous bright 

With smiles appeared, that with what else was seen, so 
My mind must leave it as beyond its might, 

62 The teaching of Sohurion is confirmed by the " Amen " (Dante uses the popular Aiiutte, 
still common in Tuscany, into which the Hebrew word had glided). 

•>■* The perverse ingenuity of commentators has inferred from the absence of any relations 
except father and mother that he, for his part, did not desire to meet his wife in Paradise. 
My own conclusion is just the opposite. The other " dear ones," both here and in C. xvii. 55, 
seem to me expressly intended to include both her and her children. 

"0 A third cii cle gathers round the other two, but we are not told of whom it consists. 
They are probably brought in, as it were, to complete the triplicity of those who sing the 
praises of the Trinity in unity (1. 28). Readers of the Ckristian Year will be reminded by 
1. 71 of the lines 

" Whoever saw .... 
Or, when the summer sun goes down. 
The first soft star in Evening's crown 

Light up her gleaming crest ? "— 4M Sun. in Lent. 

This is the last vision in the sphere of the sun. From this — Beatrice increasing in beauty as 
she rises— they pass 10 the sphere of Mars, which is recognised, as on earth, by its red light, 
and Dante cfiers directly the holocaust of his praise. 


Anon mine eyes, restored to vision keen, 

Looked up, and now I saw we were transferred, 
I and my Lady, to bliss more serene. 

Well saw I we a higher clime had neared as 

Ijly the full glowing smile of that bright star, 
"NMiich ruddier than its wont to me appeared. 

With all my heart, and with the words that are 
The same for all men, I made sacrifice, 
Meet for that last new grace so passing rare. 90 

Xor from my breast the glow had ceased to rise 
Of that same holocaust, before I knew 
That oflfering had found favour in God's eyes ; 

For with such brightness and such roseate hue 

Splendours I saw in two such radiant lines, 95 

I cried, " Elios, here thy work I view ! " 

As, marked by less and greater starry signs, 

The Galaxy, the world's great poles between, 
Perplexing sages, in its whiteness shines. 

Thus constellate in depths of Mars' bright sheen, 100 

Those rays the venerable sign did make, 
"Which, where four quadrants intersect, is seen. 

Here skill and power 'neath memory's burden break, 
For on that cross, all flashing, shone the Christ, 
So that I know not what fit type to take ; 105 

But whoso takes his cross and follows Christ 
Will pardon me for what I leave unsaid, 
Seeing in that sheen the levin-flash of Christ. 

96 The " Elios" has been the crux of commentators. Did Dante mean it for the Greek 
Helios (=Sun) or for the Hebrew Elion ( = the Most High), or was it an echo from the " Eli, 
Eli," which he found in Matt, xxvii. 46? C. xxvi. 134-136 seems in favour of the last con- 
jecture. He was, as we have seen, fond, as we snou d say, of "airing" his Hebrew 
(C. vii. 1-3 ; //. vii. i). 

99 The Milky Way (Met. i. 168) was, with Dante, as with other mediaeval students of 
science, one of the problems which he could not solve. In Cenv. ii. 15 he enumerates the 
various thoughts that had gathered round it, from the storj' of Phaethon, and the Pytha- 
gorean view that the sun had once deviated from its course and left its pathway of brightness, 
to the p' pular belief which connected it somehow with St. James of Compostella. The 
lights which he saw formed a cross within the circumference of a circle, and he recognised the 
symbol of the Christ. It is noteworthy that in Conv. ii. 14 he describes a luminous cross as 
having appeared near Mars in Florence. Possibly this was the comet mentioned by Vill. 
viii. 43 as having appeared in September 1301 {Butl.) Popul.^r superstition looked on it as pre- 
saging the coming of Charles of Valois. The cross, it will be noted, was after the Greek 
pattern, such as that with which early Byzantine and Italian art was familiar in the aureole 
of our Lord, as distinguishing Him from the saints. 

106 He who follows Christ will know His incomparable preciousness, and will, therefore, 
forgive the poet for not venturing on a comparison. As a rhyme unto itself. Crista aga.msta.nis 
in the original as in the translation. C. xii. 71-75, xix. 104-108, xxxii. 83-87. 

82 THE STARRY CROSS. [pab. c. xiv. 

From arm to arm, and from the foot to head, 

Moved to and fro bright lights, and, as they went, uo 
fleeting and crossing, sparkling rays they shed- 
So see Ave oft, in straight line now, now bent, 

Now swift, now slow, in ever-changing mode, 
The atoms small, of more or less extent, 

Move in the ray which makes a shining road "s 

Through shadows thick, where men, on screen or fence 
Their skill, and art, and labom- have bestowed. 

And as the lyre and harp, when duly tense 

Their many strings, make pleasant harmony 

For him who of each note has little sense, i^ 

So then the lights that there appeared to me 
Around the cross melodious song did raise, 
Wliich rapt me, though their hymn mine ears did flee. 

AVell did I know it was of loftiest praise. 

For unto me " Arise and conquer " came, 125 

As, understanding not, one hears a phrase. 

So much therewith enamoured I became. 
That until then had not been anything 
That with such pleasant bonds my strength o'ercame. 

loy Along the four arms of the cross thus seen appear sparks of brightness thick as the dust 
motes which float in the ray that makes its way through a shutter or a screen. These, as 
already suggested in 1. io6, are chiefly the souls ot faithful Crusadeis. The mingling of many 
voices answers to their multitude. There is a vague impression of something melodious, but 
neither words nor tune are heard distinctly. Bull, compares Liter, ii. 115. 

125 The words, either in the imperative or indicative mood, are addressed to Christ. 
Analogy would lead us to expect either a quotation from Scripture or from some well-known 
anthem, but the nearest approaches to the former suggested by commentators {Isai. li. 9 ; 
Rev. V. 5) are sufficiently remote. I incline to Ps. Ixviii. i, the proper Psalm for Whit-Sunday, 
as more probable. The sequence for the Thursday in Easter Week in the Sarum Missal, and 
probably therefore in that of the Italian churches in Dante stime, contains the words ''''Resumpta 
came resurgit victor die in tertia. And preceding these are words which may have sug- 
gested the comparison of 1. ii8 — 

" Nos guogue laxas aptetnus fibras arte musica. 
Voce sonora modijicantes prosis neiimata, 
Voce satis tinnuld." 

Political commentators, after their manner, read between the lines, and see in the words, as 
addressed to Dante, a command to "arise and conquer" in the stren'^th which was hoped 
for from the appointment of Can Grande as Captain-General of the Ghibellines. 

l'-7 No previous rapture had equalled that which the poet felt on hearing, though 
incompletely, the Resurrection Hymn. Did he seem, in raying this, to disparage the joy 
w hich came to him from the eyes of Beatrice? " No " is his answer, for he had not looked in 
those eyes since he came into the sphere of Mars. That hi>ly joy was not yet opened to him ; 
or, adoptin'.j another meaning for dischiuso, as in C. vii. 102, it was not excluded ; nay, rather 
was implied, as being soon to coalesce with and form a part of it (C. xv. 32). What is the 
thought to be read between ihe lines? I'ossibly this, that the joy of the thought of the 
triumph of Christ's resurrection surpasses all previous joy in the contemplation of Divine 
Wisdom, till that Wisdom, in due course, takes that triumph as the subject-matter of its medi- 


Perhaps my words may liave too bold a ring, . iso 

Seeming to slight the charm of those sweet eyes, 
Rapt in whose gaze desire doth fold her wing ; 

But who reflects that as we higher rise 

Each living type of beauty charms us more, 

And that my gaze was there turned otherwise, 135 

He may excuse what 'gainst myself I score, 
Myself excusing, and my truth confess ; 
For joy supreme here oped not all its store, 

For, as one mounts, it gains more power to bless. 


Cacciaguida — The good old Times of Florence. 

A WILL benign, wherein we ever see 

The love which breatheth rightly flow amain, 
As base desire does in iniquity, 

Imposed a silence on that sweet refrain. 

And all the holy chords were hushed and still, 5 

Which Heaven's right hand doth slacken or doth strain. 

How can our righteous prayers meet answer chill 
From beings who in concord stayed the flow 
Of song to breathe in me a prayerful will 1 

Well is it he should suffer endless woe 10 

\{\\o, for the love of thing that cannot last, 
For ever of this love despoiled doth go. 

As in clear heaven, by not a cloud o'ercast, 

There shoots at times a sudden-kindled fire, 

Rousing the eyes, till then set firm and fast, 15 

And seems a star that doth new place desire, 

Save that where it was seen to flash in siaht 


Not one is lost, while it doth soon expire ; 

1 The heavenly souls were silent, but their very silence was a proof of their love, for they 
stopped their song to allow the poet to give utterance to his prayers. One who shut that 
love out for the sake of the lower love of perishable things might well be in his turn shut out 
from love, as the fit reward of his evil choice. 

•13 The simile of a shooting star appears in Dante's two favourite poeis,(yEn. iL 6y3 ; Met. ii. 
321). Such a star appears^ moving along the right radius of the Greek Cross. It is, as the 
sequel shows, the soul of Cacciaguida, Dante's great ancestor, hastening to meet his descen- 
dant, as Anchises did to meet .(Eneas in the Ely^ian fields (^«. vi. 684-691 ; Purg. v. 37). 

$4 CACCIAGUIDA. [par. c. xv. 

So from the arm that stretched towards the right, 

Unto that cross's foot, there moved a star 20 

From out the constellation shining bright. 
Nor strayed the gem beyond its radiant bar, 

But sped along the central column's way, 

^As fire is seen through alabaster spar. 
So pitying moved Anchises' soul, they say, 25 

If we may credence give to that high Musa, 

His son beholding in Elysian day. 
" sanguis mens, super infusa 

Gratia Dei ; siciit tibi, cut 

Bis unquam Coelijaiiua reclusa?" so 

Thus spake that light, and so I turned to see. 

And then I to my Lady turned mine eyes 

On either side, in sore perplexity ; 
For in her eyes a glowing smile did rise. 

Such that I thought I plumbed the depth with mine 35 

Both of my grace and of my Paradise. 
Then, joyous both to see and hear, the line 

"VVliich he began, the spirit carried on, 

And spake of deep things I could not divine. 
Not by his choice his words obscurely shone, 4u 

But of necessity ; for e'en his thought 

Had far beyond the grasp of mortal gone. 
And Avhen the bow of ardent love, o'erwrought, 

AYas slackened to the standard of our sense, 

So that his speech now plainer meaning taught, 45 

These were the first words that I heard from thence : 

" Blessed be ever Thou, the One, the Three, 

Who to my seed such bounty dost dispense ! " 

'S 2 Cfr. xii. 2-4 would seem to sugqest that St. P.'ul hnd had a like privilege, but possibly 
D.inte limited that vision to the earthly Paradise and to the tiiird Heaven, beyond which he 
had now passed. In N. ii. 32 Dante (where see fwte] speaks as if St. Paul's visit had been 
to the region of the lost. Why docs he put Latin into his great-grandsire's lips? Probably 
to indicate that at that period the "vulgar tongue " of modern Italian liad not yet been 
formed. What men spoke was still, as in /-'. A", i. 10, Latin with variations. Comp. C. xvi. 
33, where his words, though given in Italian, are said to have been spoken in a more arch.iic 

^ The phrase is almost an exact echo of that with which the first salute of Beatrice is 
described in K. .\'. c. 2. It was " Qua/:s ad incepto." 

39 We are reminded of 2 Cor. xii. 4. Line 47 suggests the thought that it was the close 
of a half-eucharistic, half-prophetic prayer. Reading the future in the mirror of divine 
kiiowledg*-, ('acciaguida had long known that he was to see Dante, and had hungered for the 
n-.eeting. Th.^n!;s to Beatrice, the craving was at last satisfied. 


A:id then went on: "Long hunger, sweet to me, 

That moved me as the volume great I read, » 

"Wherein nor white nor dark e'er changed can be, 

Thou hast, my son, witViin this glory fed, 

This wherein now I speak to thee, through grace 
Of her who for such flight thy wings hath sped. 

Thou deem'st that I thine every thought can trace 5o 

In Him who is the First, as when we know 
The five and six developed from the ace. 

And therefore who I am and why I grow 

Joyous at sight of thee more than the rest 

Of this glad crowd, thou dost not bid me show. <;o 

Thou thinkest right ; who live among the blest, 
Greater or less, have truth in that glass spied 
Where, ere thou think'st, thy thought is manifest. 

But that the holy love, which I long tide 

Have watched, which fills my soul, in very deed, «5 

With sweet desire, may best be satisfied, 

Let thy speech now free, frank and open plead. 

Find word each wish, each fond desire find word, 
For which e'en now my answer is decreed." 

I turned to Beatrice, and she heard ™ 

Before I spake, and smiled to me a sign 
By which the wings of my desire were stirred. 

Then I began : " Li you doth Love combine 
With Wisdom, since the first Equality 
Upon you dawned, in equal weight and line : " 

For in the Sun, whence light and heat flow free. 
And burn and shine, they are so equal found 
That all comparisons but feeble be ; 

So Dante's silence is explained. He believed that the spirit's knowledge of his thoughts 
came from the Primal Unity, sc. from God, who " understood them long beiore,"and inferred 
that what was true of one thought would be true of others also, and therefore had not cared 
to utter them. So the Pj-thagoreans had taught that a Uue conception of the unit involved 
th it of other number^. 

67 The words are not without their bearing on the great paradox of praj'er. God knows our 
wants and our desires before we ask, and our ignorance in asking, and j'et He finds a joy in 
their clear full utterance by us. 

"4 In what sense is God named as the Primal Equality? (i) As being He in whom theie 
is no variableness or shadow of turning (James i. 17), always equal to Himse'.f ; (2) as being 
He in whom there is no before or after, no decrees of attributes ; (3) though less probably, 
with reference to the Three Persons in the Godhead as co-equal as well as co-eternal. 1 he 
souls of the blessed are in their vision sharers in that equality, and with them perception and 
affection are absolutely coincident, while in men one precedes the other. Dante therefore, as 
in C. xiv. 88, can only return his thanks at first in general terms, and waits to knows who it 
is that speaks to liim. 

86 ■ THE POET'S ANCESTRY. [par. c. xv. 

But will and power upon our mortal ground, 

For reason which to you is manifest, so 

Are as to wings of diverse pinions bound. 

"\Mience I, who am but mortal, am opprest 

With this diverseness, nor can fit thanks frame, 
Save in my heart, when by such father blest. 

But let me ask, living topaz-flame, ss 

"Who in this precious jewel thus art set, 
That thou would'st still my cravings with thy name." 

" O scion of my house, in whom I, yet 

Waiting, found joy, thy root behold in me," 

So he began when me his answer met ; so 

And then he said, " The stock whence came to thee 
Thy kindred's name, a hundred years and more 
Has circled this Mount's lowest gallery, 

Thy father's grandsire was, my son of yore ; 

Well were it thou his lengthened weary toil 95 

Should'st sooner by thy works to rest restore. 

Florence, whose ancient walls, around her soil. 

Still hear the tierce and nones of neighbouring shrine, 
Was chaste and sober, and without turmoil. 

Xo golden chains, nor crowns that glittering shine, mo 

Nor sandalled dames had she, nor bordered zone 
That from the wearer drew the gazer's eyne ; 

89 We are thrown back upon Dante's memories of his childhood. Cacciagiilda was 
obviously the hero of those early days, the great name that shed its lustre on the family 
traditions. From his son. Aldighieri, of the parish of St. Martin at Florence (named in a 
document of ii8g ; Frat. y. D. p. 38), had come the nam>2 which the poet bore. He had 
died (1. 92) in 1201, and the fact that he was on tlie first " cornice "of the Mount of Cleansing 
would imply that liis sin had been that of pride, in which Dante may well have re- 
cognised (Purff. xiii. 136) the hereditary fault, which he himself shared. Italian commen- 
tators gr.ively discuss the question how far the date of Aldighieri's sojourn in Purgatory is 
correctly measured by a hundred years. Some admit the possibility of error in Dante ; 
others would set aside the records that attest the actual date of his death, or fix 1301 for 
the ideal date of the vision. 

96 Works as well as prayers were recognised as availing to shorten the purgatorial discip- 
line of departed souU. 

87 The extent of the walls of Florence (1078) is elaborately traced in Vill. iv. 8. Near 
these walls was the old Benedictine abbey, whose clock, as it struck the canonical hours, 
served as a standard of time for the whole of Florence. Benvenuto notes the fact that 
he could bear witness to its accuracy in striking when he attended Boccaccio's lectures 
on Dante in that church. Possiblv this may be the clock described in C. x. 139-148, but I 
find no trace of its having the revolving figures there described. 

100 We are reminded at once of Isai. iii. 16-24; i Tint. ii. 9; i Pet. iii. 3, and of 
Savonarola's protests against the luxurious vanities of his time. I'lll. (x. 150) gives an 
elaborate account of them in 1330, and of the sumptuary laws which were made with a view 
to check them. The "chains " seem to have been of the nature of bracelets or anklets. 

101 The two special fashions condemned seemed to have been (i) that of the boots which 
the ladies of Florence wore, of coloured and gilt leather, running to a sharp point, and (a) 


She made not tlieii the father's heart to groan ' 

O'er daughter's birth, for then the year and dower 

Had not, this side or that, due bounds outgrown. 105 

Xo homes undwelt in had she in that hour ; 
Not then had come a new Sardanapal, 
To show a wanton chambering's evil power. 

Not yet surpassed in fame was Montemal' 

Ey your Uccellatoio, conquered now no 

In rising, as it shall be in its fall. 

Bellincion Berti saw I girdled go 

"With bone and leather, and I saw his bride 
Turn from her mirror with no painted show. 

A Xerli and a Vecchio too I spied, us 

Content with dress where plain buff met the eye, 
Their wives with flax and spindle occupied. 

tliat of the girdle, which was so gorgeous that it attracted more notice than the foira which 
it decked. Ovid {Rem. A})ior. 344) may have floated before Dante's mind — 

" Gejmiiis auroqtte tegutiiur 
Ojitnia : pars iinniina est ipsa puella sui^ 

Comp. also Conv. i. 10. 

I"-* Early marriages, at the age of fifteen or even twelve, and settlements which almost 
broke the father or the hushand's back, were two of the evils which, in Dante's view, were 
eating like a canker into the home lite of Florence. If I mistake not, the words take their 
place among the most intensely personal in the whole poem. But for those precocious 
marriages de conveiiaiice for wealth and station, how different, how "earthly happier," might 
not Dante's life have been 1 Do we not trace the ir.emory of the bitterness of the moment 
when, on his return school or college, at the age of eighteen, he found the idol of his 
bo) hood married to Simon de' Bardi ? 

lOS The line may indicate either (i) the effect of a profligate luxury in making men shun 
the burden of a family, or (2) the ostentation which led some citizens to have more houses than 
they inhabited, or (3) the party spirit which left houses empty by banishing their inhabitants. 
The context points 10 (i) as the most probable. 

108 Here again we have to choose between the dissoluteness of Sardanapalus or the 
effeminate luxury which showed itself in the coverlets and beds of down which are con- 
demned in H. xxiv. 47. So Juvenal (x. 36) speaks of 

" F.t I'enere. et ccsnis et plumis Sardanapali." 

109 Monte Malo, the Mcute Mario nf modern Rome, which gives the first view of Rome 
on the road from Viterbo, was covered, when Dante wrote, by the v;Ilas of its nobles. The 
hill Uccellatoio was, in like manner, the spot which gave the first view of Florence, and this 
also had been fortified and covered with ralatial houses. Florence had surpassed Rome in 
its rise ; it should surpass it also in its fall. 

112 Bellincion Berti (comp. Vill. iv. i), father of the good Gualdmda (// xvi. 37). of the 
family of the Ravignani, is taken as the type of the popolo vecchio. with his buff jerkin and 
bone clasp, and his wife, who had not yet learned the use of rouge, nor of what we call 
"pearl-powder," for her complexion. 

115 The Nerli, on the left bank of the Amo, were among the older powerful Guelph families 
of Florence (F///. iv. 13, v. 39, vi. 33). One of them was Consul in 1104. In Dante's time 
some were Neri and some Bianchi X^ill. viii. 39). The Vecchi or Vecchietti belonged to the 
same order. They too were content with buff jerkins without trimmings, their wives with 
the clothes which they wove for themselves. They too were divided in their politics between 
the two factions (Vill. viii. 39). 

88 THE GOOD OLD TIMES. [pae. c. xv. 

happy they ! — and each might certain die 
Of her own burial-place, and none was yet 
For France left lonely in her bed to lie. 120 

This o'er the cradle watchful care did set, 

And hushed her infant with the babbling speech 
\Miich doth in parents' hearts delight beget ; 

That from her distaff Avould the long thread reach, 

And, as she conversed with her family, 125 

Of Trojans, Fiesole, and Eome would teach. 

Men then hac^ seen with full as wondering eye 
A Cianghella or a SalterelF 
As now a Cincinnate or Cornelie. 

To such fair life, where all sped calm and well, iw 

True life of citizens, to such a share 
In citizenship true, to such hostel. 

Did Mary give mc, called by many a prayer, 
To that your old Baptistery, wherein 
Christian's and Cacciaguida's name I bare. is^ 

118 Doweliear thesighof the exile, uncertain wliether he, or the wife, sister, daughter wh^-im 
he loved should be buried with their fathers, and thinking of his wife left to her lonely bed, 
through the artsof Charles of Viilois? INIore definitely the lines speak of the fashion wh ch led 
men to go to France and other countries in search of fortim'*, leaving their wives in I'lorence. 
Had the banking business of Simon de' Bardi led him to make Paris his headquarters, while 
Beatrice was left to the society of her lady friends? Comp. vol. i p. xlv. 

121 The older matrons of Florence were not ashamed to nurse their own children, and lull 
them with the nursery words which true fathers and mothers deligi.t touse. They %vould 
sit spinning and telling their tales of oli times. Was the scene of Lucretia and her maidens 
{Liv. i. 57) present to Dante's innid ? It may be fairly assumed th.U the picture was one with 
■which Dante'; own childhood had been familiar, and so throv-s light on his earlv home-life and 
iis influences. The tale of Troy, the foundation cf Fieso!e_ by E'ectra (//. _iv. 121), the 
history of Rome as the mother city of Florence, were among his earliest memories. 

1-7 Cianghella della Tosa appears to have been one of the leaders of fashion in Dante's 
time, shameless and luxurious, asserting her claims to precedence by acts of personal violence 
to those who did not recognise them. The name of tlie f.mily ap;iears frequently in Villani 
(viii. 71, ix. 76, ct al.) Some were connected with the Neri, but one, Rosso della Tosa, who 
was at one time a leader of that party, became afterwards prominent as an opponent of Corso 
Donati. Lapo S dterello is named in D. C. 246 as a Ghibelline connected with the Cerchi, 
He was included in the same decree of banishment as Dante (D. C. 273). The commentators 
speak of him as extravagant and profligate. He was probably amon;^ the exiles whom Dante 
had learnt to scorn (C. xvii. 68). His name appears in the list of Priori to whom Dante owed 
his appointment, and he was included in the same sentence of condemnation. Comp. vol. 
i. p. Ixviii. 

129 Cincinnatus is, of course, the Dictatorof that name (ZiV. iii. 23); Cornelia maybe either 
the mother of the Gracchi or the wi "e of Pompeius. Lucan's praises of the latter (viii. 577- 
7S0) tend to turn tne scale in her favour. 

130 The reader will scarcely fail to recall John of Gaunt's speech in Shakespeare, Richard 
II. We note the contrast between the " do Ice oatello " of the poem and the " didolote ostello " 
of Piirg. vi. 76. See note on C. xvi. 33. 

133 The birth of Cacciaguida has been fixed at 1106. Dante records with pride the fact 
that his great-grandsire and himself had been baptized at the same font, that of his "beautiful 
St. John's" (C. XXV. 9; H. xix. 17). Comp. vol. i. p. xlii. Cacciaguida, it will be seen, was 
the Crusader's Christian name. It has been conjectured from the name of one of his brothers 
that he belonged to the Elisei, who are named in Vill. iv. it as among the noble families of 
Florence under Conrad 1. (911-918), but there is no histoiical foundation for the statement. 


Moronto, Eliseo, were my kin ; 

My wife came to me from the vale of Po, 
And thence thy parents did their surname win. 

The Emperor Conrad then I followed so 

That he gave me the girdle of a knight, 140 

So well my good deeds in his eyes did show. 

With him I went against the evil might 

Of that false law, whose followers occupy 
Usurping, through the Shepherd's fault, your right : 

There by that people base and vile did I 115 

From that deceitful world obtain release, 
The love of which turns many a soul awry, 

And passed from martyr's pain to this my peace." 


Cacciaguidas History of the Greatness and Pall of Florence. 

WEAK and poor nobility of birth ! 

If thou dost make the people boast of thee, 
"Where languishes affection, here on earth, 

Xo more 'twill be a wondrous thing to me. 

For there, where appetite ne'er goes astray, 5 

I mean in Heaven, from pride I was not free. 

IK" Three cities, Ferrara, Parma, and Verona, have been named as the birthplace of Caccia- 
guida's wife. Cittadella (Le Fani. degli Aid. a Ferrara) proves that a family named Aldi- 
ghieri existed in the first of these cities. Villani (V. D, p. 9) saj's that the name was well 
known at Parma. Dionisi (Anedd. ii. 35-37) asserts that an Aldighieri was judge of Verona 
in 1112. So it is sti.l lu sub judice {Scart.) On the name see vol. i. p. xxxvi. 

139 Conrad II. (1024-39), who took part, with Louis VII. of France, in the second Crusade 
and besieged Damascus, is probablj' the Emperor referred to. Villani (iv. 9) relates that he 
had many Florentine citizens in his army, and that they were high in his favour. Most critics, 
however, refer Cacciaguida's words to Conrad III. (113S-1152). (See C. xvi. 37 «.) 

1-li We note the same protest against the abandonment of the Crusades by the Popes of 
Dante's time as in C. ix. 126. Clement V. and John XXII. might collect lithes throughout 
Europe ostensibly for the recovery of the Holy Land, but the money remained in their 
coffers (vol. i. p. cxiii.) 

1-18 The words imply that Cacciaguida died in the Crusade campaign, aid probably Dante 
uses " martir:o" in iis lii^he>t sense. For the most part, however, i: is used in the Com- 
media {H. xii. 61, xiv. 65), and in other passages, simply for " torments," and that may be its 
meaning here. 

1 In Caiiz. xvi. and Conv. iv. Dante had maintained the doctrine " Tiriits sola nobi- 
litas." In this he followed Boethius (iii. 6), who only admitted an inherited nobility on the 
noblesse oblige principle. That teaching had marked the democratic period of his life. 
In JiJon. ii. 3, which is nearer in time and tone to the teaching of this Canto, he recognises 
both forms of nobility as having a real worth. Here he pleads guilty to the charge that he 
was not exempted from the weakness which exults in the virtues even of one illustrious 
ancestor. Poor it might be, as compared with the personal nobility of holiness, but it was 
natural, and therefore right. It did not altogether clash with the thoughts that belonged to 

go THE SHEEPFOLD OF ST. JOHN. [par. c. xvi. 

A cloak thou art 'wliich shortens day by day, 
So that, unless we fresh additions make, 
Time with his scissors cuts it all away ! 

With " You " — the word which suffering Rome first spake, lo 
(In which her children fail to persevere), 
My words began again their course to take. 

Then Beatrice, just apart, yet near. 

Smiling, appeared like her, the coughing maid, 

Who marked the first sin writ of Guinevere. is 

I then began, " You are my sire," I said, 

" You grant to me to speak with freedom bold, 
You raise me, and new self leaves self in shade. 

Through many streams my soul with bliss untold 

Is filled, and finds in this so pure a joy, 20 

That, without bursting, it such cheer may hold. 

Tell me, dear root ancestral, their emjjloy. 

Who were thy sires, and how the years passed on 
Which tracked their course when thou wast yet a boy. 

Tell me about the sheepfold of St. John, 25 

What it then was, and who the peoj^le were 
That then the highest seats of honour won." 

As kindles charcoal into bright flame clear 
At breath of wind, so I beheld that light 
More radiant at my blandishments appear ; 30 

7 The words imply the admission that the Alighieri family had not acted on the noblesse 
oblige princip e. Time had clipped the mantle, and they had done nothing to keep up its 
measure. Did he feel conscious, with a proud humility, that he had "from day to day" 
been adding to its proportions? 

10 Thrice only in the Commedia does Dante himself use the plural pronoun for the 
singular in words .spoken to one person, to Erunetto {H. xv. 30), to Beatrice {P^irg xxxiii. 
92), and here. Francesca had used it also in speaking to Dante (//. v. 95). It was there- 
fore a mark of special reverence and honour, and so he uses it now to his great forefather. 
The tradition, reported by all the commentators, was that vos was firs* used at 
Rome instead of tii in the address of the Senate to Julius Cassar, when, as Dictator, he 
united in himself all the offices of the Republic {Benv., Ott.) As a matter of fact, however, 
th^jre is. I believe, no instance of this use of zvs before the 3rd century after Christ. Dante 
notes, with the minuteness which characterises the V. F.., that at Rome the voi had dis- 
appetred even when men spoke to a Pope or Emperor. With him it is a mark of exceptional 
reverence, which it is, of course, impossible to expiess in an Knglisli translation. The use of 
the third per.son feminine, as in modern Italian, is of much later date. 

1* The words refer to the same story as that of //. v. 129-137. Branguina, a lady of 
Guenevere's cuurt, saw the kiss which the nueen gave Lancelot, ..nd by her cough showed 
the lovers that they were not unnoticed. The story is told in a MS. in the Bibiiotheque 
Nationale of Paris, and is given in full by Mr. Paget Toynbee in the Transactums of the 
Cambridge U.S.A.) Dante Society for 18S6. A brief sketch (without the cough though) by 
Uhland may be found in D. Gesell. i. 119. 

22 Dante asks the same question as Farina'a had asked of him {H. ix. 42). How far 
back can he trace his ancestry? What had been the state of Florence in the beginning of 
the I2th centurj'? May we think of Dante as having been in Rome with Villani in the 
v»-ar of the Jubilee, and having felt, with him, the impulse of liiitorical enthusiasm {V'iil. 
v.ii. 36)? See vol. i. p. Ixv. 

PAR. c. svi.]. AXCIEXT FLORENCE. gt' 

And as unto mine eyes it showed more bright, ' , - 

So with a voice more tender and more sweet, 
But not with this our modern accent quite, 

ITe said, " Since Ave first the ear did greet, 

Unto that birth when she who now is blest 35 

'\Va3 freed from me, her freight, in season meet, 

Five hundred times and fourscore had the crest 
Of tliis star to its Lion found its way, 
With fresh flame at its feet itself to vest. 

I and my fathers saw the light of day 40 

"Where first is found their last ward's boundary 
Who in your annual games their speed display. 

Let this suffice for tale of ancestry ; 

But who they were, and whence they thither came, 
Less honour doth in speech than silence lie. 45 

All those who bore arms at the time I name, 
Between the Baptist and Mars' statue old, 
Were but a fifth of those it now may claim ; 

But then the city, which doth now behold 

Campi, Certaldo's, and Figghine's race, so 

To the last craftsman had true sons enrolled. 

33 The words imply an archaic quasi-Latin form of speech, as contrasted with the later 
dialects, which are noted in the V. £. (i. 13), especially that of Florence, as corrupt and semi- 
barbarous. Comp. C. XV. 28. 

37 The date of Cacciaguida's birth is given, after Dante's manner, astronomically. In 
Conv. ii. 15 he gives the revolution of Mars as "about two years.' The Almagest of 
Ptolemy, translated into Latin in 1230, and the basis of ail Dante's astronomical knowledge, 
gives 636 days; 'J'aking the reading " e trente" in 1. 3S, this would give a.d. iogo-91 as the 
date of birth, or taking 'V tre" a.d. 1033. The former date leads to the conclusion that 
Conrad III. was the Emperor under whom Cacciaguida fought. The latter would make 
Conrad II.'s Crusade take place in Cacciaguida's infancy. Scart. is driven to the conjecture 
that Dante blundered in his chronologj', or mixed up the two Conrads. The constellation 
Leo is named as that whose name made it the appropriate terminus a quo and ad guevt of 
the orbit of Mars. 

4" The home of Cacciaguida is defined as in the last region reached in the annual races 
which were run on the Festival of St. John Baptist. This was near the Porta San Pietro, in 
the Piazza opposite the Church of San Martin, near the street which leads to the Mercito 
Vecchio. Here the house shown as Dante's still stands. See the plans of ancient Florence 
in Phil, and Witte, D. F. ii. i, and Reumont {Dante's Favtilie in D. Gesell. ii. p. 333). 

43 What was the reason of Cacciaguida's, i.e., of Dante's, reticence? Was it that his 
ancestors were immigrants too obscure to notice, or so illustrious (Romans, Elisei, or 
Frangipar.i, or the like) that it would be vainglorious to speak of them? I incline, looking 
to the use of the s nie formula in H. iv. 104, and to the same feeling in V. N. c. 29, to the 
latter view, but it is, of course, impossible to do more than fruess. H. xv. 61-78 is, ol course, 
in favour of the view I have taken. Commentators, early and late, vary widely. 

46 The statue of Mars on the Ponte Vecchio and the Baptistery are named as the limits 
north and south. Those on the east and west were the gates of St. Piero and St. Pancrazio. 
• 48 The number of citizens of militarj' age at Florence in 1300 is estimated at y:>,Qoo{Scart.) 
Dante, with or without data, reckons it as 6000 at the time of Cacciaguida's birth. 

49 Campi is a small tiwn in the Val d'Arno about nine miles from Florence. Cer- 
taldo, the birthplace of Boccaccio, in the Val d'Elsa (Purg. xxxiii. 67) ; Fighine, between 

MIXED RA CES. [i'ab. c. xvi. 

Oh, how much better that such people's place 

Should still remain in outward neighbourhood, 
And at Galuzz' and Trespiano trace 

Your bounds, than tolerate that stinking brood, ss 

The churls of Signa and Aguglion, 
"Who for corruption have keen eyes and good ! 

Had not the race that most debased hath grown 
In all the world, to Ccesar step-dame been, 
But kind as is a mother to her son, « 

Then some who buy and sell as Florentine 

"Would have turned back again to Simifonti, 
"Where once their grandsires were as beggars seen 

At Montemurlo still would be the Conti, 

The Cerchi would in Aeon's parish be, 65 

In Grieve's vale, may be, the Buondelmonti. 

In blending with new races still we see, 
As ever, cause of all our city's woes, 
As with the body mixed meats ill agree : 

And a blind bull more headlong downfall shows 70 

Than a blind lamb ; and oft one sword will try 
The miij'ht of five with more incisive blows. 

Pontasieve and Arezzo. Imnigrants from these places had, in Dante's view, corrunted the 
purity of P'lorentine blood. Comp. //. xv. 62, where a like corruption is traced to the immi- 
grants from Fiesole. 

53 Galluzzo, on the road to Siena, two miles from Florence ; Trespiano, in the Val d'Arno, 
four miles Extended boundaries had brought in a lower class of citizens. 

Sii The two men held up to infamy are Ubaldo of Agujlione («. on Pi(r^. xii. 105), one 
of the Priori in 1311, and Eonifazio of Signa, a judge notorious for his venality, b th 
probably belonging to the Neri, who had condemned Dante for fault. D. C. (i. p. 16) 
mentions a Pino of Signa. One notes the fact that Dante charges his opponent with the very 
crime for which he had himself been condemned (Frat. V. D. p. 147). 

59 The evils of Florence are traced to the vices of the clergy. The Church proved herself not 
the nursing mother of the Empire, but its stepmother, hostile, envious, cruel. The theory of 
the Monarchitl had not been recognised, floicnce had been the leader of the league of 
Tuscany and Romagna against Henry Vll. 

61 We are left to guess who is alluded to. Conjectures have identified him with one of the 
Pitti family, who surrendered Simifonti to the Florentines in 1202, who in 1300 was one of 
the wealthy merchants of iliat city. The sneer in 1. 63 implies that he was little more than a 
beggar in his native village. 

''■4 The Conti Ciuidi in 1207 sold Montemurlo, between Pistoia and Prato, to the Floren- 
tines, who had helped them to recover it from the first of those cities {VilL v. 31). The Cerchi 
came from Acone on its capture by the t'lorentines, settled in Florence in 1053 {VilL iv. 37), 
and became rich. Dante, though he belonged to the same party, seems to have looked on the 
Cerchi with special disfavour (//. iii. 35 «.) 

66 The Buondelmonti in like manner occupied Monte Euono, in the valley of the Grieve, 
till in 1135 it was taken by the Florentines, and its inhabitants compelled to settle in their 
city (Vill. iv. 36). It was to a member of that family that Dante looked as the source of all 
the factions that had m irred the prosperity of Florence (1. 140). 

67 In this mingling of men of different origins and habits Dante sees the beginning of 
confusion. Mere material greatness did but increase that confusion and the disasters that 
followed from it. One keen .sword wielded by the hand of a true soldier was worth mure 
than five in the hands of a degenerate populace. The precise number refers to 1. 48. 

PAR. c. xn ] FAMILY CHANGES. 93 

If Luni, Urbisaglia, thou descry, 

How they have faH'n, or are in act to fall, 

Chiusi, Sinigaglia, following nigh, _ 

To learn how races wither, one and all, 

"Will not seem strange to thee, nor hard to hear, 
Since Time e'en cities to their end doth call. 

All that is yours the doom of death must bear, 

As ye yourselves, but this is hid from view so 

In what lasts long, so short your own career. 

And as from changes of the moon ensue 

The ceaseless flux and reflux on the shore, 
So Fortune works on Florence and on you : 

"Wherefore it should seem wonderful no more S5 

That which I tell of older Florentines, 
THiose fame is now more hidden than of yore. 

The ITghi, Alberichi, Catellines, 

Filippi, Greci, Ormanni I found, 

E'en in their fall illustrious citizens ; 90 

And saw, time-honoured and with glory crowned, 
Sannella's, Area's house, Eostichi, yea, 
Ardin^hi and Soldanier' renowned. 

'3 An induction is drawn from the fortunes of ot'iers. I.uni (//. xx. 47^, on the Magra, in 
the region of Carrara, whose historj' tradition carried up to the time of the Trojan war, had 
dwindled to insignificance {I'zil. i. 50). Dante, it will be remembered, had found a refuge 
with the Malaspini of the Lunigiana (vol. i. p. Ixxxv). Urbisaglia, once famous as tne 
Uibs Salvia o{ Plin. iii. in, in the March of Ancona, had shared the same fate. Cniusi, 
the C/KfzwOT of Lars Porsena (Liv. ii. g ; Strabo, v. 226), and Singaglia, the Sena Gallica of 
Plin. iii. 113, in Romagna, on the shores of the Adriatic, were in Dante's time examples of 
the dechne and fall of gre-^tness. All human greatness was, indeed, transitorj', but in some 
instances the slowness of change gave a show of permanence. (So .Aquinas, "■ PerpetKO 
homo tion nianet ; etiaiii ipsa civitas deficit." — Sumni. iii., Suppi. 99, i.) 

82 The lunar theory of the tides is stated in Dante's treatise of De Aqua et Terra, c. 7. 
So Fortune (//. vii. 62) rules the tides in the affairs of men, 

8'^ It lies in the nature of the case that but little can be known of those who are named as 
already half forgotten, but the passage is interesting as shoeing Dante's study of the 
archaeology of his beloved city. We may compare the lists with those in I'iii. iv. 1&-13 ; 
Malisp. c. 76, 100, 103. The Ughi were known as the builders of the Church of S. Maria 
that bears their name in Faenza. They and the Catellini were sent into exile (Vili. iv. 12). 
The Filippi once occupied the quarierof tne Porta S. Maria in the Mercato Nuovo. The 
Greci gave their name to a Borgo of Florence {I'iil. iv. 13). The Ormanni once dwelt on the 
site of the Palazzo del Popolo ; they had changed iheir name to Foraboschi (K/V/. iv. 13). 
The Church of S. Maria Alberigbi preserved the name of that family, which in Dante's time 
was extinct (/-'/VV. iv. 11). Of the Sannella (I'ill. iv. 13) and Arca(/7//. iv. 12) families, 
all we know is that the Ott. mentions that their descendants were living in Florence in 
poverty. The Soldanieri had been banished as Ghibellines (/7//. iv. 12; //. x.\xii. 121). 
The Ardinghi were Guelphs and neighbours of the Alighieri near the Porta S. Piero (/'/;/. 
iv. 11); the Bostichi Guelphs were banished after Montaperti (FjV/. vi. So). The akernaie 
triumphs of the two parties had been fatal to the leading families of both. 

^4 ANCIENT FAMILIES. [pae. c. xvi. 

Nigh to the gate on which there now doth stay- 
New felony so heavy in its weight, 95 
'Twill sink our good ship at no distant day, 

There were the Ravignani, of whose state 

Count Guido is the heir, and who doth own 
The name that old Bellincion' made great. 

To him of Delia Pressa then was known loo 

How men are ruled, and Galigaio hare 
A hilt and sword-guard where the bright gold shone. 

Great even then the column miniver, 

Sacchetti, Giuochi, Fifanti, Barucci, 

Galli, and those wlio blush for bushel there. los 

The stock from which have sprung the Calfucci 
Was great e'en then, and to the curule chair 
"Were led the Sizi and the Arrigucci. 

Ah me ! what men I saw who now ill fare 

Through their own pride, and how the balls of gold no 
Enfloweied our Florence with deeds ureat and rare. 

9^ The gafe is that of St. Peter, but a v. I. gives f>oppa instead of porta. The " felony " 
is that of the Ceichi (Vill. viii. 38), but some conunentators (But., Anon. Fior.) connect it 
•vilh the Bardi (the family of Beatrice's husband), and others with the Donati. As a matter of 
fact, the houses of the Ravignani passed into the hands of the Counts Guidi in 1280. and after- 
wards into those of the Cerchi. To this house belonged the Bellincione Berti of C. xv. 112, 
the father of Gualdrada (//. xvi. 37), and through her the ancestor of the Counts Guidi of 
the Casentino (//. xxx. 65 ; Purg. v. 94, xiv. 43). 

100 The hou?e of Delia Pressa belonged to the Ghibellines, who were banished in 1258, and 
shared in the victory of Montaperti. They had been among the official families of Florence 
{Vill. vi. 65, 78). The gilded hilt and pommel of the Gaiigai showed they were knights. 
They too were Ghibellines, and lived in the quarter of the Porta S. Piero [Vill. v. 39, 
vi. 33. 65,'. 

103 As in H. xvii. 55-66, Dante shows himself an expert in the armorial bearings of 
Florence. The " column" (corresponding to the "pale " of English heraldry) of ermine was 
borne by the Pigli (Vill. iv. 12, v. 39). With these are joined one Guelph and three Ghibel- 
line fTmilies, who are nothing more than the shadow of a name. The Novelle of Sacchetti, 
which include some Dante anecdotes, have redeemed one of them from oblivion (J' V//. iv. 
13, V. 39, vi. 79). The Giuochi were Ghibellines (Vill. iv. 11, v. 39, vi. 33), as also were 
tiie Fifanti (Vill. iv. 13, v. 38, vi. 65), and the Barucci (Vill. iv. 10, v. 39, vi. 33). 

105 The fact referred to is the falsincation of the public standard of weights by one of the 
Chiaramontese (Purg. xii. 105), who were Guelphs (Vill. iv. 11, v. 39). 

106 The Calfucci were sprung from the same stock as the Dnnati, but dwindled and 
decayed while their other branch rose to power (Vill. iv. 10). Both the Arrigucci and the 
Sizi are said to have been Guelphs (Vill. iv. 10, v. 39). Some of the former, however, joined 
the Bianchi (Vill. vii. 39). 

109 The next family are described, not named, and the description identifies them with the 
Uberti, the haughtiest of all the older noblesse (Vill. i. 41, iv. 3, 13, et al.; H. vi. 80, x. 32). 
The balls of gold on a field azure were the arms of the Lainberti. They were Ghibellines, 
and came originally from Germany (Vill. iv. 12). Mosca (H. vi. 80, x.wiil. 106) belonged to 
this house. 

PAR. c. . XVI.] THE UBERTI. 95 

So lived and wrought their ancestors of old, 

Who, when your Church presents a vacant see, 

Grow fat, as they their consistory hold. 
The haughty race which dragons it when flee us 

The weak before it, and for those who show 

Or teeth or purse, like Iamb goes peaceabh', 
E'en then was rising, but from linenge low, 

So that Ubert' Donati took it ill 

Through his wife's father kinship's claims to owe. 120 

And Caponsacco did the market fill, 

From Fiesole descending, and there too 

"Were Giuda, Infangato, worthy stilL 
A thing I'll tell incredible, yet true : 

One entered the small circle by a gate 125 

"Which men as named from Delia Pera knew. 
Each one of those who bear the arms of state 

Of that great Baron, whose high praise and name 

The feast of Thomas yet doth celebrate. 
Received from him their knighthood and their fame, 130 

Though with the people he is closely bound, 

"Who now with bordure doth ensign the same. 

11'- The Visdomini {I'm. iv. lo, v. 39), Feringhi {ibid.), Alietti, and Cortigi.-ini are named 
by the early commentators as the patrons and delenders of the Episcopate. Their funct on 
was to take possession of the Bishop's palace during a vacancy, and to hold it, not without 
dinners and suppers at the cost of the see, till a successor was appointed. 

115 The " brood "ar- identified with the Adimari (Vill. iv. 11, v. 39), who, in a branch known 
as Cavicciuoli have Filippo Argenti (//. viii. 61) as their representative in the Coiiunedia. 
Adimari is said by Eocc.iccio to have been put in possession of Dante's property, and to have 
been foremost in opposing any proposals for his recall from e.xile. Hence perhaps the 
emphasised bitterness of the poet's tone in speaking of his famil5^ In Cacciaguida's time they 
were emerging from obscurity, but Ubertino Donati, who had married a daughter of Bellin- 
cion Berti, is said to have objected to Beni's giving another daughter to one of the Adimari, 
on the ground that tlie family were of infcri r rank. 

I'-l For Dante s view of the immigrants from Fiesole, see H. xv. 62. The Caponsacchi 
were Ghibellines, and settled in the Alercato Vecchio (f7//. iv. 11, v. 39). Beatrice's mother 
was of that house. Giuda's family is named by Rlalisfi. (c. 137), but not by Vill.ini. They 
are said {Oit-) to have been banished with the Cerciii. 

124 Those of Pera are s.iid to have been the Peruzzi, who joined the Bianchi {Vill. iv. 13, 
viii^ 12, 62, 71, et al.), and who gave their name to the Porta Peruzzi. What wa> the incredible 
thing? It may have been (r) that the Porta named should th^n have been one of the outer 
gates of a city which had grown so large ; (2) that the state of Florence was so peaceful that 
no offence was taken at a gate being named after a private family ; (3) that a family once so 
important as to have a gate named after them was now scarcely heard of. Lis sub judice. 
I incline to (2). 

1-' The great baron was Hugh. Marquis of Brandenburj, who lived and died at Florence 
as Vicar of the Emperor Otho III. He made many knights of ihe Pulci, Nerii, Gangalandi, 
Giandonati, and the Delia Bella families, all of whom, in honour of his memory, quartered 
his arms with theirs {I'ilL iv. 2). He sold his German estates, and, having no heir, endowed 
seven abbeys with the proceeds. He died on St. Thomas's day, 1106, and a solemn mass for 
his soul was s .id on that festival in the Abbey of S. Maria at Florence. 

131 Probably a hit at Gian della Bella, the author of the demo raiic ordinances of justice 

96 THE BUONDELMONTI. [par. c. xvi. 

The Gualtcrotti then were famous found, 

And Importuni ; quiet now would be 

The Burgh, but for new neighbours that abound, 135 

The liouse whence sprang your wail of misery, 

Through the just wrath that hath left many dead. 

And put an end to life passed joyously, 
On others and itself all honour shed. 

Buondelmonte, to what issue bad i« 
Wast thou to leave tliy bride by others led !■ 

Many had then rejoiced who now are sad, 
If God to Eraa's waters thee had thrown, 
"When first to thee our city welcome bade. 

But it was meet that by that broken stone 145 

That guards the bridge thou sbould'st a victim fall 
To Florence, when her peace was all but gone. 

With these I name, with others, like in all, 

1 Florence saw in such profound repose 

She had no need in weeping loud to call ; iso 

With such as these a people glorious 

And just I saw, whose lily ne'er was known 

To hang inverted on the spear of foes, 
Xor by division turned vermilion." 

(Vill. viii. 1-8) in 1293. He too bore the arms of the great baron surrounded by a golden 
border, and yet united himself with the people against the nobles. The fact that Gian della 
Bella was exiled in 1295 is hardly enough to set aside a conjecture so natural in itself. 

1-3 The Gualterotti and Importuni who were Guelphs( F///. iv. 13, v. 39), were of the Borgo 
degli Apostoli. The words that follow point to the Buondelmonti, who settled at a later period 
(1135) in the same Borgo, and who were conspicuous in the tragedy referred to in H, xxviii. 
106, and thus became disturbers of the peace of Florence. 

136 This was the Ghibelline house of the Amidei {I'ill. v. 38, 39, vi. 65). Buondelmonte 
had agreed to marr>' a daughter of that house by way of making amends for having wounded 
her brother in a brawl, and thi- was the beginning of the dark histury of that Easter Day of 

143 Xhe Ema was a stream flowing near the castle of Montebuono (destroyed in 1133 ; Viil. 
iv. 36). The form of Dante's statement suggests that the Buondelmonte of the tragedy had 
been nearly drowned in it when he first left the old home of his fathers to come to Florence ; 
but nothing is known. 

145 The statue of Mars haunts Dante's thoughts, as in H. xiii. 143-150. The murder of 
Buondelmonte took place close to the statue (Viil. v. 38), as though the old god of war 
demanded a victim. One notes the pregnant force of the phrase, the " last peace." The 
murder had been as " the beginning of troubles." 

143 Dante, through Cacciaguida, looks back upon " the good old days " of Florence, as he 
looked forw.Trd to the future of the " Greyhound " reformer (//. i. loi). Memory and hope are 
always the regions in which the idealist moves most freely. What is for us an almost tedious 
list of hal"-forgotten names was for him full of historic memories. The old records of Florence 
attested their greatness. Faction, strife, mutual decrees of banishment had brought them to 
decay, and they had vanished, or were vanishing, from the «tage on which they had played 
their part. Malisfi. c. 52, 53, 54, 55, 6r, 103, 137, presents many interesting points of contact. 

154 The white lily on a red shield had been the old standard of Florence. On the expulsion 
of the Ghibellines in 1251, the Guelphs, who remained in possession, changed the arms of 
the city to a red lily on a wiiite >hield, the exiles continuing faithful to the old arms, which 



Caceiaguida — Prophecy of Dante s Exile — Can Grande della Scala. 

As he who came to ask of Clymene 

If what against himself he heard were true, 
He through whom sires to sons so grudging be, 

So was I, and e'en thus I stood in view 

Of Beatrice and of that blest light, e 

That for my sake had changed its station due. 

"Wlierefore my Lady spake : " Give vent outright 
To thy desire's strong flame, that it may be 
Stamped with the mark of all thine inner might. 

Xot that through any speech of thine do we 10 

Gain greater knowledge, but that thou may'st learn 
To tell thy thirst, that we give drink to thee." 

" my dear Root, who such high place dost earn, 
That, as our minds, to earthly senses tied, 
That angles twain obtuse can't be, discern is 

In one triangle, thus thou hast espied 

Contingent things ere they in being are, 
Gazing where all times in one Xow abide. 

WhUe I did Virgil's welcome presence share 

Up on the mount which heals the souls that fall, 20 

Or through the dead world's lowest depths did fare. 

thus became the badge of their Ghibellinism (F/7/. vi. 43). Till that change, Dante implie*, 
all had gone well with Florence in her wars with neighbouring --tates. Afterwards there was 
nothing but disaster. So in £^. i. he speaks of " Candida nostra si'g-na," 

1 Phaethon, who, on hearlr)g his divine parentage denied by Epaphus, came to his mother 
Clymene to ask if he were indeed the son of Apollo, and who asked, as a proof of sonship, 
that he might drive the chariot of the sun {Met. i. 74S, ii. 328), comes before Dante's mind 
as the type of his own eager desire to know more. In his case, however, the desire points 
to the future, and not to tne past. Comp. H. xvii. 107 ; Purg. iv. 72, xxix. 119. 

'' The words have obviously a deeper meaning than lies on the surface, and point to 
the great mystery of all prayer. We do not utter our desires to m.ike them known to Him 
who "knows our necessities before we ask," but in order that we may learn the habit of 
confiding trust in the Love that is " always more ready to hear than we to pray." 

13 To the souls who see all things in the mirror of the Divine Mind, what are to us con- 
tingent facts are as certain as what we know as the necessary truths of mathematics, such, 
e.g. , as that the three angles of a triangle are always equal to two right angles, and therefore 
that there cannot be in any triangle two obtuse angles. 

19 We are thrown back on Purg. viii. 133-139. xi. 140, 141, xxiv. 43-4S ; H. x. 79-81, 124- 
132, XV. 61-78, 88-g6. In H. x. 130, xv. 88, Beatrice had been named as the oracle that 
was to foretell the future, and we have to assume either (i) that Dante had forgotten this, or 
(2) that he changed his purpose, as thinking that the prediction came better from the lips of 
Caceiaguida than from her who was now the representative of the highest form of Divine 
Wisdom. I incline to (2). 

VOL. n. G 

98 CONTINGENCY. [par. c. xvii. 

Of what may me in future years befall 

Grave ■words were spoken to me, though. I feel 

Set firm, four square, 'gainst fate's blows one and all. 

Wherefore I fain would learn the woe or weal 25 

That Fortune brings me in the coming day ; 
A dart foreseen a weaker stroke doth deal." 

Thus spake I then to that same shining ray 

"Which with me spake before, and so my mind. 

As Beatrice willed, did I display. so 

Not in dark speech, as when the nations blind 

Were snared ere yet the Lamb of God was slain 
That takes away the sin of all mankind, 

But in clear utterance, open speech and tone. 

Made answer to me that paternal love, S3 

Close hidden, yet by smiling radiance known. 

" Contingency, which doth not pass above 

The book of sensuous knowledge, all doth lie 
Before His gaze in whom the ages move, 

But not from thence it takes necessity, « 

No more than from the eye by which 'tis seen, 
A ship that on strong current sweepeth by. 

23 The phrase comes through Aristotle {Rhet. iii. 2, Eth. Nic. i. 10) from Simonides 
(Plato, Protag. 344 a). The perfect cube was an emblem of completest stability. We note 
the proud self-consciousness with which Dante claims it for himself. Gregory the Great 
{Horn, xxi.) had applied it to the " saints of God." 

28 The proverb has been ascribed {Daniello) to Ovid, but is not found in his works — 

^^ Nam preevisa minus Icedere tela sclent." 

31 The two classical instances were probably present to Dante's mind, (i) The Delphic 
oracle to Croesus, that if he crossed the Halys he would destroy a great kingdom {Herod, i. 
53), which he may have read in Cic. De Div. ii. 56, and the " Aio te, yEacide, Romanos 
vincere posse," which was said to have been given to Pyrrhus. 

32 Dante, like Milton in his Ode on the Nativity, assumed the tradition that the oraclfs 
had ceased after the Crucifixion. The legend first appears in Plut. De Def. Orac. and 
Euseb. Prcep. Evang., bk. v. 

•*^ " Latin," used for " Italian," as in C. xii. 144. 

37 Contingency — that which, from our standpoint, may or may not come to pass — is ever 
present in ths eternal Now of the mird of God. So far the sense is clear. The other words 
specify the character of the contingent matters referred to as belonging to tiie future. That lies 
beyond the limits of man's knowledge, and must, because future, be contingent to him, while 
past events lose even for him the contingent character which they once had and become 
objective faci 3. The " book " to which man's knowledge is thus compared is one made of 
a single quire of paper, the metaphor pointing to the narrow limits of that knowledge. 
Comp. C. xxxiii. 85-87. 

^ Few profound thinkers have failed to seek to solve the problem of "fixed fate, free-will, 
fore-knowledge absolute." Few attempts have shown a more subtle fancy than this. We 
see a ship gliding on the sea. Our sight does not affect its motion. God sees eternally the 
great stream of the events which are m<<nifcsted in time, yet they are not therefore 
n'jcessitated by Him. Comp. Milton, P. L. ii. 860, iii. 117. 


Thence, as tlie ear a concord sweet dotli glean 

From organ-notes, there comes -within my sight 

The future that for thee prepared hath heen. « 

As Hip23olyt from Athens took his flight, 

Through step-dame's cruel hate and perfidy, 
So thou must Florence leave in thy despite ; 

Thus men have willed, for this their arts they ply : 

And soon the end will come which now they seek, so 
Where even Christ men daily sell and huy. 

And lilame, as it is wont, its rage doth wreak 

On those who suffer wrong, hut Vengeance high 
Shall to the Truth Who sends it witness speak. 

Thou shalt leave all things that most tenderly 55 

Are loved by thee ; and this is from the bow 
Of exile the first arrow that doth fly. 

How salt that bread doth taste thou then shalt know 
That others give thee, and how hard the way 
Or up or down another's stairs to go. eo 

*^ The reference to the organ may be compared wiih Purg. ix. 144. They were obviously 
common in the larger Italian churches in Dante's time. 

47 Hippolytus was banished by his father Theseus because his stepmother Phsedra, who 
wished to seduce him, charged him with attempting to seduce her {Met. xv. 493-514). Such 
a stepmother Florence had proved in banishing Dante on the charge of peculation. The last 
line of the passage referred to, " Imtneritttinguc pater frojecit ah urbe" connects itself with 
Dante's frequent description of himself as ^^ iiitmeritus exul" (,Epp. ii. i, iv. i, v. i). For 
the "stepmother" metaphor, comp. C. xvi. 59. 

*9 We are thrown back upon the Florentine politics of 1300, when Boniface VIII. was 
already scheming to send Charles of Valois to crush the opposition of which Dante was one of 
the foremost leaders. The words gain a special significance if we remember that Dante was 
probably at Rome at the assumed date of the prophecy (see vol. i. p. Ixv.) " Christ bought 
and sold " points, of course, to the simony which was rampant at Rome {H. xix. 1-75). 

52 Scart. quotes an Italian proverb, "La colpa S sempre degU offesi." Boeth. i. 4 may 
have been in Dante's mind, '^ Hoc tantuin dtxerivi ulti)iiam es^e advejsie fortwue sarcinam, 
guod dum iiiiseris aliquod crimen affin^itur, qncE pcTferuiit iitendsse credmitur." Possibly 
the ve^ victis of Brennus (Liv. v. 48) was in Dante's thoughts, or Eccliis. xiii. 17. The 
" vengeance " spoken of may be found either in the great catastrophe of the Ponte Carraia 
in 1304 {Vill. viii. 70), or the defeats referred to in H. v. 64-72, or the great fire in the same 
year {yUl. viii. 71). Possibly he may allude more specifically to the death of Simeon, son of 
Corso Donati, red-handed from a wound inflicted by Niccola de' Cerchi, whom he had attacked 
and assassinated without provocation {Vill. viii. 49). See vol. i. p. Ixxxii. 

53 Even the most sceptical of cynical critics will admit that it is at least possible that 
Dante may have included wife and children among the things beloved by him. He could 
hardly, we may add, have referred to house or goods, or the first seven Cantos of the Com- 
media{\) Possibly his " beautiful St. John's "(//. xix. 17) may have been also in his thoughts. 

58 No lines in the Commedia have been so often in men's mouths as these. Men have 
found in them a sorrow's crown of sorrow, the very dregs of the cup of bitterness. This was 
in his mind even when he was an honoured guest in the palaces of Verona or Ravenna. The 
same thought had been uttered before by Seneca, " Vita . . . illortint miserriiiia qui ad 
alienum somnium dormiunt, et ad aliortiiit appetituvi comedunt et bibunt." Possibly also 
Ecclits. xiii. 1-13 may have been verified by Dante's experience. 

loo THE GREAT LOMBARD. [par. o. xvii. 

And that which most upon thy back shall weigh 
Will be the mad and evil company 
"Which in that dreary vale with thee shall stay ; 

For they ungrateful, impious, base to thee 

Shall prove ; yet but a little while attend, 65 

And they, not thou, shall blush for infamy. 

And of that brute stupidity their end 

Shall furnish proof, and well with thee 'twill fare 
Apart from them thy lonely path to wend. 

Thy first home, first asylum, shall be there to 

Found in the great Lombard's kind courtesy. 
Whose ladder doth the holy eagle bear. 

He shall cast on thee so benign an eye 

That, 'twixt you twain, to ask and act shall take 

Far other place than elsewhere men descry. ts 

One too thou'lt see on whom this star did make 

Such impress when his birth Avas nigh at hand 
That his great deeds shall soon men's wonder wake. 

Not yet his worth the nations understand 

By reason of his youth, for scarce nine years so 

These spheres have round him their full circuit spanned. 

62 The six hundred Bianchi-Ghibellines who were sharers of Dante's exile, intriguing, 
conspiring, self-seeking, with no real loyalty to the Emperor, on the theory of the Monarchia, 
were as far as possible from being congenial companions. Among them we may note were 
the Cerchi {H. iii. 35 «.), the Tosinghi, the Adimari and Lapo Salterello(C. xv. 128 ; D. C. ii. p. 
273). So Villani (viii. 49) speaks of the Eianchi as "proud and ungrateful," and applies to 
them the proverb, " Quern deus vult perdcre, pritis dementut " {I'ill. viii. 72). 

66 The failure of the plots of the exiles, in which Dante implicitly declares that he had not 
shared, should make them blush for shame. The words are probably a disclaimer of the 
attacks which the more desperate Bianchi made on Florence, and in which Dante was 
accused of being a sharer (vol. i. p. Ixxxi.) 

69 The sense of isolation, from one point of view the bitterest of trials, is from another a 
.source of satisfaction. We remember Dante's words at an earlier stage of his career when he 
was asked to go as ambassador to Rome : " If I go, who remains? If I remain, who is there 
to go?" In his aspirations after an ideal monarchy under Henry VII., Dante had probably 
stood absolutely alone, with the one exception of the Emperor himself. 

"1 The "great Lombard is obviously one of the Scaligeri of Verona, either Albert (d. 
1301), the father of Bartolomeo (d. 1304), Alboin, (d. 1311), and f'rancesco, or Can Grande, or 
one of the three — say most probably Bartolomeo. It has been urged against this that the eagle 
did not appear on their shields till after the appointment of the last as Imperial Vicar ; but the 
fact is doubtful. Dante could hardly have been mistaken. The eagle, indeed, is not found 
on the tomb of Can Grande himself. The words imply a visit to Verona in 1302 or 1303. 
For Dante's first impressions see vol. i. p. Ixxx. and Ep. xi. i. The thought of I. 74 is 
from Seneca, De Benef. 

"6 The stellar influences are recognised again. Can Grande, who is here spoken of, was born 
when Mars was in the ascendant. Comp. H. xv. 55. 

'9 The natural interpretation of the words is that Can Grande was nine years old at the 
assumed date of the vision, 1300. It has been contended, but on insufficient grounds, that 
Dante speaks of the biennial revolution of the sphere of Mars, and that Can Grande was 
therefore born circ. 12S0-S1. 


But ere the Gascon's fraud great Henry nears, 

Some sparks of valour shall their brightness show, 
In that he gold contemns nor labour fears. 

And soon so well shall men his greatness know, 85 

Excelling all, that e'en from enemies, 
Their silence breaking, shall his praises flow. 

Wait thou for him and for his charities ; 

Through him shall many a nation changes see, 

The rich brought low, the poor to honour rise. 90 

And written in thy mind this too shall be, 

Yet tell it not ; " and then he spake of things 
Which men shall see with incredulity. 

Then added he, " My son, this issue brings 

The key to what was told thee : see the snares 93 

Which a few years shall bear upon their wings. 

Yet look not on thy mates with envious cares ; 
Thy life projects itself through many a year 
Beyond the vengeance Avhich their guilt prepares." 

When that blest soul by silence showed full clear w* 

That he had worked with woof the web to fill 
Which I with warp had set before him there, 

I then began as one who, doubting still, 

Desireth counsel for his doubts from one 

Who sees things justly, loves with heart and will : 105 

" Well see I, my sire, how spurreth on 

Time's course against me, to strike such a blow 
As heaviest falls on him whose strength is gone, 

8- The allusion fixes the date of the Paradiso as after the first check given to Henry VII., 
if not, as seems more probable, after his death. The Gascon is Clement V., who first 
sanctioned Henry's election as King of the Romans, and ostensibly supported his enterprise, 
and afterwards coalesced with Robert, king of Naples, and the Florentine league against 
him (vol. i. pp. xciii.-.\cix.) Before that time the virtues of Can Grande should begin to show 
themselves. If we assume Can Grande to have been the "greyhound "of //. i. loi, Dante 
must have seen, with his quick discernment of boy nature, the promise of his future greatness. 

89 Probably, like the " greyhound " passage of //. i ., an unfulfilled prophecy of a revolution 
for which Dante hoped, which should substitute his ideal Empire, with its Liberty, Equality, 
Fraternity {Mon. i. 14), for the dominant plutocracy of the Guelph cities and the usiu-pations 
of the Roman Curia. 

92 We note the emphasis of reticence as to the hopes over which the poet's mind was still 
brooding even in 1318-19, when he wrote the latter part of the Paradiso. They were probably 
connected with Can Grande's appointment as Imperial Vicar in 1318. 

95 The decree which banished Dante from Florence has January 7, 1302, for its date. He 
would live long enough (C. xxxi. 37) to see her punished for her_ malignity. The words may 
be either a prophecy ex eventu, like I. 53, or an unfulfilled anticipation. 

10' Forewarned is forearmed. What Dante shrank from was drifting with the stream of 
circumstance. Was his Master's line floating in his thoughts. 

" Tu ne cede inalis, sed contra audentior ito." 

TRUTH BEFORE PRUDENCE. [par. c. svii. 

"Wlierefore 'tis avoH foreknowloclge arm me so, 

That, if from liome most dear I fain must flee, no 

I may not others through my rhymes forego. 

Down in the world of endless misery. 

And on the mountain from whose summit bright 
The eyes of my dear Lady lifted me. 

And afterwards in Heaven from light to light, ns 

I have learnt that which, if again I tell, 
Like herbs of pungent taste, 'twill many bite. 

Yet if to truth a timid friend I dwell, 

I fear lest I should lose my life with those 

"Who shall this age as ancient clironicle." 120 

The light — where, smiling, my own treasure rose 
New-found — flashed forth at first all glorified, 
As in the sun's ray golden mirror glows ; 

Then answer made : " Only a conscience dyed, 

Or with its own or with another's blame, i^s 

Will feel thy speech grate harshly on its pride ; 

Yet not the less, all falsehood put to shame, / 

Make thou thy vision fully manifest, 
And where the sore is let each scratch the same. 

For if thy voice and speech do much molest, isu 

When tasted first, a vital nutriment 
'Twill leave behind when men thy words digest. 

And this thy cry shall like the wind be sent. 

That most wrecks heights that tower most loftily. 
Which is of honour no small arcrument. 135 

Line in suggests the thought that he had already made enemies by the sharp-pointed satire 
of the Connin\iia. ISIight he not be expelled from other cities less dear than Florence, and 
be altogether homeless? Against that issue he will strive to guard. 

112 The words that follow are an apologia for the bitterness with which he had spoken in 
the Comtnedia, not of individuals only, but of communities, as of Sien.i (//. xxix. 121-139), 
Pistoia (//. XXV. 10), Pisa (//. xxxiii. 79-90). Might not those verses set every man's hand, 
and close the gates of every city, against him ? Prudence would counsel reticence and sup- 
pression (we may, I think, infer that the earlier parts of the poem had not as yet been, 
in any real sense, published), but then there comes the thought of the immortality of fame. 
What timid friend of truth ever attained to that ? 

121 Cacciaguida's answer — that of Dante's higher conscience — is that he must do a prophet's 
work with a prophet's boldness. " Let the galled jade wince." The sword must smite in 
order that it might heal. The Comtnedia would invert the parable of St. John's volume 
(Rev. X. 10), and, true to its name, as that name is explained in the /■./>. to C. G. c. 10, be 
bitter at first, sweet in its after working. It lies in the nature of the case that such an 
apolo^a was called forth by definite circumstances. Had it been urged on Dante that he 
might at least suppress what he had said in Purg. xviii. 121-125 of Alberto della Scala's 
illegitimate son? Was he thus striking at the tallest trees? Comp. Hor. Od. ii. 10 ; Herod, 
vii 10 ; Soph. CEd. R. 874-878. 


Hence in these spheres there only meet thine eye, 
As on the Mount and in the dolorous Yale, 
The souls that have acquired celebrity ; 

For still the mind of him who hears a tale 

Rests not, nor gives firm faith to things that rise no 

From roots unknown and hid beneath a veil, 

]^or other proof that non-apparent lies." 


The Sixth ITeaven, of Jupiter — TJte Souls of Righteous Kings — 
The Stan-y Eagle. 

Rejoicing in himself at that his speech 

Stood that blest Mirror, and I tasting tried 
The sweet and bitter, tempering each with each ; 

And then that Lady who was still my guide 

To God, said, " Change thy thoughts, and think that He 
"Who lightens every wrong is at my side." 

I turned me to that loving melody 

Of my dear Joy, and what I then saw plain 
Of love in those pure eyes o'ertasketh me ; 

Xot only that I feel all words are vain. 

But that my mind doth fail to represent 
What soars so far, with none to guide the rein. 

Yet this I can say, and am well content. 

That, gazing on her, all my strong desire 
Was free from every baser element. 

136 Xhe apologia is carried farther. It was necessary in all cases to chcyose prominent 
examples of the evils which men were to avoid Only so could the poet point the moral of 
his tale. This is his defence for passing what seemed to be an irrevocable judgment on 
individual offenders. 

1 There does not seem any adequate reason for taking " the word " in any other sense (the 
Word of God, or the inner thought of Cacciaguida) than as that which Dante had heard. Hi', 
own " word " was obviously an unspoken one. The soul of Cacciaguida is called a mirror (I 
adopt the reading " specckio" rather than " spirto") as reflecting the Divine knowledge of 
the future. 

4 Beatrice confirms the poet's inner thought. God is with him, and will in due time 
vindicate him from unjust suspicion. The consciousness of her approval brought with it a 
satisfaction which was, in the strictest sense of the word, ineffable. Comp. V. N. c. ii. 

I04 RIGHTEOUS HEROES. [par. c. xviii. 

While the eternal joj', whose radiant fire 
In Beatrice shone direct, did me 
With reflex bliss from her fair face inspire, 

She, conquering me with smile all bright to see, 

Thus spoke to me : " Now turn thyself and hear ; 20 

Mine eyes are not sole Paradise for thee." 

As oft with us affections strong appear 

Transparent in our looks, if such their might, 
That all our soul the rapture strong doth share, 

So in the burning of that holy light 25 

To which I turned I did the Avill descry 
That me to further converse would invite : 

And he began : "In this fifth stage on high 

Of tree that from its summit lives and grows, 

Ne'er sheds its leaf, bears fruit eternally, so 

Are blessed spirits who, ere yet they rose 

To Heaven, were of such renownfed fame 
As on each Muse abundant store bestows. 

Look then where meet the Cross's arms of flame, 

And as from cloud the swift fire darteth by, ss 

So will each do as I shall speak his name." 

Athwart the Cross I saw a swift light fly, 

As he called Joshua's name, nor had the word 
Passed from his lips ere act had met the eye ; 

And as the name of Maccabee I heard, «> 

I saw another move, which circling wound. 
And gladness was the whip which that top stirred. 

1* The "second," i.e., the transfigured, "aspect" of Beatrice reminds us of Purg. 
xxxi. 138. 

21 What is the meaning of the mysterious sentence ? The Canzone prefixed to Conv. iii., and 
the comment on it in Conz'. iii. 8, help us to understand it. There the eyes and the smile 
which make the Paradise of the seeker after wisdom are the demonstrations of Philosophy. 
Here there is a recantation of that thought, (i) Dante had learnt to find his Paradise in the 
joy of the higher Wisdom of which Beatrice was the representative. If I mistake not, there 
is, however, a more personal reference. Beatrice is still his Beatrice, and the lesson that he 
is taught is that Paradise is not found in the contemplation of any human holiness, however 
perfect, but in the beatific vision with wliich the J'aradiso ends (C. xxxiii. 55-145). 

28 AH Paradise is as the tree of life. The sphere of Mars is its fifth stage. There, in the 
bright sparks described in C. xiv. 109-117 as moving along the arms of the cross, he is taught 
to recognise the great heroes of the holy wars of all ages— Joshua, Judas Maccabaeus, being 
foremost in the noble army. 

^ The somewhat homely simile is an echo of ^n. vii. 378-383. 


So as Orlando's, Charlemagne's names did sound, 
Two more I followed witli a keen regard, 
As the eye follows oft the falcon's round ; 

Then William drew mine eve, and Eenouard, 
And the Duke Godfrej', gazing eagerly 
Upon that Cross, and Eobert named Guiscard. 

Then, mingling with the other lights on high, 

The soul that thus had spoken bade me learn 
His artist rank 'mong singers of the sky. 

I to the right hand then myself did turn 
To look on Beatrice, and thereby 
By word or act my duty to discern; 

And in her eyes I saw such brilliancy, 

Such joy, that far that vision left behind 
AU earliest, latest, wont that met mine eye. 

And as, through feeling pleasure more refined 
As he does good, a man, from day to day, 
Perceives that virtue groweth in his mind. 

So I perceived that, as I took my waj-, 

Revolving with the Heaven the arc had grown, 
As I that TVonder saw more light display. 

And as in one brief moment oft is known 

The change in pale maid's features when that she 
The weight of shamefast blush aside hath thrown. 

*3 Charlemagne comes next as the champion of the Church against the Saracens and the 
Arian Lombards ; Orlando or Roland {H. xxxi. i8), his nephew, as the chief among his 

** The poet's love of falconry supplies another image. See notes on H. xviL 127, xxii. 131 ; 
Purg. xix. 64, et al. 

46 William, Count of Orange, is said to have fought against the Saracens, and finally to 
have turned hermit and become famous as St. William of the Desert {Ott.). Rinoardo is said 
to have been a converted Saracen, who afterwards became William's ally. Dante may have 
drawn his knowledge of them from one of the cyclic poets, represented in Germany by Wol- 
fram von Eschenbach, who wrote of the achievements of the sons of Emmerich of Narbonne, 
the father of William {Phil.) These are followed bj' Godfrey of Boulogne, the leader of the 
first Crusade, and Robert Guiscard, son of Tancred de Hauteville, who conquered the Saracens 
in Apulia and Calabria, and delivered Gregory VII. when he was imprisoned by the Emperor 
Henrj' IV. in the Castle of St. Angelo (1074). 

51 Cacciaguida, i.e., resumed his work as a member of the choir of the blessed spirits. 

55 The increase of tiie brightness of Beatrice's eyes corresponds, as before, with the ascent to 
a higher sphere,— in this instance, to that of Jupiter, the abode of the souls of righteous rulers. 

63 So in V. N. c. 21, Beatrice had been described as a " new miracle." 

61 The Heaven of Mars had been fiery red, that of Jupiter is of serenest white. Such is the 
change from the blush to the normal hue of a fair lady, such as was Beatrice herself (K N. c. 19, 
37). The phrase of " well-attempered star " applied to Jupiter, is found in Com: ii. 14, as 
resting on the authority of Ptolemy. Jupiter, as the sequel shows, is the planet of righteous 
government. The relation betiveen it and Saturn, as the planet of contemplation, is recog- 
nised by Bacon {Adv. B. i. vol. i. p. 17). 

io6 THE PLANET OF RIGHTEOUS RULERS, [par. c. xviii. 

Such to mine eyes, when I had turned to see, 

Came that star's glow of tempered lustre bright. 
That sixth star which within now harboured me. 

Within that Jovial torch I saw the light, to 

The sparkling of the love that there did lie, 
Trace out our speech before my wondering siglit ; 

And, as the birds that from the shore mount high, 
As if rejoicing in their pasture-ground. 
In circle dense or lengthened squadron fly, vs 

So from within those lights, to song's sweet sound. 
The holy creatures flew, and soon full clear 
D. I. and L. by them designed I found. 

First singing sweetly, moved they here and there 

To their own music, then, as they formed one so 

Of those three letters, paused and silent were. 

Pegasean Muse, through whom are won 

The glorious gifts which long-lived praises gain, 
As they to states and kingdoms pass them on, 

Illumine me, that I may render plain ss 

Their figures as they come before my thought. 
And let thy might these verses few sustain ! 

Then letters fivefold seven in shape they wrought, 
Both consonants and vowels ; and I made 
Due note of all as they to me were brought. so 

" Diligite justitiam " first portrayed, 

Both noun and verb, were seen, as on they passed, 
" Qui judicatts terrain^' last displayed; 

Then in the M of that fifth w^ord and last 

They stood in order, so that Jupiter 95 

As silver seemed whereon was gold enchased. 

70 "Jovial" is used, of course, with a special reference to its etj'mology. 

'3 The simile reminds us oi H. v. 40, 46, 82, as characteristic of the observer of bird-life. 

"6 The bright lights form themselves successively into letters which give the \''ulg. of U'l'sti. 
i. I as the right motto, so to speak, of the planet which presides over government, remaining 
in the order which formed the final capital M. Looking on the transformations which follow, 


we have to assume a shape like that of the letter M in mediaeval INISS. 

*2 The " Pegasean Muse." who gives the long life of fame, is, as in Purg. i. 9, Calliope. 

yi The words which Dante saw thus formed find a striking parallel in those which Henry 
VII. had engraved on his seal, "Juste judkate, filii hominum." Comp. Ps. Ivii. 2, V-ulg. 
(vol. i. p. cxxix.) 


And other lights descending saw I, where 
"Was the M's apex, then awhile repose, 
Singing, I deem, the Good that draws them there. 

Then, as we strike a firebrand, and there glows loo 

The soaring flight of sparks innumerable, 
TMiich, to the fooli.^h, auguries disclose, 

So more than thousand lights were visible, 
Kising and upward leaping, less or more, 
E'en as the Sun that kindles them did will. 105 

And when each rested where it was before, 
I saw an eagle's head and neck appear, 
Formed by the fire-sparks which that semblance bore. 

No need has He of guide who traced it there, 

Eut Himself guides it, and from Him doth flow no 

That power which makes each creature's nest its care. 

The other blessed troop, which erst did show, 
Content to be enlilied on the ]M, 
"With gentle movement in that track did go. 

thou sweet star ! how many a lucid gem us 

Then showed me how our justice hath as cause 
The Heaven which thou with brightness dost ingem. 

"Wherefore I pray the Mind, which of thy laws 

And power is source, that He should turn His eye 
"Whence comes the smoke that fills thy rays with flaws, 120 

That so yet once again His wrath wax high 

'Gainst those who buy and sell within the shrine 
Which martyrdoms and wonders fortify. 

^"2 One of the popular divinations of Italian peasants was to see in the sparks from a log upon 
the hearth a prognostic of the number of coins which they would get from any venture in which 
they were interested. 

10" Other lights crowd upon the summit of the middle line of the J J_ ', forming (1. 113), an 


and wings of an eagle il JL l». The order indicates the imperial polity as the ultimate form 
which was to be dominant over the civil polity of Florence. 

112 " Beatitude" stands obviously as a noun of multitude for the company of blessed spirits, 
who had seemed content to [ormthej^eur-de-fys, but now e.xpanded into a higher symbolism. 

116 The world was governed rightly when it had wise rulers, and the characters of such 
rulers were formed bj' the stellar influences of Jupiter working out the Divine Will. C. iv. 
58 ; H. xxii. 15. Comp. //. xv. 55. 

1"-1 In contrast with the true order, Dante notes once more the corruption of the Roman 
Curia, as he had seen it in Rome in 1300, and as it was still to be seen at Avignon when he 

approximation, first, to the^irwr-i^-Zyj of Florence, J J_ t (1. 113), and finally to the head 

io8 THE DANCE OF DEATH. [par. c. xix. 

Ye whom I gaze on, knights of court divine, 

Pray ye for those who yet on earth abide, i2j 

Through bad example all gone out of line. 

Of yore men fought with sword upon their side ; 
But now, or here or there, they take away 
Bread the kind Father hatli to none denied. 

And thou who writest but to blot for pay, iso 

Think thou that Peter and that Paul, who fell 
For vineyard that thou wastest, live alway. 

Well canst thou say, " I love the saint so well 
"Whose will it was to live apart from all, 
Brought by a dance to death-doom terrible, 135 

That I know not the Fisherman nor PauL" 


The Eagle on the Conditions of Salvation — TJie Hope of the Heathen — Condem- 
nation of Unrighteous Kings. 

Then met my gaze, with outspread open wing. 
That image fair which to fruition sweet 
The joyous souls enwreathed in it doth bring, 

wrote. What was needed was another expulsion of those that sold and bought in the 
Temple (Matt. xxi. 12 ; John ii. 13). 

1-8 The words seem to imply something more than a general protest against the lavish use 
of interdicts and excommunications, which had been so prominent in the conflict between the 
Popes and the Emperors, or even in the dealings of the former with the citizens of Florence. 
Had Dante himself been threatened with excommunication for the heresies of the De Mon- 
arc/titi, which was afterwards placed on the Roman Index of forbidden books? 

