Page images

Toward the middle, at whose point unites
All heavy substance, and I treinbling went
Through that eternal chilness, I know not
If will it were, or destiny, or chance,

But, passing 'midst the heads, my foot did strike
With violent blow against the face of one.

"Wherefore dost bruise me?" weeping he exclaim'd.
"Unless thy errand be some fresh revenge
For Montaperto, wherefore troublest me?"
I thus: "Instructor, now await me here,
That I through him may rid me of my doubt:
Thenceforth what haste thou wilt." The teacher paused;
And to that shade I spake, who bitterly

Still cursed me in his wrath. "What art thou, speak,
That railest thus on others?" He replied:
"Now who art thou, that smiting others' cheeks,
Through Antenora 3 roamest, with such force
As were past sufferance, wert thou living still?"
"And I am living, to thy joy perchance,"
Was my reply, "if fame be dear to thee,
That with the rest I may thy name enrol."
"The contrary of what I covet most,"

Said he, "thou tender'st: hence! nor vex me more.
Ill knowest thou to flatter in this vale."

Then seizing on his hinder scalp I cried:
"Name thee, or not a hair shall tarry here."
"Rend all away," he answer'd, "yet for that
I will not tell, nor show thee, who I am,
Though at my head thou pluck a thousand times."
Now I had grasp'd his tresses, and stript off
More than one tuft, he barking, with his eyes
Drawn in and downward, when another cried,
"What ails thee, Bocca? Sound not loud enough
Thy chattering teeth, but thou must bark outright?
What devil wrings thee?"-"Now," said I, "be dumb,
Accursed traitor! To thy shame, of thee
True tidings will I bear."-" Off!" he replied;
"Tell what thou list: but, as thou scape from hence,
To speak of him whose tongue hath been so glib,

1 If will.] Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate.

Milton, P. L. b. 1. 133.

2 Montaperto.] The defeat of the Guelfi at Montaperto, occasioned by the treachery of Bocca degli Abbati, who, during the engagement, cut off the hand of Giacopo del Vacca de' Pazzi, bearer of the Florentine standard. G. Villani, lib. 6. cap. lxxx. and Notes to Canto x. This event happened in 1260.

3 Antenora.] "So called from Antenor, who, according to Dictys Cretensis (De Bello Troj. lib. 5.) and Dares Phrygius (De Excidio Troja) betrayed Troy his country." Lombardi. See note on Purg. Canto v. 75. Antenor acts this part in Boccaccio's Filostrato, and in Chaucer's Troilus and Creseide.

Forget not here he wails the Frenchman's gold.
'Him of Duera," thou canst say, 'I mark'd,
'Where the starved sinners pine.' If thou be ask'd
What other shade was with them, at thy side
Is Beccaria, whose red gorge distain'd
The biting axe of Florence. Farther on,
If I misdeem not, Soldanieri 3 bides,
With Ganellon, and Tribaldello, him
Who oped Faenza when the people slept."

We now had left him, passing on our way,
When I beheld two spirits by the ice
Pent in one hollow, that the head of one
Was cowl unto the other; and as bread
Is raven'd up through hunger, the uppermost
Did so apply his fangs to the other's brain,
Where the spine joins it. Not more furiously
On Menalippus' temples Tydeus gnaw'd,
Than on that skull and on its garbage he.


"O thou! who show'st so beastly sign of hate
'Gainst him thou prey'st on, let me hear," said I,
"The cause, on such condition, that if right
Warrant thy grievance, knowing who ye are,
And what the colour of his sinning was,
I may repay thee in the world above,

If that, wherewith I speak, be moist so long."

1 Him of Duera. Buoso of Cremona, of the family of Duera, who was bribed by Guy de Montfort to leave a pass between Piedmont and Parma, with the defence of which he had been intrusted by the Ghibellines, open to the army of Charles of Anjou, A.D. 1265, at which the people of Cremona were so enraged, that they extirpated the whole family. G. Villani, lib. 7. cap. iv.

2 Beccaria.] Abbot of Vallombrosa, who was the Pope's legate at Florence, where his intrigues in favour of the Ghibellines being discovered, he was beheaded. I do not find the occurrence in Villani, nor do the commentators say to what Pope he was legate. By Landino he is reported to have been from Parma; by Vellutello, from Pavia.

