« PreviousContinue »
Journeying along the pier, which crosses the sand, they are now so near the end of it
as to hear the noise of the stream falling into the eighth circle, when they meet the spirits of three military men; who judging Dante, from his dress, to be a countryman of theirs, entreat him to stop. He complies, and speaks with them. The two Poets then reach the place where the water descends, being the termination of this third compartment in the seventh circle; and here Virgil having thrown down into the hollow a cord, wherewith Dante was girt, they behold at that signal a monstrous and horrible figure come swimming up to them.
Now came I where the water's din was heard,
Ah me! what wounds I marked upon their limbs,
Attentive to their cry, my teacher paused,
They, when we stopped, resumed their ancient wail,
“If woe of this unsound and dreary waste,"
1. The Phlegethon falls over a tremendous by his accent; here the Poet is recognized by precipice which Dante and Virgil must now his garb. descend.
15. Virgil gives Dante to understand that 6. Who these spirits are will be seen in lines these spirits were of great distinction in the
world above, 8. Farinata recognized Dante as a Florentine
And our entreaties, let our great renown
I then began: “Not scorn, but grief much more,
38. Gualdrada was the daughter of Bellin- this union, Guglielmo and Ruggieri; the latter cione Berti, of whom mention is made in the of whom was father of Guidoguerra, a man of Paradise, Canto xv. and xvi. He was of the great military skill and prowess; who, at the family of Ravignani, a branch of the Adimari. head of four hundred Florentines of the Guelph The Emperor Otho IV. being at a festival in party, was signally instrumental to the victory Florence, where Gualdrada was present, was obtained at Benevento by Charles of Anjou, struck with her beauty; and inquiring who she over Manfredi, king of Naples, in 1266. One of
ed by Bellincione, that she was the consequences of this victory was the expulthe daughter of one who, if it was his Maj- sion of the Ghibellines and the re-establishment esty's pleasure, would make her admit the of the Guelph at Florence. honor of his salute. On overhearing this, she 42. Tegghiaio Aldobrandi was of the noble arose from her seat, and blushing, in an ani- family of Adimari, and much esteemed for his mated tone of voice, desired her father that he military talents. He endeavored to dissuade would not be so liberal in his offers, for that no the Florentines from the attack which they man should ever be allowed that freedom except meditated against the Sienese; and the rejechim who should be her lawful husband. The tion of his counsel occasioned the memorable emperor was not less delighted by her resolute defeat which the former sustained at Montamodesty than he had before been by the loveli- perto, and the consequent banis ness of her person; and calling to him Guido, Guelphs from Florence. one of his barons, gave her to him in marriage; 45. Jacopo Rusticucci, a distinguished Florat the same time raising him to the rank of a entine knight, of a plebeian family, a man rich count, and bestowing on her the whole of Ca- and generous, who had been divorced from his sentino, and a part of the territory of Romagna, wife. as her portion. Two sons were the offspring of 56. See lines 15-18.
Affectionate have uttered, and have heard
“So may long space thy spirit guide thy limbs,"
“ An upstart multitude and sudden gains,
Thus cried I, with my face upraised, and they
This said, they broke the circle, and so swift
Not in so short a time might one have said
E'en as the river, that first holds its course
60. “For I perceive that thou art in the gall 75. With face upraised toward Florence, now of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." overhead. Acts viii. 23.
84. “Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit " 61. Sweet fruit = salvation and the joys of
Æn, i, 204. Heaven. Cf. Purg. xxvii. 115 ff. and xxxii. 94. Dante compares the fall of Phlegethon
from the seventh to the eighth circle, to that of 70. Guglielmo Borsiere, another Florentine, the Montone, in the Apennines above the whom Boccaccio, in a story which he relates of monastery of San Benedetto. him, terms “a man of courteous and elegant95. Now called Monviso. Here the Po also manners, and of great readiness in conversa- has its source. tion.” Dec. i. 8.
They call, ere it descend into the vale,
I had a cord that braced my girdle round,
“ Quickly shall come,” he said, “ what I expect;
99. Capital of the province of Forli. Here the is something better. It is believed that our name of the Acquacheta is changed to Montone. Poet, in the earlier part of his life, had entered
102. The monastery of San Benedetto be- into the order of St. Francis. By observing the longed to the Counts Guidi, and was so rich rules of that profession, he had designed to that it might have supported a large number of mortify his carnal appetites, or, as he expresses monks, or of the poor, instead of the few who it, “ to take the painted leopard" (that animal, actually lived there. Or the reference may be which, as we have seen in a note to the first as follows: The lords of that territory, as Canto, represented Pleasure) “with this cord.'' Boccaccio related on the authority of the abbot, This part of the habit he is now desired by had intended to build a castle near the water. Virgil to take off; and it is thrown down the fall, and to collect within its walls the popula- gulf, to allure Geryon to them with the expection of the neighboring villages.
tation of carrying down one who had cloaked 106. This passage, as it is confessed by Lan- his iniquities under the garb of penitence and dino, involves a fiction sufficiently obscure. His self-mortification. own attempt to unravel it does not much lessen 125. Notes = verses, or rhymes. the difficulty. That which Lombardi has made
An anchor grappled fast against some rock,
The monster Geryon is described; to whom while Virgil is speaking in order that he may carry them both down to the next circle, Dante, by permission, goes a little further along the edge of the void, to descry the third species of sinners contained in this compartment, namely, those who have done violence to Art; and then returning to his master, they both descend, seated on the back of Geryon.
“Lo! the fell monster with the deadly sting,
Forthwith that image vile of Fraud appeared,
1. Fraud. Geryon, according to Hesiod, was lenged Minerva to a contest in weaving, and a three-headed giant killed by Hercules. The was changed into a spider. See Ovid, Met. figure described by Dante, however, resembles vi. 5 ff. Dante mentions her again in Purg. but little that given by the Greek poet.
xii. 39. 6. The stony banks of Phlegethon.
21. Tacitus says of the Germans, dediti 14. The original nodi means simply knots or somno ciboque. Cf. French, "boire comme un nooses ; the rotelle means wheels or circles. Allemand." Allegorically the former signify speech pur- 22. The beaver, according to old tradition, posely involved in order to deceive, the latter was said to catch fish by dropping its tail in the shield of fraud, behind which the fraudulent the water. The falseness of the story is seen in hide themselves.
the fact that the beaver does not eat fish. 18. Celebrated weaver of Lydia, who chal