130 xhe invective is addressed to a Pope living, not at the assumed date of the vision, but 
when the /"arrtrf/i.? was actually written, probably to John XXII. the Cahorsine (C. xxvii. 
58). Of all Popes, none were so lavish in their use of spiritual weapons for temporal ends 
\Vill. ix., X,, /iiss/iii), none were so conspicuous for their accumulated wealth {I'ill. xi. 20), 
vol. i. p. cxvi. The special taunt may refer either to vacillations of policy generally, or to the 
fact that interdicts and the like were for the most part quickly withdrawn for an adequate 

134 The image of the Baptist was stamped on the florins coined in Florence and current 
throughout Italy (K///. vi. 53). This, Dante says, was the object of the Pope's devotion, of 
which he gave a practical proof by coining gold florins at Avignon exactly like those of 
Florence, save that on the reverse or lily side he stamped his own name, " Joannes ; " but this 
was in 1323, after Dante's death {Vill. ix. 171). 

135 I half incline to think that the mention of " dances " may be an oblique hit at the 
lascivious banquets of the Avignon prelates described by Petrarch (Milm. /,. C. vii. 152). To 
the Baptist those dances brought martyrdom. There was no risk of that with his namesake. 

136 For the " Fisherman " see Pm-g. xxii. 63. The form " Polo " in the Italian, for " Paolo," 
is said to be Venetian, as in Marco Polo. Was Dante reproducing a like Gascon or Provencal 
form? or does he simply yield to the exigencies of rhyme? The two Apostles were, it must 
be remembered, the patron Saints of Rome. 

2 The fair image is that of the eagle of C. xviii. 107. 


And each a ruby seemed, in -whicli did meet 

A ray of sunshine, burning with such glow 5 

That in mine eyes there shone reflected heat. 

And that which now behoves that men should know, 
Xo voice e'er uttered and no ink e'er wrote, 
Xor e'er did phantasy such wonder show ; 

I saw, yea, heard, the bird's beak speak in note to 

That sounded, as it spake, of I and Mine, 
"VVliile We and Our were meant in inner thought. 

And it began : " Here I in glory shine. 

Raised high, as just and holy in my ways, — 

Glory, beyond the soul's desire, divine ; 15 

And I on earth have record left of praise. 

So gained that e'en the evil troop of foes 
Commends, though from the example still it strays." 

As the same heat in many embers glows. 

So there, though many loves those souls did hold, 20 

One only utterance from that form arose. 

Then I began : " flowers that wax not old, 
Of joy eternal, who in very deed 
Blend into one all odours manifold, 

By your words let me from that fast be freed ;5 

"Which long hath held me with its hungry pain. 
Finding on earth no food that met my need. 

Well know I, if in Heaven God's righteous reign 
Another realm makes mirror of its own, 
Your's sees, without a veil, all clear and plain. so 

4 Dante, like the seer of the Apocalypse (/?m iv. 3, xxi. 19-21), has a special fondness for 
images from jewels (C. xv. 85, xxx. 66-76 ; Purg. vii. 75, xxix. 125). 

* An echo at once of i Cor. ii. g and John xxi. 25. 

12 The eagle form was made up of many souls, and therefore its thoughts, though uttered in 
the singular, were the thoughts of many. 

15 The words admit of two constructions : (i) "which does not let itself be surpassed by 
1 ,"^! ' •■*^^^ 1^*^ '^""^ °°' '^' Itself be won at man's wish. " I prefer the latter, as echoin? 

Matt. vu. 21 ; 2 run. u. 5. i- , & 

16 The memory is that of the many wise and just rulers of Rome enumerated in Man. ii. 4, 
5. 1 heir praise had become the commonplace of rhetoric, but few followed their example. 

^3 The voices of the souls are as the odours of the flowers. There may be a reminiscence of 
furg. vu. 80, or Song 0/ Sol. 1. 3. 

2S If elsewhere in Heaven the Divine justice finds a mirror, how much more in Jupiter. 
Ihere is a singularly interesting touch of autobiography in the confession that the doubt 
which the poet is about to utter was one of long standing. 

no LIMITATIONS OF THE FINITE. [par. c. xis- 

How eager I to hear to you is known, 

Is known the form and fashion of the doubt 

Through wliich my soul so long hath fasting gone." 
As falcon from his hood just issuing out, 

Moving his head and fluttering either wing, 35 

In eager will and beauty flits about, 
So I saw that sign act whose fashioning 

"Was framed of many praises of God's grace, 

In songs which joy on high best knows to sing. 
Then it began : " He who the extent of space « 

Marked with His compass, and within the bound 

Set secret things and open face to face, 
Could not His power so print en all around, 

Through the whole world, as that the Word Eterne 

Should not in infinite excess abound. « 

And this from that first proud one we may learn, 

"Who was the sum of all created good, 

And fell half-ripe, not waiting light to earn. 
And thus it seems all life of lower mood 

Is but a vessel all too small to hold 50 

The good, self-measured, in Infinitude. 
"Whence this our vision, wherein we behold, 

Perforce, a ray of that Supremest Mind 

"Which all things in its fulness doth enfold, 
Cannot of its own nature such power find es 

But that it sees its origin confest, 

Leave all that is apparent far behind. 
"Wherefore into the Justice ever blest 

The vision which your world receives, no more 

Can enter than the eye in ocean's breast, 00 

Which, though it see the bottom near the shore, 

Far out at sea beholds not ; yet 'tis there. 

But the deep waters hide it evermore. 

3* Once more a falcon simile. See note on C. xviii. 45. 

4" An echo of/06 xxxviii. 4 ; Prov. viii. 27 ; reproduced by Milton, P. L. vii. 224. 

46 Comp. the account of the fall of Lucifer in H. xxxiv. 18 ; Purg. xii. 26. Impatience 
mingled with his pride. He would not wait for glory, but clutched at it prematurely. 
Comp. Phil. ii. 6, R. V. 

55 The finite mind must, in the nature of the case, be incapable of measuring the Infinite. 
On the shore, where the water is shallow, we see the bottom, but God's judgments are as the 
" great deep " (Ps. xxxv. 6), and there we see not His righteousness, though we believe that 
it IS there. 


Light there is none, unless from out the clear 

And cloudless fount, nay, 'tis but darkness all, a 

Mist from the flesh, or bane that brings death near. 

So now more open to thee is the pall 

That kept the living Justice from thy view, ) 
For which so often questioning thou didst call : 

For thou didst say, ' A man his first breath drew to 

On Indus' banks, and there were none to tell 
Of Christ, or write or read the doctrine true ; ' 

And he in every wish and deed lives well, 
As far as human reason may descry, 
And sinless doth in life and speech excel. 75 

He without baptism, without faith, doth die ; 

"Where is the justice then that damns for it 1 
Where is his guilt if he the faith deny 1 ' 

Nay, who art thou who on the bench dost sit 

To judge, with thy short vision of a span, so 

The thousand miles that stretch indefinite 1 

For one who thus to subtilise began 

"With me, if Scripture were not o'er you set, 
A wondrous range of doubt were given the man. 

earthly souls, minds so carnal yet ! 85 

That primal Will which is the Good Supreme 
Ne'er from Itself endured or change or let. 

What with It doth accord we just may deem : 
No good created draws It down, but still, 
As causing that. It pours its radiant beam." 90 

As round her nest the stork doth whirl at will, 

"UTien she hath fed her young, and as the gaze 
Of nestling that of food hath had its fill, 

M Man has no light except from God, and the natural darkness of the mind comes either 
from the necessary limitations of man's fleshly life or from the poison of sensuality, ^n. vi. 
733 ; IJ^isii. IX. 15 ; J/nit. vi. 22, 23 ; fames i. 17, andJiev. xxi. 23 may have been in Dante's 

™ The long-standing doubt is that which even the theologians of Rome {Spirits iti Prison, 
pp. 160-187) have solved in the direction of the " wider hope." How can the justice of God 
be reconciled with the condemnation of the heathen who have sought righteousness, and yet 
have lived and died without baptism and in ignorance of the faith ? Dante has no other 
solution than that of man's incapacity to measure the Divine justice (comp. C. xiii. 130-142). 
It would be a miracle if Scripture presented no such problems. INIan must believe that God 
IS good and righteous in all His ways. If Dante does not go beyond this, we must remember 
that he at least placed the righteous heathen in a state in which there was only the pain of 
unsatisfied desire (//. in., iv.) This passage shows that even that conclusion troubled him 
with doubts. _ It is significant that his yearning after a wider hope grows stronger with his 
deepening faith towards the close of life. Comp. i Titn. i. 15, ii. 4 ; Tit. iii. 4. 

i*! The eagle form represents, it will be remembtred, the wisdom of all who had been most 

UNRIGHTEOUS RULERS. [par. c. six. 

So acted, e'en as I mine eyes did raise, 

That blessed image, moving eitlier wing, os 

By many thoughts impelled in wondrous ways. 

And, so revolving, it ceased not to sing : 

"As these notes are to thee, thus dull of ear, 
So ways eterne to man's imagining." 

Then resting, those bright lights that vessels were loo 

Of God the Holy Spirit, formed again 
The sign which made the world great Eome revere. 

And recommenced : " ^one rose to this domain 
Save him alone Avho did believe in Christ, 
Before or since He bore the cross and pain. los 

But look how many cry ' Christ, Christ ! ' 
"Who at the judgment shall much farther be 
From Him than some who have not known the Christ. 

Such Christians judged by iEthiops we shall see. 

Then, when the two bands take their separate way, no 
One rich, one poor, for all eternity, 

"What to your kings might not yon Persians say, 
When they shall see that volume open wide 
In which their vile deeds stand in full array ? 

Shall there be seen, 'mong Albert's deeds descried, ns 

That which ere long shall move the pen to write, 
For which shall lie waste Prague's dominion wide. 

Shall there be seen the trouble and despite 

The false coin-maker brings upon the Seine, 

Whom wild boar's tusk ere lonjc to death shall smite. 120 

conspicuous in their love of justice. The simile of the stork is one which might have met 
Dante's eyes in any city in Italy. 

98 The words spoken by the eagle seem clear enough ; what Dante did not understand was 
how the one voice could be the utterance of the many souls. 

103 One aspect of the Divine justice can at least be made prominent. The nominal 
worshippers of Christ (we note the triple rhyme again, as in C. xii. 71-75, xiv. 104-108) shall 
be worse off than those who have not known Him {Matt. vii. 21 ; Luke xii. 47). 

112 The ^thiop may be chosen {Ps. Ixviii. 31) with reference to the Eunuch of Acts viii. 
27. Was there any special reason for choosing the Persians as representative types of the 
righteous ? Was Dante thinking of Cyrus, or of modern kings, of whom, as of Zenghis Khan, 
the monarch of Cathay, he may have heard through Marco Polo ? 

115 The passage which follows, as a survey of contemporary politics, is parallel to Piirg. vi. 
76-151. The Emperor Albert of Hapsburg in 1304 invaded Bohemia and took Prague by 
storm. " The pen " is that which records man's guilt in the book of God's remembrance. 

118 The crimes of Philip the Fair against Boniface VIII. and the Templars had been named 
in Purfc XX. 85-93, xxxii. 156. Here he is charged with falsifying the coin of his realm 
(F///. viii. 58). The last line is a prophecy ex cventu of the manner of Philip's death in 1314. 


Shall there be seen the priJe that thirsts for gain, 
"\^niich drives the Scot and Englishman so mad 
That neither can -within his bounds remain. 

Seen shall be there the life, vile, soft, and bad, 

Of him of Spain and of Bohemia's son, is 

"\ATio virtue never sought and never had. 

Seen shall be there the * I ' that stands for one 
Good deed 0' the Cripple of Jerusalem, 
"Wliile ' M ' shall mark ^\-hat otherwise was done. 

Seen shall be there the baseness and the greed i.-y 

Of him who tamely keeps the fiery isle, 
Where from long toil was old Anchises freed : 

And to show well how mean he is and vile. 

The writing shall in letters maimed be shown, 

"Which, noting much, are read in little while. la 

And there to each the foul deeds shall be known 
Of uncle and of brother, who on race 
So noble and two crowns such shame have thrown. 

j'\ '^^^- '"'^'■*-''' taken in a matter so remote from Italian politics as the wars of Eduard I. 
and II. with_ Scotland lends some colour to the tradition that Dante had visited England. 
17J ""^ j^?'- '■ ^^' ^- ' "'"'-^ H^ apparently condemns both sides as equally encroachin':' As 
Edward I. is praised in Puri^. vii. 132, it is probable that he refers to Edward II. and Bannock- 
burn (13 14). The Anglo-Scotch wars receive constant notice from Villani \x. 138, 161, i3o) 
-'V document is extant (Maitland Club, IVai/ace Papers, p. xix., edited by Rev. J. Stevenson 
who found it among the Records of the Tower of London), in which Philip the Fair com- 
mends Wallace (William le Walois) to the French envoys at the Court of Rome, and ur<Tes 
them to persuade the Pope (Boniface VI II.) to enter into his views. The letter is dated°in 
November 1299. If it was acted on, Wallace was in all probability at Rome in the early months 
of the jear of Jubilee, and he and Dante may have met there. Three Scotch ecclesiastics 
came to Rome m that year and obtained a Bull which stopped Edward I. as he was on the 
threshold of a new invasion. See also Lowe's Edin. Blag., i. pp. 20S-209. 

125 The king of Spain is probably Ferdinand IV., king of Castile fi2QS-i3T2), who took 
Gibraltar from the Moors, and unjustly put to death the brothers of the house of Carvajal, 
one of whom, after the manner of the Grand Master of the Templars, who addressed a like 
summons to Philip the Fair as he marched to execution, cited the King to appear before 
the judgm^t-seat of God withm thirty days. Before the end of that period the King died. 
Alphonso X. (the Wise, 1252-S4), who, like Celestine V., was guilty of a gran rifiuto in 
declining the Empire, and his son Sancho, have had their advocates among commentators. 
Ihe king of Bohemia is Wenceslaus IV. Comp. Purg. vii. loi. 

1^ The cripple is Charles II. of Naples, living in 1300, and succeeded by his third son, 
Robert, in 1309 (comp. C. viu. i^t), the house of Anjou taking the title of king of Jerusalem 
which went with the cro\vn of the two Sicilies. In C. viii. ?2 he is praised for his liberality in 
which, It would seem, D.ante saw his only virtue. The M stands, of course, for 1000. In 
Lonv. IV. 6 Dante addresses Charles in terms of strong rebuke. Comp. Pur^. xx. 79. 

130 The island of fire is Sicily. He who guards it is Frederick II., king of Sicily the 
degenerate son of Peter of Aragon (Purg. vii. 119). In F. £. i. 12 avarice is noted as his 
besetting sm, and he is contrasted (though other writers speak of him as a man of letters, 
knowing his Bible and Virgil by heart) with the Emperor Frederick II. and Manfred. At one 
time, if we may trust the Ilarian letter, Dante intended to dedicate the Paradise to him. 
Comp. vol. 1. p. Ixxxix. 

13- Ml!, iii. 707placesthedeathofAnchises, the fatherof .(Eneas, at Drepanum(rrrt/anO- 
133 The thought seems to be that the faults of Frederick were so many that it would be 

necessary to use abbreviations, such as were common in medieval MSS., to record them all. 

1 hat was all that he deser^'ed. 
137 The uncle is James, king of the Balearic Isles, son of James I of Aragon. He is 

114 HUNGARY— NAVARRE. [pae. c. xix. 

And Norway's king and Portugal's their space 

Shall fill, and he Eagusa owns as king, ho 

Who on the coin of Venice brought disgrace. 

blessed Hungary, if to her men bring 

No further mischief ; and blest Navarre, 

Were she well armed with that her mountain ring ! 

And as an earnest of my truth there are ws 

Nicosia, Famagosta, to attest. 
Whose cry of grief and anger sounds afar. 

Through that vile beast who follows with the rest, 

reproached with cowardice in having allowed Majorca to be taken from him by his brother. 
The brother of Frederick is James II. of Aragon, who, on the death of Peter, took that king- 
dom, leaving Sicily to his brother Alphonso. The latter died without issue in 1291 {Purg. vii. 
115), and James seized on his dominions, against the claims of his younger brother, Frederick, 
and so reduced Sicily to the position of a province. 

1S9 Xhe king of Portugal is Dionysius Agricola '1279-1325), whom national historians praise 
for his encouragement of commerce. To Dante it seemed, probably, that he sought only for 
material wealth, and abandoned the task of clearing the Peninsula from the Moors {Phil.) \_ 

The absolute ignorance of all the early commentators as to " the Norwegian " is the best 
illustration of the wide range of Dante s historical knowledge. Later critics vary in their con- 
jectures : (i) Magnus LogObatters (1263-80), said to have been conspicuous for a " peace at any 
price " policy, inconsistent with the ideal heroism of a true king ; (2) Eric (1280-1300) ; (3) Hakon 
the Longlegged (1300-19). The two last were brothers, and were engaged in constant wars 
with Denmark. I incline to (2) or (3), as coming more within the horizon of Dante's outlook. 

no Light is thrown on this allusion by a decree in the Liber A^ireiis of Venice (1282), ordering 
an inquiry into the conduct of Stephen Uroscius I., king of Rascia, whose territory included 
lUyria and Dalmatia, in issuing coins of debased metal, bearing the stamp of the denari and 
ducats of Venice. 

1^- Andrew III., the last king of the line of St. Stephen, had reigned 1290-1301. He was 
succeeded by Charles Robert (or Umbert), the son of Charles Martel, Dante's friend {Par. 
viii. 55), who had been himself crowned as king of Hungary in Naples in Andrew's lifetime 
(1295), claiming the succession through his mother, as daughter of Stephen V., but had never 
been in actual possession of the kingdom. Unless the words are ironical, Dante looked on 
him as inheriting his father's virtues (C. viii. 49-84). He is described as one "of great worth 
and valour" {yUl. xii. 6). 

1** Navarre had passed by the marriage of Jeanne, daughter of Henry I. of Navarre, with 
Philip the Fair (12S4) to the house of Valois, and on the death of the latter in 1314, her son, 
Louis Hutin, took the title of king of France and Navarre. Dante's antipathy to France 
shows itself in the thought that Navarre would have been happy had the Pyrenees been a 
real, as well as a geographical, barrier protecting it from France. 

WG Nicosia and Famagosta were the two chief cities of Cyprus, governed by Henry II. of 
the French dynasty of Lusignan. What had taken place there (we again note the extent of 
the range of Dante's political sympathies) was a sample of what might be expected from French 
domination in Navarre. Such a king D.-uite can only describe as a beast (possibly with 
reference to the lion on the Lusignan shield) consorting with his mates. The close connexion 
between Cyprus and Genoa, w'nich appointed a Podesta for the government of the island, 
sufficiently explains how it came within Dante's horizon. After a war e.xtending over some 
years, Famagosta fell mto the actual occupation of the Genoese for about seventy years. 
There was also a considerable commerce carried on with Cj'prus both by Pisa and Florence. 
The house of Bardi, in particular, were connected with negotiations for ransoming prisoners 
who had been taken by the Turks (Rev. R. F. McCleod). Their range of operations must 
have been sufficiently extensive. Comp. vol. i. p. xlv. 



The Eagle's Praises of Righteous Kings— William the Good—Rhipeus— 
'- Trajan. 

When he who doth o'er all the world shed light 
To sink beneath our hemisphere is seen, 
And day all round us slowly fades in night, 
The sky, till then lit only by his sheen, 
As in an instant is with lustre fraught. 
With many lights, in all one light serene. 
This aspect of the heavens I had in thought. 

When that g^reat symbol of the world and those 
Who rule it, in that blest beak silence wrought ; 
For then those lights, whose living brightness rose i 

To greater glory, strain of song began, 
Which, fading, gliding, far from memory flows 
O gentle Love, who in thy smiles art drest. 

How ardent in those pipes didst thou then show, 
Which thoughts inspired that holiest were and best ! is 
And when those jewels, bright with loving glow, 

Wherewith I saw ingemmed the sixth bright star, 
Had silenced of those angel chimes the flow, 
Methought I heard a murmuring stream afar, 

Wliich falleth, crystal clear, from stone to stone, 20 

Showing how full its mountain sources are. 
And as the cithern's music takes its tone 

Within its neck, or as, through open way. 
The wind through bagpipe's orifice is blown, 
So, far removed from waiting or delay, as 

That murmur rose up in the eagle's throat. 
As though from hollow place 'twere made to play. 

1 The sun was thought of in mediaeval astronomy as the source of light to the fixed stars 
as well as to the planets (Conv. ii. ,4, iii. 12). As is the sun by day to the starry hostat 
n.ght which also derives its light from him, so was the single voice from the belk of the 
eagle to the chorus that followed That chorus the poet listened to wi°h a rlpture wh ch 
could not reproduce it, and then the solo was resumed. rapture wnicn 

" A V. I. gives " sparks " instead of "pipes ; " but corap. C. xii. 8. 

r ^!v,lf^"°'%"'^ similitude characteristic of the student of music, like that of the organ in 
V-. xvu. 44 , t^ufg. IX. 144* 

1 1 6 RIGHTEO US R ULERS. [pab. c. xx. 

There it took voice, and issued in a note 

That in its beak formed words articulate, 

Dear to my heart, whereon those words I wrote. so 

"That part in me Avliose glance doth contemplate 
The sun, in mortal eagles," so it spake, 
" 'Tis meet thou scan with look deliberate ; 

Since, of the fires Avhereof my form I make. 

Those in my head that sparkle in mine eye 35 

Of all their ranks the loftiest places take. 

He who as pupil shines, placed centrally, 

"Was the sweet Psalmist of the Holy Spirit, 
"Who bade the Ark from town to town pass by ; 

And now he knows of his own song the merit, lo 

So far as in it his own thought was shown, 
By the reward, as great, he doth inherit. 

Of five Avho circle round my brow, tliis one, 

"Who to my beak hath ta'en his post most near, 
Consoled the widoAV Aveeping for her son ; 45 

Xow doth he knoAV full well the cost how dear 
Christ not to folloAA', through experience 
Of this sweet life, and of its contrast drear. 

He Avho stands next in that circumference 

Of which I speak, upon the upper line, so 

Postponed his death by his true penitence ; 

Xow doth he know that fixed decrees divine 

Change not, although when worthy prayer doth seek, 
They may to-morrow for to-day assign. 

The next, with good intentions all too weak, m 

Bore evil fruit ; himself, me, and the laws, 
Through yielding to the Pope, he changed to Greek ; 

^1 In the eagle's eye the gazer is to see six of the most conspicuous examples of righteous 
rule, (i) David. Of the v. II. i:ffeito and ajfctto (1. 41), I adopt the former. From one point 
of view the merit of David's song belonged to the spirit who dictated it, not to him, but there 
was also a self-consecration to the work which sprung from his own choice, and that from 
the scholastic standpoint was meritorious. Was there a half-consciousness in the poet that the 
same merit might be claimed by him as a sharer in the Psalmist's gift of song? 

■'3 Of the fi\'e who form the brow round the eyeball, we have Trajan. For the history of the 
widow, comp. Purg. x. 75. 

■*•'' (2) Hezekiah. Comp. 2 Kings xx. ; hai. xxxviii. Each example teaches its own 
lesson. In this instance it is seen that prayer prevails to delay, but not to avert, the righteous 
punishment of sins. So Aquin. Suinm. ii. 2. 83, 2. 

^^ (3) Constantine, not without a renewed lamentation over the traditional Donation (C. vi. 
I ; //. xix. 115 ; xxvii. 94). 

'-' Constantine became a Greek by removing to Cyzantium, and so leaving Rome in the 


Now knows lie how tlie harm, whereof the cause 
Was found in his good deed, works him no ill. 
Though on the world much hurt and harm it draws. co 

Then he who on the sloping arc doth fill 

His place was William, whom that land laments 
Which mourns for Charles and Frederick living still ; 

Now doth he know how Heaven in love consents 

With righteous kings, and liy the outward show 0.5 

Of his great brightness still clear proof presents. 

Wlio would believe in that blind world below 

That Trojan Ehipeus here would e'er be found 
Fifth of the holy lights in this our bowl 

Now enough knows he what the world around 70 

Cannot discern of God's great grace on high, 
Though e'en his glance scans not the deep profound." 

As is a lark that cleaves at will the sky, 

First singing loud, then silent in content, 

With that last sweetness that doth satisfy, 7,, 

So seemed to me the image there imprent 
Of that eternal joy which as each will 
Desires it, stamps the fashion of its bent. 

hands of the Popes. The lesson here is that God accepts the will for the deed, and does not 
punish a mistake in judgment, however disastrous its results. 

«1 (4) William II. of Sicily (3. 1153, d. 11S9), surnamed the Good. Recorded facts of his 
history are few, but Phil, quotes some Latin verses from a popular poem which show the 
popular estimate of his character, and which may have come to Dante's knowledge — 
" Rex Gulielmus abiit, jwi ohiit. 
Rex tile., inagnificiis, pncificiis, 
Ciijus vita placuit Deo et homhiibns. 
Ejus sejnper sfiiritus Deo -vivat ccelitus." 
The epitaph on his tomb was at first simply 

'■ Hie situs est bonus rex Gulielmus," 
but this was afterwards replaced by a more elaborate inscription. 

fi^ Charles is the Cripple of Jerusalem of C. xix. 127, Purg. xx. 79 ; Frederick II. the king 
of Sicily of C. xix. 131, Purg. vii. iig. Men groaned under their tyranny. They lamented 
the loss of William the Good {Kingt. i. 22). 
6" Rhipeus is placed in Paradise in accordance with yEw. ii. 426 — 
" Cadit et Rhipeiis, justissiinus nnus, 
Quifuit in Teucris, et servantissivius aqui." 
It would seem as if Dante was scarcely satisfied even with his own answer to the question 
which he had himself formulated (C. xix. 70-114), and was determined to show that the gates 
of Heaven were open to some, at least, of the righteous heathen. Line ^2 contains a distinct 
reference to C. xix. 61. There may be also, as Butler suggests, an allusion to the Dis aliier 
visum which follows the passage just quoted. Even Virgil had been unable to see behind the 
veil, and had therefore thought the ways of God unequal. 

'3 English readers may be reminded of the apparently unconscious parallel of Shellej-'s 
poem on the " Skylark." 

74 The souls of the rigliteous rest in the sweetness of contemplating the Divine righteous- 
ness, as the lark rests on the sweetness of its own song. 

'B The eagle, as the sjTnbol of the Empire, is the symbol also of the eternal joy to the work- 
ing out of which the Empire is, in its idea, subservient. Men are what they are in proportion 
as they desire that joy. 

ii8 CONQUERORS OF HE A VEN. [par. c. xx. 

And, though I "was to doubt that did me fill 
As glass to colour that encoated lies, 
It could not -svait in silence, patient still, 

But from my mouth "What things are these?" did rise, 
Forced from me by the pressure of its weight ; 
Whereat great joy, bright flashing, met mine eyes. 

And therexipon, with look yet more elate, 85 

That ever-blessed symbol made reply, 
That I might not in eager wondering wait, 

" I see that thou believest, in that I 

Have said these things, but ' how ' thou dost not see, 
So that, although believed, they hidden lie. 90 

Thou dost as one who knows by name what he 
Beholds, and yet their inmost being's sense 
Fails to discern unless a guide there be. 

Regnum coelormii suffereth violence 

From fervent love and ever-living hope, 95 

Which conquers e'en the will of Providence ; 

Kot as a man with man in power doth cope, 
But conquers, since It wills to be o'ercome. 
And conquered, — conquers by its love's wide scope. 

The first life and the fifth that have their home 100 

Within my brow amaze thee, in that they 
Adoin the regions where the angels roam ; 

Not, as thou deem'st, they left their mortal clay 

Heathens, but Christians, strong in faith to see, 

Or the pierc'd feet, or else the pierc'd feet's day, iu5 

*0 The artist nature is seen in the allusion to the methods of the workers in stained glass, 
who, for their ruby, coated the glass with a film of the desired colour, the other colours being 
in "pot-metal," i.e., in the glass itself (i?2<//.) Compare Petrarch, Canz. iii. 4. 

8^ The question implies wonder, and the wonder is that Trajan or Rhipeus are in Paradise. 
Dante had believed the fact, but did not see the reason, as men call a thing by its right name 
without knowing its quiddity, i.e., in the language of the schools, cannot define it philosophi 

91 In the words cX Matt. xi. 12, Luke xvi. 16, Dante finds an opening for the wider hope. 
As in the case of the woman of Canaan, the Divine will was willing to be conquered by the 
will of man, and so became more than conqueror. A grace of congruity, though not of con- 
dignity (Aquin. Suiiuii. i. 2, 114, i), was granted even to some among the heathen. The 
Thirty-Nine Articles will have made English Churchmen familiar with the distinction {A rt. 13). 

If! The solution of the problem is, however, made to rest on the special circumstances o: 
the individual instances. Trajan was released from Hell and received the truth that saves, 
and so was in Paradise as a Christian. Aquinas (Suiiim. iii. 3"«///. 71, 5) hovers between the 
two views, one of which looked on the existence of Trajan as a leading case which might be 
true of others (" de omnibus talilus similiter did oportet"), while the other held that the 
punishment of Trajan was only suspended till the day of judgment. The latter view Dante 
t mphatically rejects. Trajan had been placed in a position in which the prayers of Christians 


Beheld far off ; for one from Hell, where free 

Path to good-will is none, with flesh was clad, 
That so of lively hope reward might be ; 

Of lively hope, which put forth prayer that had 

Power to obtain that God his soul would raise, u^ 

So that his will might turn to good from bad. 

The glorious soul of whom I tell the praise, 
Eeturning to his flesh for briefest hour, 
Believed in Him who could direct his ways, 

And so, believing, glowed with fiery power 115 

Of love so true, that when he died once more, 
He was thought worthy of this blissful bower. 

The other, through the grace which still doth pour 
From fount so deep that no created eye 
Its primal wave hath ever dared explore, 120 

Turned all his love below to justice high, 

Wherefore from grace to grace God opened Avide 
His vision to redemption drawing nigh ; 

So in it he believed, nor could abide 

Thenceforth the foul stench of the pagan's creed, 125 

And so reproved the stubborn heathens' pride. 

And those three Maidens met his baptism's need, 

Those whom thou sawest at the right-hand wheel, 
A thousand years ere baptism was decreed. 

for his soul availed as for the souls of Christians. The popularity of the story is sho^vn by its 
being found in the GotdsK Legend, with this suggestive conclusion : — " By thys(.rc. Gregory's 
intercession) as somme saj-e, the payne perpetuell due to Trajan as a miscreaunt (i.e., unbe- 
liever) was some dele taken away, but for all that he was not quj-te fro the prison of Helle ; 
for the sowle may well be in Helle, and fele ther no paj-ne, by the mercy of God." 

116 The " second death " {Itai.) for the state of the souls is clearly used in a different sense 
from that which the words bear in Rez'. ii. ii, xx. 6, and as Dante uses them in //. i. ii/ar.l 
A/, vi. 2, and stands for the death which followed a temporarj- return to earthly life. 

118 We note the use of the same image as in C. xix. 6i. There are unfathomable depths in 
the Divine compassion as well as in the Divine judgments. 

121 As in the case of Statius, Dante assumes for Rhipeus — here also, perhaps, as a leading 
case — a special Divine revelation of the coming redemption. So Aquinas (Summ. iL 2. 2, 7) 
admits that " };iultis gcntilium/acta fuit revelatio de Christo" if not explicitly of the mode 
of redemption, yet of the truth that God would not leave mankind to perish unredeemed. 

127 An implicit faith may thus be accepted where explicit faith is wanting ; so faith, hope, 
and charity may be attained without baptism, and supply its place. From Dante's stand- 
point this did not involve any recognition of merit in man's natural righteousness beyond that 
of assenting to the first motions of the supernatural light. It was still the grace of God that 
worked from first to last — from grace to grace. So Aquinas (Sumtn. iii. 66. 11, 68. 2), and even 
Augustine {De Bapt. c. Don. iv. 22) admit that the lack of baptism may b"! supplied either by 
martyrdom, or by the wish for baptism when it cannot be had, or by the faith working by love 
which is not tied to visible ordinances. 

120 PREDESTINED GRACE. [pab. c. sx. 

grace predestined, how thou dost conceal isn 

Thy secret root from every mortal eye 
That sees not what the First Cause doth reveal ! 

And ye, mortals, judge not hastily, 

For even we, who look on God's own face, 

The number of the elect not yet descry ; i35 

And in this lack we find sweet gift of grace, 

For all our good in this Good finds its goal, 
And what God wills, our will too doth embrace." 

So from that godlike image to my soul. 

To remedy my dim and feeble sight, uo 

Sweet medicine was given that made me whole. 

And as skilled hand to one who sings aright 

Adjusts the harmonious tremor of his string. 
So that the song acquires the more delight, 

Thus, while it spake, as memory back doth bring us 

What met mine eyes, I saw those glories twain. 
With one accord, like two eyes opening, 

Their flamelets move in measure with the strain. 

130 The doctrine of predestination is recognised by Dante, as it was by Augustine and 
Aquinas {Suiniii. i. 23, 2, iii. 24, i), but so that it does not clash with man's freedom and 
responsibility. Dante deals with it in the temper of Art. xvii. of the English Church, and 
of the Royal Declaration prefixed to the Articles. Men must be silent and adore, refrain from 
judging others, and from presuming on their own election. We know not — not even the 
souls of the blest know— the number of God's elect, nor who they are, and can only judge 
approximately by what we see of men's works and characters. The seeming tares may be 
really wheat — may be capable of development into wheat ; the seeming wheat may degenerate 
into tares, or turn out to have been tares from the first. Such ignorance is better for us than 
knowledge, for the best discipline for our minds is that they should will what God wills 
in the belief that that will is absolutely righteous and loving. Dante's answer to man's 
questionings is like Ezekiel's {Ezek. xviii. 25). Comp. C. xiii. 130-142. 

139 We note Dante's acceptance of the limitations of man's knowledge as entirely in har- 
mony with Butler's sermon on " The Ignorance of Man." To be reminded of those limits is 
tiie very medicine which he needs to calm the fever of doubt. 

I-*- The simile, like those of 1. 22, C. xvii. 24, Purg. ix. 144, reminds us that music also 
was one of Dante's studies. 

l*'j Trajan and Rhipeus glow with brightness in the joy of thinVilng that they have been 
chosen as objects of the Divine Love — representative instances, as it were, of the power and 
will of that Love to pass beyond the normal limitations which it has imposed upon itself. 

It is suggestive, comparing this Canto with Inf. iii. iv., that the wider hope becomes 
clearer as Dante reaches the conclusion of his poem and nears that of his life. One traces 
something of a like development in the teaching of St. Paul as we compare i and 2 Titn. 
with I and 2 Thcss. I may perhaps be permitted, as having in this matter sat at the feet of 
Dante and other like-minded masters of Israel, to refer to what 1 have written in the Spirits 
in r>ison, ch. vi. on the "Salvation of the Heathen." 



The Seventh Heaven, of Saturn — TTie Star-Ladder of Contemplation — 
St. Peter Damian, 

Already were mine eyes fixed on the face 

Of my dear Lady, and "witli tbem my mind, 
Nor for anglit else was foiind there any place ; 

Yet she smiled not. " Nay, if I smile could find," 

So she began, " thou would'st like Semele 5 

Become, when she to ashes was consigned ; 

For this my beauty grows, as thou dost see, 
Brighter the higher we ascend the stair 
Of this great palace of Eternity ; 

"Were it not tempered, 'twould shine forth so fair ^q 

That thy frail mortal strength before its beam, 
As branch before the levin-brand, would fare. 

Now have we risen to the seventh star's gleam. 

Whence, now beneath the burning Lion's breast, 

An influence blent with his doth downward stream. 15 

Now fix thy mind there Avhere thine eyes do rest. 
And make them as a mirror to the sign 
"Which in that mirror shall be manifest." 

lie who should know what joy of heart was mine. 

My glad eyes feeding on those features fair, £o 

When my thoughts bore me on another line. 

Would know what full contentment was my share. 
Obedience yielding to my heavenly guide, 
Could he with equal scale the two compare. 

' The new brightness of Beatrice's ej'es implies another ascent. We are now in the sphere 
of Sal urn, the abode of the spirits that have given themselves to the life of contemplation. 
The full joys of that life, symbolised by Beatrice's smile, would be more than mortal strength 
could bear. There must be a reticence in the verj' raptures of the mystic. To seek those 
joys now is to act like Semele, who rashly desired to see the glory of Jupiter, and perished 
in the blaze of his lightnings (3fei. iii. 253-315). It is characteristic of Dante's classicalism, 
that this illustration occurs to him, and that of Moses in Exod. x.\.xiii. 20 does not. 

13 Without entering into details, we note that Dante describes the position of Saturn, as 
seen in the constellation Leo in the Easter-tide of 1300. There probably is a mystic meaning 
in the fact. Saturn, the cold planet (Conv. ii. 14) of the contemplative, is in Leo, the sjTnbol 
of fierj' heat and strength. Extremes meet in the experience of the mystic. 

122 THE STAR-LADDER. [par. c. xxi- 

Within the ciystal sphere which circles wide ^ 

Aroiind the world, and bears a monarch's name, 
Under whose rule lay dead all guilt and pride, 

Of golden hue, transmitting ray of flame, 
I saw a ladder, rising up so high 
That it my keenest vision overcame. • so 

And glories so o'erpowering met mine eye, 

Descending on the steps, I deemed each ray 
Was there diffused that shines in this our sky. 

And as, accordant to their wonted way, 

Rooks move, together clustered, to and fro, 35 

To warm their night-chilled plumes at break of day ; 

Some, without turning, on their journey go, 

And some move, circling, to their starting-place. 
And some wheel round, yet only move in show ; 

So it appeared to me that I could trace 40 

Like movements in the spark-cloud that came on. 
Resting at certain points with slackened pace. 

And nearest us its station keeping, one 

Became so bright, I said within my thought, 

" Well do I see the love to me thus shown ; « 

But she who tells me how and when I ought 

To speak or hold my peace, stands still, and I, 
Against my will, do well to ask of nought." 

She, therefore, who my silence did descry 

In His clear vision to whom all lies bare, so 

Said to me, " With thy hot desire comply." 

And I began : " No merit that I share 

Gives me a claim that thou should' st answer me ; 
But for her sake who bids me speak my prayer, 

2' For the golden age under Saturn, see Mei. i. 89-112; //. xiv. 96; Virg. Eel. iv. 6; 
Geor^. ii. 538. 

2a The traditional exegesis of Dante's time saw in the ladder of Gen. xxviii. 12 the symbol 
of the mystic's life, prayers ascending, angels descending. Comp. /ohfi i. 51. With these 
higher associations in view, and the long cat,:na of tradition as to the meaning of Jacob's 
vision, I can hardly follow Btitl. in tracing the ladder to a vision of Romoaldo (note on C. 
xxii. 49), or in findmg a " magnificent compliment " to the ladder of the Scaligeri. 

3S For other bird-similitudes see H. v. 40, 46, 82, et al. 

43 Dante had learnt, in the case of Cacciaguida, that increase of brightness meant increase 
of love, and thus implied the desire to hold converse. The soul that is thus indicated is that 
of St. Peter Damian. 

■16 Beatrice, as'mbol of Divine Wisdom, guides him to a right judgment as to the time 
for silence and the time for speech. 


O blessed life, -whom 'tis not mine to see, 55 

Wrapt in thy joy, to me, I pray, make known 
The cause that to this nearness draweth thee ; 
And tell me why within this sphere alone 

Is hushed that hymn of Paradise so clear, 
AAHiich through the rest rings out its dulcet tone." eo 

" Thou hast a mortal's eye, a mortal's ear," 

It answered; "therefore here is song no more. 
As Beatrice's smiles are seen not here. 
Thus far have I descended, passing o'er 

The holy stairAvay's steps to make thee blest es 

With voice and mantling rays that round me pour ; 
Not that more love to quicker movement pressed. 
For full as much, and more, above doth glow, 
As my bright flame to thee makes manifest : 
But the high Charity, which bids us go 70 

To work the counsels which the world control, 
To each assigns his lot, as thou dost know." 
"Well do I see," said I, " burning soul. 

How Love unfettered in this court on high 
Follows the Eternal ]\Iind that planned the whole ; 75 
But that which seems to me a mystery 
Is why thou wast predestinate alone, 
To this thy task, of all thy company." 
Ere from my lips that same last word had flown, 

The light, about its centre whirling round, so 

Went spinning on, as spins a mill's swift stone ; 
Then answer made the love that there was found : 
" A light divine on me is concentrate, 
Piercing through this wherein I now am wound, 
Wliose virtue, with my sight associate, ss 

Lifts me so high above myself that I 
The Essence see whence it doth emanate. 

58 Here there are no hymns such as had heen heard in the other spheres. They would have 
been too much for mortal ears, just as Beatrice's smile would have been too much for mortal 

67 The humility of the saints in glory is shown in the fact that the soul that speaks dis- 
claims any higher measure of love than others share. He is but doing the appointed work 
assigned him. Dante, accepting that statement, still seeks to know why that work was 
assigned to him alone of all that company. 

80 The whirling of the soul is the expression of the rapturous joy with which it accepts its 
appointed task. 

124 THE MYSTERIES OF GRACE. [par. c. xsi. 

Hence comes the joy that me dotli glorify, 

For as my vision grows more bright and clear, 

So shines the flame with brighter clarity : »o 

Bnt that pure soul in heaven that knows no peer, 
The Seraph who on God most near doth gaze, 
To solve thy question never could come near : 

Since deep within the abyss the problem stays 

Which thou dost ask, the abyss of God's decree, m 

From glance of creature eye cut off always ; 

And when thou art returned, I say to thee. 

Tell this to men, that they may not presume 
To such a goal to move with footsteps free. 

Earth shrouds the soul, which here is bright, in gloom : loo 
Consider then how that may be below. 
Wherein he fails who holds Heaven's highest room." 

These words he vittered, then restrained me so. 
That I withdrew my question, and was fain 
Humbly to pray that I his name might know. los 

•' 'Twixt the two shores that Italy contain 

Rise rocks not distant from thy native town, 
So high that lower roars the thunder's strain ; 

Tliey make a rounded ridge, as Catria known, 

'Neath which there stands a holy monastery, nc 

To highest worship consecrate alone." 

yi_9G Xhe soul of the speaker has attained the beatific vision of the Supreme Essence, but even 
the most illumined Seraph would fail to unfold the mystery of the Divine will, which assigns 
to every man his work. Dante on his return to earth is to report this, that men may not "rush 
in where angels fear to tread." The whole tone indicates the same sense of the limitations 
of man's knowledge as we have seen in C. xiii. 139, xix. 99, xx. 130. 

10" St. Peter Damian sketches the outlines of his life, which we may in some measure fill 
up from the Ac/a .Snnciorum of the Eollandists and Milm. L. C. iii. 371-445. Born at 
Ravenna in humble life, he began life as a swineherd. His brother, Damiano, Archdeacon 
of Ravenna, bad been educated, and he took Damian as a surname, as a token of his gratitude, 
just as the Bishop of Caesnrea called himself Eusebius Pamphili, the friend of Pamphilus, 
He became a teacher at R.ivenna (where Dante was probably residing when he wrote this 
Canto), but at the age of thirty entered the monastery of Fonte Avellana, near Catria and 
Gubbio, in the Umbrian Apennines ; became its Abbot ; was honoured by successive Popes 
from Gregory VI. to Stephen X., the latter appointing him in 105S as Cardinal Bishop of 
Ostia. In loSQ he was sent by Nicholas II. as legate to Milan, to assert the rights of the 
See of Peter over that of Ambrose. He wrote a treatise, appalling in its Juvenalian horrors, 
against the vices that prevailed among the monks and clergy, and was a strong supporter of 
Gregory VII. in enforcing the celibacy of the priesthood and restraining the prevailing 
simony. Later on he laid aside his dignity as Bishop and Cardinal, and retired to his 
monaster^', leading an austere and contemplative life. If, according to a somewhat uncertain, 
tradition, Dante himself passed some time at the Fonte Avellana monastery on leaving Verona 
in 1^18 (vol. i. p. ex.), there were local associations there, as well as at Ravenna, explaining 
his reverence for the Saint. The inference drawn from this passage by Franciosi {Scriit. 
Dant. pp. 12-17), that Dante admired the character and policy of Gregory VII., seems to me 
at variance with the whole tenor of the poet's teaching in the Monn^-chia and elsewhere. 


Thus the third time he turned his speech to me, 
And then continuing said, " There I of old 
So strong became in God's blest ministry. 

That, or in summer's heat or winter's cold, iv, 

The juice of olives was my only fare, 
Content with contemplations manifold. 

Of old that cloister for these heavens did bear 
A fertile harvest, now so barren found, 
'Tis meet that soon its shame be all laid bare. f-i« 

There did my name as Peter Damian sound — 
Peter the Sinner was my bye-name, where 
Our Lady's convent stands on Adrian shore. 

But little mortal life was yet to spare, 

When to that hat they called me, yea, they drew, \ry 

Which evermore from bad to worse doth wear. 

Cephas and he, the Spirit's vessel true 

And chosen, barefoot went and mortified. 

And ate what food chance hostel to tliem threw. 

Our modern shepherds need on either side 13.) 

An arm to lead them and strong back to bear, 
So Aveighty they ! — and one their train to guide ; 

And with their palfreys they their mantles share. 
And so two beasts go underneath one skin : 
O Patience, that, this seeing, canst forbear ! " i.",5 

122 The natural meaning of the words seems to be that in some monastery on " the Adrian 
shore," sc. at Ravenna, Peter had been known by his self-imposed epithet of the " Sinner," 
and that at Fonte Avellana, before or afterwards, he took the name of Damiano from his 
brother. A difficulty arose from the fact that there was another Peter (degli Onesti), a monk 
of Santa Maria in Porto fuori, founded in 1096, who also, following Damian's example, took the 
name of Pcccator._ Some writers have assumed that Dante confused the two ; others have 
adopted the reading "y"« " instead of "y></," as though the line was introduced to correct 
such a confusion in the minds of others. As a matter of fact, Damian called \\\n\=,it\i Pcccator 
in letters written at Fonte Avellana. On the whole, it is probable that Dante's knowledge of 
local facts was greater than that of his critics, and that he knew that the two names were 
associated respectively with the two localities (Scart.) In the later years of his life, it may 
be added, Damian had been at Ravenna as Papal legate, bringing back its .\rchbishop to 
obedience to the See of Rome. 

12-1 Damian was made Cardinal 1058, d. 1072. The rebukes of clerical vices that follow 
are exactly in harmony with what Damian had said and written in his lifetime (JMilm. L. C. 
iii. 445). Line 126 carries our thoughts to the Cardinals of Avignon as baser than those at 
Rome had been. 

131 The invective reads_ almost like a caricature, but it is mild as compared with Danr.Ln's 
own language, or even \vith that of St. Bernard {Scrm. in Cunt. 33). One seems to see the 
burly prelate riding on his horse or mule with the four attendants, the stately robes not la.d 
aside even for riding, but falling over the horse's back. 

126 THE CRY OF THE SOULS. [pab. c. xxii. 

And at this word I saw more flames begin 

To leap down step by step and whirl around, 
And as they whirled more beauty did they win ; 

Then round that soul they came, and kept their ground, 

And raised a shout that rang so deep a knell, m( 

That for it no similitude is found, 

Nor could I, thunderstruck, its meaning teU. 


i>t. Benedict's Lamentations over his Order — Dante .'ra Gemini — The bach- 
ward Look from the Eighth Heaven of the Fixed Stars, 

Oppressed with this amazement, to my Guide 
I turned me, like a little child who goes 
For refuge there where most he doth confide ; 

And she, like mother who, to give repose. 

Turns quickly to her pale and breathless boy, s 

With voice that's wont to soothe him and compose. 

Said, " Know'st thou not thou dost Heaven's bliss enjoy, 
And know'st thou not all Heaven is holiness, 
And this is wrought by zeal without alloy ? 

How their song would have changed thee thou may'st guess, w 
And how my smile, far better than before, 
Since e'en that cry thy sense did so oppress, 

In which, if thou had'st read its prayerful lore. 

Thou should'st e'en now the avenger's sentence know, 
"V^Hiich thou shalt see ere yet tby life be o'er. is 

13t; Severe as the words were, it was the severity of love that spoke in them, and therefore 
the loving souls of the mystics welcome them and rejoice in them ; but their utterance was 
not, as in other cases, a hymn of praise, but as the thunder of a threatened doom, all the more 
terrible because undefined. 

2 For other similitudes from the life of children see C. i. lOo ; f/. xxiii. T,y ; Purg. xxx. 43. 
We note the new, the almost filial relation in which the poet stands to Beatrice in her new 
transfigured character. 

15 The words, considered as a prophecy ex (venlu, may be referred either to the death of 
Boniface VIII. or the Babylonian captivity at Avignon ; possibly to some unfulfilled hopes, 
cherished when the Canto was written, of a yet further vengeance which should correct the 
vices of the priesthood. Comp. Purg. xx. 94-96. That vengeance would come in due season, 
when the time was ripe, as Divine acts alwaj^ do come, though men count them precipitate 
or slack. We are reminded of the words which are found on the monument of Henry VII., 
now in the Campo Santo of Pisa, " Quicquid facimtis vcnit ex alto." I cannot help tracing 
Dante's mind in them (vol. i. p cxxxi.) 

PAU. c. sxii.] ST. BENEDICT. 127 

The sword on high nor deals its stroke too slow 
'Not yet too swift, save only in his thought 
Who, or with wish or fear, expects the bbw. 

But turn thee now, for then, before thee brought. 

Thou shalt see other spirits high in praise, » 

If, as I bid, the vision thou hast sought." 

And as it pleased her, so I turned my gaze. 

And saw a hundred spherules that combined 
To gain fresh beauty with their mutual rays. 

I stood as one who keeps within his mind 25 

Desire's keen goad, nor doth to question care, 
Such dread of o'er-bold speech each thought doth bind ; 

And then the greatest, bright beyond compare. 
Of all those shining pearls to us drew nigh, 
Unto my will supreme content to bear. 30 

Then from within it came, " If thou, as I, 

Could'st see the love that here doth live and glow, 
Thy thoughts would then to fullest utterance fly ; 

Eut that thou, waiting, be not all too slow 

For the high goal, I too will make reply, 35 

E'en to the thought o'er which thou watchest so. 

That mountain on whose slope Cassino higli 
Standeth, was peopled in the days of yore 
By men of evil life and drawn awry ; 

And I am he who there first tidings bore 40 

Of His great Name who to our earth did bring, 
The truth that doth exalt us more and more, 

Aud o'er me such great grace its light did fling, 

I drew the neighbouring towns from impious rite, 
Which led the world in error wandering. 45 

2a Elsewhere the blessed souls are compared to rubies (C. xix. 4, xxx. 66), topazes (C. xv. 
85, xxx. 76). Pearls are perhaps chosen as symbolising the purity of the contemplative 

31 The speaker is St. Benedict, who has read, as in C. xv. 55, the poet's thoughts in the 
mirror of the Divine omniscience. 

37 The monastery of Monte Cassino, founded by Benedict in 529, after he had led for some 
years a hermit's life at Subiaco, stands on the site of a temple of Apollo and Diana. Benedict 
had thrown down their statues and converted the people of the district to the worship of 
Christ. _ Here also it is legitimate to trace the influence of personal associations. Alberic, 
whose vision of the unseen world may have served, with other like works, to have suggested 
the plan of the Covtmcdia, was trained in that monastery, and was said to have had the 
vision at the age of nine. If we accept the tradition that Dante went before his exile as an 
ambassador to Naples, Monte Cassino would be a natural halting-place (vol. i. p. kiii.) 

128 THE POET'S WISH. [par. c. sxn. 

These otlier fires were men whose eager sight, 
Contemplative, was kindled with the glow 
Which brings all holy flowers and fruits to light. 

Here Romoald', here ]\racarius, thou may'st know ; 

Here too my brethren, who in cloistered shade so 

With steady feet and steadfast heart did go." 

And I to him : " The love which thou hast made 
So clear in speaking, and the semblance kind 
I see and note in all your fires displayed, 

Have so enlarged the faith that fills my mind, 55 

As the sun doth the rose when, wide outspread, 
Its flowers the fulness of their beauty find : 

Wherefore I pray thee. Father," so I said, 
" Tell me if I such grace can e'er obtain 
As to see thee with form uncovered." eo 

Then he : "My brother, thou at last shalt gain 
Thy highest wish in that supremest sphere 
Where all desires, e'en mine, to rest are fain. 

Perfect, mature, at last complete is there 

Each yearning of the heart ; in that alone 60 

All parts are ever as at first they were. 

For not in space it stands, and pole hath none, 
x\.nd this our stairway riseth to its height, 
And so beyond thy vision stretches on. 

The loftiest summit met of old the sight to 

Of patriarch Jacob, soaring to the skies, 
What time he saw the angels on it light. 

■" Of the three conspicuous bearers of the name Macarius, Dante proljably refers to the 
disciple of St. Antony known as " the Egyptian " or " the Great," who for sixty years lived as 
a hermit in the desert of Scetis (d. 391), and was honoured as one of the great masters of the 
contemplative life. Possibly he did not distinguish him from the other Macarius, also a disciple 
of St. Antony, who gathered round him a company of 5000 monks. Romoaldo, born in 
Ravenna in 956, founded in loiS the monastery of Camaldoli in the Casentino, mentioned in 
Purs;. V. g6. Here also it is allowable to trace the influence of local associations. It is 
noticeable also, as connected with the " ladder " of C xxi. 9, that it is recorded of him in the 
annals of Camaldoli that he had seen a vision like that of Jacob {Gen. xxviii. 12), in which 
men clothed in white were seen ascending the ladder whose top reached to Heaven (Butler). 

56 The same image is found in Conv. iv. 27, with the notable difference that there it repre- 
sents the youth and maturity of the student of philosophy, here the expansion of the soul 
under the influence of contact with holiness and love. 

59 Dante knows Benedict as a master of the spiritual life. Shall he ever know him more 
fully as a man, see his human face, know the thoughts of his heart? Who that reads of the 
lives of saints has not felt something of a like yearning? 

*>- The " remotest sphere " is the Empyrean, the dwelling-place of God and His angels, 
the permanent home of the souls, who manifest themselves in the lower spheres according to 
their several characters (Conv. ii. 4 ; C. xxxi.-xxxiii ), that is beyond space, and is perfect 
in its perpetual rest (C. iv. 28-90). 

''^ The vision of the ladder is definitely explained. See C. xxi. g. 


But to ascend it now no foot doth rise 

From off the earth, and that great Rule of mine 

But lives to waste the paper where it lies. 75 

The walls which once were as an abbey's shrine 
Are made as dens of robbers, and the hoods 
Are sacks filled full with flour of thoughts malign. 

But even usury not so far intrudes 

Against God's pleasure as those fruits unjust sj 

\Vhich fill the monks' hearts with such wanton moods. 

For what the Church doth hold, she holds in trust 
For those who in God's name ask charity, 
Nor for a kinsman, or some baser lust. 

So soft and frail our fleshly natures be, bs 

That a good start holds not on earth its own 
From the oak's birth till acorns fill the tree. 

Silver and gold, we know, had Peter none, 

And I began with fasting and with prayer. 

And meekly Francis all his Convent won. » 

And if of each beginning thou art 'ware. 

And then of each the downward pathway track, 
Thou'lt see that white has passed to brown in wear. 

But Jordan, when of old 'twas driven back, 

And the sea fled at bidding of God's will, 95 

Were greater marvel than to meet this lack." 

So speaking, turned he to his company, 

Whereat that company together drew ; 

Then like a whirlwind soared once more on high. 

75 St. Peter Damian's lamentation over the vices of prelates has its counterpart in that of 
Benedict over the degeneracy of his Order. His Rule has become, in the mo^t literal sense 
of the words, waste paper. Benvenuto relates that Boccaccio paid a visit to INIonte Cassino 
in search of some precious MSS , and found the library door left open, the grass growing on 
the threshold and in the windows, and many of the books mutilated to make psalteries for 
the choir-boys. 

76 An obvious echo of /er. vii. ii ; Jffait. xxi. 13. The sacks full of mouldy flour are the 
heads of the monks, full only of evil and corrupt desires. 

80 Usury, it will be remembered, had been classed (H. xi. 50) as a sin against nature. And 
e/en worse than that was the corrupt use of ecclesiastical revenues (C. xii. 98), or nepotism, 
or worse than nepotism. Line 84 clearly refers to the sin which Dante had coupled with 
usury (//. xi. 50). Dante carries on the work of Damian. 

88 The three great instances of the corruption of the succession, (i) of St. Peter, (2) of 
Benedict, (3) of Francis of Assisi, form a melancholy basis for induction. 

9* The mystical interpretation of the words of the In exitu Israel {Purg. ii. 46) is still 
in Dante's thoughts. The restoration of a corrupt Church or Order to primitive vigour is as 
great a miracle as the marvels spoken of in Fs. cxiv. 


I30 DANTE IN GEMINI. [pah. c. xxn. 

With just one uod, my Lady, sweet and true, loo 

Urged me behind them up that self-same stair, 
So much her might my nature did subdue. 

Nor e'er, when bodies rise or fall in air, 
Was motion natural so exceeding fast 
That with my wingfed flight it could compare, 103 

So, Reader, to that triumph high at last 

May I return, for which, with many a tear, 
I smite my breast and mourn my sinful past ! 

Not for so short a moment could'st thou bear 

Thy finger in the fire as that in which no 

I saw the sign next Taurus, and was there. 

glorious stars, light supremely rich 
In every virtue, which I recognise 
As source of all my powers, whate'er their pitch, 

With you he had his birth, with you did rise, m 

He, the great father of each mortal race. 
When first I breathed the air of Tuscan skies ; 

And now when unto me was granted grace 
To enter that high sphere wherein ye roll, 
'Twas given to me with you to take my place. 120 

To you devoutly now I lift my soul. 

With fervent sigh, that it fresh power may gain 
For the hard task that draws it to its goal. 

*' Thou art so near to where thou shalt attain 

Supreme salvation," Beatrice said, 125 

" That with clear eyes thou should'st see all things plain ; 

100 Xhe ladder is, it will be remembered, that of heavenly contemplation. On that ladder 
Dante and Beatrice mount with inconceivable rapidity to the sphere of the fixed stars, the 
eighth of the Ptolemaic system. 

Ill The sign that follows Taurus is Gemini, which the sun enters about May i8th or 20th. 
This fixes, probably, Dante's birthday as after that date. In the astrology of the Middle Ages 
the sign Gemini is in the house of Mercury, and is, therefore, the source, in the theory of 
stellar influences, of the gifts of genius and skill of speech (//. xv. 55 ; Purg. xxx. 109). 

114 Xhe line is probably a conscious reproduction from Cicero's Otat. pro Archia : "Si 
quid est in me ingenii, judices, quod sentio quant sit exiguuin." 

!"> The sun, as the great source of life, was in the sign of Gemini when Dante first drew 
breath. That sign is the fitting point for his entrance within the starry sphere. 

123 The "' passo forte" has been diflferently explained as meaning (i) the remainder of the 
poem, as dealing with the highest mysteries of heavenly things, (2) as the death which Dante, 
when he wrote the Canto, felt could not be far off. The invocation to the stars of Gemini, 
the givers of thought and speech, turns the scale in favour of (i). Comp. C. x. 26, 27. 

IS* The " crowning salvation " is the beatific vision of the Empyrean, which lay beyond the 
sphere of the fixed stars (C. xxxiii. 27;. 


And therefore, ore tliou farther in dost tread, 

Look down once more, and see the world, how wide 
Beneath thy feet it lieth, far outspread ; 

So that thy heart, with joy beatified, 

May join these hosts with triumph now elate, 
That here in this ethereal sphere abide." 

Then I retraced my way through small and great 

Of those seven spheres, and then, this globe did seem 
Such that I smiled to see its low estate ; 

And that resolve as noblest I esteem 

"Which holds it cheap ; whose heart is set elsewhere 
As truly just and good we well may deem. 

I saw the daughter of Latona there 

All glowing bright, without that shadowy veil, 
"Which once I deemed was caused by dense and rare ; 

I saw, with open glance that did not fail, 
The glories, Hyperion, of thy son, 
And Maia and Dione how they sail 

Around and near him, and Jove's temperate zone 
'Twixt sire and son, and then to me were clear 
Their varying phases as they circle on ; 

And all the seven did then to me appear 
In their true size and true velocity, 
Each moving as distinct and separate sphere. 

127 Dante, as in C. ix. 73, 81, coins one of the pronominal verbs, which English can but 

133 By an act of scientific imagination the student of astronomy pictures to himself what 
the earth, as the centre of the universe, would look like as seen from the highest of the eight 
spheres. Uante s astronomical distances were probably not so vast as those of modern 
science, but even thus he learnt the littleness of earthly things. A re^^ica of the same 
thought appears in C. xxvii. 79-S7. 

1 ^^ i^j^ ^' ,!'■ 4^^'*^ fo"" t^^ speculations referred to. We may note, in passing, Dante's 
knowledge that the moon, though revolving, or rather because it revolves, upon its axis, 
always shows the same hemisphere to us. From the stars he sees the other hemisphere which 
we never see, and there are no spots in it. Comp. the discussion in C. ii. 

142 Hyperion, son of Uranus and Terra, appears in Mei. iv. 192, 241, as the father of the 
bun ; Maia, one of the Pleiades, as the mother of Mercury in Met i. 669, ii. 685 ; Dione as 
the mother of Venus (C. viii. 7). The two planets are thought of as moving between the 
tarth and the bun. Jupiter moves, in his turn, between his son Mars and his father 

1*8 The marvellous vision has scarcely a parallel in poetry Planetary distances and move- 
ments are seen from an immeasurable distance as objects of direct vision. The nearest 
approach to a parallel is found in Dante's favourite, Boethius (ii. 7), and Cic. Somn. Sci/. c. 
^f ■*■», 7!,'"°" l-^- •^- ^'"- 339-386, viii. 66-178) attempts a like sur\-ey as from the standpoint 
ot the Copernican system. Compared with that survey, the earth, on which men fight for 
tame, wealth, power, was but as a threshing-floor. Chaucer, 7"r^z7. and Cress, v. J826, 
presente also some points of resemblance. Probably he had Dante in his thoughts. 

BEATRICE'S VISION. [pau. c. xxiii. 

The little plot that stirs our enmity. 

As with the eternal Twins I turned me round, 

Lay all before nie, from the hills to sea : iu3 

Then mine eyes looked where brightest eyes were found. 


The Stars of the Triumph of Christ — The Rose and the Lilies — The Hymn 
" RegiTM Cceli." 

As bird, within the leafy home it loves, 

Upon the nest its sweet young fledglings share, 
Eesting, while night hides all that lives and moves, 

Who, to behold the olijects of her care. 

And find the food that may their hunger stay, — 
Task in which all hard-labours grateful are, — 

Prevents the dawn, and, on an open spray, 

With keen desire awaits the sun's bright rays, 
And wistful look till gleams the new-born day ; 

So did my Lady then, with fixed gaze, 

Stand upright, looking on that zone of Heaven 
Wherein the sun its tardiest course displays ; 

And when I saw her thus to rapt thought given, 
I was as one who, in his fond desire, 
Eests in firm hope, although by strong wish driven. 

'Twixt this and that ' when,' short time did expire — 
I mean my waiting and the vision bright 
Of Heaven, each moment flushed with clearer fire ; 

153 The description indicates that the poet saw the whole of the land hemisphere of the 
earth, that he was therefore in the meridian of Jerusalem, the centre, in mediaeval geography, 
of that hemisphere, and that as the sun was in Gemini, also in that meridian, it was noon. 

1 The image of the bird — perhaps the most beautiful of all in Dante's bird-gallery — may 
have been drawn from nature. Interesting parallels are, however, found in Dante's favourite 
poets, Virgil {Ain. xii. 473-476) and Statius (Achill. i. 212). 

10 The description is analogous to those of Purg. xxx. 58-75, but with this difference, that 
here, carrying on the thought of C. xxii. 133-154, the astronomical facts are seen not from the 
standpoint of earth, but from that of the sphere of the fixed stars. The problem was a 
difficult one, and Dante can scarcely be said to have solved it. What is meant is that Beatrice 
looks to that part of the heaven (but was the glance upward or downward ?) which would be 
to the astronomer on earth in the meridian of Jerusalem as the centre of the land hemisphere. 
In that region, in the valley of Jehoshaphat {Joel iii. 2), according to the universal belief of 
the Middle Ages, the Christ was to appear at His second coming. And here accordingly 
there is a vision of that glory, and all the saints who had been manifested, according to their 
merits in the lower spheres, are here gathered together. 


And Beatrice said, '* Beliold the might 

Of Christ's triumphant hosts ; the harvest know, 20 

Reaped from the rolling of these spheres of light." 

Then seemed it as though all her face did glow, 

And her clear eyes so shone with joyous sheen, 
I must without a comment let them go. 

As when in full-moon nights, in sky serene, 25 

Smiles Trivia's face among those nymphs eteme, 
Whose shining forms through all heaven's vaults are seen, 

So I, above ten thousand lamps that burn, 

Saw one bright Sun that kindled every one, 

As our sun doth the orbs we see superne ; so 

And through the living light transparent shone 
The lucid substance so divinely clear. 
That my frail sight was dazzled and o'erdone. 

O Beatrice, gentle guide and dear ! 

To me she said, " That which o'ertasks thy sense 35 

Is Might from which no refuge doth appear. 

There is the Wisdom, there the Omnipotence, 

That opened wide the paths 'twixt Heaven and earth, 
For which so long has been desire intense." 

As flash that from the storm-cloud takes its birth, « 

Dilating, finds not space wherein to stay. 
And, 'gainst its nature, doth itself inearth, 

So, as before my mind those rich feasts lay, 
Itself, grown large, beyond itself it bore, 
And how it fared my memory fails to say. « 

2S Trivia = Diana = the Moon, as in ^n. vi. 13, ^3. The companson will remind most 
readers of the well-kno%vn passage in Homer (//. viii. SSS) ; but I can scarcely agree with 
Butler that that passage must have been known to Dante in the onginal. 

29 The Sun is none other than the Christ-the true Light, Light of Light the Dayspring 
from on high, the Sun of Righteousness. The " substance " through which the Light shines 
is the glorified human nature of the ascended Christ (C. xiv. 52). 

W The fixed stars were supposed in medieval astronomy to shine by the sun's reflected 
light. £uii. takes the words as = " the eyes we upward turn " (Comp. C. xxxii. 99 ; /"'<rr-, 
xviii. 3). 

37 As with the great masters of theologj-, the mysten,- of the Incarnation was for Dante 
the loftiest and profoundest of all truths. By it, as by the ladder of Jacobs vision (C. xxi. 
9, xxii. 70), the way had been opened between earth and Heaven. 

40 The law of fire was, from the standpoint of Dante's physics (Cor.v. iii._4), to ascend, yet 
the lightning falls to the earth. So the soul of the seer, expanding with its heavenly tood. 
contrari' to the law which unites it with the body, passes, as in ecstasy, into a higher region 
(comp. 2 Cor. xii. 2-4), and it was impossible to recall or reproduce what he had then seen 
and felt (C. i. 121-141). 

134 THE INEFFABLE GLORY. [par. a xxm. 

" Open thine eyes and what I am explore, 

Thou hast seen things that give thee strength to hear 
Light of my smiles thou could'st not hear hefore." 

I was as one who feels as half aware 

Of some forgotten dream, and strives in vain so 

To call it to his mind and keep it there, 

TVlien I this offer heard thus spoken plain, 

Of such thanks worthy that no time should hlot 
It from the book where lives the past again. 

Though now should chant in concert every throat ss 

That Polyhymnia and her sisters made 
So passing rich with sweetest milk of thought, 

To help me, not a thousandth part were said. 
Were they to sing that holy smile divine, 
And light which o'er her holy face it shed. « 

So, when to tell of Paradise is mine, 

Here needs must leap the consecrated song. 

As one whose way some hindrance doth confine ; 

And whoso thinks how great the theme and long, 

How frail the shoulder that the weight must bear, & 

Will hardly, though it tremble, count it wrong. 

No sea-way for a little bark is there. 

Where prow o'er-daring cleaves the surging sea, 
Nor for a pilot who himself would spare. 

48 In C. xxi. 4 Beatrice had told the seer that her smile— symbol of the rapture of Divine joy 
— would utterly consume him, but the vision of glory which he had just seen has strengthened 
him so that he can bear it now. 

"O One notes the self-portraiture of the man. who, from earliest youth onward, had seen visions 
and dreamt dreams (V. N. c. 3, 9, 12, et al.) Sometimes these could be recalled,_ sometimes, 
as in the case of Coleridge's Kubla Khan, the endeavour to recall was all but fruitless. 

S3 We note the parallel with the opening words of the V. N. : " In that part of the book of 
my memory." 

•''5 Mn. vi. 625, Met. viii. 533, possibly /o^k xxi. 25, and Homer, //. ii. 637, may have been 
in Dante's thoughts. 

57 The image was a favourite one {Pu7g. xxli. 102), and was, in part, an echo of i Cor. iii. 2, 
Heb. v. 12, 1 Pet. ii. 2. 

66 It remains true, ipso facto, that the ineffable cannot be told. The task was too great for 
mortal man to venture on. 

6" The thought of C. ii. 1-9 is reproduced. The v. II. give palleggio, which ma.y =peIago = 
sea, and paraggio or paregio = \aLx\>o\xx or roadstead. The sense is, of course, much the 
same. The latter word still forms part of the nautical vocabulary of the Adriatic, and was 
one with which Dante would be familiar among the sailors at Venice, Pisa, or Genoa. Other 
readings, each varjung the vowel with modifications of meaning, need not be noticed. 

69 There is a touch of pathos in the poet's reference to his own unsparing labours. Comp. 

C. XXV. 3. 


" Why doth my face now so enamour thee, 70 

That thou dost not to yonder garden turn, 
Which 'neath the rays of Christ blooms fair to see 1 

There is the Eose wherein the "Word Eterne 

Was clothed in flesh, and there the lilies grow 

Through whose sweet scent the way of life we learn." 73 

Thus Beatrice ; and I, prompt to go 

Where she did goiide, gave myself yet again 

To strife wherein frail eyes their weakness know. 

As oft mine eyes have looked on flowery plain, 

Themselves o'ershadowed, whilst clear sunlight beamed so 
Through rift in cloud-banks, brighter after rain, 

So saw I then more shining ones that gleamed, 
With burning rays illumined from above, 
Yet saw no source from whence the brightness streamed. 

Might that thus hast stamped them in Thy love, ti 

Thou didst ascend on high, thus giving space 
To these mine eyes, that else too weak would prove ! 

The name of that fair Flower, whose bounteous grace 
At morn and eve I ask, my soul impelled 
To see that greater glory face to face. » 

And when, portrayed in them, mine eyes beheld 
The size, the beauty of the living star, 
Which there excels as it on earth excelled, 

A little flame athwart the heaven from far. 

Formed like a band wherewith the brow is crowned, ^5 
Engirdled it in windings circular. 

"" The implied thought is that the contemplation of the highest human beauty, even of the 
highest human wisdom, is but a small matter as compared with that which has for its object 
the glory of Christ and His Church. The "garden " is, of course, Paradise ; the Rose — the 
/iosa ?nysiica of the Litany of the Rom. Brev. — is the Virgin ; the fragrant lilies are the saints. 
The words are as a mystical exposition of the Song of Solomon, ii. i, i6, after the manner of 
mediaeval interpreters. That passage, we may note, forms m the Rom. Brev. a lesson for 
July 2d, the Festival of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

'9 The beatific vision, however, comes not yet. The personal glory of the Christ is reserved 
for a further stage, and the eyes of the seer gaze upon that glory as manifested in the saints 
of God, as he had on earth looked on the fair flowers in a sunlit meadow, while he himself 
was shaded from its rays. Line 80 finds a parallel in 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. 

88 The Ave Maria was, as was natvu-al with a devout Catholic, united with th^ Paternoster 
in Dante's morning and evening prayers. The Virgin is the "greater fire" of 1. 90. Butler 
suggests ingeniously that the name of S. Maria del Fiore, as the title under which the Duomo 
of Florence was dedicated, may have been in the poet's thoughts. 

^ Another echo from the Roin. Brev. (Scart.), "Ave maris Stella ' {Hymn/or ilie Feasts 
of the B. V. M.). As she excelled all others in the graces of her life on earth, so she excels 
them in the glory of her life in Paradise. 

^* The "little flame" from the Empyrean Heaven is the Archangel Gabriel, who revolves 
.-iround the Virgin. The sweetest melody of earth would be as harsh thunder-roar compared 
with the infinite sweetness of his song. 

136 THE NAME OF MARY. [par. c. xxiii. 

"What melody soe'er doth sweetest sound 

On earth, and draws the soul in rapt desire, 
"Would be like broken clouds that thunder round, 

Compared with that sweet music from the lyre 100 

That o'er that sapphire bright was then entAvined, 
"Wliich doth the heaven most lustrous ensapphire. 

" Angelic Love am I, and thus I wind 

For joy of Him whom once thy pure womb bore, 
Where He we yearn for did a hostel find ; ws 

And I will wind me, Lady, evermore, 

"While thou thy Son shalt follow, and shalt make 
The highest sphere more heavenly than before." 

Thus did the ever-circling music take 

Its closing note, and every other light "o 

With name of MARY did the echoes wake. 

That robe which, as with regal glory dight, 

Wraps all the spheres of world that lives and glows, 
Filled with God's breath and all His ways of might, 

So high above us in its concave rose, 115 

That where I stood its order fair did hide 
Its beauty from us, nor did half disclose : 

Wherefore mine eyes no power to me supplied 
To track the course of that encrowned crest, 
That rose and rested at her Son's dear side. 120 

And, as a babe that to its mother's breast, 

When it hath had its fill, doth stretch its hand, 
And inward love by outward glow attest. 

So each of those white gleams erect did stand. 

And with its summit so inclined, that I 123 

Their love for Mary well could understand. 

101 Sapphire, as the symbol at once of purity and of the divine glory. See note on Purg^. 
i. 13, and Exoii. xxiv. lo. So in mediaeval art the Virgin is commonly painted with a robe of 
sapphire-blue. The " broken cloud " imagery reminds us of I. 8i. 

109 The words paint the glory seen in the Heaven of stars, in itself but a prelude to that of 
the Empyrean Heaven from which Gabriel nas descended. 

11- The "regal mantle" is the sphere of the Primiini Mobile, which encircles all the other 
spheres. I follow the readings " avviva " mther than "saliva," and " aliio" rather than 
" abito," " interna " rather than " etema." Dante's gaze failed to follow what we may call the 
new " assumption " of the Virgin to the presence of her Son in the EmpjTean Heaven. 

121 Another of the child -pictures from Dante's gallery. Comp. H. .x.viii- 38; Pttrg. xxx.. 
4^, xxxi. 64. 

PAR. c. xsiv.] "REGIKA CCELI." 137 

So stayed they then and met my gazing eye, 
And sang Regina Coeli with a tone 
So sweet, its joy fades not from memory. 

Ah me ! what plenteous harvests now they own, 130 

Those well-filled coffers, which of old were found 
Good tilth-land, sown with good seed, every one ! 

True life, true treasures, now for them abound, 
"Won when, as exiles sad, they wept of old, 
And left their gold on Babylonian ground. 13.5 

Here he victorious doth his triumph hold, 
'i^eath God's exalted Son, of Mary born, 
With the two great assemblies, new and old, 

By whom the keys of that bright Heaven are borne. 


St. Peter examines Dante as to Faith — Trinity in Unity. 

" HAPPY band, elect to fullest joy, 

At the blest Lamb's great supper duly placed, 
"Who feeds you still with bliss that cannot cloy ! 

128 From the Antiphon at Compline in Easter-week, and so fitting in with the assumed 
date of Dante's vision — 

" Regina cceli, Icetare, alleluia, 
Quia guem nteruisti portare, alleluia, 
Resurrexit, siciit dixit, alleluia." 

i32 The word hobalce admits of being taken as = tillers of the soil " — sowers of the good 
seed, or = acres, i.e., " the soil so tilled." The latter seems to give the best meaning. The 
souls that Dante saw were not exclusivelj' "sowers" in the sense of "preachers," but saints 
in the "good ground " of whose hearts the good seed had taken root and brought forth the 
fruit of good works. 

135 The contrast between Paradise and Babylon, as the symbol of the world, was familiar 
to mediasval thought. Comp. the Hymn Alleluia, duke Carmen, of the 13th century in 
Keale, J. M., ISIediiEVal Hymns, p. 183 — 

" Alleluias without ending 

Fit yon place of gladsome rest ; 
Exiles we, by Babel's waters, 
Sit in bondage and distress'd. 

The former was to be gained only by ceasing to care for the gold which was the treasure of 
the latter. Looking to C. xxii. 88, there is a special fitness, even if we do not adopt the read- 
ing in 1. 13s, " where he left the gold, " in the reference to St. Peter in 1. 139. 
137 The two assemblies are those of the saints of the Old and New Covenants. 
1-3 Comp. Rev. xix. 9, vii. i6, as the starting-point of these lines. Probably the echoes of 
the hiTun — 

''''Ad regias agni dapes 
Stolis amicti candidis," 

{Brev. Rom. Saib. in Alb. Vesp.), may have been more immediately suggestive. 

138- BEAUTY OF SOULS' IN HEAVEN, [par. c. xsiv. 

If by God's grace this man before doth taste 

Of that which falleth from your well-filled board, s 

Ere death the limit of his life hath traced, 

To his immense desire your heed accord, 

And somewhat him bedew ; to you 'tis given 

To drink of that fount whence his thought hath poured." 

Thus Beatrice, and those souls in Heaven w 

Became as spheres that move on fixkl pole, 
Like comets bright that flashing on are driven ; 

And, as the wheels in ordered clock-work roll, 
So that the first we look at seems at rest, 
The last to fly, such skill hath framed the whole, is 

So were the carols of those spirits blest, 

A'STiose movements, as I saw them, swift or slow, 
The variance of their riches did attest. 

From that wherein did fullest beauty show 

I saw emerge a flame so full of bliss 20 

That none it left there with a brighter glow ; 

And moving thrice around my Beatrice, 
It wheeled with so divine a melody 
That fancy fails to tell me what it is. 

So my pen skips ; to write is not for me ; 25 

For, not alone our speech, our highest thought, 
For such fine touch hath colours all too free. 

■'' The image is reproduced from Conzi. i. i, but tliere the feast is that of Philosophy, not 
the marriage-supper of the Lamb. The difference is eminently characteristic of the periods 
of Dante's life to which the two works respectively belong. See Essay on 'J'fie Genesis and 
Growth of the Commedia. 

" Glorious as the vision was, it was, as in C. x. 23-25, but a foretaste of the good things to 
come, as the dew compared with the full draught from the fountain of the Water of Life. 

J2 Noticeable as the only reference to comets in 'Cn^ Commedia. Probably it was suggested 
by the appearance of what Humboldt calls the " magnificent comet of 1843," with its " un- 
exampled splendour." According to Sir John Herschel's calculation (Outl. of Asi. 20S-372), 
that comet appeared in 1318, the very year in which Dante was working at the later Cantos of 
the Paradise (Humboldt, Cosni. iv. pp. 541, 544). Another calculation of its period gives 530 
years, and this would fix its appearance in 1313- For the appearance of numerous other comets 
between 1300 and 1321 (the date of Dante's death), see G. F. Chambers' Dcscrift. Asiron. pp. 
397-404. Three comets appeared in 1315. Comp. also Vill. viii. 48, ix. 65 ; yEn. x. 272. 

13 Comp. C. X. 139-148. It is suggestive that there the comparison is drawn from the out- 
side mechanism, here from the inner works. Had Dante, after first observing, been examining 
the clock of the .'\rchdeacon Pacificus at Verona, made in the loth century, or was it a 
reminiscence of that which was fixed at Westminster in 12S8 ; or lastly, as I have suggested 
in note on C. x. 139, of Peter Lightfoot's clock at Glastonbury? The point that struck him 
was the ever-increasing velocity of the wheels, from that which revolved once in twenty-four 
hours to that which completed its revolution in a minute. 

19 The band was that of the Apostles ; the bright fire, St. Peter. The triple revolution 
round Beatrice (= as elsewhere, Divine Wisdom = in thehighest sense of the word, Theology), 

PAR. c. xxiT.] ST. PETER. 139^ 

"0 holy Sister mine, whose prayers have wrought 
Such •wondrous issue, hy thy strong desire 
Thou sett'st me free from that sphere, beauty-frauglit." so 

Then, halting in its course, that blessed fire, 

And speaking thus, as I but now have told, 
Did to my Lady thus with voice respire. 

And she : " light eterne of hero old, 

To whom our Lord assigned the sacred keys 35 

He bore, of wondrous joys and manifold. 

Take thou this man, and test him, if thou please, 
In points or hard or light that Faith concern, 
That Faith whereby thou walked'st on the seas. 

If with true Faith, true Hope, true Love, he burn, 40 

It is not hid from thee, since thou dost gaze 
Where all things clearly mirrored we discern. 