3 Soldanieri.] "Gianni Soldanieri," says Villani, Hist. lib. 7. cap. xiv., "put himself at the head of the people, in the hopes of rising into power, not aware that the result would be mischief to the Ghibelline party, and his own ruin ; an event which seems ever to have befallen him who has headed the populace in Florence."-A.D. 1266.

4 Ganellon.] The betrayer of Charlemain, mentioned by Archbishop Turpin. He is a common instance of treachery with the poets of the Middle Ages.

Trop son fol e mal pensant,

Pis Valent que Guenelon.

O new Scariot and new Ganilion,
O false dissembler, etc.

And in the Monke's Tale, Peter of Spaine.

Thibaut, Roi de Navarre.

Chaucer, Nonne's Prieste's Tale.

5 Tribaldello.] Tribaldello de' Manfredi, who was bribed to betray the city of Faenza, A.D. 1282. G. Villani, lib. 7. cap. lxxx.

Tydeus.] See Statius, Theb. lib. 8. ad finem.



The Poet is told by Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi of the cruel manner in which he and his children were famished in the tower at Pisa, by command of the Archbishop Ruggieri. He next discourses of the third round, called Ptolomea, wherein those are punished who have betrayed others under the semblance of kindness; and among these he finds the Friar Alberigo de' Manfredi, who tells him of one whose soul was already tormented in that place, though his body appeared still to be alive upon the carth, being yielded up to the governance of a fiend.

His jaws uplifting from their fell repast,

That sinner wiped them on the hairs o' the head,
Which he behind had mangled, then began:
"Thy will obeying, I call up afresh

Sorrow past cure; which, but to think of, wrings

My heart, or ere I tell on 't. But if words,
That I may utter, shall prove seed to bear

Fruit of eternal infamy to him,

The traitor whom I gnaw at, thou at once

Shalt see me speak and weep. Who thou mayst be

I know not, nor how here below art come:

But Florentine thou seemest of a truth,

When I do hear thee. Know, I was on earth
Count Ugolino,1 and the Archbishop he

1 Count Ugolino.] "In the year 1288, in the month of July, Pisa was much divided by competitors for the sovereignty; one party, composed of certain of the Guelfi, being headed by the Judge Nino di Gallura de' Visconti; another, consisting of others of the same faction, by the Count Ugolino de' Gherardeschi; and a third by the Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini, with the Lanfranchi, Sismondi, Gualandi, and other Ghibelline houses. The Count Ugolino, to effect his purpose, united with the Archbishop and his party, and having betrayed Nino, his sister's son, they contrived that he and his followers should either be driven out of Pisa, or their persons seized. Nino hearing this, and not seeing any means of defending himself, retired to Calci, his castle, and formed an alliance with the Florentines and people of Lucca against the Pisans. The Count, before Nino was gone, in order to cover his treachery, when everything was settled for his expulsion, quitted Pisa, and repaired to a manor of his called Settimo; whence, as soon as he was informed of Nino's departure, he returned to Pisa with great rejoicing and festivity, and was elevated to the supreme power with every demonstration of triumph and honour. But his greatness was not of long continuance. It pleased the Almighty that a total reverse of fortune should ensue, as a punishment for his acts of treachery and guilt; for he was said to have poisoned the Count Anselmo da Capraia, his sister's son, on account of the envy and fear excited in his mind by the high esteem in which the gracious manners of Anselmo were held by the Pisans.The power of the Guelfi being so much diminished, the Archbishop devised

Ruggieri. Why I neighbour him so close,
Now list. That through effect of his ill thoughts
In him my trust reposing, I was ta'en

And after murder'd, need is not I tell.

