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1308 The Emperor Albert I. murdered. Purg. vi.
98. and Par. xix. 114.
Purg. xxiv. 81.
of the Signori della Scala. Par. xvii. 69. He wanders, about this time, over various
parts of Italy. See his Convito. He is at Paris a second time; and, according to one
of the early commentators, visits Oxford. Robert, the patron of Petrarch, is crowned
king of Sicily. Par. ix. 2. Duns Scotus dies. He was born about the
same time as Dante. 1309 Charles II. king of Naples, dies. Par. xix.
125. 1310 The Order of the Templars abolished.
Purg. xx. 94.
de la Rose, dies about this time.
on agriculture, in Latin. 1311 Fra Giordano da Rivalta, of Pisa, a Domi
nican, the author of sermons esteemed for the purity of the Tuscan language,
dies. 1312 Robert, king of Sicily, opposes the corona
tion of the Emperor Henry VII. Par.
viii. 59. Ferdinand IV. of Castile, dies, and is suc
ceeded by Alonzo XI. Dino Compagni, a distinguished Florentine,
concludes his history of his own time,
written in elegant Italian.
Gaddo Gaddi, the Florentine artist, dies. 1313 The Emperor Henry of Luxemburgh, by
whom he had hoped to be restored to Florence, dies. Par. xvii. 80. and xxx. 135.
Henry is succeeded by Lewis of Bararia.
Novello da Polenta.
xxvii. 53. and xxx. 141. 1314 Philip IV. of France dies. Purg. vii. 108. and
Par. xix. 117.
Ferdinand IV. of Spain, dies. Par. xix. 12.
who makes himself master of Vicenza.
Par. ix. 45. 1315 Louis X. of France marries Clemenza, sister
to our Poet's friend, Charles Martel, king
of Hungary. Par. ix. 2. 1316 Louis X. of France dies, and is succeeded by
this time. 1320 About this time John Gower is born, eight
years before his friend Chaucer. 1321 July. Dante dies at Ravenna, of a complaint
brought on by disappointment at his failure
Guido Novello da Polenta.
rmed at Ravenna by Guido, who himself died in the ensuing year.
THE VISION OF DANTE.
ARGUMENT. The writer, having lost his way in a gloomy forest, and being
hindered by certain wild beasts from ascending a mountain, is met by Virgil, who promises to show him the punishments of Hell, and afterwards of Purgatory; and that he shall then be conducted by Beatrice into Paradise. He follows the Roman poet.
In the midway of this our mortal life,
How first I enter'd it I scarce can say,
| In the midway.] That the æra of the Poem is intended by these words to be fixed to the thirty-fifth year of the poet's age, A.D. 1300, will appear more plainly in Canto xxi. where that date is explicitly marked.
In his Convito, human life is compared to an arch or bow, the highest point of which is, in those well framed by nature, at their thirty-fifth year. Opere di Dante, ediz. Ven. 8vo, 1793. t. i. p. 195.
2 Which to remember.] “ Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.” Job xxi. 6.
My senses down, when the true path I left;
Then was a little respite to the fear,
The hour was morning's prime, and on his way
| That planet's beam.] The sun.
2 My heart's recesses.] Nel lago del cuor. Lombardi cites an imitation of this by Redi in his Ditirambo:
I huon vini son quegli, che acquetano
Le procelle sì fosche e rubelle,
Che nel lago del cuor l'anime inquietano. 3 Turns.) So in our Poet's second psalm:
Come colui, che andando per lo bosco,
Da spino punto, a quel si volge e guarda.
Pierced by a thorn, at which he turns and looks.
5 A panther.] Pleasure or luxury.
6 With those stars.] The sun was in Aries, in which sign he supposes it to have begun its course at the creation.
7 The gay skin.] A late editor of the Divina Commedia, Signor Zotti, has spoken of the present translation as the
Of that swift animal, the matin dawn,
She with such fear
only one that has rendered this passage rightly: but Mr. Hayley had shown me the way, in his very skilful version of the first three Cantos of the Inferno, inserted in the notes to his Essay on Epic Poetry :
I now was raised to hope sublime
The beauteous beast and the sweet hour of prime. All the Commentators, whom I have seen, understand our Poet to say that the season of the year and the hour of the day induced him to hope for the gay skin of the panther; and there is something in the sixteenth Canto, verse 107, which countenances their interpretation, although that which I have followed still appears to me the more probable.
| A lion.] Pride or ambition. 2. A she-wolf.] Avarice.
It cannot be doubted that the image of these three beasts coming against him is taken by our author from the prophet Jeremiah, v.6: “Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities.” Rossetti, following Dionisi and other later Commentators, interprets Dante's leopard to denote Florence, his lion the king of France, and his wolf the Court of Rome. It is far from improbable that our author might have had a second allegory of this sort in his view; even as Spenser in the introductory letter to his poem, tells us that“ in the Faery Queen he meant Glory in his general intention, but in his particular he conceived the most excellent and glorious person of his sovereign the Queen." “ And yet” he adds “in some places else I do otherwise shadow her." Such involution of allegorical meanings may well be supposed to have been frequently present to the mind of Dante throughout the composition of
Whether his acute and eloquent interpreter, Rossetti, may not have been carried much too far in the pursuit of a favourite hypothesis, is another question; and
must avow my disbelief of the secret jargon imputed to our poet and the other writers of that time in the Comment on the Divina Commedia and in the Spirito Antipapale, the latter of which works is familiarized to the English reader in Miss Ward's faithful translation.