But since this Kingdom draws within its ways. 
Through the true faith, of citizens not few, 
'Tis meet thou give him scope to speak its praise." 45 

As bachelere his armour doth indue, 

And speaks not till the Master puts case clear, 
Not judging, but debating if 'tis true. 

So with my proofs I armed my memory there. 

E'en while she spake, that I might ready prove so 

For such profession, such, a questioner. 

symbolises at once the doctrine of the Trinity and the three theological virtues in which 
Dante was to be catechised. 

28 The human Beatrice and the symbolised Wisdom seem alike included in St. Peter's 

35 The early commentators {Land., Oit., Anon.) connect this and the two following Cantos 
with the tradition that Dante had been accused of heresy, and that this was his apologia. 
The same story is told of the poem known as the Creed of Dante, and as the Dominicans are 
named as his judges, there would seem, if the storj' be true, to have been some risk of the 
Inquisition. The authenticity of the Creed is, to say the, doubtful, but I have thought 
it worth while to translate and print it, that the reader may compare it with what is found 
here. If Dante's at all, it must be thought of as an experimental prelude. 

42 We note the ever-recurring thought (C. xv. 62, xvii. 123, xix. 29, xxi. 17) that the saints 
in Paradise "see all things in God." 

46 We have probably a distinctly personal reminiscence of university e.xercises in Paris, 
Oxford, or Bologna {Lacroix, pp. 16-26). Dante is, as it were, examined for his degree of 
Doctor of Divinity {SacriF Theologice Professor) in the College of the Apostles. The four 
terms are distinctly technical. The bachelor (possibly bacuiarius, trained in single-stick, 
the word being used figuratively of mental gymnastics) is one who has passed through his 
triviunt and guadrivuim, and submits himself to a Master of Arts or Doctor in Theology for 
a degree in a higher faculty. The examination, as in the old Responsions of Oxford, is entirely 
viva voce. The examiner confines himself to testing the candidate's knowledge, and does not 
himself "determine," i.e., formally discuss and settle, the questions propounded. 

I40 ST. PETER'S EXAMINATION. [par. c. sxiv. 

" Speak, good Christian, now thyself approve ; 

Say, what is Faith 1 " and then I raised my brow 

Towards the light whence these words seemed to move. 
Then I to Beatrice turned, and now 55 

Prompt signs she made to me that I should pour 

The streams that from my inner fountain flow. 
" May Grace, which grants profession of true lore," 

So spake I to the great Centurion, 

" Now of clear thoughts well uttered give me dower ! «o 
As his true pen doth write," I then went on, 

" My father, thy dear brother's, who with thee 

Eome to the good and holy pathway won. 
Faith is the proof of things we do not see, 

The substance of things hoped for, and from hence cr, 

I find what seems its formal quiddity." 
Then heard I : " Thou full rightly dost commence, 

If thou know'st well why he assigns its place 

First as a substance, then as evidence." 
And I went on and said, "The depths of grace, 70 

Which here to me themselves make manifest, 

Below, men cannot look on face to face, 
So that on Faith alone their truth they rest — 

Faith on which soaring Hope doth supervene, 

And hence the note of substance is imprest. 7S 

And from this Faith it ever right hath been 

To syllogise, though nothing meet our sense ; 

And here the note of evidence is seen." 

52 The questions are probably such as were common in the schools. There the poet may 
have answered them in the pride of intellect. Now he prepares for his examination by a 
prayer for light. 

59 The Italian for "captain" (Jirimipilo) is from the terminology of the Roman army, and 
was applied to the chief centurion of the triarii, the soldiers of the third rank from the front. 

SI The words assume, as was natural, that St. Peter wrote the second Epistle that hears his 
name (see 2 Pet. iii. 15), and that St. Paul wrote the Epistie to the Hebrezvs. 

6^ Hcb. xi. I from the Vulg. Comp. Lomb. Sent. iii. 23 ; Aquin. Sunnn. i. 29, 2, from 
whom the term " guidJiiy'' that which states what a thing is, is borrowed. The word has 
met us in C. xx. 92. 

'0 The answer is accepted as true in fact, but then comes the " why?" and "wherefore?" 
And first as to the use of the term " substance." Heavenly things, the joys of Paradise, are 
hidden from the eyes of sense. For man they exist in his belief, yet, where faith is, not as 
imaginations only, but as realities. Faith therefore gives objectivity to that which without 
it would be only subjective, and so, " as hope rests upon it," it is the substantia of the things 
hoped for. What it affirms become the postulates or major premisses of syllogisms about 
those things, and so it is " evidence " or argument. Comp. Newman's Grammar of Assent. 
C. ix., X. 


And then I heard : " If every inference 

Doctrinal were on earth thus understood, so 

The Sophist's craft had found no permanence." 

So breathed that flame, with burning love endued. 
Then added : " Of this coin tlie alloy and -vveiyht 
Full well the test of thine assay have stood ; 

Eut if thou hast it in thy purse, pray state." » 

And I : "Oh yes, it shines so round and bright, 
That of its mintage none can raise debate." 

Then from the depths of that transcendent light 
There came a voice, "This jewel rich and true, 
From whence each virtue draweth all its might, »> 

'Whence came it to thee?" "The abundant dew 
Of the most Holy Spirit," then said I, 
" Poured out upon the Scriptures Old and New, 

A syllogism is which doth supply 

A force so keen, that all that's else inferred 'js 

Would seem, compared with it, as fallacy." 

And then, "Those axioms new and old," I heard, 

" From whence thou dost such fixed conclusions draw, 
Why dost thou hold them as God's living word ? " 

And I : " The proofs through which the truth I saw wo 

Are outcome of results where Nature's care 
Ne'er heated iron nor plied the anvil's law." 

Then answered he ; " Say who doth witness bear 

Such works were wrought 1 What doth the story tell 
Itself needs proof 3 none else the fact declare." ms 

'9 The tribute of praise may have been an echo of what the student had heard from some 
examiner in theology. " If all were so well armed there would be little room for heresy." 

85 The quaint form of the question has the note of a distinct personal reminiscence. It 
reminds us of the saying, "Be ye good money-changers," attributed to our Lord by Origen 
(/« Joann. xix. i) and Clem. Alex. {Strom, v p. 354). He has given the image and super- 
scription of the coin. Has he the coin itself? Has he the faith which he has defined so 
accurately ? 

S7 We note the contrast between the point of cerl tude now attained in the " Grammar of 
Assent," and the doubts of C. xix. 70-90. 

90 Faith is made the source of all virtues, which are but the fruits of faith, but what is the 
source of faith itself? 

82 For a parallel acknowledgment of the supreme authority of Scripture as the rule of 
faith see C. ix. 134, Purg. xxix. 83 n. ; and the proof of Scripture rests on its supernatur.-il 
effects, not exclusively, as the word " subsequent " implies, in the historical miracles which it 
records, but also in the spiritual changes which it has wrought in individual men and in the 
world at large. 

142 THE SOURCE OF FAITH. [pae. c. xxiv. 

" Nay," said I, " if without a miracle . 

The world was turned to Christ, that were alone 
A marvel which all else doth far excel 

For thou didst come, as poor and fasting known, 

To sow the field with that good seed that bore "o 

Of old a vine, and now a thorn is grown." 

That high and holy Court, when this was o'er, 

Tlieir clear Te Deum through the spheres did sing. 
Set to the music sung where saints adore. 

And then that Baron, who, examining, iie 

Had led me on from branch to branch, until 
We to the farthest leaves our flight did wing. 

Began once more : " The grace, that with thy will 
As mistress works, thy lips oped hitherto, 
As it were well that it should open still, 120 

So that I praise what thence came out to view ; 
But now 'tis meet thou tell thy faith to me, 
And whence to thy belief it came as true." 

" holy father, spirit who dost see 

What thou didst so believe that younger feet 125 

Were at the sepulchre outstripped by thee," 

I then began, " Thou tell'st me it is meet 
I show the form to which assent I give, 
And of the grounds thereof should also treat. 

And I respond : In one God I believe, uo 

Alone, eternal, who all Heaven doth move, 
Unmoved Himself, with love and will that live. 

106 The effects of Christianity on the assumption that it was not supernatural would, Dante 
argues, be a greater miracle than any of those which are attested by its records. To prove 
Scripture from miracles, and then miracles from Scripture, is accordingly something more 
than 3. petitio p7incij>ii, or "arguing in a circle." Peter, with no earthly power to back him, 
had planted the vine, and it had spread its branches far and wide and borne fruit. Unhappily 
the vine had degenerated into a bramble (^hai. v. 1-4). 

113 Xhe hymn is the TV Dcmn, which had been already heard in Furg. ix. 140, sung now 
with a new and heavenly melody. 

115 So Boccaccio {Dec. vi. 10) gives the title of Baron to St. Antony. There is perhaps a 
touch of Ghibellinism, or, at least, of the idealist author of the Monarchia in giving this name 
to the peers of the court of the great Emperor (//. i. 124). Comp. C. xxv. 17. 

118 The praise given by Peter reminds us of the words once spoken to him {Matt. xvi. 17). 

126 Comp. John xx. 3. Dante assumes, with most interpreters, that St. Peter was older 
than St. John. 

130 The paraphrase that follows may be compared in its conciseness with the somewhat 
wordy exposition of the so-called Creed of Dante. 

131 The thought is partly a physical explanation of the universe. The immense velocity 
of the Frinium Mobilt which moves all the lower spheres is itself caused by the desire to 
unite itself with the Empyrean Heaven as the abode of God. 

PAR. c. xxiv] THE GROUND-BELIEF. ,43 

And tliis my faith I do not seek to prove 

Only by physic, metaphysic, lore, 

But Truth bestows it, dropping from above, iss 

Through Moses, Psalms, and Prophets, and yet more, 

Through the great Gospel, and through you who wroti*, 

Made holy by the Spirit's fire of yore. 
And to Three Persons I my faith devote, 

One Essence in that Trinal Unity, uo 

In whom both Smit and Est combined we note. 
"With that profound estate of Deity 

A\Tiereof I speak, my mind hath been imprest 

Full often by the Gospel mystery. 
Here is my ground-belief, the spark at rest, 145 

Which in me spreads into a living fire. 

And, as a star in Heaven, is manifest." 
As master hearing what he doth desire, 

Joyous, his servant straightAvay doth embrace 

For that good new?-, when he of speech, doth tire, 150 

So, blessing me and chanting words of grace, 

That Apostolic light, when I did cease. 

Thrice circled round me, he who bade me trace 
What thus I spake, so much my words did please. 

133 Xhe proofs which are probably referred to are those in the Su>ii»i. i. 2, 3, and his 
Coinp. Theol. As drawn from the postulate that all motion implies a prime mover, they are 
physical ; as proving a priori that the existence of God is necessary and eternal, they are 
metaphysical. The modern, or Paley, argument from design is almost conspicuous by its 
absence. As in 1. 93, the poet prefers to rest on the teaching of Scripture. 

138 Xhe commentators for the most part explain almi as = holy, but it was probably formed 
from Latin alums, as from alo, in the sense of " productive. ' 

141 Est is altered into esie under the necessities of rhyme. In the Christian mystery we 
may say of the three Persons that they are ; of the one God, that He is. 

1*^ It is noticeable that the confession of faith is not a paraphrase of the Apostles' or Nicene 
Creed, but of the first clauses of the Quicunque V'ult. In that Dante sees the spark which, 
under a doctrine of development, expands into a flame bright as the stars of Heaven. 

1-W ^Vhat follows is, as it were, the admission of the candidate who passes his examination, 
to his degree. For the threefold embrace which the rector of the college gave to the new 
doctor we have the light, in which St. Peter was manifested, circling round the poet in token 
of supreme satisfaction. Comp. C. xxiii. 96. For the imagery of master and servant see 
H. xvii. 90, and Cam. i. 17-19. 

144 ST. JAMES. [pab. c. xxv. 


St. James examines Dante as to Hope. 

Should it e'er chance that this my sacred song, 

To which both Heaven and earth have so set hand, 
That it hath made me lean through years full long, 

O'ercome the cruelty that keeps me banned 

From the fair fold where I as lamb did rest, s 

Foe of the wolves who war against the land, 

"With other voice, in other fleece then drest, 
I shall return as poet, laurel-crowned, 
And at my baptism's font my brow invest ; 

For there into the Faith I entrance found lo 

Which makes souls known of God, and since aright 
I held it, Peter thus my head wheeled round. 

Then towards us moved another shining light 

Out of the band from whom the first-fruits came, 

E'en those whom Christ left vicars of His might ; is 

And then my Lady, as with joy aflame, 

Said to me, '* Lo, behold the Baron there. 
Through whom Galicia hath its pilgrim-fame." 

As when a dove doth near its mate repair, 

And with their cooing and their circling ways 20 

Each gives to each the proof of love's sweet care ; 

1 The opening lines have the interest of revealing the poet's consciousness of the greatness 
of his work as he drew towards its completion. For years it had absorbed his energies and 
made him prematurely old and thin. Would it ever gain for him that return to the city that 
he loved for which he thirsted, and which still shut its gates against him except on conditions 
which were so humiliating that he rejected them with scorn ? (vol. i. p. cxx. , £p. lo). The 
hope that his poem would overcome the hatred of his fellow-citizens, that he might yet be re- 
ceived with the laureate crown, which had never as yet been given to any poet who wrote in 
Italian (/"««>■. i. 241), was, as his first A'/, to Joannes de Virgilio (1. 42) shows, strong within 
him. His own beloved and " beautiful St. John's" might yet receive him in that character. As 
it was, the hope was destined to be disappointed and the laurel wreath was only placed by 
Guido Novello on the forehead of his corpse (Fatif. i. 244). It is noticeable, however, that 
he uses not the word corona, but cappcllo, the Inrettcx or cap which in the University 
of Paris was the sign of the doctor's degree (as in the " capping " still retained in Scotch 
Universities), and thus the thought grows naturally out of the examination in the previous 

1^ The new light is St. James the Greater, who afterwards examines the candidate as to 

17 For " Baron "see C. xxiv. 115 n. In mediaeval legends St. James preached in Spain before 
his martjTdom at Jerusalem, and his body was brought to Compostella and buried there. Of 
all pilgrimages, that to his shrine was the most popular (,V. N. c. 41). 

IS We are reminded of the comparison in H. v. 82. 

PAB. c. XXV.] WHA T IS HOPE ? 145 

So saw I one who bore a name of praise, 

As glorious prince thus greeted by his mate, 
"While to their food on high their hymns they raise. 

But when their greetings fond did terminate, :;■ 

Silently coram me they both stood still, 
So bright, my power of gazing did abate. 

Then Beatrice smiling spake her wUl : 

*' glorious life, by whom the largess great 

Hath been described that doth our Palace fill, so 

Let Hope's name echo in this high estate : 

Thou know'st that thou didst Hope embody there 
Where Jesus did the Three illuminate." 

" Lift up thy head and be of l^etter cheer ; 

For that which comes here from the world below si 

Must needs be ripened in our radiance clear." 

This comfort from the second flame did flow ; 
So to the hdls I lifted up mine eyes, 
The hills whose great weight erst had bent them so. 

" Since in His grace our Emperor bids thee rise, w 

That face to face thou find thee, ere thou die, 
"With all His Counts, in Hall that inmost lies, 

So that, the truth of this Court seen on high. 
To Hope, that kindles love on earth aright. 
Thou, for thyself and others, strength supply ; « 

Say what it is, and how in its sweet might 

Thy soul may bud and blossom, and declare 
Whence it came to thee," So that second Light ; 

And that kind Saint who gave me pitying care, 

And for so high a flight my wings did guide, 50 

Made answer for me ere I was aware : 

21 The "food," as in C. xxiv. i, is the bread of angeh at the marriage-supper of the 

29 I'he readings vary, la larghezza and Tallegrezza. I follow the former. 

30 " Basilica" (=palace^ is used in both its Christian and its classical senses, as being at 
once the Church of the redeemed and the Court of the great Emperor (1. 41). 

32 The thought that the chosen witnesses of the Transfiguration {Matt. xvii. 1) were respec- 
tively the representatives of Faith, Hope, and Love is found in Aquinas, Sumnt. iii. 45, 3. 

3S The words are an echo of Ps. cxxi. i, but the "hills" in this case are the three great 

■12 " Counts," like the " Baron " of 1. 17, follow fitly from the idea of the Heavenly Emperor. 
Comp. C. xii. 40, xxiv. 115 ; H. i. 124. 

^ It will be noted that the one question includes the three that had come from the lips of 
St. Peter in C. xxiv. 53-112. 


146 HOPE. [PAa c. sxv. 

" Of all her sons, not one more fortified 

With Hope hath the Church Militant than he ; 
Witness that Sun in whose light we abide. 

Wherefore from Egypt he hath grace to flee 65 

Before his warfare is accomplished, 
And here the blest Jerusalem to see. 

The other questions thou hast utterM, 

Kot for thy knowledge, but that he may tell ' 

With what delight thou hast on this grace fed, «o 

To him I leave ; they are not hard to speU, 
Nor minister to boasting ; let him speak, 
And may God's grace give strength to answer well." 

As scholar who his master's mind doth seek 

To follow, prompt and quick, because expert, C5 

That he may show how strong hath grown the weak, 

" Hope," said I, " is expectancy alert 

Of future glory, and it comes when we 
God's grace and foregone merit can assert. 

From many stars that light has come to me, 70 

But he Avas first to pour it in my heart 
Who of high Sovereign sang high psalmody. 

' S2^erent in te,' so doth his anthem start, 

'E'en those who know Thy name.' Who fails to know 
That has the faith in which I claim a part ? 75 

From him distilled the thoughts that from thee flow 
In thine Epistle, so that I abound, 
And shower thy rain on others now below." 

5- The description is suggestive as indicating Dante's estimate of himself. Hope, so he 
thought, never failed him, not even after the death of Beatrice, or the decree which banished 
him from Florence, or the failure of Henry's VII. 's enterprise. That was the reason why, 
even in his lifetime, he had been allowed to pass from Egypt to the Heavenly Jerusalem. 
The words of 1. 55 are an echo at once oi Ps. cxiv. i (comp. Purg. ii. 46) and Heb. xii. 22. 

6- The question whether the candidate had hope, as he had faith, would have involved an 
apparently boastful, even if true, answer. Not so with the others. 

''^ Another reminiscence, as in C. x.\iv. 46, of the feelings of the student under examination. 

'>" The definition tallies with Lomb. Sentt. iii. 26, Aquinas, Sumin. ii. 2. 17, i. It springs the union of divine grace with the "merit " which accrue^ from the co-operation of the 
will with that grace. 

'- David is the " chief singer," the Holy Spirit the chief captain. 

"^ The words quoted are from Ps. ix. 10, as in the Vulg. and Rom. Brev. for Sunday 
Matins. Hope is represented as the outcome of faith. 

'^ The son of Zebedee is identified by Dante with the writer of the Epistle of St. James. 
The same view has been held by some writers, notably by the Rev. F. T. Bassett {Ep. of St. 
James, 1876), but the general consensus of critics goes the other way, and assigns the Epistle 
to James, the brother of the Lord. At first sight that Epistle does not appear to deal specially 
with Hope, but Dante may have had in his thoughts Jas, i. 2, 5, 12, 25, iii. 18, iv. 8, 10, 
V. S, 15, 16. Promises imply hope, though hope may not be named. 


And while I spake, within the heart profound 

Of that clear flame there thrilled a flash of light, so 

Frequent and swift, like lightning, darting round ; 
Then breathed, " The love which in me burneth bright 

Towards the virtue that attended me, 

E'en to the palm and issue of the fight, 
Wills that I breathe, that so as thine there be as 

Delight in her ; and much joy would be mine 

To hear what Hope doth promise unto thee." 
And I : " The Scriptures New and Old define 

Full clear, the goal ; and this proof shows it well. 

Of souls who of God's friendship bear the sign, so 

Isaiah saith that each new-clothed shall dwell 

With twofold raiment in his own true land ; 

And that land is this life delectable. 
And this thy brother hath more clearly scanned, 

There where he treats of garments clean and white, 95 

Eevealing it for us to understand." 
And then, when scarce his words were ended quite, , 

" Sperent in te " I heard above us sound, 

Echoed by all the dancing sons of light. 
And then among them one so briglit was found, 100 

That were such crystal seen in Cancer's sign, 

A winter month would as one day pass round. 

84 The limitation is in strict accordance with Aquin. {Sutntn. ii. 2, 18 «.) Strictly speaking, 
there is no hope for the blessed, for it has passed into fruition. Incidentally, however, they 
may hope (i) for the blessedness of others ; (2) for the completion of their own blessedness at 
the Resurrection. 

86 I see no reason, as some critics do, for departing from the usual punctuation and 
construction of the Italian. 

9i The reference is to Isa. Ixi. 7, where, however, there is no mention of vestures, but 
simply "' duplicia possidebunt." Possibly the " duplex pannus" of Hor. Epp.'i. 17, 25, may 
have suggested the interpretation, or, as in the case of English and old French ' doublet," 
the word may have come into use, without a noun, for a special kind of garment. The 
"land" is Heaven ; the double vesture is the bliss of the soul and of the resurrection-body. 
Lub. quotes from St. Bernard (Scnn. iii. p. 190), " Acceperunt jam singulas stolas,sed non 
vestientur duplicibus, donee vestiatnar et nos" For other traces of St. Bernard's influence 
see C. xxxi. 102. 

94 Comp. Rev. vii. 0. 

98 The verse which had been quoted by Dante before is now taken up and chanted in the 
language of the Church by all the souls. 

100 The soul that now appears is that of St. John. In winter the sun is in Capricorn, and 
Cancer, which is opposite to it, is seen at night. But if Cancer had a star like St. John, 
such as Dante now beheld him, night would be turned to day, and the day would last a 

,48 57. JOHN. [PAB. c. xxv. 

And, as a maiden blithe stands up to join 

The danco in honour of a new-made bride, 
Not for vain show, but with that one design, 105 

So saw I that bright splendour glorified 

Move to the two, who circled as they went, 

In fashion that their strong love satisfied. 
It joined their dance and song with full consent. 

And my dear Lady gazed with look firm pressed, no 

Like to a silent bride with form unbent. 
" See, here is he that lay upon the breast 

Of Him who is our mystic Pelican ; 

He from the Cross was named for office blest." 
So spake my Lady ; yet, when she began, ns 

And when her words were ended, still she stood. 

With gaze that turned not. Even as a man 
Who looks, with all his might, in wistful mood, 

To see the sun eclipsed a little space, 

And tasks his sight, till lost sight hath ensued, 120 

So was I with that last fire face to face ; 

And then I heard, " Why dazzlest thou thine eye 

To see a thing which here doth find no place 1 
In earth my body rests, as earth shall lie 

With all the rest, until our number reach 125 

The limit fixed from all eternity. 

103 I note once more the recurrence of the pictures of the brightness of the early scenes of 
youth which come back upon the mind of the fast ageing poet (Purg. xxviii. 1-63 «.) This 
reminds us of V. N. c. 14. 

110 The picture, beautiful as a painting of Fra Angelico's in itself has, of course, its 
anagogic or mystic meaning. Beatrice, as Heavenly Wisdom, finds joy in contemplating 
the teaching of St. Peter, St. James, and St. John as to the three supernatural graces. 

lis The mystical interpretation of Ps. cii. 6 probably suggested the symbolism. The 
pelican was said to quicken its young to life or to revive them when_ fainting by blood from 
its own breast, and so the Psalmist's words were taken as prophetic of Christ's redeeming 
blood. The symbol occurs frequently in mediseval art and poetry. So in the Eucharistic 
hymn of Aquinas, '^ Adoro te devote," we find the line Pie Pclicane Domine Jesu (But!-) The 
" grand office" to which St. John was chosen was that indicated in the words " Behold thy 
Mother" {John xix. 27). Comp. Neale, J. M., Med. I/yiiins, p. 176. 

116 I follow ww.y.ffr instead oiv. I. tnosse, and " ie />arole" for ^' alle parole." 
119 The image comes straight, like that of the comet in C. xxiv. 12, from the experience of 
the student of astronomy. "The man attempts to gaze on a partial eclipse of the sun through 
a lens or spectacles (I take this to be implied in s'argonienta), and then finds himself dazzled 
as Dante was when he looked at St. John. (Comp. vol. i. p. liv.) 

1'^ After all, what he sees is not the glory of the body that shall he, but only that of the 
provisional tabernacle of the soul in its intermediate state. The body waits in its grave for 
the resurrection-day, and that will not come till God has "accomplished the number of His 
elect." The dogma employed in the words just used, which I have purposely quoted from the 
Burial Service of the Prayer-Book, was received as an axiom by Ausu=tine (C*" Corrept. et 
Grat. c. 13), and by Aquinas (i. 23, 7), and was connected with the belief that the elect were 
exactly to fill up the gap caused by the fall of the rebel angels, the number of \<'hich, though 
not known to us (C. xxix. 134 «.), is known to Ciod. 

i-AB. c. XXVI.] ST. JOHN'S GLORY. 149 

Two lights alone, endued with two robes each, 
In this blest convent mounted up on high, 
And this the world shall gather from thy speech." 

And at this voice that shining company iso 

Paused, and with them the dulcet song and dance 
Born of the breath of those illustrious three, 

As oars, that leapt and made the waters glance. 
With rest from toil, or danger drawing nigh, 
At boatswain's whistle stay their swift advance. 133 

Ah ! how my mind then felt perplexity, 
When I on Beatrice turned to gaze, 
And could not see her, though I stood hard by, 

Close at her side, and in that world of praise ! 


St. John examines Dante as to Love — The Soul of Adam. 

While I was thus perplexed, mine eyesight gone. 

Out from the flame that quenched it, burning bright, 
There came a voice that my attention won. 

And said, " While thou art winning back the sight 

That now, through me, from thee hath vanished, 5 

'Tis meet that speech should set the balance right. 

Begin then now, and say to what are led 

Thy thoughts, and hold it certain thou canst prove, 
Thy vision, though bewildered, is not dead ; 

Since that thy Guide in this bright realm above, 10 

Thy Lady dear, hath in her look the skill 
That did the hand of Ananias move." 

128 The "two lights" are taken by most commentators to refer to Christ and the Virgin, 
but I see nothing to prevent our taking them as Enoch and EUjah. The statement is an im- 
plied protest against the early legends that St. John was to pass to Paradise not through the 
gates of death (John xxi. 23). The " two robes " are the earthly and heavenly bodies (1. 91). 

133 The simile is an almost literal reproduction of Statins {Theb. iv. 805, vi. 799). 

136 In St. John, in his character as Theologus (" St. John the Divine" in A. K.), Dante 
finds a splendour which outshines even that of Beatrice as representing Theology.^ That 
which was glorious loses its glory in the presence of the glory that excelleth (2 Cor. iii. 10). 

1 St. John enters on his examination of the candidate as to Charity, which Dante takes as 
equivalent to the highest form of Love. 

12 Ananias had with his hand restored the power of sight to St. Paul after his conversion 
{Acts ix. 17). So it h.-id been the work of Beatrice to give clearness of vision to her disciple s 
mind ; but with her a look sufficed, and the hand was not needed. 

I50 THE SUPREME GOOD. [par. c. xxvi. 

I said : " Or swift or slow, at her good will, 

Come health to eyes that were an open door 

"Where she came in with fire that burns me still ! is 

The Good that on this Court doth blessings pour. 
The Alpha and Omega is of all 
That Love reads, low or loud, in His sweet lore." 

That very voice that freed me from the thrall 

And sudden terror of bedazzlement, 20 

To speak yet further did my purpose call, 

And said, " Full surely thou must be content 
To sift with finer sieve, and thou must tell 
Who to such target hath thy bow thus bent." 

And I : "By philosophic proof taught well, 25 

And by authority descending hence, 
'Tis meet that such love in my heart should dwell ; 

For good, as good, so far as meets our sense. 

Doth straight enkindle love, and all the more 

A5S the good in it groweth more intense ; • so 

So to that Essence which prevaileth o'er 
All others, so that each good not in It 
Is but a ray which Its own light doth pour. 

More than to any other, 'tis most fit. 

The mind should yield its love, if it discern 35 

The truth that this high argument doth hit. 
Such truth he bids my reason clearly learn 

Who shows to me that Love is primal Lord 
Of all we know as substances eterne. 

13 The words throw us back upon the early experiences of the K. JV., especially, perhaps, 
of c. 19. Then the fire had been kindled which had never ceased to burn. 

18 The gcod is the vision of God, the " Good Supreme of mind " (//. iii. i8). That is the 
Alpha and Omega of every Scripture that teaches what true Love is. Comp. £^. xi. 33. 

2- The object of Love has been rightly stated, but a closer sifting of the question was needed. 
By what process is the soul of man, inclining naturally to earthly things,_ led to seek that 
Supreme Good ? The answer is that Reason and Kevel.ition alike give a ba:-is for Love. The 
great masters of those who know, notably Plato and Aristotle, had both affirmed that man's 
nature seeks its own good ; the former, that it was to be found only in absolute goodness. 
C. 26 is almost a quotation from Jt/on. ii. i. 

31 The words might be illustrated by parallels from a hundred writers. Dante was pro- 
bably following in the steps of Augustine {Conff. i. i, " Fccisti nos ad Te, et inquietum est cor 
nostrum dome requiescat in Te ") and Aquinas (Sumni. i. 6, 4). If there is one Supreme 
Good, from which all others flow, there, and there only, can man's yearnings rest. C. xvi. 90. 
33 What has just been said is illustrated by the many names which commentators have 
suggested for the teacher spoken of: Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, Dionysius the Areopagite, 
St. Peter. It would be easy to lengthen the list by adding the two names of the previous note, or 
Buonaventura, or St. Bernard, or Hugh or Richard or Adam of St. Victor. The " substances 
eterne " are the angels and the souls of men, Comp. Purg. xi. 1-3. 


And the true Teacher's voice brought Moses word, 40 

Of Himself speaking, ' I to thee alone 
A vision of all goodness will accord : ' 

Thou too dost bid me learn it, making known 
The message high of Truth concealed before, 
Which tells to earth what in this Heaven is shown." « 

Then heard I : " Led by light of human lore, 
And l)y concordant high authority. 
Give God thy sovran love for evermore ; 

But say again if other cords there be 

That draw thee to Him, so that thou attest so 

The many teeth wherewith Love biteth thee." 

Not hidden from me was the purpose blest 

Of Christ's own Eagle ; whither he did mean 
To lead my speech to me was manifest ; 

So I resumed, " Those bites so sharp and keen, lo 

That help to turn man's heart to God on high, 
With this my love are all accordant seen. 

The world's existence, my humanity. 

The death that He endured that I might live, 

And that which all the faithful hope as I, co 

With the clear knowledge which these reasonings give, 
Have drawn me from the sea of love perverse 
Safe to the shore wliere true love I conceive. 

■<■- The words have a special force in their A'/^/^. form, " Effo ostendaniovine louuin jneum 
til'!." Dante's equivalent " valorc" is a favourite word with him. C. x. 3 ; Purg. xi. 4, xv. -j-.i. 
■n Here again the question what words of St. John were in Dante's mind admits of more than 
one tenable answer : (i) John i. 1-14, (2) i John iv., or (3) Rev. xxi., xxii. I incline to (2). 

^ So far the answers have been satisfactory. It remains that they should pass into act, 
and that the " sovran " love should be kept for the " sovran " Good. 

■19 The question involves two metaphors. Man is drawn to God by many cords (_Hos. 
xi. 4). Love bites into the soul, now in one way, now in another. 

53 The eagle was the symbol of St. John in the received interpretation of Ezck. i. 10, Re-\ 
iv. 7. The hymn of Adam of St. Victor (Trench, Sac. Latin Poetry., p. 67) is the fullest 
statement of the symbolism. A verse from a writer of the same school (ibid. p. 72), which 
Dante may have known, already quoted in its original form in C. i. 48 «., may be given here 
in an English version — 

" As eagle winging loftiest flight. 
Where never seer's or prophet's sight 

Had pierced the ethereal vast, 
Pure beyond human purity. 
He scanned, with still undazzled eye, 
The future and the past." 
55 The answer states that Dante, in a living personal experience, had felt the force of every 
impulse by which the soul is led to God. The wisdom and power of God as seen in creation, 
the beauty of His goodness, the love shown in His redeeming work, the daily gifts of Provi- 
dence or grace, the yearning of his soul for peace, he had felt the power of all as converging to 
the purest form of Love. 

82 The words point back to H. i. 24. There is the " troubled sea " of perverted love on the 
one side, the calm bright ocean of true eternal Love on the other. And that love so fills the 

152 ADAM. [PAR. c. Xxvr. 

I on the leaves that clothe the universe, 

The Eternal Gardener's garden, love bestow, «5 

As each contains the good He doth disperse." 

When I was silent, sweetest song did flow 

Through all the Heaven, and my Lady too 
With them cried " Holy, Holy, Holy ! " So, 

As sleep departs when some keen light we view, 70 

Through visual power which goeth forth to meet 
The ray that every membrane passeth through, 

And the aM'akened sleeper doth retreat 

From Avhat he sees, aroused so suddenly, 

Until his reason gives him succour meet ; 75 

So from mine eyes did every sunniote flee 
Before the rays of Beatrice's light. 
That o'er a thousand miles shone gloriously ; 

Whence clearer than before I found my sight, 

And I began to ask, with wondering gaze, so 

Of a fourth flame that did with us unite. 

And then my Lady : " Here, within these rays. 
The first soul that the First Power ever made 
Looks on its Maker with adoring praise." 

And, as a bough, by passing breeze low laid, 85 

Bendeth its top, then riseth up again. 
By its own proper virtue upward swayed, 

So was I, as I listened to her strain, 

Astonied ; then new courage soon I won. 

Through strong desire that burnt to speak again, m 

And I began : " fruit who wast alone 
Created fully ripe, ancient sire, 
Who dost each bride as twice a daughter own, 

poet's heart that it embraces even the leaves of the trees that are in the Paradise of God 
{Jieti. xxii 2), each in proportion as it manifests the Love and Wisdom of the "eternal 
Gardener " (Summ. ii. 2. 26, 6). 

68 The hymn is that oi Isai. vi. 3, Rev. iv. 8. It is perhaps more to the point to remember 
that the Ter Sanctics is also the noblest of the Church's liturgical hymns, and that Dante 
had perhaps heard it sung at the Easter Mass of 1300 in the Basilica of St. Peter's at Rome, 
>.vhen the thought of the Commedia, and of its consummation in the Paradiso first began to 
take shape (vol. i. p. Ixvii.) 

70 We note the profound symbolism. Now that the poet is found perfect in love, the con- 
templative power, the spiritual vision, is keener and clearer than before, and he sees Beatrice 
( = Divine Wisdom), whom a little while before (C. xxv. 13S) he had failed to see. And with 
her he sees a fourth form, besides those of the three Apostles, and learns that it is that of 

'^ The poet's classical memories are with him still, and the lines are almost a translation of 
Stat. Theb. vi. 854-857. 

91 We note the strange mingling of scholastic fancies which gathered round the thought of 

PAR. c. sxvi.] THE PARADISE LIFE. 153 

With all ray soul devoutly I desire 

That thou would'st speak to me ; thou know'st my will ; 95 
I speak not, but to quickly hear aspire." 

As oft "we see some poor brute moving still, 

All covered up, and all the wrapping shows 
The strong affection that its breast doth fill, 

Thus did that soul primeval then disclose, ico 

So that it shone through all its covering bright, 
"What joy to meet my wish within it rose ; 

Then spake : " Though thou hast not yet brought to light 
Thy wish, to me 'tis more distinct and clear 
Than aught most certain that thou see'st aright, m 

Because I see it in that Mirror fair, 

^Mierein are imaged all the things that be. 
While nothing can of It full image bear. 

Thou seek'st to know what time hath past for me. 

Since God in this high garden set my feet, no 

Where now this dame by long climb leadeth thee ; 

How long mine eyes enjoyed this blissful seat, 

And what the true cause of the wrath divine, 

And in what speech my thoughts found utterance meet. 

Know then, my son, 'twas not mere act of mine, us 

Tasting the tree, that such an exile wrought, 
But the transgressing God's appointed line. 

the first created man. Every woman was a daughter of Adam ; as marrying a son of Adam 
she became his daughter-in-law. Is there a half touch of humour in speaking of him as the 
" fruit created ripe," all too soon eating of the forbidden fruit, also created ripe ? 

IW Commentators, sensitive as to the dignity of the poetry, have been scandalised at the 
homeliness of the comparison, but for that very reason it is all the more especially Dantesque. 
(Comp. C. viii. 54, xvii. 129, xxxii. 140.) One wonders what animal he had in his mind. Shall 
I shock the critics yet more if I suggest a cat ? Had it been a dog, it would have been natural 
to say so, but even Dante may have shrunk from un gaito. There is, it may be noted, a 
floating anecdote about his having trained a cat to hold a candle (Crane, Ital. Stories,' p. 
309, from Pitre, Fiiiyvoh e Novcllc, No. 200), which makes my conjecture probable. To 'me 
the word " troglia " seems to suggest the undulatory movement of a cat's body as it purrs in 
supremedelight. Those who remember Bishop Thirlwall and his cat " Lion," not to speak of 
" Montaigne playing with his cat," will recognise the adaptation of that animal to the taste 
of the scholar and the thinker. 

10-1 The exceptional z: I. which gives the poet's name Dante instead of Dante deserves a 
passing notice, but has no claim to our acceptance. 

107 The general thought is that of C. xv. 62, that the saints in Paradise see all things in 
God. .All things are seen imaged in that Mirror, but nothing created, though it may reflect 
a portion of the Divine Glory, can be said to present its image with the perfect clearness of a 
mirror. By some writers the Italian " pareglio" is taken as = the parhelion, the " mock sun," 
seen in the sky under certain conditions of refraction, but without sufficient reason. 

109 The soul of Adarn had divinedthe questioning thoughts which were in Dante's mind, 
and which he shared with most mediseval interpreters of Gen. i.-iii., and answers them one 
by one. 

110 xhe garden is the earthly Paradise where Beatrice met Dante {Purg. xxviii. 92). 

113 The answer is almost literally from Aquinas (.J j<w?w. ii. 2. 73, i). The first human sin 

154 THEORY OF SPEECH. [par. o. xxvi- 

There, whence to thee thy Lady Virgil brought, 

■ Fot years four thousand, hundreds three, and two, 

This great assembly yearned I for in thought, i^i 

And I beheld the sun its course pursue. 

Through all its signs nine hundred years and more, 
Thrice ten, whilst earth was yet within my view. 

The language that I spake was past and o'er, 

Ere in that work they never could complete i-'5 

The race of Nimrod toil and trouble bore ; 

For works of human reason still are fleet. 

Through varying will of man, that seeks the new, 
As the stars sway his course, their end to meet. 

That man should speak, to natural law is due, iso 

But whether thus or thus, doth Nature leave 
To you to choose, as best it pleaseth you. 

Ere me the infernal anguish did receive, 

'/' was the earthly name of that Chief Good 

Who now the joy that swathes me round doth give : iss 

' Eli,' He next was called ; for as a wood, 

"Where one leaf cometh and another goes, 
So needs must be all works of human mood. 

was not the mere act of eating the forbidden fruit, but the desire of spiritual good ulira 
mensurajti, and this implies pride and rebellion against God. 

119 The numbers imply 930 years of life (Gen. v. 5), 4302 in the Limi us Pat rum from which 
the soul of Adam was released by the Descent into Hades. The chronology adopted is that 
of Eusebius based on the LXX., not the Ussherian reckoning basedon the Hebrew, with which 
the margin of our Authorised Version has made us familiar. This estimate gives B.C. 5200, 
and not 4004, as the date of Adam's creation. 

I"''* In the y. E. i. 6 Adam is said to have spoken Hebrew as it was afterwards spoken by 
the children of Heber (Gen. x. 25, xi. 16). Here Dante retracts that view. We are left to guess 
why. I incline to think that he may have followed the tradition of some of his Jewish 
friends (vol. i. p. Ixxv.), but the question is scarcely worth discussing. 

127 The non-completion of the Tower of Babel is represented not as an exceptional 
catastrophe, but as a logical instance that nothing that originates only in human will and 
stellar influences has in it the elements of permanence (Comp. //. xx\i. 77). 

130 Dante's theory of language as the outcome of man's natural powers guided by hisvvill 
has been adopted by Max Miiller, who takes these lines (130-132) as the motto of his Science 
0/ Languages (26. Edition). 

134 The J or I (that reading is preferable to El ox f7«) stands probably for the Jah or 
Jehovah of Exod. vi. 5. The El," " Eli," have probably originated in a desire to make the 
passage agree with V. ^. i. 4 ; but then, as we have seen, the whole passage has the character 
of a retractation of what he had there taught. " Un," though found in not a few MSS. and 
early editions, has little to recommend it. The Hebrew Yod had probably been shown to 
Dante by some Jewish friend, such as Immanuel of Rome (vol. i. p. Ixxv.), as the symbol of 
the sacred Tetragraininaton. The texts that give El in 1. 134 give Eli in 1. 136. 

137 An obvious reproduction of Hor. A. P. 60-62. 


I, in that Mount that o'er the ^Taters rose, ' ' 

Dwelt with a life, first pure, then marked with shame, 140 
Prom the first hour to that which followed close 

Upon the sixth, when change of quadrant came," ; _ 


St. Peter on his coi-rujpt Successors— The Ascent to the Primum Mobile— 
The Evil of the Times. 

" To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," began 

That Gloria, chanted by all Paradise, 

And I was drunk with joy, so sweet it ran. 
It was as though, a smile did meet mine eyes 

From all creation, so that joy's excess, 5 

Through sight and hearing did my mind surprise. 
bliss, joy, no mortal may express ! 

life filled full with love and peace, good store ! 

riches, free from selfish eagerness ! 
Before mine eyes stood still the torches four, 10 

All burning clear, and that which first came near 

Began to grow yet brighter than before, 

,-„!r" J!'«''"tI'°" ^""^ 'if.'^eived various answers ; among them, elght-and-forty days and thirty- 
tour years. The prevai mg tradition gave a few hours. DanTe fixes the Paradise lifeJs 
lasting from 6 a.m to a little after noon. One wonders in all cases what were theX^t for the 

Sr rtAe annt'enTl'T^' T"". ^'"^ "°f ""* '^°"'''^ itself about the limits of the S^ow! 
able. In the apparent niotion of the sun it passes over a quadrant in six hours On the 
ecclesiastical division of the hours see Conv. iv. 23. 

1 The doxologj' comes fitly at the close of the examination in Faith, Hope and Love We 
must behevje that the words describe what Dante had often felt as he lis°en;d to Ihe Actual 
Gloria in the cathedrals of Verona or Ravenna. i'i=i.enea to tne actual 

3 An echo of the Vulp oi Ps. ^xxy.^" Inebriabunturabuhertate doinus Tu<p ■ ettorrente 
T^luptatts lucefotahseos." The "smile of all creation," though, as a phrSe espe^aHv 
£T,Tbf t^'- '^I^ '"'^'^ke "ot be also traced to liturgical imprefsiins, such,^l:,Twou d 

Astra, solum, mare, jocundentur, 
Et cuncti gratulentur. 
In caelis spiritales chori, 

10 Thefour torches are, It will be remembered, the souls of .SS. Peter, James John and 
Adam. Peter begins, and bursts into the fierce invective, called forth, we must be ieve by the 

H,,^^f ',1^ ^ ^T' '° ^^-^'^''^ '9«'er depths of degradation, though, from the Assumed 
date of the poem, the words refer strictly to Boniface VIII. s. " 1"= a»uuicu 

iS6 ST. PETER. [PAE. c. xxvii. 

And sucli in look and fashion did appear, 
As Jupiter and Mars would be, if tliey 
Were birds, and should each other's plumage wear. is 

That Providence which here on all doth lay 
Appointed time and office, on that choir 
Had laid commands awhile all song to stay ; 

And then I heard a voice, " No more admire 

That thus so changed in hue thine eyes I meet, «: 

For, as I speak, all these shall change attire. 

He who on earth usurpeth now my seat. 

My seat, my seat, I say, which to the eye 
Of God's dear Son is vacant at His feet. 

He of my burial-place hath made a stye 23 

Of blood and tilth, wherein the Evil One, 
Who fell from Heaven, himself doth satisfy ! " 

And lo ! the hue wherewith the opposing sun 
Paints all the clouds at morning or at eve, 
The heavens through all their wide extent had won ; 3( 

And as a maiden pure and chaste doth grieve, 
Sure of herself, to hear another's sin, 
And e'en to hear it thrill of fear doth leave, 

Thus Beatrice's face to change was seen : 

So deem I in the passion of our King s; 

Such dark eclipse veiled all the heaven serene. 

Then further words he went on uttering. 

With voice so altered as its accents rolled, 
The change of look was not a stranger thing. 

13 Mars was the redder of the two planets, Jupiter the brighter. Assume them to change 
their plumage and Jupiter becomes fiery red. So St. Peter became as Dante looked on him. 

22 The threefold iteration is after the manner of the poet's favourite prophet (/er. vii. 4, 
xxii. 29). 

"3 Probably the words imply a denial of the validity of CelestineV.'s resignation (ff. iii. 60), 
and therefore of that of the election of his successor. The throne which Boniface filled was, 
of right, vacant. 

25 The words doubtless paint Rome as Dante had seen it in 1300, but they were true also 
of Avignon in 1320, perhaps more intensely true. 

28 The fiery flush of righteous wrath over the whole Heaven is obviously contrasted with 
the " smile of ihe universe " in 1. 4. 

31 Obviously here also there is one of the poet's memories. So he had seen the living 
Beatrice look as she, in her purity, heard of evil in others (K. AT. c. 10 ; Cam. ii. 31-37)- So 
the transfigured Beatrice, who has become one with the heavenly wisdom, must look on the 
evils of the Church. 

PAR. e. xxvii.] ST. PETER'S REPROACHES. rs7 

" Clirist's Spouse was not with blood upreared of old, 40 

My own, and that of Linus, Cletus too, 

To serve but as a tool for gain of gold ; 
But to gain life, the joyful and the true, 

Sixtus, Callistus, Pius, Uiban, all 

Shed their own blood, and bitter weeping knew. « 

'Twas not our purpose that our heirs should call 

Half Christ's flock to their right hand, while the left 

Should to the other half as portion fall ; 
Nor that the keys which with me once were left 

Should be the symbol of the flag of fight 50 

Against a host of baptism not bereft ; 
Nor that I should, engraved on seal, give right 

To venal and corrupt monopolies, 

Which make me blush and kindle at the sight. 
Fierce wolves in shepherds' garb, with greedy eyes, tb 

Are seen from hence through all the meadows fair. 

Vengeance of God, Avhy dost thou not arise 1 
Gascons and Caorsines themselves prepare 

To drink our life-blood. beginning good, 

To Avhat vile issue hast thou fallen there ! eo 

But Foresight high, that Scipio endued 

With strength to guard Rome's glorious majesty, 

Will soon bring help : thus have I understood. 

*f> The invective continues in words more applicable to John XXII. than to Boniface. Ojie 
after another the names of the early bishops of Rome who had shed their blood, including St. 
Peter himself, are recited by way of contrast to ihe infamy of the G.iscon and the Caorsine 
pontiffs, Clement V. and John XXII. The individual history of each Pope necessarily lies 
outside the range of a commentary, and may, of course, be found in any Church history. 
Comp. vol. i. p. cxii.; H. C. xi. 56 «. 

48 One crying evil was that the Popes had shown themselves not the high-priests of Chris- 
tendom, but the princes of a party. The Guelphs were at their right hand, the Ghibellines 
on their left {Matt. xxv. 33). Comp. N. xxvii. 85. 

*)_54 The keys first appe.-ired on the Papal banner in 1229 (Murat. Ann. i22g\ For the 
figureof St. Peterin the sea! of the Fisherman, see C. xviii. 136, Purg. xxii. 63. Line 51 pro- 
1 ably refers specially to the wars of Boniface with the Colonnas, but was only too true of the 
\\ hole historj' of the Papacy. 

hi The sale of patronage, papal and episcopal as well as lay, culminated under John XXII. 
Here again the contemporary records of an English diocese (Bath and Wells illustrate the 
wide-spread corruption (Bishop Drokensford's Register, vol. i. p. xlv. , Ixxxvi. , cxvi. 

5" The readings vary between di/esa and vendetta, the latter being probably an explana- 
tory' gloss. " Defence of God" is hardly, I think, an adequate rendering. 

58 The words, ideally spoken in 1300, are as a prophecy ex eventu. The veil is dropped. 
There was a lower depth even than that of Boniface, and it was found in the Pope who lived 
when Dante wrote the Canto, and in his immediate predecessor. 

61 Had Dante, we ask, any concrete Scipio in his mind, or is it only the eternal hope which 
had before found utterance in the Veltro prophecy of//, i. loi and in that of the DV'X of Purg. 
xxxiii. 43? Can Grande, we remember, was still living, and the poet-prophet had not given 
up the hope that he would pro\x the ideal reformer. 

J58 THE UPWARD ASCENT. [par. c. xxvii,. 

And thou, my son, whose path doth downward lie, 

Still burdened with the flesh, ope thou thy lips, as 

And what I hide not, hide not thou." Then I, 

E'en as the frozen vajDour downward slips 

In whirling flakes, what time the Goat in heaven, 
To touch the sun, his horns in winter dips, 

Beheld through all the expanse of ether driven, 70 

But upwards, flakes of vapour full of joy. 
That had to us awhile their presence given. ; 

To track their semblance did mine eyes employ. 

And they looked on, till space 'tween them and me 
The power of passing farther did destroy. 73 

And then my Lady, seeing me set free 

From gazing on the heavens, said, " Downward turn 
Thy glance, and where thy course hath wheeled thee, see." 

Then, since I first had downward looked, I learn 

That I had passed through all the quadrant wide so 

Withrn whose bounds the first clime we discern ; 

So that I saw, on Gades' farther side, 

Ulysses' wild track, and on this the shore 
Whence once Europa, burden dear, did ride. 

And further had to me this little floor 65 

Of ours been open laid, but that the sun 
Had gone beneath my feet a Sign or more. 

My mind enamoured, ever dallying on 

With that my Lady, more than ever sought 

To bring back every look to her alone. so 

•i^ The mission from the chief of the Apostles completes that which had been svmbolised by 
the " crown and mitre" of Purg: xxvii. 142. We are reminded oi Rev. i. 19. 

69 The line describes the winter solstice when the sun is in Capricorn. As at such a time 
the air might be seen thick with snowflakes, so now was the ether of heaven thick as with a 
snow-shower in which the flakes were souls in glory ; but the shower rose instead of_ falling, 
and vanished in the Empyrean. While he gazes, he passes, in his ecstasy, unawares into the 
ninth sphere, the Pritnum Mobile. 

79 When he had last looked down, it had been from the stars of Gemini (C. xxii. 133- 

81 Like most of the descriptions clothed in the language of an obsolete stage of science, the 
line is to us difficult and obscure. The best illustration is found in Conz'. iii. 5, where the 
mezzo or mid-circle is defined as the equator ; \.\\e. first clime is that between the tropics. What 
Dante seems to say is that he had passed through an arc corresponding to one traced on a 
globe from the equator to one of the tropics. The passage referred to is remarkable, as 
noticed in H. ii. 97 «., as giving the names Maria and Lucia to the two imaginary cities 
which illustrate his account of the sphericity of the earth. What he says here is that he 
actually saw from Phoenicia to Cadiz ; that he might have seen farther east, but that the sun 
was westering, and leaving that portion of the earth in darkness. Butler conjectures " Che va 
del mezzo alfin del prima cliiiia " as giving a clearer meaning. 

PAR. c. xxyii.] THE PRIMUM MOBILE. 159 

And if or art or nature e'er have wrought 

Food for the eyes wherewith to take the mind, 
In human flesh, or skill hath likeness caught, 

All joined together I as nought should find, 

Compared with that divine delight which glowed, 95 

As to her smiling face I then inclined. 

Aiid the new power that this her look bestowed 
Tore me away from Leda's pleasant nest, 
And bore me to the swiftest heaven's abode. 

Its parts, most full of life and loftiest, ,£^ 

Are all so uniform, I fail to tell 
"\Miere Beatrice chose that I should rest ; 

But she, to whom my wish was visible, 

Began, with sniile that of such gladness told ' 

That God's own joy seemed in her face to dwell : 105 

" The nature of that motion which doth hold 

The centre stUl, while all the rest moves round, 
Hence, as from starting-point, hath ever rolled ; 

And in this Heaven no other T\"here is found 

But the one Mind of God, Avherein doth glow no 

The Love that turns, the Power that doth abound. 

Around it Love and Light encircling flow. 

As it around the rest, and this bright sphere . 
He. only knows Who it encircleth so. 

Its motion hath no measure for its year j,5 

In others, but from this the others start. 
As ten by half and fifth is measured clear. 

91 Preparatory to the new ascent there is a revelation of the beauty of Beatrice as sur- 
passing all that could be seen in human flesh or revealed by painter's art. God Himself 
rejoices in her smile. A glance at that beauty carries the seer from the nest of Leda, i.e., 
the constellation of Gemini, and he is conscious that he has reached the P'imtcm Mobile 
(Conv. ii. 4), revolving with inconceivable rapidity. Conceptions of space derived from earth, 
sun, stars are there inapplicable. He cannot tell where he is. There is no other luhere than 
the mind of God (!• ^99)1 which impels its motions and endows it with manifold powers, 
both of which it transmits to all the spheres which it encloses. 

106 There is little to commend the reading " tnoto " instead of " mondo." What is stated 
is that the earth, as the centre of the universe, is at rest, while all the other spheres revolve 
around it. 

112 The " circle " is that of the EmpjTean, thought of as the dwelling-place of God. Its 
light and love move the Primum Mobile, God only knowing how. It is the source and 
standard of motion to all other spheres, but cannot be measured by their standards. The 
comparison in 1. 117 seems indeed to suggest such a standard. Was the poet-astronomer 
bafHed bj' the endeavour to express the ineffable, so that he fell unawares into the paiadox of 
a self-contradiction ? 

i6o GREED OF GAIN. . [par. c. xxvii. 

And how in such a vessel Time apart 

Hath set its roots, its foliage in the rest, 

Will now be clearer to thy searching heart. ^iq 

O greed of gain, which mortals hast opprest 

Beneath thy weight, that no one hath the power 
To raise his eyes above thy billows' crest ! 

The will in men may put forth fairest flower, 

But ever-dropping rain at last doth turn 125 

The true plums into wildlings hard and sour. 

In tender children only we discern 

Or innocence or faith ; then each doth flee, 

Ere yet the down to clothe the cheeks doth learn. 

One keeps his fasts in prattling infancy, 130 

Then, with tongue loosed, will food devour apace. 
In any month, of any quality. 

Another, while he prattles, has the grace 

To hear and love his mother ; speech being clear, 

He fain would see her in her burial-place. 135 

So black becomes the skin, that did appear 
At first so white to see, in that fair child 
Of him who quits the eve and morn doth bear. 

Thou, that thou wander not in wonder wild, 

Reflect that earth has none to guide as king, uo 

And so the race of man strays, all beguiled. 

But ere that January pass to spring, 

Through that small hundredth men neglect below, 
These higher spheres shall with loud bello wings ring ; 

11* Time was the measure of motion, and the roots of time are found, not as convenience 
has led men to find them, in the movements of the sun and moon, but in that of the Primutii 
Mobili. Time ends there, as space also ends. 

121 It is almost a relief from these transcendental speculations to pass to an ethical, even a 
homiletic, thought. 

124 Xhe words are as an echo of Rom. vii. i8, Isai. v. 1-4. The continual rain is the 
ever-renewed prompting of the lower, selfish nature. In children (Dante's dogmatic theory 
would, I conceive, warrant his saying what he does even of unbaptizcd children) there may 
be some trace of faith and innocence, but they vanish as childhood vanishes. Comp. Mon. 
i. 1 1-13. 

130 The examples of corruption are found in the two regions of duties which we have learnt 
to call positive and moral. The boy fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays ; the man eats flesh all 
through Lent. The boy keeps the fifth commandment ; the man wishes his mother in the grave. 

136 The "white skin" is commonly expounded of human nature, thought o'', as in C. xxii. 
116, as the daughter of the sun. So in Mon. i. 11 man is described 3.?,"_fiiiits ciili" {Par. xxii. 
J16). The interpretation which seesin the whole passage a comparison of man's nature to the 
moon as the sun's daughter is not, I think, tenable. 

140 Xhe complaint reminds us of the Monnrchia {/■assim'), of Conv- iv. 9; Purg. vi. 92. 
There was no one to govern the Church, for John XXII. (or Boniface VIII. if we take the 
ideal date) was not a true Pope ; no one to govern the Empire, for Albert never entered Italy 
(Purg. vi. 97), and Lewis of Bavaria, Henry VIL's successor, was following his example. 

1^ The astronomer, in a passage strikingly parallel with Roger Bacon (C/. Teri. c. 34), 

F.AB. c. XXVIII.] THE CENTRAL SD'.V. """: i6r 

The tempest fierce, that seemed to move so slow, i« 

Shall whirl the poops where now the prows we see, 
So that the fleet shall on its right course go. 

And, following on the flower, the true fruit be." 


The Centra} Sun— The Eierarchy of Anrjeh in concentric Circles. 

"When, as against man's life of miseries, 

The truth had been unfolded to mine eye 

By her who doth my mind imparadise, 
As one who in a mirror doth espy 

The flame of candle that behind him burns, s 

Ere he has it in sight or phantasy, 
And then, to see if true the mirror, turns, 

And sees that it is with the image wed, 

As music that to fit the metre learns, 
So in my mind what then I did is read, w 

As on those beauteous eyes I fixed my gaze. 

Whence Love made cords by which my soul was led. 

notes the defects of the Julian Calendar. The annual error of the hundredth part of a day 
had thrown the Calendar out of gear by ten d -ys. Gregory XII. reformed it in 1582, and the 
change was adopted in England in 1772. Here the prophecy looks to a more remote future 
than was Dantes wont, the limit which he sets extending, if we take his words literally, to 
well-nigh three thousand years. 

145 When the fleet is sailing in a wrong direction, the pilots must reverse their course to 
bring them to the haven where they woufd be. All systems of government that Dante saw 
required that change. Then there should be no more the spectacle of promise without per- 
formance, flowers without fruit. 

3 The word " imparadise " is noticeable as having been reproduced by Milton (P. L. iv. 

9 The comparison within comparison suggests the studies both in optics and music in 
which Dante delighted. He recognises an identity of law between the correspondence of the 
reflection to the flame and of music to metre. We are reminded of Bacon's question of "Is the 
delight of the quavering upon a stop in music the same with the playing of the light upon 
the water ? " (Adv. bk. i. JForks, i p.4 5, ed. 1753). Dante sets forth his own experience as he 
gazed on the eyes of Beatrice, and saw that they mirrored the new Heaven (volume, 3S in C. 
xxiii. 112), sc. the Empyrean. He sees at once a point infinitely small and infinitely bright, 
the symbolic manifestation of the Divine Nature, and round it, beginning at a distance like that 
which parts the moon from its halo, are nine concentric circles of fire, revolving, the nearest with 
a motion as swift as that of the Primum Mobile, the others with a speed and a brightness 
diminishing as their distance from the centre increased. These, as we learn froin 11. 98- 
129, answer to the nine orders of the hierarchy of Heaven. The order is, it will be noted, 
the inverse of that of the actual cosdws as represented in the Ptolemaic astronomy. I here 
the smallest sphere, that of the moon, nearest the earth, was the slowest in its motion ; here 
that which is nearest to the First Cause as its centre is the swiftest. The poet's mind seeks to 
know the meaning of the Was not this which he looked on the idea in the 
Platonic sense, the archetype of the visible creation ? Why was the copy so unlike the pattern f 
Dante may have had Hugh of St. Victor (Cal. Hier. c. 15) in bis thoughts. 

VOL. II. ^ 

i62 THE COXCENTRIC CIRCLES. [pab. c. xxviii. 

And as I turned me, and mine eyes did raise 

To that which meets them in the circling sphere, 
Whene'er we have clear vision of its ways, is 

I saw a point so radiant appear. 

So keenly bright, it needs must be the eye 
Should shrink and c.lose_before its brightness clear. 

The smallest star which from the earth we spy 

A moon would seem, with it set side by side, 20 

As star may be compared with star on high. 

At such a distance as a halo wide 

Doth compass round the light that paints its hue, 
AVhen mist that forms it is least rarefied, 

Thus round the point a circle came in view 25 

Of fire, so swift that it would leave behind 
The sphere that swiftest doth its course pursue. 

And this within a second was confined, 

That by a third, that by a fourth again, 

That by a fifth, round which a sixth did wind . so 

Then came a' seventh, so wide in its domain 

That Juno's herald, though full span it won, 
"Would fail its wide-spread circuit to contain ; 

So too the eighth and ninth, and each did run 

More slowly round as it was far away, s; 

As measured by its number, from the One. 

And that had flame the clearest in its ray 

Which was least distant from the pure spark's light, 
Because, I deem, more in its Truth it lay. 

My Lady, Avho beheld my doubting plight, 40 

Yearning to know, said : " From that point depends 
All Heaven, yea, and Nature, depth and height. 

That circle see which nearest to it bends. 

And know its motion is thus hurried on 

By the hot love whicli spur to impulse lends." « 

^- The messenger of Juno is, of course, Iris, the rainbow {ySn. :v. 693 ; Met. i. 270, xi. 
=85). The largest rainbow, if one could imagine it completing its circle, would be small as 
compared with the seventh circle, and the eighth and ninth were, of course, wider still. For 
another rainbow comparison see Purg. xxi. 50. 

"9 Dante guesses that the brightness of the innermost circle arises from its sharing more 
than others in the truth of the Divine Nature, and Beatrice confirms his conjecture by the 
i-tatement that he is looking on the centre from which all Heaven and Nature depend. The 
words are an actual quotation from Arist. Met. ii. 7. 

^ In the physical cosmos the Prinium Mobile moves with a marvellous velocity through 
its intense desire to unite itself with the calm motionless Empyrean, which is the dwelling- 

FAB. c. xxvm.] : MOTION OF THE CIRCLES. 163 

And I to her : "If our world did but run 

With order, as I see these w^heels go round, 
I were content with knowledge I have won ; 

But in the world of sense we still have found 

Tli^ circles tending more to grow divine, so 

The farther they recede from central ground. 

Wherefore, to satisfy this wish of mine 
In this shrine wondrous and angelical, 
"V\Tiich hath but light and love for boundary line, 

I needs must hear how thus it doth befall, s^ 

The copy and the pattern differ so ; 
For to myself 'tis fruitless wonder all." 

"If thine own fingers scanty skill shall show 

Such knot to loose, it should not wonder wake, 

So hard for want of trying doth it grow." CJ 

Thus far my Lady; then she said : "Xow take 

That which I tell, if thou would'st have thy will, 
And thereupon thy wits more subtle make. 

The spheres corporeal more or less space fill, 

According to the more or less of might 05 

Which througlaout every portion worketh still 

A greater bliss doth greater good requite. 

And greater bliss a greater frame must show, 
If all its parts attain their fullest height. 
So this which sweepeth all the spheres below, 70 

As it moves onward, answers to the sphere 
Which, loving most, most fully too doth know. 

nlace of God (Conz'. ii. 4). In the spiritual cosmos love is also, in like manner, the cause of 
the rapid motion of the innermost circle of the Seraphim, who excel in love and are nearest 
to the Divine Presence. 

53 SoinC xxvii.112. The Love and Light of the Empyrean encompass the P^^-wzMWil/p^fe. 
Here God, who is Light and Love, is the only limit of the Heaven, which is, in the strictest 
sense of the words, an angelic Temple. 

60 The problem has been already stated in the note on 1. 9. There is apparently a half- 
conscious pride in the subtlety that can state such a problem, which seems at first insoluble 
because none have tried to solve it. The words contain, if I mistake not, the key to much 
that seems to us most wonderful in the supersubtle speculation of Aquinas or JJionysius. 

ei The solution is given almost as a revelation of the higher wisdom. The relation 
between the spiritual and the material worlds is that of an inverted order. In the latter, 
greater perfection requires greater expansion, and so the Primum Mobile corresponds to tne 
circle of the Seraphim who love God best and know Him most perfectly. See note on U 43- 
That key being given, the problem is practically solved, and the same correspondence is to 
be traced in the remaining circles. The questioner has to look to the virtue, the distinguish- 
ing character, of each circle of the angelic hierarchy. The English reader may be referred 
once more to Fr. Bacon (^Adv. B. i.. Works, vol. i. p. 19. ed. 1753) for an interesting parallelism 
to Dante's view. 

1 64 CORRESPONDENCY OF THE SPHERES, [par. c. sxviii., 

"Wherefore, if thou survey with vision clear 
The virtue, not the semblance that we see, 
Of these substantial forms which round appear, w 

Thou'lt see a wondrous correspondency 

Of more Avith greater, less with smaller here, 
And every heaven with its Mind agree," 

As clear and calm the aerial hemisphere 

Shineth, when Boreas from that cheek doth blow so 

Whence with a gentler force his breezes veer, 

So that it clears, and bids the cloud-rack go 

Which erst obscured it, and the sky smiles bright 
With all the beauties that its regions show. 

So was I then, when me to help aright 85 

^ly Lady thus took thought with her clear speech, 
And Truth, like star in heaven, was full in sight. 

And when those words of hers their goal did reach. 
As molten iron sparkleth all around. 
So sparkled then those circles all and each ; so 

And every spark did more and more abound 
In fiery light, and so their number grew 
Eeyond the *' chess-board's doubling " problem's bound. 

*•! The wind that clears the sky from mists is the north-east, as less stormy than that which 
blows from the north-west ; the Thracian breezes, which are the companions of spring of 
Hor. Oci. i. 25, 11, iv. 12, 2 ; Virg. yEn. xii. 365. So, with Dante, were the mists of doubt 
driven away by the truth thus revealed to him. Comp. Boeth. i. 2. 

Wl The angelic orders rejoice in the truth, and show their joy by a new brightness, shown 
by countless sparkles. 

^3 The doubling of the chess, sc. the raising it to the 63rd power, rises out of the story that 
the inventor of the game asked for his reward one grain of wheat for the first square of the 
chess-board, two for the second, and so on ; the result being 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 (Scari.) 
The problem, like the game itself, is said to have come from India, but when or how the 
game passed into Europe there is no sufficient evidence to say. A treatise, Solativm Ludi 
Scacchoru>n, is said to have been written by Jacopo Dacciesole before 1200, and Hyde 
{[{istoria Scacckiliidii, 1694) quotes some Saxon verses in which it is named, which would 
imply that it was known at an earlier date than that of the first Crusade. It appears in 
Chaucer, Book of the Duchesse, where we have the description of a game at chess between 
Man and Fortune, in which the former is checkmated, and in the Romance of King 
Aiisaunder, 1. 2096 (after a.d. 1300). Some light is thrown on the history of the game in 
Italy by the fact that in a.d. 1267 a Saracen chess-player came to Florence, who, in the Palace 
of the People and in the presence of Guido Novello, carried on three games simultaneously 
with the best players of the city, looking onlj' at one ; won two of these, and got a drawn 
game in the third {Malisp. c. 189). In 1312 Richard of Camino was assassinated as he was 
playing at chess (C. ix. 50 «.) One wonders (i) whether Dante played chess as well as 
worked the sum, and (2) whether he got at his result with Roman or Arabic numerals, 
by simple multiplication and addition, or by the algebraic formula of geometrical progres- 


T - \ 
sion S = a ~_" ' The Arabic numerals and the abbreviated methods of Algebra had been 

introduced into Europe by Leonardo Bonacci of Pisa in his Liber Abaci, circ. 1202, and both 
Gerbert (Pope Sylvester II.) and Robert Grossetete are credited with some knowledge of 
the latter. They occur in a MS. in C. C. C. Cambridge of 1330, are named in Chaucer's 
/V£r?«£ in 1375 as still " new." Merchants' accounts were kept in Roman numerals till the 
middle of the i6th century (Peacock in Encyc. Metrop. art. Arithmetic). I'he result of the 

fAB. c. xxviii.] SERAPHIM, CHERUBIM, THRONES. 165 

And then from choir to choir Hosannas flew 

To that fixed Point which keepeth every one, as 

And -will keep ever, in its Ubi true ; 

And she, who saw what thoughts of doubt had won 

Power o'er my mind, said : " These, the circles prime. 
The Seraphim and Cherubim have shown. 

As if constrained, they speed in such quick time iw 

To be as like the Point as they may be, 
And their power varies with their sight sublime. 

Those other Loves, which moving round we see, 
Are known as Thrones of God's face manifest, 
And so they close the first trine company. i"^ 

And thou should'st know that all are so far blest 
As doth their vision in the abyss descend 
Of Truth, wherein each intellect finds rest. 

Hence may be seen how bliss attains its end, 

Founded on that one single power of sight, no 

And not on love, which after doth attend. 

And of that power to see, the standard right 

Is merit, child of God's grace and good-will ; 
Thus they advance from step to step of height. 

sum might well seem the symbol of the himimerable company of the angels. The fact that 
all the statues of the west .ront of Wells Cathedral north of the west door are marked with 
Arabic numerals, while those on the south are marked with Roman, may indicate either the 
first introduction of the former or the contemporaneous use of the two ( / rans. of Som. A rch. 
Soc. xix. p. 42). 

»J And from all that company there comes the loud Hosanna. That centre, the Light and 
Love which God is, keeps them each in his rank. So they have been since their creation ; 
so they shall be to eternity. 

98 The classification is mainly based upon the treatise Dc Ca:lesti Hierarchi&, which 
bares the name of Dionysius the Areopagite. I'here are three main orders, each with three 
sub-sections. Aquinas {Suinin. i. io8, i-8) follows Dionysius as Dante does here. A some- 
what diffeient grouping is given by Gregory the Great (Ho»i. in Evang. 34), and again by 
Dante himself "in Conv. ii- 6. It is not, I think, worth while to tabulate the different arrange- 
ments. Comp. D. C. A. art. Angels; D. C. B. art. Angels and Dionysius the Areopagite-, 
and Westcott's art. on Dionysius in Cont. Rev. vol. v. The question whether St. Paijl's 
enumeration in Rom. viii. 38, Eph. i. 21, Col. i. 16, ii. 15, implies the classification which 
was afterwards developed from it, belongs to Biblical exegesis rather than to that of Dante. 

«a The Seraphim and Cherubim, differing in that the former excel in love and the other m 
knowledge, are alike in this, that each desires 10 be conformed to the likeness of what it knows 
and loves. 

104 The Thrones are those who are mirrors of the Divine Mind in its fuhiess (C. ix. 61), and 
are therefore the spirits through whom it executes its judgments, on which its glory rests. 
The bliss of each of the three ranks is perfect in kind, though it may differ in its degree. 

11" The definition is thoroughly Aristotelian. Perfect happiness (evSai^oi/ia) is a con- 
templative energy. The subtlety of the scholastic mind had raised the question whether this 
was a sufficientaccount of the blessedness of the angelic spirits, and some, e.g. Scotus, placed 
that blessedness in the fruition of the love of God. Dante, following Aquinas (Sum>n.\. 
2. 3, i-B ; iii. Suppl. 92, 1-3), treats the love of God as a sequence and supplement of the 

ll'-J The law that the vision of God varies in its clearness according to the merits of those 
who contemplate it is a general one, and holds good of the spirits of just men made perfect as 
well as of the angels. 

1 66: HIERARCHY OF ANGELS. [par. c. xxvm/, 

The other Triad, which doth burgeon still . "s 

In this eternal spring, which no blast drear 
Despoils when Aries comes with night-frost chill. 

For ever warbles forth Hosanna clear, " \ 

With triple songs that echo in the three 
Great ranks of joy where they intrined appear. 120 

Three hosts divine are in this hierarchy — 

Dominions first, then those as Virtues known. 
Then Powers, that fill the third place in degree. 

Then in the twain whose dance is last but one. 

Archangels, Principalities, wheel round, 125 

And sports of Angels have the last place won. 

These orders all with upward gaze are found, 

And downward so prevail that each doth draw, 
And each is drawn, to God in love profound. 

And Dionysius with such yearning awe iso 

These orders gave himself to contemplate, 
That he, as I, assigned their names and law ; 

But Gregory from him did separate ; 

And so when he in Heaven had oped his eyes, 

He smiled at that his notion of our state. 135 

And let it not, I pray, thy mind surprise 

That mortal man should utter truth so deep; 
Por he who saw it taught in wondrous wise 

Full many a truth which these our circles keep." 

115 The second triplet includes the Dominations, Virtues, and Powers. They rejoice in 
an eternal spring, which is not changed, as the earthly spring changes, with the order of the 
seasons. When Aries is seen by night, i.e., after the autumnal equinox, no winter passes 
over its Hosanna chant, as on earth over the green fields. The verb which Dante uses, 
svema, literally " gets out of winter," " unwinters " (if we may coin the word), had come to 
be used of the song of birds in spring-time. 

121 The term Bee, literally goddesses, is used, like "gods" in /"j. Ixxxii. 6 and/okn x. 35, 
for those who are, in the measure of their capacity, sharers in the Divine Nature. 

124 The Principalities and Archangels are, as it were, the subalterns of the army of the 
Lord of Sabaoth, the rank and file of which is made up of angels. 

12!* Speculative critics (<?.^.,Tagliazucchi, a mathematician of Turin) have found in this line 
an anticipation of Newton's theory of universal attraction. They forget that Dante is describ- 
ing the spiritual, not the material, universe. 

130 The difference between Gregory and Dionysius was that the former inverted the relative 
positions of the Principalities and Virtues, putting Powers in the first class. Principalities in 
the second. Thrones in the third. So Dante had himself done (Conv. ii. 6) at a time when 
he cared less for the authority of Aquinas than he did when he wrote the Paradise. He 
smiles, as it were, like Gregory, at his former error. 

132 The words of 2 Cor. xii. 4 were supposed to include a complete vision of the heavenly 
hosts, which St. Paul, in his turn, was believed to have revealed to the Areopagite. 

FAR. c. xxnc. ] - - THE CREATION... .. . ' iS7 

CANTO XXIX. ■ :\: 

Beatrice on the Creation and Fall of Anrjds, and on the Fa(dts and Follies 
of Preachers. 

When both the children of Latona old, 

In shelter of the Earn and of the Scales, 
The zone of the horizon doth enfold, 

As is the time when from those balanced scales 

They part, both one and other, from their place, s 

Till, changing hemisphere, the balance fails. 

So long, with look which winning smile did grace, 
Was Beatrice silent, looking still 
Upon the Point which I was weak to face. 

Then she began : " I speak, nor ask thy will lo 

What thou would'st know, for I have seen it there 
Wherein each 7ihi, qiiando, centres still. 

Not that He sought a greater good to share — 

That might not be— but that His glory great 

Might, as it shines, the name * I AM ' declare, " 

In His eternity, His timeless state. 

Beyond all grasp of thought, as seemed Him right, 
The Eternal Love in new loves did dilate. 

Not that He lay before in sleep of night, 

For no Before or After did precede 20 

God's moving on the waters in His might. 

ISIatter and form together did proceed, 

In purest state, to act which could not err, 

As three-stringed bow sends forth a triple reed. 

1-6 After Dante's fashion, the simple fact that Beatrice was silent for an instant, as long as 
it takes for sun or moon to rise above or sink below the horizon, is described in a somewhat 
complicated fashion. The sun and moon aie represented at the moment of the equino.x, the 
former in Aries, the latter in Libra. 

9 Beatrice sees the unspoken thoughts of Dante in the mirror of the Divine Mind, %yhich is 
the .around of all space and time, those thoughts are questions such as Aquinas had asked 
and answered (Suinw. i. 60-62) as to the nature, creation, and function of angels. 

13 The first of the questions was one which had largely occupied the minds of the school- 
men What motive led the Divine Mind to break, as it were, the silence of eternity by the 
act of creation ? He was bound by no chain of necessity ; He could not add to His own pertec- 
tion. It was, therefore, that He might manifest His glory, the glory of the I AM, to others. 
So Aquinas (c. Gent. ii. 46)- In eternity, outside the conditions of time and space the 
Eternal Love was ple.ised to reveal Himself in new loves. It was not as if he had been 
inactive before creation, for in eternity there is no before or after. So Aquinas [i,uiiiin.\. 
10 i) and Augustine (Ccnff. xi. 13). Those distinctions of time and space began when the 
Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters {Got. ). 2), for time is the measure ol 
motion. . 

21 The image is taken from the crossbows of ancient warfare which discharged three 

i68 CREATION OF ANGELS. [par. c. sxix. 

And as in amber, glass, or crystal clear 25 

So shines a ray, that from its first descent, 

Till all is bright, no interval is there, 
Thus from its Lord the tri-formed effluence sent 

Flashed into being once, and once for all, 

Nor did, as it began, degrees present. so 

Order and form as concreate did fall 

With substances, and those were as the crown 

Which purest act did into being call. 
Mere potency is seated lowest doAvn, 

And potency and act unite midway, ■ 35 

And hoAV to disunite is knoAvn to none. 
Angels were made by God, did Jerome say, 

Long tract of ages ere in order next 

The other world was started on its way ; 
But this is writ in many a sacred text 40 

Of writers whom the Holy Ghost did teach ; 

If there thou seek, thou wilt not be perplex'd. 
And Reason too the same belief doth reach, 

Which scarce could suffer that the powers that move 

Should lack completeness that belongs to each. « 

Now know'st thou when and where these forms of love 

Were made, and how ; so thus are quenched well 

In thy desire three fires that burnt to prove. 

.-irrows at once. Here the three arrows are (i) pure matter, the groundwork of the visible crea- 
tion ;_ (2) pure form or spirit, the angelic orders ; (3) the ordered cosmos, and specially man, 
as uniting both the elements ? And this creation was instantaneous. The whole universe 
flashed, as it were, into existence instantaneously, as a ray passes through crystal. The 
imagery reminds us, like C. ii. 97-105, of the student of experimental optics. 

31 In that creation the angels, as pure form, i.e. spirit, held the highest place {Purg. xi. 3). 
Pure matter or potency, as capable of higher possibilities of Nature, held the lowest. The 
visible cosmos, animate and inanimate, held the intermediate place. 

37 Dante, as a disciple of Aquinas, who asserts the simultaneousness of the creation of the 
whole universe, including the angels {Swum. i. 61, 3), places his authority above that of St. 
Jerome, who had incidentally taught (in a note on Tit. i. 2) that the latter had been created 
ages before the creation of the material universe. Conip. Hughof St. Victor, 5"k///;«. Sentt. ii. i. 

40_ The te.\ts which Dante may have had in his mind are Gen. i. i {soAquin. I. c); Ecclus. 
xyiii. 1 ; Ps. civ. 4,5. Line 41 implies the mediaeval theory of inspiration as equivalent to 
dictation. The writers of Scripture were but the penmen of the Spirit. 

43 An rt^rwr/ argument is added to that from Scripture. The angels were, as in Conv. ii. 
5, Cam. xiv. i, the movers of the spheres. It was not easy to conceive of their having 
e.visted without the function which was the final cause of their existence, and the absence of 
which therefore involved imperfection. 

*7 The word " elect " is used instead of " created," because the faithful angels — faithful to 
God's election — are spoken of. The rebellious angels also had been made with a like election ; 
but they cast it away, as Christians cast away the electing grace which makes them children 
of Gvd (A///, i. 4 ; 2 Pet. i. 10]. 

PAR. c. sxix.] FALL OF THE ANGELS. i6g 

Nor coulcl'st thou numbers up to twenty tell 

So soon as part of that angelic host ^ 

Brought on your lower world disturbance fell. 

The other part remained, and took their post 

"With wondrous joy, as thou hast here beheld, 
And never have their circling motion lost. 

Through the accurs5d pride were they expelled ^ 

Of him whom thou hast looked upon below, 
By all the weight of all the world fast held. 

Those whom thou see'st here did their meekness show, 
Acknowledging the Goodness that had made 
Them quick and prompt such mysteries to know ; ^ 

And lience their powers of vision were displayed. 
By grace illumined and by merit too, 
So that their will in full resolve is stayed. 

I would not have thee doubt, but hold as true, 

That in receiving grace comes merit high, ^ 

E'en as affection opes in measure due. 

Now, looking round on this Consistory, 

Thou may'st enough contemplate, if my speech 
Be grasped, without a further commentary. 

But since on earth the schools a doctrine teach ^^ 

That the angelic nature, in its span, 
To thought, and will, and memory doth reach, 

■S9 So far three of the questions had been answered. There remained that which asked how 
long the rebel angels remained faithful to their Maker. Dante again follows Aquinas (Summ. 
i. 63, 6) in maintaining that if was all but instantaneous. To count from one to twenty gave 
an ample margin for Lucifer's contemplation of his own perfections (Pttrg xii. 25), for his 
aspiring to be equal with God (Isai. xiv. 12, 13), for his leading innumerable other angels 
into rebellion. Milton seems to have demanded more time for his episode of the war in 
Heaven (Z^. L. bk. v. i.) The fall of the angels (as in H. xx.\iv. 121-126) disturbed the matter 
which underlies the elements of the cosmos. 

S3 The " art " which the faithful angels learnt was that of contemplating, praising, adoring 
God as the centre of their being. 

•'3 Comp. H. xxxiv. 34. 