What therefore thou canst not have heard, that is,
How cruel was the murder, shalt thou hear,
And know if he have wrong'd me. A small grate
Within that mew, which for my sake the name
Of famine bears, where others yet must pine,
Already through its opening several moons 1
Had shown me, when I slept the evil sleep
That from the future tore the curtain off.
This one, methought, as master of the sport,
Rode forth to chase the gaunt wolf, and his whelps,
Unto the mountain 2 which forbids the sight
Of Lucca to the Pisan. With lean brachs
Inquisitive and keen, before him ranged
Lanfranchi with Sismondi and Gualandi.
After short course the father and the sons
Seem'd tired and lagging, and methought I saw
The sharp tusks gore their sides. When I awoke,
Before the dawn, amid their sleep I heard
My sons (for they were with me) weep and ask
For bread. Right cruel art thou, if no pang
Thou feel at thinking what my heart foretold;
And if not now, why use thy tears to flow?

means to betray the Count Ugolino, and caused him to be suddenly attacked in his palace by the fury of the people, whom he had exasperated by telling them that Ugolino had betrayed Pisa, and given up their castles to the citizens of Florence and of Lucca. He was immediately compelled to surrender; his bastard son and his grandson fell in the assault; and two of his sons, with their two sons also, were conveyed to prison." G. Villani, lib. 7. cap. cxx. "In the following March, the Pisans, who had imprisoned the Count Ugolino, with two of his sons and two of his grandchildren, the offspring of his son the Count Guelfo, in a tower on the Piazza of the Anziani, caused the tower to be locked, the key thrown into the Arno, and all food to be withheld from them. In a few days they died of hunger; but the Count first with loud cries declared his penitence, and yet neither priest nor friar was allowed to shrive him. All the five, when dead, were dragged out of the prison, and meanly interred; and from thenceforward the tower was called the tower of famine, and so shall ever be." Ibid. cap. cxxvii. Troya asserts that Dante, for the sake of poetical effect, has much misrepresented the real facts. See his Veliro Allegorico di Dante, ed. 1826, p. 28, 9. This would render a conjecture, which the same writer elsewhere hazards, still more improbable; that the story might have been written by Dante when the facts were yet recent, and afterwards introduced into his poem. Ibid. p. 96. Chaucer has briefly told Ugolino's story. See Monke's Tale, Hugeline of Pise.

1 Several moons. Many editions, and the greater part of the MSS., instead of "più lune," read "più lume;" according to which reading Ugolino would say, that the day had broke, and shone through the grated window of the prison, before he fell asleep.

2 Unto the mountain.] The mountain S. Giuliano between Pisa and Lucca.

Now had they waken'd; and the hour drew near
When they were wont to bring us food; the mind
Of each misgave him through his dream, and I
Heard, at its outlet underneath lock'd up

The horrible tower: whence, uttering not a word,
I look'd upon the visage of my sons.

I wept not so all stone I felt within.1

They wept and one, my little Anselm, cried,
"Thou lookest so! Father, what ails thee?' Yet
I shed no tear, nor answer'd all that day
Nor the next night, until another sun
Came out upon the world. When a faint beam
Had to our doleful prison made its way,
And in four countenances I descried
The image of my own, on either hand

Through agony I bit; and they, who thought
I did it through desire of feeding, rose

O' the sudden, and cried, 'Father, we should grieve
'Far less, if thou wouldst eat of us: thou gavest 2
"These weeds of miserable flesh we wear;
'And do thou strip them off from us again.'
Then, not to make them sadder, I kept down
My spirit in stillness. That day and the next
We all were silent. Ah, obdurate earth!
Why open'dst not upon us? When we came
To the fourth day, then Gaddo at my feet
Outstretch'd did fling him, crying, Hast no help
'For me, my father!' There he died; and e'en
Plainly as thou seest me, saw I the three
Fall one by one 'twixt the fifth day and sixth :
Whence I betook me, now grown blind, to grope
Over them all, and for three days aloud
Call'd on them who were dead. Then, fasting got
The mastery of grief." Thus having spoke,
Once more upon the wretched skull his teeth
He fasten'd like a mastiff's 'gainst the bone,
Firm and unyielding. Oh, thou Pisa! shame
Of all the people, who their dwelling make

1 All stone I felt within.] "My heart is turn'd to stone; I strike it, and it hurts my hand." Shakspeare, Othello, act iv. sc. 1.

2 Thou gavest.]

Tu ne vestisti

Queste misere carni, e tu le spoglia.

Imitated by Filicaja, Canz. iii. :

Di questa Imperial caduca spoglia

Tu, Signor, me vestisti e tu mi spoglia:
Ben puoi 'l Regno me tor tu che me 'l desti.

And by Maffei in the Merope:

Tu disciogleste

Queste misere membra e tu le annodi.

« PreviousContinue »