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on the east, the Duomo on the north, and Santa Maria on the south. Afterwards, when the new walls were built and the city enlarged, these Quarters were changed to Sesti, or Sixths, by dividing Santa Maria into the Borgo and San Pietro Scheraggio, and adding the Oltrarno (beyond the Arno) on the southern bank.
42. The annual races of Florence on the 24th of June, the festival of Saint John the Baptist. The prize was the Pallio or mantle of “ crimson silk velvet,” as Villani says; and the race was run from San Pancrazio, the western ward of the city, through the Mercato Vecchio, to the eastern ward of San Pietro. According to Benvenuto, the Florentine races were horse-races; but the Pallio of Verona, where the prize was the “Green Mantle, was manifestly a foot-race. See
Inferno,” xv. 122.
47. Between the Ponte Vecchio, where once stood the statue of Mars, and the church of Saint John the Baptist. 50. Campi is a village between Prato and Florence, in
The valley whence Bisenzio descends. Certaldo is in the Val d'Elsa, and is chiefly celebrated as being the birthplace of Boccaccio, “true Bocca d'Oro, or Mouth of Gold,” says Benvenuto with enthusiasm, “my venerated master, and a most diligent and familiar student of Dante, and who wrote a certain book that greatly helps us to understand him.”
Figghine, or Figline, is a town in the Val d'Arno, some twelve miles distant from Florence; and hateful to Dante as the birthplace of the “ ribald lawyer, Ser Dego," as Campi was of another ribald lawyer, Ser Fozio; and Certaldo of a certain Giacomo, who thrust the Podestà of Florence from his seat, and undertook to govern the city. These men, mingling with the old Florentines, corrupted the simple manners of the town.
53. Galluzzo lies to the south of Florence on the road to Siena, and Trespiano about the same distance to the north, on the road to Bologna.
56. Aguglione and Signa are also Tuscan towns in the neighborhood of Florence. According to Covino, “Descri
zione Geographica dell'Italia,” p. 18, it was a certain Baldo d'Aguglione, who condemned Dante to be burned; and Bonifazio da Signa, according to Buti, “ tyrannized over the city, and sold the favors and offices of the Commune.”
58. The clergy. “ Popes, cardinals, bishops, and archbishops, who govern the Holy Church,” says Buti; and continues: “ If the Church had been a mother, instead of a stepmother to the Emperors, and had not excommunicated, and persecuted, and published them as heretics, Italy would have been well governed, and there would have been none of those civil wars, that dismantled and devastated the smaller towns, and drove their inhabitants into Florence, to trade and discount. Napier, • Florentine History, 1. 597, says:
6. The Arte del Cambio, or money trade, in which Florence shone preeminent, soon made her bankers known and almost necessary to all Europe. .. . But amongst all foreign nations they were justly considered, according to the admission of their own countrymen, as hard, griping, and exacting; they were called Lombard dogs; hated and insulted by nations less acquainted with trade and certainly less civilized than themselves, when they may only have demanded a fair interest for money lent at a great risk to lawless men in a foreign country. . . . All counting-houses of Florentine bankers were confined to the old and new market-places, where alone they were allowed to transact business: before the door was placed a bench, and a table covered with carpet, on which stood their money-bags and account-books for the daily transactions of trade.
62. Simifonte, a village near Certaldo. It was captured by the Florentines, and made part of their territory, in 1202.
64. In the valley of the Ombrone, east of Pistoia, are still to be seen the ruins of Montemurlo, once owned by the Counts Guidi, and by them sold to the Florentines in 1203, because they could not defend it against the Pistoians.
65. The Pivier d'Acone, or parish of Acone, is in the Val di Sieve, or Valley of the Sieve, one of the affluents of the Arno. Here the powerful family of the Cerchi had their castle of Monte di Croce, which was taken and destroyed by
the Florentines in 1053, and the Cerchi and others came to live in Florence, where they became the leaders of the Parte Blanca. See "
vi. note 65. 66. The Buondelmonti were a wealthy and powerful family of Valdigrieve, or Valley of the Grieve, which, like the Sieve, is an affluent of the Arno. They too, like the Cerchi, came to Florence when their lands were taken by the Florentines, and were in a certain sense the cause of Guelf and Ghibelline quarrels in the city. See • Inferno,”
x. note 51. 70. The downfall of a great city is more swift and terrible than that of a smaller one; or, as Venturi interprets, « The size of the body and greater robustness of strength in a city and state are not helpful, but injurious to their preservation, unless men live in peace and without the blindness of the passions, and Florence, more poor and humble, would have Aourished longer.”