5f* The proud self-exalting angels fell to extremest degradation. Those that were more 
modest owned that they had nothing they had not received, and therefore received more 
illuminating grace, and then, on the theory of a "grace of condignity or congruity " (Art. 
xiii.), the gift of perseverance, so that they could no longer fall from their hiijh estate. Grace, 
therefore, does not exclude merit ; nay, rather, there is a merit in the very a« of accepting it. 
So the angels had, in scholastic language, merited their blessedness (Aqum. Summ- i. 62, 

67 The word " consistory " had been used in Purg. ix. 24 of the deities of Olympus. Here 
it IS applied to the "general assembly " of the saints and angels (//^^. xii. 23). Comp. the use 
oK" cloister" \\\ Purg. xv. 57, xxvi. 128. 

70 The bold self-confidence which had led Dante to challenge comparison with Ovid and 
Lucan (H. xxv. 94-99). almost to compete with Ezekicl and St. John in apocalyptic imagery 
{Purg. xxix., xxxiii.), is with him still. In one point the scholar can correct the master, and 

r7cf CONSTA NCY 'OF TUB "Ai^OKLS. [par; c. ixix.: 

More will I &peak, that tliou may'st clearly scan 

The truth below confused through want of skill, 

In teachings thus ambiguous in their plan. 75 

These substances, since joy their life did fill 

From God's own face, their glance have ne'er let stray 
From Him with whom is nothing hidden still ; 

Hence is their vision never drawn away 

By a new object, nor need care to take go 

Facts to recall, because they do not stay ; 

So that below men dream, although awake. 
Believing, not believing, in their speech : 
This last it is more guilt and shame doth make. 

Not by one path do ye your wisdom teach, g^ 

As ye philosophise ; so leads astray 
The love of show and fancy swaying each. 

Yet e'en on this less weight of scorn we lay, 

Here in this Heaven, than when the Sacred Book 

Is thrust aside or made false part to play. ,,0 

lie even ventures to criticise Aquinas. That thinker had taught that angels think and remember 
as men do (Sunim. i. 54, 55). Not so is the poet's judgment. They have no need, and there- 
fore no power, of memory; for they see all things in the Divine Mind, are mirrors of that 
Mind, and in it there is no past, and therefore no memory. No new object can interrupt their 
vision ; and there being no interruption of an ever-present perception, there can be no memory, 
which implies that interruption. The refining subtlety of the scholastic mind may almost be 
said to culminate in this speculative theory. 

83 The passage finds a parallel in C. xiii. 126. In this matter of the memory of the angels 
he passes judgment on two classes of waking dreamers. Some believe in their own specu- 
lations, and have no heretical animus. Some maintain theories which they do not believe, for 
the sake of startling men and winning praise by paradoxes ; and this, as of the very essence of 
heresy, brings more guilt. We have no adequate data for deciding what teachers Dante had 
in view under either category. The context would seem to suggest that he places Albert of 
Cologne, who also attributed memory to angels, and Aquinas in the former group. I surmise 
that some theological disputants whom he had encountered at Vtrona, or, it may be, Paris, 
came under the heavier condemnation. 

"^^ The condemnation of error is carried farther. Men were following each his own 
self-chosen path, whereas there was but one way that led to the one Truth. What a later 
age learnt to call Latitudinarianism, the belief that all the wanderings of error will at last 
converge to truth, found no favour in Dante's eyes. What he saw in such wanderings was 
the preference of counterfeits to reality ; above all, an absorbing egotism. Some of us are 
perhaps tempted to ask whether the judge was altogether free from the failing wtiich he thus 

^8 Errors in speculative philosophy were, however, less evil than the neglect or perversion 
of Scripture, and these, as he listened to preachers in Verona or Ravenna, seemed to him to 
swarm on every side. They dealt with it as with any other book, forgetting that it had been 
bought with the blood of the Saints, and that lowliness in reading it was the condition of 
illumination. It grieved his soul to see how it was wrested, what idle questions men wrangled 
over as they expounded it. Some explained the darkness at the Crucifixion as an eclipse, 
and then, contrary to the axiom, jiiiracula non sunt mnltipiicanda prceter necessitates, 
assumed that the full moon became a new moon for those three hours. That, of course, the 
astronomer-poet could not stand. Others maintained that the light of the sun was not only 
intercepted ''over all the land " of Palestine, but absolutely failed, so that there was dark- 
ness in Spain and India, two ideal horizons of the land hemisphere, as well as in Judasa. 
Apparently Dante thought this an irrational extension of the supernatural. His own position 
seems to have been that of one who accepts the fact on the authority of Scripture, and con- 


They think not there how much of blood it took 

To sow it in the world, and what high praise 

Is his who humbly turns on it to look. 
For outward show each one his Avit displays, 

His own inventions form the preacher's theme, gg 

And all the Gospel story silent stays. 
This saith the moon did intercept the gleam 

Of sunlight at the Christ's death-agony, 

So that to earth its radiance could not stream ; 
Tliis, that the light itself was quenched on high, ^^^ 

And so alike in India and in Spain, 

As with tlie Jews, such darkness met the eye. 
Xor doth our Florence such a crowd contain '< 

Of Bindi, Lapi, as are tales like these, 

Wliich through the year make pulpits ring again, ^^ 

So that the lambs, in ignorance, at ease, 

Turn from the pasture fed with wind alone, 

Yet find in ignorance no excusing pleas. 
Christ said not to His primal flock, ' Go on, 

And to the world proclaim an idle tale,' jj^ 

But gave to them the Truth as corner-stone ; 

fesses his ignorance a'; to the cause. I adopt the reading eii aHri instead of " e viente," 
which finds favour with some critics (Benv., Phil.) Here also Dante differs from Aquinas 
[Summ. iii. 44), and from Jerome. 

103 The two names, Lapo, short for Jacopo, Eindo, for Ildebrando, are given, like our Tom 
and Jack, as the commonest at Florence. Perhaps they were so common that they were 
avoided by the families whose names appear in history. Lapo Salterello is one instance of 
the former name, but I do not recollect meeting with a Bindo. 

105 Like all other men who have their share of the prophetic element of character, Dante 
vexed his soul with the thought of the wasted opportunities of the pulpit. Profitless dis- 
cussions about things beyond the limit of the knowable, idle jests, and tales that were "not 
convenient," made up a large portion of the preaching that he had heard in Italian cities. 
It would be a dreary and profitless task to collect instances of this abuse. Those who are 
acquainted with mediaeval sermons will recognise the truth of the description. I content 
myself _ with quoting the_ words of another man of genius, probably Dante's teacher, on tlie 
preaching of his time, which he describes as containing " ticc sublhiiitas scriitonis, ncc sapientiiB 
magnitudo, scd infinita puerilis stiiltitia et vilijicatio scrinonum Dei. " There was ab- 
solutely " nullii utilitas" in it. Of all the preachers he had heard, one only had reached at 
once his mind and his heart, and that was Eerthold of Regensburg, of the Franciscan Order 
R. Bdcon (Op. Tert. c. 75, ad Jin.) 

lOS Were the lines in Milton's mind when he wrote {Lye. 125), " The hungrj' sheep look up 
and are not fed," or was the thought derived by both from Ezek. xxxiv. 3, or was it in each 
case a self-originated parable ? 

108 The ignorance of the flock was iiot of the kind that could be pleaded as an excuse. 
They all had some knowledge of Christian truth, and the most elementarj' knowledge should 
have taught them a distaste for the rubbish which they heard from priests and friars. 

109 We note in the Italian " convento" the recurrence of the idea as applied to Christ and 
his Apostles (Purg. xv. 57, xxvi. 128.) The preaching which He commended was quite 
other than that which Dante condemned. Then His preachers were champions of the truth 
fighting with shield and lance in her defence {Eph. vi. 13-17). 

172^ INDULGENCES. [pae. c. sxix. 

And with such might it came from organs frail, 

That, in their warring for the Faith's clear light, 
As shield and spear the Gospel did avail. 

Now is our preaching done with jestings slight us 

And mockings, and if men but laugh agape, 
The cowl puffs out, nor ask men if 'tis right ; 

Yet such a bird doth nestle in their cape, 

That, if the crowd beheld it, they would know 

What pardons they rely on for escape. 120 

And thus such madness there on earth doth grow, 
That, without proof of any evidence, 
To each Indulgence eager crowds will flow. 

So grow Antonio's swine in corpulence. 

And others plenty who are worse than swine, 125 

Paying their way with false, unminted pence. 

But since we thus have wandered from our line, 

Now to the straight path turn at last thine eyes, 
That so brief way with shortened time combine. 

116 Of yore men had preached that they might draw tears of repentance from those who 
heard them ; now they were content to excite laughter, and the swelling hood became a 
symbol of the preacher's swollen vanity. If these listening crowds could only see the devil- 
bird (//. xxii 96, xxxiv. 47J that was nestling in the peak of that hood, they would take 
a truer measure of the indulgences which the preacher offered them. / ';7/. (xii. 4) notices, 
among the French fashions introduced into Florence in 1342, the lengthening of the bccclictto 
or peak of the hood till it touched the ground. He is speaking, however, of lay costume, not 
of that of the friars. For once, in this protest against indulgences (then a comparatively 
recent innovation, introduced by Alexander III., 1159-1 i3o, but first brought into prominence 
by the Jubilee of Boniface VIII., 1300), Dante anticipates the language of Luther. 

124 St. Antony, the hermit-saint of Egypt (a.d. 251-356), was commonly represented (as 
in the pictures of the elder Teniers and other painters) with a pig at his feet, as the symbol 
of the unclean spirit that had tempted him ; and so St. .Antony's pig had become proverbial. 
There is, if I mistake not, a special significance in Dante's use of the phrase Towards the 
close of the eleventh century France was ravaged by an epidemic which was known 
as the ISlorbus Sacer, probably a form of erysipelas. The help of St. Antony was, for some 
reason, involved as a healer, and the disease came to be popularly known as St. Antony's 
fire. A young noble, Gaston of Dauphin<5 (the Saint's body was believed to be interred 
in the church of Motte St. Didier, in that province), who had recovered from it, founded 
a lay brotherhood of St. Antony (1095) for ministering to the sick. Innocent III. conceded 
to the brotherhood the privilege of building a church in 1208; Honorius III. raised them 
to the position of a monastic order ; finally, Boniface VIII. placed them, with new privi. 
leges, under the Augustinian rule (Hagenbach, in Herzog. Real, f.iicycl. i. 417). The Order 
became popular in France and Italy, and it was a common act of popular devotion to offer 
swine to them, which were known as St. Antony's pigs, and the term, by a extension, 
was applied to all swine kept by monks. There is no evidence that I know of that the Order 
had a house in Florence, but Sacclielti {Nov. ex.) bears testimony to the wide use of the 
name there. The fact ihat Boniface VIII. had patronised the Order was enough, I conceive, 
even if there had not been sufficient reason for it on other grounds, to lead Dante to hold up 
its members to opprobrium as an instance of monastic degradation. The pigs, i.e., the monks 
of St. Antony, grew fat by trading on the superstition of the crowd ; concubines and 
others shared their ill-gotten gains, and they paid for all witli indulgences which were of no 
value, perhaps as issued without adequate authority, perhaps as applied without the implie'-l 
condition of repentance. Those coins had not come from the mint of Christ and His 

127 From this digression, to which Dante had been led probably by his indignation 
at -some specially bad sermon, he returns to the problems connected with the nature of 
angels. He had already in the squaring of the chess-board (C. xxviii. 93) indicated his 


This order far and wide so multiplies ^^ 

From rank to rank, that never speech might tell, 
Nor thought of man unto their number rise. 

And if thou dost in Daniel's vision spell, 

Thou'lt see that, in his thousands manifold, 

No number definite is visible. is.-. 

Tlie primal Light, -whose raj-s the whole enfold, 
In modes as many is received by each 
As are the splendours which tliereon lay hold. 

Hence, as the affection follows — so we teach — 

Close on the thought, the sweetness of their love '^"^ 

Is hot or tepid, varying thus in each. 

So see'st thou of the Power eterne above 

The breadth and height, reflected o'er and o'er 
In mirrors where its broken light doth rove, 

One in itself remaining as before." "^ 


The Tenth Benven—The Empyrean— Beatrice in Glory— The River of Light— 
The Flowers and the Sparks of Paradise — The Eternal Rose— Henry 
of Luxemburg. 

Six thousand miles away perchance doth lie 

A point where noon glows, and this world doth throw 
Its shadow all but horizontally, 

estimate of their number ; now he refers to the " ten thou<;and time? ten thousand " of Dan 
v;i. 10. 'I'he " determinate number" is probably connected with an exposition of Luke xv 4 
given by St. Ambrose and '1 heophylact. The lost sheep were the human race ; the ninety-and- 
nine were the unfallen angels. Their number was therefore that multiple of the whole family 
of inan in all ages (Trench, Parables, p. 364). With this was connected the thought that 
the number of the elect ' was identical with that of the rebel angels. Every angel accord- 
ing to his rank and order, reflects and perceives the Divine Light and Love, which varies 
according to the clearness of his vision, the Seraphim ranking highest, as in C. xxviii. gg. 

1 The simple fact of sunrise is described, after Dante's manner {Purg. i. 19, ix. i-o xix. 
i-;6), in a somewhat complicated fashion. Ihe circumference of the earth was reckoned by 
him at about 20,400 miies {Co7iv. iii. 5, 8) ; therefore, when it is noon (the sixth hour), 6oco 
miles from us, with us it is the first hour of morning, when the stars begin to disappear, and 
the shadow of the earth is cast nearly on the plane on which we stand, the sun being on the 
horizon. _ Lven so did the nine orders of the angels vanish from the poet's eyes. He turns 
to Beatrice, and she is fairer and more glorious than ever. Only her Creator can comprehend 
all her glory ; and this is because they have passed into the Empyrean Heaven, beyond the 
trunum I^Iobile, the calm and pacific sphere which is the abode of God and of the saints " 
(Conv. II. 4). 

174 THE TENTH HEAVEN. [par, c. sxx. 

When the high vault of Heaven to us below 

, So deep becomes, that here and there a star ^ 

Hides from our ken, in this our depth, its glow ; 
And as the sun's fair handmaid comes from far 

Advancing, Heaven is closed to mortal eye, 

Orb after orb, e'en those that brightest are. 
Kot otherwise did that great Triumph high, " 

That plays around the point for me too bright, 

Which, all-enclosing, seems enclosed to lie, 
Little by little now withdraw its light ; 

"Whence I to turn to Beatrice was led 

Eoth by my love and loss of that great sight, " 

If all that I of her till now have said 

Were brought together in one word of praise. 

For what came then 'twere all too feebly sped. 
The beauty that I saw surpassed all ways, 

Kot of our ken alone, but well I trow, ^^ 

Its Maker only can that joy appraise. 
At such a pass my failure is, I know. 

Far worse than poets, wrestling with their theme. 

Tragic or comic, e'er are wont to show. 
For as our sight is dazed by sunlight beam, ^' 

So e'en to recollect that smile of grace 

Makes all my mind bewildered as in dream. 
From the first day I loolced upon her face. 

In this our life, to this my vision clear, 

In line unbroken I my song might trace ; ^^ 

But now perforce I may not persevere, 

To follow all her beauty with my song, 

E'en as each artist knows his limit near. 

22 The words are general. No poet was ever so overpowered by the greatness of his theme 
as Dante now felt himself; but the "comic" probably refers to the title he had given his 
poem, and the " tragic " to Virgil (//. xvi. 128, xx. 113, xxi. 2). 

25 The comparison appears also in K. AK c. 42 ; Cam. xii. 16, 62 ; Conv. iii. 8. Here it is 
intensified by the statement that it is not the actual glory, but only the bare memory of it 
which thus overpowers him. 

28 We are nearing the close of the poem, the close also of the poet's life, and he still falls 
back on that first May morning, of which he tells the tale in V. iV. c. 2. All that he had felt 
from that day to the present hour he had sought, not altogether in vain, to tell. Now he 
renounced the attempt to describe it in words, as every artist must renounce the attempt to 
realise his highest ideal of perfection. 

PAB.C. xsx.] THE EMPYREAN. 175 

Such as I leave to some more worthy tongue 

Than speaketh through my trumpet, which doth lead 35 
To speedy close its arduous task and long, 

"With mien and voice of one well skilled to speed 
In guidance she began ; " Now far above, 
From widest orb we reach Heaven's light indeed — 

Light of the intellect replete with love, «> 

Love of true good replete with perfect bliss, 
Bliss that doth far above all sweetness prove. 

Here shalt thou see both armies, that and this, 
Of Paradise, and in the self-same guise 
As thou shalt see when the last Judgment is." « 

As sudden lightning-flash upon our eyes 

Scatters the visual spirits, so that sight 

Is gone, though clearest forms before us rise, 

So round about me shone a living light, 

And left me so enswathed in its veil , ai 

Of brightness, that nought met my gaze aright. 

" The love which doth to calm this heaven prevail 
Such welcome ever gives to spirit new, 
That for its flame meet candle may not fail," 

No sooner had within me those words few £5 

Found entrance, than I felt that I arose 
Above all virtue that before I knew, 

And a new power of vision in me glows, 

So that no light can boast such purity, 

But that mine eyes would meet it with repose. eo 

I saw a glory like a stream flow by, 

In brightness rushing, and on either shore 

Were banks that with spring's wondrous hues might vie. 

^ The " more worthy tongue " is not the voice of a mightier poet, but, as in Purg. xxx. 13, 
the trump of the Last Judgment, which will reveal the full glory of the saints. 

^ Possibly " ... of a leader freed from his task " (ButL). 

89 The Empyrean lies outside the limitations of the Primum Mobile, outside, therefore, 
the time which is the measure of motion. Light, love, joy are its only elements. 

43 The two companies are the spirits of the just and the angels. The former is to be seen 
in vision as it will be seen in the Last Day; no longer, as before, simple forms of light (C. x. 
64, xxx. 64, et al), but with human form and features. 

^ The first sensation is that of a flash of lightning, not passing away, but enwrapping the 
seer as in a robe of light. At first he could see nothing more. That, Beatrice tells him, is 
the welcome — the salute (we note the reappearance of the memorable word of the V. N. c. 
10, 11) which the Empyrean gives to those who enter it ; and it fits the candle for the flame, 
gives, that is, the strength required for the new life, and so the new-comer finds himself no 
longer dazzled even bj' the clearest light. 

61 I have taken " primavera," as in Purg. xxviii. 51, in the sense of "spring-flowers." 

176 THE RIVER OF LIGHT. [pab. o. xxx. 

And from that river living sparks did soar, 

And sank on all sides in the flow'rets* bloom, 65 

Like precious rubies set in golden ore. 

Then, as if drunk with all the rich perfume, 
Back to the wondrous torrent did they roll, 
And as one sank another filled its room. 

" The high desire that burns within thy soul to 

To gain full knowledge of the wondrous sight, 
More joy gives me the more it spurns control 

But cf this water thou must drink aright, 

Ere thou canst slake thy strong desire to know." 

So spake the Sun that filled mine eyes with light, 7s 

And then : "The stream, and topazes that go 

Kow in, now out, and smile of pleasant flowers, 
Of their true essence but dim preludes show : 

Kot that the things are hard, but that thy powers 

Of vision are defective found, and weak, so 

And ne'er have looked on glory such as ours." 

There is no babe who doth so quickly seek 

His mother's breast, if he should wake, perchance, 
At hour so late it doth his custom break, 

As I did, that mine eyes might gaze with glance 85 

That better mirrored, bending to the wave, 
AYhich flows that we in goodness may advance. 

Soon as I did with its clear waters lave 

Mine eyelid's edge, to me it did appear 

As though instead of length, a round it gave. so 

Then, as a crowd who masks of revel wear, 

Seemeth quite other than 'twas wont to be, 
When they have laid aside their alien gear, 

Probably the river represents the grace and love of God ; the ruby-sparks are the angels ; the 
flowers on the banks are the souls of the righteous ; the odours are the '"sweet savour " of their 
merits, and the moveinents of the sparks represent accordingly the ministries of angels to 
those souls, ministries of joy and fellowship, as before of help in conflict. In the symbolism of 
gems the topaz represents the twofold love of God and man (Marbodus, £>e Gemmis, in Nealc's 
Mediaeval Hymns, p. 65). 

"3 Men must drink of that river of light, i.e., of God's grace and love, before their thirst 
for truth {Fzir^. xxi. i) can be satisfied. 

"6 What is seen is but the figure of the Truth, not obscure in itself, but only through the 
imperfect knowledge of the beholder. 

82 Once more we h.ave one of the poet's studies of child-life (C. xxiii. 121, xxx. 140; Purg. 
xxiv. 108, xxx. 44). Comp. i Pet. ii. 2. 

90_99 As the seer bathes his eyes in the illuminating stream its form changes. It becomes 
circular like a rose. The sparks and flowers are seen to be the two courts of Heaven, the 


So for me changed to nobler revelry 

The flowers and the sparks, and so I saw ss 

Both of Heaven's cohorts manifest to me. 

O glory of our God, through which I saw 

The triumph high of that His kingdom true, 
Grant me the power to tell what then I saw ! 

A Light there is on high which brings to view loo 

Him who creates to those that creatures are, 
Wlio only in that vision peace ensue ; 

And then it spreads in figure circular 

So far and wide, that its circumference 

To gird the sun would be too wide by far. 105 

All that it shows is one ray's effluence. 
Reflected from the Prhnum Mobile, 
Which all its life and power deriveth thence. 

And as a cliff itself doth mirrored see 

In lake that lies below, as if it found no 

Joy in its wealth of flowers and many a tree, 

So, standing o'er that light, all round and round, 
Thousands I mirrored saw of every grade, 
All who from us their way have thither wound. 

And if the lowest rank such glory made, 115 

Think what must be the magnitude immense 
Of that bright Rose in furthest petals rayed ; 

angels and the saSnts. To tell of that vision he invokes, no longer Urania only as in Purp 
XXIX. 41, or Apollo, as in C. i. 13, but the very splendour of God Himself, and emphasises the 
glorypf what he saw, as with " Christ " in C. xii. 71, xiv. 104, xix. 104, xxxii. S3, by the triple 
Iteration of the same word rhyming with itself. 

102 Comp. C. iii. ?3, and Aug. ConJ". i. i : " Fecistinos ad Te, et inquietuw est cor nostrum 
donee reguiescatm Te. That light of God is in C. xxviii. 16, the centre of all blessed- 
ness; but as we are in the region of the visible universe, it is seen no longer gathered into 
a point of infinite brightness, but larger than the sun, and its glory spreads forth, beyond the 
Prtmum Mobile, in the Empyrean, from which that sphere derives its movement. 

11* \yhat the poet sees is the company of saints, all who have reached the Empyrean 
rising tier above tier, and mirrored, as a flower-dad hill is mirrored in a lake, in the light 
below, which IS as the crystal sea of Rev. iv. 6. That forms the golden centre of the heavenly 
rose, and its petals are the ranks of glorified saints. Of these he describes only the lower ranks, 
the highest, however, in honour, that so men may ju.lge of what the rest must be The 
imagery of the rose was suggested, as some have thought, by the rose-windows of Gothic 
cathedrals, such as Dante may have seen in France or Germany or Italy or as 
others, by the golden rose which the Popes gave, and still give, every year to some royal 
personage whom they delight to honour (Church, Ess. and Rez'. p. 81). A memorable sermon 
Iromlnnocent 111. (Ser,n. xviii. 0pp. ed. Migne, vol. iv.) on such an occasion dwelling on the 
mystic symbolism of the form, the colour, the fragrance of the rose, may, on this theorj-, have 
suggested Dante s "rose." The Papal rose is mentioned in Conv. iv. 29. The former, how- 
ever, seems to me the more probable ; but I do not see that either e.xplanation is required ; and 
It has to be remembered that the larger rose-windows, such as those of Chartres, Laon, and 
Kheims, belong to the latter part of the 14th, or to the 15th century. The imagery might 
well, in such a mind as Dante's, be of spontaneous growth. Comp. C. xxxii. 40, 71. 
VOL. II. jl 

178 HENRY OF LUXEMBURG. [pab,c. xxx. 

Nor in the height nor depth was visual sense 
Astray, but took the whole wide circuit in, 
The measure and the mode of joy intense. 120 

There Far or Near doth neither lose nor win ; 

For where God rules in full immediate power, 
The laws of Nature find no place therein. 

And in the gold of that eternal Flower, 

Wljich spreads, dilates, and pours its rich perfume 125 
To that Sun, ever in its springtide hour. 

As one who fain would speak and yet is dumb, 
Me Beatrice drew, and said : " Behold 
How all the white-robed host have here found room. 

.Sue what wide space our city doth enfold; isa 

See how each seat is furnished with its guest, 
That few are lacking now within our fold 

Oa that high seat whereon thy glances rest. 

Because above it shines a radiant crown, . . 

Before thou sup at this our marriage feast, 125 

Shall sit th' imperial soul, on earth well known, 
Henry the Great, Avhose guidance Italy 
Shall know ere she be ready to bow down. 

Blind greed of gain, that casts its evil eye 

Upon you, this hath made you like a child 140 

Who spurns his nurse and will of hunger die. 

And in the Court divine shall one be styled 

Its Prefect, who to tread with him one way, 
Open or secret, is unreconciled ; 

121 The words seem hardly consistent with 1. 115. Probably the n/o>tiori argument of 
the latter is for the reader, not the poet. For him in that Empyrean there is no far nor near. 
God works immediately, and the natural law that makes the distant less distinct than the near 
has no place. In this he follows Aquinas : "' Quie videntur in Deo . . . siinul et non succes- 
sive videntur" (i Suinm. i. 12, 10) ; " Divinum lumen agualiter se habet ad propinquutti et 
distans " (Suiiim. i. 89, 7). 

126 The fragrance of the rose, like the incense of Jieii. v. S, is the praise of the saints to 
the Eternal Sun of Righteousness, which is its centre, the "yellow" of the rose, and which 
knows no change of season. 

127 Grammatically the comparison may refer to Dante or Beatrice. The context is decisive 
in favour of the former. For the " white robes " of 129, see Hev. vii. 13, 14. 

133 There is a strange pathos in the fact that the first soul named in connexion with the 
rose of Paradise is the Emperor whose death had shattered all Dante's hopes, to whom 
he had looked as the restorer of a theocratic empire (comp. vol. i. p. cix.) Here, by the 
easy artifice of a prophecy ex evcntu, he offers, as it were, his apologia for his own share in 
the enterprise, the outcome of which had been so disastrous. That vacant throne, the first 
that met his eyes, was for the soul of Henry. The man had come, but not the hour. Italy 
had fallen so low in her selfish greed that she needed the discipline of yet severer punish- 

W2 The prophecy as to Henry is followed naturally by one as to Clement V., whose double 
dealing, from Dante's standpoint, had been the chief cause of the Emperor's failure (see Life. 

PAR. c. xxxi.l THE HEAVENLY ROSE. 179 

But little time will God endure his stay i« 

In that high office ; then shall he be thrown 
Where Simon Magus doth his forfeit pay, 

And thrust the Alagnian one step lower down." 


The Rose of Ucavcn—St. Bernard taJces the place of Beatrice. 

In fashion of a white rose glorified 

Shone out on me that saintly chivalry, 

Whom with His blood Christ won to be His bride ; 

But the other host, which, as it soars on high, 

Surveys, and sings, the glory of its love, 5 

The goodness, too, that gave it majesty, — 

As swatm of bees that deep in flowerets move ■ 
One moment, and the next again return 
To where their labour doth its sweetness prove, — 

Dipped into that great flower which doth adorn w 

Itself with myriad leaves, then mounting, came 
There where its love doth evermore sojourn. 

Their faces had they all of living flame, 

Theit wings of gold, and all the rest was white, 

That snow is none such purity could claim. 15 

And to the flower from row to row their flight 

They took, and bore to it the peace and glow, 
Gained by them as they fanned their flanks aright. 

vol. i. p. cviii.) For him there is no throne in Heaven, but the pitof the simonistsinHell. Boni- 
face VIII. (the Alagnian) had thrust down Nicolas III. (//. xix. 70-87); he was waiting for 
Clement. Poltmann in his Rdmerzug K. HeinricKs VII. defends the action of Clement 
and the Roman Curia. 

There is something almost startling in the fact that these are the last words of Beatrice. 
She disappears now, as Virgil had disappeared before, and she leaves Dante, not with any 
parting words that recall the old love of earth, not with any do.\olog;>' or revelation of divine 
truth that might belong to her transfigured character as Divine Wisdom, but with the con- 
demnation of a Pope altogether in the tone of C. xxvii. 40-66 ; /(. xix. 1-12. I content 
myself with calling attention to the fact. I do not venture to explain it. 

4 The other company is that of angels, who are as bees that plunge in and out of the petals, 
as before they had been engaged in like ministries, like the ruby-topaz sparks that plunge in 
and out of the flowers (C. xxx. 64-69), returning to the central " yellow " of the rose, which is 
the symbol of the presence of God. 

1-1 White and gold, as in Dan. vii. 9, x. 5, are symbols, each of them, of absolute purity. 

IS The function of the angel-bees is to carry to the souls of the saints the peace and ardour 
which they have themselves gained. 

i8o THE TRIUNE LIGHT. [par. c. xxxi. 

Nor did the crowd then moving to and fro, 

Between the flower and that which rose above, w 

Impede the sight or splendour of the show ; 

Seeing that the light of God doth freely move 

Through tlie whole world, as merit makes it right, 
So that nought there can hindrance to it prove. 

This realm, secure and full of great delight, 25 

Filled with the hosts of old or later time, 
To one sole point turned love alike and sight. 

O Trinal Light, that in one star sublime 

Dost with thy rays their soul so satisfy. 

Look down wdth pity on our storm-beat clime ! at 

If strangers, bred beneath some far-off sky, 
Where day by day revolves fair Helice, 
With him, her son, in whom her joy doth lie. 

Gazing on Rome and all her majesty. 

Were struck with wonder, when the Lateraa 2; 

Was eminent above all things that be, 

I, who to God had now passed on from man, 
From time to that great sempiternal day, 
From Florence to a people just and sane, — 

Think what amazement then my soul did sway ! i 

Truly with this and with the joy 'twas mine 
To have no wish to hear, nor words to say. 

W Actually, however (we are, as it were, gazing on the dissolving views of the poet's 
dream), the angels descend from the throne of God, which is above the rose. It might have 
been thought that their number would have obscured theglory of that throne ; but the Divine 
Light cannot be so intercepted ; it finds its way to whosoever is worthy of it. 

26 The people of old time and new are respectively those who lived before and after the 
coming of the Christ, the people of the Old and New Testaments. 

28 In the contemplation of the infinite peace of that Triune Light the poet, still tempest-tost 
and vexed, can but pray that it may work out a great calm for his own troubled .soul, and for 
the yet more troubled world. • 

32 Helice (Ovid, Fast. iii. loo) is identified {Punr. xxv. 131) with Callisto, and so with 
Ursa Major. The people thus descriljed are those who came from the North, probably, i.e., 
Germans, and found themselves in Rome. The words may be a reminiscence of such pilgrims 
in the year of the Jubilee (//. xviii. 29), but I incline to think that the scene now described was 
a more recent one, and that the thought of Henry VII. 's throne led on to the recollection of 
his coronation in St. John Lateran, when that church thus occupied a position of greatness 
which it had never held before or since. It will be remembered that the Leonine city, including 
St. Peter's, was occupied at that time by the troops of Robert of Naples, and the Lateran 
became, therefore, the Emperor's headquarters (.Life, vol. i. p. cii.) 

■J" In the structure of the poem the words are supposed to belong to the year 1300. They 
were, as we know, written within the few years or months of the poet's life. Age had 
not dulled the edge of his resentment, Florence still stood out in his memory as the greatest 
possible contrast to the city of God. It is the last allusion to Florence m. the Commcdia. 


And as a pilgrim who, with eager eyne, 

Finds, gazing on a temple, full delight, 

And hopes some day to tell how fair the shrine, 

So, as I walked amid that living light, 
On all around I also cast mine eye, 
Now up, now down, and circling left or right. 

Faces I saw that called forth charity ; 

Another's light and their own smiles shone there, 
And gestures graced with every dignitj'. 

That form of Paradise in outline fair 

Already had my glance in full surveyed, 
Not gazing yet with fixed glance anywhere ; 

And now I turned, with wish more ardent made, 
To ask my Lady, as with doubt distrest. 
Of many things which on my spirit weighed. 

One thing I meant : another met my quest, 
I looked for Beatrice, and behold ! 
An old man, clothed as are the people blest. 

His eyes and cheeks were flushed with joy untold, 
Blended with look of mild benignity, 
And pitying mien as of kind father old. 

43 Whether 1. 34 referred to the Jubilee of 1300 or not, it at least led on by a natural 
association of ideas to the memories of that year. As he had seen pilgrims at St. Peter'slook 
with wandering and wondering eyes over the great assembly of cardinals, bishops, priests, 
deacons, and the like, as they sat in their stalls, so was the poet now, in the Rome of which 
" Christ was a Roman " {Pu}g. xxxii. 102). He was as a " barbarian " in the midst of these 

59 The disappearance of Beatrice has been already noticed (C. xxx. 148). The seer is not 
as yet aware of her departure, but he turns as to her, and he finds St. Bernard. We can 
scarcely doubt, I think, that this somewhat startling change was meant to represent a like 
change in Dante's inner life. I venture to suggest that it indicates that he had passed, in hjs 
theological reading, from Aquinas to St. Bernard, and that, marvellous as was the dogmatic 
fulness and clearness of the former, he found in the latter that which raised him to a higher 
level of spiritual intuition. Throughout the Paradise Beatrice has been, as it were, the mouth- 
piece of the wisdom which Dante had learnt from St. Ihomas, had answered every question, 
and drawn the lines of demarcation between truth and error. But there was something higher 
even than this, and in his case, as in that of a thousand others, St. Bernard had met a want 
which Aquinas had not met. And if I were asked to say what work of the Saint of Clairvaux 
had probably had this effect, I should name without any hesitation his eighty-five sermons on 
the So7ig oj Solomon and the Homilies Dc Laudibus Virginis Matris, 

61 The description corresponds exactly with all that is recorded of the fascinating sweetness 
and benignity of St. Bernard's character. It was given to him to be the master of the hearts 
of men, as Aquinas was of their intellect. '' A youth of high birth, beautiful person, graceful 
manners, irresistible influence," is Milman's picture of the natural man (/-. C. iv. 309), which 
has, as its companion portrait, a description of his work. " His preaching awed and won all 
hearts. Ever>-where St. Bernard was called in as the great pacificator of religious, and even 
of civil, dissensions. His justice, his mildness, were equally commanding and persuasive " 
{Ibid. 313). 

i8i THE POET'S PRAYER. [par. o. xxxi. 

" And where is she 1 " I asked full instantly. 

Then he ; " That wish of thine to satisfy es 

Thy Beatrice from my place sent me; 

And if to that third round thou turn thine eye, 

From tlie first rank, thou'lt see her yet once more, 
Upon the throne her merits gained on high." 

Without reply my look I upwards bore, to 

And saw that she with glory bright was crowned, 
The eternal rays reflecting evermore. 

Not from that sphere where highest thunders sound 
Is mortal eye so far removed in space, 
In whatsoever sea's deep waters drowned, 75 

As was my sight from Beatrice's face. 

Yet this was nought to me ; her image fair 

Came not through medium that could mar its grace. 

"Lady, in whom my hope breathes quickening air, 

And who for my salvation didst endure so 

To pass to Hell and leave thy footprints there. 

Of all mine eyes have seen with vision pure. 

As coming from thy goodness and thy might, 
I the full grace and mercy know full sure. 

Thou me, a slave, to freedom didst invite, so 

By all the means and all the methods whence 
The power could spring to work such ends aright. 

Still keep for me thy great munificence, 

So that my soul, which owes its health to thee, 

May please thee, free from each corporeal sense." dj 

So prayed I, and in that her distance she. 

When she had looked, with loving smile, again 
Turned to the Fount that flows eternally. 

W One notes the supreme naturalness of the question, "Where is she?" not "Where is 
Beatrice ? " 

68 The departure of Beatrice is explained. It was time to fulfil the resolve with which the 
y. N. ended. He returns to the personal Beatrice whom he had loved, and she ceases to be, 
as Divine Wisdom or Theology, the interpreter of Aquinas. He will place her, the daughter 
of Folco de' Portinari, side by side with Rachel, the companion of the Virgin and St. Lucia 
(//. ii. 94-102). She is seen with the crown, the aureola of saints (Aquin. Suiiun. iii., Suppl. 
961). .she is far above, at an immeasurable distance from him; yet, as there the " far " or 
"near" of the Empyrean are not as those on earth, he sees her clearly. 

7'J The lover becomes the worshipper and pours out his gratitude. For his sake Beatrice 
had trodden the paths of Hell (V. ii. 70). By many ways, the visions he had had on earth 
{Purg. XXX. 134 ; V. N. c. 40, 43), she had led him onward and upward from his bondage of 
sin to the glorious liberty of the children of God (Roiii. vi. 20, viii. 21). 

93 The eternal fountain, the source of light and joy, is the presence of God, and Beatrice's 
glance is her prayer of intercession, answering to the poet's entreaty for her help. 

PAR. a xx^.] ' ST. BERNARD. - 1S3 

Then spake the old man holy : " That thou gain - 

The wished-for goal of this thine enterprise,- -'^ 

To help in which me prayer and love constrain, - 

Around this garden fly thou with thine eyes ; - ^ 

For seeing it will make thy glance more keen 
Further along the ray divine to rise. 

Then she for whom I burn, Heaven's gracious Queen, iw 

"With fullest love, will every grace supply. 
Because in me her faithful Bernard's seen." 

As one who from Croatia, say, draws nigh 
Upon our Veronica's face to glance, 
"Whom the old story does not satisfy, 103 

Says, while he sees it, as in wondering trance, 
" My Lord, my Jesus Christ, true Deity, 
"Was this indeed Thy very countenance 1 " 

So was I, as I turned mine eyes to see 

The living love of him who, while on earth, no 

Tasted this peace in contemplation free. 

'• Thou son of grace," then said he, " this glad mirth 
In which we live will ne'er to thee be known 
By fixing gaze on things of lower worth ; 

S7 The garden is in the strictest sense the Paradise of God (C. xxiii. 71, xxxii. 39). The 
love and prayers of Beatrice have commissioned Bernard to guide the poet in this last stage 
of his " pilgrim's progress ; " and the Queen of Heaven is there, ready to help him in answer 
to the prayers of the saint who was conspicuously her "faithful Bernard." As a matter of 
history-, few men contributed more than the Saint of Clairvaux did to the ciiltus of the 
Virgin, which spread over Europe in the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, and left its mark 
in the hymnologj-, the painting, the sculpture, and the architecture of Western Christen- 
dom. The lady-chapels of this period were the outcome of the teaching of the Laudcs 
B. V. M. already referred to, and still more in E^. 74, where he describes her as " reveren- 
dam angelis, desideratam gcntibns, patriarchis profhctisque pmccgtiitavi. cieciam ex 
omnibus . . . pmlaiam omnibus . . . gratii? in-'entrict-m, mediatricent saliitis, restaiira- 
tricetn scrculonivi . . . exaltatam super choros angelor'.im ad coclestia regna." It is worth 
no ing that all these epithets occur in a letter to the Canons of Lyons against the Feast, then 
recently introduced, of the Immaculate Conception. Against that feast he protests as "c(7«irrt 
ccclesicE ritiim pmsiitnpia novitas, iiiater temeritatis, soror superstitionis,Jilia lezitatis." 

303 Another reminiscence, proljably of the year of the Jubilee, — the exhibition of the 
sitdarium or handkerchief on which it was believed the Lord Jesus had left the imprint of 
His features. The Vera Icon (= true image), which popular usage corrupted into Veronica, was 
one of the distinguishing features of the solemnities of that year (I'iil. viii. 36 ; V. -V. c. 41, 
but the latter may refer to an earlier exhibition). For the history of the Veronica, see Herzog, 
Real. Encycl. x\ii. p. 86. 1'he main points of the legend are that Veronica (the name 
given to the woman who had tendered the sudarium to Christ), had come to Rome in the 
time of Tiberius ; that Clement of Rome had left it as an heirloom to his successors. Medijeval 
writers, however, Gervase of Tilbury (1210), Matt. Paris (1216), speak of the effigies itself as 
the Veronica, and Dante uses the same language. Bede, bj-a curious combination, identifies 
Veronica with the woman healed of an issue of blood, of whom Euseb. (vii. 17, 18) reports that 
a group of sculpture, including her form and that of the Christ, was to be seen at Paneas, the 
Caesarea Philippi of the Gospel. It is at least probable that the old Latin sequence, " O sahc 
sacra/acies" and St. Bernard's hj-mn, " Salve caput cruentatu7n," may have originated in it. 

lOS Croatia may have been chosen through the necessities of rhyme, but it serves as a tj-pical 
instance of the distance from which the pilgrims came. Lines 106-108 may fairly be thought of 
as representing Dante's cwn feelings at the time of the Jubilee. 

i84 THE HEAVENLY ORIFLAMME. [par. c. xxxi. 

But to the circles most remote look on, n^ 

Until thou see the Queen who rules on high, 
"Whom all this kingdom doth with homage own." 

I raised mine eyes, and as the morning sky, 

"V^Tiere the horizon bounds the Eastern clime, 

Excels the region where the sunbeams die, 120 

So, as doth one who from the vale doth climb 
To mountain height, I saw a space afar 
All else surpassing in its light sublime. 

And e'en as there, where we await the car 

Which Phiiethon drove badly, burns more clear 125 

Its light, while this and that side dimmer are. 

So did that peaceful oriflamme appear, 

More living in its centre, and each side 
In equal measure slackened flame did Avear. 

And at that centre, with their Avings spread wide, iso 

i\Iore than a thousand angels met my sight. 
Joyous, in light and act diversified ; 

And in their songs and sports a beauty bright 

I saw, whose smile makes glad, with fullest joy, 

The eyes of all the other saints in light. iss 

And could I in my speech such Avealth employ 
As in my fancy's flight, I should not dare 
To touch the edge of bliss without alloy. 

Ill I quote once more from St. Bernard {J\Ieditt. Ptiss. c. i), as showing why Dante chose 
him as the guide who was to lead him onward to the goal of the final sision of God. " Pat- 
rem nainque ct Filium cum Sancto Sfiiriiu cognoscere, vita est cetema, beatitudo fofccta, 
summii vohiptas. Oculus nonvidit, nee auris audknt, ncc in cor hominis ascendit quanta 
claritas, quanta suavitas, et quanta jucunditas nianeat nos in illavisione, quando Deuvi 
/acie ad faciem vidimus : qui est lux illuviinaiorum, requies exercitatorum, fiatria rcdeun- 
Hunt, vita vivcntium, corona vincentiuvi." 

115 The downward look implied imperfect contemplation of heavenly things. What was 
needed was a Sursum Corda, upward to the Queen of Angels, and beyond her, to the Divine 

125 The Phaethon mythus was obviously much in Dante's mind (C. xvii. 3 ; H. xvii. 107 ; 
Purg. xxix. 118). The point indicated is that where sunrise is expected, where there is the 
maximum of brightness, while on either side the glory diminishes. 

127 The Oriflamme was, according to one tradition, the banner, the Labarum, under 
which Constantine fought and conquered. Historically it was the flag of the Abbey of St. 
Denis, adopted by Philip Augustus as that of the French kings. The pole was gilt, the flag 
scarlet, divided at its edge into flame-shaped strips. Here it is applied to the company of 
saints that surrounded the Virgin, which grew brighter in proportion to its nearness ; and the 
banner is described as "peaceful," as belonging to the Empyrean of Peace, in contrast with the 
warlike use of the Oriflamme on earth. 

133 I have, with most experts, taken arte as pointing to the office, function, or " act " of the 
several angels. 

134 The ' ' beauty " is that of the Virgin Mother, who looked on the angels with an approving 
smile which was reflected in their joy. That again belonged to the things which it was not 
possible for Dante, or for any man, to utter. 


And Bernard, when he saw that I stood there 

With eyes fixed fast upon that glowing blaze, "» 

Turned his to her with love so rich and rare 

That mine more eager made thereon to mze. 


The Saints in the Hose of Heaven— St. John Baptist, Rachel, Beatrice, Lucia, 
and others. 

Wrapt in his joy, that contemplative man 
Took the free office of a teacher true, 
And with these holy words he now began : 

•'That wound which Mary healed with ointment new, 

She, who so fair is sitting at her feet, 5 

Both made the wound and laid it bare to view. 

Within that order made by yon third seat, 
Is sitting Rachel, 'neath that other fair. 
With Beatrice, who thy gaze doth meet ; 

Rebecca, Sarah, Judith, these are there, 10 

And she who was the Psalmist's ancestress, 
Who poured in grief his Miserere prayer. 

There thou may'st see, in glory less and less, 

From seat to seat, as I, with each one's name, 

From leaf to leaf through all the Rose progress ; 15 

And from the seventh row downward, e'en the same 
As downward to it, parting every leaf 
Of that fair flower, appears each Hebrew dame ; 

_2 St. Bernard resumes his function as one of the great doctors of the Church The 
picture presented to our eyes is that of a vast circular\rea, the half of the m>" tic rose in 
Se "andin ^. lln'.'h''; ^l '^^^^'ddle of the topmost ro^. of one semicircle is the vlrg n 
.n2 nfhU^ 1 f '"'' ^^'■' bisecting the semicircle, are Eve, Rachel, Rebecca, Rulh, 

and other holy women of Israel. On the one side of that line are the female saints of he Old 
lestament, on theother those of the New. Opposite the Virgin, in the other semicircle and 
on the same level, IS the Bapti..t ; below him stand St. Francis St Benedict St Aueustfne 
who, in their turn, divide the Old and New Testament saints as before ' ^"^ustine, 

4 The yirgin is described as anointing, i.e., healing (Mark vi. 13 ; /ames v 14) the wound 
fi cm" Wustfne'' ^W '" r""^ ^f°Z ^"' '^"^ "^•^'''"^- '^''^ world's are alnrost'i quotation 
CrtemXtl w;-Hf^w"""i'/^^'^'''r^'^^ ^^'""- ^^'"•' Beatrice, a,s representing 
RacheTfX V xxvlf n f ^"^ ^^" '" ^Y"- '°W^- ^°> '" ^"'"P''*"^ *"»^ ^er and with 
of the 0„pln^;.f AnL r*^- ^. '^ C^-^- ^2 "''5 '" ■'^P°''^" °f '-^^ <^^"«d '° be " under the banner 
^nd Reher 'n nn ^h^ I' .u""' 'u' u,""^ '"r'^r"^ °" ^^"b. " Judith finds her place with Sarah 
nf ^Hnn in ;n V /. '?i^"lPr°''^ii'^ of/«rf.V/^ XV. lo ; perhaps also as representing the life 
h!wed h^ InT^ln M^^''^''"'- ^'^"^ '-.5' suggested the name of Ruth*. These^are fol- 
before aiTd after™ hr'^'' ''°"'^"' °'''" ^ '^''" °^ P=i«"'°" between those who lived 

1 86: ST: JOHN baptist: [i'ar.c.-xxxii. 

For, as from this side, or from that, belief ' ■ ". 

Ill; Christ looked on Him, these are as a wall, 20 

Between those holy stairs partition chief. 

On this side, .where,, with petals perfect all. 

The flower is found, those souls their seat have won 
Whose faith upon the-Ghrist to come did call : 

On that side, where the semicircles meet 25 

A vacant space that parts them*, duly stand 
Who the Christ come with yearning glance did greet. 

As on this side, a throne of high command 

Tor Heaven's high Queen, and every other throne 
Beneath it, part the space on either hand, so 

So on the other that of the great John, 

Wlio, ever holy, bore the desert drear. 

And pain of death, and Hell two years had known, 

Next down the parting line the lot was there 

Of Francis, Benedict, and Augustine, 35 

And others down to us from tier to tier. 

Now see the depth of Providence divine ; 
For of the faith to this or that aspect 
This garden filled doth equal space assign. 

And know that, from the step which cleaves direct 40 

INIidway the order of those sections two, 
Sit those, to merit who no claim affect, 

26 Among the rows of seats reserved for the latter there were some empty places — as, e.g:, 
that for Henry VII. — but not many. Probably Dante wrote under the impression, which never 
quite forsook the mediaeval mind, though it varied in its intensity, that the coming of the 
Christ to judge was not far off. He too might have written Apptopinqtiantcjanijine sa-culi, 
as men did in the loth century. The readings, however, vary, and some MSS. give dz zvio, 
and others devoti. 

32 The Baptist remained, in Dante's theory, in Hell, i.e., in the Limhiis Patruin, till the 
Crucifixion and the Descent into Hades. Till then none had entered Paradise. As in the Te 
Detim, it was not till Christ had "overcome the sharpness of death " that He " opened the 
kingdom of Heaven to all believers." 

*i The order of the three names is suggestive. Francis of Assisi is still, as in C. xi., the 
Saint of his affections. Of Benedict he had sung the praises in C. xxii. 28 ; of Augustine he had 
spoken in passing in C. x. 120. Symmetry would have led us to expect a line of Hebrew 
heroes, as there had been Hebrew heroines on the other side. Probably Dante's view of the 
Baptist as the starting-point of a new order led him to a different selection. 

39 The thought which Dante puts into St. Bernard's lips, that the number of the saved 
before and after Christ would be exactly equal, is not found in Aquinas ; nor, so far as I know, 
in any of the schoolmen, nor have I succeeded in tracing it in Bernard's writings. It would 
seem almo'^t as if a new dogma had commended itself to Dante's mind that the symmetry of 
his mystic rose might not be marred. 

4* To the same love of symmetry we may probably ascribe the dogma, which now apparently 
meets us, that the number of the .';aved who have died in infancy corresponds exactly with that 
of the saved adults. They fill the lower benches of each semicircle of the great area. As I 
try to represent the scene which Dante describes, I cannot resist the conviction that he must 
have drawn his picture, not from any Papal rose or rose-window, though these may have 

TAR. c. xxxn.] ETERNAL LAW. 187 

But plead Another's, with conditions due ; 

For all these spirits were absolved on higlo, 

Before of choice they had possession true. 45 

"Well may'st thou this in every face descry, 

And also in their voices' child-like tone, 

If thou look well and list attentively. 
Now dost thou doubt, thy doubt by silence shown ; 

But I will loosen for thee the strong chain so 

■\"\Tiich by thy subtle thoughts is round thee thrown. 
AVithin the ample range of this domain 

Xo place is found for any point of chance, 

Xo more than is for hunger, thirst, or pain ; 
For by eternal law each circumstance 55 

Thou see'st is fixed, and all with it agree, 

As to the finger fits the ring's expanse. 
And so this people, sped by God's decree 

To His true life, not si7ie causa shows 

Its excellence in manifold degree. eo 

The King, through whom this kingdom true peace knows, 

In so great love, and in so great delight, 

That no desire dare ask for more repose, 

floated before his mind as similitudes (see note on C. xxx. 117), but from the Coliseum as he 
may have seen it filled with Henrj' VI I. 's army, or more probably from the amphi- 
theatre of Verona, which if it were ever filled (it is said to be capable of holding 95,000 
persons) might well suggest the thought, as a like scene did to the writer of the Epistle to the 
NebrezL's, of the "great cloud of witnesses," the "innumerable company of angels," the 
" assembly of the Church of the first-born " (Heb. xii. i, 22, 23). In such a gathering it would 
be natural that the lower benches should be reserved for children. I must own, however, 
that I have not as yet found any record that the amphitheatre was so used in Dante's time. 
The games referred to in H. xv. 122 were held outside the Porta del Palio. 

*^ The question has been raised whether the "merits of others," through which children 
are saved, are those of their parents, or, as Aquinas taught, of the Chu ch (Siimm. iii. 69, 8), 
or of Christ. Most of the earlier comment.itors take the former view ; most modern ones the 
latter. Line 78 is decisive, it seems to me, in favour of the former. The " certain con- 
ditions " are circumcision for Jewish, baptism for Christian children. They had no merits of 
their own because they had not attained to ihc " vere elezw7ti," sc. the power of choice 
between good and evil, which comes when reason guides the will. 

■*<> The words imply that the spirits in Paradise remain at the age in which they depart 
this life. In this D:inte differs from Aquinas (Simnn. iii. Supp. 81, i, 2), who leaches that 
all the saints will rise of the same age. sc, in the bloim of a perpetual youth, though he 
admits that those who died in advanced life may have the venerableness, though not the 
infirmities, of ;ige Dante's thought that he sees children's faces and hears their voices in 
souls in Paradise seems to me the natural outcome of the love of child-life of which we have 
found so many instances (Purg. xxx. 44, 79, xxxi. 64, et at.) Hi^ retaining this is as 
eminently characteristic as the subtle questioning spirit (1. 45) which remains with him till 
the last. 

53 The first point in the solution of the untold problem is that chance is excluded 
altogether, even as hunger and thirst find no place in Heaven {Rev. vii. 16, xx . 4). The of law is supreme throughout ; therefore the difference of degree, indicated by higher 
or lower places, which had stirred Dante's mind to questions, is not without a cause. That 
cause here is the will of God, which, loving all souls, yet distributes gifts and graces accord- 
ing to His will. Children therefore are, as it were, classed according to the "promise and 
potency " of the grace they have thus received, though they have never been developed upon 

i88 CIRCUMCISION AND BAPTISM. [par. c xxxit. 

All minds creating joyous in His sight, 

Dotli, in His pleasure, fill with His free grace es 

Diversely. Rest content ; the efTect is right. 

And this express and clear thou now niay'st trace 
In Holy Scripture, in those brothers twain, 
"Who in the womb were stirred to wrath apace ; 

Therefore on locks of different hue 'tis plain, 7o 

The Light Supreme, through measured grace supplied. 
Doth place a crown accordant with the grain. 

Thus, without merit from their works, abide 
The peoi:)le here, each one in different tier. 
Just as their primal vision-powers decide. 75 

Thus in more early times enough was there 
For their salvation, if to innocence 
Were simply joined the faith of parents dear. 

When the first ages did to close commence, 

'Twas meet for males, by circumcision's sign, so 

To guiltless wings new virtue to dispense. 

But when there came the time of grace divine. 
Without the baptism perfected of Christ, 
Such innocence was kept on lower line. 

Now look upon the face which unto Christ ss 

Bears most resemblance, for its brightness clear 
Alone can fit thee to behold the Christ." 

Showered o'er her face I saw such joy appear. 

And flow out from her on each mind in blis?, 

Created for its flight o'er that high sphere, 00 

<>■■* As an example of tlmt diversity, Dante, following; St. Paul (Rout, ix, 13-16), takes Esau 
and J icob. Esau «as believed to have had the red hair implied in hi-, name, Edom, while 
Jacob's hair was black. And the two colours were held to be symbols of different tempera- 
ments, of different destinies. So it was, Dante argued, with all children. Their crown of 
light varies with the chiracter, of which even the colour of their hair may be an indication ; 
and so they occupy higher or lower ranks, not through formed habits, but through the differ- 
ence of tneir primary capacities. Augustine, it may be noted, takes the two sons of Isaac 
as a crucial instance against the theory that men's destinies were decided by the stars (C. D. 
V. 1-5). Dante doe^ not indicate how he reconciled his theory of stellar influence with the 
difficulty thus presented. 

77 The three conditions of the salvation of infants were: (i) In the early, i.e. the patri- 
archal, age, simply their own innocence and their parents' faith. (2) From Abraham onwards 
circumcision was required in addition. (3) Under the Gospel, baptism took the place of 
circumcision. Without the latter even the innocency of infants could not save them from the 
Limbus assigned to them in H. iv. 30-35. 

85 The poet's mind is turned from questioning to contemplation. He is to look on the 
face of the Virgin Mother, which of all faces is the most like her Son's. Only through her 
could the wor.>hipper become fit to gaze on that Son's brightues-i. 

89 The " minds in bliss " are those of the angels, created to fly (as in C. xxx. 64-69) between 
the throne of God and the souls of the saints. 


That whatsoever I liad seen e'er this 

Did not my soul in wonder so suspend, 

Nor show so clear what God's high semblance is. 

And that same Love that first did there descend, 

Singing his " Ave Mary, full of grace," 95 

Before her did his ample wings extend. 

To that high song the Court of that blest place 
Made answer full and loud on every side, 
And calmer joy was seen on every face. 

" holy father, who for me dost bide joo 

Awhile below, and leavest thy sweet seat, 
Where lot eternal calls thee to abide ; 

"Who is that angel that, with joy replete, 

Looks in the eyes of this our heavenly Queen, 
Enamoured so that fire he seems in heat 1 " 105 

So on his teaching I once more did lean. 

Who grew more beautiful from Mary's light, 
As from the sun the morning star serene. 

And he to me : " All joy and valour bright, 

That or in angel or man's soul is wrought, ho 

Is found in him, and this is our delight : 

For this is he whose hand the palm-branch brought 
To Mary, when the Son of God most High 
To bear the weight of all our burden sought. 

But come now, follow with thine eyes, as I us 

Shall tell thee as I go, and those great peers 
Of this most just and holy realm descry. 

Those twain in whom all blessed joy appears. 
Since nearest to our Empress they abide, 
Are as two roots, and each this rose upbears. 120 

MS As St. Bernard answers the poet's question, his face glows with a new beauty, as the 
morning star seen at sunrise. 

HI The souls of the saints accept, without a touch of envy (C. xx. 13S), the higher glory 
which the will of God has assigned to Gabriel. 

H3 Bernard proceeds to point out the more conspicuous occupants of Paradise. The Virq;in 
becomes "Augusta," the_ Empress of thai kingdom, as God had been named the Emperor 
(C. xii. 40. XXV. 41 ; H. i. 124). Next to her on the left is Adam and on the right St. Peter. 
The "fair flower" is the mystic rose, sc, the glorified Church, the kingdom of Heaven. 
Next in order come the Seer of the Apocalypse and Moses ; then Anna, who appears in 
the Gospel of the Infancy as the mother of the Virgin, and with her (here we have the name 
that has met us before in H. ii. 97, Purg, ix. 55) St. Lucia, whose special favour to th poet 
is again noted. 

I90 THE PRIMAL LOVE. [par. c. xxxii. 

He, on the left hand, standing at her side, 

Is the great Father through whose daring taste 
The human race such bitterness hath tried : 

On the right hand see the ancient Father placed 

Of Holy Church, who was from Christ alone 125 

With kejs of this fair flower of beauty graced ; 

And he who saw, while yet life's course did run. 
All the dark coming years of that fair Bride, 
"Who with the spear and nails was wooed and won, 

Beside him sits ; and on the other side iso 

The leader under whom the manna fed 
The people, thankless, wayward, stiff with pride. 

O'er against Peter see'st thou Anna's head, 

So glad to look upon her daughter's face, 

Her eye moved not as she * Hosanna ' said. 135 

And o'er against the Father of our race 

Sits Lucia, she who called thy Lady fair, 
When thou to foul shame didst thy brow abase. 

But since thy time of vision fast doth wear, 

Here will we stop as doth the tailor wise, i« 

\Vlio makes his coat as he hath cloth to spare. 

And to the Primal Love bend we our eyes, 

That, looking on Him, thou as far may'st wend 
As, through its brightness, in thy nature lies. - 

In very deed, lest thy course backward tend, i« 

Moving thy wings and thinking to progress, 
'Tis meet that prayer the help of grace should lend. 

This grace she gives who helps thee in distress. 
And thou shalt follow with affection 
So that my words cease not thy heart to bless." 130 

And so he spake this holy orison. 

I'M The minds of critics have been much exercised by the commonness, not to say 
vulgarity, of the comparison. Dante, I imagine, vifould have said that the proverb said 
what he wanted, and would perhips have added, " Lnscia dir ie genti" {Purg. y. 13). This 
was what he said to himself when he found himself within one Canto of his appointed 
bourne. This he would say to others in explanation of hi^ seeming haste to finish. He 
might have pleaded that a proverb as common had once found a place in the historj- of 
St. Paul's conversion {Ads ix. 5). 

1'12 In H. iii. 6 the term " primal Love " is specially applied to the Holy Spirit ; here it 
is used of tile Godhead in its triune perfection (C. xxxiii. 115-120). 

1*6 The thought is reproduced from Pitrx- xi. 15. There is no true progress without the 
grace of God, and liere that progress is thought of as coming through the intercession of the 
Virgin Mother. 

PAR. c.xxsiii] 57. BERNARD'S PRAYER. 191 


?t. Bernard's Prayer to the Blessed Virgin — The Beatific Vision of the Eternal 
Trinity and the Word made Flesh. 

" Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son, 

Lowlier and loftier than all creatures seen, 
Goal of the counsels of the Eternal One, 

Thyself art she who this our nature mean 

Hast so ennobled that its Maker great 5 

Deigned to become what through it made had been. 

In thy blest womb the Love renewed its heat 

By whose warm glow in this our peace eterne 
This heavenly flower first did germinate. 

Here, in Love's noon-tide brightness, thou dost bum 10 

For us in glory ; and to mortal sight 
Art living fount of hope to all that yearn. 

Lady, thou art so great and of such might. 

That he who seeks grace yet turns not to thee, 

Would have his prayer, all wingless, take its flight ] 15 

Nor only doth thy kind benignity 

Give help to him who asks, but many a time 
Doth it prevent the prayer in bounty free. 

In thee is mercy, pity, yea, sublime 

Art' thou in greatness, and in thee, with it, 20 

Whate'er of good is in creation's clime. 

He who stands here, who, from the lowest pit 
Of all creation, to this point hath pass'd 
The lines of spirits, each in order fit, 

1 The cultus of the Virgin has, I suppose, never found a nobler utterance than that which, 
placed in the lips of St. Bernard, ushers in Dante's last Canto. Comp. Chaucer's paraphrase 
in his Second Ncunes Tale, 11. 29-56 {Buil.). 

^ Apparently a combination oi Prov. viii. 22 and Gal. iv. 4. The Incarnation, with which 
the Virgin was identified, had entered into the Eternal counsels, and was manifested in the 
" fulness of time." 

9 The "flower" is the mystic rose, i.e., the Church Triumphant of the saved. Its 
existence depended on the birth of the Man Christ Jesus, and He was born of the Virgin. 
To those who had won their victory she was as a burning light of love ; to those below she 
was the fount of hope. The early commentators quote from St. Bernard, "Securum accession 
hates, O homo, ad Deuin, ubi Mater est ante /ilium etfilius ante patrem." 

IB So it was that Dante at the close of life looked back on his own conversion. Was it not 
the Virgin Mother who had sent Lucia and Beatrice to his aid? {ti. ii. 94). Would not she 
who had begun the work help him to complete it 2 

192 THE LIGHT ETERNAL. [par. c. xsxiii. 

On thee for grace of strength himself doth cast, '^^ 

So that he may his eyes in vision raise 
Upwards to that Salvation noblest, last. 

And I, who never for my power to gaze 

Burnt more than now for his, pour all my prayer, 

And pray it meet not failure nor delays : so 

"Wherefore do thou all clouds that yet impair 
His vision with mortality, remove, 
That he may see the joy beyond compare. 

And next I pray thee. Queen, whose power doth prove 

Matched with thy will, that thou wilt keep his mind, 33 
After such gaze, that thence it may not rove. 

Let thy control all human impulse bind ; 

See Beatrice, how through my prayers she 

And many a saint their hands in prayer have joined." 

The eyes which God with love and praise doth see, i" 

Fixed on the pleader, showed us clear and plain 
How dear to her are prayers that earnest be. 

Then to the Light eterne they looked again. 

Whereon one scarce can dream that eye most clear 

Of any creature might its gaze maintain. ^^ 

And I, who at that hour was drawing near 
Tlie end of all my longings, as was meet. 
The ardour of my yearnings ended here. 

Then me with nod and smile did Bernard greet, 

That I should upward look, but I became, so 

E'en of myself, full apt his wish to meet ; 

34 We have passed, we must remember, beyond what we call " poetical invocations," and 
have the heart-prayers of the poet. He fears lest the vision of glory may fail to sanctify 
and ennoble his after-life. He prays that he may live worthily of his high vocation. 
Bernard, Beatrice, and all the saints will join in that prayer for his future. 

W Was the thought one of pure imasination, or did Dante combine in successive acts 
the downward look of compassion, the upturned glance of prayer, as he had seen them in the 
paintings uf Cimabue or Giotto ? To us the works of those painters seem to fall far below 
the beauty of which the poet speaks, and we think rather of the Madonnas of Raphael. But 
we must remember that to their contemporaries they must have presented, as in the story of 
Vasari and the Borgo Allegri (Lindsay, C.A. i. 344) a new ideal of grace, or at least a ground- 
work on which the mind could build its ideal, 

46 Once again we have the axiom, the common inheritance of the devout thinkers of all 
mankind, of the Canvito as well as of the Cominciiia, of Augustine and Aquinas, that God is 
the end and goal to which all Imman desires and aspirations naturally tend, unless nature 
is corrupted [Sutiun. i. 2, 1-5, 122, 2 ; Aug. Conff. i. i). 

50 The seer looks upward from the company of the Saints, even from the Virgin Mother, 
to the true Eternal Light. Memory and speech alike failed to reproduce the vision. He 
remembers an ineffable intuition, which is gone from him never to return in this life ; but there 
remains an equally ineffable sweetness to bear witness that it has been his. Snow that has lost 

PAR. c. sxsiii.] BEATIFIC VISION. 193 

For as my vision to more pureness came, 

Still more and more it passed within the rays 
Of that high, bright, self-verifying flame. 

Thence on far greater glory was my gaze 55 

Than speech can tell ; at that transcendent sight. 
All memory fails and shrinks in blank amaze. 

As one who dreams in visions of the night, 

And when the dream is o'er, the sense imprest 
Remains, nor sees the mind aught else aright, 00 

So am I ; for nigh all that vision blest 

Has passed away, and yet its bliss is felt, 
Distilling all its sweetness through my breast. 

So doth the snow before the sunbeams melt ; 

So to the winds on leaves all borne astray os 

Was tost the speech in which the Sibyl dealt. 

Light Supreme, that dwellest far away 

From mortal thoughts, grant Thou this soul of mine 
Some scant revival of that great display, 

And to my tongue give Thou such strength divine, 70 

That of Thy glory at the least one beam 
May to the race to come in beauty shine. 

That, as I call to mind some little gleam. 

And some faint echo sounds in this my song, 

Men of Thy victory will more truly deem. 75 

1 trow that so I suffered from the strong 

And vivid light, that I as lost had been. 

If from it these mine eyes had turned for long ; 

And I remember how I grew more keen 

By this to bear it, so that I did blend so 

My gaze with Might to which no end is seen. 

grace abounding, which to me did lend 
Courage to look upon that Light eterne. 
Yea, all my power of sight thereon to spend ! 

its form or colour, the Sibylline leaves that float at random through the air (^«. iii 441-451), 
are types of his consciousness of what the dream, the vision, had been. All that he can do 
is to pray to the Source of all Light for the power to reproduce for future ages some 
fragments of that glorious moment, the foretaste and earnest of the beatific vision of 
the future. 

76 A profound spiritual significance underlies the psychological fact. While we con- 
template Divine Perfection we lose the consciousness of our own impotence. The sense 
of being dazzled and darkened with excess of light comes when we return from that 
contemplation to the lower region of our earthly life. As far and as long as he could 
he gazed upon the glorious vision, and that gaze was the condition of its continuance. 

ig\ THE INEFFABLE GLORY. [pah. c. xsxiii. 

In its abysmal depths mine eye did learn, 85 

Bound in one volume with the Love divine, 
The law on which the universe doth turn : 

Substance and accident and modes combine, 
All blent together in such order due, 
That what I tell as simple light doth shine. 90 

The universal form, I deem, I knew. 

Of this great complex "Whole, since greater joy, 
As I say this, pervades me through and through. 

A moment there more memory did destroy 

Than all the ages, five beyond the score, «5 

Since iN'eptune saw the Argo's shade flit by. 

Thus stayed my mind, still gazing o'er and o'er. 
With fixed and immovable attent, 
And, as it gazed, was kindled more and more. 

Before that Light one grows to such content 100 

That to turn back from it to aught beside 
The soul can never possibly consent ; 

Seeing that the good, by which is satisfied 

Our will, is centred tliere ; outside that rest. 

Defect attends what perfect there doth bide. uj 

Now shall my speech more briefly be comprest, 

Compared with my remembrance, than is seen 
The babe's who bathes his lips upon the breast. 

87 His first vision is, so to speak, metaphysical. He sees, in that li^ht, pure substance, 
absolute self-existence, that which is manifested in manifold forms, the accidents of that 
substance, the loose sheets, as it were (the thought of the Sibylline leaves seems to be with 
him still), of Omnipotence, bound in one volume with the Eternal Love. 

^2 The mingled sense of memorv and oblivion of which he had spoken before (II. 61-63) is 
with him still. He believes that he is right in saying that he had seen the "universal form," 
the Natura naturans, of the complex structure of the Natura natiiruta ; for in saymg 
that, he is conscious of a sense of enlargement and of joy. 

!** The comparison is somewhat obscure and has vexed the minds of commentators. The 
thought, however, seems to be that a single moment brought to the seer's mind a more 
complete oblivion of the glorious vision than twenty-five centuries had brought to the world 
of the earliest historical events, of which the Argonautic ext-edition is taken as a type. The 
wonder of Neptune at the shadow of ihe first ship that passed over his waters is commonly 
referred to Catull. E/'itkal. Pet. 14. There, however, the Nereids are those who wonder, and 
I am disposed to think that Dante had in liis thoughts Val. Flacc. {Ar^oii. i. 641-645). 

101 As the beatific vision constitutes the supreme blessedness of the Saints, the soul that 
has once tasted of its joy can never voluntarily turn to anything below it. The bliss is one 
which ensures, for those who know it, its own permanence (Aquin. Siiviin. i. 2. 5, 4). 
There alone is the Supreme Good, and dl outside is either a counierfeit, or a defective and 
imperfect, good. We turn, in Browning's phrase, from " Man's nothing perfect to God's all 
complete" (5aa/). 

107 Even of the fragment that is remembered of that vision, the poet's words must be wary 
and few, as those of an infant not yet weaned (,Ps. cxxxi. 3). 


Not because more than one pure form serene 

Was in the living Light I gazed upon, "<> 

Which ever is what It hath ever been, 
But through the sight, which greater force had won 
In me by gazing, one Form met mine eye 
Still varying as I changed, yet ever One ; 
In the profound bright substance seen on high "s 

Of that clear light three circles seemed to glow 
Of threefold colour, knit in unity ; 
And as one rainbow by another, so 

This was by that reflected, while the third 
As fire appeared that from them both did flow. i™ 

Ah me ! how brief and stammering now is heard 

All speech compared with thought, and that to this 
I saw is such that ''small" is scarce the word. 
O Light Eternal, who, of all that is, 

DweU'st in Thyself, and know'st Tliyself alone, 125 

And knowing, lov'st Thyself, Thyself thy bliss ! 
That interpenetration which, as shown, 

Appeared in Thee as 'twere reflected light. 
As on mine eyes in measure faint it shone, 
Within itself, in its own radiance bright, ^3" 

Seemed to me to present our image clear, 
Wherefore upon it full fixed was my sight. 
As doth the expert geometer appear, 

Who seeks to square the circle, and whose skill 

Finds not the law by which his course to steer, iss 

!(« What has to be described, as far as speech avails, is the glory of the THnity in Unit^^ 
It is simple, one for -errnore the same and y^^^^^^^^ ^,^ ^^^^^^. 

But even that symbohsm is so famt and poor that ,t '4"°"=^"°^£ "hfvery of God, 
131 The human element, however, is not entirely absent. J" '^i^' '' ^'^h' ^.^.f-^^^'^ ■•' I 

A Face like my face that receives thee ; a Man like to me 
Thou Shalt love and be loved by for ever ; a Hf"^ I'j'e th,s hand ^ ., 

Shall throw open the gates of new Life to thee I See tiie Chnst stand . 
133 So in CcKV. ii. 14, Mon. iii. 3. the squaring of the circle is stated as a problem beyond 

196 THE END. [pae. o, xsxii. 

So was I, as that sight my soul did fill: 

Fain would I see that form in circle set, 
And how, within, it found its true place still ; 

But for that task my wings were feeble yet, 

Only my mind was stricken through and through, i4o 
As by a flash that all my yearning met. 

Strength failed that lofty vision to pursue ; 

But now, as whirls a wheel with nought to jar, 
Desire and will were swayed in order due 

By Love, that moves the sun and every star. us 

the reach of man's powers, being coupled with the question as to the number of angels, as 
j-omts which, for that reason, men had ceased to discuss. Any mathematical student in the 
13th or 14th century might, of course, have come to that conclusion, but I incline to think 
that this is one of the instances in which, as in C. ii. 61-148, we may trace in Dante the 
pupil of Roger Bacon. The principle which is sought in vain is the exact relation of the 
circumference to the diameter. 

136 The seer has to confess that Theology, like Geometry, has its insoluble problems. He 
would fain have seen how " the image was fitted to the circle," t.i'., the human nature to 
the Divine, in the person of Christ. To this he could not attain by any flight of the wings 
of intellect, but for a moment it was flashed upon him by intuition. There was no power to 
reproduce that intuition, but there was something better. Desire and will were stirred as 
they had never been stirred before by the Love which moves the stars. 

So. according to the poet's plan, the third Cantica of his great poem ended, as the other 
two had done, with the word " star." As he wrote that word and laid down his pen, the 
long task of twenty years or more came to its close. There was no longer that to work on, 
no longer that for which to bring out the "things new and old" which that all-searching 
intellect had gathered into its treasury, to which Heaven and Earth had alike contributed 
(C. XXV. 2). That channel for the utterance of his thoughts was closed. We ask, but cannot 
answer the question, did he re.illy look on his work as finished in all its parts? Or did he 
polish and repolish, add or alter, insert or modify, allusive references to persons, places, 
theories of philosophy or theology? I incline to the belief that little or nothiiii; of this kind 
was done after he had finished the Paradiso, and sent it, or part of it, to Can Grande. 
The work was done, and, with the lofty self-confidence of his nature, he felt sure that it 
would live. Comp. Ep. to C. G. c. 3. 

On this hypothesis, there must have been somethins; like a blank left in Dante's lifelike that 
which all men feel who have finished a task on which they have laboured for many years. 
Even the translator, whose labours have spread over a period of much the same length as that 
which it took Dante to write the Connnedia, cannot close his task, as he writes the last line of 
text or commentary, without feeling that there is loss as well as gain in the completion of his 
work ; that his life will be, in some sense, the poorer for it ; that, whatever other studies of 
biography or literature may occupy his time, he can never hope for a work that will 
bring with it the strength, the interest, the elevation which he has found in Dante. 




A ciascun alma presa, e gentil core. 

To eacli enamoured soul, each gentle heart, 

Within whose ken comes what I now indite, 

That they their thoughts on what it means may write, 

Greeting in Love, their Lord, I now impart. 

Night's hours were minished just by one-third part, s 

"What time when every star shows brightest sheen, 
"When all at once Love by mine eyes was seen, 


For us this Sonnet has the interest of being the earliest of Dante's extant writings. It is 
obvious, however, that it is not the work of a prentice-hand, and that tliough he was only eighteen, 
there may well have been some four or five years' study and practice, first of Laiin, then of 
Provencal, and then of Italian, poetry. The story is told in the l^. N. {c. 3). Nine years 
after Beatrice had inspired his precocious boyhood with a consuming passion (1284), during 
which he had only had casual glimpses of her, probably in the Church of S. Lucia, he had met 
her, accompanied by two older friends, after her marriage with Simon de' Bardi, in the 
street, and she had for the first time given him a friendly greeting with words s.^ well as looks. 
As a married woman, she was free to grant him a recognition which would before have been 
unmaidenly. The old flame, which perhaps had slumbered after he had heard of her 
marriage, was rekinuled, and he went home to dream what is here recorded. As told in the 
Sonnet, still more as told in the /'. N., it is noteworthy as being the only instance of any 
approach to the sensuous element of passion. To see what Dante says he saw indicates a 
perilous, though involuntary, nearness to temptation. Even here, however, the corrective is 
near at hand. Joy is turned to mourning. The sleep of the beloved one, even then, is as the 
shadow-sister 01 death. After the manner of the time, perhaps with some exultation in the 
consciousness of a new-born power, Dante sent his poem to his friends, among them to 
C.uido Cavalcanti, Cino da Pistoia, Dante da Maiano. Of these, none understood the drift 
of what in later years he felt had been an unconscious prophecy of Beatrice's early death. 
Cavalcanti saw in it an instance of the melancholy that mingles with the sweet dreams of 
love. Cino suggested that Love came to bring him that which his heart desired, and then 
wept for the sorrow which his passion would bring to Beatrice. His namesake, more 
cynically, hinted that he was " off his head " and had better consult a doctor. 

* Four hours of the night had passed, sc, it was between i and 2 a.m., night beginning 
with Compline at 9 p.m. (Purg. ix. 8). Repeatedly Dante notes in the Co»nitedia his belief 
that dreams after midnight come true, and then their meaning is seen (//. xxvi. 7 ; Ptirg. 
ix. 16-18, xix. 4}. 


Whose very memory makes my spirit start. 

Joyous seemed Love, and he my heart did press 
"Within his hands, and in his arms he bare 

My lady, sleeping, wrapt in silken sheet ; 

Then woke her, and that burning heart to eat, 
Gave her ; she fed with timid, lowly air. 

Then as he went, tears did his grief confess. 


Guido, vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io, 

GuiDO, I would that Lapo, thou, and I 

Were taken by some skilled enchanter's spell, 

And placed on board a barque that should speed well 

8 Comp. //. i. 6, xxxii. 72, as instances of the same shuddering thrill of memory. 

11 The word "Madonna" supplies the key to all that follows. In the recognised use of 
Italian poetry, as in the speech of common life, that term was applied to a married woman 
only {Canz. ii. 13 ; Wiite, L. G. ii. 19). The maiden was a donzella or pulzella (comp. a 
Sonnet hy Frescohaldi, in which he elaborately discusses the advantages of loving one or the 
other, in Bart. Lett. Ital. iv. p. 17). The title thus given proves Beatrice's marriage at the 
commencement of the V. N. beyond the shadow of doubt. What Dante tells us in the V. N. 
(c. 6), that he wrote a senrntese on the sixty fairest ladies of Florence, leads to the same con- 
clusion. It would have been a breach of conventional etiquette to have inserted a maiden's 
name in such a poem. A. Pucci, in a poem of the same kind, names twenty-two ladies, and in 
each case has a word of praise for the husband also {Lii/nn. p. 19). If that conclusion seems at 
first startling, we may remember that it was the familiar practice of Provengal poets to choose 
a married woman as the object of a homage in which, ideally at least, there was no element of 
sensuous desire, only the supreme reverence for grace, beauty, purity. It was, we may 
admit, a strained relation, not without its risks, and too often the "vaulting ambition" might 
" o'erleap itself" and "fall o' the other side ; " but, as the sequel shows, it was for Dante not a 
liaison dangereuse, but a purifying pain. His love was like that of Sordello, not for Cunizza, 
but for another Beatrice, the wife of Charles of Anjou (Purg. vi. 58 k.), purer than that of 
Petrarch for his Laura, also a " donna," the wife of Hugh de Sade. In the Sonnet before us, the 
first that he cared to leave to future ages, he was perhaps following in Sordello's footsteps, and 
in those of Guido Guinicelli, whom he recognised as his master (Pmx- xxvi. 98', claiming for 
himself, however, the distinctive merit of rising out of the traditional conventionalities of the 
Troubadours and other poets, and writing as love taught him {Piifg. xxiv. 52-54). 

12 The meaning of the vision is not far to seek. His heart burned with .a reverential love, 
which Beatrice accepted, not as another woman might have done, triumphant in a new con- 
quest, but with a timid meekness ; and Love wept at the coming sorrow, in which, as a strange 
foreboding indicated, the homage was to end. For the whole story, comp. vol. i. pp. xlv.-xlviii. 


Notable as the one Sonnet in which the element of a sportive joy, what Quinet has called 
" the aureole of adolescence," is dominant. How bright and happy might life be, it seems to 
say, could we but live in an enchanted region, where its stern realities (among them Beatrice's 
marriage) had no place. It is suggestive that he did not think fit to include it in the K. N. 

1 The Guido is Cavalcanti, then Dante's chiefest friend, before his change of feeling as to 
Virgil's merits or the Epicurean materialism which he inherited from his father had brought 
about the coolness and alienation which H. x. 52-63 k. at least suggests. 


Through wind and wave, and with our will comply ; 

So that nor evil chance nor stormy sky 5 

Should be to our desire impediment. 
So, living always in one full consent, 

Desire should grow to dwell in company : 

And Lady Vanna, Lady Bice too. 

With her who nobly fills my thirtieth line. — • 10 

Would that the good enchanter these might move 
With us to speak for evermore of Love j 
And each of them in full content combine, 

E'en as I deem 'twould be with me and you ! 


"db profundis." 

vol, che per la via d' Amor passale. 

YE who on Love's path pursue your way, 
Behold and say 

9 Vanna, or Giovanna, known also as Primavera (= Spring), and mentioned again in l^. .V. 
c. 24, J)'. 16, was the object of Cavalcanti's love. Bice, as in her father's will (Frat. V. D. 
p. 98), stands for Beatrice. The third is described as thirtieth in the list of sixty fair ones of 
Florence, on whom Dante had written a poem of the seri'eniese type (see ?/. on 6". i), which 
has not come down to us, and in which Beatrice's name appeared, as by the decree of fate, as 
the ninth. She has been identified with the Donna (the beloved one, not the wife) of Lapo 
Gianni, or, as some say, Lapo degli Xlberti, the son of Fa'rinata, and father of the poet Fazio, 
who wrote the Dittamondo, a kind of Gazetteer in terza rijtta. The fact that Guido 
Cavalcanti married the daughter of the Farinata of H. x. 32 is in favour of the latter view, 
as also is the mention of Lapo in V. E. i. 13. There also he is grouped with Cavalcanti, 
probably with Dante himself. The leading thought of the Sonnet is the wish that the ideal 
love could become a life-long reality. But he knows it cannot be. Only the enchanter's 
wand could bring about such a transformation. The actual history of what was then future 
presents one of the strange contrasts which so often characterise the "irony of history." 
Beatrice died in 1250. Cavalcanti was banished by Dante to Sarrazzano, and died of a fever 
caught in its unwholesome climate in 1300. For Dante himself there was a life of poverty 
and exile. It may be noted that in some MSS. "Lagia" takes the place of "Bice," as 
though the Sonnet had been written by Cino of Pistoia, who addresses many of his poems to 
a Selvaggia, a name of which Lagia may have been a diminutive. 


The V. N. (c. 7) gives the following account of the poem, which is there called a Sonnet, 
that term being used, at first, in a less restricted sense than it acquired afterwards. This 
particular form was known as a Sonetta dof'pio or rinterzato. Dante had sought to conceal 
his love, but he could not refrain from gazing on Beatrice as he knelt in church, probably 
in that of S. Lucia, in the Via tie' Bardi, and near her husband's house. In so gazing, another 
fair lady sat between him and his beloved one, and many thought, therefore, that he was in 
love with her. The poet saw in that mistake a means at once of concealment and of utterance. 
He would encourage it by writing poems which should seem to be addressed to her, and yet 
give vent to thoughts that were meant for Beatrice. She was to be, as he says, his " screen " 
against whispering tongues and over-curious gaze. And this went on, he says, for some 
months, and even years. It was in connexion with this phase of his passion that he wrote the 
Sementese above referred to. Her departure from Florence gave him an opportunity for 
pouring forth his sorrow as though that had been its cause. For the history of the Serven- 
tese, see Diez, Troub., pp. 169-176. 

2 The allusion to Lavi. i. i finds a parallel in Dante's quotations from the same prophet in 
his Epistle to the Cardinals {Ep. 9). See also the note on H. i. 32, and V. N. c. 29, 31. 


If there be any sorrow grave as mine : 

That ye would list to me is all I pray, 
And then let Fancy's play 

Judge if of all woe I am key and slirine. 

Love, not for little good that in me lay, 

But his own noble goodness to display, 

Placed me in life so pleasant and so fair, 

That oft I heard behind me voices say 

" Ah, through what merit may 

His heart so light be, and so free from care 1 " 

Now have T all my wonted courage lost, 

Wliich came of old from Love's great treasure-store, 

"Whence I continue poor, 
And shrink when I would any one accost. 

And thus, desiring still to act like those, 

"Who, in their shame, hide their deficiencies, 

Cheerful I meet men's eyes, 
And weep within and wail o'er all my woes. 


DEATH OF Beatrice's friend (i). 
Piangete, amanti, poiche piange Amwe. 

"Weep, all ye lovers, seeing Love doth weep. 

Hearing what cause calls forth his piteous cry ; 
Love hears fair ladies mourn in sympathy, 

13 The change is like that of 5". i. y-i4. The first joy of the new passion, the dream of the 
impossible, as in ^. ii., had turned into a consuming sorrow. 

1' We note the characteristically subjective self-analj'sis, the forerunner of many like it in 
the Cotnjiiedia (//. i. 6, xxxii. 72 ; Purg- v. 20, vii. 10, xxx. 74-79, xxxi. 64-66 ; Far. vii. 10), 
the same proud reticence and reserve which characterised the poet from first to last. 


Early in the history of the V. N. (c. 8) — probably before 1285 — one of Beatrice's best-loved 
friends died, in the full freshness of her youth, and Dame laments her death in this and the 
following poem. He describes her as in some respects the complement of Beatrice. She is 
gay, bright, full of a ready courtesy. God had taken her to Himself, and she was in the 
courts of Heaven. I have ventured {Purg: xxviii. 40 «.), on what seem to me sufficient 
grounds, to identify her with the Matilda of the Earthly Paradise. In Dante's admiration 
and reverence she clearly occupied a place second only to Beatrice. 


Wtose eyes give outward proof of sorrow deep. 

For villainous Death on gentle heart doth heap 5 

The strokes of his most cruel workmanship, 

Wasting what winneth praise from each man's lip, 
In lady fair, save th' honour she doth keep. 
Hear ye what homage Love to her did pay ; 

For I saw him lament in very deed, 10 

Over the lifeless form he came to view : 
And often to high heaven his glance he threw, 

"Where finds a home the gentle spirit freed. 

Who was a lady of such presence gay. 


DEATH OP Beatrice's feiend (2). 

Morte viUana, di pieta nemica, 

VILLAIN Death, of pity ruthless foe, 
Old parent of great woe. 
Inevitable doom and hard to bear, 
Since thou hast filled my heart with sad despair, 
And to and fro I wander full of care, 5 

My tongue in blaming thee doth weary grow ; 

And if I seek thee pitiless to show, 

Needs must I make men know 
Thy guilt, wherein all wrongs most wrongful are. 
Not that 'tis hidden from men's eyes afar, 10 

But to rouse all to fiery heat of war, 
Who henceforth shall with Love's true nurture grow. 

Thou from the world hast ta'en all courtesy. 

And virtue, that which wins a lady praise : 

In youth's first gladsome days is 

Thou hast laid low all Love's sweet pleasantry. 

10 The Love who mourns is not the classical Cupid, but Beatrice herself — Love incarnate, 
whom Dante had seen weeping over the body of her friend ( / '. N. c. 8). That upward look 
implied the prayer that they might meet again. In the Purgatory vision Dante implies his belief 
that the prayer had been granted, though the transfigured Beatrice dwelt in the higher region of 
the EmpjTean heaven, Matilda in the Earthly Paradise — the one symbolising the wisdom of 
the contemplative life, the other the joy of active ministration. 


From V. N. c. 8, and a variation of the theme of 5'. iii. 


More I tell not who that fair dame may be, 

Than by the exceeding grace each act displays. 

"Who treads not life's true ways, 
Let him not hope to have her company. 


Cavalcando V altr' ier per un cammino, 

EiDiNQ the other day along a road, 

All pensive o'er the thought that made me sad, 
I found Love half-way on my journey, clad 

In the light garb that pilgrim's raiment showed. 

Like one of low estate he on did plod, s 

As though his lordship he had cast aside, 
And sighing, full of thought, his course he plied, 

That he might look on none, with head low bowed. 

When he saw me he called me by my name, 

And said, " I come from region distant far, lo 

"Where through my will, thy heart had ta'en its flight. 

And now I bring it for a new delight," 

Such measure full of him I then did share, 
He fled, nor saw I how he went and came. 

17-20 Grammatically the lines can only refer to the friend of Beatrice, for whom Dante 
mourns ; but he assures us in the K. N, that they were meant for Beatrice herself. Possibly 
the lines were written at first for Matilda, found to be fitter for Beatrice, and so mentally 
transferred to her. It must be remembered that he had already in i". iii. identified Love with 


From v. N. c. 9, where also we are told of the vision which it embodies, and which came to 
him when he was riding with many others along a rushing stream. I surmise, with Witte, 
Krafft, Wegele (p. 74), that it connects itself with the expedition against Arezzo, in which 
Dante took part (12S9), and which ended in the battle of Campaldino (H. xxii. 6 ; Purg. v. 
92 ; vol. i. p. 1.), and th.-it the stream was the Arno, and I find in it the expression of a new- 
born sense of freedom rising out of the activities of that stirring life. He is no longer under 
the despotism of Love ; his heart no longer devoured by her to whom Love has given it. As he 
rides he sees Love as a pilgrim (probably enough an actual pilgrim met the cavaliers on their 
way), with that peculiarly humble look which devout pilgrims affect, and that seems to him 
the symbol of the state to which what had been the master-passion of his soul is now reduced. 
The absorption of the mind by one engrossing thought, the waking vision even while he is 
riding with a troop of horse, is eminently characteristic of the seer-temperament (Pnrg. xv. 
IIS, «•) He is not far from the home of her who had screened his love, but love gives him 
leave to turn his heart to any new delight, whether it be that of battle or the beauty of some 
new fair one, to be in the future what the "screen" lady had been in the past. 



Se^l hello aspetto non mi fosse tolto. 

Were the s-n-eet sight from me not ta'en away 
Of that fair lady whom I long to see, 
For whom I sigh and weep in misery, 
Thus distant from her face so blithe and gay, 

That, which as heavy load on me doth weigh, 

And makes me feel such torment keen and dire, 
After such fashion, that I half expire, 

Like one with whom his hope no more will stay, 

Would be but light, and with no terror dread ; 
But since no more I see her as of old, 
Love pains me, and my heart with grief is cold. 

And so of every comfort I lose hold, 

That all things which delight on others shed 
To me are troublous, and work woe instead. 


THE lover's plea FOR PITY. 
La dispietata mente che pur viira. 
My sorrowing soul that only looks behind 

On days gone by of which I now am reft. 

On this side with my heart holds conflict sore ; 

Not in the V.N., but belonging probably to the same period as 5-. iv., distance from the 
object of love being the hnk that connects the two. Here, however, the sense of freedom has 
passed away Ihe pains of absence are more keenly felt the lover misserthedaTv dance 
the occasional salutation, which have been the light of his life Such mptr LLVi i,, ^L^ "I ' 
state of Dante's soul during the Campaldino o? Caprona expedk L^^'^Fm ceU how^ve^^^ 
conjectures that the absence complained of may be that caused by he del h of Beatrice 
while Balbo assumes that the journey was one to Bologna in company with other ftudents' 
We^owe the discovery of the Sonnet to Witte's researches in the imbro^an LSy" ai 


^^^^ki^'^:^t^J^' '^" °''^'"^"" ^™- Florence 0.5) in Beatrice's 


t^:^Z,X^ wHt'en°or o"rr t'^'^f'^' f ■» -rhVUtfr^^Vt'l fi'ndVe^^ 
such SroiTde L^ht r^-T n^' "'' =^'"1=^''°" which when spoken had hlled his soul with 
terms? ^ ^ ^' ^' '°' '^^' ^''^"^hmade saiuto and salute interchangeable 


On that, fond longing that calls back my mind 

To the sweet country that I now have left, s 

\Yith the strong might of Love prevaileth more. 

Nor feel I now within the strength of yore 

That can for long ward off my sore defeat, 

Unless, that help, dear Lady, comes from thee, 

Wherefore, if thine it be lo 

To set it free by vigorous emprise meet, 
May it please thee to send thy greeting dear, 
To bid its virtue be of better cheer. 

May it please thee, my Lady, yet again. 

Thou fail not now the heart that loves thee so, is 

Since from thee only succour it can claim, 
A good knight never rides with tightened rein, 
To help a squire who calls him in his woe ; 
For not for him alone he fights, but fame. 
And sure its grief now burns with fiercer flame, 20 

"When, I think, my Lady fair, that thou 
Art painted in it by the hands of Love ; 
So should'st thou much more prove 
For him thy care in greater measure now. 
Since He, from whom all good must needs appear, 2s 

For His own image in us holds us dear. 

If thou would'st speak, thou Hope, of all most sweet, 
Of more delay of that which I request, 
Know thou I cannot any longer wait, 
For all my strength to bear doth waning fleet ; so 

And this 'tis fit thou know, since my unrest 
Moves me to seek my last hope ere too late : 
For man should bear with patience every weight 

17-19 Pew great poets delight more than Dante does in bringing out the nobleness of the 
true relation of master and servant, knight and squire. The three lines breathe the very spirit 
of an ideal chivalry by which the young soldier was, we may believe, inspired in his first 
campaign. //. xvii. 90 ; Par. xxiv. 148. 

•2-2-2B The passage has often been misinterpreted, but its meaning is sufficiently clear. God, 
from whom all goodness flows, holds us dear because He sees in us His own image ; so should 
Beatrice have pity on her lover, for Love has painted her form on the canvas of his soul. The 
thought is eminently characteristic of the poet, who, even then, was also a theologian. 

33 Another touch of the nobleness of chivalry. The young soldier of Campaldino has 
learnt that he must not call for help, however ready his friend maybe to give it (1. 17), except 
under the strongest pressure of necessity. That he appeals to Beatrice now (the poem is 
obviously addressed to her), is a proof that he has reached that point. 


Till the last burden which to death must press, 

Before he seek his greatest friend to prove, ss 

Not knowing what his love : 
And if it chance he heed not my distress 
Then is there nothing that can cost more dear, 
For death has nought more rapid or more drear. 

And thou alone art she whom most I love, « 

"Who upon me canst greatest gift bestow, 
In whom alone my hope finds fullest rest : 
Only to serve thee would I long life prove. 
And those things, whence to thee may honour flow, 
I seek and crave ; all else doth me molest ; ij 

Where others fail, thou canst grant all my quest. 
For Yes and ISTo entirely in thy hand 
Hath Love now left ; whence I esteem me great : 

The trust thou dost create 
Springs from thy bearing, pitiful and bland ; » 

For whoso looks on thee in truth knows well 
From fair outside that there doth mercy dwell. 

Now, therefore, let thy greeting quickly speed. 
And come within the heart that waits fur it. 
My gentle Lady ; — thou my prayer hast known. 55 

But know, the entrance there is barred indeed 
With that same arrow wherewith I was hit, 
Which Love shot when he made me all his own : 
By it the way is closed to every one. 
Save to Love's envoys, who to ope have skill, go 

By will of that same Power that doth it bar : 

Wherefore, in this my war, 
Its coming would to me be grievous ill, 
If it approach without the company 
Of that Lord's envoys, who imprisons me. 65 

43-45 Evidence, if that were needed, of the purity of the poet's passion. AH that he craves 
for is the opportunity of serving his beloved and doing honour to her name, and that service 
is its own exceeding great reward (vol. i. p. xlviii.) 

55-65 One notes the recurrence of military imagery, the arrow used as a bolt, the closed 
gate of the fortress, the arrows of love's artillery, such as may have been suggested by the 
siege of Caprona, the warfare by which the soul's peace is imperilled. 


Canzon', thy journey should be swift and short, 

For well thou know'st how brief is now the day 
For him for whom thou speedest on thy way. 


In ahito di saggia messagera. 

In fashion of an envoy wise and true, 

Move on thine errand, Song, without delay. 

To my fair dame thy message to convey. 

And tell her my life's powers are faint and fevv. 

Thou wilt begin to tell her that mine eyes, s 

Through looking on her angel-countenance, 
"Were wont to bear the garland of desires. 
Now, since they cannot see the face they prize, 
Death with such terror on them doth advance. 
That they have made a wreath of torturing fires. lo 

Alas ! I know not whither they should fare 
For their delight, and so thou me wilt find 
As one half-dead, unless thou bring my mind 
Comfort from her ; therefore tell her my prayer. 

"S After the manner of the Provencal poets, the Canzone terminates w'th what was known 
as the Tornata or L' Envoi o^ \.\\<i poem, considered as a messenger who has to bear tidings 
to her to whom it is sent. The last two lines seem to indicate something like an anticipation, 
which the state of Dante's health, as described in V. N. c. 14, 23, might well warrant, of an 
early death. The time was short ; Beatrice would do well to give a proof of her sympathy 
before it was too late. See B. iii. 


The whole poem connects itself closely with the last lines of the foregoing. In the 
" wreath of torturing fire" by which his eyes were encircled (1. 10) we have the poet's version 
of the weakness of sight described in S. xxix. ; C. xl. ; Conv. iii. 9; and in V. N. c. 11, 12. 
They, in their mute suffering, are even without words, as an appeal ad misericordiam. 
Not in the V. N., but probably one of the poems referred to in C. v. as addressed to the 
" screen " lady. 



"apologia pro vita sua." 

Edlata, io vo' che tu ritruovi Amore, 

I WILL that thou, my Song, find Love anew, 
And that with hiiu thou seek my lady fair, 
So that my pleading, with thy sweet-voiced air. 
My Lord to her may speak in accents true. 

Thou goest, my Song, so full of courtesy, 5 

That, though no friend be near, 
Thou oughtest to be bold on every side ; 
But if thou seekest full security, 

First find if Love be there. 
It is not good without him far to ride ; id 

For she to whom thou should'st thy tale confide, 
If, as I deem, she is with me irate, 
And thou shouldst go without him as thy mate, 
!Might lightly on thee some dishonour do. 

With a sweet sound, when with him thou shalt be, is 

Do thou these words begin. 
As soon as thou her pity shalt have sued : 
" My Lady, he who sends me now to thee, 

Seeks, if thy will he win, 
That thou should'st hear if his defence be good. •-'o 

'Tis Love who makes him, as may suit his mood, 
Change look and hue for your fair beauty's sake : 
Eethink thee, then, why he his eye doth make 
On others look, though heart unchanged be true." 

From V. N. c. 12. The contrivance of the " screen," who was to serve as a lay-figure tor 
the true object of the poet's love, had led, as might have been expected, in the case of the 
second lady who was selected for this purpose, to misunderstandings. Beatrice was indignant 
at what appeared to her his fickleness, a fickleness which brought some scandal on the lady's 
reputation, and he writes by way of explanation, with a plea of " not guilty." He may have 
seemed faithless, but his heart has all along been true. Love, indeed, has told him in a 
vision that it is time that these screens and counterfeits should cease. All that he seeks is to 
serve Beatrice whether in life, or should she so will it, in his death (11. 25-34). We note 
that the poem was to be set to music, " Di soave armonia." A friend (H. W. P.) notes the 
coincidence of thought in Herrick's poem to Anthea— 

" Bid me to live, and I will live ; 

Bid me despair ; . . . 
Or bid me die, and I will dare 
E'en death to die for thee." 
VOL. 11. O 


Tell her, " Lady, still his heart hath borne 

Such firm unwavering faith, 
That every thought prompts him to service due ; 
Quick was he thine, nor ever thence was torn." 

If she doubt what he saith, 
Bid her of Love demand if it be true ; 
And at the end with meek entreaty sue 
To pardon him, if he hath caused her pain; 
And if she bid me die by message plain, 
Her slave that best obeying she shall view. 

And say to him who holds all pity's key. 

Before thou leave my fair, 
He put forth skill on my good plea to dwell. 
Through grace of my sweet-flowing melody. 

Remain thou with her there, 
And of thy servant what thou wiliest, tell ; 
And if thy prayer her pardon winneth well. 
Bid her with aspect fair to speak of peace." 
gentle song of mine, if thee it please, 
Speed at such time that honour may accrue. 


TvUi li jniei pensier parlan d'amore, 

Mr every thought is fain to speak of love, 
And in them there is such variety, 
That one constrains me own his sovereignty, 

Another will his power a madness prove ; 

•*- The closing prayer is for a message of greeting {salute in its twofold sense), such as had 
been asked for in Canz. i. 


From V. N. c. 13. An expansion of the inner conflict of emotions indicated in Canz. i. 
1. 62. All however agree, and this is their point of contact with Ball. iii. in their prayer for 
pity. Is love good or not good ? Does the sweetness of the word " Atnore " correspond with 
the reality, on the principle that Ncmiina su?it consegucniia rcruin ? In applying the name 
'■ Madonna" to the "pity" which he seeks, there is, he says in the P'. N., a touch of irony. 
Pity is not the mistress of his soul. 


A third, by giving hope, sweet joy doth move, 
Aiid many a time and oft one bids me cry ] 
Only in craving pity come they nigh 

Accord, and with heart-tremblings sadly rove. 

Whence I know not to what point I should wend, 
And wish to speak, yet know not what to say 
So find myself in amorous wanderings lost. 

And if I would agree wuth all the host, 

I must needs now to her my fair foe pray, 
That she, my Lady Pity, me defend. 



ColV altre donne mia vista gabhate. 

With other dames thou dost my looks deride, 

And think'st not, Lady, what hath wrought the change, 
That makes me wear a face so new and strange, 

"\Mien on thy beauteous form mine eyes abide. 

Did'st thou but know it, Pity had denied s 

Longer to prove me with the old distress, 
For Love, whene'er he sees me near thee press, 

Puts on such boldness and such sturdy pride, 


The history is given in K. N. c. 14. The poet, returned to Florence, had been at a 
wedding-feast, where there were many guests. Suddenly Beatrice appeared among them. In 
part, perhaps, through the confusion and shame implied in Bail. iii. and iv., he turned giddy, 
leant against the wall to save himself from falling, and had to be led back to his own house. 
As he goes out he hears the ladies who were present, Beatrice among them (only married 
ladies attended such gatherings, they were all danae, S. i. «.), talk of him, not without a tone of 
derision, and when he comes to himself in the " chamber of tears," he writes by way of pro- 
test against her hastiness. He had not yet learnt the lesson, " Let the people talk." {Purg. 

^' '^"^ . • • . ■ J 

Many commentators infer that the marriage-feast was that of Beatrice's own wedding, and 

that this was the cause of Dante's overpowering emotion. For the reasons given in the notes 
on .S". i., I am compelled to think otherwise. I surmise rather that it may have been the first 
time he had seen her since his return from Campaldino, and since the misunderstandings that 
had pained her {Ball, iv.) To look on her as sharing in a wedding-feast may well have 
renewed the feeling with which he had heard that she had been given to another, and_ had 
cursed the altered fashions of the time and the greed of gain which thus marred the happiness 
of his life {Par. xv. 103-105). See vol. i. p. xlvi. 


It smites my senses, making them afraid, 

Dooms this to death, and that to banishment, 
So that I stand alone to gaze on thee. 

"Wherefore another's look I take on me, 

Yet so that still I share the loud lament 
Of those the sufferers that are exiles made. 



Cib, die ni" incontra nella mente, more. 

That in my mind which clashes with it, dies, 
Whene'er I come to see thee, my fair Joy, 
And when I near thee stand, I hear Love's cries, 

Who saith, " Flee far, if death brings thee annoy." 

My features paint my heart's hue in mine eyes, s 

Which, as in death-swoon, leans where rest is nigh, 
And drunken with great trembling and surprise, 

It seems the stones cry out to me, " Die, die." 

Who sees me then is guilty of a sin. 

Not comforting my soul, dismayed with ill, lo 

At least in proving that my Avoe doth gain 

Some pity for me, whom your mirth doth kill, — 
That woe which shows itself in looks of pain 
In eyes which seek death of their own free will. 

" I have translated spiriti by "senses," as the best equivalent. In Dante's physiology 
every sense, hearing, sight, &c. , had its own special spirito (V. N. c. i), but that meaning 
would not be conveyed lo the reader by the English "spirits." Every such "sense "or 
' spirit " had been stunned as he gazed on Beatrice, and so the fa-hion of his countenance was 
altered and he became as another man, only so far retaining consciousness as to hear, as it 
were, the wailings of each banished sense. The concluding lines half suggest that those 
wailings seemed to him as an anticipation of the misery of the lost (,H. iii. 25). 


From V. N. c. 15. Obviously, in close conne.\ion with Sonn. vii., painting in verse what 
he had sketched before in prose. Why, he asked himself, should he seek to see her when the 
sight was so full of pa n ? And yet there rose up such a form of beauty in his mind that the 
desire to see her was stronger than ever. Would not Beatrice's mirth, that had so vexed his 
soul, be turned into pity when she read of it. 

•* We note the s.ime reduplication in Par. viii. 75, and conjecture that the story of the 
Sicilian Vesper5(i282) must have reached Florence within a few years of the date of the Sonnet, 
filling Dante's soul with horror, and transnniling itself into a symbol of the " soul's tragedy," 
through which he himself was passing. .As before in liall. i;i., he pleads the special suflfer- 
iiig.s of his eyes to move his lady's pity. 



Spessejiate venemi alia menie. 

Full many a time there comes into my thought 
The melancholy hue which Love doth give, 
And such woes come on me that I am brought 

To say, " Ah me ! doth one so burdened live ? " 

For Love with me so suddenly hath fought, s 

That 'tis as though life all my frame did leave ; 
One living spirit only help hath wrought, 

And that remains discourse of thee to weave. 

Then I arise, resolved myself to aid. 

And pale and wan, and of all strength bereft, i» 

I come to see thee, thinking health to find : 

And if on thee my longing eyes are stayed, 

My heart, as with an earthquake, then is cleft. 
Which makes my pulse leave all its life behind. 



Donne ch' avete intelletto d" amore. 

Ladies, who have intelligence of love, 

I fain would of my Lady speak with you, 
Not that I think to tell her praises due, 


From V. y. c. i6. The conflict with the many " spirits " (in Dante's sense of the word) is 
continued. One only holds out, and that remains to tell the praises of the beloved one. Thus 
s^re-smitten he looks to her in hope of healing, but alas 1 the remedy is worse than the disease 
(1. ii) ; Tearfulness and trembling once more come on him. 


V. A', c. i8 and 19. Memorable as probably the poem on which Dante looked as the master- 
piece of his earlier works. It is the first Canzone which he inserts in the V. N. He quotes from 
it as his own in V. E. ii. 12, 13. In Purg. xxiv. 51, he makes Buonagiunta of Lucca, himself a 
poet, eager to know whether he meets the man who wrote it. His account of its genesis is 
that he was asked one day by many married and unmarr ed women of rank {donne and 
donzelle, x\Qt feminine) of Florence, when Beatrice was not with them, whose relations with 
their worshippers were quite other than those between him and Beatrice, what his love meant, 
what was to come of it all ? .\nd this is his reply. He who would enter into the mind and 
heart of Dante should read it line by line and word for word. He wished for nothing more 
than Beatrice's greeting. That was the only blessedness he sought for. And in saying 
this he was but repeating what Love itself had taught him. The form in which that thought 
was expressed came to him, he says, as he was walking by a clear river — probably the Arno. 

1-H The poet will not shrink from his task, though he feels that it lies far beyond his 
powers. Love is mighty though he is weak. Line 13 indicates the distiuction between donna 
and danzelia, already ooted in n, on Sonn. i. 


But speaking to set free my burdened soul. 

I say that, as my thoughts on her worth move, s 

So sweetly Love thrills all my senses through, 

That if I lost not all my courage true 

]\Iy words would make the world own Love's control. 

Such lofty strains I choose not for my rule, 

Lest I, through coward fear, should vile become ; lo 

Eut of her gentle life I'll not be dumb, 

And sketch with light touch that surpassing whole. 

Ladies and damsels who know Love, with you ; 

For not to others now my speech is due. 

An Angel speaketh in the Eternal Mind is 

And saith, " O Sire, in yonder world is shown 
A wondrous thing, which hath to being grown 
From a pure soul whose brightness shines on high. 
Heaven which no other sense of want doth find 
Than of her presence, asks of God that boon ; 20 

And every saint implores for that alone," 
And Pity only comes to help our fears, 
For thus speaks God, who of my Lady hears, 
" My well-beloved, now suffer ye in peace 
That this your hope, as long as I shall please. 
Wait, where one dwells whom loss of her shall try. 
And who shall tell the damned in hell's unrest 
*I have beheld the hope of all the blest.'" 

My Lady thus in highest heaven is sought : 

Now will I ye her Avorth supreme should hear. so 

I say, who will as gentle dame appear, 

Let her go with her, for where she doth go, 

1\\ basest souls a chill by Love is Avrought, 

Freezing each vile thought till to death 'tis near : 

And who Love wills should see with vision clear ss 

Must either die or else must noble grow. i 

16 The lover has already taken a long stride towards the apotheosis of the Commedia: 
Beatrice is already as " God's true praise" (//. ii. 103). The saints in Paradise are waiting 
for iier presence to complete their bliss. Pity only pleads that she may be left a little longer 
for her friends on earth. 

21* One cannot read what follows without feeling that we have the first germ of the thought 
which afterwards, as in V. N. c. 23, ripened into a vision and then into a purpose (K. N. c. 
43), and lastly into the wonder of wonders, the Comvtedia itself. 

•**> Literature can hardly, I imagine, present a parallel to the nobleness of these lines. The 
holiness of a perfect and pure beauty freezes each thought of evil. Pride and desire alike are 


Aiid when he finds one who doth worthy show 

To look on her, he doth her worth attest ; 

For that her greeting gives him peace and rest, 

So hiimbhng him that he no wrath doth know, 40 

And, as yet greater grace, God gives her this ; 

He who speaks with her cannot end amiss. 

Love saith of her, "A thing of mortal birtli, 
How can it be so beautiful and pure 1 " 
Then he looks on her, inly swearing, "Sure 45 

God means in her to work a wonder new." 
Her hue is that of pearl of priceless worth. 
Meet for a lady, fair without excess : 
She is all good that Nature can express, 
And in her, as a type, is beauty true. so 

From her fair eyes, when we their glances view, 
Spirits pass forth inflamed with Love's sweet blaze, 
And strike the eyes of him who then doth gaze, 
And so pass on, each finds his heart anew. 
Ye see them there, Love painted in her smile, ss 

Where fixed gaze they may not brook long while. 

Canzon', I know that thou to many a fair 

■ Wilt go discoursing, when I thee have sped. 
Now do I warn thee, since I thee have bred 
As Love's own daughter in her lowly prime, eo 

That, where thou goest, thou utter still the prayer, 
" Teach me to journey, for to her I'm sent 
"\Aniose praises are my one chief ornament ; " 

calmed. To have conversed with her is the source of unfailing hope. Here again we note the 
first germ of the ConiDiedia. The natural development of that germ is seen in the thought that 
she herself must come to his rescue (as in H. ii. 103) in the " critical minute " of his life. 

47 One of the few artist's touches in a portrait which otherwise is almost purely spiritual. 
In the "pearl on forehead white" of Par. iii. 14 we may well find a reminiscence of that 
touch. Comp. Sonn. xxvi. 

p The ever-recurring theory of " spirits " comes in where modern poetry would speak of 
" influence " and " expression." The thrill that pervades the lover's frame when fair eyes look 
on him, whence can it come? So Dante asked, and made answer to himself, Where but from 
some occult forces, for which " spirits " was at least as good a term as any other (K. N. c. 2). 
In 1. 55 a v. I. gives visa (" face ") for riso. 

•5" The envoi of the poem shows that it was meant to reach Beatrice herself, it may be as an 
atonement for the real or fancied neglect of the past (Ball, iv.) Dante hopes, however, for 
other readers, but is content that they should be "few," if only they be "fit."_ What he 
demands is the element, hard to be defined, of the "courtesy" which was so favourite a word 
with him (H. ii. 58, 134, iii. 121 ; Ptirg. ix. 92, xi. 85 ; Par. xii. iii), and was so eminently 
characteristic of his own nature. 


And if, as weak and vain, thou fear'st to climb : 
Stay not where tliey dwell who are base with crime : 
Learn, if thou canst, to hold thy converse free 
Only with man or maid of courtesy ; 
Who soon will speed thy way in quickest time. 
Thou wilt find Love with her, my Lady sweet, 
Commend me thou to them, as it is meet. 


L"m' ino'esce di me si malamente. 

So sad and keen a grief comes over me, 

That full as much of pain, 
Doth pity, as the grief itself, excite. 
Ah me ! for that, in saddest misery, 

A poAver doth me constrain s 

To pour my last sigh in a breathing light, 
Within the heart Avhich those fair eyes did smite, 
When with his hands Love opened them to see, 
To lead me to this season of my woe. 

Ah me ! how kind and free, lo 

Pleasant and sweet, did they upon me rise. 

When they, to my surprise. 
Began to work the death which brings me low. 
Saying, " Our light brings peace for thee to know : 


Not in the V. N., but presenting so many points of contact with C. ii. that it well may be 
regarded as a sketch or an echo of it, and therefore as referring to Beatrice. Krafft, it is true, 
thinks that Dante speaks of the fair one vvliom he loved in the Casentino, but on grounds which 
seem to me quite inadequate ; nor can I accept the view of another critic that it is addressed 
to the donna gentile, either as a flesh and blood reality, or as the symbol of philosophy 
(Oeynhausen). Vet one never feels quite sure that there may not be some allegoric or mystic 

3 The paradox rises probably out of the "screen" arrangement (5a//. iv.) Dante was 
pining for some token that Beatrice still cared for him, but the pity which his manifest distress 
called forth came from those who were not the objects of his love. The eyes which had given 
the hope of peace were now averted from him and left him desolate. He tinds the meaning 
of a " sorrow's crown of sorrow" {H. v. 122). 


Peace to thy heart we'll give, delight to thee/' is 

So to these eyes of mine 
Those of ruy Lady fair did sometimes say ; 
But "when, with knowledge clear, they came to see 

That through her power divine, 
!^[y spirit from me had nigh passed away, 20 

They with Love's banners fled from out the fray, 
So that their glorious and triumphant gleam 
Was to mine eyes no longer visible : 

And saddened still doth seem 
My soul, which looked thence to be comforted, 25 

And now, as though 'twere dead, 
It sees the heart with which 'twas wed to dwell, 
And it must part from that it loved so well. 

Yea, loving well, it goeth wailing sore. 

From out this life's confine, so 

Disconsolate, for Love doth banish her. 
She travels hence, so sorrowing more and more. 

That, ere she pass the line, 
Her Maker listens and doth pitying hear. 
"Within the heart, pent up in inmost sphere, 35 

"With what life yet remains all weak and spent, 
In that respect that she hath passed away, 

There she pours her lament 
For Love who drives her from the world to flee ; 

And oft with them would be, w 

The spirits, which go sorrowing ahvay, 
Because their help-mate doth no longer stay. 

The image of this Lady fair doth dwell 

Yet in my mind so clear, 
"Where Love hath placed it, he who was her guide ; « 
Kor doth the ill she sees upon her tell : 

So is she now more fair 

29 The lover's sorrow pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and body. The unity of life 
is gone, andthe "spirits," ;>., the faculties of sense, go mourning always, because the 
" soul," the higher life, as distinct from the " heart," which represents the lower, their guide 
and companion, is no longer with them. The misery is one which God only knows, which 
He alone pities. 

•13 The image of Beatrice is still present to his soul, more beautiful than ever, and there- 
fore inflicting iresh pangs of self-reproach, of which the only mitigation is that her lover's 


Than ever, with a smile beatified : 

And eyes that work my death she opens wide, 

And wails o'er her who doth her going weep. so 

" Go, wretched soul, thy way ; yea, rise and go," 

This cry from love doth leap, 
Who vexeth me as he is wont to do, 

Though less pain doth ensue, 
Because the nerves of sense less keenness show, 55 

And I am nearer now to end my woe. 

The day, when she in this my world appeared, — 

As stands in record true, 
In tablets of the mind that now doth fail, — 
]My childish frame a strange emotion shared, eo 

A passion keen and new, 
So that it left me full of fear and frail : 
For all my strength a curb did countervail, 
So suddenly that on the earth I fell, 
By reason of a voice that smote my heart : 65 

And if the book truth tell, 
The ruling spirit felt such trembling breath. 

That it ^Y0uld seem that Death 
Had, for it, ta'en in this our world new start : 
Now is he sorely grieved who caused this smart. 70 

When the great beauty first upon me shone, 

Wliich wrought so great a pain, — 
Ye gentle ladies, unto whom I spoke, — 
That virtue which hath, highest praises won. 

Its joy beholding plain, 75 

strength is failing, and that therefore the overstrained nerves are less sensitive than they 
were ; that he is also, it may be, nearing the bourne which is the end of all such sorrow. 

67 Memory goes back to the hnur when Beatrice first rose upon the world of the poet's 
life, and reproduces what we read in the opening chapter of the K. N. (comp. Par. xxiii. 
14). The " ruling spirit " is, as in K. N. c. 2, the reasoning faculty of the soul. Here one 
interpreter has seen something like a parable of the history of the human race in its strivings 
after wisdom. " He " in 1. 70 = Love. 

M The " virtue " which "wins highest praises " is, as before, the intellect which felt, even 
at the outset, that that moment of supremest joy was also the beginning of a lifelong 
sorrow. Life had lost its freedom, and was subject hencefonh to the tyranny of a master- 
passion. I take I. 81 to refer to the form of the grown-up Beatrice, as takins the place of 
the child whose beauty had at first won him, and not to the Casentino lady, nor the dotma 


Felt that new trouble thence upon it broke ; 
And knew the keen desire that in it woke, 
Through what it wrought of fixed gaze and strong ; 
So that with tears it said unto the rest : 

" Here will arrive ere long so 

Beauty, in place of that which I had seen, 

Which worketh terror keen ; 
And she as queen shall be by us confest, 
Soon as her eyes with joy our souls have blest." 

To you have I thus spoken, ladies young, so 

Who have bright eyes all beautiful and fair, 
And mind by love subdued and sorrowful ; 

Wherefore extend your cafe 
To these my words wherever they may be ; 
And in your presence grant I pardon free, » 

For this my death, to her so beautiful, 
Who, though she caused it, ne'er was pitiful. 


Amor c cor fjcntU sono una cosa. 

Love and the gentle heart are one in kind. 
As the wise Master in his verses wrote : 
Nor one without the other may we find, 

As without reason reasoning soul is not. 

91 Is this only the poetic license of an appeal ad misericordiam, or may we infer from it, 
as from Cam. i., that the over-wrought brain of the lover .•■aw in his actual weakness the 
prognostic of an early death! I inchne to the latter view. Comp. n. on 1. 43. 


2 From V. N. c. 20. Dante had been asked by a friend to tell him something of the 
nature and genesis of love, and this is his answer. The sage is Guido Guinicelli (so 
Juvenal is a " sage," Conv. iv. 13), one of whose sonnets begins with the words — 
" Al cor gentil ripara seinpre amore, 
Siccome augello tn selva alia verdura." 
" Still to the gentle heart doth Love repair 
As bird doth to the greenwood's leafy screen ; 
Not before gentle heart has Love e'er been. 
Nor gentle heart before that Lo\ e was there ; " 
and whom Dante recognised as the most honoured of his masters (" 3faximus Guido," V. 
E. i. 15) in Italian poetry {Purg. xi. 97, xxvi. 977 ; and Essay on Genesis and Growth of 
the Commidid). An echo of C. l meets us in H. v. 100. 


When Nature waxeth loving in her miuJ, 

Love she makes Lord, the heart his chosen spot, 
"Within, awhile deep slumber doth him blind, 

For little time or long, as fates allot : 

Then in some wise fair dame doth beauty come, 

Which so doth please the eye, that in the heart 
Springs up desire for that so great delight ; 

And sometimes so long while finds there a home, 
It bids Love's spirit wake to bear its part : 
And so on lady fair world's valiant knight. 


Beatrice's salutation. 

Negli occki porta la mia donna Amore. 

My Lady beareth Love in her fair eyes, 

And by it all she sees doth noble make ; 
As she doth pass, all turn for her dear sake ; 

The man she greeteth thrills in ecstacies, 

And bending low, grows pale as one that dies, 6 

And mourns for every least defect he hath, 
And from her presence flee false pride and wrath ; 

Help me, fair ladies, to her praise to rise ; 

All sweetness, and all lowliness of thought 

Springs up within the heart that hears her speech, lo 
And the first sight of her brings sense of bliss ; 

But when she doth a little smile, this 

May not be told, nor memory this can teach, 
So new and fair a miracle is wrought, 

9 \yhat Dante includes in gentleness of heart is as the good soil in which love sows the 
promise and potency of life. Visible beauty, as in Plato's Fhindrns, wakens a desire which 
may be spiritual or sensual, and turns the promise into a reality. What comes to pass in the 
heart of man has its counterpart in the heart of woman. 

From V-^N. c. 21. Growing out of .S". x. and embodying the recollections of f. JV. c. 2, 
as Ca>iz. ii. 57 does ihose of V. N. c. 3. The poet gives, as it were, an experimental 
instance of the truth which he had just uttered. So it had been with him. So it might be 
with others. Beatrice's salutation made all good thoughts stir within her adorer's mind, and 
was the beginning of his blessedness, so that then he knew why she was n.Tmed Beatrice 
(" novten et omen ") ; but when she smiled, the rapture was beyond speech or memory. So 
in Par. xviii. 8-12, xxix. 7, her smiles are reserved till the purified spirit is able to endure 
them (comp. Canz. ii. 5). Here, however, a new element comes in, and Dante dwells on the 
power of beauty to awaken the potency of love, even in a heart that had nut befcre been 
"gentle." It can prepare the soil as well as sow the seed. 



Beatrice's sorrow (i). 
Toi, chc portate la scmbianza umile. 

TE, who, ■with a mien of lowliness, 

And with bent glances testify your woe, 

"Whence come ye that your pallid look doth show, 
As though it pitying looked upon distress ? 
Saw ye our Lady in her gentleness, 5 

Her face all bathed in tears of love that flow 1 

Tell me, O ladies ; — my heart tells me so — 
For no base act doth look of yours express. 
And if ye come from scene so piteous, 

I pray you that with me awhile you stay, 10 

Xor hide from me what chance doth grieve you thus : 

For I behold your eyes tliat Aveep alway, 
And see j-our looks so changed and tremulous. 

That seeing this my heart too faints away. 


Beatrice's sorrow (2). 

Sc^ tu colui c' ha trattato sovente. 

" And art thou lie, who hath so often sung 
Of our dear Lady, telling us alone 1 
Like him indeed thou art in voice and tone, 

T'lit thy face seems to strange expression strung, 


From V. N. c. 22. Eentrice's father. Folco dei Poitinar!, had died (Dec. 12S9'), and she 
was overwhelmed witli sorrow. Her friends came to her to comfort her. and Dante met 
them as they left the hou-e (apparently he stood outside, not far off, that he might intercept 
them), and asked for tidings of her in words which are embodied in the Sonnet. If we ask, as 
it is natural to ask, where her husband was at this time of sorrow, the probable answer is, 
" in Paris, or in London, or Somerset, attending tu his banking business " (comp. Par. 
XV. 120, n.) 


From V. N. c. 22. The friends of Beatrice make answer to the levers question, and tell 
him of her depth of grief They note that he himself is so transformed by sorrow that they 
could scarcely recognise him. 


And why so deeply is thy bosom wrung, 

That thou mal^'st others pity feel for thee ? 

Hast thou seen her weep, that thou art not free 
To hide thy soul's grief with a silent tongue ? 
Leave tears to us, and mournful movement slow, — 

He sins who seeks our trouble to console, — : 
For, as she wept, we heard her speech too flow : 

So plain her looks betray her sorrowing soul, ; 
That whoso would have sought to gauge her woe 

Had fallen down and bowed to death's control." 



Voi, donne, che pietoso atto mostrate. 

" Ye ladies, who the mien of pity show, 

Who is this lady that lies grief-op prest ? 

Can it be she who in my heart doth rest ? 
Ah ! if it be, no longer hide it so. 
Truly her features are so changed by woe, 6 

And her face seems to me so worn and spent, 

That in mine eyes she doth not represent 
Her from whom power to bless Avas wont to flow." 
" If thou canst not our Lady recognise, 

So downcast is she, 'tis no wonder great, lo 

Since the same thing has happened to our eyes ; 

But if thou look well, by the light sedate 
Of her calm glance fresh knowledge shall arise : 

Weep then no more : too sad, e'en now, thy state." 


Not in the V. N., but apparently connected with the same episode as S. xii. and xiii., 
embodying another question and another answer. Had Dante seen his beloved one prostrate 
on the ground, her eyes red with weeping, her face pale with watching ? The brightness 
and the smiles were gone. Was she the same ? " Yes," the wise ladies answer. " Yea," he 
makes answer to himself, "she is identified by her gentleness and calmness." 



Onde venite vol cosi pensose. 

Whence come ye thus with trouble so o'erwrought 1 

Tell me, I pray you, of your courtesy ; 

For I am full of doubt, lest it may be 
My Lady makes you turn thus sorrow-fraught. 
Ah, gentle ladies, let no scornful thought 

Keep you from pausing somewhat on your way, 

And to the mourner fail ye not to say 
If ye of his fair Lady-love know aught, 
Tliough it be grievous for me that to hear. 

So far has Love from himself banished me, 10 

That every act of his brings death more near. 

Look well, and whether I am wasted see. 
For every sense begins to leave its sphere, 

If ye, ladies, give not comfort free. 



Donna pietosa e di novella elate, 

A LADY pitiful, in youth's fresh bloom. 

And furnished well with human gentleness 

Was nigh, when often I on Death did call, 

And she mine eyes beholding full of gloom. 

And hearing those my words of vain distress, 5 

Was moved to fear, and tears began to fall ; 

Yet another utterance of the same time of sorrow. Cannot the gentle ladies with whom 
he has conversed give him some tidings of his Beatrice ? Even if those tidings should be 
sorrowful, it will be better than the blank uncertainty of hearing nothing. For "courtesy " 
(1. 2) see H. ii. 58, n. 


From V. N. c. 23. We enter on a strain of higher mood. The tension implied in the 

last four Sonnets had ended in actual illness. The lover took to his bed, suffering severe 

pain for nine days ; his mind wandered ; there was the risk of a brain-fever. A cousin, or 

perhaps sister, young, fair, gentle, came and sat by his side, weeping as he called on death 


And other ladies, wlio did nie perceive, 

Through her who mingled thus her grief with mine, 

Bade her elsewhere incline, 
And then approached me so that I might hear. lo 

This said, " Sleep thou not here." 
Another, *' AMierefore doth thy soul thus grieve 1 " 
Then rose I from that new-born fantasy, 
And on my Lady's name was fain to cry. 

So sorrowful and sad my voice became, is 

And broken so with anguish and with woe, 
That I alone the name heard in my heart ; 
And with my face suffused, with blush of shame 
Which over all my features 'gan to flow, 
Love made me turn to them, nor stand apart. 20 

Such pallid hue my countenance then bore, 
It made them speak of me as one half-dead, 

"Come, let us comfort shed." 
One i^rayed another in deep lowliness ; 

And thus would questions press : 25 

" What hast thou seen that thou art strong no more ? " 
And when some comfort o'er my soul was spread, 
" Dear ladies, I will tell you all," I said. 

While with sad thoughts my frail life I did weigh, 

And dwelt upon its days so short and few, so 

Love wept within my heart which is his home : 

Wherefore my spirit went so far astray. 

That sighing through my heart the whisper flew, 

" E'en to my Lady death will surely come." 

Then did my soul in such strange wanderings roam, ss 

to end his sorrows. Other ladies followed, and bade her leave him. What came next the 
Canzone records, the mind at last finding power and leisure to make a psychological study 
of its own delirium. He notes (1. 14) that he would not audibly utter Beatrice's name. 

13 In the first anguish of that delirium Dante had called on death (1. 3). The questions of 
his visitors rouse him. and he calls on Beatrice, but the cry is still inaudible. They gaze 
alarmed at his sudden flush and equally sudden pallor. " Wuat has caused it J " 

'^* Many readers will remember Wordsworth's unconscious parallelism — 
" ' Ah mercy ! ' to myself I cried, 
' If Lucy should be dead ! ' " 

Not many months had passed before the prophecy was fulfilled. Was this, too_, among 
Dante's morning dreams? (//. xxvi. "j; Furg ix. 16). With that foreboding of his lady's 
death there came a like anticipation of his own. 


I closed mine eyes beneath their sorrow's weight ; 

And so disconsolate 
"Were all my senses that each failed and fled. 

And then hy fancy led 
Beyond all knowledge, where Truth's voice is dumb, 40 

Fair ladies' faces sorrowing met mine eye, 
V^lio said to me : 'Thou too shalt die, shalt die,' " 

" Then saw I many things that made me muse 

In that vain dream wherein I then was led. 

I deemed I found myself I know not where, *r. 

And saw fair dames pass by with tresses loose. 

One sobbed for grief ; another salt tears shed, 

All darted fire of sorrow and despair. 

Then step by step it seemed that I saw there 

The sun grow dark, and stars begin to peep, so 

And that with these did weep : 
The birds fell down as they their flight did take; 

The earth began to quake ; 
And one came saying, hoarse and full of care : 
' "What, know'st thou not our news of sorrow deep 1 55 
Thy Lady, once so fair, in death doth sleep.' " 

" Then lifting up mine eyes all bathed in woe. 

Angels I saw, who seemed a rain of manna, 

And turning, upwards winged to Heaven their flight; 

And a small cloud in front of them did go ; eo 

And all behind it went and cried ' Hosanna.' 

Had they said more I would have told you right ; 

Then Love said, ' I'll not hide it from thy sight ; 

Come see thy Lady as she there doth lie.' 

Then dream-like phantasy es 

Led me upon my lady dead to look. 

And as a glance I took. 
Fair dames were wrapping her in cere-cloth white ; 
And with her was such true humility, 
It seemed as though she said, "In peace am I." ™ 

*- As in 5. viii., the echoes of the cries of the Sicilian Vespers are stiil ringing in his ears 
{Par. viii. 75), and they seem spoken to him. 

"IS The vision of Beatrice's funeral comes before him, and the whole world is darkened. 

68 The transfiguration, one might almost say the apotheosis, of Beatrice coincides not 
with her actual death, but with the first vision of it. We have an anticipation of her glory 


And I became so humble in my woe, 

Seeing in ber sucb full lowliness exprest, 
I said " O Death, I find thee passing sweet : 
Needs must thou as a thing all gentle show, 
Since with my Lady thou hast been a guest, 
And pity in thee, not disdain, were meet. 
Behold, that I with such strong wish entreat 
To be of thine that I like thee may be • 

Come, for my heart calls thee," 
Then I departed, all my wailing done ; 

And when I was alone, 
I said, with glance upraised to Heaven's high seat : 
" Blessed is he, fair Soul, who thee doth see ! " 
And then ye called me of your charity. 


lo mi sentii svegliar dentro alio core. 

I FELT within, awakening in my heart, 

A loving spirit that had slept till then, 

And then I saw Love from afar off start 
(So blithe that scarce I knew his face again), 

as she appears in Purg. xxxi. 143. The "desire of the saints and angels" (Cam. ii. 15-21) 
is satisfied, and the calm beauty of her corpse bears witness that she is at peace. He had 
longed for death, if death were like that. Wailing was over, and then his friends had come, 
and " behold, it was a dream ! " Did the poet reproduce the symbolism of mediaeval art, in 
which the departing soul appeared as a child borne up to Heaven in a bright cloud? Line 
80, as interpreted by the prose narrative, may be rendered, " When all due rites were 

From y. N. c. 24. As in S. ii. , Vanna, the beloved of Guido Cavalcanti, and Beatrice 
appear in close companionship. Tlie former was known, it tells us, as the Printavera, 
or Spring, on account of her beauty. The latter, as in Sonn. iii. 10, he identifies with 
Love itself. The shortened form " Bice " appears in Sonn. ii. g, in Par. vii. 14, and in the 
will of her father, Folco dei Portinari. The poet's fancy plays on Giov.<nna, (i) as meaning in 
Hebrew (Jochanan) the grace of God ; (2) as being derived from the name of the forerunner 
of One greater than himself, even as Vanna went before Beatrice ; (3) as having in the name 
commonly given her (Fritnavera = pritiia vena = she will come first) the witness of that 
relation. The whole conception, measured by our staLidard, seems singularly fantastic ; but 
those who have entered into the fulness of Dante's ripened powers will recognise, if I mistake 
not, that this efflorescence of ingenuity in tracking remote analo:,;ies and the mystic signifi- 
cance of names was an element eminently characteristic. The meaning of Giovanna, e.g., i^ 
specially dwelt on in /"(?>-. xii. 80. 'J'he Sonnet was addressed, he says, to his " chief friend," 
z.f., to Guido Cavalcanti. 


And said : " In honouring me do now thy part," s 

And at each word he still to smile was fain. 
And as my Lord and I some time apart 

Stood, looking thither whence he came, full plain, 

I Lady Vanna, Lady Bice, saw 

Come uigh towards the spot where I stood there, 10 

One close upon the other miracle ; 

And e'en as now my thoughts true record draw, 
Love said to me, "This is the Springtide fair. 
And Love, the other's name, let likeness tell." 


Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare. 

So gentle and so fair she seems to be, 

My Lady, when she others doth salute, 

That every tongue becomes, all trembling, mute. 

And every eye is half afraid to see ; 

She goes her way and hears men's praises free, 6 

Clothed in a garb of kindness, meek and low, 
And seems as if from heaven she came, to show 

L'pon the earth a wondrous mystery. 

To one who looks on her she seems so kind, 

That through the eyes a sweetness fills the heart, 10 

Which only he can know who doth it try. 

And through her face there breatheth from her mind 
A spirit sweet and full of Love's true art, 
"Which to the soul saith, as it cometh, " Sigh." 

From y. N. c. 26. Hitherto the lover had spoken chiefly of the impression made by- 
Beatrice on himself. Now his words take a wider range. He will tell of the impression 
made on others. Whatever allowance we make for the hyperboles of love, the Sonnet may 
be received as evidence that Dante was not alone in his admiration, that Beatrice left on all 
her friends — and her father's and her husband's position probably brought all the notables 
of Florence, its men of culture and wealth and rank, within her circle — the impression of an 
angel-like perfection. In her presence the strife of tongues ceased, and the mockers were 
hushed into a reverential silence by that stainless purity. Spenser's Una, in the region of 
imagination, the devout and "gracious" Lady Margaret Maynard, who was Ken's Beatrice 
(«. onPurg. xxxi. 22) in that of reality, supply suggestive parallels. Some of us may have 
known, in the quiet life of Hurstmonceaux Rectory, one who left a like impression on those 
who came in contact with her — not to enter on the inner circle of her home-life — from Arthur 



Vede perfettamente ogni salute. 

He sees completely fullest bliss abound 

Who among ladies sees my Lady's face ; 
Those that with her do go are surely bouuJ 

To give God thanks for such exceeding grace. 

And in. her beauty such strange might is found, 
That envy finds in other hearts no place ; 
So she makes them walk with her, clothed all round 

AVith love and faith and courteous gentleness. 

The sight of her makes all things lowly be ; 
Nor of herself alone she gives delight, 
But each through her receiveth honour due. 

And in her acts is such great courtesy, 

That none can recollect that wondrous sight, 
"Who sighs not for it in Love's sweetness true. 


ALL saints' day, 1 289. 
Di donne io vidi una gentile sckiera, 

1 SAW a hand of gentle dames pass by. 

Upon the morn of this last All Saints' Day, 
And one came on, as chief in dignity. 

And on her right hand Love himself did stay. 

Stanley, Archbishop Trench, and Cardinal Manning, to John Sterling, Walter S.ivage 
Lar.dor, and George Eliot. "Face" for " iabbia" is justified (1. 12) by H. vii. 7; Purg. 
xxiii. 47. 

SONNET xvrir. 

The influence of the angelic presence is pursued still further. Her companions are, as it 
were, radiant with her reflected light, and are better for her pre>ence. The woman whom 
many men admire, who makes many "conquests," is seldom a favourite with her own sex. 
With Beatrice it was otherwise, and men and women alike loved and reverenced her. 


Not in the V. N. It was probably the !a?t All-Saints' Day (Nov. i, 1289) ot Beatrice's 
life. We see her as she went with a company of friends to \^e.festa, pro ably in the 
Church of Ognissanti, Dante watching them, seckina; to catch the ^''salute" which was his 
sahde (in tlie Italian the woid in its twofold sense rhymes with itself), and made him braver 
^nd truer than it found him. '1 he day was one much to be remembered, :.ll the more s 1 
when Beatrice herself was numbered with the saints. 


A ray of light she darted from her eye, 

"\Miich, like a burning spirit, made its way : 
And I, such boldness had I, could descry 

Her features fair an angel's face display. 

To him who worthy was she greeting gave 

With her bright eyes, that Lady good and kind, 

Filling the heart of each with valour brave. 

In heaven I deem that she her birth did find, 

And came upon the earth us men to save, 

And blest is she who follows close behind. 



Dch Xuroletta, die in omhra d' Amore. 

Ah Cloud, that in Love's shadow sweeping past, 
Hast suddenly appeared before mine eyes, 
Have pity on the heart which wounded lies. 

Which hopes in thee, yet, yearning, dies at last. 

Thou Cloud, in beauty more than human seen, 5 

A fire hast kindled in my inmost heart, 
With speech of thine that slays ; 

Then, with a glowing spirit's act and art. 

Thou genderest hope, which doth to healing lean, 

When I on thy smile gaze. 10 

Ah, seek not why a new trust it doth raise, 
But on my yearning look, whose fire is strong ; 
Ere now a thousand dames, through tarrying long. 

Have felt on them the grief of others cast. 

1- Comp. 6". xvii. 7. 

In the vision of Cam. iv. 60, the soul of Beatrice had been seen rising to heaven as in a 
cloud (comp. H. xxvi. 37 ; Purg. xxx. 28), and that thought is the starting-point of the 
present poem. Here, as in So>in. iii. and xvi., she is identified with Love himself. That 
vision of glory haunts him. The words that fall from it pierce his soul, yet they bring hope, 
and therefore, like the spear of the Greek hero, heal as well as smite. 



dulci rime, die parlando andatc. 

Dear rhymes, who, as ye go, hold converse sweet 
Of that fair dame who wins for others praise : 
To you will come, perhaps with you now stays, 

One ye will doubtless as your brother greet. 

I, that ye list not to him, you entreat, 

By that Lord who in ladies love cloth raise ; 
For in his utterance dwelleth there always 

A thing that is for Truth no comrade meet. 

And if ye should be moved by words of his 

To seek her presence whom as yours ye own, 
Stay not your steps, but to her feet draw nigher, 

And say, " Lady, we have thus come on 

To speak for one who all his joy doth miss, 

Saying, ' Where is she whom my fond eyes desire 1 ' " 


Dagli occhi della inia donna si muove. 

From my dear Lady's eyes a light doth gleam, 
So clear and noble that, where it doth shine, 
Things are revealed no artist can define. 

Lofty and strange beyond all fancy's dream. 

Not in the F. JV. The drift is so far clear that we see at once that the Sonnet is of the 
nature of a recantation. The poems which represent the lover's true self are not to admit 
one which will come as claiming lo be of their company. He is not a faithful messenger, 
does not speak the poet's true mind. I surmise that So}i7t. vii., with its tone of somewhat 
petulant complaint, may have been that which Dante sought to disclaim. 

No interest of circumstance, not much perhaps of any kind, attaches to what is but one of 
the variations on the lover's ever-recurring theme. 6". viii. and 6". xi. may be compared with 
it, as illustrating the subtle skill and delicacy of such variations. Its vagueness, and that of 
6". xxii. may perhaps be connected with the fact that they were written ostensibly for the 
"screen" lady of y. N. c. 5. 


And from their rays iipon my heart doth stream 

Such fear, it thrills through all my nerves and brain, 
And I say, " Here I will not turn again." 

But soon my fixed resolves abandoned seem ; 

And there I turn whence conieth my dismay, 
To find some comfort for my timorous ej-es, 
"Which erst that might and majesty did own : 

"When I arrive, ah me ! their vision dies, 

And the desire which led them fades away ; 
"Wherefore let Love's care for my state be shown. 



lo son si vago della hella luce. 

I AM so eager for the beauteous light 

Of those fair traitor eyes that me have slain, 
That thither, whence I have my scorn and pain, 

T am led back by that my great delight : 

And that which clear, or less clear, meets my sight, 
So dazzles both my soul's and. body's eye 
That, both from thought and virtue parted, I 

Follow desire alone as leader right. 

And he doth lead me on, so full of trust. 

To pleasant death by pleasant fraud brought on, 
I only know it Avhen the harm is done. 

And much I grieve for grief that scorn hath won, 
But most I murmur, ah ! for so I must. 
That pity too is robbed of guerdon just. 


Theauthorship has been assigned to Dante's friend Cino da Pistoia, but it is received 
Dante's own by Frat, VyUt., and others. Internal evidence is, I think, in its favour. 





Morte, poich' io non truovo a cul mi do(jlia. 

Death, since I find not one who with me grieves, 
!N'one in whom pity for me moveth sighs, 
"Where turn mine eye?, or wheresoe'er I stay. 
And since that thou art he who me bereaves 
Of all my strength, and robes in miseries, 5 

Till on me rise misfortune's blackest day ; 
Since thou, O Death, canst, as thy will may sway. 
Make my life rich, or plunge in poverty, 
'Tis meet that I should turn my face to thee, 
Portrayed like face where Death paints every line ; 10 
To thee, as piteous friend, I make my way, 
"Wailing, Death, that sweet tranquillity 
Thy stroke takes from me, if it robbeth me 
Of that fair dame who with her heart bears mine, 
"Who of all good is portal true and shrine. 15 

Death, what may be the peace thou tak'st from me, 
Bewailing which to thee in tears I come, 
Of this I'm dumb ; for thou canst see it well. 
If thou mine eyes all wet with weeping see, 
Or see the grief that in them finds its home, 20 

Or see the doom, of death so visible. 
Ah, if fear now with strokes so keen and fell 
Hath thus dealt with me, what will anguish do, 
If I see Death her eyes' clear light subdue, 
That wont to be to mine so sweet a guide ! 25 

That thou dost seek mine end I clearly tell, 
Great joy to thee from my woe will accrue : 
For much I fear, as feeling that dread spell. 
Lest, that I might by lesser grief be tried, 
I should seek death, and none would death provide. so 


Not in the V. N. We ave left in no room for doubt as to the date and occasion of this 
Canzone. It was obviously written in the early days of June 1290, when Beatrice was 
hovering between life and death. The prophetic vision of Cam, iv. was Hearing its fulfilment, 
and the poet turns to Death with an appeal for pity, asking, if it may be, for some short 


Death, if thou smite this gentle lady fair, 
"Whose supreme virtue to the intellect 
Shows as perfect what in her we may view, 
A'irtue thou driv'st to exile and despair, 
Thou tak'st from grace the home that doth protect, ai 
And high effect dost rob of honour due ; 
Thou wreckest all her beauteous form and hue. 
Which shines with more of good than others shine, 
As that must needs do which brings light divine 
From heaven in form of creature worthiest. 
Thou break'st and crushest all the good faith true 40 

Of that truth-loving Love who guides her right ; 
If thou, Death, dost quench her lovely light, 
Love may well say where'er his sway doth rest, 
" Lo ! I have lost my banner, fairest, best." 

Death, grieve thou now for that exceeding ill, 45 

So sure to follow if my loved One dies ; 
"Which all men's eyes as greatest woe will own. 
Slacken thy bow that in it linger still 
The arrow that upon the string yet lies, 
"Which thou dost poise, its aim her heart alone ; 50 

For pity's sake, look to it ere 'tis done. 
Curb thou a little while thine uncurbed rage, 
K'ow stirred against her life thy war to wage, 
To whom God giveth such exceeding grace. 
Ah ! Death, if thou hast pity, be it shown 55 

Without delay. I see Heaven's heritage 
Open ; God's angels to our lower stage 
Descend, to bear that blest soul to the place 
Where hj-mn and song do honour to her grace. 

Canzon', thou see'st how subtle is the thread, eo 

On which doth hang my hopes that slender be, 
How strength doth flee without my Lady fair. 
Wherefore, I pray thee, softly, gently tread. 
My little song, nor slack to ope thy plea, 

respite ere the angels gain their wish (.Cam. ii. 15-23). Line 56 shows that the apotheosis of 
Beatrice is still the dominant thought in her lover's mind. It is suggestive that the Canzone 
is found in a Breslau MS. prefixed to the Commedia by way of introduction. 


For upon thee dependetli all my prayer, 

And, with that lowly mien thou'rt wont to bear, 

Seek thou Death's presence now, my little song, 

That thou may'st shatter fierce wrath's portals strong, 

And gain the meed of worthy fruits of love ; 

And if by thee he may be moved to spare 

That doom of death, take heed thou stay not long 

To bear thy comfort for my Lady's wrong. 

So that to this our world she bounteous prove, 

That gentle Soul, for whom I live and move. 


SIGHS FOR Beatrice's greeting. 

Si lungamente irC ha tenuto Amore. 

So long have I been prisoner held by Love, 

And thus trained to endure his sovereignty, 

That as, before, he harsh was found to me. 

So now he stays, my heart's sweet guest to prove. 

Wherefore, when he my courage doth remove, s 

So that my spirits seem far off to flee. 

Such sense of sweetness then comes over me, 

That my frail soul with pallid face doth rove. 

O'er me then Love such mastery doth show. 

He sets my sighs afloat, with speech endowed ; lo 

And they cry out aloud 
On my dear Lady, greeting to bestow. 
This happens whensoe'er she looks on me. 
So lowly, passing all belief, is she. 


From the V. N. c. 2S. Not a Sonnet, thoiigh it commonly appears with that title, but 
rather, as D.mte himself tells, the first verse of a Canzone which was interrupted by the death 
of Beatrice, and the burden of which was the lover's desire for the greeting which, for some 
cause, possibly the illness which ended fatally, he had missed. For us the fragment has the 
interest of giving the last lines written to the living Beatrice. 




Gli occhi dolenti per pietci del core. 

My sorrowing eyes, through, pity for my mind, 

Have through their weeping suffered pain so great, 
That now they stop, their tears all spent and gone ; 
"Whence, if an opening I for grief would find 
That leads me, step by step, to Death's estate, 5 

Needs must I speak with many a sigh and groan. 
And since I call to mind that I was known 
Of my dear Lady, while she lived, to tell, 
Ye gentle ladies, willingly with you, 

I seek not hearers new, 10 

But to the kind hearts that in ladies dwell 
"Will I now speak, while tears my cheeks bedew. 
Since she hath gone to Heaven thus suddenly. 
And leaves Love mourning in my company. 

Into high Heaven hath Beatrice passed, 15 

That kingdom where the angels find their peace. 
And dwells Avith them ; from you, fair dames, doth fly. 
It was not spell of cold that killed at last, 
'Nov that of heat, that other lives bids cease, 


1-2 (From F. iV. c. 32). The blow has at last fallen, and «e can understand from Cam. 
V. what its first effect must have been. Critics who cannot "fathom " the "poet's mind," and 
therefore "vex" it with their "shallow wit," have made merry over the letter beginning with 
the words o\ Lam. i. i, which the young lover addressed to "all the princes of the land." Give 
these words their true meaning, "to all the chief men of Florence," and I cannot see any- 
thing in the act so supremely ridiculous. Tennyson's In Mevioriaiii has taught us how a 
perfectly sane poet may take the whole world into the sanctuary of a buried friendship. 
Was it strange that Dante should address an In I^lonoriam letter, afterwards expanded 
into such a Canzone as this, to the many who had shared his reverence and admiration lor 
Beatrice, even as he had addressed the Sonnet which had told of the new beginning of his 
New Life to his brother poets? Of the circumstances of her death (June 9, 1290) we know 
but little, but that little is suggestive. It was no common consumption or fever (11. 18, 19). 
Had she faded away under the pressure of a loveless and joyless marriage with a man older 
than herself, who left her alone in Florence while he was occupied with the foreign business 
of his firm in France or England? (Par. xv. 121 ?/.) Something she had said on her death-bed 
which Dante could not repeat without egotism (K. N. c. 29). Had she left a dying message 
that she, at least, had nndei stood him, appreciated him, loved him, as far as the wife of 
anothei might love ? Had she bidden him cherish the memory of that love as the safeguard 
of his faith and purity? This is, at least, the natural inference, and Purg. xxx. 103-145 goes 
far to confirm it. We, at all events, may note at every ^tep prophetic anticipations of all 
that is most glorious in the Coimnedta. 

l-l'* The lover turns for sympathy to those who are mourners like himself, to whom he has 
before spoken of his passion (JZanz. ii.) 

l" Comp. Par. 

I'* The lines, as noted above, are sufficiently suggestive. 


But her own great and sweet benignity ; 20 

For the clear light of her humility 

Passed into heaven with such exceeding power 

It roused great wonder in the Eternal Sire, 

So that a sweet desire 
Came on Him to call hence so bright a flower, 25 

And bade her pass from earth and mount up higher, 
Because He saw this troublous life of care 
Was all unworthy of a thing so fair. 

Now hath the gentle spirit ta'en its flight, 

From her fair form, so full of sweetest grace, so 

And she shines glorious in a worthy home. 

Wlio speaks of her, and doth not weep outright, 

Hath heart of stone so evil and so base, 

That into it no spirit kind can come. 

No villain heart by skill of thought can sum 35 

The measure of her excellence complete. 

And thence it is he hath no will to weej? ; 

But he great woe doth keep. 
And grief and sighs that fain for death entreat, 
And from his soul all consolation sweep, 40 

Who in his thoughts doth sometimes contemplate 
What she was like, and what hath been her fate. 

My many sighs work in me anguish sore, 

When in my saddened mind my troubled thought 
Brings back her form, whose beauty pierced my heart ; is 
And oftentimes, her death revolving o'er. 
There comes a longing with such sweetness fraught, 
It makes all colour from my face depart ; 
And such pain comes to me from every part 
When this imagination holds me fast, so 

I shudder as I feel my misery ; 
And so transformed am I, 
That shame my lot apart from men has cast. 
Then weeping in my sore lament I cry 
On Beatrice, saying " Art thou dead 1" « 

And as I call, by her I'm comforted. 

23 An echo of Cam. ii. 15-21. 

^ Comp. the " in dreams and other ways " of Purg. xxx. 134. 


Tears of great grief and sighs of anguish keen 
Sore vex my heart, when I am found alone, 
That Avhosoe'er beheld it, 'tAvould distress : 
And what the tenor of my life hath been, 
Since my dear Lady that new world hath won. 
There is no tongue that could in full express. 
And therefore, ladies, not through will's full stress 
Could I to you what now I am declare ; 
Such travail sore my hard life works for me, 

So bowed in misery, 
Each seems to say, " I of thy life despair," 
Seeing my cold lips death-pale with agony. 
But what I am my Lady sees full plain, 
And I still hope her pity to obtain. 

Go on thy way, sad Canzon', weeping go, 

And find the ladies and the maidens fair. 
To whom thy sister songs were wont to bear 

Much joy in days gone by ; 
And thou, the daughter of great misery, 
Take thou thy place with them in thy despair. 



Ycnitc a intender gli sospiri m'tel. 

Come now, and listen ye to each sad sigh, 
gentle hearts, for pity this doth pray ; 
Sighs that in deepest sorrow wend their way, 

And if they did not, I of grief should die. 

herpUranS'inTerSn! " " ""'"' '' "^^ '"' "^'"^•-'' '^^' "^^ ^'-"'^ '-" '° '-^ 'rusting in 


h.i'deare^t fHend^nev?io''rMM°'T- '"''',''' ''•"'"' embodied is briefly lold. Beatrice's brother, 
on the death of a n,V Lh . ^'^^alcan ,, came to him and asked him to write some versed 

for her he had lo,t nnJ w^, '"''-'a-^ T''" f^ "■''''■ ^^"''=' ''°^^ever, felt sure that it was 
weariness of life in f ., O ^"^""^'"sh- .As one point specially noticeable is the crowing 
weauness ot life m 1. 12. One notes, as an instance of the possibilities of interoretation the 
as.oundmg conjecture [FUiAo) that the friend who came to D^r^te was Beatrfce^ hu.rnd 


For now mine eyes are debtors still to cry 

More often far than with my will doth stay, 
Weeping, ah me ! my Lady passed away, 

For weeping would assuage my misery. 

Ye will hear them call often on the name 
Of that my gentle Lady, who hath gone 
Into a world for her great virtue meet, 

And ofttimes scorn the life I now drag on. 
In likeness of a sorrowing spirit's frame, 
Deprived for ever of her greeting sweet. 


QuantUTique volte [ahi lasso !) mi rimembra. 

Ah me ! as often as I call to mind. 

That I shall never more 
See the fair Lady whom I wail and weep. 
So great an inward grief my heart doth find 

All gathered, heap on heap, 6 

That I say, " Soul, why dost thou not depart ? 
For the keen torments that will vex thy heart 
In that world which to thee much woe hath brought. 
Fill me with saddest thoughts and anxious fear ; " 

So I bid Death come near, lo 

As with a sweet and gentle quiet fraught, 
And say " come to me," so lovingly. 
That I am envious of whoe'er doth die. 

And in my sighs there comes and claims its part 

An utterance of great woe, is 

That alway calls on Death in its despair. 

To him are turned all longings of my heart. 
Since she, my Lady fair, 

From y. JV. c. 34. Written as a sequel to S. xxiii. That seemed to him, as he read it, 
inadequate for the occasion. With a curious self-analysis, he distinguishes between the first 
stanza as expressing the feelings of the brother, and the second as uttering his own. As one 
reads the Canzone it seems difficult to follow the distinction. He himself lays stress on the 
fact that the words "my Lady fair" occur only in the latter of the two stanzas. There also 
we may perhaps note the prominence of the apotheosis element which was so intensely 
personal. (Comp. Pur^. xxx. 28-75.) 


Felt of his cruel dart the deadly blow : 
Because the joys that from her beauty flow, 
Departing far away from mortal sight, 
Have grown to spirit's beauty perfected, 

"Which through the heavens doth shed, 
Greeting the angels, Love and Love's clear light, 
And bids their subtle high intelligence 
With wonder gaze ; so great her excellence. 



Era venuta nella mente niia. 

That gentle Lady came upon my thought 

For whom Love weeps of many tears a shower, 
Just at the point when his exceeding power 

Drew you to look at that which then I wrought. 


From V. N. c. 35. Twelve months had passed since the great sorrow, and the Conv. ii. 
a, 13, tells us something of Dante's inner history during them. He had turned for comfort, 
as a student-nature like his was likely to do, to philosophy, and in particular to Eoethius, 
De Consolatione Philosophic^, and Cicero, De Amicitia. The necessarily heathen character 
of the latter book and the absolutely non-Christian character of the former led him away 
from the truest and deepest source of consolation. He entered on what has been called the 
secondstageof the Trilogy of his life, on the whole, one of a falling away from his first love, and 
perhaps also from his first purity [Purg. xxx. 115-145). Comp. vol. i. pp. lii.-lv. When the 
anniversary of the fatal day, however, came round, as he was sketching the form of an angel 
(this irnplies that he had turned to art studies also by way of relief, prnbably in company 
with Giotto under Cimabue), his work was interrupted by visitors, and then, when they had 
left him, the picture of the angel he had lost rose up before him, and his sorrow found vent 
in sighs. 

As at first written, the first four lines ran thus — 

" That gentle lady in my thoughts did come. 
Who, for her noble and exceeding worth, 
Is placed by Him, the Lord of heaven and earth. 
In heaven of lowliness, the Virgin's home." 
Line 4 is interesting as anticipating //. ii. 94, and Par. xxxii. 9. 

One notes, I think, in the Sonnet as it stands, in spite of its infinite pathos, a certain fall- 
ing off in loftiness of aspiration. Sorrow hardly seems to be doins its strengthenmg and 
ennobhng work. Even the substituted four lines speak a more philosophical, but less devo- 
tional feeling than those of which they took the place So in the last, he thinks of his 
Beatrice rather as a " supreme intellect " than as an angel or a saint. 

1 As the Sonnet stands in the Fiia Nuova the first four lines run thus :— 
That gentle Lady on my thoughts did come 
Who for her noble and exceeding worth 
Is placed by Him, the I ord Supreme of earth, 
In heaven of lowliness, our Mary's home. 


Love, who to feel her presence there was brought, 
Woke up within my sad and troubled heart, 
And to my sighs said, " Up, and onward start." 

And so they took their way, with sorrow fraught. 

"Weeping they issued forth from out my breast, 

AVith such a voice as often doth collect 

The tears of sorrow into mourning eyes. 

But those who struggled forth with most unrest, 
Went uttering still, " noble intellect ! 
A year hath passed since thou to heaven didst rise ! " 


Videro gli occhi miei quanta piciate. 

^IiNE eyes beheld what pity deep and true 
Was in thy look and features manifest, 
When on those acts and mien thy glance did rest, 

Which sorrow in me often doth renew. 

Then I perceived how all thy thoughts did view 5 

The state of this my life so dark and drear, 
So that there sprang within my heart a fear 

Lest with mine eyes I should my weakness show; 

And I removed me from thee, feeling deep 

Within me, that my heart's sad tears would flow, lo 

Which in thy presence sweet their impulse found. 

Then in my sad soul did a cry resound, 

" Now with this lady dear that Love doth go. 
Who makes me thus to wend my way and weep." 


From V. iV. c. 36. The poet was in his chamber, sad and lonely, when he looked out 
and saw a lair youn'j face, pale as Beatrice had been, watching him with looks of pity. Some, 
e.g., Sir Theodore Martin, have conjectured that it was Gemma Donati, whom he afterwards 
married, and have built up what one may call a Dante-Grandison romance. Pity grows into 
love. He tells Gemma his story, asks her to accept his hand and .the "widowed heart" 
which can never be wholly hers, and so they ate married. I cannot say that I think this 
even a probable conjecture. It would probably have been better for Dante's happiness had 
there been that foundation of sympathy in his marriage. Curiously enough, in the Coit7iiio 
he identifies the "gentle lady" with Philoophy, and hence a host of commentators, mostly 
those who reduce Beatrice to a shadowy symbol, have denied her any historical personality. 
1 agree with Witte and Krafft that the theory of the Conviio was an after-thought, with 



Color d' amore e di pieta sevibianti. 

Love's pallid hue and sorrow's signs of woe 

Never laid hold with such a wondrous might 
On lady fair, when looking on the sight 

Of lowly eyes and mournful tears that flow, 

As then on thine when first thou cam'st to know 5 

My face, where grief its record sad did write, 
So that through thee did on my mind alight, 

A thought which will, I fear, my heart o'erthrow. 

I cannot keep mine eyes, o'erspent with grief, 

From turning often upon thee their gaze, w 

In the keen longing that they have to weep : 

And thou that wish to such a height dost raise 
That they are wasted, finding no relief. 
And yet thy presence tears from them doth keep. 


L'canaro lagrhnar che voi faceste. 

" The many bitter tears ye made me shed, 
eyes of mine, so long a season's space, 
Made others look with wonder on my case, 

In this my grief, as ye have witnessed. 

just so much foundation in fact as that, having begun to idealise Beatrice as representing 
Divine Wisdom, it seemed to him natural to identify the "gentle lady" with the human 
wisdom of his philosophical teachers. It seems to me simply impossible to read the V. N. and 
believe that either of the two was altogether a phantom of tr.e brain, though \n the crucible 
of his imagination they might be sublimated till they appeared so to others, and even to 
himself(comp. vol. i. p. lii.) I inc me tj the belief that the "gentle lady" isthe " Pargoieita," 
the "girl of little price," oi Pur^. x.wi. 59, but do not assume that the affection passed 
beyond a so-called platonic sentime .talisra, and believe that Beatrice's reproaches cover 
both the literal and the allegorical meaning. 

From V. N. c. 37. The presence of the gentle lady recalled the paleness, the looks, and 
movements of Beatrice. They called tears to his eyes, and yet as long as he looked on her 
he could not weep. So when he came to allegorise, he may have seen in Philosophy a kind 
of sister-likeness— j?^a/fi eiecei es^e sororum — to the higher wisdom of Theology. For '" the 
hue of love" compare '^ Palleat ojnms avians, pallens color aptus ainanti." Ovid, Ars 
Atnandi, i. 729 ; and " Tinctiis viola pallor aviantiuni" Hor., Od. iii. 10, 14. 

From V. N. c. 38. We have a phase of feeling which indicates that the first love is losing 
its power. It was wrong to forget the past, yet the present had its attractions, and, as they 


But in you now oblivion soon were bred, 
Had I on my part been so caitiff base, 
Not from you all occasion to efface, 

Reminding you of her ye weep as dead. 

Your fickle wanderings cause me many a groan 
And so alarm me, that in truth I dread 
The face of lady fair that looks on you. 

Never should ye our Lady who is dead 

Forget, till death claims you too as his own " 
So speaks my heart, and thereat sighs anew. 


Gentil pensiero, che parla di vui. 

A GENTLE thought, which speaks to me of thee, 
Within me cometh oftentimes to stay, 
And doth of Love such sweet discourse display, 

It makes my heart with it in sympathy. 

My soul saith to my heart, " Who may this be, s 

That to our mind comes comfort to convey. 
And hath in virtue such a potent sway 

That other thoughts from us afar must flee ? " 

The heart replies, "0 soul so sorrowful. 

This is a spirit, new and young, of Love, w 

Who brings before me all his fond desires : 

And all his life and all bis virtue move 
From the fair eyes of her so pitiful, 
Who oft hath grieved o'er our consuming fires. 

drew liim to one who shared the memories of the past, was it not possible to reconcile 
the two? 

He represents himself in the prose of the V. N. as reproaching his eyes because they 
looked on the living form of the "lady of the window," instead of weeping for Beatrice, as 
they had done before. 


From F. jV. c. 3Q. The new love is growing stronger, and is driving out the old. There 
is at least a drifting towards an entire tmnsfer of affection. The Sonnet is, as he says in the 
V. N., the outcome of a " baule of thought " between the soul (the higher reason) and the 
" heart," which yields to the passing emotions, and the consolations which the latter offers 
the former rejects as utterly vile and unworthy. 



Lasio ! 'per forza de' molti sospiri. 

Ah me 1 by reason of the many sighs, 

\Vhich spring from thoughts that dwell within my heart, 
Mine eyes are spent, and lose their former art. 

To meet, with answering gaze, another's eyes,- 

And so are changed that they appear in guise - . s 

Of two desires, to weep and prove my woe ; 
And often they so mourn that Love doth show 

Round them the circles of my miseries. 