Perhaps the best commentary of all is that contained in the two lines of Chaucer's “ Troilus and Cresseide,” 11. 1385, - aptly quoted by Mr. Cary:
For swifter course cometh thing that is of wight,
Whan it descendeth, than done thinges light. 72. In this line we have in brief Dante's political faith, which is given in detail in his treatise “ De Monarchia.” See the article “ Dante's Creed,” among the Illustrations of
73. Luni, an old Etruscan city in the Lunigiana; and Urbisaglia, a Roman city in the Marca d'Ancona.
75. Chiusi is in the Sienese territory, and Sinigaglia on the Adriatic, east of Rome. This latter place has somewhat revived since Dante's time.
76. Boccaccio seems to have caught something of the spirit of this canto, when, lamenting the desolation of Florence by the plague in 1348, he says in the Introduction to the “ Decamerone: “ How many vast palaces, how many beautiful houses, how many noble dwellings, aforetime filled with lords and ladies and trains of servants, were now untenanted even by the lowest menial! How many mernorable families, how many ample heritages, how many renowned possessions, were left without an heir! How many valiant men, how
many beautiful women, how many gentle youths, breakfasted in the morning with their relatives, companions, and friends, and, when the evening came, supped with their ancestors in the other world!” 78. Lowell, “ To the Past:”
Still as a city buried 'neath the sea,
Thy courts and temples stand ;
Of saints and heroes grand,
Thy phantasms grope and shiver,
Into Time's gnawing river. “Our fathers,” says Sir Thomas Browne, “ Urn Burial,”
find their graves in our short memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors. Grave-stones tell truth scarce forty years. Generations pass while some trees stand, and old families last not three oaks. ... Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part must be content to be as though they had not been, to be found in the register of God, not in the record of man. Twenty-seven names make up the first story, and the recorded names ever since contain not one living century. The number of the dead long exceedeth all that shall live. The night of time far surpasseth the day; and who knows when was the equinox ? Every hour adds unto that current arithmetic, which scarce stands one moment.” 79. Shirley, “Death's Final Conquest:”
The glories of our birth and state
Are shadows, not substantial things ;
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
With the poor crooked scythe and spade. 81. The lives of men are too short for them to measure. the decay of things around them.
86. It would be an unprofitable task to repeat in notes the names of these
«« Ch. x.
who Aourished in the days of Cacciaguida and the Emperor Conrad. It will be better to follow Villani, as he points out with a sigh their dwellings in the old town, and laments over their decay. In his “ Cronica,” book iv., he speaks as follows:
As already mentioned, the first rebuilding of Little Florence was divided by Quarters, that is, by four gates; and that we may the better make known the noble races and houses, which in those times, after Fiesole was destroyed, were great and powerful in Florence, we will enumerate them by the quarters where they lived.
“ And first those of the Porta del Duomo, which was the first fold and habitation of the new Florence, and the place where all the noble citizens resorted and met together on Sunday, and where all marriages were made, and all reconciliations, and all pomps and solemnities of the Commune. ... At the Porta del Duomo lived the descendants of the Giovanni and of the Guineldi, who were the first that rebuilt the city of Florence, and from whom descended many noble families in Mugello and in Valdarno, and many in the city, who now are common people, and almost come to an end. Such were the Barucci, who lived at Santa Maria Maggiore, who are now extinct; and of their race were the Scali and Palermini. In the same quarter were also the Arrigucci, the Sizii, and the sons of Della Tosa; and the Della Tosa were the same race as the Bisdomini, and custodians and defenders of the bishopric; but one of them left his family at the Porta San Pietro, and took to wife a lady named Della Tosa, who had the inheritance, whence the name was derived. And there were the Della Pressa, who lived among the Chiavaiuoli, men of gentle birth.
“Ch. xi. In the quarter of Porta San Pietro were the Bisdomini, who, as above mentioned, were custodians of the bishopric; and the Alberighi, to whom belonged the church of Santa Maria Alberighi, of the house of the Donati, and now they are naught. The Rovignani were very great, and lived at the Porta San Pietro; and then came the houses of the Counts Guidi, and then of the Cerchi, and from them in the female line were born all the Counts Guidi, as before men