These thoughts and sighs I breathe into the air, 

Grow in my heart so full of grief and pain w 

That Love grows faint as death for very woe ; 

Wherefore in their deep sorrow they complain. 

And have my Lady's sweet name written there, 
And many words that from her death do flow. 



DeJi, peregrini, che pensosi andate. 

Ye pilgrims, who pass on with thoughtful mien, 
Musing, perchance, of things now far away, 
Take ye from such a distant land your way, 

As one may judge from what in you is seen ? 


From V. N. c. 40. The spell of the enchantress was, however, broken. A vision, as he 
records, in which he saw at noonday the form of Beatrice arrayed in crimson, as he had seen 
her in the days of her childhood, probably one of those referred to in Purg. xxx. 134, 
recalled him to his first love. His eyes, as in Conv. iii. 9, are inflamed wiih weeping. In the 
Italian we have, in 11. 5 and 8, the suggestive rhymes desiri and mariiri, as in B. iii. 8, 10 ; 
S. xxviii. II, 14. 


From V. N. c. 41. Pilgrims were seen in the streets of Florence on their way to Rome to 
see the sudarium of St. Veronica, the vera icon of the face of Christ, which was exhibited 
annually at St. Peter's. See Par. xxxi. 104, n. With a subtle power, which we may almost call 
Shakespearean or Browning-like, Dante thinks how little he can think their thoughts, how 
little they can think his. Comp. Purg. viii. i-g. We are reminded of the threefold " I 
think he thought that I thought" of//, xiii. 25. They pass by Beatrice's house, and little 
cream of all the memories of joys and sorrows that it has for him. What if he should 
tell them that Florence has lost her Beatrice, her blessedness, and that one, at least, still 
weeps for that loss? If we connect this exhibition of the Veronica with the Jubilee, of which 


For ye weep not, as ye pass on between 
The woeful city's streets in sad array, 
As they might do whose careless looks display 

That they know nought of all her anguish keen. 

But if ye will remain with wish to hear, 

My heart tells me in sooth with many a sigh. 
That, as ye leave it, ye will surely weep : 

She hath beheld her Beatrice die, 

And what a man may wish to say of her, 
Hath power the hearer's eyes in tears to steep. 


Oltre la spera, che piu larga gira. 

Beyond the sphere that wheeleth widest round 

Passeth the sigh that issues from my heart ; 

New power of mind, that Love's might doth impart 
"With tears to it, draws it to -higher ground. 
Wlien it the goal of all desire hath found, 5 

It sees a lady clothed with honour bright. 

And shineth so, that through that glorious light 
Clear visions for the pilgrim soul abound. 
It sees her such that when its tale it tells, 

' I hear it not, it speaks so soft and low lo 

To the sad heart that bids it speak of her ; 
Yet that it speaks of that fair dame I know, 

Since on my Beatrice oft it dwells, 

So that I hear it well, ladies dear. 

it was one of the chief attractions, this would bring the close of the P'/ia Nuova to about the 
beginning of a.d. 1300, and so would form a link with the assumed date of the opening of 
the In/emo- There is no reason, however, to think that the Veronica was not shown at 
certain seasons every year. L. 6 gives us in ia citta dolente a link with H. i. i. 


From V. N. c. 42, and the last poem in it. We are drawing near the threshold of the 
definite resolve, after yet another vision (the germ of that with which the Cotnvicdia opens ?), 
thathewouldsay of Beatrice what had never yet been said of woman. The Sonnet, we are told, 
was written at the request of two noble ladies who admired his poems, and asked him to 
write something new for them. He accordingly wrote what follows, and sent it to them with 
Sonnets xxiii. and xxx. 

1 The "sphere " is the prhmmt vtohUe, which includes all the eight spheres of mediseval 
astronomy. Beyond it is the Empyrean Heaven, the abode of God. There is the " goal of 
all desire," and there is Beatrice {Conv. ii. 4). The "pilgrim soul " of I. 10 seems to present 
a link- with .y. XXX. . . / 



Amor, dacchi convien pur eh' io mi doglia. 

Love, since 'tis meet that I should tell my woe, 

That men may list to me, 
And show myself with all my manhood gone, 
Grant that I may content in weeping know; 

So that my grief set free 5 

My words may utter, with my sense at one. 
Thou will'st my death, and I consent thereon j 
But who will pardon if I lack the art 

To tell my pain of heart? 
Who will believe what now doth me constrain ? 10 

But if from thee fit words for grief are won, 
Grant, my Lord, that, ere my life depart. 
That cruel fair one may not hear my pain, 
For, of my inward grief were she made ware. 
Sorrow would make her beauteous face less fair. 15 

A great gap divides the poems of the Vi7a Xum-a fmrn those that follow, and date, mean- 
ing, occasion, become more and more (if that, indeed, be possible, looking to ihe wanderings 
of interpreters, even within that region) matters of conjecture. Often there is but scanty 
evidence of authorship. In the present instance we have two data connecting the Canzone 
with Dante's life. It w.ts written when he was in exile (1. 78). It was a song of the mountains 
(61, 76), in the valley of the river on whose banks he had felt the power of love. All this 
points to the upper valley of the Amo, the Casentino district, which is described in H. xxx. 
65, and Purg. v. 94, xiv. 43, and in which he found a temporary home with Alessandro da 
Romena during his wanderings (vol. i. p. Ixxxiii.) A letter which Witte has brought So 
light (Frat. O. Jlf. iii. 430) i-. probably connected with it. Dante writes c/rc. 1309 from 
the Casentino to the Marquis IMoroello Malaspina of the Lunigiana, to whom he is said to 
have dedicated his Purgatorio. He dwells on the fact that in that region he had found a 
lady whose manners and character had attracted him. Of her rank or parentage or fortune we 
know nothing. He says that he sends a poem with the letter which will explain his feelings 
more fully. This Canzone is conjecturaiiy identified with that poem, and that would give 
circ. 1309 as its date. One does not read it with any great satisfaction. I assume that a 
man like Dante would not write to tell a friend and patron like Moroello of the progress of a 
criininal intrigue, and that the attachment was therefore of the platonic type. On the other 
hand, D.inte was now fovty-foiir, and the sighs and piled-up agonies which were real at 
twenty seem at that age somewhat artificial. Even the platonic attachment seems to involve 
something like unfaithfulness to the memory of Beatrice, after the ideal conversion of 1300, 
and while he was actually writing the Purgatorio, as well as to poor Gemma, who was left in 
Florence. On the other hand, one should remember that Italian nature is not English ; that 
Dante's loneliness of exile might well create a passionate longing for sympathy ; that when 
he found one whose presence seemed to brighten the gloom of life, his thoughts would run 
naturally in the old grooves and find utterance after the old form. There would be a certain 
satisfaction in feeling that the fountain'^ which had once flowed so freely were not dried up, 
even though there was more effort in drawing the buckets from the well. I do not care to 
submit the water so drawn to a minute analysis. Some allowance must be made, I believe, 
in that process for the allegorising tendency. The haughtiness and coldness of the Casen- 
tinese Udy would remind such a thinker as Dante of what had been said of Wisdom herself; 
that she at first is f.jund unpleasant to the unlearned (Ecclus. vi. 20-28 ; Conv. iii. 15), and 
reserves the joy of her countenance for those who seek her with a persevering love. 


I cannot 'scape from her, but she will come 

Within my phantasy, 
More than I can the thought that brings her there : 
The frenzied soul that brings its own ill home, 

Painting her faithfully. 
Lovely and stern, its own doom doth prepare ; 
Then looks on her, and when it filled doth fare 
"With the great longing springing from mine eyes. 

Wroth with itself doth rise, ■, 

That lit the fire where it, poor soul ! doth, burn. 
Wlaat plea of reason calms the stormy air 
When such a tempest whirls o'er inward skies I 
The grief it cannot hold breaks forth in sighs, 
From out my lips that others too may learn. 
And gives mine eyes the tears they truly earn,- 

The image of my fair foe which doth stay •, 

Victorious and proud, 
And lords it o'er my faculty of will, 
Desirous of itself, doth make me stray 

There, where its truth is showed, 
As like to like its course directing still. 
Like snow that seeks the sun, so fare I ill ', 
But I am powerless, and I am as they 

Who thither take their way 
As others bid, where they must fall as dead. *) 

When I draw near, a voice mine ears doth fill, 
Which saith : " Away ! seek'st thou his death to see 1 " 
Then look I out, and search to whom to flee 
For succour : — to this pass I now am led 
By those bright eyes that baleful lustre shed. 45 

What I become when smitten, thus, Love, 
Thou can'st relate, not I ; 
For thou dost stay to look while I lie dead, 
And if my soul back to my heart should move, 

Blind loss of memory so 

Hath been with her while she from earth hath fled. 
. When I rise up, and see the wound that bled, 


And cast me down sore smitten by the blow, 

No comfort can I know, 
To keep me from the shuddering thrill of fear ; ss 

And then my looks, with pallor o'er them spread, 
Show what that lightning was that laid me low. 
For, grant it came with sweet smile all aglow, 
Long time all clouded doth my face appear, 
Because my spirit gains no safety clear. eo 

Thus thou hast brought me, Love, to Alpine vale, 

"Where flows the river bright. 
Along whose banks thou still o'er me dost reign. 
Alive or dead thou dost at will assail. 

Thanks to the fierce keen light, 65 

"Which flashing opes the way for Death's campaign. 
Alas ! for ladies fair I look in vain, 
Or kindly men, to pity my deep woe. 

If she unheeding go, 
I have no hope that others help will send. 70 

And she, no longer bound to thy domain, 
Cares not, Sire, for dart that thou dost throw ; 
Such shield of pride around her breast doth go, 

That every dart thereon its course doth end ; 
And thus her heart against them doth defend. 75 

Dear mountain song of mine, thou goest thy way, 

Perchance thou'lt Florence see, mine own dear land, 

That drives me doomed and banned, 
Showing no pity, and devoid of love. 
If thou dost enter there, pass on, and say, so 

" My lord no more against you can wage war, 
There, whence I come, his chains so heavy are, 
That, though thy fierce wrath placable should prove, 
No longer freedom hath he thence to move." 

Cl I have given above what seems the true explanation of the words. Local ambitions have, 
however, led some Italian scholars to identify the Alps with the mountains of the Lago di 
Garda, and the river with the Adige. (Comp. J/, xii. 5.) 



THE lover's threats. 

Cosl nel mio parlar voylio esser aspro. 

Fain in my speech would I be harsh and rough, 
As is in all her acts that rock so fair, 

"Which hourly comes to share 
More hardness, and less penetrable stuff. 
And clothes itself all o'er with jasper bright, s 

So that, as stopped by it or halting there, 

No arrow forth doth fare. 
That ever on unsheltered part doth light : 
And shield and hauberk fail when she doth smite, 
Nor can a man escape those deadly blows, lo 

Which come upon her foes, 
As if with wings, and crush each strong defence ; 
So to resist her I make no pretence. 

I find no shield that she cannot break through, 

No place that hides me from her piercing eyes ; 15 

But as o'er spray doth rise 
The blossom, so my mind Avith her is crowned ; 
She seems as much to care for all my woe. 
As sb p for sea that calm and waveless lies ; 

My deep-sunk grief defies 20 


I own that I insert tViis Canzone with grave misgivings as to its authorship. It is true that 
it appears in all printed editions, is found with Dante's name in many MSS., and is accepted 
by experts like Kraticelli and Witte. On the other hand, I fail to find in it the grace, the 
subtlety, the pathos of the heart and hand of Dante. The threats of 11. 67-79, have a wild 
sensual Swinburnian eagerness of passion in them, of which we find no trace in Dante's other 
writings. I am disposed to couple it with another poem, an auctioneer's inventory of 
beauties, dealing largely with "blond and curled locks" " lo miro i cresfii. e gli tiondi 
capelli," which was at one time, at Venice in 1508, printed as Dante's, arid out of which an 
Italian scholar (IMissirini) constructed an ideal portrait of Beatrice, but which is now generally 
assigned to Fazio degli Uberti, or some other second or third class poet. Witte, it may be 
noted, is disposed to find an allegorical meaning, like that which pervades the poetry of the 
Persian mystics and the mediaeval interpretation of the Song of .Solomon, in the threats of 
which I have spoken, and in which he sees the struggles of the intellect to attain the fruition 
of truth by its own persistent eflforts — efforts whicii the seeker afterwards renounced for the 
submission of faith and hope. On the assumption of a literal meaning, commentators, seeing 
that a reference to Beatrice is out of the question, have identified the fair one to whom the 
Ca7izone is addressed with the Gentucca oi Purg. xxiv. 38, or the Casentino lady of the Ep. 
to Moroello Malaspina, or to a Pietra de' Scrovigni of Padua, the last conjecture resting on 
the paronomasia of 1. 2. Comp. vol. i. p. cxvii. 

The allusion to Dido (p. 37) is almost the one point of contact with anything thatwe know 
of Dante's thoughts and studies {H. v. 85), but it is scarcely conclusive as evidence of 


AH power of utterance that in rhymes is bonnd. 
Ah, cruel pain, that, like sharp file, hast ground, 
So silently, my strength of life away, 

Why hast thou no dismay 
Thus to devour my whole heart, bit by bit, 25 

As I to tell who gives thee strength for it. 

For more my heart doth tremble, musing much 
Of her, where I meet gaze of other eyes, 

For fear lest no disguise 30 

Should keep my thoughts from being by look betrayed. 
Than I from death do shrink, when he, with touch 
Of Love's sharp teeth, doth every sense surprise : 

Wlience weak and prostrate lies 
My mind's whole strength, all dull and laggard made. 35 
Low hath he smitten me now, and hath displayed 
The sword that Dido slew all ruthlessly. 

E'en Love, to whom I cry, 
Calling for mercy in my lowly prayer ; 
And he denies, and leaves me to despair. 4o 

Once and again he lifts his hand to smite, 

That cruel Lord, and all hope passeth by ; 

So that I prostrate lie 
Upon the earth, of power to stir bereft. 
Then in my mind new troubles rise in might, 45 

And all the blood, which through my veins doth fly. 

As hearing my heart's cry. 
Flows thitherward, and thus I pale am left. 
And on the left side 1 by him am cleft. 
So sorely that my whole heart throbs with pain. bo 

Then say I, " Once again 
Should he lift hand, Death will have gained his prey 
Before the fatal blow descends to slay." 

Had I thus seen him cleave the heart in twain ' - 

Of that harsh Fair who cleaves my heart in four, 55 

Death would be dark no more. 
To whom I pass for her great beauty's sake. 
For in the sun as well as in the rain 


.That ruthless deadly fair her scorn doth pour. \ 

Ah, why wails she no more 
For me, as. I for her in fiery lake? ^ 

For soon I'd cry, " I will not thee forsake." 
Gladly I'd do it, as though he I were 

Who, in those ringlets fair, 
^ATiich Love for my undoing crisps with gold, 
Should plunge his hand, and revel in their hold. 

And if I had those tresses in my hand, 

Which are as rod or scourge that makes me mourn, 

I would grasp them at morn, 
And hold them till the bells of evensong. 
Nor would I piteous be, nor gently bland, 
But, like a bear at play, act out my scorn ; 

And if by Love's scourge torn. 
For vengeance thousand-fold should I be strong ; 
And on her bright eyes, whence the flashes throng 
That set on fire the heart I bear half-slain, 

I would my fixed glance strain, 
To 'venge me for the flight that wrought my pain, 
And then with Love would grant her peace again. 

Canzon', go straight to that my Lady fair 

Who hath my heart so pierced, and takes by wrong 

That for which most I long ; 
And with thine arrow at her proud heart aim, 
For in such venft-eance win we chiefest fame. 


THE lover's anathema. 
lo mcdedico il dl ch' io vidi in prima. 
I CURSE the day when first I saw the light 
Of thy bright eyes so treacherously fair, 


In some early collections the Sonnet appears with the name of Cino da Pistoia, to whom 
I am myself disposed to assign it. If Dante's, it must be referred to somepanrjof disappoint- 
ment at the rejection of his aflfection by the lady of the Casentino or Pietra de' Scrovigni. See 
Cam. viii. and ix. I scarcely see how an allegorical meaning can be read between the 


The hour when thou didst come upon the height 
Of this my heart to call my sourelsawhere ; 
Love's filing tool with curse I also smite, 5 

^Yhich smoothed my songs, and colours rich and rare, 

That I have found for thee, and rhymed aright, 
So that the world to thee its praise might bear. ^ 

And-T curse too my memory hard as steel. 

So firm to keep what bringeth death to me, w 

That is, ;thy looks which grace and guilt reveal. 

Through which Love oft is led to perjury ; 
So that at him and me men's laugh rings free 
As though I M-ould rob Fortune of her wheel 



( Donne, io non so di che mi pregU Amore. 

Ladies, I know not what of Love to pray, 

For he smites me, and death is hard to bear, 
And yet to feel him less brings greater fear. ' 

There shineth in the centre of my mind 

The light of those fair eyes that I desire, 5 

Which gives my soul content ; 
True is it that at times a dart I find 

Which drieth up my heart's well as with fire, 
Ere all its force be spent ; 
This doeth Love as oft as he doth paint ,0 

That gentle hand and that pure faithfulness. 
Which should my life with sense of safety bless. 

Sps'^on^llalTe? b^^^Ltfa'Sat'^'^'^ ^^ ^^ '--'^g f- ^ higher wisdom is 

fonu?e--re°e'A'vT96. '" ^""°^' ^"^^^ "'-'''-« -'^ -?• -■- i- For the "^heel of 


onhfpTem^oftht'rea^rfcetn^^^^^^^^ Tue address to "Ladles" reminds us of some 

H. i. 20. ^ '^'"'^- "■ ^ ' •^- *"• I. "iv. 1). Line 8 finds a parallel ia 




Madonna, quel signor, che vol portale. 

Lady, the sovran Lord tliou so dost bear 

In tliy bright eyes, that he subdues all power, 
Of surety gives me dower, 
That thou with pity wilt full friendship share ; 

For there, where he doth find his home and bower 
And has society so passing fair, 

He draws what's good and rare 
To him, as to the fountain-head of power. 
Hence I find comfort for my hope, full store, 
Which hath so long been rent and tempest tost, 

That it had sure been lost, 

Had it not been that Love 
Against all adverse fortune help doth prove, 
With his bare look and with remembered lore 
Of the sweet spot and of the flowery grove, 
Which, with new hues, all hues of earth above, 
Encircleth all my mind and memory. 
Thanks to thy sweet and gracious courtesy. 



Per una gJnrlandelta. 

By reason of a garland fair 
, That once I saw, each single flower 

Now makes me breathe a sigh. 

Wh^t has been said of B. vi. holds good of this also. Line i reads like a reproduction of 
5'. xi. I. It may have been one of the many " cosctte" (V. N. c. 5) which he wrote for the 
" screen" lady between 1283 and 1285, of which Beatrice was the subject, but which he did 
not care to include in the V. N. Line 15 seems to find an echo in the vision of the earthly 
Paradise (/'wr^. xxviii. 1-36). 


I incline to think that this also was addressed to Beatrice. Her lover sees her adorned 
with a wreath of flowers (comp. Purg. xxx. 28), crowned as by the Lord of love, and over 
her hovers the angel of love and lowliness. 


' 1 saw ttee, Lady, bear that garland fair, 
Sweetest of flowers that blow, 
And over it, as floating in the air 
I saw Love's angel hover meek and low, 
- And in his song's sweet flow. 
He said, "Who looks on me 
"Will praise my Lord on high." 

Should I be haply where a floweret blows, 

A sigh must I suspire, 
And say, " Where'er my geutle lady goes, 
Her brow doth bear the flowerets of my Sire : 
But to increase desire. 
My Lady sure will be 
Crowned by Love's majesty. 

My slender words a tale of flowers have told 
In ballad quaint and new ; 

And for their brightness they a garment fold, 
Kot such as others knew. 
Therefore I pray to you. 
That, when one sings it, ye 
Should show it courtesy. 



love's sq-v-ereigxty. 

Jo sono stato eon Amove insieme. 

I HAVE with Love in contact close been thrown, 

From the ninth year the sun did mark for 'me, 

And know how he now curb, now spur may be. 

And how beneath him men may smile and groan. 


the power of a ifke loveasrain Tn ,lV '^'y and passionately could ever come under 

maintains ?hat ove comfs oA 1^ I '^"^""'" ?"'' ?,','""" '= '^e affirmative answer. It 

^bey and so fL agUsTn tone w Ih tte fen^r .°K "^ 7."'r' ^"''- '^?T-. "^ "° <=^°'" "^"^ «> 
to. it may be as Fra irpn?^^l- , u o "^^ Casentmo lady (£>. 3) before referred 

^^/./j^V^^^Kablv Cinn. H?7 '^l' "-^^ ^"""•'^ ^'""^^d to in the letter, " e^uanti 

For the fact see K iV. c. t ; for the form ofstatement, Conv. ii. 7. 


Who strives with him, with skill and strength alone, 
Acts as he does who, when the storm plays free, 
Rings out a peal, as though the vaporous sea 

And thunderous strife that music could atone. 

Wherefore within the range of that his bow, 

Free choice to act hath not its freedom true, 

So that our counsels vain dart to and fro. 

Well with new spur in flank may he us prick, 

And each new pleasure he before us lays, 

We must needs follow, of the old joy sick. 

Ipart M, 


THE envoy's instructions. 
Parole mie, che per lo mondo siete. 

Ye words of mine, whose voice the world doth fill, 

Who had your birth when first my thoughts began 
To speak of her for whom astray I ran ; 

*' Ye, who the third heaven move, hy force of will," 

Knowing her well, to her your course fulfil, s 

So wailing that she may our sorrows scan : 
Say to her, " We are thine, nor think we can 

Present ourselves henceforth more numerous still." 

6 The words probably refer to the practice of ringing church bells during a thunderstorm. 
That, Dante says, in its impotence to stop the tempest, is like the powerlessness of the will 
when the storms of passion are rolling over it. It is his apologia, afterwards, we may believe, 
recanted (Purg. xxxi. 31-66), for the p.issing affections that obscured the memory of Beatrice. 
Here also, of course, an allegorical meaning is conceivable. For the custom see Brand's 
Popular Antiquities, ii. 217, 218; ed. I'&Ti. 


The quotation in line 4 of Cam. xiv. i is conclusive as to authorship. The opening lines 
imply a consciousness of fame already widely spread, resting on the older sister poems of 
the V. N. The line quoted in line 4 is from the first of those explained allegorically in the 
Conviio. The fact that it thus belongs to the second stage of Dante's Trilogy, of which the 
Convito is the embodiment, justifies its place as the opening of Part ii. Line 3 implies, as 
I render " in cui errai " (the words have been taken, however, as "against whom I sinned "), 
an admission that he had sinned in thought, in not remembering the Divine Wisdom of which 
Beatrice had become the symbol. He bids these poems of Part ii., now collected, go to 
the Philosophy, who, as the ideal object of his second love, is the subject of the Convi:o, and 
tells her that their number is complete. They cannot, however, hope to find in her reciprocity 

^f:ANZONIERE. 255 

Stay not with lier ; for Love is not found there, 

But take your way around in sad array, w 

Like your own sisters in the days that were. 

And when ye find a lady kind and fair, 

Eight humbly at her feet your tribute lay. 

And say, " To thee we gifts of honour bear." 


t ' FOR others' sake. 

Chi guarderd giammai senza paura. 

Who now will ever look devoid of fear 

Into this fair and tender maiden's eyes. 

Which so have wrought on me that now there lies 
Before me nought but death, to me so drear 1 
See how my evil fortune is severe ; s 

For from all lives, my life the destinies 

Chose as the type of perilous emprise, 
That none to gaze on that fair face draw near. 
To me this end was given by Fortune's might ; 

Since it must needs be that one man should die, 10 

That others to that peril come not nigh. 

Tlierefore, alas ! thus drawn along was I, 
Attracting to me my life's opposite, 
As doth the pearl the star of day's clear light. 

of affection, for she is passionless in her beauty. The Sonnet seems like a kind of aMoo;a 
for the endeavour to combine the new teachings of Philosophy with the old reverence fo^ 
Beatrice an ^A^^.« of which Pur^ :cxx. 100-145 may be looked on as a recantation The 
i -f 'rfi a'- P^P'^ably the poems of the F. N. The "lady kind and fair " t^onna^ivaUr^) 
ts Identified m Couv. m. 14 with any noble soul that sympathises with the pursuft of w!fdom: 


.J\^ allegorical sense is again dominant. He had loved the "fair maid" of whom he 
?,?,?h .^rl' T °^/^^ ^ord yar^o/eiia- suggests that that term in />«^^. wThas 
bo h a literal and a synibol.c meaning) not wisely but too well. His long pursuit of 
philosophy had been exhausting and unsatisfying: His strength is fai ing Fife seems 
waning. Let others take warmng by his example, lest the attractions of her bri|ht eyes z'T 
TrueWrhes^;„'^'."'" demonstruionsof Philosophy, draw them to a like peri of death 
Xrue hfe. he seem, to say, >s not found in that path. L. 10 seems an echo of JoA^ xi. 50. 

it LTdZ'^'ce^ thTpT«^r«^:.^.Tv!l5r ''^ ^°^^^ '' ''^ ^""' '^' ' " -^ -p"^-'- 




lo mi son pargoletta hella e nuova, 

" A MAIDEN young and beautiful am I, 

And I am come that I may show to you 
The beauties of the region where I grew ; 

I come from Heaven, and thither shall return, 

To give to others joy in my clear light : s 

And he who sees me, nor with love doth burn, 
Of love shall never have clear-visioned sight : 
For nothing was denied to my delight, 

"When Nature begged me of him as her due, 

Who wills, dear ladies, me to join with you- lo 

Each star that shines within mine eye doth rain 

Showers of its light, and of its potency : 
My beauties to the world as new remain, 

Because from Heaven's high clime they come to me ; 

Nor can men ever know them perfectly, 15 

Save by the knowledge of a man in whom 

Love dwells, with joy all others to illume." 

These words are read as written in the eye 
Of a bright angel, seen with beauty rife, 

The reappearance oi'"' pargoletta" in line i leads to the conclusion that she who spealcs, 
manifesting what she is without speaking, is neither the living nor the transfigured Beatrice, 
but the Philosophywhom, in the Convito stage of his inner life, he had admitted to a 
co-ordinate sliare inhisafTection*:, not without the risk of its becoming predominant. So taken, 
Philosophy boasts, as in Conv. ii. i6, of her iieavenly origin. To that heaven she will return 
to give a fresh joy to its inhabitants. The poet th-^n transfers to her what he had written 
of old of ISeatrice herself. To assume, with Fraticdli, that the " pargoletta" \s Beatrice, 
.^eem'; to meat varimce «ith Furg. .xxxi. 59, as interpreting the successive stages of Dante's 
inner life, to say nothing of the fact that the term could hardly be applied to one who, like 
Beatrice, was a "donna." 

11 Each planet had its own special influence presided over its own special study in the 
Triviwn and Quadrivium (Coti-. ii. 14). All were found combined in Philosophy, as the 
Queen of Sciences. To understand their preciou>ness required the love which shows itself 
in self-renunciation. 

If The " angel " is clearly the " maiden " of line i, i.e., Philosophy. In gazing on her in 
the hope of an escape of some sort, we have a reproduction of the thought of K, N. c. 36, 
ulien he had found in the "gentle lady" of the window, a refuge from over-much sorrow. 
As it was, however, his devoiion to that new affection, to the service of the new mistress, 
Philosophy, had brought with it a new suffering, and he was well nigh sick unto death. I do 
not see any adequate grounds for finding the ''^pargoletta " in either Gentucca or the lady of 
the Casentino. 


Whence I who, to escape, looked steadfastly, io 

Incur the risk of forfeiting my life ; 

For such a wound I met in that fierce strife 
From one whom I within her eyes beheld, 
That I go weeping, all my peace dispelled. 


E' non i legno di slforti noccki. 

Xo tree there is so gnarled and stiff to ply, 
'No rock that flinty hardness so doth fill, 
But that the cruel fair who doth me kill 

Can kindle love there with her beauteous eye. 

Hence when one gazes as she passeth by, 6 

If he withdraw not, Death will work his will, 
So fails his heart ; for vainly prays he still 

That his stern office he may modify. 

Ah ! wherefore was such wondrous power assigned 

To the fair eyes of lady so severe, 10 

Who careth not to save her worshipper, 
And in such ruthless mood doth persevere. 

That if one dies for her, to that she's blind, 

And hides her beauties that he may not find ] 


The "stern lady" whose eyes have such terrible power is, as in S. xxxv., B. ix., Philo- 
sophy. Having once started the idea that this was the "gentle lady" who had pi:y on him 
(K. .iV. c. 38 ; Conv. ii. 2), he plays with it, presents it in many aspects, writes poems which 
half veil and half reveal his meaning, i()iova.vTa. (TuveToicnv— words for the wise, puzzles for the 
Philistines— not without a certain pleasure in the thought that they will mystify his readers. 

Conv. ii. I explains the "stocks" and "stones" of men without art or knowledge. Even 
there Philosophy, with her Orphic power, moves to love ; but the love is one of the SslvoI 
cpwTc?, the "terrible passions" of which Plato speaks. She looks on at their fruitless 
efforts, sees them wither and perish in striving to obtain her, and yet she hides her.-elf from 
them and they have no fruition. 

The words "si sfianocchi" in 1. 8, literally to deal out the grains of an ear of com one by 
one, is, I think, sufficiently expressed by "modify." The judgment is to come bit by bit. 



Se vedi gli occhi miei di pianjer vaghi. 

If tliou dost see mine eyes so fain to weep, 

Througbi the new sorrow that devours my heart, 
By her I pray, who ne'er from thee doth part. 

That thou, Sire, them from their desire would'st keep ; 

That is, that thy right hand should vengeance heap • 

On him who murders justice, and doth flee 
To tyrant lord, and sucks his poison free, 

Wherewith he fain would all the wide world steep, 
And hath of so great terror cast the chill 

Into thy subjects' hearts, that all are dumb : i 

But thou. Love's fire, whose light the Heaven doth fill, 

Eaise thou that Virtue who lies all o'ercome, 

Naked and cold, and screen her with thy veil, 

For, without her, all peace on earth doth fail. 



Per quella via che la hellezza cor re. 

Along the pathway Beauty loves to tread, 
When to awaken Love it seeks the mind, 
There wends a lady, sportively inclined, 

It is with a certam satisfaction that we come, in the midst of all the man-elloiis, half-morbid 
introspections of the Minor Poems, upon one which brings us face to face with the man of 
action, whose interests range widely over the kingdoms of tlie world. The Sonnet takes its 
place among the many cries of" How long, O Lord, how long?" which have gone up from 
the patriots and reformers of all countries, of none more than of Italy. The vague words, dis- 
tinct enough to him who wrote them, leave us lo guess to what special crisis of Dante's life 
they belong. The Sonnet may be addressed to the Emperor Henry VI 1. (comp. £f>. 5, vol. 
i. p. cv.), or, as I think more probable, to tlie great Emperor of the Universe. She who never 
parts from the earthly cir the heavenly Emperor is the eternal justice of God. He who "murders 
Justice" may be the Neri party of Florence, or Charles of Valois, or Boniface VIII., or Philip 
the Fair of France ; the " tyrant" may be, according as we adopt oue or other of these hypo- 
theses, Charles or Boniface VIII. . or Philip, or Clement V. The "poison " is the grasping 
greed of gain, for which both Philip and Clement were conspicuous. I incline to the last of 
the four combinations (cunip. Purg. xx.\ii. 151-160), and refer the Sonnet to the indignation 
with which Dante looked on the suppression of the TeinpUirs (Fitrg;. x.x. 93), to the hopes 
which he began to cherish after the e ectiou of Henry VII. (vol. i. pp. xcii.-xcix.) 

sonnet xxxviii. 

The enigma deepens. Dark sayings become darker. We say, as the Jews did of Ezekiel, 
" Doth he not spe.ik parables? " The key to the puzzle may be found, I believe, in the thought 


As one who deems that I by her am led, 

And when she comes where soars the high, tower's head, 5 
Which opens when the soul consent doth find, 
She hears a voice come floating swift as wind, 

" Rise, Lady fair, nor enter there," it said. 

For to that Lady who doth sit on high, 

When she the sceptre of high lordship claimed, lo 

Love granted it, according to her will. 

And when that fair one sees herself passed by, 

Driven from that mansion which Love's home is named, 
She back returns and shame her face doth fill. 


Da quella luce, che il suo corso giro. 

From that bright star which moveth on its way 

For ever at the empyrean's will, 

And between Mars and Saturn ruleth still. 
E'en as the expert astrologer doth say. 
She, who inspires me with her beauty's ray, s 

Doth subtle art of sovereignty distil ; 

And he whose glory doth the fourth heaven fill, 
Gives her the power my longing soul to sway ; 

that the two ladies are Human and Divine Wisdom ; that the tower is, in Bunyan's language, 
that of Man-soul ; that the path by which beauty passes into the heart is that of sight ; that 
the gate is that of the will. I see in the Sonnet a kind of palinode of the praises lavished on 
Philosophy in the Convito ; a recognition that a true Theolog\' has, after all, higher claims, a 
transition to the spirit of the Purgatory and Paradise. The '"gentle lady" must, afier all, 
give way to Beatrice. The poet returns to his first love. See Study on the Genesis and 
Growth of the Cominedia. 


We are still in the region of allegory. The Sonnet is a condensed expression of the theory 
of planetary influence and correspondences, stated at length in Conv. ii. 14 (comp. Ball. ix. 11 ; 
Cam. 14), where the seven spheres are placed over against the seven studies of the Trivium 
' (Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric) and the Qtiadriviuin (Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and 
Astronomy). The sphere of the fixed stars corresponds in like manner to Physics and ileta- 
physics ; the Priniiim Mobile to Ethics ; the Empyrean to I'heology. W'e are left to guess 
whether the poet speaks of Beatrice or the " donna gentile," of Theologj' or Philosophy, and 
the answer to that question must depend on the date which we assign to the Sonnet. Assuming 
that it rightly follows 5. xxxviii., I incline 10 the former view. The systematic arrangement 
of the Paradise, according to the ten heavenly spheres, falls in with this interpretation. 

1 Jupiter lies between Mars and Saturn ; the sun, in the Ptolemaic system, is in the fourth 
heaven (1. 7) ; the first heaven (I. 11) is that of the moon ; the third (1. 12) that of Venus, which 
represents the persuasive power of rhetoric. Comp. Cam. xiv. 


And that fair planet known as Mercury 

Colours her speech with all its viitue rare ; 

And the first heaven its boon does not deny; 

She who the third heaven ruleth as her share, 

Makes her heart full of utterance pure and free ; 

So all the seven to perfect her agree. 



Yoi die sapete rayionar d' amore. 

Ye who are skilled of Love discourse to hold, 

Hear ye this ballad-song of mine forlorn, 

Which telleth of a lady full of scorn. 

Who, through her power, my whole heart hath controlled. 

So doth she scorn whoe'er on her doth gaze, 5 

She makes him bend his eyes for very fear, 

For still round hers she evermore displays 

A portraiture of cruelty severe ; 

While yet within the image sweet they bear 

Which makes the gentle soul speak thankful praise ; w 

So full of might that when 'tis seen, always 

From every heart it draws forth sighs untold. 

She seems to say, " I will not lowly be 

Toward any one who gazeth on mine eyes ; 

For there I bear that Lord of courtesy is 

Whose darts have made new feelings in me rise." 


Here the writer explains his own enigmas. He tells us {Com', iii. 9-15) that he wrote this 
Ballciia ti) represent the aspect which Philosophy presents to the man void of understanding, 
to the seeker who as yet is unworthy of her graciou- smile, and quotes in Canz. xv., of which 
Coiiv. iii. is an exposition, the very ep'.thets of "proud" and "ruthless" which he here 
applies to her. She will not be lowly towaids one who looks too boldly into her eyes, and 
requires in her lover the temper of reverential awe. But within, for those who so seek her, 
she has an aspect full of grace, and so his desires will have strength to persevere in their 
quest in spite of her seeming harshness. I assign the poem, with little hesitation, to tl e 
transition period of Dante's life, rei^resented by the Conviio, and therefore identify the 
" Lady" of whom it speaks with Philosophy. We are reminded at once of Eccliis. iv. i6-i3, 
and of the Janus-like face of Wisdom in the Giotio fresco at Assisi. 


And, certes, I believe she in sucli wise 

Keeps them, to gaze upon them as she please : 

E'en so an upright lady acts, who sees 

How those who would do honour her behold. 20 

I have no hope that pity her will move 

To deign on others to bestow a glance ; 

So proud a lady is she, she who Love 

Shows in her eyes, so fair of countenance, 25 

Eut let her hide and keep him, as may chance, 

That such bliss I awhile should see no more ; 

Yet shall my longings have at last a power 

Against the scorn of Love so proud and cold. 



Al poco giorno, ed al gran cerchio cZ' omlra. 

To shortened days and circle wide of shade 

I have now come, alas ! and snow-clad hills. 

When all bright hues grow pale upon the grass ; 

Tet my desire hath not yet lost its green, 

And so is rooted in the flinty rock, s 

Which speaks and hears, as though it were a lady. 

We come upon three poems, obviously of the same period, of a different tvp- Thev 
belong mthe.r outward form to a class of «h ch the Provengal poets were fond, and Arnauld 
pan.el, for whom m P,,r^. xxvi. ii6 Dante expresses a profound reverence w- s "he 
uvenior, as perhaps o( xh, U^za rima, so al,o of the ^^.;.«^, ringmg its manifold chLz^s those of a chime of bells, upon the six words which are chos?n as a theme T-emftre 
h^hTf^ ^^'""•^'■.'^/ by P""-^--* and other poets. It is obvious that suchTform is in thi 
h.ghc.t decree artificial but, as with the equally artificial alphabetic Psalms of th^Hebrews 
^1 Lamentations of Jeremiah, or the strophes and antistrophes of a Greek cho^sThe 
power of the poet to mast.r .t becomes a triumph of his strength. T„e performancT from 
our standpoint, seems to belong to the acrobats of poetrj-, bu! that exercl; Ts a partTf 
literary gymnastic, may become part of the training of the a hlete (vol. i p Kvir) As such 
oZ^cT^Tt^^tf "•, tw^' "■ ^-'V-'"-. ^^in the instance kLuca^n ^. xiv. 94)and 
counts wher-ih^/vw^r hi, strength against the great masters of poetry preciselj? in the 

harsucIeXd ll-,rj '^''°f'^^ to be pre-eminent and it will be owned that here also he 
SC of words of JL sin, f" '^ '^^' '^^ ^fV °^?b" -^'"'""^ ^"°^^'^d the use of homonyms 
ij,,°LZi i u ,^3'"^. Arm and sound but difTerent sense (as, e.^., here in the use of 
Where ^^\n Z^\ntr^r}'T'f "^ ■"^'"'^ '\^ '^\"^'^'°^ ^"ds it diffiailt to avail himself 
the sen'uenre of thn ,„\,"r- '\^°\^ '' T'u^ "'"" 'he matter, it is scarcely necessary to track 
there U an V cL,t° .^ \ %^^' l''"^ ^7''f °^" ^<^nA^r, at is that, under such conditions, 
^Z \\ ^ sequence .nt all. Lriefly I take it that here also the " lady " is Ph losophy 
He wonTf^fn" 'he winter of discon-.ent in which her worshipper finds himself (11. ^-6) 
n 20 vet fnr\f:^'fh ^"-.^'-^l ' but cannot. He sees her clothed in preen, the hue of ho^ 
(1. 25), yet for him there is small chance that she will accept his love, though he would sle^ 


So in like manner dotli tin's fair ynun;:^ lady 

Stand frozen, as the snow stands in the shade, 

For she no more is moved than is the rock, 

"When the sweet season comes which warms the hills, lo 

And makes them change from white to pleasant green, 

Because it clothes them all with flowers and grass. 

When on her brow she wears a wreath of grass, 

From out our thoughts she drives each other lady. 

Since mingle there the crisp gold and the green, is 

So well that Love comes there to seek their shade, 

Who shuts me up amid the lowly hills. 

More closely far than doth the flinty rock. 

Her beauties have more power than any rock. 

Her blow may not be healed by any grass ; 20 

For I have fled through valleys and o'er hills. 

That I might freedom gain from this fair lady. 

But 'gainst her face I seek in vain for shade, 

In hill, or wall, or tree with foliage green. 

Aforetime I have seen her clothed in green, 25 

So beautiful, she might have warmed a rock 

With that Love which I bear to her mere shade ; 

Whence in a meadow bright with greenest grass, 

I wooed her, as a love-inspiring lady. 

On all sides girt by highest-soaring hills. 30 

But sooner shall the streams flow up the hills 

Ere this fair growth of plant so fresh and green 

Shall kindle, as is wont with gentle lady. 

For me, who fain would sleep upon the rock, 

All my life long, and wander, eating grass, 35 

Only to see her garments give their shade. 

Wliere'er the hills cast round their darkest shade, 
Beneath the fresh green doth the fair young lady 
Dispel it, like rock crystal in the grass. 

on the rock and feed on the grass, i.e., lead the life of a hermit, if only he might behold but 
the skirts of her garment (11. 31-36), while she shines like a precious gem where the shadows 
fall darkest (II. 37-39). It may be noted that this Sestina is twice quoted in the V, E. 
(ii. 10, 13), in the latter case as an e,\ample of the higher style which is fit for one " aulice 
poetantem." In 1. 39 I read " la" instead of " ^/i." 




Amor mi mena talfiata all' omhra. 

Love leads me many times beneath the shade 

Of ladies fair, whose necks are beauteous hills, 

And whiter far than flower of any grass ; 

And one there cometh, clothed in robes of green, 

Who in my heart dwells, as strength dwells in rock, s 

And among others seems as fairest lady. 

And when I glance upon this gentle lady, 

Whose brightness scatters every dusky shade. 

Her light so smites my heart it turns to rock ; 

I roam, as strangled, all among the hills, 10 

Till I revive, and am with love more green 

Than ever yet was spring or freshest grass. 

I ween no virtue ever was in grass 

With power to heal, as dwells in this fair lady. 

Who takes my heart, yet leaves my life all green. is 

When she restores it, I am as a shade : 

No longer have I life, save as the hills. 

Which loftiest are, and of the hardest rock. 

A heart I had as hard as any rock, 

When I saw her as fresh as is the grass -o 

In the sweet spring that clothes with flowers the hills j 

And now 'tis lowly found toward each fair lady : 

Only through love of her who gives a shade 

More precious than did ever foliage green. 


Philosophy appears, as before, clothed in green, and with a wreath of flowers on her head. 
He feels, as before, the two seemingly incompatible impressions of her rigour and her sweet- 
ness (II. 7-18). Of one thing he is certain, that his love for her makes him more lowly 
towards all others who, in any measure, reproduce her likeness. Never was any gem 
intaglio or painter's ideal of beauty so fair in its perfection as even the very shadow of her 
gracious loveliness (11. 34-36) Neither this Sestiiia nor the following appears in the editions 
of Krafft and Witte, but F aticelli gives what seem to me adequate reasons for receiving 


For seasons hot or cold, or sere or green, 
Still make me glad, to sucli sweet rest doth rock 
The great delight of resting in her shade. 
sight ! how fair, to see her on the grass 
Tripping more deftly than each other lady. 
Dancing her way through valleys and o'er hills. 

Long as I dwell 'mid mountains and 'mid hills, 

Love leaves me not, but keeps me fresh and green. 

As none he yet has kept for fairest lady ; 

For never yet was graving seen on rock, 

Nor any form of colour fair on grass. 

Which might seem bright as is her very shade. 

Thus Love contents me, while I live in shade, 
To find my joy and bliss in this fair lady, 
Who on her head hath placed a wreath of grass. 



Gran nobilta mi par vedere all' oiribra. 

I seem to see great glory in the shade 

Of ladies fair whose necks are ivory hills, 

And each on other, as she goes, flings grass ; 

For she is there, through whom my life is green, 

And in her love fixed, as in wall a rock, 6 

And stronger than was ever love for lady. 

If I have heart-love for mine own dear lady. 

Let no man marvel, nor thereon cast shade ; 

For my heart, through her, holds its joy like rock, 

Which, were it not so, would bring low the hills, lo 

And so would change them as the hue of green 

Fades from the aspect of the new-mown grass. 


The tour dejorce continues, as if the writer could go on for ever with variations upon the 
same theme I do not find that the variations in this instance present any new featmes calling 
for special annotation. 


I well may say that she adorns the grass 

"\Aliich for adornment, every other lady 

Blends with fair flowers and foliage fresh nnd green ; 15 

Because so brightly shineth her sweet shade, 

That it makes glad the valleys, j^lains, and hills, 

And, certes, gives a virtue to the rock. 

I know that I should be more vile than rock, 

If she were not to me as healing grass : 20 

She hath attained to scale the highest hills, 

Which have been mounted by no other lady, 

Save her alone, whom I love in the shade, 

Like little bird half-hid in foliage green. 

And if I were like lowly plant and green, 25 

I could disclose the virtue of each rock. 

And none should hide itself beneath the shade ; 

For I am hers, her flower, her fruit, her grass ; 

But none can do as doth my gentle lady. 

Whether she cometh down, or climbs, the hills. 30 

I seem alway as one who climbs the hills. 

When I part from her; and feel fresh and green. 

So do I joy, in looking on my lady : 

And when I see her not, like any rock 

I stand, and watch in faith, still fresh as grass, 35 

That soul who finds her chief joy in the shade. 

More I seek not, than ever in her shade 
To stand, who is of all the noblest lady. 
Fairer than any flowers, or leaves, or grass. 


Amor, tu vedi hen, che questa donna. 
Love, thou see'st well that this my Lady fair 
For thy great power cares not at any time, 

The form adopted, that of a double s^-stina, seems the «^ plus ultra of fantastic complica- 
tion. Ihere are sixty-six Imes, and lo these five words only are alluwed as rhymes, and the 

266 canzonieke: 

Which rules as mistress over others fair : 

And Avhen she saw she was my Lady fair, 

Ey that bright ray which on my face shed light, 5 

Of cruelty she grew the mistress fair, 

And seemed to have no heart of lady fair, 

But of some creature wild, to love most cold : 

For, through the season hot and through the cold, 

I see her semblance as a lady fair, lo 

Who had been fashioned out of goodly rock, 

By hand of one who best can grave the rock. 

And I, who am more steadfast than a rock, 
Obeying thee, through love of lady fair. 
In secret bear the pressure of the rock is 

With which thou woundedst me, as 'twere a rock, 
That had annoyed thee for long length of time ; 
So that it reached my heart where I am rock. 
And never was discovered any rock. 
Which, from the sun's great power or its own light, 20 
Had in it so much virtue or such light, 
Which could protect me from that self-same rock, 
So that it should not lead me with its cold 
Thither, where I shall be as dead with cold. 

Thou knowest, Sire, that by the freezing cold, 25 

Water becomes a solid crystal rock. 
Beneath the north-wind and its piercing cold, 
And aye the air, through elemental cold. 
Is changed, that water, as a lady fair, 
Eeigns in that clime by reason of the cold. so 

So before look that seemeth icy cold. 
Freezes my very blood full many a time, 

changes are rung on these with manifold iteration, till the reader is constrained to say, 
" Enough, and more than enough." It is almost useless in such a case to expect any subtle 
insight or profound emotion. It is simply, as before, a iojir de force, as of one who can 
dance his hornpipe even in the heaviest fetters, exulting in the fact that he at lea-t keeps 
time ; that he can, even under this almost unendurable restraint, succeed in making the 
verses say what he meant them to say. It seems to me idle, in such a case, to draw biogra- 
phical inferences and to identify the " Piet7a" of the poem with a supposed Pietra de' 
Scrovigni of Padua as one of Dante's lady-loves (comp. Canz. g, «.) So far as the poem 
expresses a real feeling, I refer it, as in the preceding poems, to Philosophy, as in the " danna 
gentile" of the second stage of the Trilogy of the poet's life. 

20 The thought connects itself with the belief that precious stones, such as carbuncle, 
amethyst, heliotrope, or bloodstone (//'. xxiv. 93), and the like, derived their specia virtues 
directly from the sun. 


And that same thought which shortens most my time 
Is all transformed into a humour cold, 
Which, through mine eyes, doth find its vraj to light, 35 
There, where it first received that ruthless light. 

In her is met all beauty's varied light, 
As also of all cruelty the cold 
Runs to her heart, -where dwelleth not thy light ; 
Since in my eyes she shines with such a light, 4o 

When I behold her, that her form in rock 
I see, or wheresoe'er I turn my light. 
And from her eyes there comes so sweet a lif^ht, 
That I care not for other ladies fair. 
Would that she were more piteous Lady fair 45 

To me, who ask of her, in dark and light, 
To serve her only in each place and time, 
Nor for aught else desire to live long time. 

Wherefore, Power, that art before all time, > 

Before all motion and material light, 50 

Pity thou me, who pass such grievous time. 

Seek thou her heart now, for it is full time, 

So that through thee may vanish all the cold, 

Which lets me not, like others, live my time ; 

For if there comes on me thy tempest time 55 

In this my state, that fair and goodly rock 

Will see me slain and sepulchred in rock. 

Never to rise again till past is Time, 

When I shall see if ever lady fair 

Was pitiless as is this Lady fair. eo 

My Song, I bear in mind a Lady fair, 

Such that she is to me as flinty rock ; 

Give thou me courage, where all men seem cold. 

So that I dare, in spite of all that cold, 

That new thing which thy form shall bring to light, 65 

Which never hath been done at any time. 

65 We are reminded of Milton's "Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme." 



lo son venuto al fiunto dclla rota. 

I to that point in tlie great wheel have come, 

Wherein the horizon, -when the sun doth set, 
Erings forth the twin-starred heaven to our sight ; 
And Love's fair star away from us doth roam, 
Through the bright rays obliquely on it met e 

In such wise that they veil its tender light ; 
That planet, which makes keen the cold of night, 
Shows himself to us in the circle great, 
Where each star of the seven casts little shade : 

Yet lighter is not made lo 

One single thought of Love, that, with its weight, 
O'erloads my soul that is more hard than rock. 
For its fast hold of image all of rock. 

There riseth up from Ethiopia's sands 

A wind from far-off clime which rends the air, is 

Through the sun's orb that heats it with its ray. 

The sea it crosses ; thence, o'er all the lands 

Such clouds it brings that but for wind more fair, 

O'er all our hemisphere 'twould hold its sway ; 

And then it breaks, and falls in whitest spray 20 


I..IO We note the display of astronomical knowledge as reminding us of numerous passages 
of the Ccininedia {Putg. ii. i-6, ix. 1-9, xxv. 1-6, xxvii. 1-6, et nl.) The fact to be stated 
is that it is winter, when the sun is in Capricorn, when therefore the opposite sign of the 
zodiac, the Gemini, rises as the sun is setting. Possibly the verses that follow describe 
phenomena that met in some given year, and if we could ascertain thes- (which, as yet, 
however, commentators have not succeeded in doing), we might be able to fix the date of the 
Canzone with absolute precision. 

"< The planet is Saturn, the coldest of the planets, to the influence of which w.ts traced the 
severity ^>fa^ exceptionally hard winter. I follow Krafft and Witte in thus interpreting. 
'J he phenon.ena of Nature might seem to wither all tender emotions, but the mind of the 
singer is still weighed down with the sad memories of a love unreciprocated. 

l-l The south wind blows, and brings with it clouds which discharge themselves in snow 
and r.^in, but still there is no change of feeling, for the beloved one is still obdurate. I look 
on the poem as describing, like its predecessors, the struggles of the seeker after wisdom, 
who woos Philosophy and feels that he woos in vain, as far as the full fruition of wisdom is 


Of frozen snow and pestilential showers, 
"Whence all the air is filled with wail and woe ; 

Yet Love who, when winds blow, 
Draws up his net to heaven's eternal bowers, 
Leaveth me not ; so dear a lady fair 2s 

Is found that proud one, mine own Lady fair. 

Fled far is every bird that loves the heat 

From Europe's clime, where evermore are seen 
The seven bright stars that are the lords of cold j 
And others cease awhile their warblings sweet, so 

To sound no more until the Spring be green, 
Unless their song by sorrow be controlled : 
And all the creatures that are gay and bold 
By nature, are from Love emancipate. 
Because the cold their spirits' strength doth kill ; 35 

Yet mine more Love doth fill ; 

For my sweet thoughts still keep their first estate, 
Xor are they given me by the change of time ; 
My Lady gives them in her youth's brief time. 

Now have the green leaves passed their fixed bound, lo 

Which the Eam's power to spring-tide life did stir. 
To clothe the world ; and all the grass is dead, 
And each fair bough of verdure stript is found, 
Unless it be in laurel, pine, or fir, 

Or whatsoe'er its verdure doth not shed ; 45 

And now the season is so keen and dread. 
It blights the flowerets on each wide champaign, 
And ill by them the hoar-frost keen is borne 3 

Yet the sharp amorous thorn 
Love from my heart will not draw out again, so 

For I to bear it still am strong alway, 
Long as I live, thougli I should live alway. 

27 Many birds have fled from Europe, which never loses sight of the Seven Stars of the 
North (Ursa Major; comp. Pitrg. i. 30, xxx. i), to a warmer clime. Those that remain and 
all other jiving creatures feel the icy spell of winter and hybernate in silence, but love is 
still glowing in the soul, for it does not depend on the change of seasons, but on the might 
of its beloved one. 

40 The leaves which spring (Aries, as in H. i. 3S) had called forth are all, evergreens 
excepted, wi;hered| but the lover's heart is still pricked with the thorn of sorrow, and wid be 
so for ever. 


The watery mists enshrouded pour tlieir stream 

From vapours that earth holds within her womb, 
And sendeth upwards from the vasty deep ; 
And so the path on which the sun did gleam, 
And gave me joy, a river is become, 
And shall be long as winter sway doth keep. 
Earth like a white enamelled form doth sleep ; 
And the still water turneth all to glass, 
Through the sharp cold that binds it from afar : 

Yet I from this my war 
Have not turned back a single step to pass ; 
Nor will I turn ; for, if the pain is sweet, 
Death must surpass whatever else is sweet. 

What then, my Canzon', will become of me 

In the sweet spring- tide season when with showers 
Love the wide earth from all the heavens shall fill : 

When, in this freezing chill, 
Love doth in me, not elsewhere, show his powers 1 
'Twill be the state of one as marble cold, 
If maiden fair for heart hath marble cold. 



Amor, che muovi tua virtii dal cielo. 

Love, who from Heaven thy virtue dost unfold, 
As the sun doth its light, 

53 The winter torrents rush down the watercourses that had been dry in summer, and the 
earth is frozen, but the warfare goes on. We note that the poet describes an ItaHan winter. 
'I he earth is frozen, but not the rivers or the lakes. The very pain of the conflict is sweet. 

How far sweeter will be death that ends it ! 

68 If this is the poet's state in winter, what will it be in spring, when love is stronger? If 
the beloved one still shows a heart of stone, the lover will be a stone also. As far as I know, 
the commentators who play the part of detectives have not found the Casentino lady or 
Gentucca in the ^'' f>argoletta" of the concluding hues, perhaps, .ns Witte says, through 
pure inattention. la the Convito, had it been completed, she would probably have appeared 
as Philosophy. 


1 The Canzone is quoted in V. E. ii. 5, n. Winter has passed into spring, and with it 
cnme the sweet influences of love that warm men's blool. Without love our best efforts are 
but as a picture in a dark place, where we can see neither form nor colour. 


For there we learn most clearly what its might, 

"Where its rays find the greatest nobleness ; 

And, as far off he drives the dark and cold, 5 

So thou, great Lord, enthroned in the height, 

In others' hearts all vile thoughts putt'st to flight, 

Nor against thee can wrath long conflict press. 

Well may each soul feel all thy power to bless, 

'\Miich the whole world is striving to attain. 10 

"Without thee lieth slain 
"Whatever power we have of doing good; 
E'en as a picture in the darkness seen, 

"Which cannot so be showed, 
Nor give delight of varied skill and scene. is 

Upon my heart there smiteth still thy light, 

As on the star, sun's ray, 
Since that my soul as handmaid owned the sway, 
From my first youth, of thy supernal power : 
Hence a thought springs to life which guides her right, 20 

"V\'"ith speech of subtle play, 
To let my glance o'er each fair object stray 
With more delight, the more it charms the hour. 
And through this gazing, to my spirit's bower 
A Maiden fair, who hath enslaved me, came, 25 

And in me kindled flame. 
As water, through its clearness, kindleth fire ; 
For at her coming those bright rays of thine. 

With splendour I admire, 
In those her fair eyes upward leap and shiue. 3 

Fair as she is in essence, and beni"ii 
In act, and full of love. 
So still my fancy, which doth restless rove, 

16 As th^ light to the eye, so is the light of love to tie poet's heart. Therefore he turns 
to all forms of visible bem.ty, and so a maiden presents herself to him, in whom we recognise 
the familiar features of Philosophy as the " c^ou«a gcitile." Cold herself, she, like a |Uss 
sphere full of water, fire One notes the similitude as coming from the student of 
natural science (Par. n. 57-102). Possibly, however, the words may simply describe the 
reflection of fire in water. j t- j " " 

17 Meriiasval astronomy taught that the light of the fixed star^ as well as of the planets 
was derived from trie sun (Par. xxiii. 30, «.) 

SI Yet it is not so much her own beauty in itself as the power of love that works through 
It that sways the soul. So fire neither 10 the sun's heat nor takes away, yet primarily 
derives its power f. om the sun as the source of ah I'ght and heat 


Doth paint her in my mind, -u^here is her seat. 

Not that it is itself so subtly fine ss 

Such high emprise to prove, 
But in thy might it onward dares to move 
Beyond tlie power which Nature gives to us. 
And with thy power her beauty groweth thus 
As we may judge of work wrought out complete, « 

On subject fit and meet, 
E'en as the sun is archetype of fire, 
Which nor gives power to him nor takes away, 

But lifts elsewhere far higher 
The blissful influence of his glorious ray. 45 

Therefore, Sire, of such a nature kind, 

That this nobility, 
Bestowed on earth, and all benignity 
Doth from thy fount on high for ever flow, 
Look on my life, my life so hard, with mind »> 

And look of sympathy ; 
For thy fierce heat, through her fair majesty. 
Pervades my heart with great excess of woe. 
Oh ! by thy sweetness, Love, cause her to know 
The great desire I have on her to look ; ss 

I pray thee do not brook 
That she, in her fresh youth, my life should wrong ; 
For she as yet sees not how she doth please, 

Nor how my love is strong, 
Nor how that in her eyes she bears my peace. co 

Great honour will be thine if thou shalt aid. 

And mine a gift full rare, 
Beyond all knowledge, for I now am there, 
Where e'en my life I can no more defend ; 
For all my spirits are so spent and frayed, *• 

That scarce can I declare, 

■^ Therefore the poet prays love to help hini to make the object of his love feel_ how greatly 
he desires to see her. Without that knowledge she, in her youthful beauty, might inflict a 
pain which she would shrink from inflicting, simply because she did not know that in her 
eyes her lover found his peace. 

61 Such is the state in which the singer finds himself, that unless love comes to his aid 
destruction seems imminent. Will he not incline the fjir one to thoughts of pity J , 


Unless thy will shall pardon their despair, 

How they can long endure, nor have an end. 

Still to thy power shall men in homage bend, 

In this fair Lady seen of worthiest might ; 70 

For still, it seems, 'tis right. 
To give her of all good great company, 
As one who in the world her station took 

To hold her sovereignty 
Over the minds of all that on her look. 75 

Song, to the three least guilty of our land 

Take thou thy way before thou elsewhere go ; 

Salute the two, and see thy power thou show. 

To draw tue third from evil company : 

Tell them that good against good lifts not hand, m 

Before with evil ones its strength it show : 

Tell them that he is mad who doth not know, 

Through fear of shame, from madness far to flee. 

He only fears who shrinks from war with ill, 

For fleeing this all good he gains at will. 85 


love's service. 
lo sento si d' Amor la gran possanza. 

I FEEL so much the potency of Love 

That I may not endure 
Long while to suff"er ; whence I sorrow so. 
Because his might doth hourly stronger prove, 

And I feel mine so poor 5 

76 The "envoy" of the Canzone is not admitted by Witte and Krafft as belonging to it 
We ask in vain, in any case, who were the three least guilty to whom it was addressed The 
names which suggest themselves as possible are Dino Compagni, G. Villani Jacopo di 
Certaldo {Faur. i. 201). Some light might be thrown on the politics of Florence and on 
Dante's life if we could discover why two out of the three are simply greeted, while the third 
receives a special exhortation to amend his ways. If we could assume a date ;or the Canzone 
before a.d. 1300, we might think of Guido Cavalcanti as failing to sympathise with hii 
friend s pursuit of Philosophy, and drifting to an epicurean materialism. 


1 The consuming power of love brings pain and the sense of impotence. Strength must be 
sought from the bright eyes of the beloved one, r e., as in Conv. ii. 16, from the " demonstra- 
tions of Philosophy. 

VOL. II. c 


Become, from -u-onted use I fall below, 

I ask not Love beyond my wish to go ; 

For should he do as much as will demands, 

That strength -which Nature gave into my hands 

Would fail to meet it, vanquished in the strife ; lo 

And this is that which worketh keenest woe, 

That power keeps not its faith to will's commands; 

But if in will to good our guerdon stands, 

I ask to gain a little longer life 

From that sweet sjjlendour of the beauteous eyes, is 

Which comfort brings, to soothe Love's agonies. 

The rays of those bright eyes find entrance wide 

To mine, which Love doth sway, 
And where I bitter taste, they sweetness bear, 
And know the road, as travellers who have tried, 20 

Before, the well-trod way ; 
And know the place where they with Love did fare, 
When through mine eyes they brought and left liim there. 
Wherefore they turn to me and show me grace : 
And they wrong her, whose service I embrace 25 

Hiding from me, who love with such keen fire, 
That only for her service life is dear ; 
Aud all my thoughts, where Love fills every space, 
As to their banner, to her service pace : 

Wherefore to work for her I so desire so 

That if I thought 'twould please her I sliould fly, 
Light were the task, yet know I, I should die. 

Fall true is Love which thus hath captured me 

And bindeth me full fast, 
Since I would do for him what now I say ; ss 

For no love with that love compared may be, 

Which finds its joy at last 

17 Those eyes have such a power to kindle love that the poet's life is only dear to him so 
far as it enable^ him to serve her. Yes, if it would please her, he would be content to leave 
her, though he knows that it would biiug death. 

.f3 Xhe highest form of love is to seek death, if only that may be a true form of service and 
help to the beloved one- He is her sei vant, in the true sense of the word, a ca7ialiere 
seii/ente. If her youth (pos-ibly his own youth or his inexperience as a student of 
Philosophy denies him a present reward, he is content to wait. 


In death, another's wishes to ohey : 

And over me such purpose held its sway, 

As soon as that strong passion, in its might, *o 

"Was born from the exceeding great delight 

Of her fair face in whom all beauty dwells. 

Her slave am I, and when my fond thoughts stray 

On what she is, I am contented quite. 

For well against his wiU may man serve right ; « 

And if my youth all hope of prize repels, 

I wait a time when reason shall mature, 

If only life may long enough endure. 

"When in my thoughts on longing sweet I dwell, 

Of greater longings born, 50 

"Which all my power to deeds of goodness woo, 

^ly payment seems my service to excel ; 
And with more wrong is borne 

By me, so deem I, name of servant true ; 

Thus in her eyes in whom my joy I view, 55 

Service is found, at others' hands, full pay. 

Eut since beyond the truth I will not stray, 

'Tis meet such longing should as service count, 

For if I seek my labours to pursue, 

Ifot so on mine own good my fond thoughts stay w 

As upon hers who o'er me holdetli sway. 

For this I do that she may higher mount : 

And I am wholly hers, attaining this, 

That Love has made me worthy of such bliss. 

No power but Love could me of such mood make, es 

That I might worthily 
Belong to her who yields not to Love's sway, 
But stands as queen, who little heed doth take 

Of love's intensity, 

49 Nay, but he is more than paid for a service which is its own exceeding great reward. 
His service too is little more than the will to serve, but the will may be counted for the deed. 

65 Yet his passion is not returned. She (Philosophy) looks calmly on. While he finds 
fresh beauty in her face, a new pain and a new joy, he does not find in her the fruition 
which he seeks. She does not satisfy his quenchless thirst {Conv. iii. 15, iv. 12, 13). In 
Par. iii. 70-90 we have the report of a different and higher experience. 


"V^Tio without her can never pass a day. 10 

Ne'er have I seen her but she did display 

A beauty new that still in her I found, 

Whence in me Love's great might doth more abound, 

E'en as new joy is added to the old ; 

And hence it chances that I still do stay 75 

In one condition, and Love me doth meet 

"With such keen anguish and such rapture sweet, 

For all the time he lays on me his hold, 

Which lasts from when I lost her from my view, 

E'en to that hour when she is seen anew. so 

My Canzon' fair, if thou art like to me, 

Thou wilt not look with scorn 
As much as might befit thy goodness sweet ; 
"Wherefore I pray that thou learn subtlety, 

Dear song of true Love born, es 

To take the Avay and method that is meet. 
If true knight thee with offered welcome greet ; 
Before thou yield thyself to do his will, 
See if his soul with thy love thou canst fill. 
And if thou canst not, quickly let him go ; m 

For good with good still sitteth on one seat, 
But oft it chances one doth find him still 
In such a company he fares but ill, 
Through evil fame that others on him blow. 
With the base dwell not, or in mind or heart ; 95 

For never was it wise to take their part. 

81 As with Cam. xii., so here the "envoi" seems to conceal a hidden meaning. Is this 
"sect," the members of which alone it is to trust, that of the seekers after wisdom, or 
Ghibelline idealists? Each theory has its supporters. So the wicked of the last line are 
either generally those who sin against truth and righteousness, < r especially the Guelph Neri 
of Florence. This stanza, it may be noted, is not found in many MSS., and some editors 
(Witte) have put the last stanza of Cauz. xii. in the place which Fraticelli assigns to this. 




Voi, che, intcndcndo, il terzo cicl movete. 

Ye who witli wisdom liigli tlie third heaven move. 
Hear ye the reasonings that are in my heart ; 
I may not others tell, they seem so new. 
The sphere whose motion from your might doth start, 
Kind beings that ye are and full of love, s 

Me to this state in which I now live drew ; 
Whence of the life I lead, an utterance true 
To you might be addressed most worthily. 
AVlierefore I pray you that ye give me ear : 
I of my heart to you new tidings bear lo 

How m}' sad soul breathes there full many a sigh, 
And how a spirit pleads those sighs to bar, 
"Which Cometh in the rays of your bright star. 

As life in my sad heart was wont to be 

A tender thought which oftentimes would go, is 

And of your Lord and Master seek the feet, 

"Where a fair dame it saw all glorious show, 

Of whom it spoke to me so pleasantly. 

That my soul said, " I too would thither fleet." 

Now appears one who bids that thought retreat ; 20 


This Canzone has for us the interest of being the first of the fourteen of which the 
Convito, had it been completed, would have been the exposition, and which is accordingly 
expounded at length in Conv. ii. In that work he defends himself against the charge of 
having transferred the love which he had given to Beatrice to another human object, and 
explains that the lady of whom the Canzone speaks is none other than Philo--ophy, the 
daughter of the great Emperor of the Universe. I agree with Witte and Krafft in looking 
on the allegorical explanation as an afterthought, and hold that the " letter " of a true history 
is to be found. V. N. c. 3*1-40. 

1 The third heaven is the sphere of Venus, as in Par. viii. 1-12 ; Conv. ii. 6. And in accor- 
dance with Dante's astronomy it is moved by angels, or, more scientifically, by intelligent 
powers (Conv. iv. 19), whose volition suffices for that purpose {Par. viii. 37, xxvii. 114). The 
irifluence of that planet has made him sorrowful. He will tell them the tale of his woe. A 
comparison of V. N. c. 36 with Conv. ii. 2, 13, fixes the date of the Canzone between 1292 and 
1295, probably in the latter year. 

1* The sweet thought is the memorj' of Beatrice as now glorified. He would fain draw 
near to her. But then another thought drives that out. There is a new master-passion. 
The love of Philosophy (I use the term to distinguish it from the heavenly wisdom of which 
Beatiice was the representative) is driving out the memory o: the past. 


And with such great might lords it over me, 

That my heart throbs and brings its grief to light. 

He on another lady turns my sight, 

And saith, " Who seeks true blessedness to see, 

Let him upon the eyes of this dame look, 25 

If he can sighs and anguish bravely brook." 

A spirit findeth, hostile to the death. 

That meek thought that was wont to speak to me 

Of a dear angel, who is crowned in Heaven. 

My soul bewails, so great its misery, so 

And saith, "Alas ! how from me vanisheth 

That piteous thought which me hath comfort given," 

Speaks of mine eyes, and saith this soul grief-riven, 

" What hour was that such lady them beheld 1 

And why believed they not my speech of her 1" 35 

I said, " Needs must he have his station there 

In her bright eyes, who all my peers hath quelled ; " 

And it availed not when I her had seen 

That they saw him not, who my death hath been. 

•' Thou art not dead, but thou art stupefied, 40 

soul of mine, who dost so sadly wail." 
So speaks a spirit filled with gentlest love, 
" For this fair dame who o'er thee doth prevail. 
Hath all thy life so changed and modified, 
That thou fear'st her, so recreant dost thou prove ; 45 

Behold how meek and gracious she doth move. 
How courteous in her greatness, and how wise ; 
And in thy thought thy mistress let her be. 
For if thyself thou do not cheat, thou'lt see 
Such wealth of marvels and of mysteries, so 

That thou wilt say, ' Love, mine own true Lord, 
Behold thine handmaid ; work thou out thy word.' " 

27 Still, however, that memory, as of an angel crowned in heaven, keeps its ground. But 
then, so far as it does, the new consoling passion withdraws its influence and its joy. So he 
is in a strait between two. Was it not an evil day when Philosophy drew him from Beatrice? 
He knows that that new passion slays the peace of those who have resumed the common 
pleasures and low ambitions of mankind {Coiiv. ii. i6), or who, like himself, are eager to 
plunge into all mysteries and all knowledge. 

40 The spirit of Love pleads the cause of Philosophy. It was not death, but fear that 
oppressed him. The new mistress of his soul had transformed his life, and, if he were faith- 
ful to her, he would see yet greater wonders. Then his soul would be able to say, " Behold 


Canzon', I deem that tliey will be but few' 

"UTio will tliy meaning riglitly understand, 

So difficult and laboured is thy speech : , ' ; es 

"UTience if, perchance, such fortune thee attend 

That thou thy way to any should'st pursue 

Who seem not 'ware what lore thine accents t ;:ii'i\ 

I pray thee then, thou yet sonac comfort, 

By telling them, my tender, darling lamb, -o 

"At least take heed how beautiful I am," 



Amor che nella mente mi ragiona. 

Love, who doth often with my mind converse, 
In eager longing, of my Lady fair, 
Often of her doth utter things so rare, 
That all my reason goes thereon astray. 
His speech such strains of sweetness doth rehearse, 5 

That my weak soul that listens and doth hear, 
Doth say, " Ah me ! for I no power do bear 
To tell what he doth of my Lady say, 
'Tis certain it behoves I put away, 

If I would treat of what I hear of her, 10 

That which my mind fails utterly to reach, 

And much of clearer speech ; 
For want of knowledge then would me deter." 

thy handmaid ; work thou thy will on ms" (Pur£^. x. 44V The words are quoted in the 
last-named passage, however, as an example of the humility which in the later stage of his 
spiritual life the poet had found to be more precious even than Philosophy. Here again the 
Coinmedia is the recantation of the Convito. 

53 There is obviously a sense of satisfaction in the thought that the Canzone will be 
"caviare to the general." The poet's desire is to speak what the wise will understand, while 
even those who fail to grasp the inner meaning cannot fail to admire the beauty of the verse. 
The tortiaia is translated m the Preface to Shelley's Epipsychidion. 


1-18 The second of the poems expounded in the Convito (B. iii.) As in Purg. xxiv. 52, the 
poet claims the merit of writing as love taught him to write. But he feels the impot-nce of 
speech to reproduce what he has thus heard of his beloved one, the Philosophy who now 
sways his soul. For a time, on which he afterwards looked back with self-reproach and 
penitence {Purg. xxxi. 55-60), the conflict described in Canz. xiv. had ceased, and Beatrice 
was practically superseded and dethroned by the new passion. 


Wherefore if these my rhynies be found to fail, 

Which fain a worthy praise would minister^ is 

Jly feeble mind let all the blame assail, 
And this our speech which hath no power to spell 
All that of her it hears Love often tell. 

The Sun, that all the world encompasseth, 

Sees nothing half so lovely any hour, 20 

As when he shines where resteth in her bower 

The Lady for whose praise my tongue Love frees. 

Each spirit high sees her and wondereth, 

And all the tribe that here own Love's sweet power, 

Shall find her presence as their thoughts' high dower, 25 

When Love gives them perception of her peace ; 

So doth her nature Him who gives it please, 

Who aye in her His virtue doth infuse 

Beyond our Nature's utmost claim or plea. 

The soul of purity, so 

Which this great grace of healing power imbues, 
That gift displays, in that which it doth guide, 
For her fair form is that which eyesight views ; 
And still their eyes who in her light abide 
Send envoys to the heart Avhose wishes rise 35 

In the clear air, and take the form of sighs. 

On her God's grace descendeth from on high, 
As on an angel who His presence sees, 
And if a gentle Lady's faith should cease, 
Walk she with her, and see her bearing sweet. 40 

There, where she speaks, doth ever downward fly, 
A heavenly spirit witnessing with these 
How the high power she owns by heaven's decrees 

19-36 The parable is so well sustained, that, but for the exposition in Canv. iii., we should 
be half tempted to think that it was Beatrice, and not Philo^ophy that is spoken of. We have, 
as in Prov. viii. 22-31, VVisd. vii 22-30, a picture of the beauty of Wisdom clad in visible 
form, whose eyes are the higher and more transcendent truths which she reveals to those who 
seek her. It is noticeable that the sapiential books of the Bible — Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 
Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus — are those which he chiefly quotes in the Convito. Then be thought 
that they spoke of the purely intellectual philosophy to which he had devoted himself 
Afterwards he le.Trnt to connect them with the higher spiritual wisdom of which not the 
^^ donna gentile," but Beatrice was the symbol. 

''7-54 Ii, that Philosophy there is a virtue like that which belongs to the angel who stands tn 
the presence of God, as the Cherubim and Seraphim stand {Par. xxi. 92). Whatever there 
IS of gentleness and beauty in human form is but the reflection of her loveliness. 


Goes Leyond all things tliat for us are meet. 

The gentle acts wherewith she all doth greejtt. « 

Go calling upon Love in rivalry, 

Witli speech that makes him lend a listening ear. 

Of her we this may hear, 
"What in fair dame is kind in her we see,, 
And she is fair who most resembles her." 50 

And we may hear that this her beauty free 
Helps to gain faith for what doth wonder stir, 
And thus our faith doth confirmation gain 
From her, for this the Eternal did ordain. 

Things in her aspect are made manifest 55 

That witness of the bliss of Paradise ; 
Of her sweet smile I speak, and beaming eyes. 
Which Love brings there, the place of their desire. 
Our feeble mind by them is all opprest, 
As when the sun on vision weak doth rise : co 

And since I may not gaze in steadfast wise. 
Needs must I not beyond short speech aspire. 
Her beauty showers down tongues of living fire, 
All animate with spirit good and kind, 
Which is the parent of all noble thought ; es 

And as with lightning fraught 
They break the innate sins which shame and blind. 
Wherefore if any lady thinks that less 
Of praise she hath for looks of haughty mind. 
Let her behold this type of lowdiness. 70 

She is it who doth humble hearts perverse ; 
She was His thought, who launched the universe. 

My Song, it seems thou speak'st in diverse tones 

From speech that came from sister fair of thine ; 

For this fair lady, who with thee doth shine 75 

55-72 In her beauty, her eyes, and her smile there is the joy of Paradise. The vices that 
cloud the soul perish m her presence. And yet she is the pattern of all lowliness, even 
while she brings low the perverseness of the proud. The eyes and the smile remind us of 
Beatrice in Par. xxi. i, xxii. ii, xxiii. 48, but the comparison of the two descriptions leads to 
the conclusion that what is here said of Philosophy is re-transferred afterwards, in the closing 
and higher experience, to the diviner M'isdom. 

73-90 Therefererice is to Ball, x , in which he had spoken of the mistress of his soul, now 
identified with Philosophy, as proud and disdainful, as in Cafiz. vi. Dante looks on his 
poems as forming a sisterhood of song. The explanation of the apparent contradiction is 


As lowly, she calls proud and arrogant. 
Thou know'st that heaven is clear and bright aldne, 
And in itself nought 'mars its light divine, 1 

But for full many a cause these eyes of mine 
Deem the sun's glory dimmed as by a cloud. 
ThuSj.'when thy sister calls her stern and proud,^ 
She thinks not of her as she is in truth, 
But only as to her she doth appear ; 
For my soul lived in fear, 
And feareth still, so that devoid of ruth 
She seems, -when I perceive she seeth me. 
Thus plead, if any need arise, in sooth, 
And when thou com'st, and she shall look on thee. 
Say thou, " Lady, if it please thee well, 
I will on every side thy praises tell." 


Le dolci rime d' amor, ch' io solia. 

The pleasant rhymes of love which 'twas my care 

To seek out in my mind, 
I now must leave, not that no hope I find 

To turn to them again ; 
But that the mien disdainful and unkind, s 

Which in my lady fair 

that the eye sees what it has the power to see. The sun, or, better perhaps, the starry firma- 
ment, seems dim to those whose sight is weak (a touch, it may be, of personal experience, 
Com', iii. 9), and Wisdom seems stern to those who are yet in the early stages of their search 
after her. The reader will remember the two faces of Wisdom in Giotto's fresco at Assisi. 
Comp. also Ecclus. iv. 17, 18, and Ball, x., «. 


1—0 The third of the Covvito poems, expounded in B. iv. The thought of the reserved 
and, as it were, disdainful aspect of Wisdom, to which reference had been made in the last 
stanza of Cauz. xv., returns, and therefore the poet will for a time cease to sing her praises 
and turn to another subject, the nature of true nobility. He wishes to show how false is the 
judgment of the crowds who identify it with wealth. One may trace, if I mistake not, in 
this change of subject the beginning of the dissatisfaction with the pursuit of Philosophy 
which uttered itself in the confessions of Purg. xxxi. and the joy of the Parcuiiso. He had 
found himself face to face with problems which he could not solve, and which he afterwards 
came to look upon as trivial {Conv, iv. 2 ; Par. xiii. 97-102). 


Hath shovfn itself, lialh barred the tlioroughfare - • 

Of wonted speech and plain. 
And since to -wait good reason doth constrain, • 
I now will lay aside m}- sweeter style, 10 

Which, when I write of love, pervadeth all. 

And that high worth recall. 
Through which a man grows noble without gnifie, 

"With keen sharp rhymes awhile 
Reproving still the judgment false and vile ^ 15 

Of those who think that true nobility ' 

In hoarded wealth doth lie ; 
And, at the outset on that Lord I call. 
Who niakes his dwelling in my Lady's eyes, 
Whereby in her love of herself doth rise. 20 

One ruled of old, who thought nobility — 

So he, at least, did deem — 
In ancient wealth was found and high esteem 

With ordered life and fair : 
Another did of poorer wisdom seem, ?5 

^ATio scorned that maxim high. 
And thereof let the latter clause go by, 

Having, perchance, nought there. 
And after such as he all others fare, 
Wlio reckon noble men by ancestry, 30 

Wliich for long years hath run through wealthy line. 

And so long such malign. 
False judgment among us hath come to be. 

That him distinguish we 
As noble who can say, " Behold in me 33 

Grandson or son of knight who nobly fought," 

Though his own worth be nought : 
But basest he to those who truth divine 
Who sees the road and then doth turn aside, 
Like one who, dead, doth yet on earth abide. w 

^JHT^T.J^'l^^T''l'^''''"''^i•'^'^?^.■*'??^'X..'"^'■^"■^'' (^^ ^'^^^ nothing, however, but the 
nfw^^i^ ^. ^^T" ^"-^denck II. That saying was but partially true at the best. 
Others had brought It down to a yet lower level by omitting the condition expressed in its 
closing- words. Ancestry and wealth were believed to be an adequate definition of nobility. 


WhosQ defined man as "a tree that lives" 

First says what is not true, 
And with that falsehood takes defective view : 

May be, he sees no more.. 
So he who weighty cares of empire kn.ew, « 

False definition gives ; 
For first he speaks what's false, and next perceives 

But half the truer lore. 
For neither, as men think, can wealth's full store. 
Or give nol)ility, or take away, » 

Because of its own nature it is base. 

For he who paints a face 
Must first he that, ere picture it he may : 

Nor can the river sway 
A steadfast tower, as it from far doth stray. 85 

That wealth is vile and incomplete 'tis plain; 

However much we gain, 
It brings no rest, but heaps up cares apace ; 
"Wherefore the soul that upright is and true. 
Their loss with calm and tranquil mind doth view. so 

Kor let men deem a base churl can attain 

To honour true ; or that from churlish sire 
A race may spring that shall to fame aspire : 

This by them stands confest ; 
Thus do their self-confuted proofs retire, ss 

So far as they maintain 
That time to honour true doth appertain, 

As is by them exprest. 
And hence it follows from what they attest 
That all of us or noble are or base, w 

Or that man never had beginning true ; 

But I take not this view, 

4l_6u The definition is as imperfect as though one should define man as a living tree, which 
would only be so far true as it predicated life as part oi man's being. _ Riches, as such, can 
give no real nobleness of character. The comparison that follows indicates Dante's insight 
into the secret of all completeness in art. The artist who paints must become like that 
which he depicts, or else he fails. " Fra Angelico could not paint the fiery glow of passion, 
nor Michael Angelo the joy of devout resignation" (IWitU). The other simile compares true 
nobility to the tower standing on a rock, past which the stream of earthly fortune and its 
chances flow by, leaving it unshaken. Comp. //. vii. 61-96. 

71-80 The other part of the definition is now discussed. Does nobility depend on a long 
line of aiicestors? To assert this is to run counter to facts. The common man may rise ; the 


Nor even they, if they have Christian grace. 

To minds in healthy case, 
'Tis therefore clear their maxims have no hase, to 

And tlierefore them as false I still reprove, 

And far from them remove, 
And now will, as I think, proclaim anew, 
What is the true Nohlesse, and whence it springs, 
And what the notes that name of * noble ' brings. so 

I say each virtue, in inception. 

Comes from a single root, 
Virtue, I mean, with happiness as fruit. 

In all its actions right ; 
This is — so with our Ethics following suit — ss 

Eight choice to habit grown, 
The which doth dwell in the true mean alone, 

And such words brings to light. 
I say that Xoblesse doth, by reason's might, 
Connote all good in him of whom 'tis said ; 90 

As baseness evermore connoteth ill : 

And such a virtue still 
Gives knowledge of itself to those that seek ; 

Since 'neath the self-same head 
Both meet, in one effect accomplished ; 95 

Whence needs must be that this from that should spring, 

Or each some third cause bring ; 
But if this with the other like wortli fill. 
And more, that other ratlier springs from this : 
Proceed we then on this hypothesis. loo 

high-born man may fall. Yes ; there must have been a time in every family when its founder 
first rose to greatness, and became noble though he had no noble ancestors. If the noble 
and the vulgar are so only by heredity, then we are all of us gentle or simple by birth ; but 
that assumption is at variance with the doctrine of the unity of the human race as descended 
from Adam, and therefore no Christian can receive it. Dante had learnt that lesson from 
his favourite, Bocthius (iii. 6) : — 

" Oinne hominutn genus in terris 

Si'mili surgit ab ortu, 

U'tus enhn pater est, 

Unus qtii cuncia tninistrat." 

The two false definitions being cleared away, the ground is open for a truer definition. 

81_100 That definition is found in the thought that wherever there is virtue there we recog- 
nise nobility. It does not follow, however, that the definition is convertible. There may 
be a nobility of character, as in youth or maiden, in whom virtue is not yet ethically complete, 
whose modest shyness is, in fact, not a virtue, but almost a defect. Let no man, therefore, 
boast that he is noble because he has a long pedigree. God alone gives the true nobility, 
and those who have it are sharers, so to speak, in the Divine nature. 


Noblesse wherever virtue dwells is found, 

Virtue where noblesse, no j 
E'en as 'tis heaven wliere'er the sun doth go, 

Though not so the converse ; 
And we see ladies in their youth's fresh glow, 105 

With this great blessing crowned, 
So far as they in shamefastness abound, 

From virtue yet diverse. 
Hence must proceed, as from black cometh perse, 
From this last every virtue singular, no 

Or from the parent-stock of all the host. 

Wherefore let no man boast. 
Saying, " By descent her fellowship I share," 

For all but gods they are 
Who have such grace with every fault afar. ns 

For God alone bestows it on the mind. 

Which He doth perfect find. 
Resting in Him ; so that in few at most 
The seed of perfect blessedness is sown, 
Planted by God in souls to fitness grown. 120 

101-120 xhe beauty of the Canzone rises to its highest point, and we have an ideal picture of 
a noble life in all its successive stages, the obedience and modesty of childhood, the temper- 
ance and manliness of youth, the wisdom, justice, munificence of maturity, the contempla- 
tive devotion of old age. In the last we trace an echo of what he had learnt froin Cic. de 
Senectute. The thought of the re-wcdding of the soul to God meets us in Purg. xxiii. 8i. 

111-146 The "'envoi''' bids the Canzone speed to the mistress of the poet's soul, i.e., to 
Philosophy. She will recognise its truth. 

We are so familiar with the sentiments embodied in this poem, that they come to us almost 
as commonplace platitudes. We must put ourselves into the poet's position, as standing apart, 
on the one side, from the old feudal nobility of Florence, as repre-iented by the Uberti, 
Rusticucci, and others, and, on the other, from the nonveaiix riches, represented by the 
Bardi, the Cerchi, and the Frescobaldi. to understand how he may have seemed to himself 
to be uttering a new or neglected truth with almost prophetic solemnity. In reaching that 
truth he had to renounce not only the dominant falsehood of his time, but even the authority 
of his great master, Aristotle (P,'/. iii. 12, 13), who assigns to ancestral wealth ((ipx<i">- 
7rA.ouTOi) a far larger share in nobility than Dante does, and to fall back upon what we have 
learnt to call the "flesh and blood" argument of the brotherhood of mankind, as children 
of the same earthly and the same heavenly Father. If there was any special nobleness in 
any man that raised him above his fellows, it was the gift of God. In Conv. iv. 20 he refers 
to his master, Guido Guinicclli, as teaching the same truth in the Sonnet, ''^ Al cor gentile 
ripara sempre atnore." In doing so he follows Aquinas {Sutiim. ii. 2. 134, 3), where he ceased 
to follow Aristotle (Ozan. pp. 397-398). Comp. also .^gidius Columna (Ve Regini. Princi- 
pum, iii. 2, 8). Two of his favourite poets, Ovid and Juvenal, were probably among his 
teachers in this matter, and we can scarcely f.iil to recognise echoes of their words in Dante's 
teaching. Thus Ovid {Met. xiii. 140) — 

" At geftus, et proavos, et qucE nonfecimiis ipsi, 

Vix ea nostra voco," 
Or Juvenal, Sat. viii. 272-276 — 

'^ Et tauten, lit longe re pet as lotigegue revolvas, 

Notnen, nh inf ami g intent dedttcis asylo. 

Majoruiii primus quisquisfuit ille iuoruin 

Aut pastor fuit, ant illud, qtiod dicere nolo." 
Or again Juvenal, Sat. viii. 20— 

" Tola licet veteres exornent undique ceree 

Atria, nobilitas sola est atque iinica virtus." 


The soiil whom that high goodness doth adorn, 

Doth not its presence hide, 
For from the first she, as the body's bride, 

Herself till death displays. 
Obedient, gentle, modest, far from pride, 125 

Is she in life's young morn j 
And decks herself with many a grace new-born, 

In "Wisdom's perfect ways ; 
Constant and temperate in life's young days, 
Full of sweet love and praiseful courtesy, iso 

And finds in loyal deeds her sole delight ; 

In age's gathering night, 
Prudent and just and of her bounty free; 

And in her soul joys she 
To hear or tell how worthy others be. 135 

And then she reaches life's fourth period 

Re-married unto God, 
"Waiting her end in contemplation's light, 
And blesseth all the seasons of the past. 
See now how many have in lies been cast ! no 

In connexion with Dante's other writings and with his Hfe, we may note (i) that he has 
risen to a higher level of thought than tiiat of which we find traces in H. xv. 77 ; (2) th t 
many of his examples of goodness and greatness seem specially chosen to illustrate the ideal 
for which he is here contending, as, e.g:, Romeo in Par. vi. 128-142, Pier Pettinagno in 
Piirg. xiii. 12S ; (3) that he speaks in the same tone, as of one who had conquered an error 
under the power of which he had himself at one t me lived, in Purg. xiii. 133-138 ; Par. xvi 
1-9. We may also, I think, reasonably conjecture that the Canzone was written when 
he was lo king for the appearance of Henrj' VII. as the restorer of an ideal empire, bv the 
virtues the absence of which had made Frederick II. its destroyer, and that it had a direct 
political pui-pose in itself, and yet more as e.\pounded in Couz>. iv., as setting before that 
Emperor the principles on which he was to act. If, with Fraticelli in O Jif. iii. 31-33, we 
infer from Can?', iv. 3, 6, 16, that the C<tnzon' was wriiten before 1300 — and I must own that 
his arguments are of considerable weight — then we must look on the manifesto as addressed 
to an ideal ruler such as he contemplated when he wrote the De IMonarchia or H. i. 101-104. 
Lastly, it is interesting to note the fact tliat few if any of Dante's minor poems have so 
impressed themselves on the minds of the generation that followed. Comp. e.g., Cecco d' 
Ascoli (L' Acerba, ii. 12, quoted in Frat. O. M., i. p. 190), and our own Chaucer, who quotes 
from it as follows : — 

" Here may ye see well how that genterie 
Is not annexed to possession. 

For God it wot, men may ful often find 
A lordes son do shame and vilanie. 
And he that would have pri<e of genterie 
For he was boren of a gentil hous, 
And had his elders noble and vertuous, 
And n' ill himself di no gentil dedes, 
Ise folowe his gentil auncester that ded is. 
He n' is not gentil, be he duk or erl ; 
For vilain's sinful dedes make a cherl ; 
For geutilesse n' is but the renomee 
Of thine auncestres, for hir high bountie. 
Which is a strange thing to thy persone ; 
Thy gentilcsse Cometh fom God alon'." 

— tVi/e of Bath's Tale. 


Thou, 'gainst those erring ones, my Song, shalt speed, 

And when thou art, indeed, 
There where our lady fair her home doth find, 
Let not thine errand from her hidden be ; 

Tell her in verity, ws 

" I of thy true friend come to speak my mind." 


Poscia ch' Amor del tutto m'ha lasciato. 

Since Love hath ceased my longing soul to fill, 

j^ot by my choice of will. 
For still a gladder state I could not know, 

But that he pitied so 

That anguish of my heart — s 

To listen to my wail he could not bear. 
Thus, disenamoured, I my song will trill 

Against that form of ill 
"Which will its speech in terms perverse bestow, 

And call the base and low lo 

By name of worthiest part, 
The name of "gallantry," which sounds so fair, 

That worthy of the rare 
Imperial robe it makes him whom it sways. 

This the true flag displays is 

1-19 In its form this Canzone presents a singular complication. Each stanza of sixteen 
lines is divided into four sub-stanza'^, the first of four lines, the other three of five lines each. 
In each of the first two, after two terminal rhymes at the beginning of the sub-stanza, the 
rhyme is repeated, as in the translation, in the middle of the third line. _ In the V. E. (ii. 12) 
Dante refers to this Canzone, obviously with a special satisfaction, as giving the effect in this 
peculiar rhyming of what he calls an "answering echo." In its matter it is a kind of 
corollary from Canz. xvi. Men have false notions on other matters besides nobility. They 
call evil good and good evil, and give the name of gallantry, which ought to include virtue 
and liberality, to its counterfeits. We are reminded of Tennyson's protest against those who 
thus abuse the "grand old name of gentleman." 

1-3 The lines find a parallel in the old Latin hymn — 

" Blandus hie dolor est. 
Qui mens amor est; ' 
and in the lines of Guide of Arezzo {Cam. xxxvi.) — 

" Tutto V dolor ch' io mai portaifu gioja. " — (IVitte.) 


Wliich indicates where Virtue hath her home, 
"Whence I am sure if her my speech defend 

E'en as I apprehend, 
That once more Love with favouring grace shall come. 

There are who, squandering all their wealth away, v> 

Believe that thus they may 
Their way make thither where the good ahide, 

Who after death provide 

A home within the mind 
Of whosoever owneth wisdom true; 25 

But to please good men this is not the way ; 

For greed as wisdom they 
Display, and thus would 'scape full many an ill, 

To th' error cleaving still, 

Of them and of their kind, aa 

In whom false teaching doth their lore imbue. 

Who will not folly view 
In banquets rich and light luxurious play, 

And proud and rich array, 
As if for sale where buyers are unwise 1 35 

Not by his dress the wise a man's worth know — 

This is but outward show — 
But praise true wisdom and brave courtesies. 

Others there are who, by the ready sneer. 

Would fain appear, «> 

Wit-clear, and prompt in ready intellect, 

To hearers who are tricked 

As they behold them smile 
At what their mind doth fail to understand. 
They speak in words that show of wisdom wear, ^' 

And count it deaT, 

:o_38 So men lool^ed in prodigality as a sijn of generosity. Dante, as in H. vii. 25-30, 
and in the teaching of Statins (Pur^. xxii. 31-45), saw that extremes meet, and that it stood 
on the same footing of guilt as the avarice which was apparently its opposite (Conv. iv. 27). 
What good was there in spending money in banquets or dress. Manners, not clothes, make 
the man. Line ^5 seems 10 point to the Italian practice of decorating animals that are 
exposed for sale in a public mark-t, as, e.g., in the Campo Vaccino at Rome, 

39-57 So, too, men passed for wise because they could smile superciliously. That might 
win the praise of the vulgar, but they know not what true praise or true love i.-i. '1 heir 
speech is cynical, their pleasures base. To the women who are worthy of love they are little 
better than beasts that have no understanding. 



To hear themselves with vulgar praises decked. 

Love ne'er did them affect 
* With ladies' love awhile : 

In converse they all base jests have at hand, so 

Ne'er would their foot have spanned 
One pace for lady's sake, in knightly wise : 

But as to robberies 
The thief, haste they to steal some pleasure base , 
But not in ladies yet doth fade and die 65 

True sense of gallantry. 
That they should seem to lose all wisdom's trace. 

Virtue that leaves the straight path is not pure, 

And hence of blame is sure ; 
Endure she cannot when we virtue need, eo 

In those the good in deed, 

By the true Spirit led. 
Or habit which on Wisdom lays fast hold. 
Therefore, if praise of it in knight endure. 

Its cause we find in ure, es 

Full sure, of many mixed things ', since indeed 

It doth with one succeed. 

With others falleth dead. 
But Virtue pure its place in all doth hold. 

Delight, that doth enfold ro 

Within it, love, hath thus the work perfected. 

And by this last directed 
Is gallantry, and hath her being there, 
E'en as the sun, which gathers in its might 

Round it, both warmth and light, k 

Together with its form of beauty fair. 

Though star with star should, with commingled ray, 
Turn gallantry away 
To stray, as much and more than I may tell. 

Yet I, who know it well, so 

Thanks to a gentle one, 

5a_76 Virtue that leaves the true path is not pure. What is needed for its perfection, either 
as in the devout life or as in that of the students of wisdom, is the union of rectitude, and 
love, and pleasantness. 

77-95 Though the aspect of the heavens is against true gallantry, yet the poet, who has seen 
it embc died in one he loved (obviously a reference to Beatrice), will not holii his peace. He 


Who showed them to me in each action fair, 
Will not be silent, for I should display 

Base soul of mire and clay, 
Alway, and with her enemies seem one. ss 

So I from this time on 

Will with song subtly rare, 
Thereof speak truth, not knowing who will heed ; 

But this I swear indeed. 
By him whose name is Love, of bliss compact, 00 

That virtue without act 
Can ne'er acquire the guerdon of true praise, 
Therefore if this hold good in argument, 

As all will give assent, 
'Twere virtue, and with virtue knit always. <-)5 

To the great planet it is like, whose might 

From sunrise bright. 
Till night, when it conceals its glorious ray. 

And where its bright beams play, 

Pours life and strength below, 100 

As that on which it shines may bear its power ; 
So she, in scorn of each unworthy wight 

Who, in false light, 
True knight appears in form that so deceives, 

That fruits belie their leaves, 105 

Since ill deeds from them flow, 
Like gifts upon the gentle heart doth shower ; 

Quickly with life doth dower. 
With solace fair, and lovely manners new, 

Which each hour brings to view ; uo 

He who takes her takes virtue as his guide. 
O ye false knights, perverse and craven ye. 

With her at enmity, 
AVho like the stars' king shineth far and wide. 

knows not whom his song will reach. His hearers may be but few, but he must bear his 
witness that there is no true praise but that which is won by virtue. Witte inverts the order 
of the fourth and fifth stanzas. 

9S_n4 True virtue is like the sun (reckoned in mediseval astronomy among the planets), 
shedding light and heat all around (Par. xxii. ii6). She scorns all counterfeits of good, and 
all unworthy knights are enemies of her who is as the sun in its glory. 


He freely takes and gives whom she doth own, 

Kor is with grief o'erdone ; 
Tlie sun grieves not when it to stars gives lii^ht, 

Nor when from them aright 

Comes help for its employ, 
But each therein finds ever bliss renewed. 
To wrath he never is by words urged on ; 

But those alone, 
Are known by him, that are both good and right, 

And all his speech is bright. 
Dear for himself is he and full of joy, 

Desired by wise and good ; 

For of the viler brood 
He prizes equally the praise and blame ; 

Kor, through the loftiest fame, 
Swells high with pride, but when the time arrives 
When it is fit that he his courage show, 

There praise for him doth flow : 
Far otherwise than this are most men's lives. 



Doglia mi rcca ndlo core ardire. 

Grief brings within my heart a spirit bold 

To help the will which loveth all that's true ; 
So, Ladies, if to you 

115-133 The giving and receiving of 1. 115 are concerned not with money, but with know- 
ledge. Dante may have had in his thoughts Augustine's application of the words " God 
1 veth a cheerful giver' {De Catech. Rud. c. 14). Conip. Ccnv. i. 9. He in whom virtue 
dwells gives as the sun gives to the planets ai d tlie fixed stars, both of which were thought 
'to derive from him their light, and grieves not, but rejoices in all reciprocity of good. He is 
not easilj' led to wrath, is to the wise, cares little for the praise or blani- of the unwise, 
is not easily puflFed up, shows his goodness to those who are worthy of it (//. ii. 61 ; Purg. 
xi. ioo-i2o). Witte finds a parallel in the counsel given by St. Philip Neri, " Sperncrc- te 
s/cmi." Alas ! the men that are now do just the opposite of all this. 


1-21 The preacher now takes beauty as his text, and moralises much as he had done on 
gallantry. He may seem to say a strange thing, but if be^mty is given to woman, and 
valour to man, that love may make of the twain one, then it were well that women should 
liide their beauty and turn away from love, for true virtue, as things are, is rarely to be found. 


I speak what seems against mankiud as thrown, 

Marvel thereat the less ; 5 

But learn your low desires full cheap to hold : 
For beauty, which through Love in you hath grown 

For virtue true alone, 
By his decree of old was fashioned ; 

Against which ye transgress. w 

I say to you who Love's great power confess, 

That if your dower be beauty, 

As ours is virtuous duty, 
And unto him is given to make both one, 

Ye ought all love to shun, is 

And cover what of beauty is your share, 
For that it hath not virtue, love's true sign. 

Ah, where drifts speech of mine? 

Fair scorn do I opine, 
Were rightly honoured in a lady fair, 20 

Who should her beauty banish from her care. 

]\ran from himself hath virtue driven away, 

True man no more, but brute in man's estate : 

Ah, God ! what wonder great, 
That man should wish from lord to slave to fall, .;' 

From life to death descend ! 
Virtue, to her Creator subject aye, 
Obeys Him, giving Him true praise in all, 

Ladies, that Love may call 
Her as enrolled, where his true subjects wend, 30 

In His blest court on high. 
From the fair gates she cometh cheerfully, 

And to her mistress turns, 

Goes gladly and sojourns, 
And with great joy fulfils her vassalage. 35 

Through her short pilgrimage 
She keeps, adorns, enriches what she finds, 

Dante refers to this Canzdne in the V. E. ii. 2 as an example of his work as the " poet of 
righteousness," and apparently {Conv. i. 8) it was intended to have been the ground-work of 
Conv. XV. had the poet completed that work. It is largely based upon Seneca, De Bene- 
ficiU, ii. 2. 

22.42 Yes ; man has become \>x\iX.^(Co7iv. ii. 7), the master has become the slave. Virtue is 
ever true 10 her Creator, ready for any service, caring not for death, a possession that is a 
perpetual joy. 


And warreth so with death, he brings no fear : 

Maiden pure and dear, 

Shaped in the heavenly sphere, *o 

Thou only makest noble ; proof is this 
That thou the treasure art that bringeth bliss. 

Slave, not of true lord, but of slave most base, 

He makes himself who from this Master strays. 

Hear now how dear he pays, *5 

If ye count up his loss on either side, 

Who passeth virtue by : 
This master-slave works out such foul disgrace, 
That the clear eyes that mental light provide 

Through him their vision hide, so 

So that he needs must tread in others' ways, 

Where madness meets his eye. 
But that my words with profit may apply, 

From whole I pass to part, 

And to constructive art es 

More simple, that they tell an easier tale ; 

For seldom 'neath a veil 
Doth speech obscure approach the mind aright. 
And hence with you my wish is to speak plain. 

This do I for your gain — eo 

Not mine, I must explain — 
That ye may hold each churl in deep despite ; 
For too soon likeness springeth from delight. 

He who is slave is like a man who goes 

In his lord's track, and knows not where it leads, es 

But in dark path proceeds ; 
So fares the miser seeking money still, 

Which over all doth reign : 
Swift runs the miser, swifter flies repose 

43-63 Look on that picture and then on this. To serve Mammon is to be a "servo 
signor," the slave of a slave, and to find him the hardest of all taskmasters. That he may 
rescue men fiom such a bondage the poet will descend to particulars and use all plainness of 

64-** He who seeks to satisfy himself with riches attempts that which is impossible. He 
is trying to grasp the infinite, for " Crescit amor Jiumnti quantum ipsa pecunia crescit," 
Juv. xiv. 139 [Conv. iii. 15). And when Death, the great leveller, comes, what does he find 
then ? He can take nothing of all his heaped-up treasures into the region behind the veil. We 
are reminded of the old epiuph- .. ^^j j ^^^^ j j^^^^^ 

What I spent I had, 
What I kept 1 lost." 


(0 blinded soul, that neither can nor will 70 

Discern its wishes ill !), 
With that heaped hoard which every hour exceeds, 

And doth no goal attain. 
Lo, they reach him who levelling doth reign : 

Tell me, what hast thou won, 73 

Blind miser, all undone 1 
Answer, if other answer be than nought. 

With curse thy couch is fraught, 
Which flatters thee with foolish dreams of night ; 

Curs'd is thy wasted bread, so 

Less lost, if dogs it fed ; 

At morn and eve thy tread, 
Was prompt to gather, and with both hands grip 
What fleets so swiftly from thine ownership. 

As wealth is gained without proportion due, ss 

So is it without due proportion kept. 

This is it which hath swept 
Many to bondage, and if one repent, 

'Tis not without great strife. 

Death, Fortune, what is it ye do ? ao 
Why not set free the wealth which is not spent 1 

If thus, for whom is't meant 1 

1 know not ; we within a sphere are swept 

Which ruleth all our life. 
Eeason that fails to check with faults is rife. 95 

Does he say, " I am bound " 1 

What poor excuse is found 
In this for ruler whom a slave commands ! 

Nay, doubly base these bands, 
If well ye mark where my hand shows the way. 100 

False to yourselves, to others harsh, are ye, 

Who see men, wandering bare, 

O'er hills and marshes fare, 
Men, before whom all vice hath fled away. 
While ye heap rich robes on your mire and clay. ws 

85-105 The bondage of the avaricious is the basest of all bondage. No one gets so little 
out of his wealth as he. He sees those of whom the world is not worthy wandering hungry 
and naked— {do we trace the feelings of the exile forced to "solicit the cold hand of charity " 
and to "solicit it in vain"? Purs', xi. 133-138 ; Pcir. xvii. 58) — and he clothes himself not 
even decently, but with vile a'^oarel. 


The miser's eyes on purest virtue fall, 

Virtue, who doth her foes to peace invite, 

With lure full clear anil bright, 
To draw them to her, but no good it brings, 

For still he shuns the bait. no 

Then after many a turn and many a call, 
The food to him, so great her care, she flings, 

Yet spreads he not his wings ; 
And if he comes when she hath vanished quite, 

His trouble seems as great us 

As if he gave not^ so for him doth wait 

No praise to kindness due : 
I will that these my words be heard by you : 
One with delay and one with vain parade, 

And one with looks in shade, 120 

Turns what he gives to bargain sold so dear, 
As he knows only who such purchase pays. 

Wilt know if his wound frays 1 

Who takes he so dismays, 
Less bitter 'twere to meet a simple No : 125 

And others and himself the miser woundeth so. 

Thus, ladies, have I laid before you bare. 

One limb of that vile race that looks on you. 

That wroth ye may them view. 
But more unsightly still is that concealed, iso 

Yea, far too foul to tell. 
Of each 'tis true that each sin gathers there, 
For friendship still in oneness is revealed ; 
And leaves that Love doth yield 
Spring from the root of other blessing true ; iss 

10G_1I6 The sensitiveness of the poet shows itself again. He can tell how little the avari- 
cious man cares for all the attractions by which Virtue seeks to win him ; how he can mar 
even his gifts, such as they are, by a sourness or an ostentation that would make a refusal 
almost less bitter than the gift (Purg. xvii. 59; Far. xvii. 58-60). Even Can Grande's 
liberality may have been marred by his want of considerate sympathy. The imagery of 
11. 109-113, reminds us of the similitudes from falconry in the Coinviedia {H. xvii. 137, xxii. 
130; Purg. xix. 64; Par. xix. 34). 

127-U7 Nor is this all. As every virtue carries with it the seeds of other virtues, so the 
love of money is the root of all evil, and all other vices go with it ; and the love of such a man 
is nothing better than a brute appetite. Woe for the woman who commits herself to such a 
man, and thinks that love is a plant which can grow elsewhere than in the garden of right 
reason. W'itie rejects the closing stanza as spurious. A v. I. gives ^' Giovane Contessa" for 
" Giovanna, Cortese." We are in any case left to conjecture who " Bianca" was. 


Since like loves like iuJeed 
Hear how to my conclusion I proceed ; 

"Who to be fair doth deem 

A good, must never dream, 
That she is loved indeed by such as these ; i« 

But if 'mong ills we please 
To reckon beauty, she may trust it well, 
Naming as love a brutal appetite. 

May such dame perish quite 

Who should her beauty bright its 

From natural goodness for such cause repel^ 
Nor deem love doth in Reason's garden dwell ! 

Not far, my Canzon', doth a lady dwell, 

Of our dear land the child, 

Wise, beautiful, and mild ; iso 

All call on her, yet none may her discern : 

When they her name would learn, 
Bianca, Vanna, courteous calling her. 
Go thou thy way to her in meekness drest, 

There first thy course arrest ; iss 

To her first manifest 
Who thou art, and for what I bid thee stir ; 
Then at her best be thou a follower. 



Tre donne intorno al cor mi son venute. 

Three ladies meet together round my heart, 
And sit outside its gate ; 
Within, Love holds his state, 


The Canzone that follows takes Its place among the noblest of Dante's lyrics, and deserves, 
perhaps, Fraticelli's praise as the noblest of all Italiai. poems of that form. 

i_8 Xhe three ladies that present themselves in the poet's vision have been differently 
identified as Justice, Generosity, and Temperance, or as the ihree forms of Righteousness, 
natural, political, and religious, or the Law of Nature, the Law of Moses, and the Law of 
Grace. I incline to the first interpretation. Rosse.ti, as might be expected, tees in them 


And lords it o'er my life with sovran sway : 

So fair are they, and with such winning art, * 

That this lord, strong and great, 

Who in my heart doth wait, 
To tell of them scarce knoweth what to say. 
Each one of them seems full of sore dismay, 
Like one who is to weary exile home, w 

By this world left forlorn, 
"Whom nohleness and virtue nought avail. 

There was — so runs their tale — 
A time when all men loved them and did bless, 
Now with them all are wroth, or pass them by. 15 

So they, in loneliness, 
Are come as those that do a friend's house seek, 
For well they know he's there of whom I speak. 

One mourns and wails in many a piteous tone, 

And on her hand doth pose, 20 

Like a dissevered rose ; 
Her naked arm, the pillar of her woe, 
Feels the tear-gems that from her cheeks flow down ; 

The other hand half hides 

The face where grief abides ; 25 

Unshod, unzoned, she still seems lady fair. 
Soon as Love saw beneath the garment's tear 
That form whereof 'tis better not to speak, 

ne, wroth, yet pitying, meek, 
Of herself questioned her, and that her woe. so 

" thou, whom few do know," 

the Templars, the Albigenses, and the Ghibellines (S^r'r. Aniip., pp. 177-179); Keil, inno- 
cence, the love of God, and the love of man. The Canzone, it should be noted, names the 
first as Righteousness (Dritturd) ; the others are not named, but are spoken of as respectively 
daughter and grand-daughter of the first. This suggests the thought either (i) that generosity 
and tempeiancehave their birth in justice, or (2) of tne development and education of mankind 
by three successive manifestations in the Law of Nature, the Law of Moses, and the Law 
of Christ. 

9-15 Comp. Purg. vi. 88, xvi. 97, for a picture of like degeneracy. 

27 The boldness of the imagery (comp. the s.ime phrase in Pur^. xxv. 43) startles us, 
but is, after all. Biblical {Isai. iii. 17 ; F.zek- -wi. 37). Men treat Righteousness or Purity, or 
whatever other virtue may be symbolised, as if she were the vilest object of their scorn. 
I.ove, however, looks on with wrath, and Righteousness claims him as her next of kin. 
Possibly there may be a reference to the myth that Astraa, the symbol of righteousness, was, 
like Venus, a daughter of Jupiter, or to the other mythos which made Nemesis and Dik^ the 
daughters of Themis. 



She answered, in a voice all choked with si^^hs, 
" Our nature bids us that to thee we go. 

I whose grief deepest lies, 
Thy mother's sister, am named Righteousness, 3 

How poor I am, let robes and zone confess." 

When she had thus her name and state made known, 

Great grief and shame inspired 

My Lord, and he inquired 
Who were the other two that with her came, i< 

And she, who was to weep so ready shown, 

Soon as his speech she heard, 

To greater grief was stirred, 
And said, "Dost thou for mine eyes feel no shame?" 
And then began : " The Nile, as known to fame, a 

Forth from its fountain flows, a little stream, 

There where the sun's hot beam 
Eobs the parched earth of willow's foliage green ; 

By waters pure and clean 
I brought her forth who standeth at my side, so 

And with fair locks to dry her tears is seen ; 

And she, my child and pride. 
Herself beholding in the fountain clear, 
Brought forth the third who standeth not so near." 

Love paused awhile through sighs that from him part, 55 

And then with tender eyes, 

Where erst wild thoughts did rise, 
He greets the sisters three disconsolate. 
And after taking of each kind a dart, 

" Lift up your heads," he cries, eo 

" Behold the arms I prize : 
See how disuse their brightness doth abate. 

« We ask why Dante assigns to the second of the three virtues a birthplace near the 
sources of the Nile Possibly u was thought of as the centre of theworld's co^m "of ^J 
therefore as the bu;thplace of the^V^ ^entiu>„. More probably them°d^^^l^Z;rl^hTai 
Fazio degh Ubert. (Dzijam v. 29) may throw some light on it He descHbes thosf soared 
under the name G.on (the Gihon of GeH. ii. 13), and so the sources of the Nile are counected 

Wc^^ ^K ( Y ^■'u ."^''? '" Luther) IS named as an ideal picture of the glories 01 

tL vfrtues of the p"gadke'lf"'°''H Ik'"''*^^' ^''^ '^' °^ ^"'^- '• ^3 Men have afa^doned 
the v^ues of the Paradise life, and those virtues are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 

.1, i!"^," °^-^^ arrows possibly the two arrows of gold and lead (Ovid) are blunted 
through long disuse. He has, however, the thought that he and the virtuerwhrclaim kiii 


Bounty ami Temperance, and the rest cognate, 
Of our liigli blood, must needs a-begging go ; 

Wherefore, if this be woe, « 

Let those eyes weep, those lips to wail it learn, 

"Whom most it doth concern, 
Who dwell beneath the rays of such a heaven ; 
Not ours, who to the eternal Rock may turn ; 

For, be we now sore driven, ^o 

We yet shall live, and yet shall find a race 
Who with this dart shall each dark stain efface." 

And I, who hear, as told in speech divine. 

How exiles, great as these. 

Are grieved, yet find some ease, 75 

This my long banishment as honour hold ; 
And if man's judgment, or fate's ordered line. 

Will that the world should learn 

Wliite flowers to black to turn, 
To fall among the good with praise is told. so 

And but that I no more the star behold 
Which, now, far off removed from my gaze, 

Once burnt me with its blaze, 
Light should I deem the burdens that oppress. 

But this fire burns not less, 85 

And has already eaten flesh and bone, 
So that death's key upon my heart dotli press. 

Hence, though I guilt should own, 
Many a month since that guilt is gone and spent, 
If guilt but dieth soon as men repent. m 

<;>iip with him are eternal. The two virtues named indicate an Aristotelian rather than a 
theological classification (Aristot. £iA. Nic. ii. 7 ; Conv. iv. 17). Men may suffer, but they 
remain, and they heed not the scorn of men. Conip. //. vii. 94. 

89 That thought sustains the exiled poet. He too has his feet planted on the Rock of Af;es. 
Though the white flowers may be turned to black (possibly, but only possibly, an allusive 
reference to the Bianchi, who were unfaithful to the ideal monarchy with which Dante had 
identified himself, .ind had joined the Guelph Neri, comp. H. ii. 128), yet he could glory in 
his loneliness and his sutTerings {J'ar. xvii. 61-66). The sliarpest pang was that he was still 
exiled from the city of his birth, which he loved with so passionate a love (//. xix. 47 ; Par. 
XXV. 1-9). Apparently that love led him to a hypothetical confession of his puilt, wh.cii 
Stands in marked contrast to the well-known letter in which he refuses the humiliating con- 
diiions of the offered amnesty (vol. i. p. cxix.) The state of things implied seems to point 
10 a time before 1309, when the hope of a return to Florence had become faint, and Henry 
VH. had not yet appeared on the scene to rekindle it. 

"1 The Tomata with which the Canzone ends seems to justify almost any amount of mysti- 
cal interpretation, and so finds a parallel in H. ix. 61-63. Whether the meaning that lies 
below the surface is moral or political, whether the "frieiids of virtue " are those of spiritual 


]\[y Song, let no man on thy robes lay hands, 
To see what lady fair hides from all eyes ; 

Let parts unveiled suffice ; 
The sweeter fruit within to all deny, 

To which hot hands draw nigh. 
And if it chance that thou on one dost light 
The friend of virtue, and to thee he cry, 

Clothe thee in colours bright, 
Then show thyself to him, that loving heart 
May long for flower that shows so fair a part. 


patna, degna de trionfal fama. 

Dear countrj', worthy of triumphal fame. 

Mother of high-souled sons, 
Thy sister's grief thine own is far above : 
He, of thy children, feeleth grief and shame, — 

Hearing what traitorous ones 5 

Do in thee, — more, as he the more doth love. 
Ah me ! how prompt ill-doers are to move 
In thee, for ever, plotting treachery, 

"With squint and envious eye, 
Showing thy people still the false for true. 10 

Lift up the sinking hearts, and warm their blood ! 

Upon the traitor's brood 
Let judgment fall, that so with praises due 
That grace may dwell in thee, which now complains, 
"Wherein all good its source and home attains. n 

discernm-nt, who can di.'^cover a profound ethical siguificance, the sec: et beauty liid ien from 
the eyes of the profane by the veil of symbolism, or a secret society of the lllurainati, Free- 
mason, Carbonari type, readers will probably decide according to their theories. As else- 
where, I incline to the simpler, and, as it seems to me, more natural interpretation. 


I. The " patria " U not Italy as a whole, but, as 1. 3 shows, the city, the 'sister of Rome," 
which was the poet's fatherland. Tre poem belongs obviously to his exile, but whether 
before or after Henry Vll.'s campaign is open to conjecture. Tiie tone is a little less litter 
than that of Purg^. vi. 145, or of the letter written to the Florentines (vol. i. p. cvi.) alter 
Henry had appeared on the scene. 


Thou reigned'st happy in the fair past days, 

When each that was thine heir 
Sought that all virtues might thy pillars be ; 
Home of true peace and mother of all praise, 

Thou in one faith sincere lo 

Wert blest, and with the sisters four and three. 
And now those fair forms have abandoned thee. 
In mourning clad, with vices all o'erdone, 

Thy true Fabricii gone : 
Haughty and vile, of true peace deadly foe ; 2s 

Dishonoured one, hot faction mirroring still. 

Since Mars thy soul doth fill ; 
Thou doom'st true souls to Antenora's woe, 
Who follow not the widowed lily's spear, 
And those who love thee most have most to fear. so 

Thin out that evil baleful root in thee, 

Nor pity thou thy sons, 
Who have thy fair flowers made all foul and frail. 
And will thou that the virtues victors be, 

So that thy faithful ones, ss 

Now hidden, rise with right, and sword in hand. 
Follow where still Justinian's beacons stand. 
And thine unrighteous and revengeful laws 

Correct, as wisdom draws. 
That they may gain the praise of heaven and earth. 40 
Then with thy riches honour and endow 

What sons best homage show, 

II. The praises of the "good old times " remind us of Par. xv., xvi. The seven ladies, 
i.e , the four cardinal virtues of natural ethics and the three supernatural graces, remind us 
oi Purg. i. 23, xxxi. 103, in, xxix. 121, and may so far point to the same period. So the 
reference to the " Fabricii " (who here stand for the Bianchi) finds a parallel in Purg. xx. 
25. To punish in Antenora (//. xxxii. 88) is to treat as traitors. The "lily" of Florence is 
" widowed," not, as some have thought, because her chief leader, Corso Donati(?) or Philip 
the Fair(?), was dead, but because, like Israel, she had forsaken her true Lord, forgotten the 
" first love of her espousals " ijer. ii. 2). Lam. i. i (quoted by Dante, V. N. c. 29 ; Ep. ix. 2) 
was still apparently in his thoughts. 

III. The "flower" implies an allusive reference to the name Fiorenza. The name of 
Justinian, as in the magnificent episode oi Par. vi. 1-90, is, for D.mte, the symbol of wise and 
impartial legislation, standmg out in marked contrast to the decree of banishment, forfeiture, 
attainder, death by burning, which had been passed, as before against the Uberti (H. x. 
82-84), so more recently against Dante and the Bianchi who were associated with him (Purg. 
vi. 110). 

We note the pathos with which, in spite of all that he had suffered, the poet still clings to 
the city which he loved. Who Could love her with so a love as his ? Comp. Par. 
XXV. 1-9 ; Conv. i. 3. He will not give up the hope that she will yet welcome liim back 
and crown him with honour (vol. i. p. ci.) 


Nor lavish them on those of little worth ; 

So that true Prudence and her sisters may 

Dwell with thee still, nor thou disown their sway. 43 

Serene and glorious, on the whirling sphere 

Of every creature blest, 
If thou dost this, thou shalt in honour reign, 
And thy high name, which now with shame we liear, 

On thee, Fiorenza, rest. 50 

And soon as true aflfection thou shalt gain. 
Blest shall the soul be, born in thy domain. 
Thou wilt deserve all praise and majesty. 

And the world's ensign be ; 
But if thy pilot thou refuse to change, 55 

Then greater storms, and death predestinate 

Expect thou, as thy fate ; 
And through thy paths all discords wild shall range. 
Choose thou then now, if peace of brotherhood, 
Or wolf-like ravin make most for thy good, eu 

Boldly and proudly now, my Canzon', go, 

Since love thy steps doth guide ; 
Enter my land, for which I mourn and weep, 
And thou wilt find some good men there, though low 

Their light burns, nor spreads wide ; 65 

But they sink down, their virtues in the mire. 
Cry to them, Eise, my trumpet bids aspire ; 
Take arms, and raise her to her place on high. 

For she doth wasted lie. 

ly. The words imply the thought of stellar influences, not, as in popular astrology the 
result of blind chance or inexorable laws, but as guided by the angelic intelligences, who in 
their turn were under the control of the Divine Will which answered prayer, and made all 
thmgs work together for good to those who loved Him. With this richness of blessin- 

t lorence would be at once no«!sn et omen. We note the parallelism of the closing line" 
with Henry VIIs speech to the Itahan delegates at Lausanne (vol. i. p. ci.) Whit the 

good ship needed was a better pilot across the troubled sea of Italian politics, a pilot such 
as the Eniperor or Dante himself might prove. Line 60 finds a parallel in Par. .xxv 6 and 
confirms the interpretation of i^- >• 49, wnich sees in the "wolf" a symbol at once of avarice 
as such and of Florence, as being, with the Papal Curia, its chief representative. 

VI. tyen in bodom there were ten righteous men. Even in Florence there were a few 
hghts shming m the darkness (comp. H.^x. 73), such, e.g., as Dmo Compagni and Giovanni 
Villani, perhaps also the friend to whom Ep. 10 was addressed (vol. i. p. cxix.) was 
perhaps in Dante s thoughts. He calls on them to come to the rescue of his beloved father- 
land. Ihe names that follow recall passages in the Co,nmedia. Ct^ssus (Pttrg. xx. 116), 
Simon ]\Iagus (//. xix. , ; Par. xxx. 147), Capaneus (//. xiv. 63, xxv. 15), Aglauros (Purg. 
xiv. 139), the false Greek Sinon (A^. x.vx. gS), Mahomet (//. xxviii. 31). The names of 
Pharaoh and Jugiirtha point to the regions of Egypt and Mauritaiiia as under the rule of 


For Capaneus and Crassus her devour. 
Aglauros, Simon IMagus, the false Greek, 

And Mahomet, the weak 
Of sight, who wields Jugurtha's, Pharaoh's power : 
Then turn to her, good citizens and true. 
And pray that she a nobler life renew. 


lo mi credca del tutto esscr partita. 

I THOUGHT that I had parted evermore, 

Good Messer Cino, from those rhymes of thine, 

For now another course I must assign 
To my good ship, already far from shore : 
Eut since I hear it rumoured o'er and o'er b 

That thou art caught by any bait and line, 

To give to this my pen I now incline, 
A little while, my wearied fingers' lore. 
Who falls in love, as is the case with thee, 

Bound and set free by every new delight, lo 

Shows tliat but lightly Love hath aimed his dart. 

If to so many wills thy heart gives plight, 
I pray, in Heaven's name, it reformed may be, 
That to your sweet words deeds be counterpart. 


The Sonnet is addressed to Guidoncino dei Sinibaldi, better known as Ciiio da Pistoia, one 
of Dante's early friends, the " poet of love," as he himself was the "poet of righteousness " 
(F. /t. ii. 2). The parallelism of 11. 3, 4, with Purg. i. 1-3, seems to indicate th a it was 
written in tl e later years of Dante's life. Other and higher work than that of writing sonnets 
has occupied his thoughts. As Cino returned to Pistoia in 1314, and was in exile when he 
answered Dante, the Sonnet musth.ive been written before that date. Cino had apparently 
shown but little interest in his friend's graver work. Dante had heard, on his side, that Cino 
was no lonzer the true poet of love, faithful to the Selv.-iggia, who had been to him, in some 
me.isure, what Beatrice had been to Dante, but had transferred his devotion to another. 
Cynical critics, remembering the " do>i>ia gentile " of / '. N. c. 36, the Gentucca oi Purg. xxiv. 
37, the " Montam'tta" of the letter to Moroello Malaspina (vol. i. p. lix.), might ask whether 
Dante was the man to cast the first stone at his friend's failings. On the other hand, how- 
ever, it may be argued that .i man, conscious he was exposing himself to a retort, would 
liardly have written as Dante did, and so far the Sonnet takes its place as part of the evidence 
for the defence. Cino's answer (Rim Ant. p. 340) is that he is in exile, a wanderer on the 
face of the earth, nigh unto death. He has not forsaken his first love, but he is banished 
from her, and finds joy in all beauty that resembles hers. And as he finds that likeness in 
many fair ladies, is the explanation of his app'rent fickleness. 



Poich' io non trovo chi meco ragioni. 

Since I have none who will with me converse 

Of that Lord whom we serve, both you and I, 
Keeds must I with the strong desire comply, 

The good thoughts that stir in me to rehearse : 

Kought else doth keep me in this mood perverse 
Of silence that I feel so painfully, 
Save that my lot in such vile place doth lie, 

That Good finds none to shelter it ; yea, worse, 

Love finds no home in face of lady fair, 

Nor is there any man who for him sighs, 

And were there one, " fool " would they call him there. 

Ah ! Messer Cino, ill our changed times fare : 
To our great loss, and to our poesy's, 
Since goodness such a scanty crop doth bear. 


Due donne in cima ddla mente mia. 

Two ladies to the summit of my mind 

Had come to hold discourse concerning love. 
In virtue clothed and kindness, one doth move, 

Prudence and honour follow close behind. 


This also is addressed to Cino da Pistoia, and belongs to the period when both friends were 
in exile. Dante complains that where he is he finds none like-minded with himself. None 
know what true love is. This was the explanation of the poet's long silence. WTiat the place 
was which he found so evil we are left to conjecture ; probably Verona or Ravenna. The 
tone reminds us of Par. xvii. 58-60. Rossetti, more sua, finds a political meaning in the 
sonnet. D.inte was in a Guelph city, and the " men" and the "ladies" of whom he speaks 
were the two orders of those who were initiated in the Ghibelline mysteries. On this theory 
" Love " is, of course, the Emperor, or, more probably, the ideal Empire {Spir. Anti-Pap. 
p. 156). 


-Among many other interpretations, of which I hardly need speak, the " two ladies" have 
been identified literally with Beatrice and the " donna gentile " of V. N. c. 36, mystically with 
the Theology and Philosophy whom they are supposed to represent. So interpreted, the 


Beauty the other hath and grace refined, 

And a fresh honour gentleness doth prove ; 

And I, by grace of my dear Lord above, 
Do homage to their sovereignty combined. 
Beauty and virtue both the soul invite. 

And question, Can a heart, in loyalty 
Of perfect love, to ladies twain be plight 1 

The fount of gentle utterance makes reply, 
" Yea, Beauty may be loved for her delight, 
And Virtue likewise for her workings hifrh." 


Nulla mi parra mat plu crudel eosa. 

Nought can to me more pitiless appear 

Than she, to serve whom I my life have lost, 
For her affection is as lake in frost, 

And mine dwells ever in-Love's furnace clear. 

Of this fair maid, so proud and so severe, s 

I joy to see the beauty she doth boast, 
And so with love of my great pain am tost, 

Xo other pleasure to my eye comes near. 

Sonnet seems intended to reconcile the Vzia Nuova and the Convito. I question the inter 
pretation altogether, and find the key to the problem which the Sonnet presents in Purg. 
xxviii. and Ball. ii. and iii. The " lady " of the first quatrain is, I admit, Beatrice ; but in 
the other I find Matilda. Here also there is the leggiadtia, the "gaiety," the "gentleness," 
the " virtue," of which we read in Ball. iii. And with it there is joined the high and noble 
activity of which Matilda is the admitted symbol {Pnrg. xxviii. 40, w.) So understood, the 
lines throw light, if I mistake rot, both on the outward and inward life of Dante. He had 
loved both Beatrice and Matilda with a pure and ardent love in his early youth (V. N. c. 8). 
He loved their transfigured memories in his manhood and his ag". He loved with an almost 
equal love the active and contemplative life, which they respectively represented. Like 
another Jacob, he couid love both Leah and Rachel, and, in his case, neither would be jealous 
of the other, and each, as in Purg. xxviii. -xxxiii., would do her part in leading him to Lethe 
and Eunoe, to the oblivion of all evil, and the revival of all good memories, as the condition 
of his attaining to completeness. 


Apparently a reproduction in verse of the thought of Co>n>. iii. 11-15. Wisdom, as in the 
Assisi fresco, has turned her severer aspect towards her worshipper. The "frozen lake" 
reminds us of H. xxxiv. 22-24 ; the " fire of love " of the well-known hymn of St. Francis of 
Assisi ; 1. 9 refers to the storj' of Clytie (.!/<■/. iv. 270), who loved Apollo, and was turned into 
a sunflower, so that she might always gaze on him. " Vertitur ad solem mutataque servat 
ntHorem." It is noticeable that this and the following sonnet are addressed in the Ambrosian 
MSS. to a Giovanni Quirino, a poet of Venice. Poems bearing that name are found in the 
MS. from which this Sonnet is taken in the Ambrosian Library at Milan. 


Not she, who ever turns the Sun to see, 

And, changed herself, a love unchanged doth keep, w 
Had ever, as I have, a woe so deep ] 
Therefore, since never can thy full power sweep 

O'er this fair proud one. Love, ere life shall flee. 

For pity's sake, come, sigh awhile with me. 


Lo re, che merta i suoi scrvi a ristoro. 

The king, who doth his servants recompense 

In fullest measure, heaped and running o'er. 
Bids me my rancorous pride indulge no more. 

And to the highest Council look from hence : 

And thinking on the choir of citizens, 6 

Who in the heavenly city evermore 
Praise their Creator, I, a creature, soar. 

Eager to praise yet more His love immense. 

For if the future prize I contemplate, 

To which God calls all born of Christian race, 10 

Nought else can in my wishes find a place. 

But much I mourn for thee, dear friend, whose face 

Turns not to look upon that future state, 

Losing sure good for shows that hope frustrate. 


The "dear friend "to whom the Sonnet is addressed is the Giovanni Quirino just named 
{S. 43, «.) The thoughts and language alike point to the time when Dante was finishing the 
Paradise. In the Anibrosian MS. it comes as an answer to one in which the writer congratu- 
lates Dante on the work he had accomph'shcd in honour of God and of the Virgin, but speaks 
mournfully of himself, as being without hope, either for this world or the life to come, m the 
tone of an epicurean who lives on, though life is no longer for him worth living. Dante, in 
his reply, speaks in far different tones. He has laid aside the bitterness of past years. He 
gazes on the heavenly Consistory {Par. xxix. 67), on the citizens of the holy city {Par. 
xxxi. , xxxii. ) He finds strength and comfort in the hope of the great reward. He can but 
mourn that his friend is not a sharer in that hope. 




FoicM saziar non posso gli occhi miei. 

Since still I fail mine eyes to satisfy, 
With looking on my lady's face so fair, 

So fixed my glances there 
Shall be, that bliss shall spring from seeing her. 
E'en as an angel who in essence pure 

Doth still on high endure, 
And seeing God, in fullest bliss hath part : 

Thus mortal, and no more, 

Beholding the full store 
Of beauty in her face who holds my heart, 
I too of blessedness may learn the art. 
Such is her virtue that it spreads and flows. 

Though what it is none knows, 
Save him, whose yearnings honour true confer. 



Fresca rosa novella. 

Feesh rose, just newly boru, 
And joy-inspiring Spring, 
As I in gladness sing, 


The evidence of authorship is not certain, the poem being found in some MSS. as 
written by Cino of Pistoia. It is, however, received by Fraticelli, Krafft, and Witte. The 
thought seems to me sufficiently Dantesque. The bliss of the saints consists, as throughout 
the Paradiso, in the beatific vision of God : so the lover finds his joy in the vision of the 
beloved one. Here, as elsewhere, we ask who was present to the poet's thoughts, Beatrice 
in the flesh, or as transfigured into Divine Wisdom or Philosophy, or some earthly pa7-goUtta. 
Probably here, as elsewhere, the first two answers would both be true, melting into each 
other like dissolving views. 


We are once more in a region of conjecture. The poem has been ascribed to Enzo, king 

of Sardinia, son of Frederick II., and to Guido Cavalcanti ; to the latter chiefly on the 

strength of the fact that the " /'rimavera" (— spring) in 1. 2 is supposed to allude to the 

mistress of his affections, who was known by that name (F. N. c 24). In tone and form the 


Through meadow and by stream, 
How higli I you esteem 
I tell each green plantation. 

Yes, your high praise shall flow, 
In joy renewed by all, 
The great ones and the small, 
Whatever path they go ; 
And birds shall trill their call 
Each in the tongue they know, 
In eve or morning's glow, 
On the green shrubs and tall : 
And all the world shall sing 
(As is indeed most meet), 
Since cometh spring-tide sweet, 
Your high praise and glory, 
Telling out your story, 
Your angel-like creation. 

Angelic beauty shining 
In thee, Lady, showeth. 
Heaven ! what joy he knoweth 
Who for thee was pining ! 
Thy face, where true joy gloweth, 
Since far behind it leaveth 
All that use perceiveth, 
Still in wonder groweth. 
Goddess-like 'mong women, 
As thou art, thou seemest, 
With such beauty gleamest, 
That 'tis past my telling, 
Past Nature's power, excelling 
E'en all imagination. 


poem approximates more closely to the love-poems of Provencal literature than any of the 
poems recognised without dispute as Dante's On any assump^on, I find it hard to connect 
wr^L if 7= >5Tru ,k" J^^"'^^l'f!.3"d am inclined to look on it, assuming that he 
Z.lVl' } ?b '^ '^^ '^'^^ Sestinas, one of the metrical experiments by tvhich he 
sought to perfect his mastery over all forms of versification (vol. i. p. Ixxviii.) 

12 The use of the word /aiino in the original for the song of birds maybe noted as specially 
DanTel aw? 'in P ''^ ■••^'^^" ^""^ Provengal poets, notably of Dante's favourit?, Arniuld 
Daniel (Witte). In Par. in. 63 it is used for " clear speech " generally. 


Yes, beyond man's nature, 
Thy most beauteous presence, 
God has made as essence 
Of each fairest creature ; 
On me may that grace shine, 
Nor far from me abide 
The will of God benign ! 
And if it seem too daring 
That I to love am driven, 
Well may I yet be shriven ; 
For love my soul assaileth. 
With whom nor strength availeth 
Nor Reason's moderation. 


Molti, volendo dir cJie fosse Amove. 

Many who fain would tell what Love may be 

Have spoken words enough, yet failed they still 
To say of him what half the truth should fill, 

Or note of his high greatness the degree : 

And one there was who in it heat did see s 

Of soul, through which the thoughts of fancy thrill ; 
And others said that 'twas desire of will. 

Born of the heart in joyous ecstasy. 


Fraticelli places this Sonnet among the doubtful poems ; Witte accepts it ; Krafft leaves 
it as an open question. The question mooted in it is discussed with some fulness in the 
y. N. (c. 20), where the solution of the problem is that Love is not in itself a substance, but 
the accident of a substance. Line 5 seems to refer to a Sonnet by Jacopo da Lentino, the 
Notary ai Purg. xxiv. 56 {Rim. Ant. p. 318) — 

" A mor e un desio, che vien dal core 
Per /' abbondanza del gran piacimento." 

" Love is desire, which springeth from the heart 
Through great abundance of exceeding joy." 

An apparent allusion to this Sonnet in the Acerba of Cecco d'Ascoli suggests the inference 
that It was addressed to Cino of Pistoia. 


But I affirm Love hath no substance true, 

Nor is corporeal thing with shape imprest, 

Rather is it a passion, strong to woo, 

Delight in beauty, gift by Nature blest, 

So that the heart nought other doth pursue, 
And this suffices, while in joy we rest. 


Ora cTiel mondo s' adorna e si veste. 

Now that the world hath donned her bright array 

Of leaves and flowers, and smiles clothe every field. 
And cold and cloud to skies of brightness yield, 

And living creatures all are glad and gay : 

And each one seems to own Love's gentle sway, s 

And small birds, singing from their throats unsealed, 
Leave off the cries where tones of wailing pealed, 

And pour on hills and vales and woods their lay : 

Now that the season, sweet, and glad, and clear, 

Of spring doth come in its own verdure clad, 10 

My hope revives, and I once more am glad, 
As one who life and praise hath ever had 

From that dear Lord, above all others dear, 

Who gives to me, his slave, no grudging cheer. 


The discovery of the Sonnet is due to Witte, who disinterred it from the Ambrosian MS. 
Fraticelli thinks its authorship doubtful. It seems intended to be a complement to Cam. 
xi., representing the revival of the lover's hope under the sweet influences of spring as that 
did the survival of his passion under the benumbing frosts of winter. Thelast words of the 
Canzone seem to promise such a complement. In the one, as in the other, it is open to us to 
find both a literal and an allegorical meaning. The poet's passion may be that for Beatrice, 
or the donna gentile, or Philosophy. 


Per villania di villana persona. 

Through baseness uttered by the base in mind, 
Or through the whisper of the vile and rude, 
It is not meet that lady wise and good, 

Around whose brows the wreaths of praise are twined, 

Should grieve, or deem that fair fame twice refined, 
"Which is throughout with clearest light imbued, 
Can thus be lost ; by her 'tis landerstood 

That truth 'gainst her no cause of fault can find. 

As is the rose among the brambles seen, 
Or in the fiery furnace purest gold, 
So thee, where'er thou art, may men behold. 
Let then the fools prate on with tongue o'erbold, 

For well 'tis known, thou greater praise dost glean 

Than if such wretches' speech had fairer been. 


PoicM, sguardando, U cor feriste in tanto. 

Since with thy glance thou so hast pierced my heart 
With sharpest stroke, that it is nigh to bleed, 
For pity's sake some slight respite concede, 

That my sad spirit may not all depart : 

This, like the preceding Sonnet, was published by Witte from the Ambrosian MS. ; is 
accepted by him ; rejected by Krafft ; placed by Fraticelli among the doubtful poems. To me 
it seems not unworthy of Dante, and may possibly connect itself with the passage in the y/ta 
Nuova (c. s, 9), in which he says that the poems which he addressed ostensibly to one of 
the ladies of Florence whom he chose as a "screen" for his passion for Beatrice, gave 
occarion to the gossip of the scandalmongers {V. N. c. 12). In substance it is an application 
of the converse of the " laudari a laudato" maxim. It reminds us of the " laicia dir le 
genti " of Purg. v. 13, and of 

" To be dispraised of some is no small praise." 

What has been said of Sonnets xlvi., xlvii., applies to this Sonnet also, save that Krafft 
admits its genuineness. Lines 5-7 present a parallel with Canz. vi. 1-3. In the Italian the 


Dost tliou not see mine eyes with weeping smart, 5 

Still grieving so for sorrows that exceed, 

"Which still my footsteps to death's confines lead, 
That I no refuge find in any part ? 
Behold and see, Lady ! if I mourn, 

And if my voice hath passed to thinnest tone, 10 

"While still to thee love's suppliant siglis are borne, 

And if it please thee, Lady dear, mine own, 
That this my heart with sorrow should he worn, 

Yet still am I thy humblest servant known. 


Tojliete via le vostre 2^orte omai, 

" Throw open wide your gates in all men's sight, 
And she shall enter who doth others raise. 
For she is one in whom dwells lasting praise, 

And full of courage is, and great in might." 

" Ah me ! Alas ! "— " "What means this doleful plight ?"— 5 
" I tremble so, that no strength with me stays." 
" Take heart, for I will be to thee always 

A help and life, as thou shalt tell aright." 

•• Kay, I feel all my strength as bound in thrall 

Of secret virtue that with her she brings, 10 

And I see Love who threatens fearful things." 
" Turn thee to me, for in me joy uj^sprin^s ; 

And let the strokes behind thee only fall • 

Nor fear J soon will they vanish, one and all." 

'^^^^o^^l^t^;^^t^t::il^l - ^^^ -^1-. the for., being 


FrSi^TLt^\'°aJfn".rnHT.°'^"-'' ^',^- ^^ Xante's ; accepted by Witte ; doubted by 
open the eates of hkso^.I fh./^l! i'!, '"'f'"^"'"^^ '" the dialogue. Love bids the poet 
once and a^^fn fn the rnnl'.i '^'l^ ^'^°"\ ^^ ^°"^^ ""^V enter. He, however, shrinks 

herseff inremosi ^ in ? t, T"''' °^ ^'l ^^^^^ness (comp. F. .V. c. 2), till the beloved one 




Poscia cTi I ho perduta ogni speranza. 

Since every hope of mine hath from me gone, 
Thy face again, my Lady fair, to see, 

Nought is there, nor can he, 
To comfort me in this my bitterness. 

To look on thee again hope have I none, s 

For Fate hath stopped the way that leads to thee, 

By which, perchance, for me 
Had been return to thy high nobleness. 
Therefore my heart abides in such distress. 
That I consume myself in sighs and tears, w 

Waiting the many years 
• I bide, and yet my life Death quenches not. 
"What shall I do ? Love still on me doth press, 
And failing hope on every side appears. 

No vesture safety hears, is 

Or succour, all brings torment as my lot, 
Save only that I call on Death to slay. 
And every life-pulse loudly calls alway. 


' The judgments of Dante experts are divided as to the authenticity of this Crr««i7«i'. Witte 
{Lyr. Gcei., p. 159) receives it on the strength of its having heen pub'ished, as Dante's, in the 
Venice edition of 1518, and of its appearing in one or two MSS. with liis name attached to it. 
He is followed by Fauriel (Da«te. i. p. 233) and Blanc. To them the style seems sufficiently 
on Dante's level, and the facts which the poem implies to fit in with the records of Dante's 
life. Fraticelli, on the other hand, rejects h{0. M. i. pp. 298-305) on the ground that it is 
wanting in many printed editions of the Canzoniere, and in the greater number of the MSS. 
of D.inte's minor poems ; that the style is too weak and diffuse to be recognised as his, and 
that the facts do not fit in with what is known of Dante's later j'ears after the death of Henry 
VII. KratTt {Lyr. Ged pp. 460-464) and Trivulzio (quoted in Frat. O. I^I. i. p. 304) agree 
with him in this judgment. The Inst-named critic is disposed to assign it to Dante's friend, 
Cine da Pistoia ; Fraticelli to a friend of Petrarch's, Senuccio Benuccio, who appears as 
the author in some MSS. It is difficult to speak positively in such a case, but I incline, on 
the whole, with Witte, to accept the Canzone as authentic, and have therefore included it in 
my translation. It has, at any rate, the interest of being the expression qf a sorrow which, 
if not Dante's own, was, at least, that of one like-minded with himself, springing from the 
event which overthrew his hopes for himself and for the city wliich he loved with a passionate 
enthusiasm. The notes which follow will naturally deal with the internal evidence on the 
strength of which the poem has been accepted or rejected by the critics I have named. 

- The " Lady fair," is identified by Witte with Florence. Fraticelli asserts that this is 
not after Dante's manner, but the opening lines of Catiz. xx. present a sufficient parallel. 
The whole passage reminds us of the first stanza of Cam. vii., though there, of course, he 
speaks of the personal Beatrice. 

6 The thought implied is that the success of Henry VII.'s enterprise might have opened 
the way to an honourable return to Florence, which on its failure was closed to him, except 
on conditions which, as in £/. x., it was impossible for him to accept. Comp. vol. i. p. cxix. 


That hope of mine, which -whilome led me far 

From thy fair charms, which charm me more and more, 20 

I now as false deplore. 
Made false by Death, of every good the foe ; 
For Love, through whom thy hands triumphant are. 
Had j)romised strength and peace on me to pour. 

Through, wise and truthful lore 25 

He my soul strengthened, poor and full of woe, 
And led me labours sweet, though hard, to know : 
He made me part from thee for honour's sake, 

Wishful for thee to take. 
My way, to win more fame and high estate. 30 

My lord I followed : should one say me " 'No " 
When I proclaim him noblest lord on earth, 

That " Xo " in lies hath birth ; 
For never was there one so good and great, 
Wise, temperate, brave, and largely liberal, ■ 35 

More just than doth to lot of mortals fall. 

This lord, by God's own justice fashioned, 
For virtue, of all men that are, elect. 

Used with supreme effect 
His power, far more than any erst had done. ■ 40 

By neither pride nor avarice was he led, 
Nor fortune ill in him revealed defect ; 

For still one might detect 
The strength which, dauntless, bade his foes come on. 
Wherefore by right and good choice was I won « 

'7 We are asain reminded of Canz. vii. (11. 16-20). 

19 The poet's hope in Henrj' of Luxemburg had led him to reject all other means of 
returning to Florence. The subject-matter of the poem led him to dwell on that hope as the 
reason of his absence, rather than on the fact that the city had banished him. That hope the 
Emperor's death had frustrated, yet he could not regret that he had followed one who was 
so worthy of all honour. Line 22 reminds us of BaU. ii. i, and the estimate of Henry's 
character of Par. x.xx. 136, and E/p. v. 2, vii. 2. Comp. vol. i. pp. ci.-ciii. 

35 Witte quotes a parallel from an unpublished canzone ascribed in some MSS. to Dante — 

" Questo magnijicente, z'er, giccondo, 
Mag7ianimo, affabile, gentile." . . . 
38 The words find a striking parallel in E/. v. 1-5. Henry was, in Dante's thoughu, 
the divinely chosen ruler who realised the ideal of the Ve Jt/on. 

*l-42 Comp. the picture of the ideal deliverer in //. i. 103. Witte quotes another parallel 
from the canzone thus named — 

"Alia imf>resa -manifesta ilvero 
Ancora che gli ' I contrarii la ventura. 


In retinue of lord so dear to stay ; 

And if such went astray 
"Who strove against his might with all their power, 
I might not with their hosts of falsehood run. 
I went with him, and shunned his foes alway, so 

Nor should we pine away, 
Though Death hath turned the sweet cup into sour ; 
For man should still do good because 'tis good, 
Nor can he fail who doeth what he should. 

Some are there who but use for wealth and praise es 

The goods which they to Nature's bounty owe ; 

Whence little heed, I trow. 
They take how they their life may rightly lead. 
The honour others give no worth displays ; 
But honour which a man in act doth show, eo 

As righteous uses grow, 
That is his very own, and praised his deed. 
How were such glory then as nought decreed 
When Death a lord so loved and honoured slew 1 

No true soul takes that view, es 

Nor healthy thought, nor soul with vision clear. 
O saintly soul, raised to thy heavenly meed, 
Subject and foe alike thy loss might rue, 

Did but this world pursue 
Its course as ruled by men who good revere, — 7o 

Rue his own guilt, who from thee failed and fell, — 
Rue his own life, who loved and followed well. 

I wail my life, for thou, my lord, art dead ; 
More than I love myself did I love thee. 

In whom was hope for me, w 

Of home-return, where I should be content. 
And now, with all that hope of comfort fled, 
More than all else, my life goes heavily. 

Death, stern and harsh to see, 

*7 Comp. £■/. V. 4, in which Dante reproaches the Italian princes for resisting the ordinance 
of God in rejecting Henry's sovereignty. 
66.63 Almost a replica (ACanz. xvi. 21-40, on true nobility. 


How hast thou ta'en from mo the sweet intent, so 

Once more to see the fairest pleasures blent, 
That e'er the power of Nature brought to birth 

In lady of groat worth, 
Whose beauty ia so full of holiest grace ! 
This thou hast taken from me, and assigned ss 

Such sorrow as men never know on earth ; 

For now, in life-long dearth, 
I have no hope to see the much-loved face ; 
For he is dead, and I am far off still, 
And therefore hopeless sorrow works its will. 90 

My song, thou journeyest into Tuscan land, 
To that great joy above all others dear ; 

End then thy journey there, 
Telling in words of woe my sad estate. 

But, ere thou pass from Lunigiana's strand, 95 

To Marquis Franceschino draw thou near, 

And, with thy sweet speech clear, 
Tell him some hope in him with me doth wait ; 
And since my distance from him sore doth grieve, 
Pray him that I his answer may receive. mo 

80.85 Xhe critics who reject Dante's authorship lay stress on the inconsistency between this 
language and the bitterness with which he speaks of the Florentines in Ep. vi. and generally 
throughout the Commedia; and Trivuizio assumes, on the supposition that the Canzone was 
written by Cino de Pistoia, that the lady who is thus praised was one of flesh and blood, 
Selvaggia, or another, whom the poet had hoped to see on returning to his native city. I 
own that I do not see the alleged incompatibility. Dante's burning indignation against the 
citizens of Florence might well co-exist, as Par. xxv. i-g, shows that it did, with a passionate 
affection for the city of his birth, with an equally passionate eagerness to end his days there, 
if that were possible, as it had or.ce seemed possible, consistently with his self-respect. 

9^ The envoi of the Canzone has furnished arguments for the adverse critics. If it had to 
pass through the Lunigiana on its way to Tu-cany, it must, they urge, have been sent from 
France or Provence, or at least Liguria or Lombardy, and we have no record of Dante's 
pre.sence in any of those regions till we find him in 1317 with Can Grande at Verona. It is, 
I think, a sufficient answer to this objection to say, that the very incompleteness of our 
knowledge of Dante's wanderings after the death of Henry VIl., admits the possibility of a 
visit to Verona or to Brescia, where Moroello Malaspina had been appointed by Henry as 
Imperial yicar. Dante, as Purg. viii. 121-132 shows, largely indebted to the friendship 
.nnd hospitality of the whole family, and the Franceschino who is here named was named 
with him as procurator in the negotiation of the treaty of Sarzana (1306), between the 
Malaspina family and the iiishop of Luni. Comp. vol. i. p Ixx.w. So far as I know, there 
was no like connexion between that family and either of the two other poets to whom the 
Canzone has been conjecturally ascribed. 




Full oft have I of Love writ many rhymes, 
As sweet and fair and pleasant as I might, 
And much have sought to poHsh them betimes ; 

But now my every wish is altered quite. 

Because I know that I have spent in vain s 

My labours, and scant wage may claim of right. 

From that false Love I now my hand restrain ; 
The pen that wrote of him aside being laid, 
And, as a Christian, speak of God full plain. 

I. In God the Father I believe, Who made w 

All things that are, from Whom all good doth flow 
That is through all their varied forms displayed. 
II. Through heaven and earth His grace still worketh so, 
And out of nothing He created all, 
Perfect, serene, and bright with beauty's glow. is 

It is not without a certain measure of hesitation that I have decided on translating and 
publishing the series of didactic poems that follow. I must own that I do not find in them 
the traces of the master's hand. The narrative which iniroduces them is suspiciously defec- 
tive as to date and place. It conies to us through an anonymous MS. (loii in the Bibl. 
Riccardiana of Florence); is not mentioned by Boccaccio, or any of the earlier commen- 
tators on the Coiniiedia. On the other hand, it is received by Fraticelli, Witte, and Kraflft, 
and included by the two latter ni their translations of Dante's Minor Poems. "The tradition 
connected with it has a certain biographical interest. The poems themselves represent lairly 
enough the current theology and ethics of the Latin Church of the 13th and 14th centuries, 
and thus serve to throw light on Dante's teaching. And so the scale was turned in favour of 
translating, and the reader can e.vercise his own judgment. I begin with epitomising the 
tradition to wliich I have referred. 

After the Commedia was published, it was studied by many theologians, among others by 
those of the Franciscan Order. They read in Par. xi. 121-139 the lamentations of St. Francis 
over the degeneracy of his Order, and the poet's own vvord~ as to that degeneracy. They 
were irritated and set to work to see if they could find materials in his book for accusing him 
of heresy. He was brought before the Inquisitor on that charge. He asked for a short 
respite to prejjare his defence. It was then past vespers (6 p.m.) By 9 a.m. ne.xt day he 
appeared with his Prolession of Faith, written during the n ght, in the same metre as the 
Commedia. As soon as the Inquisitor had read it, with twelve masters in theology as his 
assessors, who were unable to find heresy in it, he pronounced a sentence of acquittal and 
dismissed the accusers with a reprimand. 

I ow.i that the story reminds me overmuch of Defoe's Introduction to Drelincourt on Death, 
and I >ee in it something like a pious, the object of which was to gain the sanct'on of 
a great name for an edifying manual of faith and devotion. The Dittamondo of F.izio 
degli Uberti shows that the form of the terza rhna soon attracted many imitators, and I take 
the writer of these poems to liave been one of them. Possibly also — for the motives of the 
writers 0^ apocrypha are often manifold — he may havethouglit he wasdoingsomething to vindi- 
cate the fair fame 01 Dante against the charge of heresy. It will be remembered that the 
De Monnrchia had been condemned and burnt as heretical by the Cardinal del Poggetto, 
wit'n the authority of Pope John XXII., after Dante's death (Bocc. V. D. p. 259, ed. 1733). 

With re:;ard to th-- paraphr ise of the Seven Penitential P.salms in terza riiiia. which are 
commonly printed with the Profession of Faith, there seemed to me to be even less reason 
for entering nn the work of a translator. I do not find any adequate evidence, external or 
internal, of their genuineness. They present no special points of interest in connexion with 
Dante's acknowledged work, or with tlie belief of the Mediseval Chuich, and without such 


III. Both things that xinder sight, touch, hearing, fall, 

Were fashioned by His goodness infinite, 
And those which we things intellectual call. 

IV. And I believe the Son did flesh unite, 

Man's flesh and life, in womb of Virgin blest, 20 

Who helps us with her prayers by day and night : 
And that the Godhead's glory thus did rest 
On Christ, in all His sinless holiness, 
As holy Church doth in her praise attest. 
V. Him thus we perfect God and man confess, 25 

The only Son of God, eternally 
Begotten, God of God, whose Name we bless : 

VI. Begotten, not created, God most High, 

Like to the Father, with the Father One, 

And with the Holy Ghost ; mysteriously 30 

VII. Incarnate, Who that He might all atone. 

Upon the holy Cross was crucified, 

Not for His fault, but of free grace alone. 
Then did He pass to that pit deep and wide 

Of darkness that He might the souls set free 35 

Of the old fathers that did there abide. 
With watching hearts, till God and man should be 

United, and throw wide their prison door. 

And by His passion give them liberty. 
Certain it is that who holds this true lore 40 

Complete, and with unswerving fealty, 

Is through that Passion saved for evermore. 

points of contact a translation of a translation of yet another translation has but little chance 
of being more than a weak dilution of the original. 

The render will hardly, I think, be surprised that, with this view of the characters of the 
poems, I have thought it best to minimise my work as a commentator. I have not thought 
it necessary to give scriptural proofs of the doctrines asserted in the Credo, or to point out 
how the fscudo (I can scarcely say the dcutero) Dante, by following in the footsteps of 
the Church's Creeds, avoids the errors of Ebion and Cerinthus, of Arius and Sabeliius, of 
Nestorius and Eutyches. The writer apparently knows nothing of the Commedia, and yet 
the tradition which introduces the Paraphrase makes that the starting-point of the charge of 
heresy. Would it not have be-n enough, one asks, to refer to the poet's examination by the 
three great Apostles in Pa7-adise if it had been necessary to \ indicate its onhodoxy? And 
further, the writer thinks of the Dante whom he personates only as the author of the poems 
of the Vita Nuova, and those poems simply amatorj-. The allegorical significance of the 
" dontia ,s:e>itiie" a.s one with Philosrphy, of the idealised Beatrice as one with Theology, is 
clearly unknown to him even by report. He puts into Dante's lips a confession like that 
which we find in Chaucer's Persone's Tale, that also being probably the pious fraud of a 
personated authorship. 

•" Comp. the inference o^ H. iii. 1-9 as deduced from the received dogmas of the Church. 
If Hell be part of God's creation, it must owe its origin to Supreme Goodness as well as to 
Supreme Power. 

iis We note the mediaeval views of the Descent into Hades as seen in H. iv. 52-60. 


And him who doubteth this, or doth deny, 
As heretic we blame, his own worst foe, 
Losing his soul that doth not this descry. « 

VIII. From the Cross taken, in the grave laid low, 

On the third day, with body and with soul, 
He rose again, as we believe and know. 
IX. And with the self-same flesh, complete and whole, 

He took from her, the Virgin Mother blest, so 

He soared on high beyond the starry pole ; 
X. And sits, and shares the Eternal Father's rest. 

Till He shall come to judge the quick and dead. 
And recompense them both with interest. 

Wherefore let each man's work of good be sped, bs 

And for good deeds let him hope Paradise, 
Where God's grace shall on us His heirs be shed. 

And he who sunk in sin and vices lies. 

Let him expect in Hell all grief and pain, 

Sharing with demons their dread miseries. so 

And of these woes no respite may he gain. 
For they unchanging last for evermore, 
And cries of anguish pour their ceaseless strain. 

XI. From such a doom may He whom we adore, 

The Holy Spirit, save poor souls undone, es 

Third Person, where is neither less nor more. 

For as the Father is, such is the Son, 
And such the Holy Spirit equally, 
One God, and of three Holies, Holy One. 

Such is in truth the Blessed Trinity, 70 

That Son and Father, equally divine. 
Are with the Spirit One mysteriously ; 

From this desire and love, as both combine. 
Proceeding, from the Father and the Son, 
Not made nor yet begotten — this Creed's mine. 75 

XII. He from that Love and Purj^ose high alone. 

Of Son and Father doth proceed and reign, 
Nor this nor that as single source doth own. 
^Vho so attempts more subtly to explain 

•"5 The Paraphrase of the Creeds, like the Creeds themselves, ignores the doctrine of 
Purgatory, which occupies SO prominent a place in the Commedia. 


"What the full Being of our God may be, sc 

Wastes all his labour, and his toil is vain. 
xiii. Alone let it suffice that firmly "we 

Believe iu that which Holy Church doth teach, 
TTho thereof giveth us the true decree. 


I. Baptism, I do believe, adometh each ss 

"With grace divine and makes him wholly clean 
Of sin, and doth to every virtue reach : 

The fruit of water and the word is here, 
Nor more than once is it to any given. 
Though he from deadly sin return in fear. x 

And failing this, all hope from each is riven 
Of passing onward to the life eterne, 
Although he own all virtues under Heaven. 

Light of that lamp that doth so brightly burn, 

From the blest Spirit oft in us doth show, as 

And all our wishes in the right way turn, 

"For keen desire for Baptism bumeth so 
In us, that for his right volition still, 
Xo less than deed, the righteous man we know, 
II. And to cleanse us from our unrighteous will, 100 

And from the sins that from God separate, 
"We Penance have for wholesome chastening still ; 
in. Xor by our power, nor skill, however great, 

Can we return to win God's bounteous grace, 

"Unless Confession comes to renovate. 105 

This first involves contrition to efface 

Ills thou hast done, with thine own mouth then speed 
To own the sin that works in us apace. 

Then Satisfaction we, as next stage, reach, 

"Which with the acts aforesaid doth unite, uo 

"Used well, to win the pardon we beseech. 

^^ Arceiiii rerhmt ad elemenia et fit seuramentum was the definition of medias\al 
iheologj'. From the Creed we pass to an account of the Seven Sacraments of the Latin 
Church, Baptism, Penance, the Eucharist, Ordination, Confirmation (the Chrism of I. 143), 
Extreme Unction, Matrimony. The order in which thev are named is not that of theological 
systems. Possibly the necessities of rhyme may have led to the variation. 



IV. But since our evil foe doth still incite .. 

Our weak will unto wrong, to our great woe, 
And little fears our virtue's vaunted might, 

That we may 'scape the fraud that cruel foe 
Still ever plans our weakness to ensnare, 
E'en he from whom all world-wide evils flow, — • 

Our Lord and God doth in His love prepare, 

Father and Friend, Christ's Body and His Blood, 
And on the altar shows them to us there, 

His own dear Body, which upon the wood 

Of the blest Cross hung, and Its blood there shed 
To liberate us from the foul fiend's brood. 

And if, apart from error, truth be read, 

"VVe see the very Christ, the Virgin's Son 
Veiled in the Host beneath the form of bread, 

True God commingled with true ]\Ian in One, 

Beneath that outward show of bread and wine, 
That gift by which our Paradise is won. 

So great and holy, wondrous and divine. 
Is that mysterious awful sacrament, 
That my best speech the truth may not define. 

This gives us boldness, gives encouragement, 
Against the cunning tempter's subtlest art, 
So that his skill on us is vainly spent ; 

For tliere God hears the pleadings of our heart, 

Which flow from fervent faith in love intense, 
And from sincere contrition take their start. 

The power to work this miracle immense. 

To sing the hours, and others to baptise, 
These gifts of might priests only may dispense. 
v. VI. And to confirm our Christian mysteries. 

We Chrisma and the holy oil possess, 
Through which our faith gains stronger energies. 
VII. Our flesh, which evermore to sin doth press. 
Its pulses stirred by sensual appetite, 
Oft prompts to deeds of foul lasciviousness. 

To check this evil God, in wise foresight. 
Appointed Marriage as a remedy. 
So that this sin might lose its baneful mi"ht 

canzoniere: 321 

And thus from Satan's snare that we may fly, 
The seven blest sacraments a way provide^ 
With prayers and alms and fasts continually. 


I. Ten great Commandments God has given as guide, 

The first that we should worship Him alone, 155 

Kor to false gods and idols turn aside. 
II, Nor to His holy N'ame should wrong be done, 

Or by false swearing, or by deed unblest, 

Eut ever should we bless the Holy One. 

III. The third that we should from all labour rest leo 

On one day of the week, the Lord's own day. 
As in the Church's law is manifest. 

IV. And 'tis His will that we should duly pay 

To Father and to Mother reverence meek, 
Since we from them derive our mortal clay. iss Ko wrong on life or goods of others wreak, 
VII. Eut chastely live, in stainless purity, 

Nor shame for others nor dishonour seek. 
viii. For naught of good we find beneath the sky, 

Should we false witness 'gainst our neighbour bear, no 
Lest false and true in common ruin lie. 
Nor should fierce wrath of passion us ensnare 
To shed another's blood, and so to mar 
That face of God which we, His creatures, share. 
IX. Nor will he from a deadly sin be far I's 

"Who shall his neighbour's wife or goods desire. 
For then his base desires love's entrance bar. 
X. The last of all is that our wills aspire 

aSo more to gain what is another's right, 
For that too parts us from our heavenly Sire. 180 

And that we may be ready, day and night, 
To keep His holy Law continually, 
Vice shun we, for it sweeps us from His sight. 

1-^5 As in the received arrangement of the Latin Church, what we know a*; the Second 
C mmandment is incorporated with the First. The position given to the Sixth, as coming 
between the Ninth and Tenth, has, so far as I know, no authority. The division of the 
Tenth into two separate precepts was needed, after the amalgamation of the First and Second, 
to keep up the numerical idea of the Decalogue, 



I. In Pride the root of every sin doth lie ; 

Hence man himself doth hold in loftier fame iss 

Tiian others, and deserving lot more high. 
II. Envy is that which makes ns blush for shame, 

With grief beholding others' happiness, 

Like him, whom we the foe of God proclaim, 
in. Wrath still more woe doth on the wrathful press, uo 

For its fierce mood lights up Hell's fiery heat ; 

Then ill deeds come, and loss of holiness. 
IV. Sloth looks with hate on every action meet, 

And to ill-doing ever turns the will, 

Is slow to work, and quick to make retreat. i9i 

v. Then Avarice comes, through which the whole world still 

Vexes its soul, and breaks through every law 

And tempts with gain to every deed of ill. 
VI. Eoth fool and wise foul Gluttony doth draw, 

And he who pampers still his appetite, 200 

Shortens his life, to fill his greedy maw. 
vii. And Lust that comes the seventh in order right. 

The bonds of friendship breaks and brotherhood. 

At variance still with Truth and Reason's light. 
Let us against these sins have fortitude, 205 

(They need but little ink to register) 

So may we pass where loftiest pleasures brood. 
I say, to enter in that cloister fair, 

Behoves we lift our orisons to God, 

Whereof is first our Paternoster prayer. 210 


I. Our Father, who in Heaven hast Thine abode, 
II. Thy Name be ever hallowed in our praise, 

And thanks for all Thy goodness hath bestowed. 

1** The libt of the seven deadly sins has at least the interest of presenting a parallel to the 
Seven P.'s oi Pnrg. ix. 112. We may compare Chaucer's Persone's Tale as dealing more 
fully with the same subject. 

211 Here we have an opportunity of comparing the real with the apocryphal Dante. A 
comparison of this Paraphra'-e of the Paiernasier with that of Pnrg. xi. 1-21 will, I believe, 
enable os to measure the difference between the two. Here again one thinks that if the 
apocryphal story had been true, it would have been more effective to quote what had already 
appeared in the Coymnedia. It is suggestive that we find the tame explanation of the 
Libera nos a tnalo. 


III. Thy kingdom come, e'en as its meaning weighs 

IV, Tliis prayer of ours, and may Thy Will prevail 215 
V. On earth, as it in Heaven is done always. 

VI, Give, Father, of our bread the daily tale. 

And may our sins be of Thy grace forgiven, 
l^ov aught we do of Thy good pleasure fail 
xii. And as we too forgive, do Thou from Heaveu 220 

Grant, for Thy part, forgiveness full and free, 
To save us from the foes with whom we've striven. 
VIII. Our God and Father, Fount of Charity, 

Protect and save us from the subtle snare 

Ci Satan and his darts that deadly be ; 225 

So that to Thee we may uplift our prayer 

That we Thy grace may merit, and may come 
Thy kingdom by devotion full to share. 
IX. We pray Thee, Lord, whose glory lights our gloom, 

Guard us from troubles : Lo ! to Thee our heart 230 

With lowly glance looks upward to its Home. 

The blessed Yirgin-mother too has part, 

And rightly, in our praises ; well may prove 
Fit close for this, the service of our art. 

We pray her that to grace of God's great love 235 

She lead us, by the might of her blest prayer, 
And from the snares of Hell our souls remove. 

And all who, through their sins in darkness fare 
May she relume, and loose with gracious mien 
Unbinding from the toils of Hell's despair. 210 


Ave Maria, Mother, Maid, and Queen 

Most Gracious, God doth ever with thee sta}^ ; 
Above all women high in heaven serene ! 

Blest also be thy Son, to whom I pray. 

Our Jesus Christ, to guard us from all ill, 2« 

And lead us with Him to eternal day. 

Blest Virgin, may it ever be thy will 

To let thy prayer to God for us arise, 
That He may here be our Protector still, 

And bring us at the last to Paradise. ^ 




Ah, gentle voice, to all the Muses dear, 
"Who with new rhymes dost soothe the troubled world, 
Still striving, with the branch of life's true tree. 
To cleanse it from the taint that bringeth death, 
By laying bare to view the threefold coasts, s 

Assigned to souls, as merits may demand : 
Hell for the lost ; for those that seek the stars 
Lethe ; and realms above the sun for saints ; 



There is to me something singularly touching in the poetical correspondence which now 
meets us. It belongs to the last years of Dante's life. The Inferno and Purgatorio were 
already finished when it began, and in some sense published. Before it closed the Paradiso 
also was completed, and Eel. iv. contains, therefore, the last words that are extant from the 
poet's hand. It did not reach the friend to whom it was addressed till that hand was cold in 
death. After the manner of the style which they had chosen, the scholar records in his 
epitaph to the memory cif the master that death had interrupted him in this return to the 
lighter and more graceful forms of Latin scholarship. 

" Paseua Pier its demunt resonalat avenh : 
A tropos heu 1 ledum livida rupit opus." 

And the poems throw light on the occupations of the later years of Dante's life. The great 
work to which heaven and earth had lent their hands is finished, and there is ni other work to 
take its place. What more natural than that the worn and weary spirit — worn and weary, and 
yet calmer and brighter than when he began the Commedia — should fall back upon the forms 
of composition in which he had gained his first laurels, and attained his first consciousness of 
the excellence of the " bello stile " {f/. i. 87) which had won men's praise. That return to the 
classical studies of their boyhood has been familiar enough to us in the lives of English 
statesmen and men of letters. Fox and Lord Wellesley, and Lord Derby and Mr Glad- 
stone and Lord Stratford de Redchffe, may serve by way of sample fur a more complete 

One wishes that we had more information as to the young scholar who was thus honoured 
by the poet's friendship. '1 he epithet Magister, applied to him by Boccaccio and an anony- 
mous commentator of the 14th century (Frat. O. M. i. 407), implies that he was recognised 
as, in some sense, a teacher or professor. The poems themselves show that he wrote trom 
Bologna. It may perhaps be reasonably inferred from the fact that the title de Virgilio 
took the place of a patronymic that he did not belong to the class that piqued itself upon a 
descent from the older noble families of Italy. That name, however, obviously tells us more 
than this. It implies that he too had found in Virgil, as Dante, his master and his guide. 
As the Church historian of Caasarea chose to call himself Eusebius Pamphili, that he might 
thus acknowledge his obligations to his early friend and instructor; as Peter Damian took 
his second name from the brother whom he loved {Par. xxi. 106, «.), so Giovanni identifieil 
himself by the new name, which thus indicated the poet whom he delighted to honour ; and 
this, we may well believe, was the starting-point of Dante's regard for him. He addresses 
his friend as senex, and we may mfer therefore that he was considerably the younger of the 
two. We can well understand, remembering how a difference of feeling as to the transcending 
merits of Virgil's genius had divided Dame fiom the prima amico of his own youth, Guido 
de' Cavalcanti (//. x. 52, «.), the joy with which he would welcome the affection of the young 
scholar, who, in this matter, was altogether like-minded with himself. Of the other facts 
recorded of the younger of the two, we may note that he is s.iid to have taught Virgil, Statius, 
Lucan, Ovid, the four poets of//, iv., in a state-supported school at Bologna up to 1321, and 
to have removed afterwards to Cesena, where he probablv died, and that he carried on a 
literary correspondence, of the same type as that on which we now enter, with the poet 
Albertino Musatto of Padua. Altogether I see m him one of the most noteworthy repre- 
sentatives of the earlier Italian renaissance. £cl, i. 13 fixes the opening of the correspondence 



Why wilt thou still such lofty topics treat 

For the rude lierd, while we, with study pale, lo 

Read nothing from thee, poet though thou art 1 

Sooner the wary dolphin with his lyre 

Shall Davus guide, or solve the riddling Sphinx 

Her knotty problems, than the headlong herd 

Illiterate figure Tartarean depths, 15 

And secrets of the Heaven, by Plato's self 

Scarce fathomed ; yet these things the town buffuon, 

Who would drive Horace from the world, croaks out, 

By reason undigested. Thou wilt say, 

"Not to these speak I, but to expert souls, 20 

Though in the people's language." W^ull, the world 

Of scholars scorns that language, were it one 

Unvarying, not in thousand dialects. 

at a date subsequent to 1318. Comp. vol. i. p. cxxiii. It is noticeable too, as Giovanni himself 
boasts in a poem to Mussato after Dante's death, that this was, as far as he l^new (the 
Eclogues of Calpurnius were not discovered till the 15th century), the first revival of the 
Virgilian type. 

" Fistula -non fiosthac nostris inflata poetis. 
Donee ea mecum certaret Tityrtis olim, 
Lydius, Adriaco qui nunc in litore dorinit 
Qua pineta sacras prcetexunt saltibus umbras." 

"That reed our later bards have left untouched 
Till Tityrus, in davs now past, with me 
Competed, — Lydian Tityrus, who now 
Sleeps on the Adrian shore, where pine-woods spread 
Their sacred shadows on the grassy mead." 


1 It will be noted that Eel. i. is simply an epistle in Latin verse. The bucolic form, with 
its Tityrus and Mopsus, is, cnaracteristically enough, introduced tiy Dante in Eel. ii. ' The 
opening lines show that the writer knew at least the scope and plan of the Cottimedia as 
1. 25 indicates a special acquaintance with the Statins episode in Purg. xxi. S6-136. Joan'nes 
had probably been allowed to see the MS. of the first two cantiques. "Leihe " implies a 
knowledge of Purg. xxx. 143. The "bough" has been identified with the "laurel " of the 
poet, or the " wood " of Exod. xv. 25. More probably the writer aUudes to the "golden 
branch ' which served iEneas as a passport through the unseen world (^.-En. vi. 143). 

9 The scholar remonstrates with the master on the form which he had chosen. Why 
treat ot such grave themes in the vulgar tongue and for the common people ? We may infer 
tnat Dante's apology for his be:oved volgare in V. E. i. 16, Conv. i. 6-13, had not coma 
under his young friend's eyes. Davus (as in the "Davus sum, non CEdipus " of Terence 
"^"i^^' ?^ '^ ^^^ typical man of no culture. Sooner might we think of him as equally able 
with CLdipus to solve the riddle of the Sphinx as to imagine him entering into the mysteries 
beyond Flato's ken, of Purgatory and Paradise. Surely those who had grown pale with study 
had a claim on the poet they honoured. 

17 Was the buffoon reciter to bawl out in the street the things he could not understand ? 
If the words are taken as describing what had actually happened, they imply something like 
a general publication of the Comtncdia. Probably, however, they are only an anticip°ation 
of what may be, and the scholar appeals to the irritable sensitiveness which his friend had 
shown when, as in the stones told by \.\'ov. 114, 115) Sacchetti and others, he heard his earlier 
Italian poems mangled by blacksmiths and donkey-drivers as they pursued their calling. 

..ifr ?^r'^ "''^'^' answer that he wrote not for the common herd, but for the men of culture. 
Well, is the reply, " men of culture won't have the ' vulgar tongue ' at any price." That 
would be true even if there was a recognised Italian language ; how much more when there 
were only a thousand dialects? 


And none of those with ■whom thou rank'st as sixth, 

Nor he thou followest ou thy heavenwarJ. path, is 

Wrote in the speech that through the market rings. 

AA^herefore, out-spoken critic of our bards, 

If thou wilt give free course I'll speak my mind. 

Be not too wasteful, throwing pearls to swine, 

'Nov clothe the sisterhood of Castaly so 

In unmeet raiment, but, I pray thee, choose 

The speech that will most widely give thee fame 

For thy prophetic song, the common lot 

Of this and of that nation. Even now 

Full many a theme there is that waits thy speech. i^^ 

Tell with what flight the bearer of Jove's bolts 

Made for the stars : tell what the flowerets fair 

And what the lilies that the plowman crushed : 

Tell of the Phrygian does that wounded lie. 

Torn by the teeth of fierce Molossian hounds ; « 

Tell of Ligurian mountains, and the fleets 

Of fair Parthenope, in verse of thine. 

So that thy fame may spread to Gades old, 

Alcides' city, and that Ister's stream 

May hear and wonder, as will Pharos too, 45 

And where Elissa once was owned as queen. 

If fame delight thee, it will scarce content 

To be cooped up within a narrower sphere, 

And find thy glory in the vile herd's praise. 

Lo I, the priest — if thou that claim concede — pi 

S4 Why n"t follow the five great Latin poets with whom Dante had joined himself in f/. iv. 
io2, or Statii.h, whom he had met in Pnrg. xxi. 83-99? We are tempted to ask whether 
Joannes thought that they had written in a language " not understanded of the people "among 
whom they lived ? 

27 The words might refer to the criticisms in the V. E., but, as we have seen reason to 
believe that the wnt-r had not read that book, we may more probably connect them with 
passages like Purg. xxiv. 55-63, xxvi. 97-126, which he had just been reading. 

35 Yes, a Latin poem would give Dante a wider fame, not limited to his own nation ; and as 
for sul)jects, the ?chi lar can suggest a r<nmd half-dozen for his master's choice. There 
was the Ita ian campaign of Henry VIL (vol. i. pp. ci -ciii.)i the war of Ugiicci ne della 
Faggiuola (Ball. xv. ; vol. i. p. cxvi.) against the " Idies "of the city of flowers, or that of Can 
Grande, the Molossian mastiff, against the Paduans (1312), who, as claiming descent from 
Antenor, are described as Phrygians, or that of Robert IL of Naples against Piedmont and 
Genoa. A poem on such suijjects as the-e might win a widespread fame, for which the Coiii- 
titciiia could never hope, from east and west, and north and south. "Pharos," of course, 
points to .-Mexandria, and " Eli-sa " is Dido. What a field «as open to ambition there! 
What an example, we add, of the irony of history we might have had, had the master 
followed the scholar's counsels ! 

50 The ambition of the scholar led him to picture to himself his own share in the triumph. 
Would it not be a proud moment for Dante as well as for himself to crown him in the school 
of l)ologna with the poet's wreath? What he had said as to subjects for an epic was not 
enough. There was yet a wider choice. Mountains and seas were alike full of wars and 


Of those fair nymplis who liaunt Aonian hills, 

And Maro's servant, bearing Virgil's name, 

"Will gladly be the first to lead ihee forth, 

'Mid crowds of loud-applauding worshippers, 

Thy temples crowned with wreaths of fragrant bays, 55 

E'en as the herald, mounted on his horse. 

Exults, proclaiming loud with echoing voice 

His leader's trophies to the joyful crowd. 

E'en now the alarm of war affrights mine ears : 

What threats are those of father Apennine ? eo 

Why are Tyrrhenian waves by Xereus lashed ? 

"Why rages j\Iars on this side or on that ? 

Take thou thy lyre, and calm that tumult wild. 

Unless thou sing of this, while other bards 

Hang on thee, that alone thou sing to all, &5 

They will remain untold. Yet even now, 

If thou, who dwell'st hard by Eridanus, 

Give me the hope that thou wilt visit me, 

And count me worthy of some kindly lines. 

And if it irk thee not to read my verse, 70 

"Weak though it be — e'en such as goose o'er-bold 

Might cackle to the swan of sweetest song — 

Or answer, Master mine, or grant my prayer. 



Those letters black on patient paper traced 
We read, those warblings from Pierian breast. 
Flowing so softly, flowing too for us. 

rumours of war, only waiting fur the touch of the poet's hand, and without that, destined to 
be left unsung. He hints even that his friend's song might restrain the fierce passions of the 

67 As sojourning in Ravenna, communicating with one of the mouths of the Po by a canal, 
Dante Wf-s described .-is a dweller by that Dver. He had given his friend the hope that he 
would some day or other visit him at Bologna, and show that he counted him worihy of his 
friendship. To that visit Joannes looked forward. Meanwhile the swan of Italian poetry will 
perhaps condescend to listen even to the cackling of the goose. One feels, however, as one 
reads that last line, tliat the young puct looked on himself as at least an ugly duckling growing 
towords swanhood. 


We can imagine the half-amused feeling with which the master read the scholar's letter. 
Tn adoptma: as the form of his answer the pattern presented by the Virgilinn Eclogues, there 
is perhaps a playful reminder that he too knows something of Virgil ; iliat he is as skilled in 


And so it chanced we told our tale of goats 

Fresh fruiu their pastures, I beneath the oak, 6 

And Meliboeus with me. He indeed — 

For much he sought with me to read that song — 

"0 Tityrus" began, " I pray thee tell 

^V^hat ]\[opsus means 1 " And I, Mopsus, smiled. 

And then he urged his question more and more. lo 

Conquered at last by my great love for him, 

My laughter scarce repressed, I answered him. 

" Why ravest thou, O foolish one ? " said I, 

" The goats thou tendest, they demand thy care, 

E'en though thy meagre fare may vex thee too. . is 

Unknown to thee the pastures where the shade 

Of Maenalus o'erhangs, and hides the sun 

With sloping summit — pastures decked in tints 

Of thousand hues of grasses and of flowers. 

A lowly stream, by willow boughs o'erhung, 20 

Surrounds them, from its surface scattering dew 

O'er all its banks, and hollows out a way, 

Where waters wander at their own sweet will, 

From the high summit flowing. Mopsus there, 

While o'er the pliant grass his oxen rove, 25 

Contemplates, at his ease, of men and gods 

The labours. Then, through pipes that swell with wind, 

He to his inner joys gives utterance. 

So that his sweet songs draw his herds to him. 

And lions calmed rush from the mountain's height 30 

Down to the plain, and waters stay their course, 

And mountain height and forest nod their heads." 

that "hello stilo " as the young poet who assumed the cognomen of " de Vh-gUio." Yes, he 
will be Tityrus, the "/ortioiatus senex" oi £cl. i. 47. And the iNIehbceiis who is with him 
is (so the eai ly commentators tell us) the Dino Perini of Florence, the poet's friend, whose 
name has met us in the story of the first seven cantos of the Inferno (vol. i. p. ixxxvi.) la 
designating Joannes as Mopsus there is possibly a sportive reference to Eel. v. 2 — 
" Boni quotiiatn con^'enittius aiiibo. 
Tie cahiiiios hi/lare leres, ego dice>e ziersus." 
It was well that the younger bard should be reminded of the nature and limits of his gift. 

4 The two friends are together when the letter comes. Perini waits to know its contents. 
Dante smiles instead of answering (comp. V. N. c. 4). The goatherd had better look after 
his goats (Purg. xxvii. 86), i.e. his scholars. 

17 Maenalus, the mountain of Arcadia, stands for the bucolic poetry in which Dante claims 
to be an expert. It "conceals the sun," because it interposes the veil of allegory between 
the reader and its true meaning. The description of the stream which flows from the 
mountain reminds us of Dante's account of his own special excellence as a poet in Purg. xxiv. 
52-54. The description of Mopsus as a second Orpheus is obviously not without a loi.cii of 
playful irony. 



"0 Tityrus," spake he, "if Mopsus sings 

In unknown pastures, yet his unknown songs 

I yet may teach to these my wandering goats 35 

With thee to guide me." "What then could I do, 

When he thus urged me, panting eagerly ? 

" Melibceus, to Aonian hills 

Mopsus has given himself, year following year, 

While others toil o'er law and equity, 40 

And in the holy mountain's shade grows pale, 

Washed in the stream that quickens poets' life, 

And full, till breast, throat,, palate overflow 

With milk of song ; my Mopsus summons me 

To take the leaves that grow on Peneus' shore, « 

Where Daphne was transformed." 

" What wilt thou do 1 " 
Said Meliboeus. " Wilt thou ever keep 
Thy brows undecked with laurels, through the fields 
As shepherd known ? " " Nay, name and fame of seer, so 
Oft vanish, Meliboeus, into air. 
And scarcely has the Muse our Mopsus brought 
To full completeness, spite of sleepless nights." 
Then spake I, indignation finding voice : 
" What echoes will from hills and fields resound, ss 

If with a laurelled brow I tune my lyre 
To pgean hymns ? And yet I own I fear 
The thickets wild, and fields that know not God. 
Were it not better done to deck my locks 
With triumph-wreath, and should I e'er return eo 

Where my own Arno flows, to hide them there. 
Now grey, once golden, 'neath the laurel crown 1 " 

33 Meliboeus presses his inquiries. It might be well for his scholars to learn the Virgih'an 
verses which Mopsus had just sent to his masier. Tityrus can no longer refuse to answer 
his questions. "Mopsus is a votary of the Muses, dwelling on the Aonian Mount. He 
summons me to put in my claim to the laureate wreath." The daughter of Peneus is Daphne, 
loved by Apollo, and transformed into a laurel (3/ei. i. 452-567). 

47 " Well," is Meliboeus Perini's natural question, " Will you act on that suggestion, write 
a poem, submit it to the judgment of scholars, and claim the laurel?" 

60 The poet's answer is twofold. He has fallen on evil days, and scarcely even Mopsus, 
with all liis restless study, has gained the reputation of a poet. But great as might be the 
honour of the laureate wreath, Kologna does not attract him. The Guelph anti-imperial city 
is no place for him. Rather will he wait till he can return to Florence (Par. xxv. 1-12 ; vol. 
t. p. Ixix.), and claim it there. The "jTavescere" of the original in 1. 62 points to a less 
swarthy complexion than that which we commonly associate with Dante's name, and so far 
agrees with the Bargello portrait. 


And he, '' Who doubts this ? Yet, Tityrus, 

Bethink thee, therefore, how the time flies fast, 

The she-goats are grown old whom once we paired, es 

That they might bring forth young." 

Then I replied, 
" When in my song the sea-girt mountain high, 
And those who dwell Avithin the starry spheres, 
Shall be revealed, as now the realms of HelJ, to 

Then 'twill be well with ivy and with bay 
To crown my brows. Will Mopsus grant me this 1 " 
"Mopsus !" he answered, "See'st thou not that he 
Condemns the speech of that thy Comedy, 
As by the lips of women trite and worn, 75 

Eejected by the nymphs of Castaly ? " 
" So is it," I replied, and then again 
I read thy verses, Mopsus. With a shrug 
He answered, " What then lies within our reach 
Our Mopsus to convert ? " And then I said so 

" I have an ewe, thou know'st her goodliest far 
Of all the flock, in milk abounding so 
That scarce she bears the weight of udders full, — 
'Neath the vast rock just now she chews the cud, — 
Joined to no flock, accustomed to no fold. 8s 

Of her free will, unforced, she never fails 
To seek the milk-pail. Her 'tis in my mind 
To milk with ready hands, and ten jugs full 
Will I to Mopsus send." " Do thou meanwhile 
Watch all the frolics of the gamesome goats, oo 

And learn to fix thy teeth in hardest crusts." 
So sang we then beneath our oak boughs, I 
And Meliboeus, while our poor abode 
Saw homely meal preparing on the hearth. 

fi-l Melibosus reminds his friend that time passes quiclcly. The young scholars who would 
welcome his poem are growing up into manhood. 

67 " Yes," is the poet's answer ; " when I have finished my Purgatory and my Paradise, 
then, and resting niy_ claims on them, the poet's wreath will be welcome." Mopsus, perhaps, 
will allow that. Triis leads to the question what Mopsus had said, and then to this Dante 
replies that he, Mopsus, contemns that form of poetry in the vulgar tongue which even 
women can read and recite, and he reads the Eclogue which he had received. Meliboeus 
naturallv nsks how they shall convert Mopsus to a better mind. And the answer is not far to 
seek. In bucolic language Dante has an ewe-goat from whose udders the milk flows freely 
and without constraint. He will send him ten pails of that milk, that he may taste and 
judge. In other words, he will let him see ten Cantos of the Paradiso. 

8a_91 I assisn these words to MelibtEus. He warns Dante to beware of the men whom he has 
held up to reproof ui the Coiunicdia, and has thus made his enemies, and of the haidships 
(Par. xTii. 116-120) Which result from that enmity. 




Beneath the hills well watered, where we see 
Savena meet with Reno, sportive nymph. 
Her snowy locks entwined with wreaths of green, 
I found a shelter in a rock-hewn cave. 
My heifers cropped the herbage on the hanks, 5 

Lambs browsed on tender grass, the goats on shrubs. 
What should I do 1 for I alone was there 
As dweller in the woods, the rest being gone 
Full speed into the city, business-pressed ; 
Xo Nysa or Alexis answered me, w 

Before, such constant comrades. "With my hook 
I carved me pipes of water-reeds ; — best cure 
Is that for hours that linger — when the shade 
Of Adrian shore, there where the crowded pines 
In their long rows and stretching up to heaven, 15 

O'erhang the fields as guardian deities, 
Fields sweet with myrtles and with thousand flowers, 
And where the watery Earn leaves no sands dry, 
But craves for showers his soft fleece to bedew — 
The whistling wind of Eurus blowing soft, 20 

Brought to my ears the song of Tityrus, 
Borne on the vocal fragrance, o'er the heights 
Of Msenalus, balm-breathing on the ear. 
And in the mouth milk-dropping, like to which 
For many a day the guardians of the flock 25 

Eemember not, though all Arcadians be. 
Arcadian nymphs rejoice to hear the song, 
Shepherds, and sheep, and shaggy goats, and kine ; 


i The Sarpina [Savena) and Keno are the two rivers of Bologna. The former div:des into 
two branches, known as the Old and the New, to which the epithets "green " and "snowy" 
respectively refer. Adopting the bucolic style of his master, Joannes describes liimself as in 
•-oliliide while his scholars had left him for their business in the city, and he was tuning his 
flageolet, i.e., taking up his pen to write, when he heard the pipe of lityrus resounding 
on the Adrian shore._ In other words, he has received Dante's Eclogue and ihe ten Cantos 
which accoinpanied it. The former he admires. It is long since the poets of Italy had 
heard .Tnything like it. It charms not only Virgilian scholars like himself, but even men ot 
rougher moods and lower culture. It stirs him up to imitation. He too w.ll play on the 
Virgilian reed, and for a time lay aside his graver tasks. Benacus ( = Lago di Garda), 
from which the Mincio flows to Mantua, represents the birtliplace ot Virgil. 


E'en the wild asses run witli pricked-up ears, 

And fauns come dancing from Lyceian heights. aa 

And to myself I said, " If Tityrus 

Thus charm the sheep, the cattle, and the goats 

Whilst thou, a dweller in the town, didst sing 

The song of cities, how long is it since 

The reed, Benacus-grown, has touched thy lips ss 

In shepherd's song 1 Nay, let him hear that thou, 

Thou too a shepherd, singest in the woods." 

Nor did I linger then, but laid aside 

The greater reeds, and seized the slender ones. 

To breathe a new strain with my labouring lips. 40 

And so, divine old man, thou wilt be found 

A second Tityrus ; nay, the very man, — 

If we give credit to the Samian. So 

Let Mopsus speak as Meliboeus spoke. 

Ah me ! that thou shouldst dwell in squalid hut, « 

With dust o'erlaid, and shouldst in righteous wrath, 

Mourn for the fields of Arno, fields from thee 

Stolen, and from thy flocks. Ah, deed of shame 

For that ungrateful city ! Yet I pray 

Wet not thy Mopsus' cheeks with flowing tear?, so 

Nor in thy wrath torment thyself and him. 

Whose love clings round thee full as close — I say, 

As close, good old man, as doth the vine. 

That with a hundred tendrils clasps the elm. 

Oh, that once more thou mightest see thy locks, 55 

Locks grey and sacred, gain a second youth, 

31 Characteristically the scholar thinks more of the Eclogue than of the Paradiso. If the 
" divine old man " would but write always like t lis, he would be a second Virgil — Virgil him- 
self reappearing on earth, as in the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration. His friends 
Mopsus and Meliboeus may now follow — the latter, indeed, had already followed — his 

^'' Tityru':, in the bitterness of his life as an exile, might rightly pour out the vials of his 
■wrath on Florence, but he might spare the scholar who loved him and clung round him as 
the vine clings round the elm. 

■M Ah! if he could but return to Florence and revisit his home once again ! Is Phyllis, we ask, 
the Gemma, of whom we hear so little ? Did Joannes know that it was the grief" of Dante's life 
to have been parted from her? (Par.Kv\\. 55). But meanwhile will he not visit him at Bologna 
and join him in his studies? Each poet might write according to his age. He describes his 
home and the hospitality which he offers in glowing colours, but, of course, after the bucolic 
fa.shion. The "wild thyme" perhaps stands for philosophic studies; "poppy" for the 
soothing influences of the medical studies in which Dante found refreshment. We note, at 
all events, a reference to the sleeplessness from which Dante apparently suffered. The mush- 
room and pepper, the garlic, the honey and the apples, stand, we may suppose, for different 
forms of literature, the words of the wise, the satires, the sonnets, the canzoni which made 
up a poet'; feast. 


Grown golden, and be trimmed by Phyllis' self. 

How wilt thou then behold with wondering look 

Thy yine-clad cottage ! Yet, lest long delay 

Bring weariness, thou may'st awhile rejoice eo 

To see my joy, the caves where I find rest ; 

Eefresh thyself with me. We both will sing ; 

I, with my slender reed, thou playing still 

The part of master, with more majesty. 

So that age find his fitting place for each. 65 

The place itself invites thee, flowing stream 

Purls through the cavern which the rocks protect, 

And where the shrubs waft breezes ; and around 

Wild marjoram pours its fragrance, and for sleep 

The poppy grows, and brings — so men report — to 

A sweet forgetfulness ; a couch for thee 

Of wilding thyme shall our Alexis strew 

Wliom Corydon bids me call, and willingly 

Will Xysa gird herself to wash thy feet. 

And get thy supper ready. Thestylis -5 

Shall season mushrooms with the pungent dust 

Of pepper, and subdue the garlic strong, 

If Meliboeus chance to gather that, 

Too rashly, in his garden. Hum of bees 

Shall bid thee to eat honey. Apples sweet so 

Shall be for thee to gather and to taste. 

Rosy as Xysa's cheeks are ; much beside 

Thou wilt not touch as being all too fair ; 

And o'er the cave the ivy creeps and creeps. 

With wreaths prepared for thee. And, in a word, ss 

No pleasure shall be lacking. Come thou then, 

65 And all honour will be paid to the visitor. I\'y is there for the poet's wreath. The 
students of Bologna (Parrhasius, as an Arcadian mountain, is the symbol of culture), and 
they will rejoice in the new poems (^«. theEciogue?) and the oldf^K. the ComtitediaT). They 
will bring_ their tributes of honour {qii. panegyric verses?), such as Meliboeus-Perini had 
delighted in when he received them at Bologna. 

'■" And why should Tityrus fear Bologna? Men of high and low estate are ready to give 
pledges of their faithfulness. He might, at least, visit the scholar to whom he was so dear. 
Chiron and Apollo had not disdained the shepherd's life in a strange land, and why 
should he ? 

'80 Then a new thought occurs to him, and Mopsus makes answer to himself. lo'as (Vire. 
Eel. iv. 57, makes him ihe rich lOver if Alexis), i.e., Guido da Polenta of R venna, DajUe's 
host and patron, will not ailow liim to leave, and Dante himself will prefer Kavenna to 
Bologna. Why should the scholar thus seek after the un: ttainable? Well, he can only 
plead that he follows the law of his nature. He admires, and therefore he must love. 


And with tliee come all those who wish to see 

Thy presence with us, young and old alike, 

From hills Parrhasian, all who would admire 

In joy thy newer songs, and learn the old. 90 

These will to thee their offerings bring, or goats, 

Fresh from the woods, or spotted hides of lynx, 

As Meliboeus once was wont to do. 

Come then, and fear not, Tityrus, our fields : 

The lofty pines with waving heads, give pledge °5 

Of safety for thee ; even so the shrubs,^ 

And acorn-bearing oaks. No wiles are here, 

No plots, as thou dost deem, of frauds and wrong. 

Wilt thou not trust thyself to me who love thee 1 

Perchance thou scornest this my poor abode : ico 

And yet the gods have not disdained to dwell 

In hollow caverns, witness Chiron old, 

Achilles' foster-father, and Apollo, 

"Who lived a shepherd with the sons of men. 

" Art thou mad, Mopsus 1 Nay, lolas, he, las 

The man of polished culture, will refuse. 
Seeing that thy gifts are but a peasant's store, 
Nor is thy cave as safe as are the tents 
Where Tityrus seeks repose. But what desire, 
So eager, leads thee, what new impulse stirs "o 

Thy feet 1 " The maid still gazes on the youth, 
The youth on bird, the bird upon the woods, 
IMopsus on thee, Tityrus, and that gaze 
Engenders love. Eeject me then, and I 
Will quench my thirst with Muso, Phrygian-born. ne 

Truly thou know'st this not ; thou drinkest still 
Of thine own country's waters, 

Wiiy then, why 
Hear I my heifers lowing ? Why flow streams 
Fourfold of milk between the dropping thighs ? 120 

I have it : I will haste to fill the pails 
With fresh warm milk wherein the hardest crusts 

87 In tlie absence of Tityrus, Wopsiis will console himself with Muso, sc. with Musatto, a 
Latin poet of Padua of some eminence. Dante, who "drank of the waters of the Arno," 
t'.i;., wrote Italian poetry, and cared little for the Latin verses of his contemporaries, was per- 
haps ignorant of his fame. Lastly, he ends by sending l«ii poems of his own in reiuni for 
those which he had received. 


Shall ^ms? to softness. Come thea to the pail, 

We'll send as many jugs to Tityrus 

As he has promised ns. And yet, perchance, 120 

'Tis a bold thing to offer milk to one 

Himself a shepherd. 

Even while I speak 
ISIy friends draw near, and on the mountain height 
The setting sun sinks down behind the ridge. 



Eous, with the Colchian fleece bedecked, 
And all the other wingM steeds were bearing, 
With headlong course, the Titan wondrous fair. 
His orbit, where it just begins to slope 
From its mid-height, held each wheel of the car 5 

In even balance, and the glittering rays. 
By shadows oft o'ercome, now, in their turn, 
O'ercame the shadows, and the fields grew hot. 
And therefore, in their pity for their flocks, 
Alphesiboeus, yea, and Tityrus, 10 

Fled to the woods, the woods wherein the ash, 
Together with the plane and linden, grows. 
And while the sheep that wander in the fields. 
Goats mingled with them, lie upon the grass, 
And sniff the breeze, lo ! Tityrus reclined, « 

Now full of years, beneath a maple's shade. 
By the soft, slumbrous fragrance sleep-oppressed, 


1 The opening lines remind us oi Purg-. ix. i-g, both being based upon TI/^-^. ii. 1-30. _Eous 
(=the Dawn) was the name of one of the horses of the sun (Met. ii. 153). The epithet " Col- 
chian " points, with its allusion to the golden fleece, to the spring-tide when the sun was in 
Aries (H. i. 38). It was nuon and the sun was hot. 

7 The new interlocutor Alphesiboeus, is identified by commentators with Fiducio de' 
IMilotti of Certaldo (Boccaccio's birthplace), a physician of high repute, then staying at 

16 The subjects of which Alphesiboeus spoke were naturally enough partly physical, partly 
metaphysical, such as two students of science might discuss together. Of some of them we 
find traces in Dante's other ^vritings ; as, e.g., of the return of souls to the stars under whose 
influence they had been born, from which, in one form of Platonism, they were believed to 
liave come {Par. iv. 52). The other questions turn mainly on the zoology of the time, such 
as suited the studies of the physiciaij, 



Whije on his thick-knobbed staff, from pear-tree torn, 
Alphesiboeus leant, that he might speak. 

And then he said, " That souls of men ascend 20 

Up to those stars whence they came down to us, 
Within our bodies a new home to find ; 
That snow-white swans make all Cayster's banks 
Re-echo with their songs, in mildest clime 
Rejoicing, and the marshes of the vale ; — 25 

That the dumb fishes leave the deeper sea 
In shoals, where rivers first approach the bounds 
Of Nereus ; — that Hyrcanian tigers stain, 
With crimson gore, the heights of Caucasus ; 
That Libyan serpent with its scaly tail so 

Makes furrows in the sand : — at all this I 
Have ceased to wonder ; for to all that live 
Appropriate environment brings joy ; 
But Mopsus moves my wonder, moves it too 
In all the shepherds that with me abide 35 

In fair Sicilian fields, that he prefers 
Where ^tna smokes, the Cyclops' cave and rocks." 

So spake he. Then all hot with panting breath 
Comes Melibceus : scarce had he exclaimed 
" Tityrus ! " when all the elders mocked «> 

His youthful, high-pitched voice, as once of yore 
Sicanians mocked when they Sergestus saw 
Snatched from the rock. And then the old man raised 
His grey hairs from the grass, and to the youth, 
Whose nostrils still were panting, thus began : 45 

" Ah friend o'er-young, what fresh-born care is this, 
That makes thee vex thy lungs with pace so quick 1 " 

25 In all these instances there were the workings of the law of "like to like," or at least of 
the choice of a suitable environment. What Alphesiboeus could not understand was that 
Mopsus should be content to remain in such a Cyclops' den as Bologna. The personal 
Cyclops is identified with Romeo de' Pepoli, then ruler of that city, under whose protection 
Joannes lived. Romeo is reported to have been a Ghlbelline (I'ilL ix. 132 ; Troja, Veltro, 
pp. 179-180), but Dante apparently had personal reasons for distrusting him. 

-9 At this point Meliboeus-Perini arrives, panting in hot haste as the bearer of the last 
Eclogue from Joannes. The older scholars smile as when the Sicilians saw Sergestus torn 
from the rock to which he clung when his boat foundered (^■£'«. v. 200-283). 

'"' Tityrus raises his head and ask^ the reason of the breathless haste. Then, as with a taste 
for a marvel after the manner of Ovid, lo I of its own accord — for Melibosus is too much out 
of breath to play on it — the reed breathes forth the first line of the Eclogue which the scholar 
had sent to his master. The hundred verses stand for the actual ninety-seven of the Eclogue. 

* Pelorus stands for Ravenna, as the true Sicily, the true home of shepherds and their poets. 


He nothing answered, but his lips then touched, 
His trembling lips, the pipe of oaten straw. 
And, thence no single note fell on the ear, so 

But, as the youth was striving to draw out 
Tones from his reed, the reed itself breathes forth — 
I speak a thing most wonderful yet true — 
" Beneath the hills well-watered, where we see 
Savena meet with Eeno." Had he then S5 

But thrice upon the mouth-piece blown, I trow 
That he with five-score songs had soothed the ear 
Of silent shepherds, and that Tityrus 
Had listened, and with him Alphesiboeus, 

And him Alphesiboeus thus addressed, 60 

Our Tityrus, " "VVould'st thou, honoured old man, dare 
To leave Pelorum's dewy plains, and seek 
The Cyclops' cavern ? " 

And he made reply : 
"Why dost thou doubt 1 Why, dear friend, question maV 65 
" Why Jo I doubt ? Why question thee 1 " then spake 
Alphesiboeus. " Hear'st thou not what sound 
Comes from the flute in its melodious might, 
God-given, like the reeds, the breeze-born reeds. 
As rumour spread far off the change that passed, 70 

O'er the king's temples, in their foul disgrace, 
When he, as Bromios bade him, straightway changed 
Pactolus' sands to hue of glittering gold 1 
Since he calls thee to where the shore is strewn 
With Etna's pumice dust, blest old man, 75 

Trust not delusive favour : look with pity 
Upon the hallowed spot where Dryads haunt, 
And on thy flocks. The mountain height, the downs. 
The streams, will weep, bereaved of thee : the Nymphs, 
Fearing worse things, will weep for thee with me. so 

S2 The king is Midas, who asked and obtained the power of turning whatever he touched 
into gold. When Bromius (= Bacchus) taught him that he might free himself from the 
power which had become a bondage by bathii.g in the Pactolus, the reeds whispered the 
fact that the king had ass's (Mei. xi. 143-146). That spontaneous utterance found, so 
Alphesiboeus thought, a parallel in the Eclogue-song that had flowed from the reed without 
human lips applied to it. He excuses himself for thinking that a marvel like that might 
have overcome Dante's hesitation. He urges that he should still refuse to trust himself. 
The Dryads of Ravenna and all his friends call on him to stay. They felt that he could 
Dot venture without risk to his life. 


And the ill-will Pacliynus bears to us,' 

"Will all subside. And we too sliall regret, 

We shepherds, having known thee. Blest old man, 

Abandon not the pastures and the springs, 

On which thy name hath stamped a deathless life." ss 

" more, by merit more, than half this heart," 

Touching his breast, spake aged Tityrus, 

"Mopsus, in love bound up with me for those. 

Who fled Pyreneus' passion wild of yore, 

Because I dwell, the Po upon my right, so 

And on the left the Rubicon, where sea 

Of Adria bounds the fair ^milian land, 

Commends to us the pastures by the shore 

Of -^tna, little knowing that we both 

Dwell in the soft grass of Trinacrian height, k 

]\Iore fruitful far than all Sicilian hills 

In food for flocks and herds. And yet, though rocks 

Of JEtna, fall far short of those green fields 

Pelorum boasts, I fain would leave my flock, 

And as thou wishest, come to visit thee, loo 

]\Iy Mopsus, but for fear of Polypheme." 

And then Alphesiboeus made reply, 
" Who fears not Polypheme, with human blood 
Still wont to stain his lips, from that same hour 
When Galatea saw her Acis' limbs, xos 

81 Pachynus, the southern promontory of Sicily, stands probably for the kingdom of 
Naples, whose ruler, Robert II. (vol. i. p. cii. ; Purg. vii. iig ; Par, xix. 130, xx. 63) had shown 
himself one of Dante's bitterest enemies. His hostility would cease because it would be 
satisfied with what would be Dame's ruin. That ruin might even bring trouble on his friends. 

*•' The poet's consciousness that his name will live, and that without writing a Latin epic, 
reminds us of//, iv. 102 ; Purg. xi. 98 ; Par. xvii. 118-120. 

88 Alphesiboeus was a bosom friend, but Mopsus also, as a votary of the Muses, might 
claim some share in his affections. The lines allude to the story in Met. v. 287-331, that 
Pyreneus had invited the Muses to take shelter beneath his roof; that he then offered them 
violence ; that they took their winged flight from the tower of his house, and that he threw 
himself after them and perished. Was this a gentle warning to Joannes not to claim too 
exclusive an intimacy with the Muses whom he loved ? 

yo Mopsus had written as though Dante were living (as, of course, he was literally) between 
the Po and the Rubicon, in the/Emilian region of Rouiagnuola, and sang the praises of his own 
./Etna (/.£, Bologna), as though that were the home of poets. He was ignorant that Ravenna 
was the true Trinacria ( = Sicily), the land where Theocritus would have loved to dwell. And 
his Pelorum was "green." It was the symbol of the national poetry, in the spoken language 
of the people, which Mopsus despised, but which was destined to be far more fertile than the 
/Etnaean region, the classical poetry, which he loved. 

1"! Polyphemus is, as before, Romeo Je' Pepoli (1. 25I. It was Dante's distrust of him 
that led him to decline his friend's invitation. The outrages named are those attributed to 
the literal Polyphemus (JSJet. xiii. 739-898). Possibly they refer to some recent acts of cruelty 
on Romeo's part. ' .■ .■ 


Poor Ads ! torn asunder ? Scarcely she 

Herself escaped. Would spell of love prevail 

"When his fierce rage was kindled to such heat ? 

And scarce could Ach^menides restrain 

His soul from parting, when he looked and saw m 

The Cyclops, with his comrades' blood besprent. 

Ah, thou, my bosom friend, I pray thee, check 

That fearful wish that Reno and the I^ymph 

Thou praisest, close, within their boundaries, 

This honoured head, to gather wreaths for which, 115 

Wreaths that fade not, e'en now prepares himself 

The dresser of tlie vineyard." 

Smiling in concord with him, heart and soul, 
In silence listened to his scholar's words, 
As by the whole flock spoken. But because 120 

The horses of the chariot of the Sun 
Were moving downwards through the ether pure, 
So that the shadows o'er all nature spread. 
The shepherds, leaving valley cool, and woods. 
Followed their flocks that took their homeward way, 125 

And shaggy goats went foremost, as they took 
Their path to soft green meadows ; and meanwhile 
lolas crafty, listening stood hard by. 
Who heard all this and told all this to us : 
He sings to us, IMopsus, we to thee. iso 

109 Achsmenides was one of the companions of Ulysses, whom JEnsas encountered in 
Sicily (,£■«. iii. 590-6S1). Here also there may probably be an historical allusion now irre- 
coverably lost to us. 

113 The Naiad is the nymph of the Savena joined with the Reno, as in £c/. iii. i. The 
"Virgin" is, of course. Daphne, transformed into a laurel (J>/ci. i. 486). 

The expectation that the laurel wreath was ready to be cut for him had an unlooked-for 
fulfilment. The Eclogue did not reach his scholar-friend till the hand that wrote it was cold 
in death, and the laurel wreath was placed upon his brow by Guido da Polenta. 

117 Tityrus-Dante recognised that the words of Alphesiboeus were those cf the whole 
company of his friends. He therefore would abide by his decision, and would not go to 

_ 121 The steeds are those of the sun-chariot, now hasting to its setting. The conversa- 
tion was over, and the friends separated. Meanwhile lolas (Guido da Polenta) had been 
listening, and he it was (the writer of the Eclogue seems now to distinguish between himself 
and the ideal Iityrus of the poem) who had reported the dialogue to Dante, as he did to his 
scholar at Bologna. In the original the last words of the last line ^azmus (as an equivalent 
for jToioiz/iei') we have a noteworthy instance of Dante's boldness as the coiner of uew words 
to meet his wants, a proof also that he had at least some knowledge of Greek. 




IT is not easy to assign a date to the time when the first germ of 
Dante's great poem was planted in the fruitful soil of his brain 
and heart. One gifted with a prophet's insight might, I am 
inclined to think, have seen it, in its promise and potency of 
a yet unconscious life, within a few days of that marvellous May 
morning which transformed and transfigured the whole nature of 
the wondrous boy (F. N. c. i). From that hour, as we know, 
Beatrice was never absent from his thoughts, worshipped with 
all the power — such as we often discern even in natures less 
sensitive than Dante's — of a boy's idolising devotion. One half 
of the Commedia (if indeed we may distinguish where it is im- 
possible to divide) was involved in the manner in which that 
thought dominated his mind and heart during the whole period 
of his boyhood. Nor could the other half be well absent. 
Twenty years before Giotto painted the Bargello portrait, Dante's 
eyes must have had that dreamy far-away look, that power of 
seeing things which others do not see, that *' other-worldliness " 
that tells of a mind to which Heaven and Hell are the most real- 
6f all realities. The teaching which influenced his youth would 
tend to foster that tendency. His early recollections of Brunetto 
Latini, before he had seen, behind the veil of outward culture, the 
depravity which it concealed, were those of one from whom he- 
had learnt "how man attaineth to eternity" {H. xv. 85). The 
preaching of the Tranciscan and Dominican friars (the former, 
we may remember, were established at what is now the Church 
of Santa ;Croce) had not yet lost its savour, and their sermons 


^voukl tell him, with all the vividness which characterised mediaeval 
thought, of the penalties of the lost and the beatific vision of the 
saints of God. Every mass that he heard would bring before him 
the thought of that region of the intermediate state in which 
souls that had departed with an imperfect holiness were purified 
from the stains of earth. Looking both to his gifts and his en- 
vironment, it might almost ,be said of him, as it was said of the 
prophet to whom he turned in after years (comp. ^. i. 32 n.), with 
the natural sympathy of one who saw in him a character like his 
own, that he too was " sanctified " from the earliest dawn of life, 
and " ordained to be a prophet unto the nations " (Jer. i. 5). 

The studies of advancing youth — I am still speaking of the 
period before the story of the Vita Nnova begins — would tend in 
the same direction. Virgil was then, as in after years, the Master' 
to whom he owed most of his mental nurture (//. i. 85), and the 
Sixth Book of the ^7ieid would impress upon his mind its vivid 
and indelible pictures of Tartarus and the Elysian fields. So he 
would come to blend, in that strange Aveird manner which so often 
startles us as we read the Commedia, the forms, names, and legends 
of classical antiquity with those which had at least a starting-point in 
Scripture, and which permeated the mind of the thirteenth century 
in "Western Christendom. And when he came to study, as he must 
have done before he wrote the first sonnet in the V. N., the poets 
of his own fatherland, the choice which he made of Guido Guini- 
celli of Bologna, as the one in whom alone he recognised his 
« Master," 

" When I thus heard his name who was of old 
My sire, and theirs, my country's nobler men, 
Skilled to use love-rhymes sweet and manifold," 

— Purg. xsvi. 97-99, 

was singularly significant. For Guido, in spite of the sin that 
stained his life, led his readers into the region of the Unseen and 
the Eternal, and the love of which he wrote was therefore that of 
the higher Eros, of Aphrodite Urania. I take two passages by 
way of sample from his Canzone beginning 

" Avvegnache del maggio piii per tempo." 

" In this blind world below we prove too well 
That all mankind in grief and anguish dwell, 

While Fortune turns her wheel in ceaseless round ; 


Blest is the soul which leaves the fruitless Strife, 
And seeks in Heaven the true eternal life,. 

Where only perfect joy and peace are found. • 

Gaze on the jo)-, the bliss, wherein doth dwell 

My Lady fair, in Heaven incoronate. 

Whence comes to thee thy hope in Paradise, 
She now, all holy, thee remembers well, 

And, though in Heaven, thy heart doth contemplate, 

Which, for her sake, as if deserted, lies. 
She sees it painted in such blessed guise 
That what was here but as a marvel strange, 
Finds there its likeness true that sees no change ; 
So much the more as it is better known, 

How, welcomed as their own, 
The angels hailed her with glad melodies. 
Thy spirits have brought back their tidings rare. 
For ofttimes thither they in travel fare ; 
Of tliee she speaketh with the souls in bliss 
And saith to them, 'While yet I lived on earth, 
I had from him all honour due to worth, 
Still praising me in those famed songs of his ; 
And I pray God, our Lord and Master true. 
As best may meet your wish, to comfort you." 

" That strain we heard was of a higher mood," and we cannot 
wonder that Dante should have turned to it rather than to the 
earlier Italian poets, such as Frederick II., or his Chancellor, Pier 
della Yigne, or Jacopo Lentino, the "notary" of Purg. xxiv. 56, 
as a model for imitation, that it should have seemed to him to put 
him on a higher level than that of his personal friends Guido 
Cavalcanti or Cino of Pistoia, in whose sonnets and canzoni there 
was more of the earthly erotic character. He was content to 
leave to Cino the place due to the *' poet of love," he claimed for 
himself the higher title of the "poet of righteousness" (F. E. 
ii. 2). Xot a few of the noblest passages of the Commedia sound 
in our ears as echoes of Guinicelli. In H. v. 100, 

"Amor, die al cor gentil ratto s'apprende" 

we have an almost verbal reproduction of the opening line of 
Guide's canzone, 

" Al cor gentile ripara sempre amore" 

while in the similitude, not then hackneyed as it has become 
since of " true as the needle to the pole," 

348 ''' IL PENSEROSO." 

'** E dinzzar 2o ago in ver la Stella," 

we find tlio original of Dante's {Par. xii. 23) 

" And from the heart of one of those new lights 
There came a voice which made me turn to see, 
E'en as the star the needle's course incites." 

And so, from the first, "we note the undertone of melancholy, the 
*' pathetic minor," which, even in the bright dawn of youth, per- 
vades the poet's reverie. He stands among the crowds of his 
associates, in the terms which Milton has made familiar, not as 
L' Allegro, but as II Penseroso, and the latter poem might almost 
serve, from first to last, as an ideal picture of Dante's student life. 

What I have said as to the character of the early poems lies 
almost on the surface. The vision of So?in. i. is one which he 
could not remember without a shudder, in which he learnt to see 
afterwards a prophecy of the valley of the shadow. The death, 
early in his intimacy with the married Beatrice, of her best loved 
friend, whom I have identified with the Matilda of the Earthly 
Paradise (see note on Purg. xxviii. 40.), leads his thoughts to the 
region witliin the veil. The Lord of Angels had called her to His 
glory, and the world was poorer for her abseiice (F. N. c. 3). 
Beatrice's seeming scorn makes him feel the woes of lost souls, the 
discacdati tormenfosi, such as he paints in the Inferno ( V. N. c. 
14, Sonn. vii.). Soon, in the Canzone (ii.) which begins — 

'* Donne, ch' aide intellctto d'amore,^' 

we note the foreboding that the time of his beatitude will not be 
long. Heaven feels that it lacks somewhat of its completeness as 
long as Beatrice is not there. It is only the forbearance of God 
— forbearance for his sake — that prolongs her life on earth. 

*' My well-beloved, now suffer ye in peace 
That this your hope, as long as I shall please, 
Wait, where one dwells whom loss of her shall try, 
And who shall tell the damned in Hell's unrest, 
' I have beheld the hopes of all the blest.' " 

There, if not before, I see not the germ only of the Commedia, but 
the first stirrings of its life, as yet, it may be, tentative, almost, 
one might say, tentacular, in its workings, throwing out its feelers 
in this and that direction, and drawing in nutriment for its future 


work, Tho death of Beatrice's father (V. N. c 22) — he also is 
spoken of as " passing from this life to eternal glory " — tended 
more and more to foster this sense of nearness to the invisible 
world, and soon that sense took form in the words which came 
unbidden to his lips : " It must needs be that one day the gentle 
Beatrice herself must die" (F. N. c. 23), and that thought was 
followed by the prophetic vision in which he saw the forms of sorrow- 
ing ladies who told him that she had indeed departed from this 
world ; and then he beheld a multitude of angels gazing on a white 
cloud of dazzling whiteness, and singing their Hosanna in excelsis. 
And then he thought that he looked on her dead body and the 
ladies covered her head with a white veil, and her face was so full 
of lowliness that it seemed to say to him, " I am about to see the 
source of ail peace," and he called on Death (" doldssima Morte*') 
to come and release him from his sorrow, and then saw all the 
mysteries of grief which are wont to be celebrated in the chamber 
of the dead, and he looked up to Heaven and said, " fairest 
soul, how blessed is he who sees thee ! " The vision clothed 
itself in the marvellous Canzone (iv.) to which I content myself 
with referring the reader. 

Every month, as the V. N. (c. 26) tells us, seemed to bring 
Beatrice nearer to the heavenly life. Men said of her, as she 
passed, " This is no woman, but one of the fairest of the Angels 
of Heaven " — " This is a miracle. Blessed be the Lord who 
knoweth how to work so wonderfully!" Not only did she win 
honour and praise herself, but she brought praise and honour to 
those with Avliom she associated (V. N. c. 27). And then this 
ripeness for Heaven bore what must have seemed its natural 
fruit. The Lord of Righteousness called her to Himself, and 
glorified her by placing her under the banner of the Blessed Mary, 
the Queen whose name had been so often on Beatrice's lips, ever 
uttered with profoundest reverence {V. N. c. 29). Of his own 
sorrow, of that of the whole city of which she had been the fairest 
ornament, I have spoken with sufficient fulness in the Life of 
Dante (i. pp. xlvii., li.), and, for a like reason, I pass over the inter- 
mediate stages of the history of the " donJia gentile," in its literal 
or allegorical meanings, and proceed at once to the closing vision 
of the Vita Nuova, in which we may rightly see a more developed, 
and therefore a more defined, growth of the germ which we have 


already seen iu an earlier embryonic stage. He had beheld once 
before ( V. N. c. 40), in the ninth hour of the day, the form of the 
glorified Beatrice in crimson apparel, as he had seen her when she 
first met his gaze. He began to repent and reproach himself for 
his disloyalty to her memory. And then, not long afterwards, 
there came another memorable vision, following on a sonnet 
{S. 31) in which he records that his sighs had passed beyond the 
primum mobile to the Empyrean sphere, the dwelling-place of God 
and of the angels and His saints, and then he adds ( V. N. c. 43) : — 

" After this sonnet there appeared to me a marvellous vision in which I saw 
things which made me propose not to speak more of this Blessed One till I 
could treat of her more worthily. And to reach this goal I study, as she 
truly knows, as much as lies in my power, so that if it shall please Him, by 
whom all things live, that my life continue for some years to come, I hope to 
say of her what has never yet been said of any woman. And then, may it 
please Him, who is the Lord of Courtesy (com p. for the phrase, //. ii. 58 n.), 
that my soul may have power to turn and see the glory of its Mistress, that 
is to say, of that blessed Beatrice who gloriously looks upon the face of Him, 
qui est per omnia scEcida hcncdictus." 

The genesis of the Commedia was thus obviously completed. 
The outline was at least sketched in the art-studio of the poet's 
souL But there followed, as the words indicate, a necessary, 
though not, it may be, a prolonged, period of self-training. The 
date assigned by experts to the composition of the Vita Nuova is 
1297, and as the assumed date of the vision with which the 
Commedia opens is the Passion and Easter-tide of 1300, we have at 
least two or three years of preparation. We ask how that interval 
was employed 1 what was the nature of the preparation ? 


The first question which would present itself to a man like 
Dante, with a purpose thus definitely formed, would be as to the 
vehicle in which he would embody his thoughts. In what lan- 
guage should he write ? The training of the student, the habits of 
the time, his admiring reverence for Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, Statins, 
would all have suggested Latin. The remonstrances addressed to 
him twenty years later by Joannes de Yirgilio (vol. i. p. cxxiv.) 
show that this was what was expected by scholars of a scholar. 
When Petrarch gained the poet's laureate wreath, it was on the 


strength of his Latin epic " Africa " far more than on that of his 
sonnets. The Ilarian letter indicates, though one receives its 
testimony with reserve, that he had hegun a Latin poem, at 
some time or other, after the orthodox Virgilian fashion (vol i. 
p. Ixxxix.) — 

" Ultima rerjna canam, fluido contermina mundo." 

It was well, as I have said, that he changed his mind. The 
poem of which this might have been the beginning would doubt- 
less have been a marvel in its way. It would have reproduced 
Virgilian imagery in approximately Virgilian language. There 
would have been pictures of the threefold regions of the unseen 
world, in which Beatrice and Virgil and Dante himself would 
have played their parts in Latin hexameters. It might, from 
time to time, have found editors and commentators, possibly 
even translators, or it might have slept in the dust of libraries 
forgotten and untouched. The process of thought which led 
to the change of purpose may be traced with sufficient clearness 
in the treatise De Vulgari Eloquio and in the Convito. Though 
both were written, wholly or in part, as their references to his 
sufferings show, after his exile, they reproduce the thoughts of 
past years, and indicate the reasons of his final choice. In the 
first of these he begins, with a method and solemnity which 
reminds one of Hooker, with treating of the two forms of speech 
which were open to him. He is entering on an untried field, in 
which he had no foreiunaer. " Verio asphante de calls," he will 
unfold for those who sjeak their mother-tongue the reasons which 
lead him to think, as he compares the lingua vulgaris with the 
language used by scholars, and taught in the schools, that the 
former is the more noble of the two. Speech, he goes on to 
say, is the special attribute of man. Brute creatures have it not. 
Angels need it not, for they have an "ineffable sufficiency of 
intellect by which one is known to another with perfect clearness, 
or they see all things in the clear mirror of the Divine Mind " 
(F. E.I2; Par. xxvi. 106, 107). Man needed it, and therefore 
it was given to man. It was reasonable to think that it had been 
bestowed on Adam at his creation, and that the first word wliich 
he uttered was El or Eli, as the name of God {V. E.i. ^■, Par. 
xxvi. i34\, and though God did not need man's speech to'know 


man's thoughts even before they were conceived in the mincT, yet 
-we may, witli all reverence, say that it was acceptable to Him 
that His own gift of speech should be the medium of their utter- 
ance. Others may be so blinded by partiality that they may 
think their own city and country the noblest in the world,^ tlieir 
own speech one compared with which all other tongues are as 
those of barbarians. It is not so with him. He is a citizen of 
the world (" mundus est patria velut piscihus ceqitor "), and though 
he has loved Florence from his youth upwards, though he loves 
it yet more in his exile from it, and thinks that no city on earth 
is pleasanter or fairer, yet, as a scholar and historian, he must 
assign to Hebrew the honour of having been the primeval lan- 
guage of mankind (F. E. i. 6). The pride of man seeking to 
scale the very heavens in the Tower of Babel led to the confusion 
of tongues, and only the descendants of Shera inherited some 
fragments of the ancient speech. Passing, as from the limitations 
of his knowledge was inevitable, to a narrower range of inquiry, he 
takes a rapid survey of the spoken languages of Europe, which he 
classifies, as in H. xxxiii. 80, according to their formula of affirma- 
tion, under four groups : (i.) That oijo ovja, including Sclavonian, 
Hungarian, German, Saxon, English, and others. (2.) That of 
si, including Spanish, French, and Latin, represented by Italian, 
as in H. xxvii. 33. (3.) That of oc, in the south-west of Europe, 
specially in the region thence known as Languedoc. (4.) That of 
oil or out, in Northern France, bounded by Germany on the east, 
and the "English Sea" on the north {V. E. \. 8). He notes in 
passing that the last three have many points of contact with each 
other, while the first stands apart by itself, and illustrates the fact 
by some eight or nine examples. Still narrowing his range of 
inquiry in accordance with the purpose which had led him to 
undertake it, he confines himself to the dialects of Italy, of which 
he notes not less than fourteen distinct varieties. Men of letters 
. might give a preference to the language of oil, in which had been 
written " the achievements of the Trojans and the Romans, and 
the Arthurian legends," but his love was given to that of si, to the 
Italian of which those who had sung most sweetly and subtly were 
the familiar friends and, as it were, members of its household 

1 The thought is expressed in a proverb worth preserving: " Peiramala" (an insignifi- 
. cant country town, much as we might say "Little Pedlington") " civiias aviplissima est, et 
patria, tnajori parti /ilioruni Adts" (V. E. i. 6). 


{•^f ami! lares et domestici"). Among these lie names " Cino of 
Pistoia and his friend," and he leaves us, in his reticence, half 
humble and half proud, to guess who that friend was. Each of 
the fourteen dialects are then passed under his scrutiny, and are 
for the most part condemned as rough, barbarous, inadequate for 
the poet's use. Eome occupies a position of bad pre-eminence ; 
the speech of the hill-country of Casentino and Prato comes next 
(F. E. i. 11). Sicilian, the language of the earlier Italian poets, 
including Frederick II. and Manfred, had a better reputation 
(F. E. i. 12). Tuscany boasted of its purity, but the boast was 
vain. There was a provincial twang (" non curialia sed munici- 
palia") even in Guido of Arezzo, Bonagiunta of Lucca, and 
Brunetto Latini of Florence. Exceptions to that rule, approxima- 
tions to excellence, were found in Guido Cavalcanti, Lapo Gianni, 
and " one other " (again we are left to guess), and in Cino of Pistoia 
(F. E. i. 13). A passing tribute to the greatness of Sordello as 
great not only in poetry but in every form of speech, is associated 
with a favourable judgment of the dialects of Lombardy, and 
that used by the litterateurs of Bologna, such as Guido Guinicelli, 
Guido Ghislieri and others (F. E. i. 15), but the true perfect 
speech of Italy, '■'■ illustre^ cardindle, aulicum, et cioHale," '^ illumi- 
nans et illuminatum" was still to seek. It was the "panther," 
the symbol of animal perfection,^ of which he was in search, and 
he could not doubt that he had the nets wherewith to take it and 
tame it for his own use (i. 16). With that haughty consciousness 
of a powder to be, if not the creator, at least the artificer, of a new 
language which all Italy should welcome, he sufficiently vindicates 
the decision wliich led him to cancel his first sketcli, if indeed it 
ever existed, and instead of 

" Ultima reijna canam, jluido contcrmina raundo" 
to write 

'•' Nd mezzo del camniin di nostra vita." 

It is noticeable, however, that through the whole treatise (as 
indeed in the Convito also), there is not a single word which 
implies the existence, even in plan and purpose, of the Commedki. 

1 The symbolism may have originated in the rarity and beauty of the animal. Dante's 
master, Latini, probably from a fanciful etymology of the name, describes it as " Amico lii 
UdtianimaU," and this would fall in with Dante's thoughts as to the perfect speech for poets 
(.Tes., V. 62). 


354 'rHE ''CON VI TO." 

Tliat, I take it, he worked at in secret, not caring to talk of it till 
the great work was finished as a xr^/^a ig au, a perpetual possession 
for Italy and for the world. 

The Convito which, it must be remembered, was also written 
(in part, at least) in exile, and before the V. E. (Conv. i. 3, 5), 
deals with the question in a less systematic form, but for that very 
reason is more interesting as the expression of Dante's feelings. 
There too he had to decide whether he should write in Latin or 
Italian, and he gives his reasons for choosing the latter. Some are 
fanciful enough. The book was a commentary on his Canzoni, 
which were in Italian, and the commentator is the servant of his 
text. Latin was the "sovran" speech, Italian the subordinate; 
there would be therefore an invasion of the right order in writing a 
Latin exposition of an Italian text [Conv. i. 6, 7). More true and 
natural was the thought that by using Italian he would reach a 
far wider circle of readers, and so far as he had things to utter 
which it was good for men to know, he would be a more universal 
benefactor {Conv. i. 8), and therefore acquire the friendship (we 
note the heart-yearnings of the lonely exile) of a far larger number. 
This was a sufficient reason for his not choosing Latin. And the 
thought of choosing any other modern speech than that of his 
fatherland, rouses him to a burning white heat of indignation. 
The history of Provenjal literature was that of the prostitution of 
noble gifts to vilest uses ("hmmo fatta di donna, vieretrice"). 
Those who had Avritten in it in Italy were " base, abominable, 
tmworthy sons," were led only by their own blindness, by malig- 
nant prejudice, by their craving for vain-glory, by their envy of 
the greatness of others, by their vileness and pusillanimity, which 
made them the slaves of each passing wave of popular opinion. 
Like bad workmen who find fault with their materials or their 
tools, they threw the blame of their failure as poets on the lan- 
guage which they had used, and which they deserted for another. 
They had failed in Italian ; they might succeed in Provengal. It 
was not so with him. He had sufficient loftiness of soul to feel 
self-confidence {'^ sempre il magnanimo si magnifica in sua cuore"). 
He loved his mother-tongue with a passionate devotion, which had 
ripened, as it were, into friendship. It had been his greatest 
benefactor, was associated with his earliest memories (Par. xv. 
121-123), had led him to the way of knowledge. "Without it he 


could not have learnt Latin. The fuller intimacy which rose out 
of his bringing it into the closer service of rhyme and rhythm had 
confirmed that friendship. Above all, he had always thought in 
that language. It had been his companion in his highest con- 
templations, his most subtle questionings. Therefore he would use 
it (here also there is not the remotest allusion to the Commedia) 
for his Convito. So should a thousand guests partake of that 
banquet and leave some baskets full of fragments for himself ; so 
should the speech of Italy be as a " new light, a new sun, to those 
who are in darkness and obscurity" (Conv. i. 13). 

That point then was settled. Here,- also, he took his own line 
and formed a j^cirte j;er se stesso. He would write in Italian. He 
felt confident that he, at least, would have no occasion to find 
fault with his tools, that, as he said, after he had finished his work, 
even rhymes would be his servants and not his masters (Comp. 
vol. i. p. Ixxviii.) 

But then came a question which must have called for some 
serious thought. "WTiat form of verse should he adopt? The 
earlier Italian poets who had preceded him had been essentially 
lyric in their character, and had confined themselves to sonnets, 
hallate, and canzoni, such as he himself had used in his Minor 
Poems, and these were unfitted for the continuity of a poem of 
the nature of an epic. So far as I know he had no Italian 
predecessor in the use of the terza rima. If he was not the 
inventor of that form, he was at least the first to import it from 
the literature of Provence, in which it is said to have been used 
by Arnauld Daniel, for whom, both in V. E. ii. 2, 6, 10, 13, and 
Purg. xxvi. 119, Dante expresses the warmest possible admira- 
tion, and who had originated the yet more complicated and 
unmanageable sestina. It commended itself, Ave may believe, on 
more than one ground. It lent itself readily to a continuous 
narrative. It presented the kind of difficulty from which Dante 
did not shrink, and which it gave him an actual joy to overcome. 
He felt sure, as the writer of the Ottimo Commento says that he 
had told his sons, that it would never make him write otherwise 
than he had meant to write, that the very necessity of finding 
rhymes would often be suggestive of new thoughts. "Whatever 
mastery he had gained in other more or less artificial forms of 
poetry would stand him in good stead here. If, at first, it might 


seem to retard his progress, he soon found that he had acquired a 
full control over it, and probably learnt before long even to think 
in tcr::a rima, so that the " spontaneous numbers " flowed readily 
from his pen. And then also it connected itself with the strange 
mystic reverence for the number three, which shows itself in the 
Vita Nuova ( V. N. c, 30). A poem in honour of Eeatrice ought 
to be in the form which was most identified with the symbol of 
her excellence, and which was also the symbol of the Divine 
Perfection. A like profound reverence for the mystical significance 
of numbers showed itself, after the choice of the metre, in the 
plan of the whole poem. For him the number ten was the most 
perfect of all numbers ; the square of that number carried that 
perfection to a yet higher power, and therefore the poem was to 
consist of a hundred cantos. But the threefold nature of the 
Unseen World, as it presented itself to his thoughts, compelled 
him to divide the poem into three parts, or, as he calls them, 
Cantiques, and as it was natural to think of the first canto as a 
prelude or introduction, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise had thirty- 
three cantos assigned to each. It would scarcely have surprised 
us had the love of self-imposed restraint, which characterised him, 
as it has characterised other great masters of his art, led him to a 
like limitation in regard to the number of the lines in each canto. 
Here, however, he wisely drew the line. He felt that such a 
restraint would interfere with the freedom of his thoughts, and he 
chose therefore to assert his freedom, taking 140 as an approximate 

It is possible that he may have begun his poems before fixing 
on a title, possible also, of course, that he may have chosen it from 
the first. The fact that he speaks of it in H. xvi. 128 as the 
Commedia is, as far as it goes, in favour of the latter hypothesis. 
The reasons which he gives for so naming it in the Ep. to Can 
Grande are sufficiently familiar to most Dante students. Ho 
knows enough Greek (though his explanation of " tragedy " '^ is 
somewhat startling) to interpret Comcedia as a village song {villanus 
cantus). He knows enough of the traditions of dramatic art to 

1 The Iitferno contains 458S lines, the Purgatorio 4756, the Faradiso 4738, giving 14,082 
for the hundred cantos. 

2 He connects the word rightly enough with rpayos, but explains it as "faiidus ad moduin 
hirci." He does not appear to know the other derivation of Comxdia as from koi^io? 
{= revelry). 


feel that a tragedy begins witli joy and ends with sorrow, that a 
comedy begins with trouble and ends with gladness. '^ His poem 
be<^an with Hell and ended with Paradise, and on that ground 
might be styled a comedy. And there was yet another reason. 
Tragedy was supposed to speak always in the lofty and stately 
language of the "grand style." Comedy had a Avider range, might 
say the very thing the poet wished to say, in homeliest and plainest 
fashion, and yet was allowed to rise at times to a strain of higher 
tone. Not without significance does Dante quote the line of 
Horace {Ejj. ad Pis. 1. 93) : — 

" Interdum tamen et vocem comcedia tollit." 

With these thoughts there mingled something of a proud humility. 
For him the epic and the tragedy were near of kin. To have 
called his poem by either name would have implied something like a 
rivalry with the master whom he loved and honoured. He was con- 
tent to call it a comedy — Terence was the writer most familiar to him 
as a comic author {Piirg. xxii. 97) — and under that title to write what 
had remained "unattempted yet in prose or rhyme "by Terence 
or any other author. We may, however, perhaps doubt whether 
he would have chosen that name at the end of his work had he 
not made choice of it at the beginning. The grim grotesqueness 
of many of the pictures of the Inferno, the games of the demons 
wnth the sinners in the seething pitch (H. xxi., xxii.), the reci- 
procal transformations of man and serpent {H. xxv.), were pro- 
bably brought in as part of the comic element, like the equally 
grotesque figures in mediaeval cathedrals, but these cease as he 
passes into the other divisions of his poem. He invokes Calliope 
{Purg. i. 9), Urania {Purg. xxix. 41), Apollo {Par. i. 13), but 
never Thalia. The " comedy " has become for him a ^^ iwema sacro " 
(Par. xxv. i) ; and so far he anticipates the epithet of Divina 
which later writers have atttached to it, and which first appears 
in the Yenice edition of 1554. 

1 {E/>. to C. G. c. 10 «.) Fraticelli quotes from the CathoUcon of Fra Giovanni of Genoa 
{1286) ; " Unde in salutatione soletnus vnttere et optare tragicwn principiuvi ei comicum 
/incut, id est, bonum principiiitn et iafitjnjinein." 



The language and the outwanl form of the poem being thus 
determined, there ■would come the question Avhat was to be its 
scope and purpose ] Was it to aim at anything beyond a de- 
scription of the three kingdoms of the dead and the glorifica- 
tion of Beatrice 1 His dedicatory Epistle to Can Grande, as 
characteristic in its way as Spenser's Epistle to Sir Walter Ealeigh 
setting forth the plan of the Faerie Queene, and presenting many 
suggestive coincidences with it/ answers that question. He 
adopts for his own " sacred poem " the fourfold method of inter- 
pretation which applied to the sacred books, poems or other- 
wise, of Scripture. And so the subject of the whole Commedia 
taken literally is the " state of souls after death " (^. to C. 
G. c. 8). But allegorically it takes a wider range, and includes 
the whole moral government of God, and its subject is, "Man, 
so far as by merit or demerit, in tlie exercise of the freedom of 
his Avill, he is under a system of rewards and punishments." It 
is obvious that the distinction which he draws involves the con- 
clusion that he meant men to see, in the distribution of those 
rewards and punishments on earth, examples of the same laws 
as those which work out their completion in the regions behind 
the veil. Each man may find in his own experience, or in the 
history of the world, the anticipation of Hell and Purgatory and 
Paradise ; may see in the poet's pictures to what possible depths of 
degradation he may fall, hoAV he may repent and rise to higher 
things on the "stepping-stones of his dead self," how, even on 
earth, he may attain to the citizenship of the true Eome of which 
Christ is a Eoman {Purg. xxxii. 102), to the heavenly Jerusalem. 

In writing to a man like Can Grande, whose position and character 
placed him outside the range of esoteric discipleship, Dante was 
content to hint at the key which was to open the treasure-house, 

1 I am not aware that any writer on Dante ha'; noticed the parallelism, but it will be seen 
that it is siifTiciently significant. Spenser describes his book as a "a continued Allegory, or 
darke Conceit." The story of King Arthur is but the outward framework of the allegory. 
The Faery Queene is at once Glory and " the glorious person of our Soveraine the Queen," 
as Beatrice is both the woman whom Dante had loved and the Wisdom which teaches him a 
true theology. But as Elizabeth was not only "a most royal Queene or Empresse," but also 
" a most vertuous and beautiful lady," she appears in the poem not as Glorianaonly, but also 
as Belphffibe. So also the Red-Cross Knight is at once the symbol of holiness, and of the 
English people, Duessa of falsehood in general and of the Church of Rome, or perhaps 
also of Mary Queen of Scots in particular. 


to apply bis method on the largest, and therefore the vaguest, scale. 
Those to whom it was given to know the inner mysteries of the 
poem would soon discover in Dante's language that it was " poly- 
semum " ^ {Ep. to C. G. c. 7), a poem of manifold meanings (Dante 
does not pass beyond the literal and allegoric, and leaves the moral 
and anagogic, or mystic, for others to trace out), and that the end 
he aimed at also was manifold. There might be a nearer and a 
more remote object present to the writer's mind. He will confine 
himself — he is obviously dealing with a pupil dull of hearing and 
slow of heart to understand — passing over all more subtle inter- 
pretations, to saying that what he aimed at was to " rescue those 
who are living in this life from a state of misery, and to lead them 
to a state of felicity" {ibid. c. 18). But for us, as for the inner 
circle of Dante's personal disciples, if indeed he had any, it is open 
to seek for more meanings and more purposes than those thus 
roughly adumbrated, and so far the allegorising schools of inter- 
preters are fully within their rights. To take a few salient instances, 
where there is something like a consensus, Beatrice is the daughter 
of Folco de' Portinari ; she is also the symbol of a true Philosophy 
(the subordinate philosophy symbolised by the " donna gentile " of 
V. N. c. 36 ; Conv. ii. 13 disappears from the Commedia), of 
Catholic theology, of the supreme contemplative wisdom which 
includes both philosophy and theology. Yirgil is the poet 
on whose lines Dante had framed his own " goodly style " 
{H. i. 81-87). He is also the representative of human wisdom 
guiding perfectly within its limits, though unable to lead the 
pilgrim into the region of supernatural light. Lucia {U. il 97 n.) 
is the Saint of Syracuse ; she is also the grace that illuminates 
man's natural reason. Cato {Purg. i. 74), in like manner, repre- 
sents the highest form of merely human righteousness. The 
Centaurs {H. xii. 56, n.) symbolise the varied combinations 
of the brute and spiritual elements in man's life. Geryon {H. 
xvii. I K.) is the type of all fraudulent and counterfeit shows 
of good. The four stars {Purg. i. 2^ n.) are the cardinal 
natural virtues of Plato's ethical language ; the three which make 
up the heptad {Purg. viii. 89) are the Faith, Hope, Love of 
Christian ethics. The Mountain Delectable {H. i. 77 n.) is the 
ideal polity after which Dante was striving as the salvation of his 

^ A V. I. gives " pclysensuum." 


country, as well as the ideal righteousness which would be his 
own salvation. The three beasts which barred his ascent (H. i. 
31-51 n.), whatever other meanings they may have, had, at all 
events, one which was moral, and represented sensuality, pride, 
and greed of gain, while they may point also to states and parties 
that were characterised by these vices. 

As the history of Eiblical interpretation shows, however, the 
student stands in need of guidance in applying this method of 
many senses even to a poem wliich was avowedly written to be 
so interpreted. He may read much between the lines (e.g., the 
multitudinous fantasies of which the history may be found in Dr. 
F. "W. Farrar's Bampion Lectures) which is purely the product of 
his own brain, possessed by a dominant idea, which was never in 
the brain of the writer. That seems to me the error into which 
men like Eossetti and Aroux have fallen. It was not that they 
were wrong in assuming that there might be more than one alle- 
gorical meaning in the symbols of the Commedia, but that they 
constructed a Dante out of their inner consciousness, in the one 
case, with a mind into which nothing entered but a wild non- 
religious Ghibellinism ; in the other, as in the title of Aroux's book, 
with the thoughts of a '^ revolutionnaire, socialiste, heretique," 
concealing a Nihilistic Atheism under the garb of conventional 
orthodoxy. To escape those perils on the right hand, or the left, 
we must take the humbler part of inquiring, as far as the investi- 
gation is open to us, what were actually the poet's dominant ideas, 
what he Avas likely to wish others to read between the lines. 

And here the answer to that inquiry is not far off. We find 
it first in the books which he had written wholly or in part before 
lie began the Commedia. These were the Vita Nuova and 
the De Monarcliia,} Beatrice is the subject of the one. The 
ideal polity which should guide men to righteous government and 
therefore to blessedness on earth, and to the rcAvard of righteous- 
ness in heaven, is the subject of the other. Wo shall hardly be 
mistaken if we are prepared to find both those subjects interwoven 
with the whole plan and framework of the Commedia. The 
elements of the Confessions of Augustine and of his De Civitate 
Dei are, as it were, united. That inference is strengthened by a 

1 The date of the V. N. is inferred from its being written before Guido Cavalcanti's death. 
That of the Man. from the absence of any reference to Dante's exile. 


fact, subordinate in itself, yet, I think, sufficiently suggestive. 
The names -which such a man as Dante gave his children were, in 
the nature of the case, likely to be chosen on other grounds than 
the common ones of sponsorship or relationship. "V\"ell-nigh all 
liiographers have dwelt on the pathos of his naming one daughter 
Beatrice. To me there is something hardly less suggestive in his 
naming his only other daughter Imperia.^ Beatrice and Imperia 
answered respectively to the Vita Nuova and the De Monarchic. 
They are evidence of what were the dominant ideas of the poet's 
mind when he began to write the Commedia. One wonders which 
of the two was his favourite child, and whether they were twins. 
"We have seen, though only in outline, how the Beatrice idea, 
with some of its ramifying symbolisms, was represented in the 
general plan of the great poem, which was penetrated and per- 
vaded by it. Nor was it less so with the idea represented by the 
empire. The opening canto brings before us not only the conver- 
sion of the sinner, but the restoration of the empire, and through 
that the regeneration of Italy {H. I loo-iii). Yirgil is some- 
thing more than the symbol of human wisdom, the hierophant 
of the mysteries of Hades, and becomes the poet-prophet of the 
Imperhmi Romanum who has sung how 

" Tantce moUs erat Romanam condcre gentem " 

He has tracked its pre-Christian history {^n. vi. 755-S54), and 
has in noblest words sketched out the true ideal of such an 
empire's greatness :